Violent Storms Knock Out Power to Parts of Kansas
Violent storms knocked out power to parts of Kansas last (WED) night, including power to parts of Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan. In the Little Apple, some 800 residents west of the K-State campus remained without electricity this (THUR) morning, but Westar Energy officials expected power to be restored before 9 o'clock this (THUR) morning. More rain and thunderstorms are expected across eastern Kansas today (THUR), tomorrow (FRI) and through the weekend.
University of Kansas Announces Program Cuts
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has announced cuts to several programs, totaling nearly $1.3 million in an effort to deal with a $7 million cut in funding by the state. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that university provost Neeli Bendapudi announced the list of cuts on Wednesday. ignificant budget cuts include:
* $300,000 in cuts for the school's international programs
* $300,000 in cuts for the Kansas Geological Survey
* $100,000 in cuts for Kansas Public Radio
* $100,000 in cuts for the Kansas Audio-Reader Network, which serves the blind and visually-impaired
Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas Geological Survey. Bendapudi says the announced cuts make up less than half of what will be needed to be made at the Lawrence and Edwards campuses this year. Officials at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City say they will face significant difficulties this year as they handle an additional $3.7 million in cut state funding for the medical school.
Kansas State University Policy Would Allow Guns in All Buildings
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University would allow concealed firearms in all buildings under guidelines it is developing for complying with a state law. The Manhattan Mercury reports that a university work group is planning a September 15 forum before submitting the guidelines to the Kansas Board of Regents for approval. Beginning in July 2017, the state's public universities must allow concealed weapons on campus in buildings that don't have security measures including metal detectors. The Kansas Board of Regents has directed universities to develop more detailed policies by the fall. Under Kansas State's proposed policy, no residence hall, classroom or other campus location would have the security measures that would allow a complete concealed carry prohibition. But concealed carry could be prohibited when temporary security measures are in place.
Kansas Predicts Low Pension Investment Returns
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New data shows that Kansas's expected low return on pension investments over the past year is a reflection of a national downward trend. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts released its report on Wednesday. The report comes days after the one-year anniversary of a $1 million pension bond that infused the state's public pension system, KPERS, with cash to invest. According to KPERS director Alan Conroy, early indications show the investments likely earned just enough over the past year to pay the bond's annual interest of about 5 percent or generate a small profit. The annual return target is 8 percent. Pew's report says public pension systems across the country only produced an average return of 0.9 percent during fiscal year 2016.
Topeka Man Faces September Sentencing in Bomb Plot
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has set a new sentencing date for a Kansas man who has admitted aiding a wannabe Islamic State jihadist's plan to detonate what they thought was a bomb at a Kansas military post. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree on Thursday continued the sentencing hearing for Alexander Blair to September 8. The 29-year-old Topeka man has admitted his role in a foiled plan to kill or maim as many U.S. service members as possible at the Fort Riley in Kansas. He blames a genetic disorder for allowing others to take advantage of him. Blair pleaded guilty in May to a conspiracy count that carries up to five years' imprisonment. He admitted loaning John T. Booker $100 to pay for the storage of the device during an FBI sting.
Officials: No Single Cause for High Lead Levels in Salina
SALINA, Kan. (AP) - State health officials say they have not discovered a single cause for high lead levels found in some children in Saline County. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has been investigating since routine physical exams found 32 children in and around Saline County with elevated levels of lead in their blood. The health department is notifying some Salina families that the lead poisoning was caused by conditions inside their homes.
Kansas Governor Considers School Funding Changes; Wants Public Input
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wants to hear what the public thinks about how schools are funded -- and how they should be funded. The governor says the old system had "a lot of problems" and it's time to talk about a new system. He said this week that his office plans to announce a system for collecting public feedback in the next couple of weeks. Political observers think the Kansas Supreme Court could order the state to boost public school funding by hundreds of millions of dollars later this year, when it rules on a school funding lawsuit.
