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Regional briefs (March 7, 2014)

3/7/2014

5 fires reported Thursday night

The Ellis County Rural Fire Department responded to five fires in the course of four hours Thursday night.

The first call came in at 7:25 p.m. for a pile of trees on fire at Hopewell and Toulon Road, Ellis County Rural Fire Director Dick Klaus said this morning.

The next fire was a camping trailer, which also involved a 4-wheeler and jet ski. That fire, at 1324 Yocemento, moved to nearby grass before being contained.

Then it was a horse trailer and bales on fire at 280th Avenue and Vineyard.

Firefighters then responded to a storage shed on fire at Buffalo Hills Trailer Park at Richards Road No. 23.

The final fire of the evening was a trailer house used for storage at 122 Burgandy Lane, which is outside city limits. Fire trucks left the scene of that fire at 11:34 p.m.

Klaus said an investigator from the State Fire Marshal's office was due to be in Hays today.

"Really, I don't think we're going to have enough left at these places to come up with an actual cause," Klaus said.

Senate OKs 'compromise' judiciary budget

TOPEKA (AP) -- The Kansas Senate has passed a budget for the judicial branch but only after bundling it with bills reducing the Kansas Supreme Court's authority over judicial districts.

Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, said the bill passed Thursday is a compromise to prevent judicial furloughs.

The bill funds the courts, increases docket fees on some large litigation and allows some judicial positions to remain open for 120 days. It also allows the chief judges of the state's 31 judicial districts to control their individual budgets, and allows judicial districts to elect their chief judges.

Currently, the Supreme Court controls districts budgets and appoints chief judges.

Democrats said those measures should be voted on separately from the budget bills.

New plan emerges for Kansas liquor sales

TOPEKA (AP) -- A Kansas House committee chairman has outlined a new proposal for phasing in sales of strong beer, wine and liquor in grocery and convenience stores.

The new plan phases in sales by July 2024, but contains additional provisions to prevent existing liquor store owners from losing business before then.

Kansas law currently limits grocery and convenience stores to selling weak beer.