Posts tagged with Kansas

Massive oil pipeline project has Kansans and national environmental groups concerned

Kansas sits squarely in the middle of a debate that national environmental groups say will shape President Barack Obama’s legacy on fighting climate change.

This week, droves of protestors were arrested in front of the White House as part of a sit-in opposing TransCanda’s 1,700-mile, $7 billion pipeline system that would transport crude oil from what supporters call the oil sands of Canada all the way to the refineries on the Gulf Coast. A segment of the Keystone XL pipeline runs through Kansas.

On Monday more than a 100 people gathered at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene to hear a company spokesman and an angry Texas landowner debate the merits of the project.

All the activity preceded Friday’s release of the U.S. State Department’s environmental impact study of the pipeline, which is needed before a Presidential permit is issued.

In a conference call Thursday morning with national environmental groups opposing the project, Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica said the decision to allow the pipeline project to move forward has political implications.

“This decision to approve or disapprove the Keystone XL pipeline is squarely on (Obama’s) desk and is a bellwether on whether this president is committed to addressing global climate change and this nation’s as well as the world’s dependency on dirty fossil fuels,” Pica said.

Last summer, TransCanada laid pipeline through Kansas to connect Steele City, Neb., with Cushing, Okla. That pipeline travels through Washington, Clay, Dickinson, Marion, Butler and Cowley counties.

The current approval process is for two expansion projects. One starts in Hardisty, Alberta, and travels through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Another phase would take oil from Oklahoma south to Texas. As part of the expansion project, which would increase the amount of crude oil being carried from 591,000 barrels a day to 1.3 million, two pumping stations would be built in Kansas.

In Kansas, Marion County Commissioner Dan Holub’s main concerns are economic ones. Several years ago, the Kansas Legislature passed a tax exemption for pipelines in hopes of bringing employment opportunities and money to Kansas.

“We were told there would be jobs, camp sites, motels, trailer parks, all these construction crews coming through, a lot of restaurant businesses, more people, more fuel sales,” Holub said. “None of that materialized.”

Instead, Holub said, construction crews were made up of unionized laborers from outside the area and were housed about 100 miles apart from each other.

The state’s 10-year tax exemption means Marion County and its schools, townships and other government entities will miss out on about $30 million in tax revenue. In return, Holub said that when the pipeline was laid about $40,000 in sales tax was collected.

“It’s totally frustrating,” Holub said.

Jim Prescott, spokesman for the Keystone XL pipeline project, disagrees with Holub’s assessment and said plenty of businesses and companies in the state would as well. During last summer’s construction, the company and its contractors spent $481 million in Kansas and another $8 million in sales tax.

“We had a good experience in Kansas in terms of construction, in terms of local businesses and suppliers we worked with at the local level,” Prescott said. “We know that there was a substantial benefit.”

As Holub began following the project, his worries on the pipeline’s environmental effects grew. Holub, who lives about a mile and half from the pipeline, is concerned about the potential for spills and leaks and the company’s commitment to cleaning them up.

Environmental impacts have been the major motivating force for those opposing the project across the country.

On Thursday morning, opposing environmental groups said the method for extracting oil from oil sands produces higher levels of greenhouse gases than traditional oil reserves, threatens Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer and will increase pollution in communities surrounding the refineries.

“Americans have nothing to gain from this pipeline and everything to lose,” Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune said. “If the pipeline is built, it would be Americans that get the pollution and foreign corporations that get the profits.”

On the other hand, Prescott said the pipeline will be the most studied and analyzed pipeline in history.

“The Keystone pipeline is going above and beyond what is required when it comes to pipeline safety and integrity and operations,” Prescott said, and he noted that Canada has much more stringent environmental regulations than the other countries supplying the U.S. with oil, such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

Even if the permit is approved, the fight over the pipeline would be far from over.

“If we fail, there are quite a few people along the pipeline route that have already said, like the people in Washington this week, that they would sit in, that they would put their bodies on the line in front of bulldozers and pipes to prevent the construction,” said Kenny Bruno, campaign director for Corporate Ethics International.

By Christine Metz


KDHE leader voices concerns over flood of EPA regulations

A steady stream of proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency could be a burden for Kansas.

“We are in a period of time where the EPA is coming out with new regulation proposals almost weekly, sometimes it seems like it’s daily,” said John Mitchell, director of the environment division at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Mitchell discussed those regulations and how they could impact the state as part of his opening remarks Wednesday at the Kansas Environmental Conference in Topeka.

