Governor Declares State of Emergency After Quake Shakes Oklahoma, Kansas
PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency in Pawnee County after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck northwest of Pawnee just after 7:00 am.Saturday and was felt throughout the Midwest. No severe damage or serious injuries were reported. The quake ties a 2011 earthquake for the strongest earthquake in recorded state history. Fallin's order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases for disaster relief and is the first step toward asking for federal assistance, if necessary. The state of emergency lasts for 30 days and additional counties may be added.
Damage Assessments Continue Following Oklahoma Earthquake
PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — State, local and federal officials have resumed assessing damage in north-central Oklahoma after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck near Pawnee, just south of the Kansas state line. Pawnee County Emergency Management Director Mark Randell says that state emergency officials and the U.S. Geological Survey are finding only minor to moderate damage. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation inspected all major roads and 180 bridges within a 30-mile radius of the epicenter and says all were found to be safe. The state Corporation Commission says no major damage has been found to utilities, pipelines, or fuel infrastructure in the area and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is inspecting dams within a 50-mile radius of the epicenter.
Oklahoma Closing Some Wastewater Wells After Earthquake
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — 37 wastewater disposal wells are to be shut down in north-central Oklahoma, where a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck this weekend. But that's just a fraction of the state's total number of wastewater injection wells. Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner says the wells are among about 4,200 across the state. They're also among the about 700 in a 15,000-square-mile "Area of Interest" created by the commission to address earthquakes in the area near Pawnee. An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. Saturday's earthquake tied for the largest in the state.
Kansas School Funding Plan Revives Old Tensions in Debate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A new funding plan from a group of Kansas school administrators is reviving longstanding regional tensions and spotlighting questions about whether the state spends enough on public education. One part of the plan was similar to a complex formula to allocate nearly $4.1 billion yearly that legislators discarded last year. Instead, legislators voted to award "block grants" for districts to allow the state to better control its spending. But other provisions represent a radical departure from past policy, such as stripping local districts of their power to tax. The state would instead raise property taxes statewide as a way to prevent poorer schools from falling too far behind wealthier ones.
Kansas Libertarians Hope Election Bolsters Future Prospects
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Libertarians say the growing popularity of their party's presidential candidate could help them land enough votes two years from now to gain major party status in the state. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kansas Libertarian Party leaders acknowledge none of their candidates in state and federal races has much of a chance of winning this year. But they say that could change in future races if the party can gain momentum as voters look for alternatives to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has been polling around 9 percent nationally, which Kansas chairman Rob Hodgkinson hopes will help swell the ranks of the state party. The Libertarians would gain major party status in Kansas if they receive 5 percent of the vote in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
Larned Psychiatric Hospital: Biggest Overtime Spender in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — One of the largest state psychiatric hospitals in Kansas spent more on overtime pay last year than any other state agency or facility. The Wichita Eagle reports Larned State Hospital has seen a dramatic staff shortage in recent years and paid its 600 employees $3.8 million in overtime during fiscal 2016, which ended in June. That amounts to nearly a quarter of the state's total overtime costs for the year. The next-closest agency was the Kansas Department of Transportation, which has about three times more staff members than Larned Hospital but spent about $2.1 million on overtime. Tim Keck, interim director of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, says overtime hours at Larned have been steadily falling since he took the helm in January.
Ex-Kansas Governors Campaigning for Supreme Court Justices
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four former Kansas governors are launching a bipartisan campaign this week to retain Kansas Supreme Court justices in November's election. The three events with former Republican Governors Mike Hayden and Bill Graves and former Democratic Governors John Carlin and Kathleen Sebelius are sponsored by Kansans for Fair Courts. The group says it wants to protect the independence of the state's courts. The first event is planned for tomorrow (TUE) morning at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. The others are Tuesday afternoon in Topeka and Wednesday morning in Wichita. In November, voters will determine whether five of the seven justices receive another six-year term. They are Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Marla Luckert and Caleb Stegall. Conservatives are targeting all of them except Stegall. He is Republican Governor Sam Brownback's only appointee. The legislature has clashed with the court on numerous issues including abortion access and school funding.
Rescuers Search for Survivors After Vehicle Found in Kansas Floodwaters
LENORA, Kan. (AP) — A search-and-rescue effort is underway in north-central Kansas's Norton County after the discovery of a vehicle found swept off a road by local floodwaters. KSNW-TV reports that the vehicle was found Sunday morning near Lenora, and that fast-moving waters and floating debris has impeded rescuer efforts to get to it. The vehicle's occupant hasn't been found. Sunday's search came a day after two occupants of a car that was swept off a Norton County highway near Edmond were rescued from a tree. Parts of north-central Kansas received 5 to 7 inches of rain on Saturday night.
