Wind Advisory Issued for Northeast Kansas, Parts of Southern Plains at Critical Fire Risk
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Forecasters are warning of an "extremely critical" fire risk because of windy and dry weather that's expected today (THUR). The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says the risk is highest in parts of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Forecasters say some areas could see wind gusts of 60 mph or more, while humidity levels will drop to 15 percent or lower. Forecasters say the area at "extremely critical" risk includes more than 19,000 square miles in mostly rural areas. The National Weather Service in Topeka has issued a wind advisory for northeast Kansas. Sustained winds of 20-to-30 mph with gusts as high as 45 mph are expected throughout this (THUR) afternoon. Authorities say the fire risk should drop as a cold front moves through the area Friday.
Jenkins Exits US House Leadership, May Consider Kansas Governor's Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congresswoman Lynn Jenkins will be leaving a position on the House Republicans' leadership team when the newly elected Congress convenes in January. Jenkins said Wednesday that she is stepping down as GOP conference vice chairwoman to focus on health care and tax reform legislation. She's seen as a potential candidate for governor in 2018 to replace term-limited Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Jenkins said she's always willing to consider opportunities for returning to Kansas. She said she also has opportunities in Washington to work with Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress and GOP President-elect Donald Trump. She is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and expects it to review both tax and health care proposals. Jenkins has represented the 2nd District of eastern Kansas since 2009.
Ousted Kansas Congressman Contacted for Agriculture Post
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp says someone "close to the transition" of President-elect Donald Trump has contacted him about becoming agriculture secretary. Huelskamp lost the GOP primary in his agriculture-heavy Kansas district this year after he was booted from the House Agriculture Committee amid fights with Republican leadership. He also opposed a five-year Farm Bill enacted in 2014. The Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association and National Association of Wheat Growers endorsed Huelskamp's challenger, Roger Marshall. Huelskamp said Wednesday that the USDA needs major reform, including stronger work requirements for food stamps.
Kansas House of Representatives to Nominate New Speaker
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republicans are set to nominate a new House speaker in December as the current House speaker prepares to retire from the state Legislature. The Wichita Eagle reports that House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, Representative Ron Ryckman and Representative Russ Jennings are vying to succeed Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick. Republicans control 85 seats in the 125-member House. They will make nominations for the position by secret ballot next month before an official floor vote, which includes Democrats, takes place in January. The next speaker will have to deal with several issues, including the projected $349 million budget hole for the state's current fiscal year.
Universities Propose Housing, Dining Rate Hikes
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's state universities are proposing raising housing and dining rates starting next year. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Board of Regents received the proposed rates from the six state universities Wednesday. The largest rate increase would be at the University of Kansas, with a 4.9 percent hike. Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University and Pittsburg State University all proposed rate hikes of less than 4 percent. Proposed rate increases were generally driven by anticipated inflationary costs and facility maintenance and enhancements.
Police: 1 Dead in Apparent Accident at Kansas Plant
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after an employee died at a Kansas industrial plant. Great Bend Police Chief Cliff Couch told The Hays Post that the male employee died Thursday at the Fuller Industries plant in Great Bend. He says the death appears to have been caused by an industrial accident, but he said details aren't being released while the investigation is underway. The victim's identity also hasn't been released. The company manufactures cleaning supplies and brushes at the Great Bend site. Fuller Industries didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Kansas Boy Dies From Crash That Killed His Mother and Sister
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 6-year-old Kansas boy has died from injuries sustained in a suspected drunken-driving crash that also killed his mother and younger sister. The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the boy as Jaydon Allan Thompson, of Junction City, who died after being airlifted to a hospital. 26-year-old Jessica Michelle Thompson of Junction City and her 5-year-old daughter, Leah Michelle Thompson were declared dead at the scene of the head-on crash. Authorities said Thompson had taken her children out of school Tuesday for a medical appointment. They were returning when a large box truck crossed the median on Interstate 70 and crashed into the family's vehicle in Geary County. The driver of the truck, 42-year-old Steven Wayne Johnson, of Houston, Texas, was not injured. He is jailed in Geary County on $250,000 bond on charges of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence and other counts.
City of Lawrence Files Lawsuit Against Hotel; Cites Fraud
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The City of Lawrence has filed a lawsuit to terminate an incentive agreement with a hotel, citing personal purchases and falsified retail sales. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the lawsuit claims the developers of The Oread hotel fraudulently collected tax rebates for hundreds of unrelated purchases, including landscaping for one developer's home as well as a cabin in Colorado and the rental of a party tent. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, also says the development group defrauded the city and engaged in activity involving wire and mail fraud. Lawrence officials are seeking to recoup more than $400,000 in monetary damages as well as an end to the incentive agreement. The developers have denied the allegations.
Kansas City Man Charged in Sale of Guns to Investigators
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man is charged with selling more than a dozen firearms, including assault-style rifles, to undercover federal agents. The Kansas City Star reports that 29-year-old Cory Adams is charged with eight counts of using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, possession of a stolen firearm and distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana and ecstasy. Court documents say investigators purchased drugs and firearms from Adams multiple times in July, August and September. It wasn't immediately clear if Adams has an attorney.
