Kansas State Agencies, Universities Asked to Weigh Cuts
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's budget chief is asking state agencies and universities to study the prospect of a 5 percent funding cut. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley tells the Wichita Eagle that budget director Shawn Sullivan requested the information from state agencies. But Hawley stresses no decision has been made about whether cuts will be needed, saying it's common to ask agencies to think about reduced budgets. A revenue-estimating group that includes Sullivan and university economists next meet in November to determine the state's revenue outlook. The group meets twice a year and has lowered revenue estimates each of the past four times it has met. If that happens again, budget cuts could be necessary since the state is already operating at razor thin budget margins.
Man Killed Outside Ford Plant Near Kansas City
CLAYCOMO, Mo. (AP) — A worker at the Ford Motor Company assembly plant near Kansas City, Missouri, was shot and killed on a parking lot during a shift change. Clay County Sheriff's Captain Will Akin says 26-year-old Brandon Nunnally was found dead on the lot shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday. Akin says investigators think the shooting was an isolated incident and the shooter is not a danger to others. Authorities say the gunman is not a current Ford worker. The suspect got away, but Akin says investigators have several leads. A Ford spokesman, Mike Moran, says grief counselors were made available at the plant Thursday.
Feds Charge Former Lawrence Mayor with Embezzlement
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Lawrence Mayor Jeremy Farmer has been charged with stealing money from his old job as executive director at a food pantry. A criminal information filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas charges Farmer with one count of interstate travel of embezzled funds. The filing also seeks a forfeiture judgment. Court records do not indicate a defense attorney, and a phone number for Farmer was disconnected. Federal prosecutors allege Farmer embezzled more than $5,000 from Just Food beginning in 2013 until he resigned from the nonprofit food pantry and as mayor in August 2015. Farmer left those positions after it was revealed he had not paid about $50,000 in federal payroll taxes. He said at the time it was an oversight that the taxes weren't paid.
Two Teens Sentenced for Plot to Bomb Hutchinson High School
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Two Kansas teenagers have been sentenced to 45 months in a juvenile correctional facility after planning to detonate pipe bombs at their high school in Hutchinson. The Hutchinson News reports the teenagers -- 14- and 15-years-old -- were arrested in March after administrators were tipped off about their plot to bomb the school. Both were convicted of conspiracy to commit capital murder.
KCC Restricts Wastewater Fracking
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Corporation Commission has further restricted the amount of oilfield wastewater that can be injected underground, which has been linked to earthquakes in south central Kansas in recent years. During a meeting yesterday (TUE), the commission left in place an 8,000-barrel per day limit in five specific areas of Harper and Sumner counties but the state regulators put a 16,000-barrel per day limit on the rest of those two counties and parts of Kingman, Sedgwick and Butler counties. KCC staff said reduced injection rates imposed earlier led to a drop in the magnitude and frequency of earthquakes on the Kansas side of the Oklahoma border.
4.0 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Central Oklahoma, Felt in Wichita
LUTHER, Okla. (AP) - Another earthquake has rattled central Oklahoma, but there have been no reports of damage or injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 4.0. It struck shortly after 6 o'clock yesterday (WED) morning. Its epicenter was about 23 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The USGS says the earthquake was widely felt in central Oklahoma and as far north as Wichita, Kansas. The number of magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes has skyrocketed in Oklahoma, from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 900 last year. Scientists have linked the increase to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production and state regulators have asked producers to reduce wastewater disposal volumes.
Water Park's Rides Privately Inspected in June
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A document released by a state agency says all the rides at a Kansas City, Kansas, water park passed private inspections in June, including the waterslide on which a 10-year-old boy died. The Kansas Department of Labor provided to The Associated Press a copy of an insurance company inspector's June 7 letter saying inspections had been completed at Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The letter said all rides met guidelines for being insured with "no disqualifying conditions noted." Deputy Secretary and Chief Attorney Brad Burke said the department obtained the letter following Sunday's death of Caleb Schwab on the "Verruckt" waterslide. Kansas law requires permanent rides to be inspected annually by their parks, and the state randomly audits the records. The last records audit for Schlitterbahn was in June 2012.
