Kansas Secretary of State Kobach Meets with President-Elect Trump
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach met yesterday with President-elect Donald Trump at one of Trump's properties in New Jersey. Kobach served as an adviser to the Trump campaign on immigration issues. Kobach has developed a national reputation among conservatives for helping draft state and local laws aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. He has also championed tough state voter identification laws. Kobach was mentioned as a potential pick for U.S. attorney general, but Trump named Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Trump's transition team is apparently still considering Kobach for other positions within the new administration. Governor Sam Brownback would name a replacement secretary of state if Kobach joins the Trump administration.
New Kansas Congressman Marshall Seeks Agriculture Committee Seat
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Newly elected congressman Roger Marshall says his top priority in Washington will be to secure a seat on the House Agriculture Committee. Marshall says he wants to protect crop insurance and help shape farm policy. Marshall said he expects President-elect Donald Trump's administration to ease environmental regulations that the farmers and large agriculture companies say are too restrictive. Marshall says he also looks forward to the debate over health care as Republicans push to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Marshall, a physician from Great Bend, defeated Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp in the August primary and went on to win the seat in the First District of western and central Kansas.
Police Identify Suspect in Newborn's Kidnapping
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified the Texas woman who faked her pregnancy and allegedly kidnapped a baby whose mother was found shot to death at her Kansas home. Wichita police said Monday that the 34-year-old Yesenia Sesmas of Dallas is believed to have known the baby's mother for years. The baby's mother, 27-year-old Laura Abarca-Nogueda, was found shot to death at her home Thursday, setting off a search for her missing newborn daughter. Police used different spellings, but now say the baby's name is Sophia. Wichita police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says Sofia was reunited with family members on Saturday. The suspect is being held in Dallas on suspicion of first-degree murder and kidnapping pending formal charges. The case is expected to be presented to the Sedgwick County district attorney's office later Monday.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Texas woman who faked her pregnancy kidnapped a baby whose mother was found shot to death at her Kansas home. Wichita police said Monday that the 34-year-old Dallas suspect is believed to have known the baby's mother for years. The baby's mother, 27-year-old Laura Abarca-Nogueda, was found shot to death at her home Thursday, setting off a search for missing baby Sofia. The baby was six days old when she was reported missing. Wichita police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says Sofia was reunited with family members on Saturday. The suspect is being held in Dallas on suspicion of first-degree murder and kidnapping. The case is expected to be presented to the Sedgwick County district attorney's office later Monday for charges and extradition to Kansas.
Kansas Mental Health Groups Back Reform Proposal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Mental health reform is being proposed in Kansas through several measures, including the restoration of state funding to behavioral health clinics serving the uninsured or underinsured. The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2fhPjEC ) reports that the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas is backing the proposal referred to as Mental Health 2020. The proposal calls for expansion of the number of psychiatry residents at the University of Kansas and a return to the operation of the full complement of 200 crisis beds at Osawatomie State Hospital. Kansas Mental Health Coalition representative Amy Campbell says the state should recognize the potential of an expanded network of regional crisis centers to bridge the service gap between community mental health centers and the state hospitals.
Man Pleads Guilty Washburn Art Teacher's Death on Bicycle
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man faces sentencing in January for manslaughter in the death of the head of the Washburn University art department when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Todd Kidwell, of Chanute, pleaded guilty Monday for the June 2015 death of 60-year-old Glenda Taylor. She was hit while participating in an amateur time trial on a rural Crawford County road. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that before the plea deal, Kidwell was charged with second-degree murder. Kidwell's attorneys had contended that the accident occurred when Kidwell swerved to the left to avoid a head-on collision with another truck at the same time that Taylor veered to her left. Testimony at an earlier hearing indicated Taylor's body was thrown 169 feet after she was struck.
University of Kansas Student Named Rhodes Scholar
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas student has been named a Rhodes Scholar to study refugees and forced migration. The Rhodes Trust announced 32 U.S. recipients of the 2017 awards Sunday. KU senior Shegufta A. Huma, from Bel Aire, is majoring in political science. The Trust says Huma came to the U.S. from Bangladesh, was president of the Muslim Student Association, speaks several languages and "is particularly dedicated to working toward justice for Muslim immigrants." The 2017 Rhodes scholars-elect were chosen from nearly 900 applicants. The scholarships cover expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England beginning next October. At Oxford, Huma plans to study refugees and forced migration.
