Kansas Elder Protection Measure Becomes Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says elderly residents will have new protections against fraud and financial abuse under a new state law. Legislation creating the crime of mistreatment of an elder person was signed by Governor Sam Brownback last week. The law is aimed at protecting people 70 and older who are victims of financial abuse. People convicted of large-scale abuse could be sentenced to more than 40 years in prison. Schmidt said Monday the law adds protections against misusing a financial trust or power of attorney for the purpose of misappropriating a person's life savings. The measure was sponsored by Senate Vice President Jeff King of Independence and Senator Michael O'Donnell, both Republicans. King and O'Donnell say it gives law enforcement another tool to protect older residents.
Kansas Lawmakers Considering State Workers' Pay Issues
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators are considering proposals to give state workers a modest pay increase but end their guaranteed longevity bonuses. The Senate Ways and Means Committee touched on pay issues Tuesday as it reviewed budget issues facing lawmakers when they return to the Statehouse next week to wrap up their work for the year. The committee took no action. Republican Governor Sam Brownback proposed a 1.5 percent pay raise for employees in the civil service. It would be the first across-the-board pay raise since 2009. But the Senate committee and its House counterpart have alternative proposals for more modest pay raises that would end a requirement for state agencies to pay longevity bonuses. The Kansas Organization for State Employees opposes ending longevity bonuses.
Prosecutor Seeks Death Penalty in Ottawa Killings
OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — A prosecutor is seeking the death penalty against a 28-year-old man accused in the fatal shooting of four people at a rural eastern Kansas farm. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kyle Flack stood silent during his arraignment Tuesday as District Judge Eric Godderz entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Flack is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 30-year-old Andrew Stout and 31-year-old Steven White at the property in Ottawa. He is charged with capital murder in the deaths of 21-year-old Kaylie Bailey and her 18-month-old daughter, Lana-Leigh Bailey. Franklin County prosecutor Stephen Hunting filed a motion seeking the death penalty in connection with the deaths of Bailey and her daughter. All four were fatally shot in late April or early May last year.
Topeka Councilman Charged with 2 Felonies
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County district attorney is seeking the ouster of a Topeka city councilman who faces two felony charges. Court records indicate John Campos II was charged Monday with one count of false writing and one count of Interference with law enforcement. Campos is accused of presenting a fake insurance card to the city's legal department while seeking to have a ticket from a traffic stop dismissed. The petition from Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor says Campos's alleged actions violate state law and require him to give up his council seat. WIBW NewsNow reports Campos declined to comment on the charges. The city referred all questions to Taylor, whose office said he would have no comment.
Man Seeks to Hide 'Murder' Tattoo Before Trial
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man charged with first-degree murder is afraid the tattooed mirror-image letters spelling out the word "murder" across his neck might prejudice a jury, so he is asking for a professional tattoo artist to remove or cover it up. Prosecutors say they aren't opposed to Jeffrey Chapman covering his tattoo, but Barton County's sheriff says he's against transporting Chapman to a licensed tattoo facility — the only places tattoo artists are allowed to practice under Kansas law. The Great Bend Tribune reports that Chapman's trial is scheduled to start Monday in the November 2011 killing of Damon Galliart, whose body was found by hunters in a roadside ditch southwest of Great Bend. Chapman's attorney says in a motion the tattoo would be extremely prejudicial if seen by a jury.
Grass Fire Blamed for Accidents on I-70
GLENDALE, Kan. (AP) — Officials have extended a burn ban in a central Kansas county where smoke from a large grass fire was blamed for two multi-vehicle accidents on Interstate 70. No serious injuries were reported in the accidents Monday afternoon in Saline County. The Salina Journal reports that authorities believe a passing train sparked the fire, which started near Glendale and spread along a five-mile stretch of the highway. The Kansas Highway Patrol says visibility was near zero when five vehicles were involved in a chain- reaction collision around 3:20 pm. About 30 minutes later, an eastbound semi carrying hay bales ran into the back of another tractor-trailer. The interstate was closed for about an hour as crews fought the flames. Saline County commissioners on Tuesday extended a burn ban until April 29.