Kansas Lawmaker Wants to Review Oversight of Amusement Park Rides
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas legislator says he wants to examine the state's relatively leniant oversight of amusement park rides like the waterslide on which a 10-year-old boy was killed. Democratic state Senator David Haley of Kansas City says he's hoping there will be bipartisan support for a review. He said people shouldn't be risking their lives in having fun at an amusement park. Kansas requires annual inspections of permanent rides but allows parks to do the inspections. The state Department of Labor is required to randomly audit inspection records. Caleb Schwab died Sunday at the Schiltterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. He was the son of Republican state Representative Scott Schwab of Olathe.
Funeral Services Set for Kansas Boy Who Died on Water Park Ride
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A funeral will be held today (THUR) for a state lawmaker's 10-year-old son who was killed while riding a Kansas waterslide billed as the world's tallest. Police say Caleb Thomas Schwab died Sunday while riding the 168-foot-tall Verruckt at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. Investigators have not released specifics about how the boy sustained his fatal injuries. Caleb was the son of Republican state Representative Scott Schwab. A family spokesman, Reverend Clint Sprague, says visitation will be held this (THUR) evening at Life Mission Church in Olathe. A memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow (FRI) afternoon. The park reopened Wednesday, though the waterslide will remain closed for the rest of the season.
Group Kicks Off Bid to Oust 4 of 5 Supreme Court Justices
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group upset over a Kansas Supreme Court ruling involving two Wichita brothers convicted of killing four people has begun a push to oust four of five justices up for retention in November. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports (link is external) the group Kansans for Justice is urging voters to cast ballots against retaining Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert, Carol Beier and Dan Biles. The group supports retaining Govern or Sam Brownback's only selection, Caleb Stegall, who came onto the court after the Carr brothers ruling. The two men were sentenced to death for the December 2000 shootings of five people at a soccer complex, killing four. The Kansas Supreme Court vacated the death sentences in 2014 after ruling their constitutional rights had been infringed upon, but the U.S. Supreme Court later reversed the decision.
Kansas Judges, Lawyers Strongly Back 4 High Court Justices
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas judges and lawyers who participated in a retention survey gave strong backing to four state Supreme Court justices but only lukewarm support for the lone justice picked by Governor Sam Brownback. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the nonpartisan Judicial Evaluation Committee has released performance assessments for state Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges. At least 74 percent of lawyers and 75 percent of judges "strongly" recommended retaining Supreme Court justices Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert, Carol Beier and Dan Biles. Only 39 percent of lawyers and 54 percent of judges strongly supported retention of Justice Caleb Stegall, appointed by Brownback in 2014. Conversely, 31 percent of lawyers and 7 percent of judges felt strongly that he should be voted off the bench.
Kansas Exporting College Graduates to Other States
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Board of Regents President Blake Flanders says Kansas is facing the prospect of a "brain drain" as fewer people who graduate from a Kansas college or university choose to stay in the state. It's unclear whether people are leaving because the higher education system is failing to align itself with the Kansas economy, or whether the local economy is failing to offer the opportunities college graduates seek. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Flanders addressed the board Wednesday during its annual retreat, which was held in Wichita. Flanders said that from 2010 to 2014 the percentage of Kansas college graduates employed in Kansas within one year of finishing school has remained relatively flat. But he said the number employed here five years after graduating has been declining.
Man Accused of Shooting at Kansas City Public Works Crew
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities in Kansas City, Missouri, have accused a man of shooting at four city workers and stealing their public works truck. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors charged 28-year-old Bertram Brown of Kansas City with four counts of first-degree assault, armed criminal action, a gun charge and possessing a controlled substance. He was also charged with stealing a motor vehicle. Online court records don't show whether he has an attorney. Court documents allege that Brown fired eight or nine shots Wednesday morning at a city public works crew before jumping into a city dump truck, then stealing a city pickup truck nearby. None of the workers was injured, and Brown was arrested a short time later.
Family of Race Car Driver Killed in Kansas Donates Organs
UNDATED (AP) — The family of dirt-track racer Bryan Clauson says his organs have been donated to five other people. Clauson died after a crash in a Kansas race last weekend. His family said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday that they knew as they were saying their last goodbyes "that five families were also sitting in a hospital room somewhere ... praying for a miracle that Bryan ultimately delivered for them."
