Archive for Saturday, March 10, 2001

State and Region Briefs

March 10, 2001


Kansas City, Mo.
Chronic beryllium disease confirmed

Doctors have confirmed a case of chronic beryllium disease in a worker at a Honeywell International plant.

The worker, who was not identified, learned the news March 2. Officials at the plant notified other employees Wednesday.

The illness causes scarring in the lungs and affects breathing.

The Kansas City plant is one of 26 plants nationwide cited by the Department of Energy as a possible source of beryllium-related illness. The department discovered the contamination last year during testing required under new regulations.

Exposure occurs by breathing beryllium mist, dust or fumes. Symptoms vary but include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain and weight loss.

So far, more than 1,800 current and former workers from the plant have been tested and hundreds more await exams. Fourteen former workers and nine current employees have been identified through blood tests to be sensitive to beryllium, a condition which can be a precursor to the disease. The confirmed case came from within that pool.

Trial slated in death of Fort Riley soldier

A Junction City man has been bound over for trial in the shooting death of a Fort Riley soldier.

Anthony S. Mitchell, 26, is charged with second degree murder and three counts of attempted second degree murder. He was bound over for trial Thursday in the Riley County District Court.

Mitchell will be arraigned March 12 on charges that he shot four bullets into a vehicle and killed Fort Riley soldier Pvt. Shaun S. Leach, 20, of Raleigh, N.C. He is also charged with shooting at three other soldiers who were in the vehicle with Leach as they were leaving a party at the Eagles Club in downtown Manhattan in the early hours of Jan. 21.

The driver of the vehicle, James Hawthorne, was struck once in the leg.

In addition, Mitchell faces the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, stemming from a 1994 conviction for aggravated burglary in Colorado.

Isabel Amaya, 19, a Kansas State University student from Kansas City, Kan., was standing on the street when the shooting occurred. She was treated at a Manhattan hospital with a gunshot wound in her arm. No one has been charged in her shooting.

Kansas City, Kan.
Foundation awards millions to schools

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has agreed to give $9.66 million to the Kansas City, Kan., School District.

The grant announced Thursday will be spread over five years and used to recruit teachers, reduce class sizes, train administrators and get parents more involved in schools. The money funds a program called "First Things First."

The grant is the Kauffman Foundation's largest gift after a $25 million donation to help develop Science City at Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

The gift to the school district is a reward for showing progress through the First Things First program.

The approach aims to improve schools in low-income communities. Kansas City, Kan., schools began using the program in 1998, and this is the first year it has been implemented in all district schools.

Although experts say it usually takes up to seven years to see results from reforms, the district already is seeing positive signs. The dropout rate has been cut in half, schools have seen a significant drop in suspensions and there have been large increases in students' reading levels.

Kauffman is one of the 25 largest foundations in the country, but its multimillion-dollar grants are rare.

High court suspends two attorneys' licenses

The Kansas Supreme Court has suspended the law licenses of two Kansas City, Kan., attorneys for a year.

The court on Friday disciplined W. Frederick Zimmerman because of a complaint about his handling of a 1996 federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who said defective seat belts contributed to her injuries in an automobile accident.

The court also disciplined J. Kevin Lund, noting testimony during disciplinary proceedings that Lund had fallen behind in child support payments to his ex-wife.

More than $800,000 seized in traffic stops

Authorities have seized nearly $830,000 dollars in two traffic stops this week on Interstate 70.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers found $405,000 Monday when they stopped a car 2 miles west of Hays for illegal tag display. The driver, a New York resident, said they didn't know anything about the money, said Sgt. Rick Langdon of the Highway Patrol.

The second car, a rental driven by a San Diego man, was stopped by a Thomas County Sheriff's deputy Wednesday near Colby. The car was searched and $426,480 was found in boxes in the trunk. The driver did not claim the money.

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