Kansas Lawmaker Seeks End of Privatized Foster Care System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker is calling for an end to his state's privatized care system as its 20th anniversary nears and scrutiny of the agency in charge of it rises. Republican Representative Mike Kiegerl, an Olathe Republican, wrote a report that was among more than 100 pages of documents provided to the Legislature's Special Committee on Foster Care Adequacy, which met for a day last month and wants to arrange more meetings. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kiegerl has been a critic of the foster care system for years. He says the privatized system should either end or be radically overhauled. Kiegerl's comments come as the Department for Children and Families is facing questions over the deaths of multiple children in the foster care system.
Kansas Lawmakers Prepare for 2016 Session; Governor Prepares Budget Message
As Kansas lawmakers prepare for the 2016 legislative session, Governor Sam Brownback is preparing his annual budget message. The governor will deliver his State of the State Address to the Kansas Legislature at 5:30pm on Tuesday, January 12 in the House chamber. In accordance with Section 5 of Article 1 of the Kansas Constitution, the governor will provide lawmakers with information on the condition of the state. Kansas government is facing another difficult budget year and Brownback will outline his budget priorities in his speech. The State of the State address will broadcast live on Kansas Public Radio and its affiliate public radio stations. It will also be televised by Kansas City's public radio station, KCPT, as well as other Kansas television stations. This will be the 134rd State of the State address in Kansas.
Off-Road Drivers Causing Damage at Clinton Lake State Park
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Officials at Clinton Wildlife Area say illegal, off-road drivers are causing damage around Clinton Lake that has forced the closure of some roads. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Rock Creek Boat Ramp on the southwest side of the lake and portions of Green Road on the wildlife area's western edge were closed because of damage. Justin Hamilton with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks says potholes and ruts have developed because of the damage, making some pathways unnavigable. He says some areas around Douglas State Fishing Lake near Baldwin City also were damaged recently by off-road driving, and there have been issues with people driving in muddy fields after crops have been harvested.
Kansas Grapples with Safety Issues at Osawatomie State Hospital
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An influential Republican legislator wants Kansas to postpone efforts to regain federal certification for one of its two state mental hospitals as it tackles safety problems. State Senator Jim Denning of Overland Park is chairman of a budget subcommittee on social services. He says he's concerned that demands from the federal government earlier this year for renovations at Osawatomie State Hospital have distracted the state from protecting employees and caring for mentally ill patients. The federal government notified the hospital last month that the Medicare program would stop paying for patient care as of this week. The notice followed a critical survey and a report that a patient raped an employee. Officials from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services say they've exhaustively studied each deficiency and are responding appropriately.
University Cites Privacy for Redaction of Hazing Information
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has cited the protection of student identity and privacy for the heavy redaction of documents regarding two fraternities placed on probation for hazing. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the fraternities were disciplined after a 2014 investigation by the university. Information in documents provided to the newspaper about Delta Tau Delta and Phi Beta Sigma was redacted, including the nature of the hazing. University spokesman Joe Monaco says the school is only allowed to release student information without the student's consent after removing identifiable information. The university also said that releasing the documents without redactions would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy under the Kansas Open Records Act.
Man Seeking Asylum Back in Wichita After Detention
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man seeking asylum in the United States has reunited with his family in Wichita this week after spending 2½ years in an Arizona detention facility. The Wichita Eagle reports that Hector Yaujar arrived in Wichita on Wednesday. Yaujar was living in Wichita with his wife, Claudia Amaro, when he was deported in 2005 for allegedly using a fake Social Security number. Amaro followed her husband to Mexico with their son, but she eventually returned to the U.S. When Yaujar tried to re-enter the country two months later, he was detained at an Arizona facility for more than two years. The couple requested asylum in the U.S. in 2013.
Kansas City Man Charged in Deadly Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 22-year-old Kansas City man is charged with shooting an acquaintance and dumping the body on a street. The Kansas City Star reports that Kimani Sterling is charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with second-degree murder in the November 15th death of 23-year-old Ja'Que Dawkins. Sterling also was charged this week with armed criminal action and evidence tampering. Court records say Sterling shot Dawkins several times after leaving a nightclub with him and two other people in a rental car. Sterling also is accused of pulling Dawkins out of the back seat and ordering someone else to burn the car to destroy the evidence. Another man is facing charges for the car fire.
16-Year-Old Killed in Shawnee County ATV Crash
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 16-year-old boy was killed when the all-terrain vehicle he was riding hit a tree near Topeka. The Shawnee County Sheriff's Office says Justin Wyatt Branham died at a hospital shortly after the accident Wednesday afternoon. Sheriff Herman Jones says Branham was wearing a helmet when the three-wheel ATV he was riding went into a ditch and hit the tree. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Bald Eagles Nesting Near Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A pair of bald eagles has taken up residence at a lake just east of Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a large nest that the eagles are building is clearly visible in a large tree on the southeast end of Lake Shawnee. Eagles have been visiting the lake for a number of years. But Carol Morgan, of the Topeka Audubon Society, says this is the first time that local bird-watching enthusiasts can remember them building a nest. Morgan says it appears the eagles "have every intention of nesting and raising eaglets." Bald eagles were nearly extinct about 50 years ago. Morgan says that today, there are over 10,000 nests across the nation, including about 90 active nests in Kansas.