SCOTUS Lifts Hold on KS Gay Marriages
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. Supreme Court says same-sex marriages can go ahead in Kansas. The court on Wednesday denied the state's request to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while Kansas fights the issue in court. A federal district judge last week blocked the state from enforcing its ban, saying it was in keeping with an earlier ruling by the federal appeals court that oversees Kansas that struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah. But, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says isn't giving up on defending the state's gay-marriage ban. The Republican governor supports the ban and has said it is worth defending because voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution against gay marriage in 2005. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the governor issued a statement saying he had taken an oath to support the state constitution. He added that he would review the decision and consult with state Attorney General Derek Schmidt on "how best we continue those efforts."
Some Kansas Judges Issuing Gay Couples Licenses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Judges in at least four Kansas counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples a day after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing them to wed. Clerks in other counties were giving applications to gay couples but requiring them to abide by the state's three-day waiting period before they can get a license. As of midmorning Thursday, Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild had waived the waiting period for three couples and said he would consider similar requests on a case-by-case basis. A different judge had agreed to preside over the wedding of one of the couples after the courthouse closes at 5 pm CST. Two couples received licenses in Sedgwick County, while judges in Cowley and Riley counties each had issued one marriage license to same-sex couples.
Kansas Supreme Court to Deliberate Gay Marriage
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has announced plans to begin deliberating a same-sex marriage case on the same day that a mass wedding was planned in Wichita. The hearing planned for Monday stems from a petition that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed after a Johnson County judge directed that marriage licenses be issued to same-sex couples. But even before the hearing, gay couples were moving ahead with wedding plans. The rush to wed comes after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request from Kansas to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while the state fights the issue in court. Kansas went to the Supreme Court after the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of two lesbian couples denied marriage licenses in Douglas and Sedgwick counties.
Kansas Superintendent Named Next Education Commissioner
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The superintendent of a rural central Kansas school district has been picked as the state's next education commissioner. The Kansas State Board of Education named Randy Watson to the role Thursday. Besides leading the McPherson school district, Watson is chairman of a new innovative districts program. Under a 2013 law, up to 29 of the state's 286 school districts can be designated as innovative. The McPherson district was one of the first two to receive the designation, which allows districts to be exempt from certain state public education regulations if they present plans to improve student achievement. Watson is taking over for Diane DeBacker, who left her position in May to become an adviser to the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates.
KDHE Interim Secretary Named
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The current director of the Medicaid program in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will become interim secretary of the state agency. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Thursday named Dr. Susan Mosier to replace Dr. Robert Moser, who plans to resign at the end of the month. Mosier has been director of the Division of Health Care Finance since August and KDHE Medicaid Director since March 2012. She had previously owned Mosier Eye Care in Manhattan and served in the Kansas House from 2011 until she resigned in March 2012. Moser has been health department secretary since January 2011. He announced on Tuesday that he planned to resign to pursue opportunities at the University of Kansas Hospital and University of Kansas Medical School.
Earthquake Shakes Parts of Kansas, Oklahoma
CONWAY SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) _ An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 shook parts of Kansas and Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon. The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck around 3:40 pm Wednesday. It was centered about 8 miles south of Conway Springs, which is a town of about 1,200 people about 30 miles southwest of Wichita. Emergency officials say the only reported damage from the earthquake was a cracked foundation at a home. The southern part of Kansas has been experiencing an upsurge in earthquakes this year. A panel commissioned by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback found there wasn't enough evidence to link the temblors to oil and gas exploration. The panel is recommending more study and the installation of more monitoring stations.
Kansas to Fund Seismic Monitoring System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An earthquake that rattled parts of Kansas and Oklahoma is the 94th earthquake reported this year in Kansas. The 4.8-magnitude earthquake on Wednesday was the strongest in Kansas this year, with most quakes recorded in south-central Kansas. The vibrations were felt across Kansas, northern and central Oklahoma and even a county in northwest Missouri. The Wichita Eagle reports that the most severe damage appeared to be in Milan in Sumner County. The town's former post office, a community center and several homes suffered some structural damage. No injuries were reported. Argonia Fire Chief Scott Spinks says that Sumner County town also was shaken hard. Governor Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that the state will fund a six-station portable seismic network to monitor increased seismic activity in Harper, Sumner and Barber counties.
Oklahoman Says Home Damaged by Kansas Quake
ENID, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma resident says a preliminary 4.8-magnitude earthquake that struck a Kansas town Wednesday caused at least $25,000 in damage to his home. The quake originated near the town of Conway Springs, Kansas, and shook parts of that state and Oklahoma. Oklahoma City television station KOCO reports that Enid resident Roy Semrad, who lives about 80 miles south of where the temblor struck, says his home sustained foundation damage, has ceiling tiles out of place and gaps in the walls, among other damage. He says the house has been in his family since the 1920s. Kansas has experienced 94 earthquakes so far this year. Oklahoma has also experienced an uptick in quakes in the past several years.
