Kansas Senate GOP Hopefuls Craft Platform, Woo Angry Voters
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Senate President Susan Wagle and other Republican candidates for the Kansas Senate have outlined a broad campaign platform aimed at addressing voters' anger with state government. But the 26 senators and Senate candidates who signed onto the platform Wednesday are not publicly breaking with GOP Governor Sam Brownback. The platform says the Republican candidates are committed to providing greater oversight of the state budget, making the tax system fairer and working to create new jobs. It doesn't specifically call for repealing key tax cuts enacted at Brownback's urging, though Wagle, a Republican from Wichita, said "everything is on the table." Wagle said the platform is a response to what Republicans are hearing from voters while they campaign. But Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka called the platform "a bunch of platitudes."
Kansas Legislative Candidates Urge Reform of Medicaid Limits
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several Republicans and Democrats running for the Kansas Legislature have urged changing the state's policy to allow people with disabilities to earn higher incomes without sacrificing their Medicaid benefits. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that seven candidates for state office and two candidates for federal office participated in a forum in Topeka on Wednesday. Several candidates agreed that the state shouldn't decrease aid when a person with disabilities has an income that exceeds $725 per month, and some urged the expansion of Medicaid. Democrats including state Representative Jim Gartner, House candidate Chris Huntsman, Senate candidate Candace Ayars, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley and U.S. House candidate Britani Potter participated in the forum. Republican state Senator Vicki Schmidt was also in attendance.
Fort Riley Announces Ceremony for General Martin
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Fort Riley is planning a change-of-command ceremony as a new leader takes over for one who was fired last month. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Major General Joseph Martin will officially take charge of the Big Red One at the October 18 event on the post. The Army named Martin as the commanding general at Fort Riley last week. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Martin most recently commanded the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. He replaces Major General Wayne Grigsby, who is the subject of an Army investigation and was removed from command for what the Army cited as a loss of confidence in his ability to lead. No details have been released about the investigation. The ceremony also will mark the upcoming deployment of soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division to Iraq.
Plant in Kansas Evacuated After Chemical Spill
HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — A chemical spilled at a plant in south-central Kansas, sending about a half dozen people to the hospital. The Hutchinson News reports that the spill occurred Thursday morning at the GVL Poly Plant in Hesston. Gary Denny, director of emergency management for Harvey County, says a building at the plant was evacuated after a breach of a container with a chemical used in manufacturing coolers. He says the chemical — polymethylene polyphenyl isocyanate — can be hazardous if it's inhaled. He says it's unclear how much escaped. Denny says three people were taken to the hospital by ambulance, and three people went to the hospital on their own. The hospital says one person was admitted for observation, and the others were treated and released.
Woman Pleads Guilty to Murder of 7-Year-Old Kansas Boy
KANSAS CITY, Kansas (AP) — A 30-year-old Kansas woman has pleaded guilty to charges in the death of her 7-year-old stepson whose remains were found among the family's pigs. Heather Jones pleaded guilty Thursday in Wyandotte County court to first-degree murder in the death of the child, whom authorities referred to as A.J. Chief Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Lidtke says the first-degree murder charge carries a sentence of life without a chance for parole for at least 25 years. Jones was charged along with her husband, Michael Jones, in the death of his son after authorities found the child's remains when they were called to investigate a domestic disturbance at the family's rented property last November. Lidtke says the cause of death was "chronic abuse." Heather Jones' sentencing is November 14. Michael Jones is scheduled for a jury trial in February 2017.
Native American Mascots Popular in Kansas High Schools
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Native American mascots are popular among Kansas high schools even as a national debate brews over whether they should be eliminated. The Manhattan Mercury analyzed a list of all the high school mascots in Kansas. Fourteen schools have the mascot name "Indians," making that the fourth most popular in the state. One of those schools is in Manhattan, where the school board is considering changing it. Advocates say the mascot is offensive or insensitive to American Indians. Manhattan has used an Indian mascot since 1940. A push to change the mascot in 2001 was unsuccessful. The list obtained from the Kansas State High School Activities Association also shows that three schools use Redskins; two use Redmen. Wamego uses Red Raiders. Two use Chieftains; two use Braves.
