Winter Storm Expected to Bring Crippling Ice, Rainfall to Central US
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A winter storm that brought heavy snow and rainfall to northern California is bearing down on the southern Plains, where forecasters predict that crippling ice accumulations and heavy rain could cause widespread power outages and flooding. The National Weather Service says parts of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma could see up to 1 inch of ice, causing widespread power outages and making roads impassable. Storms are expected Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A winter storm watch is in effect beginning this (FRI) morning for much of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, along with parts of Illinois and Texas. Ice accumulations and winds of up to 15 mph are forecast for much of the area.
UPDATE: 11:30 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Freezing rain is causing numerous accidents in Missouri, including one fatal wreck. Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Al Nothum says a sport utility vehicle veered off of Interstate 55 near Festus, south of St. Louis, on Friday morning. The SUV struck a tree, killing the driver. No other information has been released, but Nothum says a slick roadway is the suspected cause. Nothum says several accidents have been reported as a result of freezing rain that began falling in southern Missouri early Friday. The rain later moved into St. Louis, where more than 100 flights were cancelled at Lambert Airport because of ice. Forecasters are predicting the worst ice storm in at least a decade in St. Louis, with a half-inch or more of accumulation. Freezing rain also moved into Oklahoma and Kansas early Friday, with forecasters warning of ice accumulations across the region. Icy weather also is expected in parts of Illinois, Texas and Arkansas.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — About 200 Kansas National Guard soldiers have been mobilized to help the state respond to emergencies as an ice storm moves across the state. Guard officials said in a news release that the soldiers will patrol key roads and help stranded motorists, as well as provide emergency transportation for first responders. The teams will operate in three shifts of two vehicles with two soldiers each from 12 locations across the state. The guardsmen also will help provide warming stations at local armories, if necessary. Much of Kansas is under an ice storm warning from Friday evening through Sunday.
Official: Governor's Proposed Budget Plan Raises Long-Term Pension Costs by $6.5 Billion
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas public pension system's top administrator says budget-balancing proposals from Governor Sam Brownback would raise its long-term costs by $6.5 billion. Executive Director Alan Conroy testified Thursday before the Senate Ways and Means Committee about how Brownback's proposals would affect the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and efforts to close a long-term funding gap for the system. Brownback is proposing to freeze the state's annual contributions to public pensions for three years instead of increasing them as planned. The savings would help the state close projected budget shortfalls totaling $1.1 billion through June 2019. Conroy said Kansas would take 10 years longer to close its pension funding gap with higher costs in future years. Brownback said if lawmakers don't like the pension measures, they should offer budget-balancing alternatives.
Kansas House Passes Bill Revising Laws for Special Elections
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House has approved a bill rewriting state laws on special congressional elections so that military personnel overseas have a greater chance of voting. The vote Thursday was 122-1. The measure went to the Senate. The bill arose from Republican congressman Mike Pompeo's nomination by President-elect Donald Trump as Central Intelligence Agency director. If Pompeo is confirmed, the 4th District in south-central Kansas would have the state's first special congressional election since 1950. State law says a special election must occur from 45 to 60 days after the governor declares a vacancy. The bill would expand that period to 75 to 90 days so military personnel and other Kansas residents overseas have more time to receive and return ballots. Local Democratic and Republican activists will pick their parties' nominees.
Federal Bureau to Review Kansas Guard at Adjutant General's Request
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The federal National Guard Bureau plans to investigate the Kansas National Guard at the request of the state's adjutant general after an internal investigation found leadership problems. The Kansas Guard on Friday released a memo from Major General Lee Tafanelli requesting the review. The Guard also said it would not comment further until the review is completed. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported this week that the internal investigation disclosed problems including instances of racism and enlistment document forgery. The two officers leading the internal probe concluded that the Kansas Guard suffered from "toxic" leadership. Republican Governor Sam Brownback is standing by Tafanelli. The request for a federal review was dated Wednesday but was released after Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said lawmakers should investigate if Brownback does not.
Kansas Democratic Leader Urges Probe of National Guard
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Democratic leader says the state needs to investigate its National Guard after an internal investigation uncovered leadership problems that include instances of enlistment document forgery and racism. Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said Friday that if Republican Gov. Sam Brownback doesn't look into the Guard, the Legislature should. His comments came after The Topeka Capital-Journal reported the findings of the investigation. The Air Guard one-star general and Army Guard lieutenant colonel who led the probe separately concluded "toxic" leadership was damaging the Guard. Brownback said Sunday he would "maintain full support" for Major General Lee Tafanelli, whom he appointed in 2011 to lead the Guard. Tafanelli responded in an opinion page column submitted to the newspaper that the Guard works to "thoroughly and impartially investigate" wrongdoing.