“States are in a position of reduced resources in way of staff and funding, but these new proposals that have come out generally are required to be implemented in a short period of time. That is a challenge for the staff,” Mitchell said after his remarks.

In particular, Mitchell is concerned about proposed regulations surrounding air and water quality.

Among the biggest question marks is the possibility of the EPA raising the standards for ozone pollutants, which cause smog. If new standards are adopted, some Kansas cities such as Wichita could be at risk for not meeting the federal agency’s standards and would be required to implement a plan to reduce ozone levels.

Kansas also is among the six Midwest states targeted in the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which the EPA finalized in July. The new rule requires these states to reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions during the summertime when ozone levels are at their highest. Kansas is also among the 27 states that have to work with power plants to reduce harmful emissions such as mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.

Phase one of those regulations goes into effect next January and phase two in 2014. While states in the eastern part of the country have had programs in place to prevent cross-state air pollution, those west of the Mississippi have not, Mitchell said.

“The rule is requiring us to really think hard and work with (electric utility) companies in Kansas and figure out how we stay in compliance with new regulations. It’s a real challenge,” Mitchell said.

The EPA is also focusing on nutrient reduction, mainly for nitrogen and phosphorus levels. The nutrients come from wastewater treatment plants as well as water runoff and groundwater that contains fertilizer.

While the EPA is pushing to set a specific limit for nutrients, Mitchell said the reduction needs to be a shared effort among stakeholders.

High nutrients have become a concern because of the prevalence of large blue green algae blooms in reservoirs and ponds throughout the state. These algae blooms have made people sick and caused animals to die. Mitchell urged the state to take a leadership role in the problem.

“We do need to address nutrient reduction in surface water. We need to do that working together or someone from the federal level is going to do it for us,” Mitchell said.

By Christine Metz


Jobs picture in Kansas remains largely unchanged; new data raise concerns about pace of economic recovery

The state unemployment situation continued to hover around the same level, raising concerns about a sluggish recovery on the job front.

The July jobless rate was 6.8 percent, up from 6.7 percent in June and down from 7.3 percent in July 2010, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. The seasonably adjusted rate was 6.5 percent for July, down from 6.6 percent in June and down from 7 percent in July 2010.

State officials said they detected slow growth, especially the pickup of 2,400 private sector jobs since June.

"Private sector jobs continued to grow last month -- albeit at a snail's pace," said Kansas Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee. She said there were some encouraging job gains in education and health services.

Tyler Tenbrink, a Labor Department economist, said, "Kansas experienced its second month of very slow growth in private non-farm jobs, increasing the risk of a stagnant recovery in the labor market."

Statewide, there were 19,706 initial claims for unemployment benefits in July, up from 18,884 initial claims in June and down from 23,907 in July 2010. There were 192,155 continued claims in July, down from 195,006 in June and down from 249,950 in July 2010.


Area wineries win awards at Indiana wine competition

Four area wine producers won awards at the Indy International Wine Competition, held last week in West Lafayette, Ind.

Eudora’s Davenport Orchard & Vineyard won Best of Class and a gold medal for its 2005 Norton.

Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery, located in Basehor, won a gold medal for its 2008 Cynthiana and a gold medal and Best of Class for its 2009 Chambourcin. Holy-Field also won seven silver medals and one bronze.

Wyldewood Cellars, which produces most of its wine outside of Mulvane but has a store at 835 Massachusetts St., won gold for its 2010 Traminette. It also won one silver and one bronze.

Olathe’s Stone Pillar Vineyard & Winery rounded out the list of area winners, taking home one silver and four bronze medals.

The Indy International Wine Competition drew 3,000 entries from 15 countries and 40 states.

By Aaron Couch


Casino sets career fair for dealers this weekend

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will have an informational career fair this weekend for individuals interested in learning about upcoming dealer training and dealer positions available at the casino when it opens in February 2012.

The informational fair is set from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, Kan., 520 Minnesota Ave. Members of Hollywood’s management team will provide information about the voluntary dealer school that begins Oct. 10, including dealer training, the timeline and commitment involved, and the licensing process. Information pertaining to the application process for dealer school will be provided to job fair attendees, but no interviewing will take place and resumes will not be accepted.

Casino officials reported they expected to fill about 50 percent of the table game positions at the casino with dealer school graduates. Hollywood will offer 52 table games when it opens, including blackjack, craps, poker and roulette.

