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Your local and regional news for Northeastern Kansas and the surrounding communities, brought to you by the KPR news staff.

Topeka Premiere for Kevin Willmott Film: "The Only Good Indian"

 If you're looking for something to do this weekend, Washburn University is hosting the Topeka premiere of the film "The Only Good Indian."  Lawrence filmmaker Kevin Willmott says the film tells the story of a boy who runs away from Haskell Institute back when it was a federal boarding school, but the film and its message are still relevant years later.

The film starts at 6:30 tomorrow (SAT) evening in Washburn's Memorial Student Union.  Willmott will host a film discussion afterwards.

 

 

Rumsfeld Speaks at Fort Leavenworth Friday

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will be in northeastern Kansas this week to address military officers and sign books for the public.  The Leavenworth Times reports that Rumsfeld is to speak at 10am tomorrow (FRI) to officers attending the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Afterward, he'll sign books at a public event at Fort Leavenworth's Post Exchange.  Rumsfeld served as secretary of defense under President Gerald Ford in the 1970s and during the administration of President George W. Bush.  He has been touring the country to promote his memoir, "Known and Unknown."

Fuller Brush Company Files for Bankruptcy

 

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Fuller Brush Company, headquartered in Great Bend, is filing for bankruptcy protection, more than a century after its fleet of salesmen popularized door-to-door selling in the U.S. The 106-year-old company with 180 employees expects to cut costs and discontinue some unprofitable products to emerge a leaner, more profitable company.  Fuller Brush's assets and debts each amount to $10 million to $50 million.  The company sells personal care and household cleaning products directly and through retailers such as Home Depot.  Private equity firm Buckingham Capital Partners bought the company from CPAC Incorporated in 1997.  It is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Regional Headlines for Thursday, February 23, 2012

 

 

 

USPS Consolidating 7 Mail Processing Centers

TOPEKA, KS (AP) — The United States Postal Service plans to consolidate seven mail processing centers in Kansas to reduce costs.  The Postal Service said in a news release today (THUR) that the processing center in Topeka will be consolidated with one in Kansas City, Missouri.  Processing centers in Hays, Salina, Dodge City and Hutchinson will be consolidated with the processing and distribution center in Wichita.  Officials say work at the Liberal processing center will be moved to Amarillo, Texas and the Colby processing center operations will move to North Platte, Neb.  No specific dates have been set for the consolidation. Once the centers are consolidated, mail processing work will end but retail and business activity at the seven centers will continue. 

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KS House Advances Kansas Property Tax Relief

TOPEKA, KS (AP) — House Democrats have successfully amended a bill to provide $90 million in property tax relief over the next two years to Kansas cities and counties. The measure was added today (THUR) during debate on a bill that would restrict the growth of property taxes in municipalities if the overall property valuation increases. The entire bill advanced on voice vote to final action on Friday. Democrats tried earlier in the week to get $45 million in property tax relief inserted in a bill, a move defeated largely along party lines. Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita renewed the effort today (THUR), doubling the amount. Both amendments would take the money from the state's expected revenue surpluses.  The move is counter to efforts by Republicans to cut income taxes.

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 KS Senate Modifies "Health Freedom" Proposal

TOPEKA, KS (AP) — The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to a proposed amendment to the state constitution challenging a key federal mandate on health care.  But before advancing the so-called health "freedom" amendment on a voice vote today (THUR), senators modified it so that a statewide vote on the proposition would occur only if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the federal health care law.  A final vote on the measure was expected tonight (THUR).  The amendment would declare that Kansans have the right to refuse to buy health insurance. A provision in the federal health care overhaul of 2010 requiring most Americans to buy insurance, starting in 2014.  Critics of the proposed amendment said if the federal law is upheld, it will be supreme, making the Kansas measure meaningless.

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KS House Approves Kansas Child Abuse Reporting Changes 

 TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — House members have approved a bill that would amend Kansas laws regarding mandatory reporting of alleged child abuse. Today's (THUR) 123-1 vote sends the measure to the Senate. Supporters say the changes were in response to the allegations of child sex abuse at Penn State University involving former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The bill expands the list of individuals required to report allegations of child abuse to authorities for investigation. It also strengthens the penalty for failure to report cases of suspected sexual abuse. It would remove the defense that a person believed someone else was going to file the report, unless a report had actually been made, or that a person did not make a report for fear of reprisal or any other consequence.

