Governor Signs Bill Aimed at Keeping Kansas Schools Open
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed legislation that would increase aid to poor school districts to meet a court mandate and end a threat that the state's public schools might shut down. The bill signed Monday increases poor districts' state funding by $38 million for the 2016-17 school year by diverting funds from other parts of the budget. It also redistributes some funds from wealthier districts, which is in line with a state Supreme Court ruling last month. The court said Kansas's school funding system is still unfair to poor districts and gave lawmakers until Thursday to make further changes. It had warned schools might not be able to reopen otherwise. The bill had broad bipartisan support when the Republican-dominated Legislature passed it last week during a two-day special session.
Abortion Clinic Restrictions on Hold in Kansas Following Supreme Court Ruling
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the strict regulations for abortion clinics in Texas is expected to affect the fate of similar state regulations currently on hold in a Kansas court. Texas rules required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient care. Kansas lawmakers passed similar requirements in 2011, but that law has been temporarily blocked pending trial in a Shawnee County courtroom. The nation's highest court held Monday that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman's right to an abortion. That ruling was lauded in Kansas by abortion rights supporters who contend it clearly tells legislatures such laws are unconstitutional. Abortion opponents contend the decision jeopardizes women's health. Kansas has four clinics offering abortion services.
US Supreme Court Ruling Throws Missouri Laws into Question
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is calling into question whether some Missouri abortion regulations will stand. Supreme Court judges ruled 5-3 Monday that some Texas regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit women's abortion rights. Missouri has similar laws requiring abortion doctors to have privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. Spokeswoman Nanci Gonder says Missouri's attorney general is reviewing the ruling. President and CEO Laura McQuade says Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri also will review whether it will need to take legal action to try to invalidate state laws. But Missouri Right to Life Executive Director Patricia Skain says the ruling will overturn Missouri's laws and that the anti-abortion group is disappointed. She says those regulations are meant to protect women.
TransCanada Seeks $15B for Rejection of Keystone Pipeline
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The company that wanted to build the Keystone XL pipeline is seeking $15 billion in damages from the federal government after the Obama administration rejected the Canada-to-Texas project. TransCanada Inc. filed a request for arbitration Friday, arguing that the decision violated the North American Free Trade Agreement. The pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta, in Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would have connected to existing pipelines running south to Gulf Coast refineries. A spokesman for the Canadian developer says the November rejection was "arbitrary and unjustified." The company also argued in its filing that the administration rejected the project to bolster its environmental credentials. A State Department spokesman said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Dole Joins Twitter, Swipes at Incumbent Kansas Congressman
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Senator Bob Dole is using his new Twitter account to take a swipe at a Republican congressman who's facing a primary challenge in his home state of Kansas. Dole started tweeting Monday. The 92-year-old World War II veteran's first message was: "I'm proof that it's never too late to join Twitter." A few hours later, Dole used his verified account to weigh in on the closely contested race for the Republican nomination in Kansas's 1st District. Dole criticized Representative Tim Huelskamp for what he called "misleading attacks" on his challenger in the August 2 primary, obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Roger Marshall. "I would suggest the current congressman focus on the issues rather than misleading attacks on his primary opponent," Dole wrote. Dole represented the 1st District before moving to the Senate in 1968. He won the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 but lost to Bill Clinton.
Two Drivers Killed in Topeka Crash Along Foggy Highway
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, two people were killed early Monday after a two-vehicle, head-on crash on K-4 highway on the Oakland Expressway just northeast of Topeka, officials on scene said. The driver of each vehicle died, authorities said. The crash occurred around 6:15 this (MON) morning and involved two pickup trucks that collided head-on while on the north end of the Oakland Expressway on K-4, about a half-mile south of US-24 highway. One vehicle was going north and the other south when one of the vehicles went left of the center line for an unknown reason. There was a lot of fog in the area at the time but it’s unknown if that played a role in the crash.
University of Central Missouri Students Among Crash Victims
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say one of the two people who died when a car ran off an interstate overpass in Kansas City was a student at the University of Central Missouri. The Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal reports the victims of the crash Saturday night near the Kansas City Zoo were identified Monday as 21-year-old Tuiemanu Ripley, an American Samoan attending the University of Central Missouri, and 22-year-old Calleb M. Lugano, of Overland Park, Kansas, who was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Two other international students from Warrensburg, both females, were injured in the accident, one critically and the other seriously. Kansas City Police Sergeant Bill Mahoney says the car ran off an overpass on Interstate 435 and landed on a street below. Lugano apparently lost control of the vehicle.
