Brownback Names New Acting Secretary for Health and Environment
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has named an insurance executive to be acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The administration has announced that Jeff Andersen will oversee environmental management and the state's Medicaid program. The Kansas Senate must approve the nomination. Andersen has worked in various segments of the health care industry for 30 years. Most recently, he has been a vice president at Vizient/VHA where he worked with an insurance company and managed care contracting program. Before that, he was president/CEO of Mid-America Services Solution, which owned 10 hospitals and served 200 hospitals. Andersen will begin the job January 16th. He replaces Susan Mosier, who resigned in November.
Topeka Police Veteran Named City's Police Chief
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veteran Topeka police officer will now lead the department. City Manager Brent Trout announced that Bill Cochran, who has been with the department since 1987, will become the new chief. Cochran has been interim chief since November and will take over the department immediately. He has worked in several areas in the Topeka department, including homicide, patrol and criminal investigations. He also was an officer for 20 years in the Kansas Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq. Trout will earn $135,500 per year. The new chief takes over a department that saw a record number of homicides last year and unrest caused by the fatal shooting of Dominique White by a police officer.
Topeka Man Arrested in Fatal Hotel Shooting
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police have made an arrest in a shooting at a Topeka hotel that left a 31-year-old man dead. Police say 18-year-old Logan Lee Able Bartley, of Topeka, was booked Saturday on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Officers were called to the Best Western motel in southwest Topeka Thursday night for a shooting. Police Lieutenant Jennifer Cross says arriving officers found Jesse Lee McFall suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. McFall was taken to a local hospital, where he died. Cross says McFall and Bartley knew each other. The shooting death was Topeka's second homicide of 2018.
Suspect in Wichita Hoax Call Expresses Remorse for Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A California man accused of making a hoax emergency call that resulted in the fatal police shooting of a Kansas man says he regrets the man's death but he wouldn't say whether he made the call. Tyler Barriss is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the December 28 death of Andrew Finch at a Wichita home. Police went to the home after receiving a fake report about a shooting and kidnapping at a home. Finch was shot when he opened the door. During interviews with KWCH-TV Friday and Sunday, Barriss admitted that he had been paid to make other hoax calls in the past. But he declined to answer when asked directly if he was paid to make the call to Wichita. He also expressed remorse over Finch's death.
Person Dead in Shooting Near Washburn University in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A person of interest in a homicide near Washburn University has turned himself in to Topeka police. Police Lieutenant Steve Roth says officers responding to a report of shots fired Sunday morning found a man dead inside a car. The man was identified Monday as 37-year-old Travis Larsen. Investigators say a 21-year-old man who is considered a person of interest in the case turned himself in to police Monday afternoon. Police say someone was seen running from the scene onto the Washburn University campus. The school issued an alert asking students to shelter in place but lifted it when the suspect couldn't be found on campus. This was Topeka's third homicide in the new year.
Overland Park Police Receive Hoax Emergency Call
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Overland Park police say a call from a man claiming he shot a relative was a hoax. Police spokesman Officer John Lacy says dispatchers received a call Monday morning from a man who said he shot a relative inside a home and he would shoot police if they showed up. Officers surrounded the home but eventually determined a man and two sons inside had not made the call and no one in the house was hurt. Lacy says such calls, sometimes called "swatting," aren't funny. He says investigators are looking for the caller, who could face charges. The call comes about three weeks after a similar call in Wichita led police to fatally shoot a man who opened the door at a home that was the target of the hoax.
Kansas Biker Group Helps Victims of Child Abuse
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas biker group is helping victims of child abuse as they face their alleged attackers in court in Kansas and Missouri. The Kaw River Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse formed in 2016, The Kansas City Star reported . The worldwide Bikers Against Child Abuse movement began two decades ago. The group provides free emotional support and acts as a safety buffer for children alleging abuse. "We're here to empower children to speak up and not be afraid of the world in which they live," said Rich Black, president of the Kaw River Chapter. The approximately 15-member chapter works with hospitals, law enforcement and social service centers to find families in need of support. Members go through criminal background checks to reassure the families they help. They typically use road names to protect their identities so accused abusers can't find them. The bikers provide camaraderie and confidence to frightened children facing hard questions and stares, said Judy Jones, who is with the Missouri-based advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "When children go to trial they're really put to the grind," Jones said. "It helps them a lot to know they're not alone." The bikers are available to help a child whenever they feel threatened, anxious or lonely. "Some of them need us longer than others," said one member with the road name Krewzer, the chapter's child liaison and who is typically the first person to meet with a victim. The children often attend outdoor cookouts with the group and many join the organization as adults. "We have a saying: Once a BACA child, always a BACA child," said "Lucy," a biker who serves as secretary for BACA International. "They'll always be part of the family."
