Hiring Healthy in Past Year in Many U.S. Swing States...but Not Kansas
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring has been strong in the past year in many presidential campaign swing states, a possible hurdle for GOP candidate Donald Trump, who has sought to capitalize on economic distress. The Labor Department says employers have added jobs in the past 12 months at a faster pace than the national average in Colorado, Florida, Michigan and North Carolina. Job gains have been solid but slightly below the national rate in other battleground states, such as Ohio and Virginia. Hiring rose significantly in 15 states in July compared with the previous month, the government said. The biggest percentage gains were in North Dakota, Vermont and Maine. The only state to lose a large number of jobs in July was Kansas, which shed 5,600.
EPA Watchdog Says Government Fails to Study Ethanol's Impact
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general says the Obama administration has failed to study as legally required the impact of requiring ethanol in gasoline. The IG says the government also failed to investigate whether new regulations intended to address one problem actually make other problems worse. The audit published Thursday confirms an Associated Press investigation in November 2013. The AP said the administration never conducted studies to determine whether air and water quality benefits from adding corn-based ethanol to gasoline. Such reports to Congress were required every three years under a 2007 law. The AP investigation described ethanol as more damaging to the environment than the government predicted. Farmers who rushed to find new places to plant corn wiped out millions of acres of conservation land and polluted water supplies. According to the Kansas Corn Growers Association, 12 ethanol plants are currently in operation in Kansas. These plants produce about 550 million gallons of ethanol per year. Both sorghum and corn can be used to make ethanol as the two grains are interchangeable in the process.
Prosecutor Calls Scope of Leavenworth Prison's Smuggling Plot Alarming
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal prosecutor in Kansas says a prison drug-smuggling scheme in which six people are charged actually may involve more than 90 inmates and dozens of outsiders who assisted them. Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic recently has told a judge she assumes more Leavenworth Detention Center employees may be charged than the one already being prosecuted. According to transcripts of the July 21 hearing in Kansas City, Kansas, Tomasic said "new targets" of the investigation are being identified "at an alarming rate." The 1,126-bed lockup is run under contract by the Corrections Corporation of America and is separate from the federal prison in Leavenworth. The case is at the center of a legal storm over privacy rights involving prison recordings of confidential lawyer conversations with clients at the Leavenworth lockup.
Kansas Starts $215 Million Overhaul of Medicaid Computer System
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is spending more than $215 million to overhaul a computer system that tracks information about the Medicaid health care program that covers the poor. The Wichita Eagle reports that the spending will be spread over four years and put the system in line with new federal standards. The federal government will pick up most of the tab, with about 21.3 percent coming from the state's general fund this fiscal year. The system should go live in early 2019. Heading up the project is Hewlett Packard, which announced the contract last week. The state made no announcement. Angela de Rocha is a spokeswoman for the state agencies that oversee the state's Medicaid system. She says the project would give the state the ability to analyze health progress and outcomes.
3 Students Among 4 Killed in Kansas Crash
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say three Topeka students are among four people killed in a crash in Shawnee County. The Kansas Highway Patrol told The Topeka Capital-Journal that the crash happened Thursday morning when the vehicles collided on U.S. 24. The patrol said in a release that three students at Silver Lake schools were killed in one car. The patrol identified them as 17-year-old Devin Greeve, a senior at Silver Lake High School; 11-year-old Gabby Greeve, a sixth-grader at Silver Lake Elementary, and 14-year-old Tyler Crouse, a freshman at Silver Lake High School. The patrol said they were all from Topeka. The patrol said 47-year-old Lance Lenard of Rossville also died in the collision, and a 13-year-old in the car with Lenard is hospitalized in stable condition.
Transportation Worker Killed in Western Kansas Accident
GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation says a worker has been killed in a mowing accident in western Kansas. KDOT says in a release that 39-year-old Darren Way died Thursday when the riding mower he was operating overturned and he was pinned underneath. The accident occurred as Way was mowing along Interstate 70 in Sherman County. KDOT says Way had worked with the department since 2014.
Kansas Man Charged with Rape
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A 21-year-old northeast Kansas man faces charges accusing him of rape and attempted rape. A Jackson County (Kansas) prosecutor says Jacob C. Ewing is charged with four counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, five counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and several counts of battery. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that four women testified at his preliminary hearing on Thursday in Jackson County court. His arraignment is scheduled for September 21. His lawyer asked that the charges be thrown out. But the judge removed only a charge of aggravated kidnapping.
