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Headlines for Friday, December 11, 2015

Kansas Headlines From the Associated Press

Kansas Couple Charged with Murder of Child

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas bail bondsman and his wife have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a child authorities believe to be the man's missing son. Wyandotte County prosecutors say Michael Jones and his wife, Heather Jones, were charged Friday. Both also are charged with child abuse. Michael Jones was arrested late last month after a domestic disturbance at the family's rural residence, where authorities also found a juvenile's remains. Those remains have not been identified. Heather Jones is being held on $5 million bond and is scheduled for a first court appearance Monday. She doesn't have a listed attorney. Michael Jones is jailed on $10 million bond. His lawyer didn't return a call seeking comment.


Top Kansas Welfare Official Rejects Claims of Anti-Gay Bias

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' top child welfare official says allegations that she attempts to block potential adoptions by same-sex couples are "fiction." Secretary Phyllis Gilmore says decisions by the Kansas Department for Children and Families and its contractors about troubled children are driven by a desire to find the best homes for them. The agency faces criticism that it discriminates against gay and lesbian foster parents who want to adopt the troubled children in their care. A gay-rights advocate and Democratic legislator say Gilmore should resign. But Gilmore told The Associated Press that the department and its contractors are required by state and federal law to keep children with relatives and their siblings as much as possible. She said their decisions are focused on what's in the best interest of each child.


Kansas Family Policy Council Says It Hired Kansas Lawmaker

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Family Policy Council says it has hired a Republican lawmaker from Wichita as its new executive director. However, the lawmaker, Rep. Steve Brunk, said Friday that negotiations are continuing and nothing about his possible new job will be officially announced until January. The council is an advocacy group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Brunk is chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, which considers several topics, including abortion, guns and First Amendment issues. The family council's chairman, Dennis Blick, announced Brunk's hiring in a fundraising letter. The Wichita Eagle reports if Brunk lobbies for the council, he would be required to resign his House position. But Brunk said he would not be a lobbyist for the group and would not necessarily have to resign.


Authorities Say Two Die in Topeka Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 22-year-old man in the fatal shooting of a man and a woman at a Topeka apartment complex. Topeka police said officers responded Thursday night to a reported shooting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 20-year-old Daquhan Jackson and 29-year-old Mary Thomas, both of Topeka, were pronounced dead at the scene. Topeka police Capt. Ash Kaboudan said the man who was arrested had been involved in a disturbance with the victims before the shooting. The man has been booked into jail on suspicion of two counts of felony murder. Police said several witnesses are being interviewed.


Man Dead, One Arrested After Home Invasion in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Riley County authorities say one person is dead and another is facing drug charges after an early-morning home invasion in Manhattan. Officers sent to a Manhattan home early Friday found 21-year-old Tyler Nelson suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at a Manhattan hospital. KMAN reports a preliminary investigation found that Nelson broke into the home and was shot by a 62-year-old man who was inside the home. He has not been charged in the shooting but was arrested on drugs charges. Police say the man and another person in the home did not know Nelson and it was unclear why Nelson entered the house. The investigation is continuing.


Kansas Case Touches on High Court's Power, Judicial Funding 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys on both sides of a lawsuit dealing with the Kansas Supreme Court's administrative power are conceding that state lawmakers have some influence over the state's judicial operations. The high court heard arguments Thursday about a 2014 law that strips the court of its authority to appoint the chief judges in the state's 31 judicial districts and gives it to local judges. An attorney representing a central Kansas judge who sued over last year's law said it interferes with the Supreme Court's power under the state constitution to administer the courts. But he acknowledged that lawmakers had the authority to create chief judgeships and even describe their general duties. The Legislature passed another law earlier this year nullifying the court system's entire budget if the policy change is struck down. 


Kansas Lawmakers Hear School Financing Arguments 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers tasked with making school finance recommendations have heard conflicting arguments about whether more money for schools means better student performance. The Legislature's Special Committee on K-12 Student Success heard from the Kansas Association of School Boards this week. The association says more school funding does lead to better student performance. But a spokesman from the Kansas Policy Institute, a think tank supporting free markets, said increased funding over the last decade has not led to better results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Kansas currently has a block grant funding plan for schools while the state designs a new formula. The committee plans to hold two more meetings before the legislative session begins in January.