Topeka Business Sued for Disposing of Documents in Dumpsters
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Attorney General's Office is suing a Topeka business, accusing it of violating state law by disposing more than 34,000 documents in public dumpsters. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the lawsuit was filed Tuesday. According to the lawsuit, two employees at SearchTec Inc. repeatedly disposed of records containing personal information by leaving them in dumpsters or trash cans in the city without making sure the personal information couldn't be read. SearchTec conducts public record searches and legal research for businesses. Regional vice president Mechelle Pagan says the company has received the lawsuit, and is interested in seeing the evidence on which the lawsuit is based. The attorney general's office is seeking restitution for SearchTec customers, as well as $10,000 for two violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.
Suspects Arrested in Central Kansas Triple Homicide
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says two suspects have been arrested in the October deaths of three people in central Kansas. The KBI announced Friday that Mexican authorities arrested 35-year-old Jereme Lee Nelson and 31-year-old Myrta Rangel Thursday evening. They were returned to the U.S. and are held in the San Diego County Jail. An extradition hearing was scheduled later Friday. The bodies of 33-year-old Travis Street and 37-year-old Angela May Graevs, both of Moundridge, and 52-year-old Richard Prouty of Newton, were found October 30 outside a rural home south of Moundridge. An 18-month-old child was found unharmed. Kansas and Harvey County authorities in November issued arrest warrants on capital murder charges for Nelson and Rangel. The KBI has not said how the two suspects were connected to the deaths.
Hy-Vee Recalls Store-Branded Candy Packages
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Hy-Vee food store chain has recalled store branded candy distributed to 242 stores in eight states after learning an ingredient from another company could be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee says a milk powder ingredient used in chocolate coating has the potential for contamination and the candy's manufacturer, Palmer Candy Company, announced a recall of some of its products. The candy is in a clear plastic container with sell-by dates between January 26 and February 23. It includes chocolate almond bark, chocolate almond pretzels, dazzled peanut brittle, holiday candy trays and others fully listed on the FDA recall website . The candy was distributed to Hy-Vee's eight-state region, including Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. No illnesses have been reported.
Judge Orders Forfeiture in Cartel Money Laundering Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has entered a preliminary order of forfeiture against a husband and wife accused of laundering drug money for a Mexican cartel at a small southwest Kansas bank. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten granted the government's motion Friday for the $28,340 in cash seized from the home of George and Agatha Enns in Meade and another $172,720 seized at the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, port of entry. The couple faces sentencing February 27, agreeing to the forfeiture under their plea deal. Former bank president James Kirk Friend was sentenced Monday to a year of probation for not reporting the suspicious bank activity. Marten has granted a request to defer prosecution of former loan officer Matthew Thomas until July 2018 for failing to file a report.
8 St. Joseph Men Indicted in Alleged Violent Gang Activity
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal racketeering charges have been filed against eight alleged members of a St. Joseph-based street gang. Prosecutors said Friday the gang was involved in murder, attempted murders, drug trafficking, armed robberies and extortion. They allegedly operated in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Massachusetts and other places. Many of the members were recruited from Puerto Rico although the eight people indicted live in St. Joseph. Prosecutors say Victor Matias-Torres led the gang, which created a "climate of fear" in St. Joseph. One of the eight, 28-year-old Luis Alfredo Villegas-Rosa, was indicted in the February 2015 shooting death of John O. Baynham Jr. in St. Joseph. The gang also was indicted in five cases where victims were shot or shot at, and at least five robberies of check-cashing businesses in St. Joseph.
Man Injured in Shooting Near Friends University in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police are searching for two suspects after a man was critically wounded in a shooting near Friends University. KAKE-TV reports that police were called to a home about three blocks east of the university. A 19-year-old woman told officers that two suspects forced their way into the home and shot the 22-year-old victim. The woman and a 3-year-old boy at the home were no injured. Sergeant Nikki Woodrow said one of the suspects shot the man after demanding his personal property and the suspects then fled. Wichita police say the suspects targeted the person who was shot.
