UPDATE: US Supreme Court Justice Blocks Kansas Gay Marriage
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has issued an order blocking gay marriage in Kansas. Sotomayor's brief order Monday puts on hold indefinitely a lower-court order clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry despite a ban in Kansas on gay marriage. The lower-court order was set to take effect at 5 pm Tuesday. Sotomayor acted at the request of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. He wants Kansas to be allowed to continue enforcing its gay-marriage ban while legal challenges are reviewed by the courts. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued an injunction against the state's gay-marriage ban in a federal lawsuit filed by two lesbian couples. A federal appeals court rejected Schmidt's request to put Crabtree's order on hold indefinitely. Schmidt turned to Sotomayor and she responded quickly.
Officials Expect More Pessimistic Kansas Revenue Forecast
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Governor Sam Brownback and the GOP-dominated Legislature will get new revenue projections today (MON) that are expected to make the state's budget problems look worse. Legislative researchers, officials in the Brownback administration and university economists are meeting Monday afternoon to draft a new financial forecast for state government. It will revise revenue projections for the budget year that began in July and issue the first official numbers for the budget year beginning July 2015. The Legislature's nonpartisan research staff made unofficial predictions going into the meeting of a $14 million budget shortfall by July, compounding to $282 million by July 2016. A new, more pessimistic forecast would cause the gaps to grow. The budget problems come after legislators enacted massive personal income tax cuts at Brownback's urging to stimulate the economy.
Canvass Flips Initial Result in Kansas House Race
WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — A state lawmaker from southeast Kansas has won re-election after canvasses in his House district confirmed the victory. Democrat Ed Trimmer had trailed Republican challenger Larry Alley by six votes following the initial tallies from last Tuesday's election. But the Winfield Daily Courier reports that Trimmer picked up 59 votes and Alley just 36 in Monday's canvasses in the 79th House District. The result was a 17-vote victory for Trimmer in the district, which includes parts of Cowley and Sumner counties. Alley said afterward he was proud of his volunteers, and he offered congratulations to Trimmer. Alley could still request a recount, which would be conducted within five days.
Kansas Ed Board to Decide on Next Commissioner
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas State Board of Education is expected to vote on its final choice for state education commissioner Thursday. The state is seeking a replacement for Diane DeBacker, who left her position in May to become an adviser to the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates. Four candidates are vying for the job. They include Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge, who unsuccessfully challenged Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in the spring primary. Also on the list is associate Shawnee Mission school district superintendent Gillian Chapman, interim Kansas education commissioner Bradley Neuenswander and McPherson school district superintendent Randall Watson. The candidates were interviewed last week.
Kansas Nonprofits Hope to Benefit from Raffle Amendment
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Nonprofit groups say they are looking forward to raising money from charity raffles, after voters approved a constitutional amendment clarifying that the raffles are legal. However, the nonprofit groups are waiting to see what new rules lawmakers will write for the raffles during the next legislative session. The Kansas Department of Revenue says lawmakers will consider such issues as whether nonprofits will need a license, how often raffles can be conducted and whether raffle sales will be taxed. The new regulations likely will take effect in July 2015. Voters passed the amendment last week by an overwhelming 75 percent.
KU Foundation Plans to Buy $8.1 Million Jet
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas Foundation is planning to buy the school a new airplane, with a potential cost of $8.1 million. Endowment President Dale Seuferling acknowledges that is a lot of money but notes the new plane will last for 15 to 20 years. The plane, a Cessna Citation CJ4 business jet, will replace one the university bought 17 years ago. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the university owns one plane, plus a share in another. The endowment funded both of those purchases, with the University paying ongoing expenses. The planes are mostly used by the University of Kansas Medical Center's medical outreach for rural Kansas. Administrators and university athletics recruiters also use them. The school hopes to be using the new jet by the end of this year.
Kansas Girl Struck, Killed by Train
LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas juvenile has died after being struck by a freight train, and authorities are calling her death an apparent suicide. Lenexa police and first responders were called to the scene in the Kansas City suburb shortly after 8 pm Sunday. The girl was taken to a hospital and later died. Investigators said Monday the girl had been standing on the tracks in the path of the oncoming Burlington Northern Santa Fe train. The engineer summoned authorities. Police say the girl was a student at Olathe Northwest High School.
First Responders Save Man from Riley County Lake
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Riley County authorities say a man has been hospitalized after wrecking his airboat in Tuttle Creek Lake. Emergency Management Director Pat Collins said Sunday it took first responders more than two hours to rescue the man from a remote portion of the lakeshore on Saturday night. He says the man was suffering from hypothermia when he was hospitalized. Collins says a passerby heard the man yelling and swam across the lake to find him before calling 911. It's unclear what caused the wreck. The man's identity hasn't been released.