Hansen Foundation Gives $2 Million to KU-Salina Medical School
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A foundation has donated $2 million to help with expansion plans at the University of Kansas-Salina Medical School. The gift to the Salina Regional Health Foundation from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation was announced Wednesday. The gift goes toward a goal of $7.5 million for the expansion. The Hansen Foundation has already donated thousands of dollars to the medical school. The Salina Journal reports the medical school opened in 2011 in a former nursing school dormitory. The health foundation bought a former bank building to relocate the medical school. Contracts for construction will be awarded in April. The medical school is expected to relocate in spring 2018, with classes beginning that June.
Judge Denies Motion to Withdraw Plea in Salina Death
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has denied a man's efforts to withdraw a plea in the killing of a Salina girl. Saline County District Judge Rene Young on Wednesday denied the motion from 18-year-old Andrew Woodring to withdraw his no contest plea to felony murder in the May 2015 death of 17-year-old Allie Saum. The Salina Journal reports Woodring testified at a July hearing that he felt pressured to enter the plea and he doesn't think he should get a life sentence because he did not fire the shot that killed Saum. Woodring was one on five people charged in Saum's death. She was a passenger in a truck that police say some of the defendants mistakenly believed belonged to a person who had been in an earlier altercation with them.
3 Kansas Men Charged with Illinois Officer's Shooting
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say three Kansas men have been charged in connection with the shooting of a southern Illinois police officer last month. Carbondale police said in a news release that the three men were arrested Sunday and Monday in Saline County, Kansas. They are charged with conspiracy to commit capital murder and booked into the Saline County jail on $1 million bond. The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports a team led by Illinois State Police is continuing to investigate the July 31 shooting of officer Trey Harris, who was released from the hospital last week. The team is cooperating with investigators in Kansas. The Kansas investigation led to a sealed indictment associated with Harris's shooting. Harris was shot when someone opened fire from a vehicle speeding away from a shooting scene.
Kansas Board of Regents to Discuss State Dental School
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents is considering establishing the state's first school of dentistry. The proposal was presented during a meeting this week. Proponents said the most feasible site for the proposed school would be the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said KU is not pushing the proposal. Since 1964, Kansas has had a reciprocal agreement with Missouri to allow Kansas residents to pay in-state tuition to study optometry and dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Regent Daniel Thomas says Kansas isn't getting what it needs from that agreement.
Kansas Senate Leader Hires Lawmaker as Legislative Director
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has hired a fellow lawmaker to work on her staff as legislative director. Senator Garrett Love, a Republican from Montezuma, was hired last month and will earn $40,000 to help with legislative campaigns, focusing on rural races. Love announced near the end of the last legislative session that he would not seek re-election. His term ends in December. The Wichita Eagle reports the state's ethics law allows personal staff of elected officials to do campaign work on taxpayer time. Wagle's chief of staff, Harrison Hems, says Love won't take any reimbursements as a senator for being in Topeka for interim committees while serving in his new job. Love says he would not continue in the job if Wagle is Senate president again next session.
Kansas City Groups Continue Call for Police Review Board
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A coalition of civil rights groups in Kansas City continues to call for the creation of an independent citizens review board to monitor and investigate fatal shootings by police officers. The Kansas City Star reports that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City requested the review board during a monthly Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners earlier this week. The conference is one of 20 groups that called for reforms. Police board member Alvin Brooks says the board is created through a Missouri statute and individual commissioners are appointed by the governor. He says that prohibits the board from establishing a separate independent entity to investigate fatal police shootings. Other proposed reforms include the appointment of a victim advocates team that would reach out to victims of police shootings, and mediate between victims and police.
Bankers Say Farm Income Declining in Region
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Reserve says farmers are borrowing more to cover their operating expenses because farm income continued to decline during the second quarter in Midwestern and Western states. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri, said Thursday that 75 percent of the bankers surveyed reported shrinking farm income. Roughly half of the bankers said loan repayment rates were lower in the second quarter. And the number of loans with severe repayment problems grew to 7 percent. That's up from roughly 3 percent in 2011 to 2013. The 10th Federal Reserve District covers Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri. The value of irrigated farmland in the region fell 5 percent while non-irrigated land and pastures both declined 3 percent.