After applications are submitted, Hollywood will contact and interview select dealer school candidates and administer a series of tests for math skills, dexterity and color vision. Applicants cannot have a criminal record, and criminal background checks will be conducted.

Those in training are not considered Hollywood employees and will not be paid for their time, casino officials said.

Dealer school will be held for eight to 12 weeks depending on the complexity of the games learned. Multiple session options — afternoon or evening — will be conducted Monday through Friday, and all attendees will be trained on at least two types of games. There is no guarantee of a job after dealer school, and applicants must pass a drug test and be licensed by the State of Kansas before they can be hired.

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway plans to play host to a separate career fair for those interested in all other positions in September. Details for the event will be announced at a later date.


Experts: Rural law enforcement offices easy target for savvy hackers

An online attack against dozens of rural American law enforcement agencies in which emails, credit card numbers and crime tips were stolen and posted on the Internet has left some officials wondering how they can ward off future hacking attempts, if at all.

The attack by the hackers’ collective Anonymous on agencies in five states — Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi — was likely so broad in scope because many sites were hosted by the same company, Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing, of Mountain Home, Ark. But the theft exposed a “dirty little secret” about hacking — the best hackers can beat the tools meant to stop them and many potential victims don’t know it, said Anup Ghosh, the co-founder and CEO of the software security company Invincea.

“Everyone is getting compromised. You either know it or you don’t,” Ghosh said Monday.

Hackers have evolved

Most of the technology meant to prevent hacking was developed in the mid- to late-1990s, yet hackers have continued to develop their trade, Ghosh said.

“The guys writing the attack codes have evolved their technologies considerably,” he said.

What has changed is that “hacktivists” such as Anonymous want the world to know about their crimes, breaches that were once kept quiet or that went unnoticed by hacking targets are now being trumpeted.

“The hacktivists benefit by making public the fact that they’ve compromised those networks and they’re putting the data out there essentially to embarrass those organizations and cause harm,” Ghosh said.

After posting the stolen law enforcement data online Saturday, Anonymous members taunted local sheriffs on Twitter and the group’s website, saying they wanted to embarrass and discredit law enforcement after a series of arrests targeting alleged members of the group.

Much of the pilfered information appeared to be benign, but some emails contained crime tips, profiles of gang members and other sensitive information. The attacked websites appeared to be back up Monday, and the stolen information remained online elsewhere.

In Missouri, nine county sheriffs and the state sheriffs association were hacked, and deputies’ credit card information and home addresses were made public. In small-town Gassville, Ark., hackers posted photos of teenage girls in their swimsuits that were sent to Police Chief Tim Mayfield as part of an ongoing investigation, Mayfield said. The hackers also said they used credit card numbers to make “involuntary donations” to a variety of groups. One person confirmed to The Associated Press that his credit card was used.

Kansas offices hacked

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Sheriff’s Association were among the websites hacked by Anonymous.

It’s unclear whether any sensitive or confidential information was obtained from the Jefferson County website, said Sheriff Jeff Herrig.

“We don’t know,” said Herrig, expressing concern about the possibility that some of the leaked data could affect a case.

Sandy Horton, director of the Kansas Sheriff’s Association, said her group’s website does not contain any sensitive or personal information.

Both Herrig and Horton said the hacking caused problems with their websites, and they’ve been working on fixing any issues.

No other local law enforcement agencies were reportedly affected by the hacking, which is being investigated by the FBI.

The hackers posted 10 gigabytes worth of data.

Anonymous said Saturday it attacked 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the U.S. in retaliation for the arrests of some of its sympathizers.

Anonymous may have gone after the sheriff’s office because the hosting company, Little Rock-based Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing, was an easy target, said Dick Mackey, vice president of consulting at Sudbury, Mass.-based SystemExperts.

Mackey said many organizations don’t see themselves as potential targets for international hackers, causing indifference that can leave them vulnerable, he said.

“It seems to me to be low-hanging fruit,” he said. “If you want to go after someone and make a point and want to have their defenses be low, go after someone who doesn’t consider themselves a target.”

By Shaun Hittle and The Associated Press


Funding channels for Farm Aid in Kansas lack adequate cultivation

Since 1985, Farm Aid has given $71,000 to farm advocacy organizations designated to help Kansas farmers.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Kansas who has seen one red cent.

In fact, the Kansas farmers who have been helped by Farm Aid in the past 10 years aren’t those fourth-generation folks whose lands click by on the western stretches of Interstate 70.

No, the most recent farmers to see Farm Aid funds are a group of 19 urban farmers in Wyandotte County.