City of Lawrence Sues Management Company
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The City of Lawrence is suing a local management company, saying a veteran with an emotional support animal was discriminated against when he tried to rent a townhome. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the lawsuit was filed by the City of Lawrence Human Relations Commission. It says KanMar Management LLC violated fair housing laws by refusing to rent to Christopher Evans based on his disability and use of a service dog. The lawsuit says the company refused based on the pet policy of townhomes even though Evans supplied a letter from his therapist regarding the dog. Owners of the management company declined to comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $75,000.
Governor Brownback's Communications Director to Retire
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's communications director, Eileen Hawley, says she is retiring as of Friday. Brownback announced in a news release Monday that Melika Willoughby, the current deputy communications director, will replace Hawley. Hawley has served on the governor's senior staff since June 2013. Willoughby has been in her current position for the last two years. She earned a bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College.
Koch Industries to Buy Glass Maker Guardian Industries
NEW YORK (AP) — Koch Industries says it is buying glass maker Guardian Industries, a company that the conglomerate had already been an investor of. Koch says it will pay cash to buy the remaining 55.5 percent of Guardian shares that it doesn't already own. Koch has been an investor in Guardian since 2012. The companies, which are privately-held, did not disclose financial details of the deal. When the deal closes, which is expected to happen in the first three months of 2017, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch will add another business to the diverse mix of companies it owns. Koch's companies make fertilizer, carpeting and several other products. Guardian, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, makes glass used for windows, bus windshields and other uses.
Kansas Gun Case Pits Federal Law Against State's Rights
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The convictions of two men who relied on a Kansas law to protect them from prosecution for federal firearms violations have raised questions about the legal basis for gun control. The National Firearms Act is a part of the Internal Revenue code enacted under Congress's power to levy taxes. The prosecution of Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler raises the question of whether that taxing authority can be used to regulate firearms that stay within state borders. A jury found them guilty of federal firearms violations in a case with Second Amendment and state rights implications that even the judge overseeing it expects to ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Their defense attorneys contend their clients believed the Kansas law made their activities legal.
Women to Serve 10 Days for Abusing 2 Mentally Challenged Men
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A woman who pleaded no contest to attempting to mistreat two mentally challenged men in Lawrence will serve 10 days in jail and two years' probation. Twenty-one year-old Brooke Shinn was sentenced Monday after pleading in September to two counts of attempted mistreatment of a dependent adult. Prosecutors say she beat two men she was caring for and locked them in their rooms for days. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Shinn's lack of criminal history meant her convictions carried a presumptive sentence of probation. Shinn also must undergo a mental health evaluation, complete an anger management course, have no contact with the two victims and cannot work as a caregiver during her probation. One of the victims has filed a lawsuit against Shinn, ResCare Kansas Inc. and another ResCare employee.
Hearing Delayed for Man Charged in Kansas Detective's Death
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The preliminary hearing for a man charged with capital murder in the death of a Kansas City, Kansas, police detective has been moved. Curtis Ayers, of Tonganoxie, is charged with capital murder in the May 9 death of Detective Brad Lancaster. Ayers is accused of shooting Lancaster in Kansas City, Kansas, and then fleeing in a car to Missouri, where police shot and wounded him. The Wyandotte County District Attorney's office said in a release that the hearing had been scheduled to begin today (MON) but was moved to March 13. The defense requested the continuance.
Kansas Teen Sentenced in Shooting Preceding Officer's Death
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, teenager faces nearly two years in prison for a July shooting that a police captain was investigating when he was fatally shot. The Kansas City Star reports that 18-year-old Daqon Sipple was sentenced Friday to one year and nine months in prison for the July drive-by shooting, to which he pleaded guilty in September. Police Captain Robert D. Melton was helping other officers investigate that shooting, in which no one was injured, when he tried to stop a possible suspect and was fatally shot. Jamaal Lewis, 20, is charged with capital murder in Melton's death. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March in Wyandotte County District Court.
