Kansas Reviewing Security for Voter Registration Database
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas election official says a multi-state voter registration database the state manages is being reviewed for security concerns. The Kansas secretary of state's office manages the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program database. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the program contains voter registration information for millions of voters in more than 25 states. The review was spurred by a story from ProPublica, a nonprofit investigation journalism organization. The story said that public records indicate that the server which hosts the database isn't secure and is vulnerable to hackers. The program was created in 2005 as a way to clean up voter rolls when voters moved across state lines, said Bryan Caskey, the chief election officer in the Kansas secretary of state's office. It's unknown if Kansas will have to fund an upgrade to the system should the review find a need to improve security.
William Allen White Foundation Rescinds Award to Charlie Rose
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The William Allen White Foundation Board of Trustees has rescinded an award presented last spring to journalist Charlie Rose after several women who worked with him accused him of unwanted sexual advances. The University of Kansas's School of Journalism said in a news release Friday that Rose does not exemplify the ideals of this award, citing the recent news reports detailing sexual harassment and a pattern of unprofessional conduct. The former PBS and CBS host is accused of groping and grabbing women, walking naked in front of them or making lewd phone calls. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that for almost 70 years, the White National Citation Award has honored journalists who exemplify Kansas newspaperman William Allen White's ideals of service to their profession and community.
Kansas Judge to Review Records on Teen's 1988 Disappearance
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge will read thousands of pages of investigative records focusing on the 1988 disappearance of a teenager before deciding whether to release the files to the teen's parents. The parents of Randy Leach, 17, have filed a lawsuit contending the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office and Leavenworth County violated the Kansas Open Records Act by refusing to release the records. The parents, Alberta and Harold Leach, asked the judge to order the release of all records related to their son's disappearance between April 1988 and December 1992. Randy Leach was last seen that April at a high school graduation celebration. He disappeared along with a car with no trace. No one has been charged and the car was never located. Leach's parents had sought investigative reports in the early 1990s relating to their son's disappearance, according to Alberta Leach. She said they received about 60 pages from investigators, but all were documents the parents provided them. Under Kansas law, a judge can order the release of criminal investigation records if it's in the "public interest." Leavenworth County District Court Judge David King said he'll inspect the investigative reports before making a decision. He said deciding the case would be his highest priority and that it would be done as soon as possible.
Report: More Hispanics, Latinos Attending Kansas Colleges
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report shows more Hispanic and Latino students attending Kansas universities during the last six years. But the report provided to the Kansas Board of Regents shows no change in the percentage of black students. Hispanic and Latino students now make up 6.6 percent of enrollment at state universities. The percentage of black students remains at just 4.1 percent of enrollment. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the population of Hispanics in Kansas is trending up and the enrollments of those students in Kansas universities are also trending up. The state's population of African Americans has been steady over the years. But both groups are underrepresented at universities in Kansas. Efforts are under way at each campus to improve diversity.
Missouri Dismemberment Suspect Charged in California Killing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who was arrested after sleeping in a Kansas storage unit with his two children and his dismembered wife's remains has been charged in a California killing. The Desert Sun reports that Justin Tod Rey was charged Wednesday with murder in the death of Sean Ty Ferel. The Palm Springs, California, man disappeared in May 2016 after vacationing with Rey. Three months later, Rey crashed Ferel's vehicle in Los Angeles. Ferel's body hasn't been found, but his blood was in the trunk, and his belongings were found in an Arizona storage unit that Rey had rented. Rey is jailed on $1 million bond in Kansas on child endangerment charges. He's also charged with abandonment of corpse in Missouri, where his wife died. His attorney didn't return a phone message.
High Costs, Declining Popularity Spur End of Lawrence Ice Rink
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The city of Lawrence is not putting up its artificial ice rink this year due to its high costs and declining popularity. The Lawrence Journal-World reported Friday that the decision was made during the city's budgeting process. Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Mark Hecker says declining ticket sales over the last two years and the cost of labor and materials for the annual installation were factors in the decision. The rink operated at a loss of more than $12,000 last season, and it cost several thousand more than that when accounting for depreciation of the artificial ice surface and skates. City commissioners bought the rink in 2014 at a cost of $80,000.
Police Nab Suspect in Robbery of Elderly Woman at Bus Stop
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 71-year-old woman says a man punched her and took her money at a bus stop in Wichita. The Wichita Police Department says in a news release that officers responding to the call at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday located a suspect in the front yard of a residence. The 61-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of robbery. The money was returned to the victim. She was not injured.
Driver Dies When Deer Hit by Another Car Smashes Hers
MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — A 19-year-old Kansas woman has died after a deer struck by another car on Thanksgiving Day became airborne and smashed into her car. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the victim was Gracie Burenheide of Attica. The accident happened about 6:15 p.m. Thursday in Barber County, near the Oklahoma border. The patrol says Burenheide was driving northbound on U.S. 281 when a southbound vehicle struck a deer that ran into its path. The deer flew into the air and collided with Burenheide's Chevrolet Malibu. A passenger in Burenheide's car was taken to a hospital, but details about her injuries were not known. Two people in the vehicle that hit the deer were not hurt.