Kansas Schools Join Experiment in 'Makerspaces'
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Public schools around the country are joining an educational movement that changes how students learn and teachers work. It's called the "maker movement," which encourages students to direct their own education by tapping their creativity and collaborating with others. The Shawnee Mission, Kansas and Liberty, Missouri school districts are among many that have created "makerspaces." The spaces include a wide range of materials, from 3-D printers to simple building blocks. Students use the materials to solve problems, with teachers watching but not directing the work. Advocates say the maker movement is a better way for students to learn. But others are worried already-busy teachers will not be able to fit the new makerspace effort into test-based curriculums that need to meet education standards.
Family Says 18-Year-Old Killed by Kansas Deputy "Troubled"
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The family of an 18-year-old killed last week by a sheriff's deputy after pointing a gun at the officer during a traffic stop says the driver's own actions "ended his life too soon." Caleb Douglas's family said in a statement Saturday that Douglas was "a caring, loving soul," but they say he was "troubled." The family says Douglas caused the deputy to fire his weapon in self-defense. Authorities say the deputy spotted a possible impaired driver early Thursday in Wichita and stopped the vehicle. The sheriff says Douglas pointed a handgun at the deputy's face after being asked to step out of his car. The sheriff says the deputy retreated before firing at the driver, who drove off before striking a house.
Man Arrested After Confrontation with Firefighter, Officer
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita, Kansas, say a man is in custody after assaulting a police officer and firefighter at a building doubling as a police and fire station. Wichita police Sergeant Nikki Woodrow tells KSNW-TV that a 25-year-old man drove erratically onto the station's lot about 6:45 pm Sunday, narrowly missing a firefighter and a man. Woodrow says the driver exited his vehicle and got into a physical altercation with the two men. When the firefighter rang the police station's doorbell, a police sergeant stepped out and was pushed and threatened by the suspect. The motives for the suspect's confrontation are not immediately clear. He was jailed on suspicion of criminal threats, terrorism, battery of a law enforcement officer and firefighter, criminal property damage and driving with a restricted license.
Man Loses Bid to Withdraw Pleas in Double Kansas Killing
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southern Kansas judge is not allowing a man to withdraw his guilty plea for his alleged role in the 2014 killing of an elderly couple in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick County District Court Judge Bruce Brown last week rejected 19-year-old Carlos Delacadena-Edwards's claims that he was coerced into accepting a plea deal. Originally charged with first-degree murder, Delacadena-Edwards pleaded guilty in May to two counts of second-degree intentional murder and one count of aggravated robbery. He admitted he helped Steven Wade Edwards II fatally shoot Martha Lopez Moreno and Godofredo Moreno-Lopez. Steven Edwards also pleaded guilty to reduced charges but is asking to have that plea withdrawn.
Girl Killed in Kansas City, Kansas Drive-By Identified
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a 15-year-old girl killed in a drive-by shooting last week has been identified. Police said Monday that Brannae Brown died at the scene of the gunfire about 6:30 pm Friday in her hometown. Another person was wounded. Police say the preliminary investigation shows that unknown suspects drove by and fired at Brown, though police have not released a possible motive. The investigation continues.
Former Kansas Teacher Admits to Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas kindergarten teacher has agreed to spend roughly six months in jail after having admitted she possessed drug paraphernalia during a traffic stop in which authorities say they also found cocaine. KMBC-TV reports that Karen Kay Marshall of Shawnee pleaded guilty Friday in Johnson County, Kansas to the misdemeanor paraphernalia count. Prosecutors dropped a felony cocaine possession charge. The counts involving the former Bonner Springs Elementary School teacher related to March 2015 traffic stop in Prairie Village. She was charged and resigned in June.
Police Probe Fire That Damaged Kansas School's Playground
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, are trying to solve who set fire on a school playground, damaging tens of thousands of dollars of equipment. KMBC-TV reports that equipment including slides and climbing structures at Stony Point North Elementary School was burned over the weekend. Officials say the playground's newest section featuring equipment for children with disabilities wasn't damaged. As the investigation continues, the school is trying to raise the estimated $50,000 it will take to replace the playground. There was no immediate word Monday about any arrests or charges.
Royals Lose to Tigers, 6-5, on Sunday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Detroit Tigers' Justin Upton hit a two-run homer with two out in the eighth inning, sending the Detroit Tigers to a 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Upton also doubled in the second allowing J.D. Martinez to score. Upton has had seven homers and 18 RBIs in his past 14 games. Miguel Cabrera was on first after a leadoff single when Upton drove a fastball from Royals' reliever Joakim Soria (4-7) over the wall in center for his 20th homer, giving Detroit a 6-5 lead. The Tigers won the weekend series two games to one. The Royals start a week-long road trip today (MON) as Ian Kennedy, who went 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in August, starts versus the Twins at Minnesota this (MON) afternoon.