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This Hour: Latest Kansas news, sports, business and entertainment

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OBIT-KANSAS LAWMAKER

Kansas Rep. Joe Edward dies

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas lawmaker who lost his re-election primary battle earlier this month has died.

Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stillwell announced Wednesday that Rep. Joe Edwards of Haysville died late Tuesday of a suspected heart attack. Smith Mortuary in Haysville confirmed his death.

The 60-year-old Republican legislator served one term before losing the primary election to John Whitmer in the 93rd District.

Clay Barker, the executive director for the Kansas Republican Party, said Wednesday that Edwards was well liked by his fellow representatives.

Barker said Edwards was on the conservative side, but had a populist streak and was always looking out for the common man.

Smith Mortuary says funeral arrangements are pending.

OVERLAND PARK-ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

City adds personal vaporizers to smoking ban

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - The second-largest city in Kansas is adding electronic cigarettes to its ban on smoking in public places.

The expanded ordinance in Overland Park will take effect later this month. City Council members in the Johnson County community approved it Monday night.

Overland Park has prohibited smoking in hotel rooms, restaurants, workplaces and other public, indoor spaces for nearly a decade. The new ordinance adds electronic cigarettes to the ban.

The measure also makes it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to people under 18.

Council members disagreed on whether there's conclusive research that vapor from electronic cigarettes is dangerous to smokers and to those exposed to it second-hand. Proponents of the ban said it was better to err on the side of caution.

SCHOOL FIGHT

Controversy over closed school in SE Kansas

(Information in the following story is from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com)

MCCUNE, Kan. (AP) - A controversy over the future of a closed school in southeast Kansas continues to brew.

The Southeast School District is offering to lease a former elementary school in McCune to the city for $1 a year.

But some city officials say the building already belongs to taxpayers and they want the city to have unrestricted ownership of the building.

The school has been the center of controversy since the district, which is based in Cherokee, voted to close the McCune Attendance Center in May, despite strong opposition from residents.

The Joplin Globe reports the district is reluctant to transfer ownership of the building to the city because some McCune residents want to ask another school district to reopen it as an elementary school.

KANSAS EXPORTS-GRANT

$250,000 grant aims to promote Kansas exports

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Commerce is joining forces with Kansas Global Trade Services to increase awareness of the importance of exports to the state's economy.

Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that a $250,000 grant from the Legislature will allow the nonprofit trade advisory firm to work with communities. The aim is to promote exports and identify companies with global market potential that can create jobs.

Under the contract, Kansas Global Trade Services will coordinate six regional meetings. The money will also pay for meetings with businesses throughout the state to identify export opportunities. An export service provider directory of Kansas firms is also planned.

State Commerce Secretary Pat George says Kansas exports have grown by $2.5 billion during the past three years.

COSMOSPHERE-ASTRONAUTS

Cosmosphere hosting astronauts this weekend

(Information in the following story is from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com)

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Several astronauts will touch down this weekend in Hutchinson, as part of a fundraiser for the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke and Apollo 13 astronauts Fred Haise and Jim Lovell will be among those attending the annual Fly Around, Dine Around event at the center.

The Hutchinson News reports others attending include shuttle astronauts Catherine Coleman, Steven Hawley, Mike Mullane and Charles Walker. The guests will participate in several activities throughout the weekend, including book and model signings, a progressive dinner and a reception.

The event comes as the center reports a 5 percent increase in attendance from August through June, when compared with the same time a year ago. The Cosmosphere averages about 105,000 visitors a year.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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