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Headlines for Friday, April 25, 2014


Partial Dismissal of Kansas School Funding Lawsuit Sought

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking a judicial panel to dismiss part of an education funding lawsuit against the state now that it has enacted a plan for boosting aid to poor school districts. Schmidt filed his request Friday with a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court. His filing came as the presiding District Judge Franklin Theis set a June 11 hearing on whether the funding plan satisfies a Kansas Supreme Court order last month. The Supreme Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by parents and school districts that the state needed to increase aid to poor districts. It also returned the case to the three-judge panel for further review of other issues. Attorney John Robb said the plaintiffs are studying the order from Theis.


Kansas Teachers' Union Mulls Tenure Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas National Education Association officials say it may consider a lawsuit to determine if the state can take away tenure rights of teachers. At issue is a provision in a school funding measure signed by Governor Sam Brownback on Monday. While increasing funding for public education, the measure also reduces the due process rights of teachers if they are fired by a school district. KNEA officials tell the Lawrence Journal-World that the only recourse may be to challenge the new law in court once a tenured teacher is fired. Senate Vice President Jeff King says he's not surprised about potential legal challenges. But he believes the state's funding measure is legally justified.


Brownback to Seek Funds for Kansas Social Services

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says he will be asking Kansas legislators to increase funding for mental health services for the uninsured and to reduce waiting lists for individuals waiting for disability services. A request was sent Friday to legislators seeking a total state funding increase of $5 million in the current budget year and in fiscal year 2015. Legislators will consider the request when they return to Topeka next week. Brownback seeks to pay for the increases by using some of the $30 million savings this year from the state's privatized Medicaid system for the poor, elderly and disabled known as KanCare. The money will be used to reduce the number of people waiting to receive services related to physical disabilities or intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Attorney: Charged Topeka Official Mulling Options

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for a Topeka City Council member facing two felony charges says his client is considering whether he'll fight the charges and an attempt to remove him from office. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that attorney Chris Joseph said Councilman John Campos II is not sure what he'll do and must decide whether a public battle serves his interests, his family or his constituents. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor filed a lawsuit this week seeking Campos' ouster. Taylor also filed charges against Campos of making a false writing and interfering with law enforcement. The charges allege Campos altered a proof-of-insurance form to get out of a citation for driving without insurance and disposed of the form. Joseph said the form may only have been difficult to read.

Parents Upset over Walking Track Policy at School

MULVANE, Kan. (AP) — Some south-central Kansas parents cited the Columbine and Sandy Hook massacres as reasons why senior citizens should not be allowed to use a new walking track at an elementary school while classes are in session. The Wichita Eagle reports that a few hundred people showed up Thursday in Mulvane Grade School's new $13 million gym for a special school board meeting. The school's new walking track and fitness studios were completed last month as part of a bond issue voters approved in 2012. The facilities are leased by the Mulvane Recreation Commission and have separate entrances from the elementary school. Residents 55 and older are allowed to use the elevated walking track, which overlooks the gymnasium, during school hours. Parents say that poses a danger to their children.

Small Kansas Town Deals with Broken Tornado Siren

CHASE, Kan. (AP) — A small central Kansas town is handing out free weather radios to its 300 homes and businesses because its tornado siren doesn't work. Officials in the town of Chase say they are concerned that they have no way to warn residents if a tornado was headed toward the Rice County town. Mayor Tom Kizzar says the siren didn't work when it was tested earlier this month. A repair crew is scheduled to arrive soon to determine the problem with the 50-year-old siren. KWCH-TV reports that if the siren needs to be replaced, it will cost more than $30,000. The weather radios cost the town about $8,000. The radios will keep the town compliant with federal regulations, meaning Chase would qualify for disaster assistance if it is ever needed.


Security Increased at Kansas High School

BUHLER, Kan. (AP) — Security was increased at a central Kansas high school after police say a threat was found on a bathroom wall.Classes are going on as usual Friday at Buhler High School but police officers are at the school as a precaution. KWCH reports that Superintendent Michael Berblinger says a message found at the school Thursday was vague but it mentioned April 25th.No other details about the message were released. No one has been arrested.Students entering the school Friday morning were allowed to enter only through the main door and could not carry book bags. Police searched other bags, such as purses, which had to be left in lockers. Buhler police chief Bill Tracy says officers will be at the Reno County school all day.

Arrest Made in Shooting that Killed Father, Injured Son

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County (Missouri) authorities have arrested a man who allegedly walked up to a car at a Kansas City gas station and fired eight shots, killing a man and paralyzing his 10-year-old son. Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says 27-year-old Dontae Jefferson of Kansas City was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and five other felonies in the April 18 attack at a BP gas station. The shooting killed 34-year-old Ka'Vyea Curry and injured his son, Ka'Vyea Tyson-Curry. A 5-year-old in the car was not injured. The Kansas City Star reports that surveillance video shows the shooting and tips from witnesses helped police make the arrest. Court records don't show that Jefferson has an attorney. The 10-year-old remains hospitalized and on a respirator.

3 Kansas City-Area Banks Robbed in 1 Day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in the Kansas City-area were kept busy after three banks were robbed within hours of each other. The first robbery Thursday was reported at First Federal Bank in Raytown. Police say a man wearing a dark, long-sleeve construction shirt with a neon green construction-style vest and a white hard hat fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash. About two hours later, a different man robbed the Bank Midwest in Kansas City. He was wearing a rain jacket with a hood, and also fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money. About midafternoon, two men who said they had a weapon got away with money from a UMB bank branch in Raytown. No firearm was seen and no one was injured.

