Appeals Court Sets September Hearing in Voting Rights Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in September in an appeal that could affect the voting rights of thousands of voters in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama in upcoming elections. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Thursday set a September 8 hearing date in the case of a U.S. election official who without public notice required documentary proof of citizenship on a national voter registration form used by residents of the three states. The court a day earlier had set deadlines for July and early August for the parties to submit written filings. A judge in Washington, D.C., sided last month against voting rights advocates who seek a temporary order overturning the move by Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Kansas Church Pastor Charged with Sexually Molesting Child
PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — A church pastor and longtime eastern Kansas homeless shelter director has been charged with sexually molesting a child. The Kansas City Star reports that 57-year-old Jay Preston was charged Monday in Miami County with felony aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He's jailed on $500,000 bond. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney. He had served as pastor of Grace Revolution Church of the Nazarene and president and CEO of My Father's House in Paola. My Father's House said in a statement that he has been placed on unpaid leave and that the charity will continue operating. It serves residents of Miami, Linn and four additional rural counties. Miami County Attorney Elizabeth Sweeney-Reeder says the charges stem from an incident earlier this month in rural Miami County.
Hurricane-Force Winds Hit Wichita Area, Causing Outages
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Strong winds sweeping across Kansas have overturned a tractor-trailer, blown down a fireworks tent, toppled trees and caused electrical outages. The National Weather Service reported hurricane-force winds of more than 80 mph Thursday in the Wichita area. The storms followed another round of severe weather Wednesday. In Sedgwick County, emergency crews rescued the tractor-trailer driver who became pinned in his rig when it overturned on Kansas 42. The driver was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. Further west in Goddard, a fireworks tent was blown down along U.S. 54. The winds also blew down numerous power poles. Westar Energy reported more than 2,000 customers without power in Sedgwick County. The earlier round of storms left several thousand without power in in Ellis and Russell counties.
Storms Down Trees, Power Lines in Central Kansas
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Storms that swept through central Kansas left damage in Ellis, Russell and Lincoln counties. The storms early Wednesday caused heavy rain and winds up to 80 mph, downing power lines and trees, with the heaviest damage reported in Hays and Russell. No injuries were reported. Hays officials say some roads were blocked and some traffic signals were not operating. KAKE-TV reports that 95 city employees were working to clear streets and assist with traffic control. Hays spokeswoman Officer Kim Rupp says it could take several days to clean up the city. Midwest Energy reported about 4,400 of its customers in Ellis and Russell counties were without power Wednesday. More storms are forecast for today (THUR) in parts of central Kansas.
Southwest Plane Makes Unplanned Landing at KCI Because of Storm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Southwest Airlines says one of its flights made an unplanned landing at Kansas City International Airport after experiencing severe turbulence during rough weather. The Kansas City Star reports that the flight was headed from Chicago to Austin, Texas, on Wednesday afternoon. A Southwest spokesman says the flight crew decided to land in Kansas City for a safety check "out of an abundance of caution." Crews checked the plane for damage before it was cleared to continue on its way. The flight was carrying about 175 passengers and crew. Airport spokesman Joe McBride says the passengers were taken off the aircraft and moved into the gate area during the delay. No injuries were reported.
Kansas Department for Children and Families Settles Lawsuit over 2013 Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Court records show that a Kansas agency has reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit over the case of a 4-year-old boy fatally beaten by his father in 2013. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Kansas Department for Children and Families has reached the deal with Naomi Boone, mother of the late Mekhi Boone. The settlement's terms weren't disclosed. The deal must be approved by the State Finance Council, comprised of legislative leaders and the governor. The boy's father, Lee Davis, is serving nearly 20 years for second-degree murder. Naomi Boone has contended the boy shouldn't have been placed with his father, and that one of the state's foster care contractors placed the child with Davis while aware that he had a history of domestic violence.
Grain Belt Express Line Application Rejected on Technicality
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Regulators have rejected a second application for the Missouri portion of a power line that would carry wind energy from Kansas to Indiana. However, the Missouri Public Service Commission's vote on Tuesday on the application from Clear Line Energy Partners cited a filing technicality and the Houston-based company plans to file another application. Clear Line is proposing a $2.3 billion power line from Dodge City, Kansas, to a substation in Sullivan, Indiana. Its second application was rejected because the company hadn't filed the required 60-day notice before refiling its application. The commission rejected the original application last year after some landowners along the line's proposed Missouri route raised objections. Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have approved the project. Clear Line filed a notice Tuesday that it intended to refile its application.
Kansas Lawmaker Questions Length of Interim Leader's Service
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A top Kansas lawmaker is questioning an arrangement that has seen a state agency's interim leader in the position for more than six months. Tim Keck has served as interim secretary for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability since January 1. Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley says a state law appears to prohibit acting secretaries from serving more than six months. Governor Sam Brownback's office said the six-month limit doesn't apply in this case because Keck in an "interim" secretary, not an "acting" secretary. Keck began serving as the interim secretary before the legislative session and hasn't been confirmed by the Senate. He also hasn't been nominated by Brownback. Keck took over as secretary after Kari Bruffett resigned to become the Kansas Health Institute's policy director.
Company Plans $40 Million Hospital for Derby by 2018
DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City-based real estate company says it will build a $40 million hospital in Derby. The CBC Real Estate says in a news release that the hospital, to be called Rock Regional Hospital, is expected to open in 2018. The company says the 65,000-square-foot hospital will include 12 inpatient beds, 12 surgical beds and six intensive care unit beds. It also will have three operating rooms, two procedure rooms and three emergency rooms. An adjacent 40,000-square-foot building will house medical offices. Candor Healthcare, a Texas-based hospital management company, will oversee the hospital.