Kansas Man, Experts Refurbishing a Cold-War Era Submarine
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Visitors to a rural area in central Kansas might be surprised to find several people working to refurbish a Cold War submarine that can go 8,000 feet deep in the ocean. They're involved in helping 29-year-old Salina resident Scott Waters achieve his dream of exploring the deep sea. The Kansas City Star reports that Waters bought a Pisces VI sub from an international company last December and hauled it home from Wisconsin. He and a team of 10 experts plan to pull it apart and put it back together using digital technology. After that, he'll offer the modern submersible for scientific research and to the film industry. Waters, the head of his family's hardware store chain, thinks the submarine will be ready to launch in two years.
Fugitive Sentenced to 27 Years for Drug Crimes in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities say a 36-year-old man who was a fugitive for six years has been sentenced to 27 years in prison and has to forfeit $13 million from drug trafficking in Kansas. The office of the U.S. attorney for Kansas says Yehia Hassen was sentenced Friday. He pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and attempted money laundering. In his plea, he admitted he was part of a drug trafficking organization that operated in Kansas City, Kansas. Prosecutors say Hassen received more than 100 kilograms of cocaine. The prosecutor's office says Hassen fled federal authorities six years ago when he was released while awaiting sentencing and that he was arrested in Cyprus in April.
Suspect Killed, Officer Wounded in Kansas City Area Incident
GLADSTONE, Mo. (AP) - Police say a suspect has been killed and an officer wounded in Gladstone, Missouri, after the suspect pulled out a handgun during a struggle. Kansas City police said in a statement that the shooting happened Sunday night after a passenger ran from a vehicle that Gladstone police stopped for a traffic violation. Police say officers chased down the passenger who pulled out a handgun. Shots were fired, although the release didn't say whether an officer or the suspect pulled the trigger. The suspect was fatally wounded and an officer sustained non-life threatening injuries. Police described the suspect only as a white male in his late teens.
Kansas Group Makes Last-Ditch Effort to Save Railroad Depot
STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) — A Sedgwick County preservation group is trying to save a railroad depot in Stafford that is expected to be demolished in the next few weeks by seeking the help of Warren Buffett. Buffett's conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, owns Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway, which owns the Stafford depot. The depot was built in 1911, and is one of fewer than 200 left in the state. BNSF officials say the vacant depot is being demolished due to structural integrity issues. The Wichita Eagle reports that Greg Kite, president of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County Inc., sent a letter to Buffett, citing the depot's historic and architectural significance as reasons to stop its demolition. Kite also noted the depot's importance to the citizens of Stafford.
Numbers of Old Kansas Train Depots Dwindling
STAFFORD, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas towns are grappling with how to save the dwindling number of historic railroad depots. The state that had nearly 2,000 depots less than a hundred years ago, but the Kansas Historical Society estimates that fewer than 180 old depots are still standing today. Thirty-two are listed on the state or national historic registers. Many of the brick depot buildings were built at the turn of the 20th century in county seats or other important towns. But rail lines began to decline as the nation's highway system grew in the 1950's and 1960's. Several Kansas towns are working to preserve their historic railroad depots. Dodge City, El Dorado and Marysville all have renovated their depots in recent years.
Kansas City Chiefs Working with American Indian Group on Team Traditions
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are collaborating with the American Indian Community Working Group to address concerns that some of their traditions are insensitive to Native Americans. The organizations first got in touch about three years ago, when there was a renewed national push for the Washington Redskins to change their nickname. Recently, the Chiefs and the group, which works as a liaison with the Native American community, began to work more closely together. Several events were planned before the Chiefs' game on Sunday in observance of American Indian Heritage Month. The Chiefs' nickname was chosen through a fan contest when the team relocated from Dallas. The team has phased out many pregame events that have included Native American iconography over the years but a ceremonial war drum is still beaten by a fan prior to kickoff and fans continue to wave their arms in the "tomahawk chop."