Kansas Police Chief Gets Probation
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas police chief has been sentenced to probation for his role in a scheme to buy discounted firearms. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas said in a release that former Bel Aire Chief John Daily was sentenced Friday to six months of probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft of public funds. Daily also has to pay a $1,000 fine. The prosecutor's office says Daily admitted that he filed paperwork that falsely represented that certain firearms were bought only for the police department. As a result, no sales tax was collected on the sale of the firearms. The office says Daily knew the weapons would be owned by individuals and not the department. Bel Aire is a suburban community outside Wichita.
Topeka Statue Honors First Native American Vice President
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A statue has been unveiled in Topeka of native son Charles Curtis, who served as vice president under Herbert Hoover. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a small crowd turned out Wednesday as the statue was dedicated on Kansas Avenue. It joins statues of four other significant Topekans, including Washburn University's namesake, Ichabod Washburn. Curtis's mother was a member of the Kaw Nation. Historian Deb Goodrich says that when he ran for vice president, much was made of the fact that he was descended of both pilgrims and Indians. Curtis was born in Topeka and spent many of his childhood years either there or with his grandparents on the Kaw Reservation. He attended Topeka High School and went on to become a lawyer, eventually opening his own practice in Topeka.
Book Reveals Kansas Serial Killer's Plans for 11th Victim
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new book says the BTK serial killer planned to kill an 11th victim by hanging her upside down in her Wichita, Kansas, home. It's a story police heard from Dennis Rader himself in 2005, but decided at the time to suppress to protect the woman. The story was made public in "Confessions of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer," which has a scheduled release date of Sept. 6. The book was written by professor of forensic psychology Katherine Ramsland. The author says lust and a desire for fame and power drove Rader to kill 10 people in Wichita from 1974 to 1991. Rader's daughter, Kerri Rawson, told the Wichita Eagle that her father cooperated on the book because he's proud of his murders.
Survey Says Economy Remains Weak in Rural Parts of 10 States
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy remains weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states even though it improved slightly in the past month. The overall rural economic index remained in negative territory at 41.1 in August even though it was higher than July's 39.8 reading. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey's indexes suggests a decline in that area. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says the declines in cattle, grain and farm prices over the past year are weighing down the rural economy because farm income is down. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
Hays Officer Shoots, Kills Suspect After Traffic Stop
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a Hays police officer shot and killed a suspect. The Ellis County attorney said in a news release that the shooting happened Thursday afternoon after an officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic infraction in Hays. The release said the white driver refused to obey the officer's commands and sped off as backup officers responded. The release said that after being stopped again, the driver got out of the car and again ignored the commands of police. Police said that the "incident escalated" until an officer fired one shot, striking and killing the driver. The driver was identified only as a 36-year-old man. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Ellis County Sherriff's Office are investigating. No other details were immediately available.
Kansas Police Chief Pleads Not Guilty to Charge
ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas police chief has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of disseminating or requesting criminal history information without a legitimate need. Bronson Campbell was the Enterprise police chief from May 2013 until May 2014, when his appointment wasn't renewed. He's currently the Valley Falls police chief. The complaint alleges that in 2014 Campbell disseminated criminal history information, or requested such information from the central repository of another criminal justice agency, without a legitimate need. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports he pleaded not guilty Thursday to the misdemeanor during a preliminary hearing in Dickinson County. Campbell recently sought the Republican nomination for Jefferson County sheriff but lost the August 2 primary. A Dickinson County judge has denied requests to disclose the affidavit in Campbell's criminal case.
Charges Filed in KCK Wreck that Killed 74-Year-Old Woman
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 26-year-old man has been charged in a fatal crash outside a Kansas City, Kansas, hospital. The Kansas City Star reports that Anthony Fields is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 74-year-old Sotera Sebastian, of Kansas City, Kansas. The crash happened Monday night when the sport utility vehicle that Fields was driving rear-ended another SUV that was stopped while waiting to turn into Providence Medical Center. Police say Fields ran from the scene but was arrested nearby. Jail records show he also is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated burglary and leaving the scene of an injury accident. Bond for Fields is set at $250,000. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.
