Kansas Lawmakers to Revisit School Funding Plan
TOPEKA, Kan. — Legislators will return to Topeka Wednesday for what was supposed to be a short adjournment ceremony on the last official day of the legislative session. However, the state Supreme Court ruled late Friday that lawmakers haven’t done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts and that means there’s likely more work ahead for the Legislature. Lawmakers shuffled school spending to reduce disparities, but the court says that didn’t fix the problem and in some ways made it worse. Justices say they’ll close Kansas schools if there isn’t a solution by the end of June. With little time since the ruling, it’s unlikely lawmakers will work on the issue much or have a new plan this week. That probably means they'll be coming back after the session was scheduled to end. Kansas is in a tight budget situation following tax cuts made in recent years and it might not be easy to provide additional funding for schools if that’s what lawmakers decide to do.
Kansas Grain Elevators Bracing for Winter Wheat Harvest
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Grain elevators are bracing for a big winter wheat crop in Kansas. But elevators are brimming with last year's crops due to lackluster exports and low prices. Industry group Kansas Grain and Feed Association says elevators have added storage and have been moving a grain out of the state on trains to make more room. Association director Tom Tunnell says elevators are confident they will have enough storage to handle the wheat, but the real consternation is what to do when fall crops come in. Wheat harvest typically gears up across Kansas in June. He is anticipating a wheat crop of 400 million bushels or better — more than the Agriculture Department or the industry wheat tour had expected.
Kansas City Company Seeks to Save Kemper Arena
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The fate of an iconic Missouri arena might depend on the memories of a generation of Midwesterners who once flocked there for concerts and sports events. A proposal by Kansas City-based Foutch Brothers to transform Kemper Arena into a regional center for amateur sports competition relies heavily on historic tax credits to fund the $25 million project. Those credits are only available if the arena is on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation usually saved for buildings 50 years and older. Kemper was built 42 years ago, but supporters say its status as one of the biggest entertainment venues of its time make it worthy of consideration. The arena is seldom used and has steadily declined since the Sprint Center opened in 2007.
Kansas Lawmakers Return to Tax Fight Involving Pizza Magnate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate's top Republican is pushing to override GOP Governor Sam Brownback's veto of a bill enmeshed in a multi-million dollar tax dispute involving a retired pizza magnate. Senate President Susan Wagle said Brownback "turned his back on Kansas taxpayers" earlier this month when he rejected the bill over a provision dealing with how tax disputes are handled. Lawmakers expect to vote on overriding the veto Wednesday. The provision would have ensured that any taxpayer losing a dispute before the Board of Tax Appeals could have another full trial in district court before a limited review by the state Court of Appeals. Legislators are considering the issue as ex-pizza magnate Gene Bicknell is asking the state Supreme Court to order the state to refund $42.5 million in income taxes.
Police Believe They Have Suspect, Hope to Solve 1989 Killing
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, investigators say they believe they have identified a potential suspect in the 26-year-old unsolved murder of a 19-year-old woman and an unresolved slaying five years later. The Kansas City Star reports that detectives perhaps have a link between the 1989 killing of Sarah Jo DeLeon, the unsolved 1994 slaying of Diana Marie Ault in Independence, Missouri, and an abduction in 1987. Investigators aren't saying why they believe the deaths of DeLeon and Ault are connected. Detective Scott Howard says the investigation has revealed that the suspect and an accomplice have been involved in other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals. Another detective, Mike Warczakoski, says he hopes to present the case in coming weeks to Wyandotte County prosecutors.
Silpada Says Outdated Business Model Led to Closure
LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A Lenexa-based jewelry company that was one of the Kansas City area's more successful startups has announced plans to close. Silpada Designs Inc. says its business model that involved jewelry-sales parties hosted at home has become outdated. The company said women increasingly work outside the home, making sales parties more difficult to host than when Silpada formed in 1997. Andrea Carroll, the company's vice president of design, product development and marketing, told The Kansas City Star that no particular event triggered the board's decision Tuesday to halt its business. The retailer grew to become one of the largest party-planning sellers of sterling silver jewelry in North America. It was acquired by Avon Products in 2010 for $650 million but was reacquired by the founding families in 2013.
Family of Missing Kansas Boy Plans Cookout for Searchers
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The family of an 11-year-old Wichita boy who went missing after falling into a swollen creek is thanking searchers for their efforts. Wichita Fire Department battalion chief Jim Wilson says a broadened search continued Monday for the boy identified by relatives as Devon Dean Cooley, who disappeared Friday night in Gypsum Creek. Fire officials say Devon was walking with friends near the creek when boy tried to cross but was swept away with the current as his friends tried to grab him. Devon's family, in a statement Monday, thanked firefighters for their tireless efforts to find the boy. The family planned to hold a cookout Monday evening to feed the rescue crews, with a candlelight vigil scheduled for later that night.
Sheriff: No Injuries in Southern Kansas House Explosion
BENTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Butler County are trying to determine what caused an apparently unattended rural house to explode. Sheriff Kelly Herzet says the family that the blast leveled the structure near Benton about 5 am Monday. Authorities say a neighbor's windows were blown out, but there were no injuries. Herzet says he heard the blast from his house, about 20 miles away.
Barge Traffic Makes a Resurgence on the Missouri River
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Barge traffic is making a slow but steady comeback on the Missouri River, although proponents acknowledge the industry is still swimming upstream against a perception that the river is not reliable enough to be a profitable transportation corridor. Some private barge and tow companies never stopped using the river. But public ports along the 760-mile span from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis virtually disappeared by the early 2000s due to a combination of drought, recession and political infighting. Improved conditions allowed Port KC to reopen the first public port on the Missouri River since 2007 and a public port about an hour north in St. Joseph is undergoing renovations. Proponents of the ports say barge shipping is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and eases stress on the nation's highways and rail transportation systems.
Kansas Teenager Drowns While Swimming at Kanopolis Lake
ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old boy has drowned while swimming at a central Kansas lake. Ellsworth County Sheriff Tracy Ploutz says Trevor Blair of Ellinwood was not breathing when he was pulled from Kanopolis Lake about 4:15 pm on Saturday. The sheriff's office received a call around 3 pm about someone whose body had been underwater at the lake for close to 10 minutes. Emergency responders performed CPR as Blair was taken by ambulance to Ellsworth County Medical Center, but he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Salina Man Rebuilding Deep-Diving Submarine
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas businessman says he is rebuilding what will be the deepest-diving submarine owned by a private individual. KSHB-TV reports Scott Waters bought a Pisces VI submarine from the federal government and had it shipped to his hometown of Salina. Waters says he paid $30,000 for a sub that cost about $2.5 million to build in the 1970s. He estimates it will take about four years and $130,000 to rebuild and fully test the submarine before it's finished. Waters is a longtime submarine enthusiast who built a submarine in his garage that can dive to 300 feet.
Colorado Man Killed When UTV Hits Deer in Southeast Kansas
HOWARD, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Colorado man was killed when the four-wheeler he was driving hit a deer in Elk County, in southeastern Kansas. KAKE-TV says 29-year-old Trevor McCoy of Meeker, Colorado died during the accident about 1:40 am Monday. The patrol says the utility task vehicle hit the deer on the road and then overturned.