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 Exide Adding Jobs at Salina Plant

SALINA, KS. (AP) — A north-central Kansas producer of lead-acid batteries has announced plans to expand and add at least 100 jobs over the next two years.  Officials of Exide Technologies in Salina made the announcement today (THUR), with Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George on hand.  The 100 to 130 new jobs are expected to expand Exide's payroll in Salina by $4 million. The plant now has about 600 employees.  Exide Technologies operates in more than 80 countries. Salina Area Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Lauver says Exide was offered a combination of state and local incentives to expand the Kansas operation.

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KS Senate Advances Brownback's Tech Education Proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has given first-round approval to Governor Sam Brownback's plan to modify technical education programs.  The measure advanced yesterday (WED) on a voice vote. Final action planned for today (THUR) would send the bill to the House.  The proposal would provide incentives for high school students who don't plan to pursue four-year degrees and are interested in a career in a vocational or technical program. The plan would allow them to earn certificates in qualified programs through community or technical colleges while still in high school.  Financial incentives would be included to encourage high schools and technical schools to develop the certificate programs and get students trained.  The plan was part of Brownback's school finance proposal.

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UPDATE: KS House Approves Bills Repealing Outdated Laws

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has passed more than two dozen bills rolling back laws, rules and regulations identified by the state's official repealer as outdated or unnecessary. The repeal measures cleared the House and went to the Senate today (THUR).  Governor Sam Brownback designated Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor last year as the state's official repealer. Taylor gathered suggestions from throughout Kansas of laws and regulations that are burdensome to government, businesses or residents.  Many of the statutes relate to special funds for fees that are no longer collected. Others spell out duties of county officials that were adopted in the early 1900s.  In all, more than 50 items were identified for repeal and are in various stages of the legislative process.

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Rumsfeld to Speak at Fort Leavenworth

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will be in northeastern Kansas this week to address military officers and sign books for the public.  The Leavenworth Times reports that Rumsfeld is to speak at 10am tomorrow (FRI) to officers attending the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Afterward, he'll sign books at a public event at Fort Leavenworth's Post Exchange.  Rumsfeld served as secretary of defense under President Gerald Ford in the 1970s and during the administration of President George W. Bush.  He has been touring the country to promote his memoir, "Known and Unknown."

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Bill Honoring Frankfort Soldiers Faces Senate Vote

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill to honor 37 servicemen from a small northeast Kansas town who died in World War II appears headed to Governor Sam Brownback for his signature.  The Kansas Senate was scheduled to take final action on the bill today (THUR), which was approved earlier by the House. It would name part of Kansas Highway 99 "The Frankfort Boys World War II Memorial Highway."  Frank Benteman, a Frankfort native and WWII veteran who pushed the honor, says Frankfort had more men killed in action in World War II than any other town its size.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that American Legion Post No. 181 in Frankfort has raised about $2,200 of the roughly $3,000 needed to pay for the Frankfort Boys signs and for their upkeep.

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Kansas Attracts 5 Bidders for 3 Medicaid Contracts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has received bids from five companies for three contracts for managing the state's $2.9 billion Medicaid program.  Legislators who have been skeptical of Governor Sam Brownback's Medicaid overhaul plan saw the number of bidders as relatively low and suggested it signals trouble. Medicaid provides health coverage for the needy, disabled and elderly.  But House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe (oh-LAY'-thuh) Republican, said he thinks the five bids are sufficient for a competitive process.  Brownback's administration plans to award the contracts this summer.  The bidders include Amerigroup Corporation of Virginia Beach, Virginia.; Wichita-based Coventry Health Care of Kansas; and Sunflower State Health Plan, based in Topeka.  Also bidding are Minnesota-based United Healthcare and WellCare of Kansas Incorporated based in Tampa, Florida.

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Missouri Considers Making I-70 a Toll Road

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri state Senator says he wants the full chamber to debate a measure allowing tolls on Interstate 70.  The Senate Transportation Committee heard about two hours of public testimony yesterday (WED) on legislation that would allow the state to contract with a private company to fix I-70 in exchange for being allowed to charge tolls. State transportation officials say the foundation of I-70 is crumbling and it needs to be widened to handle increased traffic.  Committee Chairman Senator Bill Stouffer, a Republican from Napton, said more public hearings will be held in coming weeks. Stouffer says he hopes to eventually vote the legislation out of his committee so it can come before the full Senate.