Competency Tests Ordered in Jewish Site Shootings
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ordered a competency hearing for an avowed white supremacist from Missouri who is accused of shooting three people to death at two Jewish sites earlier this year. Johnson County Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan ordered the evaluation Wednesday for 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller, of Aurora, Missouri. A December 18 hearing has been scheduled to discuss the findings. The move delays a preliminary hearing that was to determine if enough evidence existed for Miller to stand trial. Miller objected to the delay and said it interfered with his right to a speedy trial. He is charged with capital murder in the April 13 attacks outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and a Jewish retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas.
Events Planned to Mark Anniversary of Jewish Site Killings
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The families of three people killed earlier this year outside two suburban Kansas City Jewish facilities are planning community events to mark the first anniversary of the slayings. The Kansas City Star reports plans for the event in April include a faith walk and songwriting to commemorate the April 13 deaths of William Corporon, Reat Griffin Underwood and Terri LaManno. Corporon and his grandson were fatally shot outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, while LaManno was killed at a nearby Jewish retirement home.
2 Charged in Shooting of 6-Year-Old Kansas City Girl
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two Kansas City men have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with a drive-by shooting that left a 6-year-old girl dead. Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced charges Wednesday afternoon against 19-year-old Howard Chase and 21-year-old Leandre Smith. The two also are charged with unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action. Angel Hooper was with her father leaving a Kansas City convenience store on October 17 when someone in a passing car filed multiple shots toward the store, hitting the little girl. Baker says she was not the intended target. Prosecutors have asked that Chase and Smith be held without bond. Online court records indicate neither had obtained an attorney Wednesday evening.
Lawrence Police Charge Man in September Homicide
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A health care attendant has been charged in a September homicide of a man he cared for in Lawrence. Prosecutors on Wednesday charged 48-year-old Ronald Eugene Heskett, of Eudora, with first-degree murder in the death of 65-year-old Vance Moulton. He was found dead at his home on September 12. Prosecutors say Heskett was a health care attendant for Moulton, who had cerebral palsy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports investigators initially were unsure whether Moulton's death was a homicide or suicide. Heskett's bail was set at $500,000 and his next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.
Police Seek Help in Dodge City Homicide
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Dodge City police are asking the public for information in an October homicide. The body of 54-year-old Fabian Corral was found behind the Ford County 4-H building in Dodge City on October 26. Police Chief Craig Mellecker says evidence at the scene indicated the death was a homicide. The Dodge City Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.
KBI Closes Investigation into Death at Johnson County Jail
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says there isn't enough evidence to charge Johnson County authorities in the case of an inmate who died at the county jail. The KBI said Wednesday that 30-year-old Matthew Worsham died of acute ethanol withdrawal on August 3. He was taken to a hospital after he was found unconscious at the Johnson County jail in Olathe. Worsham was serving the second day of a 48-hour sentence for driving under the influence. The Johnson County District Attorney's office says it won't pursue charges.
Heartland Park Plan Won't Go Before Voters
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka's plan to buy a racing facility won't go to a public vote. On Wednesday, a Shawnee County judge invalidated a petition seeking to force a vote on the Heartland Park purchase. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that petition backers wanted to overturn the city governing body's vote to buy the financially troubled racing facility and expand its redevelopment district. They contend it's not a financially good deal for the city. But the judge found that an initiative petition seeking to overturn an administrative ordinance is something not allowed within Kansas law. City officials have said buying Heartland Park would help address the need to cover bond debt on the property.
Man Charged in Downtown Kansas City Homicide
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 24-year-old man is charged with second-degree murder in a shooting near City Hall in downtown Kansas City Wednesday morning. Jackson County prosecutors charged Rickey C. Battee, of Kansas City, in the death of 45-year-old Jai T. Scott. Police say Scott was killed shortly after dropping his wife off for work at the city's business license office. Officers who heard the shots chased and arrested Battee near the scene. Scott, who worked for the Salvation Army, died during surgery. The charging document said a witness told police Battee kick Scott's tire as he drove by. Scott got out of his car and the two men argued before the shooting.
All Wichita Officers to Wear Body Cameras
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Officials say all Wichita police officers will be wearing body cameras by the end of next year. Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley said Wednesday that the police department is adding 450 cameras to the 60 it already has. He says it will take about a year to outfit all officers with the devices because many other departments are also ordering the cameras. Mosley says additional staff will be hired to manage the video recordings. He says clear policies will have to be established on operating the technology. The devices will cost an estimated $1.5 million. Officials say the money will come from the city's budget. A police union representing Wichita law enforcement said it supports the use of the cameras.
