Audit: Kansas Foster Care System Puts Children at Risk
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ State auditors say the Kansas Department for Children and Families is struggling to adequately oversee private foster care contractors, putting children in the system at risk. Shortly after the 59-page audit was released Wednesday, two Democratic senators called for department Secretary Phyllis Gilmore to resign. Among other things, auditors said the agency has implemented only one of nine recommendations in a 2013 assessment of services. It also said the department doesn't ensure that background checks of individuals in foster homes are as frequent and thorough as they should be. Some state lawmakers sought the audit in response to reports of children dying or being mistreated while in the agency's care.
KanCare Medicaid Providers Worry About Reimbursement Cuts
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Medicaid providers have told federal officials that reimbursement cuts by the state are placing them under an added financial strain. The Hutchinson News reports that providers for KanCare recipients told officials at a forum that they worry the cuts will harm patient access to services. Governor Sam Brownback's administration cut KanCare provider reimbursement rates earlier this summer by 4 percent as part of measures to balance the budget. The cuts went into effect July 1 and save the state about $38 million a year. Sean Gatewood with the KanCare Advocates Network says the program is in crisis. Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services spokeswoman Angela de Rocha says most of the program's 420,000 beneficiaries and the more than 52,000 enrolled in the childrens' health insurance program are receiving the care they need.
Kansas to Seek Partial Recertification of Osawatomie State Hospital
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A top social services official says Kansas expects to ask the federal government soon to partially recertify its state mental hospital in Osawatomie. Interim Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck said Wednesday that the agency will seek recertification of 60 of Osawatomie State Hospital's 206 beds. Federal officials decertified Osawatomie in December over an employee's rape and other safety issues. A legislative committee reviewed an audit that said the state is losing about $1 million a month in federal funds. Keck said renovation on a 60-bed unit is almost complete and staffing at the hospital has improved. He would not say exactly when his department would apply for recertification. Auditors said the state still would continue to lose some federal funds even with 60 beds certified.
Kansas Firefighter Killed While Truck Was Headed to Parade
MAYETTA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a northeast Kansas firefighter has died after a fire truck overturned while it was headed to a parade. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Wednesday east of the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation Reservation. The patrol says Hoyt firefighter Michael Schultz, of Hoyt, was driving northbound on U.S. 75 when the truck blew a tire near Mayetta. The truck veered off the highway to the left, crossed the median that divides the northbound lanes from the southbound lanes, crossed over the southbound lanes, struck an embankment and overturned. The patrol says the 47-year-old Schultz was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The patrol says a second firefighter was injured.
Kansas Agency Bans Guided Hunting on Agency Property
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission has voted to ban commercial guided hunting on property and water managed by the department. The Great Bend Tribune reports that the department voted on June 23. Department spokesman Mike Miller says the proposal to end guided hunting came from local hunters. Miller says that local hunters expressed concern that commercial guiding was interfering with their hunts. The commission's action revokes a rule allowing guides to obtain free permits. The ban goes into effect August 1. Kansas Outfitters Association president Keeton Kelso says he would like for the permits to be restored, and that no guided tours on Cheyenne Bottoms in Great Bend means fewer hunters will travel there.
ACLU: Army Investigating Manning After Suicide Attempt
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A civil rights group says the transgender soldier imprisoned in Kansas for sending classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks now faces possible punishment for offenses stemming from a suicide attempt. The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that Chelsea Manning, a 28-year-old transgender soldier, received a document from Army officials Thursday saying she's being investigated for "administrative offenses," including "conduct which threatens," related to her July 5 suicide attempt. The ACLU says if Manning's convicted of the offenses she could be placed in indefinite solitary confinement. An Army spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Manning, arrested as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 in military court for leaking more than 700,000 secret military and federal documents when she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Repair Work Underway at Historic Central Kansas Site
LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — Work is underway to repair a national historic site that marks a spot where Spanish explorers stopped centuries ago in central Kansas. Project manager Bill Shipley says a new concrete deck and wood timbers, columns and beams have been put in at the castle at Coronado Heights near Lindsborg. It was built more than 80 years ago by Depression-era Works Progress Administration crews. The Salina Journal reports that the $150,000 project is funded by more than 200 individuals, businesses and foundations and a grant from the Kansas State Historical Preservation Trust Fund. Coronado Heights has remained open throughout the renovations. Shipley says he anticipates that the project will be completed by mid- to late-August.