Man Charged with Fatally Stabbing His Sister in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 49-year-old man has been charged with stabbing his sister to death after an argument about drugs. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office announced Monday that Michael Mathews, of Kansas City, is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 57-year-old Ayishia Shakir. Prosecutors are requesting a $250,000 bond. No attorney is listed for Mathews in online court records. Court records say witnesses told police that Mathew had argued with his sister after she refused to share drug-soaked cigarettes with him. He was arrested Saturday after returning to the crime scene and identifying himself. His employer said Mathews had been fired Friday after admitting he had been drinking. He told authorities that he got high after leaving his work and denied having an altercation with his sister.
Changes Ahead for Childhood Program in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas families will no longer qualify for an early childhood program when the state shifts to federal funding for the program. Beginning in July, Kansas will pay for Parents as Teachers with federal dollars instead of state resources. Federal rules require the program to focus on serving low-income families and those facing other hurdles, like very low birth weight, or if a parent has a mental illness. Nancy Keel, executive director of the Kansas Parents as Teachers Association, says families whose income exceeds the federal cutoff can benefit from the program, which provides home visits to support healthy development in young children and to identify any problem areas. Eileen Hawley, spokeswoman for Governor Sam Brownback, told The Topeka Capital-Journal the federal funding source ensures "a stable funding stream."
Kansas Wheat Harvest Passes Halfway Mark
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government snapshot shows farmers have now harvested about 58 percent of their winter wheat crop in Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday that the harvest this year is well ahead of both the 37 percent cut statewide at this time a year ago as well as the five-year average of 50 percent for this date. Harvest activity extends across Kansas. Southeast Kansas has cut 91 percent of its wheat, with the south-central Kansas harvest now 74 percent finished. Central Kansas has cut 78 percent. Harvest in northwest Kansas reached 13 percent. For the wheat still out in the field, the report rated its condition as 64 percent good to excellent. About 28 percent is in fair condition and 8 percent remains in poor to very poor shape.
Jury Convicts Topeka Man in Shooting Death of Former Wife
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County jury has convicted a 59-year-old man in the death of his former wife. Colin Edward Pritchard was convicted Friday of intentional second-degree murder in the 2015 shooting death of his former wife, 51-year-old Cindy Pritchard. The jury had the choice either to find Colin Pritchard not guilty or guilty of premeditated first-degree murder, intentional second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Colin Pritchard claimed the shooting was an accident.
Topeka Police Officers Shoot 2 Dogs During Residential Call
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police have shot and injured two dogs that they said charged an officer outside a home in Topeka. Lt. Jack Mackey says officers exited a residence after responding to a disturbance around 10:30 Sunday morning when the homeowner opened the door and the dogs charged at the officer. Mackey described the dogs as "vicious." An officer on the scene said he had no choice but to fire because he felt threatened. Animal control officers took the injured dogs away from the scene. Their condition wasn't immediately known.
Multimillion Dollar Effort on University of Kansas Halls
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is midway through a multimillion project to renovate the university's eight older scholarship halls. The scholarship halls being renovated were built between the 1920s and the 1950s. Housing director Diana Robertson told The Lawrence Journal-World the work includes overhauling heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical infrastructure. The work will also include remodeling the halls' community kitchens as well as cosmetic updates like new paint and furniture. The cost to renovate all eight halls to about $15.3 million. Renovations to four of the halls were completed in 2014 and 2015, at a cost of about $1.8 million apiece. This summer, work is underway at the university's two oldest scholarship halls: Miller, built in 1927, and Watkins, built in 1926.
Teen Paralyzed in Kansas Diving Accident Leaves Rehab
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 16-year-old boy who was paralyzed last month after diving into a retention pond near a Lawrence high school has been released from a rehabilitation facility. The Lawrence Journal World reports that Kaleb Hatman is paralyzed from the chest down. Hatman was a sophomore at Free State High School at the time of his May 9 accident, when he dove into the pond during lunch. He was released from a rehabilitation center on Friday. He will live with an aunt and uncle in Gladstone, Missouri, after previously being in the Kansas foster care system. Hatman has learned to use a manual wheelchair and was recently able to stop wearing neck brace. The teen says he now feels positive about the progress he has made since the accident.
John Q. Hammons Hotel Chain Declares Bankruptcy to Focus on Legal Issues
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The head of a Missouri-based hotel chain that has 35 properties in 16 states says her company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the weekend so it could better deal with ongoing legal battles. John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts CEO Jacqueline Dowdy says she doesn't anticipate the company's business operations being disrupted because of the Sunday filing in federal bankruptcy court in Kansas City, Kansas. The Springfield News-Leader reports the bankruptcy filing puts the brakes on a trial in Delaware that had been scheduled to start in late July. That trial involves a dispute between the company and entities associated with investor Jonathan Eilian, whose entities loaned John Q. Hammons $300 million in 2005 so he could take his publicly-traded company private.