Man Walking on Interstate 70 Near Salina Hit, Killed by Car
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Florida man died after he was hit by a car as he walked along Interstate 70 near Salina. The patrol says 35-year-old Cody Nordlund of New Port Richey, Florida, died in the accident Sunday night. He was walking in an eastbound lane of the interstate in Saline County when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle stopped at the scene. It was not immediately clear why Nordlund was walking in the interstate.
Earth's Magnetic Shift to Cost Wichita Airport
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Eisenhower Nation airport will have to renumber its runways due to the slow but constant shift in the Earth's magnetic poles that's altered pilots' compass headings. The Wichita Eagle reports that airport officials told members of the Wichita Airport Advisory Board this week that the compass headings of the airport's three runways have shifted six degrees. The change has prompted the airport to plan to renumber its two primary and one crosswind runways for the first time in its nearly 64-year history. Every five years, the Federal Aviation Administration tests magnetic variation and assigns the values that'll be used in designating runways. A magnetic variation shift greater than 3 degrees prompts changes. Airport officials say the changes will likely cost the airport hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Police Say Missouri Teen Killed in Shooting
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) - Police in the Kansas City, Missouri suburb of Blue Springs say a teenager has been shot and killed. Police say 18-year-old Jack Price, of Blue Springs, died Friday night. Officers were called to the scene on Northwest Vesper Street around 9:30 p.m. and found Price gravely injured. He was taken to an area hospital, where he died. Police have not announced any arrests. Investigators say they were looking into some strong leads and had identified two people of interest.
Holton Man Sentenced for 2015 Murder of Wife
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A Holton man has been sentenced to nearly ten years in prison for killing his wife. Jackson County authorities say 67-year-old George Fleshman Jr. was sentenced to 9 years and 9 months for second-degree murder. He was found guilty last month of killing his wife of 25 years, Elizabeth Jane Fleshman, in October 2015. She died the day after her husband called 911 and said he found her unresponsive at the couple's home. She was taken to a Topeka hospital where she later died.
Kansas City Zoo Welcomes a Baby Chimpanzee
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Zoo has a new arrival. The zoo announced Friday that a female chimpanzee named Gracie was born earlier in the week to 21-year-old Teetoo. Gracie is Teetoo's first baby. Teetoo and her twin sister, Teeoni, came to Kansas City from the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2003. It will be several weeks before visitors get to see the new chimp, which is bonding with its mother behind the scenes. Gracie is the third chimp born at the Kansas City Zoo in as many years. The zoo now has 13 chimpanzees. Ruw, a female chimpanzee born at the zoo last year, went on public display Friday. She was rejected by her mother and had to be hand raised by zookeepers.
Wichita Considers Outdoor Drinking Rules for NCAA Tournament
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita leaders are considering loosening rules governing outdoor drinking. On Tuesday, the City Council will consider allowing bars and restaurants to apply for permits that would allow them to expand their drinking spaces for a year at a time. The council also will look at opening outdoor areas of numerous public facilities to drinking events. Mayor Jeff Longwell says the "common consumption areas" would allow outside drinking in areas like Old Town, and allow customers to move from one establishment to another with a drink in their hands. The Wichita Eagle reports Wichita pushed the state for the common consumption areas and the new ordinance is likely to pass. Supporters want the new drinking zones in place by March, when Wichita hosts an NCAA basketball tournament weekend.
Sunset Zoo in Manhattan is Drawing Master Plan for Boosting Attendance
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The Sunset Zoo in Manhattan is working on its first master plan in 29 years. A consultant hired to help the city plan for future exhibits, staffing and revenue potential updated the Manhattan City Commission on the plan last week. The master plan is expected to be final this spring. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Lori Guthridge of GLMV Architecture said a survey in November determined that most people would like to see giraffes, penguins and big cats at the zoo. People also wanted a walk-through aviary and more food choices. Guthridge said all Kansas zoos have had increased attendance, but Sunset Zoo falls near the bottom with 82,000 visitors in 2016.