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Headlines for Monday, November 30, 2015

Kansas Committee Weighs 2 Education Funding Studies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A special legislative committee studying options for reformatting K-12 public education funding in Kansas is preparing to review conflicting research studies. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the 15-member committee's task is to lay the foundation of a new school finance formula. The Kansas Policy Institute is pushing a report that points to the inability of the state's $3.6 billion program targeting at-risk students to close the academic gap between poor and wealthy students. The Kansas Association of School Boards released a report this month arguing a link exists between funding of schools and student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Legislators and Governor Sam Brownback eliminated the old finance formula and imposed a block-grant system for two years. A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court ruled the system was unconstitutional, but the decision is being appealed.


Advocates Push for Changes to Kansas Open Records Act 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Public records advocates are pushing for state legislators to bring the Kansas Open Records Act regarding disclosure of police records more in line with open record laws in other states. The Lawrence Journal-World reports changes in the law are supported by Harold and Alberta Leach, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters and the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government. The Leaches feel authorities were secretive about the investigation of their teenage son's 1988 disappearance. Randy Leach went missing from a graduation party along with the family's car. Authorities refuse to release the investigative records to the Leaches. State Representative John Rubin said he will hold hearings, possibly in January or February, to receive input from the public, prosecutors and law enforcement with the hope of drafting a bill to correct some problems with the law.


4.7 Magnitude Earthquake Among 4 Recorded in Oklahoma on Monday

MEDFORD, Okla. (AP) — Four earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma, with the strongest a 4.7 magnitude quake felt throughout much of the state and into Kansas. There were no immediate reports of damage from Monday's quakes. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 4.7 magnitude earthquake hit at 3:49 am 16 miles west-southwest of Medford, or about 80 miles south of Wichita, Kansas. A 3.0 magnitude quake struck just outside the Oklahoma City metropolitan area at 5:50 am. A 3.1 quake was registered at 7 am near Perry.  A 3.2 magnitude quake was recorded at noon near Cherokee.  Another 4.7 magnitude temblor hit northern Oklahoma on November 19. That earthquake prompted state regulators to shut down some oil and gas wastewater disposal wells in the area and reduce the volume at others.


Lawrence to Receive Request for Incentives to Build Menard Facility

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The Lawrence City Commission will receive a request for public incentives tomorrow (TUE) to assist with construction of a production plant and warehouse in the city. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the commission expects to receive the official request Tuesday in which home improvement retailer, Menard Inc., will ask to advance the proposal to the Public Incentives Review Committee. Last week the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce announced the proposed project, which would create more than 100 jobs. An application submitted by Menard says the company is seeking a 50 percent, 10-year tax abatement and a grant of nearly $550,000 from the city that would be paid over 10 years. It is also requesting that the city give the company ownership of an on-site warehouse at no cost. A public hearing for the request is tentatively scheduled for January 5.


University of Kansas Chancellor Addresses Diversity Issues 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas chancellor says hiring a new provost and addressing campus concerns about race are among her top priorities. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was hired by the university in 2009. She says it is expected to take six to nine months to hire a new provost. A national search will be conducted to find a replacement for Provost Jeff Vitter, who is leaving the school to become chancellor of the University of Mississippi. The chancellor is also looking to make more efforts to address race-related issues at the University of Kansas. She moderated a campus forum on the topic earlier this month. Gray-Little says addressing retention is a key issue in bolstering diversity efforts, citing the gap between retention rates for black students and all other students.


Kansas Officials Blame Bad Publicity and Low Pay for Police Officer Shortage

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Negative publicity and low pay has Kansas law enforcement agencies struggling to recruit new officers at a time when agencies have hundreds of openings but not enough qualified applicants to fill them. With law enforcement feeling the heat of public scrutiny, some recruiters say young people are opting for better-paying careers that don't have so much negative baggage attached. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Highway Patrol has more than 100 open positions but there are just 19 cadets in the patrol's current academy class in Salina. Wichita police officials say college has gotten so expensive that graduates have to find jobs that will allow them to pay off their student loan debts. Starting pay for law enforcement positions in much of the state is around $20,000.


New Data Show Syphilis, HIV Cases on the Rise in Parts of Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Newly-released data show growing numbers in sexually transmitted diseases in Kansas. State data shows that syphilis rates have more than doubled statewide over the past four years. The Wichita Eagle reports that 145 syphilis cases were reports in Kansas in 2014, compared to 58 cases that were reported in 2011. In Kansas, men were three times more likely to have syphilis than women. The disease was most common among 20- to 29-year-olds. African-Americans were more likely to have syphilis than other groups. Data from Sedgwick County shows that local HIV cases are also growing. The number of cases is on track to surpass the county's previous record-high.


Dad of Missing Boy Held After Human Remains Found in Barn 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A district attorney says more charges are likely in the investigation of a missing 7-year-old boy and unidentified human remains found on his father's property. Michael A. Jones — a 44-year-old bail bondsman who worked in Topeka— made his first court appearance Monday on charges of child abuse, aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a firearm. Police who went to Jones's property in Wyandotte County on Wednesday to investigate a domestic disturbance were told about the missing boy and human remains were later found in a barn. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman declined Monday to address a report that officials are investigating whether the remains had been fed to pigs. Six other children living in the house are in state custody. Investigators called the crime scene one of the most gruesome they had ever seen.


Kansas Man Sentenced for Possessing 16,000 Child Porn Images

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Garden City man was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for having more than 16,000 child pornography images. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 43-year-old James E. McGary was sentenced Monday to 6½ years in prison for possession of child pornography. Grissom says in October 2012 an investigator with the Ford County Sheriff's Office found a computer sharing pornography on a file sharing network. When investigators searched McGary's home, they found a laptop containing about 16,000 images of child pornography.


