Kansas Governor: No Furloughs, Layoffs Planned for State Government Workers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback's administration says he won't propose furloughs or layoffs of state workers in his January budget proposal. Brownback spokeswoman Melika Willoughby tells The Topeka Capital-Journal Brownback intends to propose a budget that will make layoffs and furloughs unnecessary. The state is facing a $350 million budget shortfall. Kansas Organization of State Employees director Rebecca Proctor says the potential for layoffs or furloughs still concerns the group. The Brownback administration moved earlier this year to alter policies for state employee layoffs, rehiring and performance evaluations, but some of the proposed changes were shelved after negative feedback.
Navy Warship Named for 1st Black Marine Corps Aviator
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A U.S. Navy destroyer warship has been named in honor of a Topeka three star general who became the first black aviator, first black general and first black base commander in the Marine Corps. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced this month that the destroyer under construction will bear the name of Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Mabus said Petersen’s courage and perseverance made him deserving of the honor. Petersen enlisted in the Navy in 1950 and left in 1952 to accept a commission as a second lieutenant and become the first black pilot in the Marine Corps. Petersen retired in 1988. He died in 2015. Construction of the USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. began April 27. It is expected to enter the Navy fleet in 2020.
Fort Hays State University President Resigns... Effective Immediately
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — The president of Fort Hays State University has announced her resignation. KSNW reports that Mirta Martin announced her resignation as president of Fort Hays State yesterday and it is effective immediately. In a letter to staff, students and faculty, Martin said she's stepping down for "personal reasons." The Kansas Board of Regents selected Martin to lead Fort Hays State in May 2014. Regent Zoe F. Newton, Chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, said in a statement that the board is grateful for Martin's contributions. Mike Barnett, the university's vice president for administration and finance, has been named acting president until the board names an interim president.
Governor Declares Disaster After Chemical Plant Blast in Southeast Kansas
NEODESHA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has issued a disaster declaration after an explosion at a southeast Kansas chemical plant injured at least one person. The declaration announced yesterday (WED) allows the National Guard to help respond to the explosion and fire Tuesday at the Airosol Incorporated plant in the 2,500-person town of Neodesha. The effort includes providing bottled water to residents. Public water systems have been urged to close water intakes on the Verdigris River downstream from the plant to prevent contamination from substances used to fight the fire. The blast sent a male employee to a hospital with burns that weren't considered life-threatening. The Kansas Adjutant General's Office also is working to confirm reports that two others may have sustained minor injuries. The plant manufactures and packages aerosol, liquid and other specialty chemicals.
Abortion Doctor's Killer Eligible for Parole in 25 Years
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The man convicted in 2010 in the murder of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller will have to serve at least 25 years of a life sentence before becoming eligible for parole. At a resentencing hearing Wednesday, prosecutors withdrew their request that Scott Roeder serve at least 50 years before parole eligibility. Roeder also was sentenced to an additional two years for two counts of aggravated assault. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says prosecutors wanted to avoid reopening the wound for the victim's family and the community. Bennett cited the 58-year-old defendant's declining health and the unlikelihood of him living long enough to ever get out of prison. Defense attorney Mark Rudy says they are glad to put this to rest and don't plan to appeal.
Kansas Murder, Kidnapping Suspect Living in US Illegally
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Immigration officials say a Dallas woman accused of killing a mother and abducting her baby was living in the country illegally when she was released from a Kansas jail this summer before federal authorities could request she be detained in connection with a previous kidnapping incident. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Wednesday it did not receive the July 25 arrest list from the sheriff's office showing Yesenia Sesmas' name until the following day. By then the Mexican national had been released. The agency says it would have asked she be held if it had been advised in time. The sheriff's office says Sesmas was released on bond within 24 hours. She is in a Dallas jail accused of killing a Wichita woman last week and abducting her baby.
Recount Canceled but Results Show Pilcher-Cook Retained Lead
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Democratic candidate who fell short of unseating conservative incumbent Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook has dropped her request for a recount. But the Johnson County Election Office went ahead and released the results anyway because the recount already had been completed when Vicki Hiatt withdrew her request. The recount shows the 952-vote margin of victory for Pilcher-Cook remains the same. Pilcher-Cook got 51.3 percent of the vote, to Hiatt's 48.6 percent. The only change is that each candidate received one additional vote from the paper ballots, which previously had been detected by the optical scanners as "blank votes." Hiatt had expressed concerns previously that election night technical issues may have affected results. Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said in the statement that the results show his staff's work was "accurate."
Affluent Shoplifter Arrested Day Before Slated Sentencing
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An affluent suburban Kansas City woman who admitted last year shoplifting truckloads of clothing from area retailers has been arrested again, this time on suspicion of stealing bras. The Kansas City Star reports 47-year-old Kelli Bauer of Overland Park, Kansas, is accused of stealing an unknown number of bras from a Kohl's store on November 15. Police searched Bauer's $900,000 home in an exclusive Johnson County neighborhood in April 2015 and found more than 1,000 stolen items, some of which she was trying to sell. She was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday on a felony theft conviction, but that was pushed back to January after Johnson County prosecutors filed a motion seeking to be released from her plea bargain.