Broken Water Pipe Closes All-Indian Center Exhibition Area
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The exhibition space at the Mid-America All-Indian Center will be closed for two to three months because of damage from a water pipe break. City officials announced Friday that the water pipe flooded parts of the space Tuesday but no artifacts were damaged. The Wichita Eagle reports that the exhibition space was covered in about a quarter-inch of water. Crews will spend the next two to three months repairing the water pipe and fixing the damage in the exhibition space. The museum's event rental space was not affected and rentals will go on as scheduled.
Steelers-Chiefs Moved to Primetime Because of Ice Storm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The AFC divisional playoff game Sunday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs has been moved from an early afternoon kickoff to primetime because of an ice storm due to hit the Kansas City area this weekend. The game was originally scheduled to kickoff at 12:05 pm Central time. It will now start at 7:20 pm to give road crews and public safety officials more time to treat roads and parking lots. The forecast calls for ice to move into the area Friday, and persistent cold temperatures throughout Saturday and Sunday. Additional precipitation is expected Sunday, though mostly in the form of rain. The time change means the Packers-Cowboys game scheduled to kickoff at 3:40 pm Central time on Fox on Sunday will lead into the Steelers-Chiefs game, which will air on NBC.
Wichita City Council Member to Run for Congressional Seat
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita city council member plans to seek the Republican nomination in the 4th Congressional District of south-central Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports that Pete Meitzner is touting his business experience as a potential asset in Congress. He leads a telecommunications consulting firm. The 4th District seat is held by Republican Mike Pompeo. He has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be Central Intelligence Agency director. If the U.S. Senate confirms Pompeo, GOP and Democratic activists in the district would pick their parties' nominees, and an election would be held later in the spring. Wichita lawyer and businessman George Bruce announced Tuesday that he would also seek the Republican nomination. State Treasurer Ron Estes from Wichita also is running.
Report to Kansas Lawmakers Documents Rise in State Debt
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state official says Kansas should no longer be considered a "low-debt" state. Kansas Development Finance Authority Senior Vice President Jim MacMurray made the comment Thursday in presenting a report on state debt to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The report from the bond-issuing agency showed that since July 2010, the amount of debt to be paid off with state tax dollars has increased 40 percent to nearly $4.5 billion. A May 2016 report by the credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service said Kansas has tax-supported debt of $1,534 per person and ranks 17th in the nation. Kansas issued $1 billion in bonds in 2015 to bolster its public pension system and has issued nearly $1.2 billion in bonds for highway projects since July 2010.
Police Say 3 Killed, 2 Wounded in Kansas City Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say they've identified three people killed during a Kansas City, Missouri, apartment complex shooting that also wounded two other people. Police said in a statement Friday that 29-year-old Darrell E. Thomas, 28-year-old Victoria Brown and 20-year-old Ali Brown died during the Thursday night gunfire. Police said all of those victims were from Kansas City, though investigators did not say whether they were residents of the apartment complex. Police said earlier Friday that the two surviving victims were hospitalized. One of them is a juvenile. No other information was immediately released, including what led up to the shooting. Police are urging anyone with information to contact a tips hotline.
Kansas Capitol to Add Mural Celebrating Brown v Board
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says a new mural will be added to the third floor of the Kansas Capitol celebrating the historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned segregated education. Brownback unveiled a mockup of the mural Thursday at the state's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Artist Michael Young will paint the mural. It has a group of students of different races with their teacher in the foreground and the building in the background. Raytown School District Assistant Superintendent Anthony Moore spoke on the importance of unity at the MLK Jr. Day celebration and invoked the words of leaders, including President Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Moore says Americans have to continue striving for King's dream.
Former Kansas Bank Teller Convicted of Embezzlement
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A former bank teller has been convicted of embezzling about $700,000 from a Burlington bank. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news release Thursday that 48-year-old Denise Christy was convicted of embezzlement and six counts each of making false bank entries, filing false tax returns and money laundering. Prosecutors say one of Christy's duties at the Burlington branch of Central National Bank was to sell cash in the bank's vault to the Federal Reserve Bank. In May 2014, auditors found $700,000 was missing from the vault. Christy falsely said the money had been shipped to the Federal Reserve. Christy falsified bank records to cover up the embezzlement and spent more than $77,000 in embezzled funds to pay off loans from the Farmers State Bank in Aliceville.