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New KU Building to Open, Doubling Size of Edwards Campus

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A grand opening is scheduled for March 2 for a $23 million building that will expand the University of Kansas' Edwards Campus by more than half.  The 75,000-square-foot building will house business, engineering, science and technology programs on the campus in Overland Park. The new classrooms, lecture halls, computer labs and conference center will allow the Edwards Campus to serve 1,000 more students.  A dedicated sales tax approved by Johnson County voters in 2008 paid for the new Business, Engineering, Science and Technology Building.  The building is part of the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle. The Triangle also incorporates the International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute at Kansas State's Innovation Campus in Olathe and the University of Kansas' Clinical Research Center in Fairway.

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Galena Mayor Holds Robbery Suspect at Gunpoint

GALENA, Kan. (AP) — Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby doesn't take kindly to trespassers on his property.  Early yesterday (WED), Oglesby saw someone near a storage building at his home. He grabbed his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and held the man at gunpoint until police arrived.  Police say the suspect had two motors from oil field equipment that belonged to Oglesby when the mayor stopped him.  The man was booked at the Cherokee County Jail on suspicion of theft and criminal trespass. Police say he might have had an accomplice but that person has not been caught.  The Joplin Globe reports that the confrontation came just hours after Police Chief Larry Delmont gave a presentation to the Galena City Council on an increase in scrap metal and battery thefts in the town.

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Reports Shows KS Meth Lab Busts Went Up in 2011

The number of methamphetamine labs busted by law enforcement officers in Kansas rose last year.  Drug Enforcement Administration numbers obtained this week by The Associated Press show the state had 172 meth lab busts in 2011, compared to 149 the previous year.  The numbers are dwarfed by statistics in neighboring Missouri, which reported nearly 2,100 busts last year. For instance, the statewide total for Kansas is far below the total for Missouri's Jefferson County, south of St. Louis.  Nationally, meth lab seizures were up 8.3 percent in 2011 from 2010.

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 Kansas Modifies System for Paying Legislative Pages

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — For the hundreds of Kansas students who serve each year as legislative pages, the check will no longer be in the mail. Senators approved a bill on Thursday that would end the practice of paying each page with a $3 check for their day's service. Instead, legislators have decided to give them a $5 voucher to be used at the Statehouse snack shop. The Senate approved the bill 40-0, sending it to Governor Sam Brownback for his signature. The House approved the bill 109-2 on February 17. Senator Dick Kelsey, a Goddard Republican, says the present practice of issuing a check costs the state $6 per check to process, not counting postage or the $3 value. He says many of the checks aren't ever cashed.

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 Suspect in Manhattan Death Now Charged in Rape

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A man already suspected in the death of a former combat medic is now charged in a rape of a Manhattan woman.  Riley County authorities say 25-year-old Justin Charles Taylor was charged yesterday (WED) in the 2010 rape of a 57-year-old woman.  Taylor has been jailed since August 2011 on charges of second-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Kevin Cockrum, who died from injuries suffered during a confrontation in the Aggieville district of Manhattan. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial in April.  KMAN reports that Taylor's first appearance on the rape charge is scheduled for tomorrow (FRI).  

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KS Woman Pleads No Contest in Attack on Pregnant Woman

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — One of two Dodge City women accused of attacking a pregnant woman in an effort to kill the unborn child reached a plea deal in the case.  Eighteen-year-old Kaila Vargas pleaded no contest this week to intentional aggravated battery and criminal threat. In exchange for the plea, an attempted murder charge was dropped.  Assistant Ford County Attorney Scott James says Vargas and Mary Gobin attacked the woman, who was seven to eight months pregnant, at her home last June. They allegedly threw her to the ground and punched her stomach several times.  The Dodge City Daily Globe reports the attack apparently happened because the victim's boyfriend had talked to police about a separate case.  Gobin pleaded no contest to aggravated battery and criminal threat on February 10.

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KS Man Seeks New Trial in Horton Woman's Murder

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A Sabetha man convicted of capital murder in the death of a rural Horton woman is seeking a new trial.  An attorney for 60-year-old Roger Hollister says he deserves a new trial because the Atchison County judge who heard his case did not properly instruct jurors.  Hollister is serving life in prison with no chance of parole for the November 2009 death of 58-year-old Patricia Kimmi.  Hollister's attorney argued in a court motion that evidence presented in the trial was insufficient, errors were made in closing arguments and other errors deprived Hollister of a fair trial.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the Atchison County attorney said he would file a response to the motion within 30 days or request an extension.