Robber in Batman Mask Arrested in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police have arrested a woman who they say robbed three convenience stores while wearing a Batman mask. Police say a female clerk foiled an attempted robbery on Saturday night when she pulled a gun on the masked intruder. They say the 24-year-old suspect robbed two other convenience stores of cash and cigarettes last week while wearing the blue Batman mask. The woman fled into a car waiting outside after the clerk drew the weapon. Police also arrested a 23-year-old man who was in the car. It's unclear if the woman was armed during any of the robberies. Police haven't released their identities.
Scranton Receives Federal Funding for Waterlines
SCRANTON, Kan. (AP) — Scranton residents can expect some relief from waterline breaks after the northeastern Kansas city received federal funds to replace roughly half of its system. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Scranton saw an average of more than three water main breaks per month last year. According to a project engineer with BG Consultants, most of the city's pipes date to the 1960s. The Osage County city had 44 water main breaks last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave about a $1.2 million loan and a $843,000 grant to the city to replace about 31,000 feet of its water lines. The USDA Rural Development hands out loans and grants for water and sewer projects to communities when they can't get funding at reasonable rates.
Kansas Farmers Bringing in Bountiful Fall Harvests
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government estimate of crop production shows Kansas farmers are bringing in bountiful harvests of corn, sorghum and soybeans this season. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday it's estimating the state's corn crop at 581 million bushels, about 14 percent more than a year ago. The agency said in its monthly update that Kansas farmers were getting a record average yield of 157 bushels of corn per acre. Other major Kansas fall crops were also having a good season. Grain sorghum production is forecast at 188 million bushels. That is up 14 percent from last year. Soybean production is forecast at 148 million bushels, up 13 percent from last year.
Tax Preparer Sentenced for Filing False Returns
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old Missouri woman has been sentenced for more than four years in federal prison for preparing false income tax returns that resulted in a loss to the government of more than $316,000. Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says Cynthia M. Raymond of Jackson, Missouri, was sentenced Monday to 51 months after pleading guilty to five counts of filing false tax returns and one count of aggravated identity theft. Raymond admitted submitting 98 false tax returns under the names of 36 clients for the 2007 through 2010 tax years. Her clients weren't aware that she included false deductions on their tax returns and kept part of the refunds. Grissom says Raymond filed the returns electronically and provided her clients with different returns than the ones she filed with the IRS.
Woman Makes Bond in Fatal Northeast Kansas Hit-and-Run
CLAY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas woman is awaiting her first court appearance in a hit-and-run accident that killed an elderly man. Clay County Sheriff Chuck Dunn says the Clay County resident was arrested Friday after the accident on U.S. 24 near Clay Center. She made her $4,000 bond and had a first court appearance scheduled for November 17. Dunn says 83-year-old Joe Knitter, of Clay Center, died Friday afternoon when he was hit by a car while checking on an injured deer that his wife had hit on the highway. Joe Knitter died at the scene. His wife was not injured. KCLY reports investigators used a broken mirror from the vehicle to track down the suspect. The woman told investigators she didn't stop because she thought she had hit a deer.
Kansas Man Uses Headstone to Break into Home
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police have arrested a man who they say used a 40-pound headstone to break through a family's glass door in the middle of the night. A woman and her 3-year-old son were sleeping in the bedroom early Sunday when police say the 23-year-old man broke in. The man told the woman that he was being shot at and needed to use her phone. She told KAKE-TV the man ran out of the room when she said she was going to get her gun. Police say they found the man hiding behind a wheelbarrow in the victim's backyard. They say he was likely high on drugs. The woman says the headstone is a memorial for a pet. The man's identity hasn't been released.
Police: Kansas Teens Cited in Drag Racing Accident
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Police have ticketed two teenage girls in connection with a drag racing accident that sent two people to the hospital. Arkansas City police cited 18-year-old Hunter Lenox and 19-year-old Ashley McCoy for drag racing over the weekend. Lenox was also cited for reckless driving. Police said Sunday that Lenox lost control of her SUV because she was speeding. They say it launched into the air and struck a tree. Fire crews removed Lenox and a front-seat passenger from her SUV within about an hour. Both were taken to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries. A 16-year-old passenger from the back seat was able to exit the vehicle and wasn't taken to the hospital. McCoy's car didn't crash and she was cited later.
Missouri Hearing Evidence on Proposed Power Line
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri regulators are hearing evidence on whether a high-voltage power line should be built across the northern part of the state. The Public Service Commission began hearings Monday on a request by Clean Line Energy Partners to build the power line from the state's western border near St. Joseph to the eastern border near Hannibal. The line would be part of a 750-mile route carrying power from wind turbines in western Kansas to utilities in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The power line is dubbed the Grain Belt Express. It's opposed by some landowners who fear the high-voltage wires could reduce property values, get in the way of farming and create health risks. The staff of the Missouri Public Service Commission also is opposing the company's request.
Number of Small Banks Declines in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The number of small banks in Kansas and the U.S. continues to shrink at a significant rate. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data shows that between June 30, 2004, and June 30, 2014, the number of Kansas-based banks with assets less than $100 million declined 44 percent. The Wichita Eagle reports that the data also showed the number of small banks in the nation declined by 54 percent in the same period. Officials said the decline is mostly the result of mergers and acquisitions. But Chuck Stones, president of the Kansas Bankers Association, said there are other reasons. He said one example is when a bank owner wants to retire and has no children willing to take over the family bank.