Topeka to Lose 150 to 200 Jobs in Energy Company Merger
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ An official with Great Plains Energy says the Topeka area will lose between 150 and 200 jobs over the next three to five years as Kansas City Power & Light merges with Westar Energy. Great Plains spokesman Chuck Caisley told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Wednesday that roughly the same amount of jobs will be lost in the Kansas City area. If the merger is approved, Westar and KCP&L will become a single electric company straddling the Kansas-Missouri border, with 1.5 million customers. Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast says he's confident the job losses will be handled in a way that is least detrimental to those involved.
Man Sentenced for Shooting Death of Teenager at Fort Riley
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old man was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a teenager at Fort Riley. Federal prosecutors say Juwaun Jackson was sentenced Thursday in the September 2015 death of 16-year-old Kenyon Givens Jr. Jackson and Givens both lived at Fort Riley at the time of the shooting. When military police arrived, Jackson reported an unknown, masked intruder forced his way into the home and shot Givens, delaying paramedics from treating Givens until police searched for an intruder. Investigators eventually learned Jackson was playing with a loaded .22 caliber handgun and spun the chamber while holding the trigger. A bullet struck Givens in the chest.
University of Kansas Gets $100K Gift
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas is receiving a $100,000 estate gift from a Scandia family that will provide funds for a nursing scholarship, the Dole Institute of Politics and the Spencer Museum of Art. The Salina Journal reports that alumna Marynell Dyatt Reece made plans for the gift before she died on July 4. The money will be used to establish the Marynell Dyatt Reece Spencer Museum Fund to help the existing museum. The nursing scholarship will be named after Reece's mother, Nelle Taylor Dyatt, who was in the university's inaugural graduating class of nurses in 1909. Marynell's daughter says her mother served as the treasurer during former U.S. Senator Bob Dole's presidential run. Marynell was born in Kanorado and studied journalism at the University of Kansas. She graduated in 1942.
Kansas Family Sues Neighbors over Death After Fire
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A Reno County family is suing their neighbors, contending that a March 2015 wildfire contributed to a family member's death. Cynthia Stohr and her children filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Peter and Shawnee Scharer and a caretaker on their property, David Farris. The Hutchinson News reports the Stohrs claim 60-year-old Ernest Stohr, who was confined to a wheelchair, died from complications of smoke inhalation he suffered in the March 16 fire. The lawsuit contends Farris started a fire on the Scharer property even though the county was under a warning for extreme fire danger. The family contends Farris didn't follow county rules on rural fires and the Scharers were negligent in hiring and supervising Farris.
2 Men Charged in Deadly Kansas City Shooting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two men have been charged in the killing of a Kansas City man who was shot and pushed out of a car. Jackson County prosecutors announced Thursday that 21-year-old Jathaniel Odum and 19-year-old James Francis Jr. are charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Prosecutors have requested bonds of $250,000 for both of the men. The charges stem from the January 2016 shooting of 20-year-old Emorye Spriggs. Before dying at a hospital, Spriggs was able to provide some information while he was being loaded into an ambulance. According to court records, Spriggs said he said that he had been sitting in a car before being shot. A witness reported that the wounded Spriggs was dragged from the vehicle, which sped away.
KU Hires TCU Assistant Doug Meacham to Oversee Offense
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas football coach David Beaty has plucked veteran coach Doug Meacham from Big 12 rival TCU to serve as his offensive coordinator and work with the Jayhawks' wide receivers. Beaty announced the hiring on Thursday. Meacham was the co-offensive coordinator for the Horned Frogs. He has also coordinated offenses at Houston and several lower-level schools, and spent time working in the Big 12 for Oklahoma State. Beaty said in a statement that he admired Meacham for his "creativity" on offense, and that going against him in the Big 12 only underscored his desire to bring him onto his staff. Meacham shared the Horned Frogs' coordinator job the past three seasons with Sonny Cumbie.
Kansas City Royals, Eric Hosmer Agree to $12.25 Million Deal to Avoid Arbitration
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and All-Star first baseman Eric Hosmer have agreed on a $12.25 million contract for next season, avoiding arbitration with a deal that could take him to free agency. General manager Dayton Moore has long been optimistic that the Royals will be able to sign their homegrown star to a long-term deal, but the price has risen considerably. The 27-year-old Hosmer made $8.3 million last season in the second year of a $13.9 million, two-year contract that he signed to avoid arbitration in 2015. He has won three Gold Gloves and flashed more power at the plate last season, hitting .266 with a career high 25 homers and 104 RBIs. Hosmer is eligible for free agency after the season. Left-hander Danny Duffy and closer Kelvin Herrera remained eligible for arbitration.