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Vehicle-Deer Accident Sways KS Lawmaker on Bow Hunting Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker says a run-in with a deer made him see a proposal on crossbow hunting in a new light.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that House Republican Anthony Brown voted Tuesday against a bill creating a crossbow hunting season.  But when the bill came up for a final vote yesterday (WED), Brown was for it. The measure now goes to the Senate.  Brown says he was driving home from Topeka to the Douglas County town of Eudora Tuesday night when a collision with a large doe did substantial damage to his truck. He says a deputy told him it was the second deer-related accident he'd worked that night.  The bill would clear the way for Kansas to create a crossbow hunting season for deer, antelope, elk and wild turkey.

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Another Defendant Sentenced in Slaying of Wichita Man

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — One of eight suspects in the shooting death of a Missouri football player's cousin has been sentenced to eight years in prison.  Twenty-one-year-old Deshon Houston was sentenced in the 2010 death of Aaron Hobson of Wichita.  He pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in exchange for testifying against the other suspects.  The Columbia Tribune reports that Hobson was visiting Columbia in October 2010 to watch his cousin, Trey Hobson, play in the university's homecoming game. Aaron Hobson was meeting friends at a convenience store when he was robbed and shot.  The triggerman in the death, Daron Peal, has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.

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Judge Refuses to Drop Charges in Family Sex Crimes Case

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge has refused to dismiss rape charges against one of five men accused of molesting young relatives three decades ago at a farm.  Clay County Circuit Judge Larry Harman denied several defense motions to dismiss charges against 54-year-old David Mohler over delays in getting medical and mental health records from the accusers.  Mohler's lawyer had argued that repeated trial delays were unfair to his client.  Mohler, three of his brothers and their father were charged in November 2009 with sexually abusing at least four young relatives on a farm 30 miles east of Kansas City starting in the early 1980s.  The father, Burrell Mohler Senior, was free on bail Friday. David, Jared and Roland Mohler also have bonded out, while Burrell Mohler Junior remains in jail.  

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Army Reviewing KU Program for Wounded Veterans

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army is reviewing a program that sends wounded veterans to the University of Kansas for graduate study.  The Wounded Warrior Initiative provides funds for wounded soldiers to pursue master's and doctoral studies in areas that support research and academic programs. In return, the veterans make a six-year commitment to the Army.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the program is being reviewed and the Army has not recruited any new soldiers for the 2013 school year.  U.S. Army Major Michael Flatoff is a spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, which oversees the program.  He says the program was a pilot project that is being evaluated to determine if it should be continued. He had no timetable for when the review would be completed.

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KS Researcher Who Faked Data Faces Sentencing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has granted a sentencing delay for a Kansas researcher who admitted falsifying data in a 2010 clinical trial of an allergy pill on human subjects.  Lisa Sharp, a nurse from Olathe (oh-LAY'-thuh), had been scheduled for sentencing March 5, but a judge has moved the proceeding to March 23. Sharp's co-defendant, Topeka physician Wayne Spencer, will still be sentenced March 5.  Both defendants worked for Lee Research Institute, which was paid by Schering-Plough to conduct the clinical trial on the allergy medication. Spencer was the principal investigator and Sharp was the lead research coordinator.  They pleaded to conspiracy to defraud and failing to maintain records in a clinical trial as required by the Food and Drug Administration.

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No Serious Injuries in KC Area School Bus Accident

GRANDVIEW, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in suburban Kansas City say one person suffered minor injuries and two were taken to hospitals as a precaution after a car collided with a school bus.  The accident happened around 2:30 yesterday (WED) afternoon, at an exit along U.S. 71 in Grandview, Missouri.  KSHB-TV reports the bus was carrying two students from the Hickman Mills School District. Police said initial reports indicated the car turned in front of the bus.  The driver of the car was taken to a hospital with minor injuries after being pulled from the wreckage. A school district spokesman says the pregnant bus driver and a student who may have had an asthma attack were also taken to hospitals to be checked.

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KS Drug Charges Dropped Against Boxer Tommy Morrison

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors in Sedgwick County have dropped drug charges against former heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison, less than a year after unrelated drug charges were dismissed in Emporia.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the Sedgwick County charges were dropped Tuesday, the same day Morrison faced a court hearing.  The Oklahoma native was arrested in March 2010 outside a Wichita fitness club and later charged with possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  Morrison had told The Eagle he often sat in his car reading the Bible before going into the club to lift weights. He said his car had items from a recent move, including a box containing a pipe that police said bore marijuana residue.  The Emporia charges were dismissed after a state trooper who arrested Morrison died in a motorcycle accident.  

