Kansas State Agencies, Universities Asked to Weigh Cuts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's budget chief is asking state agencies and universities to study the prospect of a 5 percent funding cut. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley tells the Wichita Eagle that budget director Shawn Sullivan requested the information from state agencies. But Hawley stresses no decision has been made about whether cuts will be needed, saying it's common to ask agencies to think about reduced budgets. A revenue-estimating group that includes Sullivan and university economists next meet in November to determine the state's revenue outlook. The group meets twice a year and has lowered revenue estimates each of the past four times it has met. If that happens again, budget cuts could be necessary since the state is already operating at razor thin budget margins.
Kansas State Employee Health Care Costs Going Up
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) -- Health insurance costs for state employees in Kansas will be rising again next year. The increases vary depending on the plan, but rate hikes range from around 9 to 30 percent, with additional increases for dental and vision coverage. Rebecca Proctor is with the Kansas Organization of State Employees. She says there are a lot of state workers making around $12 to $14 an hour, so the rising costs really hit their bottom line. Proctor says this will be the second year in a row of sizeable cost increases. Meanwhile, state employees haven’t had an across-the-board pay increase for more than five years. A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says health care costs are rising and state officials had to adjust the employee contribution amounts.
Hundreds Mourn Death of Boy on Kansas Waterslide
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas legislator has described the 10-year-old son who died on a waterslide as a sensitive boy that was his family's joy. State Representative Scott Schwab spoke to more than 1,000 mourners at a funeral Friday at the LifeMission Church in Olathe. Governor Sam Brownback and many legislators attended the service for Caleb Thomas Schwab, The Kansas City Star reported. The church had to turn away 500 people from a Thursday night visitation. Schwab thanked mourners for their support and singled out more than a dozen of the boy's friends. Caleb was the second-oldest of four sons. Schwab said, "We have lost our joy, but we will get it back." The boy died Sunday at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas while riding what's billed as the world's tallest waterslide.
Kansas Governor Wants to Examine Amusement Park Regulation
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he wants the state to review its regulation of amusement rides following a 10-year-old boy's death at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. Brownback told reporters Friday that he's hoping state legislators spend significant time examining the state's law on amusement parks. He said, "I think that all needs to be looked at now in light of this tragedy." Kansas requires operators of permanent rides to "self-inspect" their rides at least once a year and maintain records. The state Department of Labor randomly audits those records, but Schlitterbahn's documents hadn't been audited for four years. Caleb Thomas Schwab died Sunday while riding what is billed as the world's tallest waterslide. He was the son of state Representative Scott Schwab.
Kansas Known for Light Regulation of Rides
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The huge Kansas City, Kansas, waterslide on which a 10-year-old boy recently died was built in a state known for its light regulation of amusement park rides. The company also lobbied legislators to help ensure that it remained responsible for its own inspections. Kansas mandates annual inspections of permanent rides but allows private inspectors to do the checks, rather than requiring state inspections. The state does only random audits of operators' records, and there are no additional local safety regulations for the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City. Before Kansas considered imposing inspection requirements for amusement rides in 2008, a Schlitterbahn lobbyist urged lawmakers to allow large parks to handle their own inspections. States' regulations of amusement rides are facing scrutiny following the death Sunday of Caleb Thomas Schwab at the park.
Lawsuit: KU Crew Member Alleges Callous Treatment by Athletic Department
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former University of Kansas rower who says she was raped by a Jayhawk football player contends in an amended lawsuit that the school's athletic department requires rowers to attend Kansas football games and encourages rowers to socialize with football recruits. The Kansas City Star reports that an attorney for Daisy Tackett filed the amended federal lawsuit Tuesday. Tackett and another rower have alleged they were raped a year apart in university housing by the same Kansas football player. They and their parents are also part of a class-action lawsuit claiming that the university misled the public by saying campus housing was safe. The university has consistently declined to comment on the lawsuits, except to say it takes all reports of sexual assault seriously.