Cerner Breaks Ground on Planned Kansas City Site
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Construction has officially begun on Cerner Corporation's planned campus in Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports the $4.45 billion campus will have enough room to house 16,000 employees. The health information technology company is redeveloping the site of a now-demolished shopping center called Bannister Mall. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas City Mayor Sly James praised the project for its long-term economic impact at the company's Wednesday groundbreaking ceremony. The 10-year plan by Cerner includes about $1.75 billion in public tax subsidies. Cerner's president said the company's development is projected to spur about 370,000-square-feet of nearby retail and restaurant development.
2 Charged in Wichita Batman Robberies
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have charged a woman who they say stole cigarettes and cash from convenience stores while wearing a blue Batman mask. The Wichita Eagle reports 22-year-old Hailey Baughman and 23-year-old Justin Allen were charged Wednesday with two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. Police say Baughman robbed the stores and Allen drove the getaway car. They claimed to be unemployed and common-law spouses in court filings. Police say the duo is responsible for two robberies in three days. Baughman and Allen are each being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on $25,000 bond.
Family Identifies Boy Killed in Wichita Fire
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Family members have identified a 9-year-old boy who was killed in a fire that seriously injured his mother and younger brother. Jaden Nunn was pronounced dead at his home on Wednesday. Wichita Fire Captain Stu Bevis says Nunn's 27-year-old mother and brother escaped through a window of the two-story home. They suffered burns, cuts and smoke inhalation before being taken to an area hospital in serious condition. Fire officials are working to determine what caused the blaze.
Trial Set in Fort Riley Soldier's Slaying
FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — A Fort Carson soldier faces a military trial on charges of murder and assault in the death of his soldier-girlfriend during a Valentine's Day quarrel in 2013. Sergeant Montrell Lamar Anderson Mayo's court-martial is scheduled to start Thursday at the post outside Colorado Springs. He is accused of killing 28-year-old Corporal Kimberly Walker of Cincinnati. Friends of Mayo said Walker was visiting Mayo at the time. She was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. Her body was found in an off-post motel. The coroner said she had been strangled and struck. If convicted, Mayo faces up to life in prison without parole. The Army listed his hometown as Greenville, South Carolina. He was stationed at Fort Carson at the time of Walker's death.
Kansas Cheerleading Director Faces Theft Charges
VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (AP) - Valley Center police have arrested the director of a youth cheerleading program after parents accused her of stealing more than $26,000. Police arrested the woman Wednesday night. Parents of children in the Sedgwick County squad say the program has been left in debt to other organizations and might not have funds to buy wind suits, trophies and backpacks for the girls. It wasn't immediately clear if the woman has been charged or if she has an attorney.
Freight Train Derails Near Hutchinson
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Police say no one has been injured after six train cars derailed near the Hutchinson Municipal Airport. Hutchinson police say the accident happened about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night in Reno County. They say no hazardous materials were involved and that no roads were closed. It's unclear what caused the BNSF Railway cars to derail. The railway didn't immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday nigh
Frigid Temperatures Halt Winter Wheat Planting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Unseasonably early frigid temperatures gripping the Plains have pushed the winter wheat crop into dormancy and halted planting before it was finished. Wheat planting was already behind schedule in the Midwest, even before the chill hit. Experts say the cool weather over the next few weeks will likely mean fewer acres of wheat to harvest next year. Agricultural meteorologist Don Keeney of MDA Weather Services says the wintry weather will overall be positive for wheat. Keeney says the corn and sorghum harvest will also be delayed, but that those crops shouldn't be hurt.
Irrigation Wells Bring Concerns in Central Kansas
MILTONVALE, Kan. (AP) — An increase in requests for irrigation wells in central Kansas is raising some concern among residents there. The department that issues the permits says safeguards are in place to protect the water in an area of the state without widespread irrigation. Lane Letourneau, of the Kansas Division of Water Resources, says requests for water wells indicates a trend toward more irrigation, as are efforts to capture surface water in northeast Kansas. He says the increase is being driven at least partly by higher crop prices. The Salina Journal reports the water agency received 22 applications in 2013, with six dismissed, nine approved and the other seven pending. Letourneau says many of the systems are meant to help crops during dry periods and not to fully irrigate the crops.
2 Share $1 Million Scratchers Ticket Win
ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) — When a Kansas man visited a family friend in suburban St. Louis, little did he know he'd return home with a $1 million lottery ticket. The Missouri Lottery said Thursday that 32-year-old Gilberto Andrade of Garden City, Kansas, was visiting friends October 30 when he and Christina Aguilar of O'Fallon decided to buy lottery tickets at a Schnucks store in St. Peters. A "$1,000,000 Platinum Payout" scratchers ticket was the $1 million winner. Andrade went home that night but returned to the St. Louis area on November 5, and he and Aguilar each claimed half of the prize. Both received a $350,000 lump-sum payment before taxes. The "$1,000,000 Platinum Payout" is a $10 game that began May 19. This was the second top-prize winner in the game.