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Efforts Underway to Restore "Home on the Range" Cabin

State Senator Bob Marshall, Fort Scott, speaking with KPR's J. Schafer. (Photo by Janet Campbell)One hundred and forty years ago... inside a small cabin in north-central Kansas... the following words were first written-down: "Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam." Those words -- and a few other lines -- would later become the LYRICS to the official state song of Kansas. This week, the Kansas Senate passed a resolution celebrating the old cabin where those words were first committed to paper. KPR's J. Schafer spoke with a co-sponsor of the resolution, state Senator Bob Marshall, of Fort Scott. He's hoping to raise awareness about the cabin... and money to restore it.

That's Republican state Senator Bob Marshall, of Fort Scott.  He was speaking with KPR's J. Schafer about efforts to restore and preserve Higley Cabin in Smith County, Kansas -- the birthplace of the official state song of Kansas, "Home on the Range."

 

 

Prosecutors Review Cases of Lawrence Police Officers in Ticket Scheme

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County prosecutors are investigating pending or past cases involving two suspended Lawrence police officers suspected of dismissing speeding tickets in exchange for Kansas basketball tickets. Also on Tuesday, city officials confirmed they are investigating whether other police officers were involved in dismissing the tickets. City officials say the person whose traffic tickets were fixed is serving a federal prison sentence related to a broader Kansas ticket scandal. The two officers were suspended earlier this month after an FBI investigation. Douglas County prosecutors say they are trying to determine if the officers' conduct damaged their credibility in other cases. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that city officials won't name the two officers, and also refused to say how many other officers might have been involved and how many tickets were fixed.

Poacher Suspected of Killing Snowy Owl Near Great Bend

 GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a snowy owl found shot to death last week at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area near Great Bend probably was shot by a poacher.  The owl was alive when it was found last Thursday but had a serious injury to a wing. Veterinarians at the Great Bend Raptor Center amputated the bird's wing but it died the next day.  The Wichita Eagle reports that snowy owls are not an endangered species, but shooting one is a federal violation.  The owl is one of more than a hundred that have been spotted this year in Kansas. In a normal year, only one or two snowy owls are seen this far south of their habitat in the Arctic. 

Regional Headlines for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

KS GOP Income Tax Plan Hikes Rates for Poorest

 TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Revenue estimates for the House Republican income tax plan show that the lowest income earners would be the only bracket that would see their tax rates go up. The estimates show the plan would cost Kansas more than $850 million over the next five years, possibly creating budget issues in future years. The figures were obtained today (WED) by The Associated Press from a legislative source who wasn't authorized to release the information publicly. House Republican leaders developed the plan as an alternative to Republican Governor Sam Brownback's income tax proposal. In both plans, the only group of taxpayers seeing a collective increase in their income taxes would be those with adjusted gross incomes of $25,000 or less.

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Judge Revokes License for KS Doctor in Abortion Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An administrative judge has issued an order revoking a Kansas doctor's license over her referrals of young patients for late-term abortions.  The judge said Dr. Ann Kristen Neuhaus failed to meet accepted standards of care in performing mental health evaluations on 11 patients, aged 10 to 18, in 2003. The order was made public yesterday (TUE).  Neuhaus provided the second opinions that allowed the late Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, to terminate the patients' pregnancies.  But Administrative Judge Ed Gaschler, who presided over a hearing for Neuhaus, said the care of the patients was seriously jeopardized by her actions.  The revocation order will be reviewed by the State Board of Healing Arts, which regulates physicians.  Neuhaus attorney Bob Eye did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

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KS House Debates Bill to Speed-Up Voter Citizenship Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House is preparing to debate Secretary of State Kris Kobach's (KOH'-bahks) bill to require some potential voters to prove they're U.S. citizens before this year's presidential election.  The bill on the chamber's agenda today (WED) would impose the proof-of-citizenship requirement on June 15, more than six months ahead of schedule. It would apply to people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas.  Last year, legislators enacted a proof-of-citizenship requirement along with a law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. But that proof-of-citizenship rule doesn't take effect until January 1, 2013.  Kobach says he wants the rule in place in time for the surge of voter registration that occurs before a presidential election. Critics say the bill will suppress voter participation.