KBI to Break Ground on New Lab at Washburn

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation will hold a groundbreaking ceremony next week for a new crime lab on the campus of Topeka's Washburn University. The $55 million facility will replace an existing lab in the basement of the agency's headquarters, a former Topeka school built in 1928. Officials expect the new, 100,000-square-foot lab to be completed by October 2015. Washburn leaders will join KBI officials at the ceremony Wednesday. The lab will increase the KBI's capacity for processing crime evidence and allow Washburn faculty and students to train. About 70 scientists and technicians will work at the lab, which officials expect will enhance the agency's ability to recruit and retain forensic staff.

12 Homes Added to Wichita Water Supply

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita public works officials say a dozen homes in west Wichita where groundwater contamination has been found will be connected to the city's water supply. KAKE-TV reports that the 12 homes are close enough to existing water mains to be connected immediately to city lines. A private plumber will have to install service lines into the homes. A state health department program will pay for the connections. City officials have found about 50 homes with high concentrations of a toxic dry-cleaning solvent in their private wells. Those homes have been using bottled water since the contamination was found in March.

Bethany College Finishes Fundraising Effort Early

LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — Bethany College in Lindsborg is ending a fundraising campaign early after easily exceeding its goal. The college says it has raised more than $22 million in its Engage the Future campaign. It started the campaign in 2011 with a goal of $20 million. The Salina Journal reports that the campaign is the first of several planned campaigns. It was the largest fundraising effort in the college's history. More good news for Bethany — enrollment has grown 26 percent in the past six years and its freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is 64 percent.

Kansan Convicted in Stabbing After Car Break-In

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death last year of man police said was trying to break into a car. KAKE-TV reports that a jury in Sedgwick County District Court returned the verdict Thursday against 31-year-old Kyle Carter. The victim in the stabbing in September in central Wichita was 32-year-old Carl Cooper. Police said Cooper was trying to break into a car when the owner spotted him. Carter was a friend of the owner, and he and another friend chased Cooper. According to police, the two men caught up with Cooper, and he was stabbed multiple times. He later died at a local hospital. Carter's sentencing is scheduled for June 24.

New Auto Parts Facility to Open in KCMO Area

RIVERSIDE, Mo. (AP) — A subsidiary of a Canadian automotive supplier is building a new manufacturing plant in the Kansas City area. Martinrea Riverside LLC held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for an automotive parts facility near Interstate 635 in the community of Riverside. About 290 people are expected to be employed at the plant. They will make engine cradles and automotive assemblies for General Motors' Fairfax assembly plant in nearby Kansas City, Kansas. The Missouri Department of Economic Development has offered the company more than $3.2 million of incentives through a tax credit and job training program. The company is a subsidiary of Martinrea International Incorporated based in Ontario, Canada. Matrinrea employs more than 12,000 people at 38 facilities in eight countries. This is its first plant in Missouri.


Woman Sentenced in Kansas City Child Abuse Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for her part in locking a 9-year-old girl in a basement. The woman previously pleaded guilty to child endangerment, felonious restraint and abuse or neglect of a child. The Kansas City Star reported that she was sentenced Friday. The girl's father, who pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, is to be sentenced in June. The Associated Press is withholding their names to protect the girl's identity. The child told authorities the couple locked her in the basement as punishment for a school suspension. She said she was given little food or water and denied use of the bathroom. A Jackson County (Missouri) sheriff's detective testified Friday that the basement contained mold and was damp.


Former CEO Pleads Guilty to 9 Years of Embezzling

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former chief executive officer of a Kansas City company has pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from the business over nine years. Federal prosecutors announced James Kilkenney pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of wire fraud in federal court. He was chief executive and chief financial officer of Waechtersbach USA before he was fired in April 2012. He agreed to forfeit between $208,825 and $400,000, depending on the loss determined by the court. The Kansas City Star reports that Waechtersbach admitted he overpaid himself $133,592 and used company funds to pay off loans he took against his 401(k) fund. Waechtersbach buys products from German and Asian companies to distribute to U.S. retailers.


Dodge City Board Sets Goals for Proposed Merger

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Dodge City Board of Trustees has announced its goals for negotiations over a proposal to merge with Fort Hays State University. The college is considering a proposal to create an Institute of Applied Technology on the Dodge City campus, with Fort Hays State offering some four-year degree programs. The Dodge City Daily Globe reported Thursday that the goals grew out of a public hearing on the proposed merger. The list includes increasing educational opportunities in Dodge City, rather than replacing what's currently offered, ensuring that locally-generated revenue stays in Dodge City and giving the Dodge City board input into tuition and budgeting. Board members said one thing is not negotiable: If the merger happens, Dodge City would give up control of academics and administration to Fort Hays.


Settlement Reached in Abortion Protest Case

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The town of Jackson and state of Wyoming have agreed to pay a six-figure settlement to end a federal lawsuit over the arrest of an anti-abortion protester on Jackson's town square in 2011. Etna, Wyoming lawyer Jack Edwards represents Mark Holick, a pastor with the Kansas-based Spirit One Christian Center. Edwards says Jackson, the state and the Wyoming Local Government Liability Pool have agreed to pay an unspecified six-figure settlement to end Holick's case. Attempts to reach town and state officials weren't immediately successful Friday. Holick and other protesters targeted Jackson in 2011 because a doctor there had acknowledged performing abortions. Jackson police arrested Holick as he was preaching on the town square shortly after the town secured a state court order barring anti-abortion protesters from appearing there.


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