Spring Corn Planting Still Sputters in Key States
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Efforts by the nation's corn growers to get their crops planted in key grain states continue to sputter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says just 6 percent of this year's corn crop is in the ground. That compares to the average of 14 percent over the previous five years and 4 percent a year ago, when one of the wettest springs on record got farmers in many states off to the slowest start in decades. Kansas has one-fifth of its corn crop planted and Missouri about one-quarter. They're the two bright spots. Illinois growers have planted just 5 percent, while Iowa is at just 2 percent and Nebraska is at 4 percent. The USDA says corn sowing traditionally is in full swing from this time through May 23.
KU Hopes to Complete New Medical Building in 3 Years
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little hopes a new health education building at the University of Kansas Medical Center can be finished in three years. Gray-Little and other state officials Monday praised the Legislature's approval of $25 million in bonds this year for the building. The total cost of the project in Kansas City, Kansas is $75 million. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Gray-Little believes lawmakers' commitment will attract private donations. The university already has $15 million for the project and will have to raise an additional $35 million. The current health education building needs $5 million in repairs and has rooms for large lecture classes rather than the small classes medical schools now prefer. The new building also will have room for an additional 25 students.
Hays, Great Bend Replace Airline Service
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — New airlines will begin offering service from Hays and Great Bend this summer. The Hays Regional Airport and Great Bend Municipal Airport have been without air service since late March, when Great Lakes Airlines dropped its service. Beginning in early June, SeaPort Airlines, based in Portland, Oregon will begin daily round-trip service from Great Bend to Wichita and Kansas City. It will offer 18 round-trip flights a week. And on August 1, United Express, operated by SkyWest Airlines, will begin offering 12 weekly round-trip flights between Hays and Denver, using 50-passenger jets. The Wichita Eagle reports that Great Lakes Airlines has been reducing service in several communities, citing a pilot shortage caused by increased federal requirements for pilots.
New KU Recruitment Program Being Questioned
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Some teachers at the University of Kansas are questioning whether a new program designed to attract hundreds of new international students to the school will be beneficial. The university plans to begin a KU Academic Accelerator Program in the fall. It is a three-semester program to provide academic, social and language help to international students. The program will be jointly run by the university and a private company called Shorelight Education. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that some professors and students raised concerns about having a private company recruiting students for an economic payoff, and the use of agents for recruiting. A Shorelight official says agents are only part of the company's approach to recruitment, and it uses only agents approved by leading agencies.
Kansas City Police Say Body Found in Pickup Truck
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating after a body was found in a pickup truck that was submerged at an apartment complex. The department's underwater rescue team found the body in the truck Monday evening at the Willow Lake complex in northern Kansas City. Police did not release details on the gender or age of the body, or if foul play is suspected.
Former Bank Worker Admits Embezzlement
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas woman will be sentenced in July for stealing more than $180,000 from a bank where she worked. The U.S. Attorney's office says 42-year-old Erie resident Sherrie Landell pleaded guilty Monday to one count of embezzlement by a bank employee. Landell worked at a branch of Exchange State Bank in the Neosho County town of St. Paul. She maintained the bank's general ledger account and an account designated for accounts receivable on certificates of deposit. She admitted stealing interest due on the certificates of deposit and other funds, then altering the bank's records to hide her crime. Landell began the embezzlement in 2007. The scheme was uncovered by a regulatory exam and independent audit in 2013. Sentencing is scheduled for July 14 in federal court in Wichita.
Hunters Share Uncommon Bond
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two hunters brought together by a love of the outdoors formed a friendship leading one to donate a kidney to the other. The two met with Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday to talk about their friendship, love of the outdoors and need for more people willing to be organ donors. Rob Robinson, a firefighter from Starkville, Mississippi, happened to knock on Gil Alexander's door in northwest Kansas seeking permission to hunt. They developed a friendship that led to more hunting trips to Kansas. When Robinson learned Alexander needed a kidney transplant, he got tested and found he was a match. Alexander received the new organ in 2012. The hunters have formed an outdoors foundation for wounded veterans, children and others in need.