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GOP-Controlled KS House Rejects Democratic Tax Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Kansas House has rejected a Democratic proposal for keeping local property taxes in check.  The plan called for the state to provide $45 million to local governments during the fiscal year that begins in July, to replace property tax revenues. The state used to provide such aid every year but stopped after 2008 because of budget problems.  The House defeated the proposal yesterday (TUE) on a 76-41 vote.  Democratic Rep. Jim Ward, of Wichita, offered the plan as an amendment to a bill making a technical change in property tax laws. The House advanced the measure without his amendment.  On Monday, the House Taxation Committee endorsed a GOP plan for cutting the state sales tax and individual income taxes. Some Republicans said Ward's plan hadn't been thoroughly vetted.

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Lawmakers Extend Debate on KS School Finance Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee is extending its discussion of Governor Sam Brownback's proposal to rewrite the formula for distributing state aid to school districts.  Friday is the last day in this year's legislative session for bills in certain committees to clear their chamber of origin.  Sen. Jean Schodorf says the Education Committee won't be able to finish its work on the school finance bill this week, and will request an exception to allow for more debate.  Schodorf, a Wichita Republican, says Brownback's plan is complex and has generated a lot of discussion. She says the bill isn't dead, but needs further review.  Brownback's proposal would give school districts more authority to raise revenue and spend the dollars with more flexibility.

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KS House to Discuss High School Dropout Proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House members are preparing to take up a bill designed to inform high school dropouts about other means of continuing their education once they leave school.  The legislation would require 16- and 17-year-old dropouts to be given information about alternatives to a traditional high school diploma, such as a general educational development credential, or GED.  The proposal originally required those quitting school to enroll in a GED or other alternative program. But a House committee amended the bill so that students must be informed of their options during their final counseling session before dropping out.  There was no opposition to the amended proposal.

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KS House Approves Restraint Rules for Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas House has approved a bill setting standards for when public schools may physically restrain disruptive students or place them in isolation. The 82-41 vote Wednesday sends the measure to the Senate. The bill is backed by advocates for the disabled, who say voluntary guidelines enacted by the State Board of Education don't go far enough to protect students from abuse. Some critics argue the state should leave the issue to its 286 school districts. Under the bill, physical restraints or placement in a so-called seclusion room couldn't be used as discipline or punishment or for the convenience of staff. Mechanical restraints would be banned. The bill would limit when a disabled child could be restrained or sent to a seclusion room.

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Garden City Approves Support of Amtrak Route

 GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City commissioners approved resolutions offering symbolic and financial support to an Amtrak route through southwest Kansas.The commission on Tuesday approved a resolution asking Amtrak to maintain the Southwest Chief's route between Chicago and Los Angeles that goes through Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City. It also stops at towns in southeast Colorado and one town in New Mexico. It also approved spending up to $20,000 to help pay for federal lobbying efforts to keep the current route. The Garden City Telegram reports Amtrak is considering an alternative route that would run south of Newton through the Texas Panhandle to New Mexico. It cites the poor condition of rail track owned by BNSF Railway, which Amtrak uses for its service.

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KS House Rejects Higher Boat Fees

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House members don't think much of giving a state official the power to double the fee for registering a boat to use at state parks.  The House voted 82-29 yesterday (TUE) against giving first-round approval to a bill allow the secretary of wildlife, parks and tourism the authority to increase the boating fee from $30 to $60.  Boat owners pay the fee once every three years. Supporters of the bill said that even if the fee is doubled, it will still be competitive with the fees charged in other states. They said the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism can use more budget flexibility.  But critics worried about increasing fees or giving too much power to an administrative agency.

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Man Charged with Harassment over Call to KS Governor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old man faces two misdemeanor charges of telephone harassment over an allegedly threatening call he made to the Kansas governor's office.  Stephen J. Thibodeau remained in the Shawnee County jail in Topeka last (TUE) night on $25,000 bond. Authorities said his last known home was Columbia, Missouri, though he said in court appearance last week that he and his family were moving back to Salina.  Thibodeau was arrested last week at a Topeka motel after Governor Sam Brownback's office reported receiving what authorities described as a threatening call.  The Shawnee County district attorney's office filed a complaint Friday alleging that Thibodeau harassed two employees of the governor's office. Each count could be punished by up to a year in jail.

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Mouse Causes Temporary Power Outage at KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Power has been restored to more than 10 buildings at the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence.  The outage started around 2:10pm yesterday (TUE), after a mouse caused an electrical short. The university said in a statement that buildings were brought back online gradually, with the power fully restored around 3:30pm.  Buildings affected by the outage included Spencer Museum, Watson Library and the Kansas Union.