Driver Fired After Child Left on Eudora School Bus
EUDORA, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas school bus driver has been fired after leaving a sleeping preschooler on a bus. Eudora schools spokeswoman Kristin Magette says the child fell asleep last Wednesday while being taken to afternoon preschool at Eudora Elementary School. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that after dropping off children, the bus driver took the bus home and went inside. A passerby noticed the preschooler crying a couple hours later and called Eudora Elementary. The school resource officer then came to take the child back to school, and the child's parent was notified. Magette says the school was not expecting the child because the preschooler's parent had called about the child having an appointment. The Eudora district requires bus drivers to walk to the back of the bus, checking each seat.
KCK Police Identify Man Shot to Death
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas, police say a sword-wielding man was shot to death after he threatened people with a sword. Police announced Monday that 50-year-old Carlos Davenport, of Kansas City, Kansas, died in the shooting on Saturday. Two officers arrived at an apartment complex after a woman called to say a man was trying to stab her sister. The department says in a news release that the officers heard screaming as they ran up to a second floor apartment. After the women came out of the apartment, Davenport followed with a sword raised above his head. Police say the man was shot after he ignored the officer's demand to drop the weapon. The two women and officer were not injured.
Iowa Grocer Files for Bankruptcy, Announces Its Sale
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Dahl's Foods Incorporated has filed for bankruptcy and has announced its sale to a Kansas grocery organization. The Des Moines-based company said in a news release Monday that it filed its petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 protection in Des Moines. It also said it's agreed to be acquired by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., of Kansas City, Kansas. Financial details were not disclosed. Associated Wholesale Grocers is a member-owned wholesale grocery cooperative serving more than 3,000 retail member stores. Dahl's said in August that it would close a West Des Moines store and in May announced closing of stores in Ames and Ankeny.
KC Restaurant Reopens After Deadly Explosion
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - An upscale Kansas City restaurant leveled by a gas explosion that killed one worker and injured several others will reopen next week less than a block from its original location. Brothers Jimmy and David Frantze, owners of JJ's restaurant, have spent nearly a year recreating the original restaurant in a 5,000-square-foot lobby space of a new 10-story building. The Kansas City Star reports that JJ's also will have a 1,600-square-foot patio. A natural gas leak caused the February 2013 explosion that killed server Megan Cramer, destroyed the restaurant and damaged two neighboring buildings. The new space will open at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Although the blast happened 20 months ago, more than 90 percent of JJ's 35 former employees are returning.
Dole Institute Hosts Panel on Police Militarization
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The Dole Institute of Politics is planning a panel discussion about police militarization in the U.S. On Monday night, experts will talk about the appropriateness of using equipment usually reserved for battlefields in neighborhoods. Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy said in a news release that the subject is timely after police outfitted in paramilitary gear clashed with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. The protests erupted in August after a white officer shot and killed a black 18-year-old. The event is free and open to the public. The Dole Institute's Student Advisory Board also is involved in the event.
Salina Police Warn of Synthetic Drug Emergencies
SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Salina police say herbal potpourri being sold on the streets is especially potent and has contributed to a sharp increase in the number of medical emergencies caused by smoking it. The Salina Journal reports the Police Department had 15 calls in October for emergency service involving patients who had smoked the substance containing synthetic cannabinoids and commonly known as "spice," or K-2. Drug task force commander Lieutenant Bill Cox says the number of recent medical emergencies is nearing the level of people treated before a February 2011 raid shut down a local business that had sold the potpourri. Cox says law enforcement wants to stop or disrupt the supply of the substance before someone is seriously injured or killed.
Chiefs Rally to 17-13 Win over Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs rallied in 4th quarter Sunday to defeat the Buffalo Bills 17-13. Kansas City's star running back Jamaal Charles scored on a 39-yard touchdown run as the Chiefs scored twice in the final 4 minutes of the game to overcome a 13-3 deficit. The Chiefs defense then forced Bills quarterback Kyle Orton to throw four consecutive incompletions and turn the ball over with 2:32 left. It marked the Chiefs' 4th straight victory and 6th win in their last 7 games.
Chiefs Lose Gray, Harris to Injuries vs Bills
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have lost backup running back Cyrus Gray for the season with a torn knee ligament. Tight end Demetrius Harris is also sidelined with a broken foot. Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed that Gray, a special teams standout, will miss the rest of the season after tearing an ACL in the third quarter of Sunday's 17-13 victory over Buffalo. Harris, a former basketball player in college, broke his foot during warmups prior to the game. Reid said the rest of the team came out relatively healthy heading into Sunday's showdown against the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Running back Jamaal Charles had a neck stinger and tight end Anthony Fasano a bruised knee, but both would have been able to practice Monday.