Farm Aid helps dozens of organizations and thousands of farmers each year through its programs and grants. But, for those expecting their dollars from the group’s Aug. 13 concert at Livestrong Sporting Park to make their way from ticket sellers to grandpa’s chicken coop, think again.

Consider this: In 25 years, Farm Aid has made more than $36 million in the name of helping farmers. Therefore, that $71,000 amounts to about 0.2 percent of the funds raised by the organization. That means Kansans have received less than a quarter of 1 percent of Farm Aid’s revenues. This, in a state with 65,500 farmers.

Before you start firing off letters to Farm Aid President Willie Nelson, know this: It’s not Farm Aid’s fault.

Not entirely, anyway.

The group’s records show that it spends more on salaries than on direct grants. In 2009, Farm Aid spent $525,341 on grants and $633,503 on salaries and compensation — including more money for its chief financial officer that year than Kansans have ever gotten from the organization.

But those numbers don’t mean farmers aren’t getting aid. They are, by the thousands each year. Just not here.

As an organization, Farm Aid can funnel its funds only through nonprofit groups. Those nonprofits don’t get their hands on Farm Aid funds simply for being viable. They must apply. Funds won’t magically appear just because an organization is dedicated to Kansas farmers.

And these days, the only folks asking are the folks at Juniper Gardens Farm Business Development program in Kansas City, which received $9,000 during the past two years.

Asking and aid

Back in the early 1990s, several people were asking for Farm Aid grants big and small.

The Farm Crisis of the 1980s had given way to several organizations eager to seek Farm Aid funds to help struggling Kansas farmers and ranchers.

The Rural Areas Foundation in Concordia received $8,000 in Farm Aid funds in 1990. The Kansas Swine Growers Association in La Harpe was granted $5,000 in 1993. The Kansas Rural Center, then headed by Lawrence resident Dan Nagengast, received three Farm Aid grants totaling $18,000 from 1992 to 1994.

But the major recipient of Farm Aid grantees was exactly whom Nelson pegged as the perfect vehicle for getting money directly to rural farmers: churches. More specifically, the Kansas Ecumenical Ministries in Topeka, a council of most of the state’s church denominations. KEM, as it was known, received $31,000 from 1990 to 2000.

But then, Kansas groups stopped asking. Or were asking and weren’t receiving. All told, no organization or farmer in Kansas received direct state-level help from Farm Aid for nine years until Cultivate Kansas City received its first Juniper Gardens’ grant — $5,000 — from Farm Aid in 2009.

In the meantime two of the original groups receiving funds went belly up: the Rural Areas Foundation and the Kansas Swine Growers. The Rural Center is still thriving, but it hasn’t asked for Farm Aid funds since the mid-1990s, says Mary Fund, acting executive director.

“We have not handed out money to farmers from them in a long time. Gosh, I can’t even remember the last Farm Aid grant that we had, it was so long ago,” says Fund, who has been with the organization for the better part of three decades. “We just haven’t applied to them. I’m not sure quite why. I think we got turned down on one and then you just kind of get out of the cycle.”

But the biggest factor in the aid puzzle and its biggest loss was KEM, which was, and still is, the average farmer’s best hope at receiving monetary help in times of personal crisis.

A dissolved web of help

Once upon a time, the Christian organization known as KEM worked through pastors in Kansas churches to reach in-need farmers. The idea, says Linda Hessman, was that if a small-town farmer needed help, he wouldn’t broadcast it, but rather, he’d go through his pastor. Or maybe even a pastor the next town over. Those pastors would contact someone like Hessman, who worked as a liaison for a division of the KEM, Interfaith Rural Life, which granted farmers $250 for household needs and $500 for medical expenses. Hessman dealt specifically with the health expenses, which were paid for through a pool that included Farm Aid funds.

“It was $500 a family, they could apply more than once, and it was used to help with medical needs,” Hessman says. “Now, that could also be like to cover fuel or whatever it would take to ease that piece. You could also use that money to pay your health insurance, because that was, very consistently, what we all saw across the board — that was one of the expenses that was just dropped to help out with the cash flow.”

But KEM, which had its own hardships during the past decade, is reorganizing. Without KEM, the state doesn’t have an umbrella organization to hand out money to struggling farmers, let alone ask for such funds, says Charlie Griffin, an assistant research professor at Kansas State University and longtime farm advocate.

