Forecasters Warn of Bad Weather Thursday
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma says a severe weather outbreak is possible Thursday afternoon and evening in an area stretching from Arkansas to Indiana. Storms could also be severe from Texas to Ohio. Moist air could reach into the middle of the country as a low-pressure system and cold front approach from the west. Large hail and high winds will be the main threat early, but supercells could produce tornadoes. Computer models suggest powerful storms could form in the late afternoon and early evening Thursday. The greatest risk is in Arkansas and adjoining parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, plus southern Illinois and western Kentucky. Storms are also possible in eastern Kansas. The latest weather outlook for northeast and east central Kansas is available here.
Kansas Lawmakers Postpone Business for Funeral
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators delayed the start of their work Thursday so that dozens of lawmakers could attend the funeral of a House member's wife. The House speaker's office said Cunningham Republican Jack Thimesch's wife, Diane, died over the weekend after a long illness. Her funeral was to be held Thursday morning at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Willowdale, about 70 miles southwest of Wichita and nearly 200 miles southwest of state capital of Topeka. The speaker's office said dozens of lawmakers planned to take a bus to the funeral. The House was officially convening in the morning but wasn't taking up substantial business until the evening. The Senate wasn't gaveling in until the evening.
House Panel Debates Bill to Sell Office Buildings
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A House budget panel is expected to vote Friday on a bill authorizing the sale of four state government office buildings in Topeka in a deal that could result in the demolition of the Docking high-rise across the street from the Kansas Statehouse. State Department of Administration secretary Jim Clark says selling the buildings occupied by hundreds of state employees is one of his priorities during the 2014 legislative session. Most employees would be moved to buildings leased by the state, which Clark says is cheaper than owning a building. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the House Appropriations Committee discussed the Senate-passed bill on Wednesday. Committee chairman Representative Gene Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, postponed a vote on the measure until Friday because of opposition raised by Democrats on the committee.
Kansas Senate Approves Insurance for Autism
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A bill that would require insurance coverage for children under the age of 12 with autism has been sent to Governor Sam Brownback. The Kansas Senate Wednesday approved a bill that requires coverage of up to 1,300 hours annually for a therapy called applied behavior analysis for children up to 6 years old. It also requires 520 hours a year for children from 6 to 12 years old. The bill doesn't limit coverage for age and hours of treatment for other autism services. The Kansas City Star reports the requirements would at first apply only to insurance plans offered before the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, and only to businesses with more than 50 employees. In 2016, health plans for small employers and individuals would be added.
Kansas Lawmakers Avoiding Major Abortion Debate
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican legislators are blocking a debate in Kansas on banning most abortions early in pregnancy while engineering passage of a bill to make technical changes in anti-abortion laws. The Legislature has strong GOP and anti-abortion majorities in each chamber. The handling of abortion issue this year reflects a split among abortion opponents over tactics for further limiting the termination of pregnancies. Some anti-abortion lawmakers favor banning most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sometimes as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. But other abortion foes fear enacting such a law would lead to court rulings not only striking down such a ban but eliminating restrictions already in place. Yet abortion opponents also want to make technical changes in existing restrictions to address legal issues.
School Finance Bills Affect KU Proposed Projects
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House and Senate committees approved bills that address possible funding for a health education building proposed by the University of Kansas. The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved taking $24 million in funds from a FICA dispute settlement to pay for its school finance plan. The university hoped to use that money to help build the $75 million health education building. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would allow the university to issue $25 million in bonds toward the building. Another committee proposed using $15 million from the commerce department to give $5 million each to the Kansas Cancer Center, and research at Kansas State University and Wichita State University. The bills will go to their respective chambers for consideration.
Eastern KS Barn Fires Declared Arson
READING, Kan. (AP) — A pair of early-morning hay barn fires in east-central Kansas have been declared arson, and authorities are asking the state fire marshal's office to help investigate. Lyon County Sheriff Jeff Cope told KVOE-AM on Thursday that officials ruled out lightning or other natural causes after checking with the National Weather Service. The two fires were reported within an hour of each other starting at 3:30 am Wednesday near the Lyon county town of Reading. Damage to one of the hay barns is estimated at $100,000. The loss to the other is estimated at $15,000. A $1,000 reward for information has been posted by Lyon County Crime Stoppers. The town of Reading is located about 15 miles east of Emporia.
Gift Will Help Protect Kansas Wetland Habitats
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A foundation bearing the name of a businessman who helped establish the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve in central Kansas has donated $100,000 to the state chapter of The Nature Conservancy. The organization said Thursday the $100,000 gift from the Charles Hulme (hyoom) Foundation will be used to protect and improve wetland habitats throughout Kansas, including Cheyenne Bottoms. Nature Conservancy officials said the donation is directed to a $5 million capital campaign begun in 2011 to expand conservation efforts around the state. The 41,000-acre Cheyenne Bottoms complex is considered one of North America's most important inland marshes, drawing hundreds of thousands of waterfowl each year. Hulme was a Great Bend businessman born in the 1890s. During the Depression, he helped the state acquire nearly 20,000 acres of the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve.