Man Killed Outside Ford Plant Near Kansas City
CLAYCOMO, Mo. (AP) — A worker at the Ford Motor Company assembly plant near Kansas City, Missouri, was shot and killed on a parking lot during a shift change. Clay County Sheriff's Captain Will Akin says 26-year-old Brandon Nunnally was found dead on the lot shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday. Akin says investigators think the shooting was an isolated incident and the shooter is not a danger to others. Authorities say the gunman is not a current Ford worker. The suspect got away, but Akin says investigators have several leads. A Ford spokesman, Mike Moran, says grief counselors were made available at the plant Thursday.
Feds Charge Former Lawrence Mayor with Embezzlement
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Lawrence Mayor Jeremy Farmer has been charged with stealing money from his old job as executive director of Just Food, a local food pantry. A criminal complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas charges Farmer with one count of interstate travel of embezzled funds. The filing also seeks a forfeiture judgment. Court records do not indicate a defense attorney, and a phone number for Farmer was disconnected. Federal prosecutors allege Farmer embezzled more than $5,000 from Just Food beginning in 2013 until he resigned from the nonprofit food pantry and as mayor in August 2015. Farmer left those positions after it was revealed he had not paid about $50,000 in federal payroll taxes. He said at the time it was an oversight that the taxes weren't paid.
Former Instructor Gets Life in Prison for Molesting Students
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former music instructor in Kansas has been sentenced to life in prison for sexually molesting some of his young students. Sean Andrew Dow, of Overland Park, was sentenced Thursday for one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child younger than 14. The Kansas City Star reports that authorities charged Dow last year with sexually abusing two students he gave music lessons to at Funky Munky Music in Shawnee. Police learned about four other victims when investigating. The prison sentence he received Thursday was for charges involving all six victims. Dow is also charged in Jackson County, Missouri, with first-degree statutory sodomy, first-degree child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography. Those allegations involve a 7-year-old girl in Kansas City.
First Zika Case Confirmed in Clay County, Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Public health officials in Missouri say Clay County has recorded its first case of Zika virus. Officials say the patient is a male resident who recently traveled outside the U.S. to an area in the Caribbean. Zika primarily spreads through bites from a specific species of mosquito. It causes a mild illness in most people but can lead to severe brain-related birth defects if women are infected during pregnancy.
Hearing Delayed for Kansas VA Health Worker Accused of Abuse
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A preliminary hearing has been delayed for a former physician assistant accused of sexually abusing patients at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth. Mark Wisner's hearing on a charge of aggravated sexual battery was scheduled for yesterday (THUR), but it was continued until September 15. The Leavenworth Times reports Wisner also is charged in a second case for crimes that allegedly occurred in 2014 while Wisner worked at the Eisenhower VA Medical Center.
Wichita Woman Found Dead in Home; Boyfriend Arrested
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police have arrested the boyfriend of a 42-year-old woman who was found dead inside a west Wichita home. Police say the woman's body was found Thursday after her relatives in Texas asked police to check on her. KAKE-TV reports her boyfriend was found at the home and taken into custody. No one else was in the home. No names were released, and police have not said how she died. Wichita has had 15 homicides so far this year.
2 from Florida Arrested After Chase in Kansas, Nebraska
PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say a man and woman from Florida have been arrested in Nebraska after a police chase that began in Kansas. The Nebraska State Patrol says the two were captured Thursday afternoon near Plattsmouth in Cass County after fleeing on foot from their sport utility vehicle. Officers had used stop strips to flatten the SUV's tires. The Kansas Highway Patrol had notified its Nebraska counterpart earlier that the SUV was headed into Nebraska on U.S. Highway 75. Nebraska troopers chased the vehicle into Nemaha County but stopped just south of Auburn. Patrol aircraft followed the SUV until it was stopped. Online court records don't show whether either person in the SUV has been formally charged. Nebraska authorities say the driver is from Sunrise, Florida, and his passenger is from Orlando.
USGS Reports Magnitude 4.0 Earthquake in Northwest Oklahoma
HELENA, Okla. (AP) — The US Geological Survey reports a 4.0 magnitude earthquake has stuck northwestern Oklahoma. The USGS says the quake was recorded at 12:27 am, 12 miles northeast of Helena, about 85 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. There have been no reports of injury or damage. The USGS says the earthquake was widely felt in central Oklahoma and as far north as Junction City, Kansas. The number of magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes has skyrocketed in Oklahoma, from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 900 last year. Scientists have linked the increase to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production and state regulators have asked producers to reduce wastewater disposal volumes.