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Prosecutors Review Cases of Lawrence Officers in Ticket Scheme

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County prosecutors are investigating pending or past cases involving two suspended Lawrence police officers suspected of dismissing speeding tickets in exchange for Kansas basketball tickets.  Also on Tuesday, city officials confirmed they are investigating whether other police officers were involved in dismissing the tickets.  City officials say the person whose traffic tickets were fixed is serving a federal prison sentence related to a broader Kansas ticket scandal.  The two officers were suspended earlier this month after an FBI investigation.  Douglas County prosecutors say they are trying to determine if the officers' conduct damaged their credibility in other cases.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that city officials won't name the two officers, and also refused to say how many other officers might have been involved and how many tickets were fixed.

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KC Firefighter Admits Killing Wife Who's Been Missing Three Years

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A former western Missouri firefighter has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, who disappeared more than three years ago after starting divorce proceedings.  In entering the plea in Clay County Circuit Court yesterday (TUE), 39-year-old Shon Pernice, of Kansas City, admitted to hitting Renee Pernice multiple times as they argued, knocking her down a flight of stairs. He said the fall is what killed the 35-year-old nursing instructor and mother of two sons and a stepdaughter.  Authorities said after the hearing that they believe he put her body in trash bags and she ended up at a landfill. The unsuccessful search for her body had involved dozens of volunteers.  At the time of Renee Pernice's January 2009 disappearance, Shon Pernice was a firefighter in the Kansas City suburb of Independence. He also served in the National Guard and with the Army in Iraq.  Shon Pernice also was accused of stealing a neighbor's handgun and endangering his two sons in incidents that occurred after Renee Pernice's disappearance. As part of the plea agreement, he admitted two counts of child endangerment. Prosecutors dropped theft and witness tampering charges.  Pernice, who faces 15 years in prison, had been scheduled for trial next week on a charge of first-degree murder.  

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Topeka Man Gets 55 Years for Killing During Crime Spree

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to more than 55 years in prison for killing another man during a crime spree in June 2010.  Forty-four-year-old Stephen A. Macomber was sentenced yesterday (TUE) for killing 26-year-old Ryan Lofton in Lofton's driveway in Topeka. He was convicted in January of intentional second-degree murder.  Macomber says he didn't intend to kill or shoot Lofton. The shooting occurred during a struggle to get control of a gun.  After Macomber shot Lofton, he shot and wounded a Marshall County sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in Blue Rapids and then held an elderly woman hostage during a standoff with police. He's serving 83 years in prison for those crimes.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Macomber had 19 prior convictions, 13 of them involving felonies against people.

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Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Manhattan Death

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Manhattan man has pleaded not guilty in the death of a man whose body was found along a dirt road last December.  Nineteen-year-old Michael Layne entered the plea yesterday (TUE) to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Steve Freel.  The Manhattan Mercury reports that Layne also pleaded not guilty to aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and kidnapping.  Police have said they believe Freel and Layne committed several armed robberies together but had an argument that led to Freel being driven to a rural area and shot.

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Missouri Man Admits Embezzling from Homeowner Groups

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a Kansas City business admitted that he embezzled more than $750,000 from dozens of homeowners associations.  Fifty-three-year-old Dale Palmer pleaded guilty yesterday (TUE) to a federal charge of mail fraud.  Palmer owned and operated Home Owner Association Services, which provided management services and managed accounts for homeowner associations in Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Prosecutors say when Palmer closed the company's Kansas City office in March 2011, $751,302 was missing from the accounts of 32 homeowner associations.  Palmer admitted that he used funds from the homeowners associations to pay his business expenses. He prepared false statements for the associations, which never saw their bank statements.  He faces a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000.

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Poacher Suspected in Shooting Death of Snowy Owl in Great Bend

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Wildlife officials say a snowy owl found shot to death last week at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area near Great Bend probably was shot by a poacher.  The owl was alive when it was found last Thursday but had a serious injury to a wing. Veterinarians at the Great Bend Raptor Center amputated the bird's wing but it died the next day.  The Wichita Eagle reports that snowy owls are not an endangered species, but shooting one is a federal violation.  The owl is one of more than a hundred that have been spotted this year in Kansas. In a normal year, only one or two snowy owls are seen this far south of their habitat in the Arctic.  