Pittsburg to Issue $6.5M in Bonds for Casino's Utilities
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — The city of Pittsburg plans to issue $6.5 million in bonds to fund construction costs for utilities at its new state-owned casino. The Joplin Globe reports that the Pittsburg City Commission approved a development agreement Tuesday that says the Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel will initially pay for necessary improvements to bring sewer and water service to the facility. It also says the city will try to issue bonds within 90 days of the improvements being completed to reimburse Kansas Crossing. The casino's project developer, James Walker, says Kansas Crossing will pay off the bonds over about 20 years with payments of about $440,000 annually. City manager Daron Hall says the city will pay for about $70,000 in projects, including lift-station upgrades. The casino will pay about $500,000 in engineering fees necessary for the utility work.
Lawsuit Alleges Westar Energy Undervalued Itself in Sale
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A class-action lawsuit has been filed saying that Westar Energy executives undervalued the company when selling it to Great Plains Energy. The Topeka-Capital Journal reports that Westar's board of directors agreed to sell the company for about $12.2 billion on May 29. According to the agreement, stockholders will receive $51 in cash and $9 in Great Plains stock. Westar stockholder Troy Miller says that is unacceptable and filed the suit against the two companies and eight executives Wednesday. Miller says Westar's stock price increased 55 percent in the year before its sale, but the $60 stock price Great Plains paid is only a 13 percent increase in Westar's stock price. He says Great Plains will get an increasingly valuable company, but will pay much less than what it is worth.
Authorities Search for Man After Car Chase, Baby Abandoned
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officers are searching for a man involved in a police chase who fled and left a child behind in the car. Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski says the chase began Thursday morning when a deputy tried to stop a car in north Salina. The ensuing chase reached speeds up to 110 mph before the vehicle went off the interstate and eventually stopped. Two men jumped out and ran into a nearby field, leaving a young boy in the car. The Salina Journal reports one of the men was quickly arrested but the other has eluded police. The child was not hurt and has been returned to his mother. The search near where the vehicle stopped has ended but Kochanowski says officers know the man's identity. Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig says the company cannot comment on pending litigation.
Small Missouri, Kansas Towns Prepare for Total Solar Eclipse
LATHROP, Mo. (AP) — Some small Missouri and Kansas towns that'll offer a view next year's total solar eclipse are trying to prepare for the event. The Kansas City Star reports that the total solar eclipse will occur August 21, 2017. Small towns like Lathrop, Missouri, are on what is known as the path of totality, a narrow line across Missouri and a corner of Kansas that offers the best and longest views of the eclipse. Lathrop has formed a 150th anniversary and eclipse planning committee. Committee chairwoman Cindy Weers says she envisions the town's fields filled with eclipse chasers and tourists. Weers says she's been told to expect anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 people. James Schmieder, assistant city administrator for Union, Missouri, is organizing his town's plans for the eclipse and says any headaches about preparing for the event will be worth it.
Police Investigate Topeka Bank Robbery
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities are investigating a bank robbery in Topeka. Topeka police said in a news release that a man wearing a ball cap and dark glasses entered a U.S. Bank branch around 5:30 pm Wednesday and demanded money from the teller. Police said he didn't display a weapon. The suspect left in an older silver car. The release didn't say how much money was taken. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Man Rescued from Arkansas River in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a man has been rescued from the Arkansas River in Wichita. KWCH-TV reports that the rescue happened around 2:15 am Thursday near the Lincoln Street Bridge. Police described the rescued man as a swimmer. He is expected to be all right. No other information about the rescue was immediately available.
Sedgwick Deputy Overcome by Drug in Evidence Room
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Wichita, Kansas-area sheriff's investigator was briefly hospitalized after being overcome with an unknown substance in a department evidence room. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department says the detective was processing evidence as part of a drug investigation when he opened a plastic bag and was overcome by a strong smell. The investigator then experienced sweating, slurred speech and dizziness. The department says it's unclear what the substance is and that it's being tested. But the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has warned law enforcement agencies about fentanyl, a synthetic opioid said to be 50 times more powerful than heroin.
Man Charged in Kansas City, Kansas Shooting Death
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 53-year-old man is jailed on $500,000 bond after being accused of fatally shooting another man in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that Wyandotte County prosecutors charged Tyrone Wesson Sr. of Kansas City, Kansas, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder. Authorities allege that Wesson repeatedly shot 26-year-old Mark A. Payne on Monday night. Police haven't released a possible motive for the shooting. It was not immediately clear if Wesson has an attorney.
Protest Leaders, Wichita Police to Co-Host Community Event
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police and community activists are inviting city residents to a community cookout this Sunday. The event "First Steps Barbecue," will be held at McAdams Park, starting at 6 pm. After a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on Tuesday, police Chief Gordon Ramsay met with local activist leaders to discuss replacing a second protest planned for Sunday with the cookout. Ramsay says officers will be encouraged — but not required — to attend the event to interact with citizens. The police department will provide the food, with officers grilling and serving it. The department is seeking donations for the cookout.
Champion Kansas City Royals to visit White House July 21
WASHINGTON (AP) — The 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals will meet President Barack Obama at the White House on July 21. The White House announced the visit Thursday, continuing the tradition of presidents meeting sports teams that win championships. The White House also released a video featuring White House press secretary Josh Earnest, a Kansas City native. The video shows Earnest wearing a Royals cap and using a team mug as he fills a jug with water. "We're getting ready for you Salvy," Earnest says, in a nod to Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who douses teammates with Gatorade or water after winning home games. The trip will be the organization's first trip to the White House since the 1985 World Series champions met President Ronald Reagan.