Hostess Launches "Deep Fried Twinkies" as First Frozen Treat
NEW YORK (AP) — The deep-fried Twinkie is jumping from the state fair to the home freezer. Hostess Brands is launching packaged "Deep Fried Twinkies" starting Friday that mark its first foray into frozen foods. The cream-filled snack in vanilla or chocolate is the result of a yearlong collaboration between Hostess and Wal-Mart, as both companies look to spark food sales with innovative products. Hostess says the Twinkie is a bigger business now than even right before the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012. For Wal-Mart, it's part of a strategy of working with suppliers to come up with twists on existing foods or developing new ones. The company, which gets more than half its sales from food, opened a food lab in June as it aims to get products to the shelves faster.
Man Accused of Shooting at Kansas City Public Works Crew
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City, Missouri, have accused a man of shooting at four city workers and stealing their public works truck. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors charged 28-year-old Bertram Brown of Kansas City with four counts of first-degree assault, armed criminal action, a gun charge and possessing a controlled substance. He was also charged with stealing a motor vehicle. Online court records don't show whether he has an attorney. Court documents allege that Brown fired eight or nine shots Wednesday morning at a city public works crew before jumping into a city dump truck, then stealing a city pickup truck nearby. None of the workers was injured, and Brown was arrested a short time later.
Report: Record Corn Harvest Forecast for Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report is forecasting record corn and soybean harvests in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that it expects corn production in the state of 660 million bushels. That is 14 percent higher than a year ago. Anticipated soybean production of 164 million bushels will also set a record if realized. That is 11 percent higher than a year ago. The agency also estimated the sorghum harvest to come in at 244 million bushels, down 13 percent from a year ago. Production of this year's winter wheat crop is estimated at 462 million bushels, up 43 percent from last year's crop. Record yields of 57 bushels per acre help offset the fewer wheat acres planted. Alfalfa hay production is forecast at 2.58 million tons.
Kansas Exporting College Graduates to Other States
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Board of Regents President Blake Flanders says Kansas is facing the prospect of a "brain drain" as fewer people who graduate from a Kansas college or university choose to stay in the state. It's unclear whether people are leaving because the higher education system is failing to align itself with the Kansas economy, or whether the local economy is failing to offer the opportunities college graduates seek. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Flanders addressed the board Wednesday during its annual retreat, which was held in Wichita. Flanders said that from 2010 to 2014 the percentage of Kansas college graduates employed in Kansas within one year of finishing school has remained relatively flat. But he said the number employed here five years after graduating has been declining.
3 Kansas Men Charged with Illinois Officer's Shooting
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say three Kansas men have been charged in connection with the shooting of a southern Illinois police officer last month. Carbondale police said in a news release that the three men were arrested Sunday and Monday in Saline County, Kansas. They are charged with conspiracy to commit capital murder and booked into the Saline County jail on $1 million bond. The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports a team led by Illinois State Police is continuing to investigate the July 31 shooting of officer Trey Harris, who was released from the hospital last week. The team is cooperating with investigators in Kansas. The Kansas investigation led to a sealed indictment associated with Harris's shooting. Harris was shot when someone opened fire from a vehicle speeding away from a shooting scene.
Judge Denies Motion to Withdraw Plea in Salina Death
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has denied a man's efforts to withdraw a plea in the killing of a Salina girl. Saline County District Judge Rene Young on Wednesday denied the motion from 18-year-old Andrew Woodring to withdraw his no contest plea to felony murder in the May 2015 death of 17-year-old Allie Saum. The Salina Journal reports Woodring testified at a July hearing that he felt pressured to enter the plea and he doesn't think he should get a life sentence because he did not fire the shot that killed Saum. Woodring was one on five people charged in Saum's death. She was a passenger in a truck that police say some of the defendants mistakenly believed belonged to a person who had been in an earlier altercation with them.
Royals Defeat White Sox
The Royals took care of the Chicago White Sox 3-2 last (THUR) night in Kansas City.