Wichita Police Investigating Fatal Shooting, Missing Infant
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Wichita are investigating after a woman was found shot to death and her infant daughter was reported
missing. KSN reports that police said the 27-year-old woman was found shot to death at her Wichita apartment Thursday, and her 6-day-old infant daughter is missing. The woman's name hasn't been released. Police spokeswoman Sergeant Nikki Woodrow says police are talking with the KBI and are canvassing the neighborhood. Police also say they're looking for a 1997 purple Cadillac with Kansas tags in connection to the case.
Retired Wichita Officer Sentenced to Probation
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A retired Wichita police officer has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to charges accusing him of fabricating documents. The office of the U.S. attorney for Kansas said that 52-year-old Kevin P. Vaughn pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of public funds and one count of mail fraud. He was sentenced Wednesday to two years' probation and also ordered to pay $56,400 in restitution. Vaughn retired in 2015 after 28 years with the Wichita Police Department. The prosecutor's office says Vaughn admitted falsifying reports to make it appear his company, Red Mist Tactical, had completed all of 15 classes as the company's contract required. The money for the training came from a federal grant.
Missouri Man with Ties to 'Sovereign Citizen' Movement Sentenced for Tax Evasion
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri engineering consultant with ties to groups whose adherents believe the federal income tax system is voluntary has been sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. The U.S. attorney's office said in a news release that 62-year-old Harold Stanley, of Peculiar, Missouri, was sentenced Wednesday. The release said the tax evasion totaled nearly $1 million over the past decade. Stanley, who has participated in "sovereign citizens" groups, also was convicted of endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws. Prosecutors found that from 2005 through 2015 he frequently failed to file any tax returns. Some of those years he filed substantially correct returns but left the tax line entry blank and failed to submit any payment.
Topeka Students March to Show Diversity, Unity
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A few hundred Topeka students marched to the Statehouse to show they're diverse and united. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 400 to 500 Topeka High School students participated in the march Wednesday. Angelo Campos, an 18-year-old senior, says since the presidential election last week there've been reports of minorities being discriminated against, and he wanted to show he takes pride in the school's diverse groups. Principal Rebecca Morrisey says the march occurred during a morning period when the school's estimated 1,800 students are in homeroom and that students were allowed to participate if they chose to. Morrisey says the school's been working to "make sure we honor both sides of the political spectrum and that we don't allow negative hate speech from either side of the political spectrum."
Two Small Quakes Reported in North-Central Kansas
SMITH CENTER, Kan. (AP) - Two small earthquakes shook parts of north-central Kansas Wednesday. The Hays Post reports that the 2.7 and 3.4 magnitude quakes struck in a rural area about 80 miles northeast of Hays. Officials with the Osborne and Smith County Sheriff's Department said they didn't receive any calls about the quakes. The U.S. Geological Survey says damage is not likely in earthquakes below magnitude 4.0.
91-Year-Old Kansas Man Drowns in Farm Pond
MAYETTA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a 91-year-old man has drowned while fishing in an eastern Kansas farm pond. Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse says the victim has been identified as John Johnson, of Berryton. He was among three men in a small boat that capsized Wednesday in the pond near Mayetta. Johnson drowned while attempting to swim to shore. The other two people in the boat survived.
Kansas City Police to Pay $300K to Settle Lawsuit
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri police have agreed to pay a robbery suspect $300,000 over allegations that officers used excessive force during his 2014 arrest. The Kansas City Star reports that in reaching the settlement with 25-year-old Manuel G. Palacio, Kansas City police did not admit liability or wrongdoing. Palacio alleged that officers drove his head into the ground and verbally threatened him during the May 2, 2014, incident. Palacio also said in his lawsuit that he did not resist and was unarmed during the arrest, which was captured on dash cam video. One of the officers, Shannon Hansen, is no longer with the department after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of harassment. Hansen was sentenced to two years of probation and 30 days of jail shock time.
Woman Hurt in Crash at Scene of Earlier Kansas Accident
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a woman was injured when a pickup truck driver crashed into a deputy's patrol vehicle and a car that were parked at the scene of an earlier accident. The Hays Post reports that the truck's 85-year-old driver disregarded light on three emergency vehicles before hitting the two vehicles late Wednesday in Finney County. A deputy was inside the patrol vehicle when it was hit but wasn't injured. The truck then hit the car, which was pushed into a woman who was standing in a ditch waiting for a tow. She was transported to a hospital. The truck came to a stop in a ditch. The driver wasn't hurt.
Kansas City Chiefs Rally Around Teammate Whose Dad Was Slain
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are rallying around teammate James Winchester, whose father Michael was killed outside of the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office says Winchester died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Wednesday that long snapper James Winchester, who like his father played college football at Oklahoma, has returned to the state to be with his family. Reid says he's not sure if Winchester will be back for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. Oklahoma City Police say former Southwest Airlines employee, 45-year-old Lloyd Buie, shot and killed Michael Winchester, a Southwest supervisor. The attacker then killed himself.