Kansas Governor Boosts Prison Pay Amid Staff Shortages
EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) - Governor Sam Brownback has announced pay raises at state prisons in the wake of inmate disturbances that have drawn public attention to staff shortages. Uniformed officers across the state would receive about a 5 percent raise. Officers at El Dorado Correctional Facility will see raises of about 10 percent. The increase would kick in later this month if the employees' union agrees. Brownback says the state can fund the raises in the short term but lawmakers will have to find money next session to continue them. The move would boost pay from $13.95 to $14.66 per hour statewide, and to $15.74 per hour at El Dorado. Department of Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood says the higher pay in El Dorado facility is due to the tighter job market in that area.
State Official Will Present Case For a New Kansas Mental Hospital
OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) - The head of the agency that oversees a troubled state mental hospital is making the case for a new facility. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services announced Thursday that Secretary Tim Keck will make presentations in coming weeks in Wichita, Independence, Topeka and Kansas City. The announcement came after the agency rolled out a proposal from Correct Care Recovery Solutions to build a new hospital at the current location of Osawatomie State Hospital and take over operations. Legislative approval would be required. Federal officials decertified the hospital in 2015 after a series of inspections uncovered problems. The decertification has cost the hospital about $1 million monthly in federal funding, although a recent successful inspection has moved the facility closer to regaining certification.
Contamination Cleanup May Cost Lawrence More Than Expected
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials say contamination cleanup at a former fertilizer plant will cost more than expected. City Manager Tom Markus says that the city is preparing to hire an outside contractor to help with the cleanup at the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant. He said the $8.6 million trust fund transferred to the city to pay for the remediation of nitrogen-contaminated groundwater is decreasing. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the city took ownership of the plant in 2010 with the goal of using part of the site for its new business park. The cleanup was projected to cost at least $13 million. The city planned to mitigate costs partly with trust fund interest, but Markus says unrealistic trust fund earnings make the remediation a challenge.
Lawmakers to Review Media Space Policy in Kansas Statehouse
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Lawmakers are reviewing a policy of providing free office space to news organizations in the Kansas Statehouse. The Lawrence Journal- World reports that a council of top leaders from both parties in the House and Senate voted Wednesday to direct staff to draft a uniform policy on new space requests. The move comes after a group of TV stations, known as the KSN network, requested space. House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab says he'd like to reconsider the policy of providing the free space, at least to for-profit news organizations. Seven news entities and student reporters occupy eight Statehouse offices. Schwab notes that some news outlets lobby on issues such as open meetings. He says he's "fine with" free space for college students, public broadcasting and non-profits, including The Associated Press.
Shawnee County Jailer Arrested, Accused of Sexual Relations with Inmate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas jailer has been arrested on suspicion of having unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. Shawnee County Jail officials say corrections specialist Timothy Anderson was booked into the facility on suspicion of four counts of felony unlawful sexual relations with an inmate. The jail officials said in a news release that the investigation leading to Anderson's arrest began after department employees "detected an irregular pattern of behavior" between Anderson and inmates within a female housing unit. The release says the behavior reflected an "undue level of familiarity." Investigators determined there had been sexual contact after interviewing inmates and reviewing extensive video evidence. The case has been referred to prosecutors, and the jailer has been placed on unpaid leave while the investigation continues.
Kansas City, Kansas Police Investigate Homicide
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are investigating a homicide in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said in a news release that officers were responding to a shooting last (THUR) night when they found a juvenile male dead from an apparent gunshot wound to his chest. The name of the victim wasn't immediately released, pending positive identification and notification of his relatives. No other details were immediately released. Police are urging anyone with information to call a tips hotline.
Former Manhattan City Attorney Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charge
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - The former city attorney for Manhattan has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. Prosecutors say 55-year-old Bill Raymond, of Andover, pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of transporting child pornography and one count of possession child pornography. He admitted that he emailed child pornography to himself using a cell phone and a computer, and that he possessed child pornography. The crimes occurred in Butler and Riley counties. Raymond was Manhattan's city attorney from 2012 to 2015. He previously was an assistant county counselor in Sedgwick County. Sentencing is scheduled for November 6.
Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in Tuttle Creek Reservoir
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says invasive zebra mussels found been found in Tuttle Creek Reservoir. The 12,500-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake is a popular recreation area six miles north of Manhattan. The department said in a news release that the zebra mussel population is currently small but noted there is no way to completely rid a lake of the species. They are usually introduced into lakes after attaching themselves to boats or from bait buckets. Zebra mussels can produce huge populations in a short time. Their vast populations can clog intake pipes, hindering water treatment and other operations that draw water from the lakes. The invasive mollusks have also been found in most of the other reservoirs in Kansas, including Hillsdale in Miami County.
Wild Black Bear Population Grows in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wildlife experts say black bears wandering into Kansas from Missouri and Oklahoma will likely become established residents of the state within the next decade. Two bears were documented in southeast Kansas. For most of the past 15 years, bears only have been seen in extreme southwest Kansas. Experts say the possibility of Kansas having a permanent population of bears could cause safety problems. Neither Oklahoma nor Missouri have reported bear attacks recently, but experts are advising residents in those states on how to protect pets and livestock from the wild animal. Wildlife officials say bears still deserve respect and that most people appreciate having bears around.
Mock Spaceship in Kansas to Be Used for Astronaut Research
KIPP, Kan. (AP) _ A mock-up of a spacecraft built in central Kansas is getting ready to take off for Kansas State University. The Salina Journal reports the spaceship will arrive at the university sometime next week from the Douglas Welding & Machine shop in Kipp. The interior will be finished at the school before the capsule is used in fitness research. A NASA grant is funding research to prepare future astronauts to withstand trips to and from Mars. University professor Carl Ade says the goal is to find the level of cardiovascular and muscle strength needed to complete tasks such as opening a hatch, throwing out a life raft and climbing out within seconds. University representatives plan to present the data at the annual NASA Human Research Program meeting in February 2018.
Constipated Gorilla at Topeka Zoo Recovering After Surgery
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A constipated 49-year-old lowland gorilla named Tiffany at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas is recovering after having surgery. Zoo Director Brendan Wiley says the procedure went "really well." A significant amount of stool was found in her colon and was flushed out. Wiley says the best-case scenario is that she will bounce back. If issues continue, test results will be reviewed to determine how to treat her constipation. The zoo said staff reported last week that the gorilla wasn't acting like herself. Staff thought a storm the previous night might have upset her, but over the following days, she lost more of her appetite. The surgery was performed to determine why she had been reluctant to eat.