Griffin, whose last aid effort, the Kansas Rural Family Helpline, lost funding more than a year ago, says that, in other states, funding can be obtained because of stronger aid networks. Many, including Nebraska, went the same route as Kansas and have networks set up through the state’s council of churches. Others, such as Iowa, went through the state’s extension services to help hurting farmers. Still more, as is the case in Wisconsin, work through a state’s department of agriculture.

“There’s no substitute for an organized statewide assistance program of some sort that has high visibility. The states that do have programs like that have, I believe, even a track record of reduced farm suicides and things like that. Having that contact is a vital doorway into the many, many sources of assistance that are available,” Griffin said. “After that, I would say that since we do not currently have that here in this state, our system is quite fragmented. I wouldn’t hesitate to say it’s difficult right now for people to have assistance.”

Kansas State Research and Extension can help farmers only so much. It does provide what is called Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services, but can help only in cases of legal and financial need through consultants, not dollars.

Without a centralized group, that also means when there are natural disasters — such as the tornadoes, droughts and flooding Kansas farmers have already seen this year — it’s nearly impossible to help those farmers with Farm Aid grants because Kansans don’t have a nonprofit web though which to funnel the money. This is unlike other states, which have organizations that have been able to tap into more than just the federal and state funding that comes along with a natural disaster declaration.

Farm Aid spokeswoman Jennifer Fahy gives the example of working through nonprofits after Hurricane Katrina to help those working destroyed lands. Farm Aid contacted one of its longtime partners, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, to dole out aid.

“The focus was on the Ninth Ward and people living in New Orleans, but just outside the city we had rural residents and farmers flooded just as much as the people living in the Ninth Ward,” Fahy says. “We worked with them to make sure we were assisting farmers in that area.”

Dollars and need

The other part of the reason why Kansans aren’t getting many Farm Aid funds is a simple matter of mathematics.

As stated above, in 2009, Farm Aid spent $525,341 on grants and $633,503 on salaries and compensation, out of a total take of $1,526,916. That’s 35 percent for grants and 42 percent for its employees. And many of those salaries went to workers on the group’s many national programs, such the Farm Aid Hotline and The Farmer Resource Network that help farmers across the country.

But the group also spent $128,170 on a public relations firm. On advertising and promotion, it spent $111,198. And the group’s 35-hour-a-week CFO, Glenda Yoder, made $76,384 in total compensation — more than Kansans have received in the past 25 years.

Most of Farm Aid’s most recent grantees received funds of $5,000 or less, but every dollar is important in the agricultural arena these days, and Kansas is no different. While it’s not tantamount to the Farm Crisis of the 1980s that launched Farm Aid, the fiscal situation isn’t great.

It’s something the Rural Center’s Fund calls a “low-level fever” waiting to explode. Commodity prices are artificially high, which looks good if you have crops to sell, but many in the state are hurting for various reasons. Drought. Flooding. The extreme heat. Storm damage. High price of land. High price of feed.

It adds up to a state on the verge of crisis, says Donn Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union.

“We’re in a bubble right now, but there are tremendously high input costs, too. All these people in Kansas with their crops drying up, good crop prices aren’t going to do you any good if you don’t have any crops to sell,” Teske says. “It could get to be a serious situation because they have such high-input costs to put the crops in and they’re still going to owe that money. Crop insurance will help with some of that, but it doesn’t pay that much.”

This makes Juniper Gardens’ Jill Erickson heartsick, even if her organization, Cultivate Kansas City, is being funded. So much need and so little help, and no one to ask Farm Aid or anyone else.

“There’s just a lot of factors. Are there viable organizations that are eligible? Are they aware that Farm Aid has support?” Erickson said. “It’s kind of like, what are the chances of meeting your soulmate with all the millions of people that there are and the two of you happen to meet at an airport in Italy? It’s just that kind of a thing sometimes.”

By Sarah Henning


Workshop to provide guidance on how building contractors can tap into wind farm construction

To help prepare the state for the four new wind farms and 800 megawatts of electricity that are planned for the next two years, the Kansas Department of Commerce is hosting a workshop on wind farm construction and logistics.

The workshop will be Aug. 9 in Wichita and will focus on how the state’s construction industry can tap into the supply chain needed for the construction of those wind farms.

From digging trenches to electrical work, subcontractors are needed for nearly every phase of the wind farm construction process. Those involved in planning, logistics, trucking, transmission, tower wiring and substation, site and foundation construction are encouraged to attend. Suppliers of fuel, metal materials, hardware and lumber are also needed for wind farm construction projects.