Kansas Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Child Abuse
TROY, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas man faces more than 30 years in prison after being convicted of sex crimes against children. The state attorney general's office says that 42-year-old Heath Umphenour was found guilty in May in a Doniphan County court of charges including aggravated indecent liberties with a child, aggravated criminal sodomy and sexual exploitation of a child. The office says the crimes occurred between April 2011 and November 2012. The attorney general's office says Umphenour was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without a chance for parole for more than 30 years.
New Warden for Topeka Women's Prison
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka Correctional Facility has a new warden. The Kansas Department of Corrections said in a release Thursday that Shannon Meyer has been named warden of the Topeka women's prison. The department says Meyer began her corrections career as a corrections counselor in 2002 at the Lansing Correctional Facility, and was most recently deputy warden of programs at Lansing. She replaces warden Hope Cooper, who was named deputy secretary of community and field services.
Woman Who Took Kids to Oregon Standoff Loses Custody
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Children who fled from their mother several months after they were taken to sing for occupiers during the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge will remain in the custody of Kansas child welfare officials. The Kansas City Star reports that a judge cited abuse in ruling Wednesday that Odalis Sharp couldn't get her children back. Sharp has 10 children, but several are over 18. The younger children were ordered to remain in state custody. Several of the children testified that their mother hit them with rods. They said she yelled and screamed Bible verses during the punishment. Sharp, of Auburn, said she was a woman of God and loved her children. Sharp has 30 days to appeal but said she hasn't decided if she will do so.
Pickup Truck Strikes, Kills Toddler in Suburban Kansas City
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) -- Authorities say a pickup truck has struck and killed a toddler in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe. The Kansas City Star reports that police identified the child as 14-month-old Harper Kay Rodden. Police said she was struck Wednesday afternoon on a residential street. She was taken to a hospital, where she died. Police said the driver stopped and cooperated with the investigation. Authorities are asking anyone with information to come forward. The child was at a home daycare center when the incident occurred. Online court records show the daycare is licensed and has not had any major violations during the last three years.
Eisenhower Library Sponsors Vintage Baseball Game
ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - Baseball players will don uniforms from the 1860s and use equipment from the era during a game next week in Abilene. The Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home is sponsoring the August 6 game. It will be played at Eisenhower Park, during the Central Kansas Free Fair, with rules from the Victorian era. The rules are different from today's game. For example, outfielders can catch the ball on one bounce for an out and base stealing and sliding are prohibited. On the field will be the "Abilene Iron Cutters" and the "Wichita Bull Stockings" of the Cowtown Vintage Base Ball Club.
3 Black Women's Basketball Players Sue Missouri College
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Three black women's basketball players are suing a small southwest Missouri college, alleging they were treated differently than white players before they were kicked out of the school without justification. The women, all from Kansas City, filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Cottey College, a women's college of about 350 students in the town of Nevada, MIssouri. Breauna Carter, Amalia Harris and Dajanae Wilson received athletic and academic scholarships to the school for the 2015 school year. The lawsuit alleges that Stephanie Beason, athletic director and women's basketball coach, punished them more severely than white players, ridiculed them and did not give them equal playing time. They allege the college didn't follow its written procedures before expelling them without warning in December 2015. Cottey officials did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment.
Royals Beat Angels, 7-5
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals' rookie Raul Mondesi had a bunt single for his first big league hit, with two runs scoring on Angels' pitcher Matt Shoemaker's throwing error. The Kansas City Royals rallied for a 7-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night. Shoemaker (5-11), did not allow a base runner until the fifth inning, but then yielded singles to Alex Gordon and Paulo Orlando to start the seventh. Mondesi, who was called up Tuesday, put down a bunt and beat the throw to first by Shoemaker. Both runners scored and Mondesi wound up on third. Mondesi also added a RBI-infield single in a two-run eighth. The second run scored on pitcher Jose Alvarerz's throwing error. The Royals' Joakim Soria (4-4) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.