Authorities Investigate Death of Kansas Woman as a Homicide
ASSARIA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a central Kansas woman as a homicide. KAKE-TV reports that a relative found the body of 57-year-old Lori Heimer on Saturday evening near Assaria. The Saline County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has been called to assist. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Kansas Women Turn Old Hospital into Home for Unwed Mothers
KIOWA, Kan. (AP) — Two women are turning an old southern Kansas hospital into an oasis for unwed mothers during and after their pregnancies. Miranda Allen and Brenda Myers paid $1 for the old Kiowa hospital after voters decided to build a new one. They are transforming the facility into what they've named Project Pink House, which will take in its first resident in mid-July. The two breast cancer survivors say residents will take steps to better themselves while they're there, including doing volunteer work and attending classes. Allen and Myers figure women who need them will find their way to the town of fewer than 1,000 residents a few miles from the Oklahoma border. The Hutchinson News reports they're willing to buy bus tickets for applicants who need help getting there.
Man Accused of Killing Kansas Detective Appears in Court
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 29-year-old man charged in the death of a Kansas City, Kansas, police detective has made his first court appearance in Kansas. Curtis Ayers, of Tonganoxie, is charged with capital murder in the May 9 death of Detective Brad Lancaster. Ayers is accused of fleeing to Missouri in a car after Lancaster was shot. Kansas City, Missouri, police shot and wounded Ayers before taking him into custody. He had been hospitalized until Monday when he was returned to Kansas to face the charges. The Kansas City Star reports Ayers appeared Friday in Wyandotte County court, where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days. He wasn't required to enter a plea. His next court date is July 20. Prosecutors say they anticipate filing additional charges.
Murder Charge Dropped in Wichita Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County prosecutors have dismissed felony first-degree murder and other charges against an 18-year-old man in connection with a 2015 shooting death. The Wichita Eagle reports the district attorney's office cited lack of cooperation from witnesses when the office dropped charges against Emmanuel E. Crosby. The case was dismissed without prejudice, which means prosecutors reserve the right to file charges later. Crosby had been accused of killing 23-year-old David Ingram, who was fatally shot last October. Court records show the court dismissed the case on June 16 at the request of prosecutors. A judge also signed off on Crosby's release from jail that same day.
Wichita's Multimillion-Dollar Arts Center to Open in 2018
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials have broken ground on Wichita's new multimillion dollar arts center, which is scheduled to open in about two years. About 400 people gathered Wednesday for the center's groundbreaking. Liz Koch, honorary trustee for the center, announced it will be called Mark Arts_the Mary R Koch Arts Center. The current center is known as the Wichita Center for the Arts. The Wichita Eagle reports the new center, which is scheduled to open in 2018, will include a gallery for national exhibits, an event center, studios for artists and sculpture garden. Center officials say the first phase of the 40,000-square-foot center will cost $19 million, and the center is working to raise an additional $1 million for landscaping and walking trails.
Joplin Tornado Spawns Research Among Engineers, Scientists
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Tornado research has surged since a massive twister destroyed much of Joplin and killed 161 people in 2011. The Joplin Globe reports that engineers, meteorologists and social scientists have published almost 800 peer-reviewed studies about tornadoes over the past five years. University of Florida doctoral student David Roueche says that's a 36 percent increase from the five-year period before the Joplin storm. Thousands of photographs and measurements were collected in Joplin and other towns in the aftermath of a record-setting string of tornadoes in the spring of 2011. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says fewer than 1 percent of all tornadoes are rated EF5, and few of those strike populated areas. That meant the massive damage in Joplin provided a rare opportunity to understand the effects of tornadoes.
Kansas Man Dies in Weekend Alaska Motorcycle Crash
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Army has identified a man who died in an Alaska motorcycle crash as a soldier from Junction City, Kansas. Thirty-one-year-old Staff Sergeant Maurice Tucker crashed on Anchorage's Minnesota Drive just before 8 pm Saturday. Witnesses say the Tucker had stopped for a red light at Spenard Road while heading south. On a green light, he took off at high speed, lost control and began doing "speed wobbles." Witnesses tell police Tucker was thrown from the bike and struck the pole at Jefferson Avenue as the motorcycle slid several hundred feet down the roadway. Emergency responders declared Tucker dead at the scene.
Royals Find a Way to Beat Astros Sunday in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ian Kennedy struck out 11 over seven innings, Kendrys Morales hit two home runs and the Kansas City Royals snapped the Houston Astros' seven-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory Sunday. After Royals starters Edinson Volquez and Chris Young were roughed up in blowout losses in the first two games of this series, Kennedy allowed one run and three hits with one walk. Kennedy (6-6) struck out his final four batters and finished one shy of matching his career best in strikeouts. Next up for Kansas City: a four-game series, starting tonight (MON), against the St. Louis Cardinals. The first two games will be played in Kansas City. The last two games will be played in St. Louis.