Former Football Player Pleads Not Guilty to Kansas Charges
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has pleaded not guilty to several Kansas charges. Randle on Friday pleaded not guilty to a criminal threat charge stemming from accusations that he threatened to kill a Sedgwick County jail deputy. The Wichita Eagle reports that Randle also entered not guilty pleas to charges accusing him of backing into three people with his car and kicking in the door of a Wichita home earlier this year. And, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of interfering with law enforcement in March. Randle, who is from Wichita, is being held on $50,000 bond. He's scheduled for trials in all three cases September 19. The former NFL running back was released by the Cowboys last year.
Wichita Man Pleads No Contest in Wife's Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 63-year-old Wichita man will be sentenced in October after pleading no contest in the stabbing death of his wife. Larry Andres pleaded no contest to first-degree premeditated murder in the death of Marilyn Andres last month. The Wichita Eagle reports that a plea agreement calls for prosecutors to recommend Andres receive parole eligibility on a life sentence after 25 rather than 50 years. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said in court the agreement was made because Larry Andres called 911 not long after stabbing his wife with a kitchen knife at their home and cooperated with police. Andres entered the plea Thursday and will be sentenced October 4.
Man Who Stole Watches from Outlets Must Serve Time in Prison
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man who committed a string of outlet store break-ins that targeted watches in Connecticut and elsewhere will have to serve time in prison. Forty-year-old Cuban national Alionis Perez pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in May and was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison. Prosecutors say he led a group that in 2013 broke into Fossil and other outlet stores at night, stealing time pieces. They say he and his partners got away with more than $1.8 million in watches from burglaries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania. They say the gang also broke into a store in Maine but failed to get any merchandise. Perez also pleaded guilty to a separate conspiracy involving thefts of cash and sunglasses in 2014 from stores in Kansas and Tennessee. A judge has ordered Perez to pay restitution.
Kansas City Shooting Kills One Man, 3 Others Wounded
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say a man has been fatally shot and two other adults and a child were seriously wounded in a shooting in a Kansas City parking lot. Police said in a news release that the shooting happened Thursday night after an altercation. The release says a man found lying on the parking lot was declared dead at the scene. Police say another man and a woman were taken to a hospital in critical condition, and that the wounded child's injuries also are considered life threatening. The release says a second child was found not injured. The names of the victims weren't immediately released.
Kansas Man Sentenced in Rape, Killing of 100-Year-Old Woman
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas man has been ordered to spend decades in prison for the 2014 death and sexual assault of a 100-year-old woman. The Wichita Eagle reports that 37-year-old Kasey Nesbitt was sentenced Thursday in Sedgwick County for first-degree felony murder, rape and aggravated burglary with the intent to commit a sexual assault. Under the sentence, his earliest chance for release would come when he is around 86. Prosecutors said Martha Schell of Wichita died from blood clots that formed after Nesbitt kicked in her door and assaulted her in September 2014. The attack left her with a broken back and other injuries. DNA evidence connected Nesbitt to the attack. District attorney Marc Bennett said Thursday that Schell's family remains "very upset" and is "still grieving" her death.
Complaint: Rule Discriminates Against Minority Players
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Complaints filed with the NAACP allege a rule adopted during the desegregation era in Kansas to limit the number of out-of-state players on community college basketball and football teams discriminates against minority students. The Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference earlier this month rejected efforts to throw the rule out, even though some colleges are struggling to fill rosters with Kansas players. Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Iowa also have similar conference rules. Garden City Community College head football coach Jeffrey Sims has been joined by 49 players in filing discrimination complaints with the NAACP. KJCCC Commissioner Bryce Roderick says the rule is not discriminatory and is intended to provide a good mixture of out-of-state and in-state athletes and offer opportunities for Kansas students.
Gordon Hits Grand Slam as Royals Top Twins, 8-1
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Gordon hit a grand slam, Dillon Gee pitched seven strong innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 Thursday night. The Royals have won five straight and eight of nine to move above .500 for the first time since July 22. Gordon extended his hitting streak to a season-best nine games. Gordon has homered in three consecutive games. Gee (5-6) picked up the Royals' first victory from a Number 5 starter since May 31st. The Royals are 9-21 is games started by the fifth starter.