Discrimination Lawsuit Against Emporia State Dismissed
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged Emporia State University discriminated against a black assistant professor after he complained about a racial incident. The lawsuit filed by Melvin Hale in October 2015 was dismissed last week without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled. Hale claimed the school and some top administrators discriminated against him and his wife, Angelica, after they said in April 2015 they found a note with a racial slur near her office in the School of Library and Information Management. The Hales said school administrators at first did nothing, then conducted a biased investigation and retaliated against them for pushing the issue. The university said its investigation found no evidence of a hate crime or racial discrimination. University officials were not available Thursday to comment.
Ex-Banker to Change Plea in Kansas Drug Cartel Money Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former bank president accused of conspiring to launder drug money for a Mexican cartel plans enter a new plea. A notice filed Thursday says former Plains State Bank President James Kirk Friend notified the court of his intention to change his plea. A hearing is scheduled October 17 in U.S. District Court in Wichita. Federal prosecutors contend Friend helped bank customers George and Agatha Enns of Meade launder more than $6.8 million between 2011 and 2014. An affidavit outlines a federal investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering activities in the U.S. by the Juarez Cartel/La Linea, sometimes referred to as Mexican Mennonites. The Mexican cartel is suspected of laundering drug proceeds through the small southwest Kansas bank to avoid tighter restrictions on U.S. currency in its home country.
Wichita State University Announces $250M Fundraising Goal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University has announced a $250 million capital and program fundraising campaign. The Wichita Eagle reports that the university made the announcement Wednesday, and that about $145 million has already been raised through in-kind gifts or pledges. Wichita State University Foundation president Elizabeth King says 20 percent of the funds are deferred gifts. Part of the campaign includes plans for the university to increase its scholarships by more than 80 percent. The university is aiming to raise $83.5 million for scholarships, $28 million for a new home for the Barton School of Business and $10 million for laboratories in the Experiential Engineering building on the Innovation Campus among other things. The campaign will run through mid-2020.
Kansas Highway Patrol Says Tattoo Policy Won't Change
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol says it will not change its policy on tattoos on troopers. The Salina Journal reports that the agency released a statement Tuesday saying a more focused effort on recruiting and a salary scale adjustment have generated enough applicants for jobs without having to alter the policy. The current policy prohibits tattoos that are visible on areas of a trooper's body not covered by the uniform. Minor adjustments were made for consistency. Further changes weren't recommended by an internal committee studying the issue.
Bicyclist Dies After Being Struck by Car in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 75-year-old man has died from injuries sustained last month when he was struck by a car while riding a bike in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that John Gamber was critically injured after the collision with a car on September 20. Topeka police say he died Wednesday. Investigators are still working to determine if a crosswalk light was activated when the crash occurred. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be forwarded to either the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office or the Topeka city prosecutor for review.
Student Arrested in Kansas State Dorm Stabbing
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a Kansas State University student was treated for a knife wound and another student was arrested after a fight in a residence hall. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the injured student has been released from a hospital. University police said the fight broke out early Wednesday at Marlatt Hall. Riley County police said the 20-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery with unknown circumstances and later released. The university said in a news release that the investigation is ongoing.
1 Dead After Wichita Apartment Complex Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 17-year-old boy has been arrested in a deadly shooting in northeast Wichita. KAKE-TV reports that Sergeant Nikki Woodrow says the teen was arrested around 6 pm Wednesday. Police say 20 to 30 rounds were fired early Wednesday into a car in an apartment complex parking lot. An 18-year-old was found dead in the car. He had been shot multiple times. Police say the victim had gone to the apartments to see someone.
Body of Sailor Killed in Pearl Harbor Attack Returning to Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Navy seaman's remains are returning to Kansas, 75 years after he was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Lewis Lowell Wagoner was 20 when he was declared missing after the December 7, 1941, surprise attack that propelled the United States into World War II. Wagoner was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it and other U.S. warships were hit by torpedoes. The battleship Oklahoma capsized quickly. Thirty-two men were rescued, but 14 Marines and 415 sailors were killed and largely were buried as "unknowns" in a Hawaii cemetery. Many of those remains were recently disinterred for modern DNA testing that identified Wagoner and roughly 30 others. Wagoner's remains are to be flown to Wichita tomorrow (FRI), with a memorial and interment ceremonies scheduled the next day in Harvey County.