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KS Convenience Store Seized for Back Taxes

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A convenience store on the Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation in northeastern Kansas has been shut down for what the state says is failure to pay more than $1.7 million in sales tax.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that state revenue agents and Jackson County sheriff's officers began seizing the assets of Kathy's General Store near Holton yesterday (TUE) morning.  The Revenue Department says it seized all known bank accounts, on-site cash, business inventory and personal property assets of Kathy's Incorporated and owner Kathy L. Kaul Kennedy.  Kaul Kennedy has challenged the state's authority to collect various types of taxes on the reservation for more than two decades.  Revenue officials say the company owes roughly $1.35 million from October 2005 to September 2009, and about $375,000 from October 2009 to September 2010.

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Wichita Woman Dragged Trying to Stop Car Thief

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say a 52-year-old woman was injured when she tried to stop a man from stealing a car out of her driveway.  KFDI-FM reports the incident began at 6:30am yesterday (TUE) when the woman left the car warming up in the driveway. She ran back outside when saw a man get in, and stood behind the car thinking the thief wouldn't run her down.  But the thief backed down the driveway with the woman hanging onto the bumper. Police say she suffered bumps and bruises from being dragged.  Officers chased the car after seeing it in another part of the city several hours later. A passenger was taken into custody immediately, and the driver surrendered after trying to swim across a small pond.

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Historic Headstones Removed from Wichita Cemetery and Discarded

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita investigators are trying to figure out who took a half-dozen historic headstones from a cemetery and threw them into a roadside ditch.  A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy came across the headstones Monday. The oldest dated to 1867, and the newest to 1907.  Investigators say they've determined the stones came from Wichita's Highland Cemetery. Photos of the headstones were released to the news media, and people responded with numerous tips.  

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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush Rallies Kansas Business Leaders

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has told Kansas business leaders that the nation needs a change of direction and called for a "patriot" energy policy, better education and an overhaul of the federal tax code.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Bush spoke last (TUE) night at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.  While he steered clear of presidential campaign politics, Bush was sharply critical of President Barack Obama's polices on domestic energy production, education and environmental regulations.  "We need to celebrate every time someone starts a business in this country — not regulate it to death," Bush said.

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KS Students Create Art for Dream Rocket Project

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Art created by Kansas students will be among those wrapped around a 365-foot replica of the Saturn V rocket at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  A visiting assistant professor at Washburn University helped elementary students from Rossville and St. Mary create 550 pieces of artwork for the Dream Rocket Project.  A news release from the Topeka university says the Saturn V rocket will be wrapped with more than 8,000 pieces of art in 2014.  Beforehand, all submissions are being displayed in venues such as libraries, schools and museums. A show is planned at the Wamego Public Library in April.  The young artists submitting their work come from hundreds of cities across the United States and other countries.

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KS House Advances Child Abuse Reporting Changes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill amending state law on mandatory reporting of alleged child abuse. Supporters said Wednesday the changes were in direct response to the allegations of child sex abuse at Penn State University involving former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. The bill expands the list of individuals required to report allegations of child abuse to authorities for investigation. It also strengthens the penalty for failure to report cases of suspected sexual abuse. It also would remove the defense that a person believed someone else was going to file the report, unless a report had actually been made, or that a person did not make a report for fear of reprisal or any other consequence.

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Kansas Attracts Five bidders for Medicaid Contracts 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has received bids from five companies for three contracts for managing the state's $2.9 billion Medicaid program. Legislators who have been skeptical of Gov. Sam Brownback's Medicaid overhaul plan saw the number of bidders Wednesday as relatively low and suggested it signals trouble. Medicaidprovides health coverage for the needy, disabled and elderly. But House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, said he thinks the five bids are sufficient for a competitive process. Brownback's administration plans to award the contracts this summer. 

England Defeats Kansas in 2012 Pancake Race

 

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) _ An English runner has won the annual Shrove Tuesday trans-Atlantic pancake race, beating the winner of the southwest Kansas leg of the race by 10 seconds. Eighteen-year-old Devon Byrnes of Olney, England, covered the course in 58.5 seconds to beat 19-year-old Kaela Krueger, who won the leg of the race in Liberal six hours later. Women clad in aprons and head scarves run the course with a pancake in their pan, flipping it at the beginning and end of the race.
Shrove Tuesday, widely known in Britain as Pancake Day, is traditionally the last day for merrymaking before the start of Lent. Pancakes were thought to be a good way for Christians to consume the fat and other ingredients they were supposed to give up during the 40 days of Lent before Easter.

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