Legislative Group Delays Authorizing DCF Audit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Members of a legislative committee delayed approval of an audit of Department of Children and Families, which has been accused of discriminating against same-sex couples in foster care and adoptions. Instead, the Legislative Post Audit Committee decided Thursday to appoint a subcommittee to develop a proposal for the audit. The subcommittee's audit proposal is expected to ready in January. Democratic Representative Jim Ward of Wichita, had asked for the audit because of concerns that the agency has discriminated against same-sex couples. Some committee members supported a wider examination of the department noting other concerns about the state's privatized child support system and regulations about the overall safety of foster care children. 


Study: New Terminal Least Expensive Option for KCI

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City Aviation report says building a new terminal would be less expensive than renovating Kansas City International Airport. The department told the Kansas City Council Thursday that a new single terminal would cost about $964 million. Renovations to the current facility were estimated to cost between $1.04 billion and $1.19 billion. The Kansas City Star reports city officials have repeatedly said any improvements at the airport will not be paid through general taxpayer dollars. The airport is funded by passenger ticket fees, parking revenues, concessions, grants and other special revenues. The council is not expected to make any recommendations on the airport's future for several months.


Topeka City Councilman Denies Physically Abusing Son

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A Topeka city councilman has denied allegations that he physically abused his 12-year-old son. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that councilman Jonathan Schumm's attorney denied the accusations in documents filed with the court. A petition seeking to have Schumm removed from his post has been circulating since the councilman and his wife were charged with aggravated battery and child abuse. The couple was booked into jail on November 20, but posted bond on the same day. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor filed a civil action in November to suspend Schumm as a city councilman, and then to oust him from office. 


Kansas Governor Names Interim Secretaries for Corrections, KDADS

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has named interim secretaries for the state Department of Corrections and the Department of Aging and Disability Services. Brownback's office said Thursday that Tim Keck will be interim secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, and Johnnie Goddard will be interim secretary for the Kansas Department of Corrections. Keck has been deputy chief counsel at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since 2011. He replaces KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett, who's leaving December 31. Goddard is replacing Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts, who's retiring. Goddard has been a deputy secretary for the Corrections Department since 2012. Keck and Goddard will serve as interim secretaries starting January 1 until Governor Brownback appoints permanent nominees for the positions. 


Wichita State to Honor Student Who Died in Saudi Arabia 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A Wichita State University student who died after trying to stop a suicide bomber in Saudi Arabia will receive an honorary degree. Wichita State officials announced Thursday that 22-year-old Abduljaleel Alarbash also will have a room in Jabara Hall on the college campus named for him. Alarbash, an electrical engineering student, was killed in May when he tried to stop the suicide bomber from entering a mosque in his native Saudi Arabia. He was there to be married and planned to return to Wichita to continue his education. His posthumous degree will be awarded during Wichita State's fall commencement ceremony Sunday.  


Jury Recommends Hard 50 Sentence in Wichita Child's Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County jury has recommended a Hard 50 prison sentence for a Wichita man in the abuse death of his 17-year-old daughter. The jury made the recommendation in the case of 30-year-old Jonell Lloyd, who attacked and killed his daughter, Chavira Brown, in July 2008 for wetting her pants. Lloyd was sentenced by a judge in 2009 to life in prison with no parole for 50 year. He was re-sentenced after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that jurors, not judges, must determine if a Hard 50 sentence is warranted. 


Wichita's Orpheum Theatre Prepares for $14 Million Capital Campaign

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A nearly 100-year-old theater is gearing up for a $14 million capital campaign to complete renovation work. The Wichita Eagle reports that $1.5 million has been raised for the Orpheum Theatre's restoration so far. The theater's president, Jennifer Allen, says it will likely take about two years to raise the funds. The goal is for all of the Orpheum's restoration to be completed in time for its centennial in 2022. The Orpheum was built in 1922 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It closed in 1976 and was slated for demolition before volunteers stepped up to help renovate the building. It was reopened in 2000.


Kansas Deputies Confront Nude Oregon Man Taking Pictures

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas authorities say an Oregon man was urged to go home after he was spotted taking pictures of himself in a wheat field wearing nothing "but a hat and a smile." The Harvey County sheriff's office in Central Kansas says the man was spotted Wednesday afternoon. Sheriff T. Walton says a deputy told the man and his friend that "Kansas is not as liberal as Oregon" and "suggested they continue their travels" back home. Walton says it's technically not illegal to be publicly naked in the county, as long as one is not trying to arouse oneself or others. Walton added, "You know folks, you just can't make this stuff up!"


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