Investigators: Deadly Topeka Blaze Was Result of Arson
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say one of the three victims of a deadly Topeka apartment fire intentionally set the blaze. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Janelle Owens ignited the fire in a bed in the living room of her second-floor apartment. That fire burned upward, killing 59-year-old Rhonda Gill and her 41-year-old daughter, Letitia Gill. Topeka firefighters say the mother and daughter tried to seek shelter from the fire in a bedroom closet.
Kansas Man Charged with Kidnapping St. Louis Teen
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has been charged with kidnapping a teenage girl from St. Louis after meeting her on Facebook. The U.S. attorney's office says 49-year-old Johnny Angel Vallejo, of Wichita, was charged Wednesday with kidnapping a minor and transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activities. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Prosecutors say he traveled to St. Louis to meet the teen and picked her up from school August 19. He is accused of making threats and forcing the teen to go with him to Wichita, where she was found at restaurant. If convicted, Vallejo faces up to life in federal prison on the kidnapping charge, and not less than 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the transportation charge.
Lawrence Shooting That Wounds Child Reported as Accidental
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a shooting that wounded a 6-year-old child in Lawrence was reported as an accident. Police said in a news release that officers responded around 7:45 am Thursday to the shooting. The child was transported in an ambulance to a hospital in stable condition. The release says detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting. No other information was immediately available.
Topeka Zoo Adds 2 New Elephants; 1 Is Former Movie Star
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The lead elephant in the 1980s film "Smokey and the Bandit 2" is among two new pachyderms at the Topeka Zoo. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the 58-year-old Asian elephant named Cora arrived Wednesday. She was joined by her longtime companion, Shannon, a 34-year-old African elephant. Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley says the pair quickly took to exploring after being unloaded. Currently, they reside in a special holding area where they'll be quarantined for a few weeks and have their health evaluated. Within a few weeks, they will join the zoo's two other elephants — 46-year-old Tembo and 56-year-old Sunda. The new elephants came from Elephant Encounter, a traveling elephant program based near Tampa, Florida. They're crucial additions because new guidelines call for herds of at least three elephants.
Ex-Teacher Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges in Independence, Missouri
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - A former teacher in Independence, Missouri has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Federal prosecutors say 44-year-old Jason Pink pleaded guilty yesterday (WED) to possessing child pornography while he was a teacher at Fort Osage High School in 2014. Prosecutors say investigators found evidence that Pink bought the pornography on several occasions from a movie production company located outside the U.S.
Former U.S. Senators from Kansas to Appear at KU Forum
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Former Kansas Republican Senators Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker and Bob Dole are set to participate in a forum at the University of Kansas. The forum will be held September 17 at the Dole Institute of Politics. The two longtime politicians will reflect on the current Congress compared to the Congress when they served. Dole served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 until 1969 and in the U.S. Senate from 1969 until 1996. The 93-year-old was the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 1996 and lost the election to President Bill Clinton. The 84-year-old Kassebaum served in the Senate from 1978 until 1987. The forum on September 17th will be free to the public.
Kansas Department of Transportation Forms Drone Task Force
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas has formed a task force that will study how state agencies can use drones in their operations. The Kansas Department of Transportation said in a news release Wednesday that the Unmanned Aerial Systems Joint Task Force will also consider how state government can help the private sector use drones effectively.
Kansas City Council Panel Discusses Incentive Limits
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Kansas City Council committee is considering economic development incentive limits. The Kansas City Star reports that the Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee heard Wednesday from the public about whether the city should adopt a new policy. No decision was reached, although another discussion is expected next week. The ordinance has four co-sponsors on the five member committee. It generally seeks to limit by one-fourth the level of property tax abatements and tax redirections that various economic development incentive programs can offer for a private development, save for a few exceptions. Testimony came from administrators for several school districts, as well as development attorneys, activists and former elected officials. Kansas City Public Library CEO R. Crosby Kemper III raised concerns about incentives diverting money from the library system
Marlins Break KC's Royal Winning Streak
The Kansas City Royals' nine-game winning streak is over. : - ( The Marlins subdued the Royals 3-0 last (WED) night in Miami.