Kansas Sperm Donor's Court Battle Continues

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Legal arguments are continuing in the case of a Kansas sperm donor who is being pushed by the state to pay child support. William Marotta, has been resisting state efforts to declare him the legal parent of a 5-year-old girl conceived with sperm he sold to a same-sex couple. His attorney argued in a court filing earlier this month that the state shouldn't discriminate against the lesbian couple by forcing the child to have a male parent. A Shawnee County district court judge said in June that Marotta and the couple failed to include a physician during the artificial insemination process and therefore​, Marotta is not entitled to protections given to other sperm donors.


Storm Lingering in Plains States Today, Clearing Predicted for Tuesday

DALLAS (AP) — A deadly storm that has caused flooding and coated parts of the Plains states in ice in recent days is continuing this morning but the National Weather Service predicts sunnier and warmer conditions starting Tuesday.  The band of storms has been blamed for six deaths Kansas since Thursday. Utilities in Oklahoma say ice storms there cut power to more than 78,000 as of Sunday morning.


Kansas City Petition Challenges E-Cigarette Use Restriction 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A petition drive in Kansas City is seeking to overturn restrictions on electronic cigarette use in
enclosed public areas. The Kansas City Star reports the Kansas City Council voted November 19 to support three ordinances restricting tobacco and e-cigarette use. Two of the ordinances were aimed at raising the legal age to purchase the products from 18 to 21, and went into effect Sunday. The third ordinance bans the use of vapor products, including e-cigarettes, from enclosed public spaces. A group called Bistate Regional Advocates for Vaping Education is gathering signatures to overturn the indoor vapor use ban in Kansas City. The group says the ordinance imposes expensive and unfair costs for separate ventilation systems on small independent vapor shops. The deadline to turn in the petition was Sunday.


Chiefs Defeat Bills in Kansas City, 30-22, for 5th Straight Win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills 30-22 on Sunday. Spencer Ware ran for 114 yards and a score, Jeremy Maclin had nine receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown, and Cairo Santos hit three field goals for the Chiefs (6-5), who have won five straight after a five-game losing skid. Buffalo (5-6), was mostly held in check by the Chiefs' defense in the second half. The Bills had a chance for a tying touchdown when they took over at their own 10 with 3:25 left, but the Chiefs stopped them on fourth-and-9 with 2:16 to go in the game.


Kansas State Men's Basketball Holds Off South Carolina State to Win, 68-66 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State's Justin Edwards scored 18 points, including four free throws in the final 17 seconds, and Kansas State avoided an upset bid by South Carolina State, 68-66, on Sunday. The Bulldogs pulled within 64-61 with 21 seconds remaining, but the Wildcats held on the seal the win. South Carolina State (3-4) kept it close for most of the game, recovering after Wesley Iwundu rattled off three-straight buckets and dished out an assist to Kamau Stokes for a 3-pointer to extend Kansas State's halftime lead to 50-39. Dean Wade finished with 12 points and Iwundu 11. Stephen Hurt had 10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists for Kansas State (5-1). 


Kansas City Royals' World Series Share Worth $370,000

NEW YORK (AP) — A full postseason share for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals was worth $370,069, just under the record $388,606 set by the San Francisco Giants last year. The New York Mets set a record for a World Series loser at totaled $300,758, the commissioner's office said Monday. Kansas City split $25.16 million into 58 full shares, 8.37 partial shares and 50 cash awards. The Mets divided $16.77 million into 44 full shares, 11.05 partial shares and 25 cash awards, with the amount of a full share easily topping the previous record of $291,668 for a World Series loser, set by Detroit in 2012, and the Royals' $230,700 last year.


AP Men's College Basketball Poll: KU Moves to No. 4; Kentucky No. 1 Again

Kentucky, Maryland and Michigan State held the top three spots in The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll, but there were plenty of changes at the bottom of the Top 25. The Wildcats (6-0) received 59 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel Monday to stay No. 1 for a second straight week. Maryland (6-0) remained second with four first-place votes and No. 3 Michigan State (7-0) had the other two No. 1 votes. Kansas and Iowa State switched places at fourth and fifth. They were followed by Oklahoma, Duke, Villanova, North Carolina and Virginia. No. 14 Syracuse was the highest newcomer, with West Virginia at 20th and Providence, Louisville and Baylor filling the last three spots. Indiana, California, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Wichita State and LSU fell from the rankings.


Jayhawks Prepare for First Game with Diallo on Floor 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Even though the NCAA has cleared five-star prospect Cheick Diallo to begin playing for No. 4 Kansas this week, it hasn't stopped Jayhawks coach Bill Self ripping its investigation. During a news conference Monday, Self called the months-long saga an exercise in frustration, and that "I don't think anything done by the NCAA was done in the kid's best interest at all." The NCAA forced Diallo to miss the first four games this season while examining coursework from a New York prep school. Ultimately, it ruled he had accepted a small amount of improper benefits and docked the 6-foot-9 forward from Mali a fifth game. With all of that in the past, Diallo finally will take the floor Tuesday night when the Jayhawks (4-1) play Loyola at Allen Fieldhouse.


AP Source: Cueto Turns Down $120 Million D-Backs Offer

PHOENIX (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation says Johnny Cueto has rejected a six-year, $120 million offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona wants a front-line starter and would have made the right-hander by far the highest-paid player in the organization. The Diamondbacks met with Cueto and his representative last week, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the offer had not been made public. The 29-year-old right-hander was acquired by Kansas City in a midseason trade with Cincinnati this year. He went a combined 11-13 with 3.44 ERA. The rejection of the offer first was reported by


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