Former Instructor Gets Life in Prison for Molesting Students
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former music instructor in Kansas was sentenced to life in prison for sexually molesting some of his young students. Sean Andrew Dow, of Overland Park, was sentenced Thursday for one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child younger than 14. The Kansas City Star reports that authorities charged Dow last year with sexually abusing two students he gave music lessons to at Funky Munky Music in Shawnee. Police learned about four other victims when investigating. The prison sentence he received Thursday was for charges involving all six victims. Dow is also charged in Jackson County, Missouri, with first-degree statutory sodomy, first-degree child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography. Those allegations involve a 7-year-old girl in Kansas City.
Sedgwick County May Stop Offering Travel Immunizations
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County's health department may stop offering certain types of immunizations for international travel under the county's recommended budget. The Wichita Eagle reports that the county's proposed budget calls for the end of providing vaccines for certain diseases and infections like yellow fever and typhoid fever. County health officials say the decision to cut some immunizations will allow the health department to focus on other services. The proposed budget says the immunization program cost nearly $138,143, but generated about $137,660 in revenue. Sedgwick County chief financial officer Chris Chronis says the decision ties to the county's goal to reduce government services that can be provided by non-governmental groups or through the private sector. The county's final budget is set to be adopted today (WED).
Kansas Among 15 States Seeking to Overturn Endangered Frog Ruling
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kansas is among fifteen states asking a federal appeals court to reconsider a Louisiana landowner's attempt to keep the government from listing 1,500 forest acres as essential to an endangered frog. A ruling in June upheld a district judge's decision that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was within bounds in declaring the land part of a critical habitat for dusky gopher frogs, now found only in Mississippi. Federal scientists say it's the only potential breeding ground outside Mississippi. The petition says the rulings leave the concept of essential habitat without meaningful limit. It supports the landowner's earlier request for a hearing by the entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The states are Kansas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.
Wichita State Coach Suspended After Getting Tossed in Canada
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has been suspended for the last game of an exhibition tour in Canada after receiving two technical fouls and getting kicked out of a game against McGill University. Shockers athletic director Daron Boatright said in a statement that "while I understand the competitive spirit that accompanies coaching, there remains a professional behavior that is inherent in a position of leadership that we must all meet." Marshall had to be restrained Tuesday night from chasing after two referees. He complained several times about physical play that resulted in one of Wichita State's players sustaining a concussion. Marshall also received a technical foul in a game Sunday. The Shockers finished their Canadian tour against a group of local professionals yesterday (WED).
NJCAA Executive Director Leicht to Retire After 28 Years
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association is retiring next summer after a 28-year career with the organization. Mary Ellen Leicht has been the NJCAA's chief executive since 2009, and was instrumental in developing the association's current structure for 28 sports. The announcement was made yesterday (WED) by NJCAA President Bryce Roderick. Among her accomplishments as executive director are securing long-term contracts for the NJCAA's Division I men's basketball championship in Hutchinson, Kansas, and the Division I Baseball World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. Both included multimillion facility improvements. She started out in 1989 as an eligibility administrator. Leicht also oversaw the launch of NJCAA TV, which will cover 22 national championships in the next year. In 2009, Leicht became the first female chief executive of any national college athletic association, according to NACDA, the national association for college athletic directors.
Report: Alleged Lottery Fixer Acted Alone
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An internal investigation into a national jackpot-fixing scandal has concluded that a single former lottery employee was responsible for any drawings that were manipulated, but it failed to uncover proof of his guilt. The report for the Multi-State Lottery Association found that its former security director, Eddie Tipton, had no help from other employees. But investigators said they found no smoking gun proving criminal activity, such as the manipulation of computers that pick numbers. The April 29 report was obtained by The Associated Press. Tipton was convicted last year of tampering with a drawing for a $16.5 million jackpot after he was seen on video buying the winning numbers at a Des Moines gas station. He's awaiting trial on allegations that he conspired with associates to collect jackpots in several states.
Kansas Education Commissioner Highlights Academic Challenges
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state's education commissioner says there are several challenges the state faces in its education system. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that commissioner Randy Watson told the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday that the state must work with students and their families to improve high school graduation rates. According to Watson, only 86 percent of Kansas high school students will finish high school on time. Watson says the state is also challenged by high turnover among superintendents and principals. There was a turnover of 61 superintendents this past school year. Kansas' education department is promoting a concept in which high schools work more closely with students and their families on developing individual study plans that help each student prepare better for life after high school.
It Took 14 Innings... but the Royals Beat the White Sox 3-2
It took five extra innings, but the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 last (WED) night at Kauffman stadium.