In 2011 and 2012, the four wind farms will be built in Ford, Gray, Lincoln, Ellsworth and Elk counties.

The workshop will provide information on the upcoming projects in Kansas, the opportunities available to building contractors within the state and the qualifications needed to work on the projects. It will also cover how the projects are managed and the expectations of wind farm developers and general contractors.

The workshop will be from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center, 225 W. Douglas, Wichita. The cost for those who register before the Aug. 4 deadline is $50. For more information, visit the workshop's registration page.

By Christine Metz


Two Kansans find fossil of what may be new type of dinosaur

Two Kansas fossil hunters say they think they found something new while digging in Montana.

Jim Kirkland, a state paleontologist at the Utah Geological Survey, has examined photos of the fossil that Robert and Alan Detrich are uncovering and said it looks like a new type of ankylosaur. The low-slung, heavily armored dinosaurs lived around 65 million years ago and munched on plants.

“This thing is worthy of note. There is no doubt about it,” said Kirkland, who specializes in ankylosaurs. “In my mind it’s clearly a new one.”

The brothers have been digging since May in a fossil-rich area near the town of Jordan. They’ve uncovered the ankylosaur fossil’s skull, part of its leg, ribs, armored plates and some vertebrae.

Kirkland said it appears the creature measured about 30 feet long before its death, making it the biggest ankylosaur he had ever seen. He said typical ankylosaurs were 16 feet long, with one type, the ankylosaurus, measuring 20 feet.

“It’s huge,” said Robert Detrich, who discovered the fossil. “It’s bigger than any of the specialists have seen so far. It’s got everybody pretty excited.”

Kirkland and the Detrich brothers hope a person or institution will step forward to buy the fossil for a museum, which would allow for further study to determine if it is indeed unique. The effort would involve cleaning the fossil and comparing it against related animals to make sure it isn’t just a variation of a previously discovered dinosaur.

Public display in a museum would also allow the brothers to seek naming rights should the fossil prove to be a first. Robert Detrich said, if given the opportunity, he would like to call it “enormasaurus” in honor of his late mother Norma.

“It’s exciting,” Robert Detrich said. “It really is. When he came back and said it’s pretty clearly a new genus, and these guys write papers on ankylosaurs so they know their stuff.”

Robert Detrich, who is from Wichita, and his brother, who lives in Lawrence, plan to return to Kansas in about three weeks. Besides the ankylosaur fossil, the brothers also have been digging up a triceratops fossil.

“It’s been a remarkable summer,” he said.

Alan Detrich is the creative mind behind Detrich Intelligent Designs, billed as “spreading the word about Jesus through art.” His pieces have been displayed in Lawrence during the annual Outdoor Downtown Sculpture Exhibition and at the Lawrence Public Library.

Alan Deitrich says that many of his works, including “Resurrection,” a 6-foot-4 statue of Jesus with a dinosaur curled at his feet, are made from fossil fragments of dinosaurs, which he regards as “God’s earliest creations.”

He says that he’s been searching for such fossils for more than 20 years and that his finds that have sold for millions of dollars and have included a complete Tyrannosaurus rex, located on private land in South Dakota. Some of his finds, he says, have made their way into collections of museums in Vienna, Austria; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Seoul, South Korea; and Tokyo.

The Associated Press and The Lawrence Journal-World contributed to this piece.


June employment report includes some good news

State officials on Thursday said there was some positive news in Kansas’ June unemployment report.

The June jobless rate of 6.7 percent was up from 6.3 percent in May and down from 6.9 percent in June 2010. The June seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6 percent was unchanged from May and down from 7 percent in June of last year.

Private sector jobs increased by 5,600 from May, while government jobs decreased by 9,600.

“The positive news in this month’s report is the growth in private sector jobs in Kansas. The job losses in the government sector were primarily seasonal employment losses, which are to be expected,” said Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee.

Yuan Gao, a Kansas labor department economist, said: “The Kansas labor market saw little change in June this year. Future monthly data will show whether this is a temporary pause in employment growth or an actual shift to anemic growth. However, with the employment gains in manufacturing and in health care and social assistance, we think this is more likely to be a temporary pause in a slow recovery.”

The national unemployment rate for June was 9.2 percent.

Statewide, there were 18,884 initial claims for unemployment benefits in June, slightly more than the 18,708 initial claims in May, and up from 15,551 in June 2010.

There were 195,006 continued claims in June, down from 235,488 in May 2011 and a decrease from 263,123 in June 2010.

By Scott Rothschild