Wichita Police Investigate Man's Suspicious Death in Yard
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a man who was found lying in a Wichita yard as suspicious. The Wichita Eagle reports that police Sergeant Ed Brower says 911 was called after the 26-year-old man was spotted in the yard Thursday morning. Brower says police and EMS tried to resuscitate the man, but he was pronounced dead about 40 minutes later. Chief Gordon Ramsay said on Twitter that the cause of death was unknown. The man didn't live on the street where he was found and it wasn't immediately known what, if any, connection he had to the area.
Child Dies in a Wichita House Fire; Father Hospitalized
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a child has been found dead inside a Wichita home after a house fire. The Wichita Eagle reports that the fire started early Friday in the northeast part of the city. Wichita Fire Department Chief Tammy Snow says officials are still confirming the child's age and gender. The father was taken to the hospital in serious condition. He was the only other person in the home. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Former Kansas Nuclear Missile Silo Now a Bed and Breakfast Rental
ESKRIDGE, Kan. (AP) — A Cold War-era missile silo in rural northeast Kansas that housed a nuclear warhead 65 years ago and was later converted into an underground mansion is now finding a new lease on life as an Airbnb location. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Subterra Castle Airbnb opened for business about six months ago. It's located in rural Wabaunsee County, about 15 miles southwest of Topeka. People find the sites by going online and booking overnight stays of varying lengths. Matthew Fulkerson is the host for Subterra, and says it was his idea to turn the site into an Airbnb. Fulkerson says Subterra is the first and currently the only Airbnb located in a converted missile silo.
Holiday Train Begins Tour Through Several States to End in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A festive holiday train is preparing to start its trip through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train begins its journey Friday in Victoria, Texas. After stops in 20 cities, the trip will end December 15 at Union Station in Kansas City, where the six-car train will remain on display through December 19. It features a smiling tank car dubbed "Rudy," a gingerbread boxcar, a flatcar carrying Santa's sleigh, plus a reindeer stable and a miniature village. There's also an elves' workshop and even a little red caboose. Guests get to visit Santa and tour the train.
Wichita Animal Shelter Focuses on Black Pets for Black Friday
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas shelter is offering Black Friday deals on hard-to-adopt black pets. Black animals often are overlooked at shelters in part because of their abundance. The Kansas Humane Society is offering black or mostly black pets for free from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today (FRI) at the Wichita shelter. The shelter has been having a Black Friday sale the past few years to garner interest in the pets. Dogs under six months and kittens will be $25. Adult cats are always free, although donations are accepted. Shelter spokeswoman Ericka Goering says the shelter typically finds homes for all or nearly all its animals on Black Friday. The shelter typically houses about 150 animals.
Kansas to Open $6.5 Million Dinosaur Theme Park
DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A $6.5 million dinosaur theme park is expected to open next year near Wichita. The 14-acre theme park is scheduled to open in Derby with more than 30 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, The Wichita Eagle reports that the park will featured replicas of dinosaurs including a Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops and Stegosaurus. The park will be set up like a scientific expedition, said the park's executive director Guy Gsell. Visitors will be able to dig for fossils, walk past the life size dinosaur models and participate in events, he said. Private financing and money from Sales Tax Revenue bonds are funding the project. Derby officials plan to use additional bond money to develop a hospital, hotel, restaurants and retail shops. "Wichita has so many science attractions — Exploration Place, the Sedgwick County Zoo, the Kansas Aviation Museum, Tanganyika Wildlife Park," Gsell said. "We think this is a great place for family science tourism, which is exactly what I do. We think this creates synergy for a number of top notch science attractions." The park is expected to open on Memorial Day.
Firefighters Prepare to "Rescue" Santa from Lawrence Rooftop
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Firefighters are preparing for their annual rescue of Santa Claus from a downtown Lawrence rooftop tonight (FRI). Santa is expected to "land" on the roof of Weaver's Department Store. Firefighters then will use a ladder truck to climb up and rescue him. Once on the ground, Santa will listen to the Christmas wishes of children and pose for pictures. Kids also can make crafts for their families. The event coincides with the Lawrence holiday lighting ceremony.
Topeka Parade Signals Start of Holiday Season
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka is gearing up for its annual Miracle on Kansas Avenue Parade that signals the start of the holiday season in the capital city. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with a tree-lighting ceremony. Afterward, hundreds of parade entries will begin making their way through Topeka's downtown, some of them bedecked with lights. The holiday parade began in 1995. It typically includes Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, 4-H members, police cars, ambulances, marching bands, classic cars and some unusual float designs.
Resurgent Vinyl Records Spur Kansas Convention
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Vinyl records are not the only things making a comeback. Wichita is hosting a vinyl record convention Saturday at the Holiday Inn Wichita East. The last such convention in Wichita was more than 20 years ago. About a dozen vendors from Kansas and Oklahoma are expected to attend. They will be selling both new and vintage vinyl, CDs, cassette tapes and audio equipment, among other items. It is being organized by a community group calling itself the Kansas Sound Exchange. The group hopes to make it a recurring event that gives music lovers an opportunity to mingle.