Douglas County Drops Moratorium on Agritourism
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County officials reversed an earlier decision and will allow agriculture tourism operations in the county. The county's Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved new regulations and then rescinded a previous moratorium for agritourism operations. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the regulations include new definitions of smaller agribusinesses and larger commercial operations. The definitions discuss such things as parking requirements. It also says the commission will not have to approve smaller agritourism efforts but larger operations will need a permit from the county. The commission placed the moratorium on agritourism permits in October, in response to criticism of a proposal for a business that included an 800-car parking lot.
KU Asks Court to Dismiss Lawsuit Brought by Professor
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit by a former professor who claims its School of Medicine retaliated for his assertion that the university misappropriated federal research grants. The university and the Kansas Board of Regents argued in court filings Wednesday that they are protected from lawsuit under sovereign immunity. The university also contended that professor Curtis Klaassen failed to exhaust administrative remedies before suing. KU's School of Medicine is seeking to be dismissed because it's not a separate legal entity. Klaassen alleges in a lawsuit filed last year that the school stripped him of his position as principal investigator on research projects. He also contends KUMC fired most of his research assistants and killed important genetically modified laboratory mice used for research.
Autopsy Shows Kansas Child Died After Dog Attack
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy says a Topeka toddler died from crushing head injuries after being bitten by a dog in December 2012. The report says 30-month-old Savannah Mae Edwards died of multiple bites from a 6-year-old pit bull mix while she and her mother were visiting relatives. The dog was later euthanized. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the autopsy report was released Wednesday, more than a year after the newspaper asked for the results. It wasn't immediately clear why it took so long to release the report. Shawnee County District coroner Donald Pojmann's office says the death was ruled accidental. The district attorney's office said Wednesday the case was never referred to the office for possible prosecution.
Wichita State's Gregg Marshall Named AP Coach of the Year
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Gregg Marshall, whose Wichita State team was the first to reach the NCAA tournament undefeated in 33 years, has been selected as The Associated Press's coach of the year. The Shockers entered the tournament at 34-0 and as a number 1 seed. They became the first team in NCAA men's history to win its first 35 games. They lost to Kentucky in the third round and fell short of matching Indiana in 1976 as the last unbeaten national champion. Marshall led the Shockers to a No. 2 ranking in the final poll and to the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles. For the fifth straight season, the Shockers won at least 25 games. Marshall received 44 votes Thursday from the same 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Tony Bennett of Virginia had 13 votes, Billy Donovan of Florida drew six and John Beilein of Michigan and Larry Brown of SMU one each. Voting ended on Selection Sunday.
One Year After Opening, Wichita Clinic Issues Report
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita clinic says it has provided about 1,200 abortions in the year since it opened. The South Wind Women's Center says it served about 1,500 patients for reproductive care, including abortions up to 14 weeks. The Wichita Eagle reports patients came from across Kansas, as well states such as Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. The center operates in the same building where Dr. George Tiller provided abortions before he was murdered at his church in 2009. It is the only clinic that offers abortions in Wichita. Kansas health officials say the number of abortions in the state declined slightly last year despite the clinic opening. A preliminary report says 7,479 abortions were performed last year, the second-lowest number since 1987. A total of 7,598 abortions were performed in 2012.
Junior College Women's Tournament Leaving Salina
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The NJCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball National Championship will move from Salina to Lubbock, Texas after the 2015 tournament. Salina has been host of the tournament since the 1997-98 season. But the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday the tournament will move to Lubbock at least for 2016 through 2018. Mary Ellen Leicht, executive director of the NJCAA, announced the decision in a news release. Next year's national championship will be at the Salina Bicentennial Center March 16-21.
Sentencing Reset for Man Accused in Fatal Crash
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sentencing has been delayed for a Wichita man who pleaded guilty to two felonies for a hit-and-run accident that killed a man riding a horse. Authorities say a car driven by 26-year-old George Childers hit the horse last July 5. The horse was being ridden by 49-year-old Lloyd Ferguson and a 6-year-old boy. Ferguson was killed in the crash, and the boy was seriously injured. The horse was euthanized after the accident. Childers pleaded guilty earlier to leaving the scene of an accident and interference with law enforcement. The Wichita Eagle reports Childers' sentencing was postponed Wednesday after his lawyer challenged the way his criminal history was calculated. District Judge Joe Kisner rescheduled the sentencing for April 22.
UPDATE: Federal Commission Rejects Design for Eisenhower Memorial
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal commission that oversees monuments in the nation's capital has voted to reject the current design of the Eisenhower Memorial. The National Capital Planning Commission voted 7-3 on Thursday to accept a staff report opposing the current design. The commission's objections focused primarily on the scale and placement of columns that would hold large tapestries framing the memorial park. Architect Frank Gehry has proposed large metal tapestries depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike's boyhood home. Statues of Eisenhower as president and World War II general would stand at the park's center. The commission is now directing the memorial designers to return every two months with updates.
Tigers-Royals Game Called Off Because of Rain
DETROIT (AP) — Thursday's game between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals has been postponed because of rain. The game was called about an hour before the scheduled first pitch, with temperatures in the 30s and an occasional drizzle. Significantly more rain was expected throughout the day. No makeup date was announced. Detroit took the first two games of this three-game series. Thursday's game will be made up June 19, when the Royals are back in Detroit for what was initially supposed to be a three-game series followed by an off day.