Moody's Changes Outlook for Kansas Credit Rating to Negative
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An international rating agency has revised its credit outlook for Kansas to negative from stable because of its ongoing budget problems. Tuesday's announcement from Moody's Investors Service came a day after lawmakers approved a plan leaving most of the work of balancing the budget through June 2017 to Governor Sam Brownback. Even as Moody's changed its outlook, it reaffirmed its Aa2 rating for Kansas for issuing bonds. Its report cited the state's problems in balancing its budget since lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging to help stimulate the economy. Standard and Poor's Rating Services last week put Kansas on a "credit watch." Brownback told reporters Tuesday that Kansas faces financial strains because of slumps in agriculture and energy production, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
Kansas Says April Tax Collections $2.6M Above Expectations
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that its tax collections last month were $2.6 million more than expected, giving state officials a small dose of good news in dealing with ongoing budget problems. The Department of Revenue reported Monday that the state collected $584.3 million in taxes in April, when the official projection was $581.7 million. The surplus was 0.5 percent. That's positive news but revenue projections were slashed only three weeks ago. The tax collections are now being pegged against a more pessimistic forecast. Still, Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said there are positive economic signs in personal income and sales tax collections that exceeded expectations. The report came 12 hours after the Legislature approved a budget-balancing plan that leaves most of the work to Governor Sam Brownback.
Kansas Legislators Adjourned Until June 1
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Legislature is out of session until June 1, and its leaders hope lawmakers have finished their business for the year. The House adjourned shortly after 1 am Monday, and the Senate followed at about 3:30 am. Their session June 1 is supposed to be only a brief adjournment ceremony. But the Kansas Supreme Court is reviewing changes lawmakers made in March to how the state distributes more than $4 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts. The court said in February that Kansas was shorting poor districts on aid and ordered a fix by June 30. The justices hear arguments about the Legislature's work on May 10. Lawmakers have extra time time to work on the situation, because they've been in session only 73 days out of the normal 90 scheduled.
Civil Trial Begins for Anti-Abortion Activist
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Justice Department lawyer says an anti-abortion activist intended to intimidate a Kansas doctor by suggesting in a letter that someone might place an explosive under her car. Angel Dillard's civil trial began Tuesday in Wichita. The federal government is suing her under a law aimed at protecting women's access to abortion services and is seeking damages, financial penalties and an order of protection keeping her away from Dr. Mila Means. One of Dillard's attorneys told jurors that the government is trying to shut down free speech about matters with which it disagrees. Dillard sent the letter to Means in 2011, when Means was training to provide abortions. At the time, there hadn't been any doctors providing abortions in Wichita since the 2009 killing of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion zealot.
Suspended Kansas Lawyer Sentenced for Mishandling Trust
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A suspended Kansas City, Kansas, lawyer has been sentenced for misappropriating money from a disabled man's trust fund. The Wyandotte County prosecutor's office says 65-year-old Don Charles Ball, of Parkville, Missouri, was ordered Friday to serve 60 days of shock time in the Wyandotte County jail and to pay more than $38,000 in restitution. He may avoid further incarceration if he successfully completes 36 months of intensive probation. Prosecutors say Ball managed the affairs of a man with a disabling brain injury. The man had a trust and a probate judge ordered Ball to not spend trust proceeds without court approval. When the court ordered Ball to pay out money in the trust, he wrote a $32,000 check that the bank rejected for insufficient funds.
Sprint Losses Exceed Fears Despite Uptick in Cell Service Customers
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Overland Park-based Sprint reported a worse-than-expected loss in its fiscal fourth quarter, even as it added more customers to its cell phone service. In the first three months of the year, the company said it added 56,000 new customers for its contract-based wireless plans, the most lucrative plans for the company. That's far below the 211,000 subscribers it added in the same quarter a year ago.
Convicted Sex Offender Pleads Guilty in ID Theft Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A decades-long ordeal ruined a Texas man, but his life might start to get better now that the sex offender in Kansas who stole his identity has pleaded guilty to misusing a Social Security number. Fernando Neave-Ceniceros's plea Monday in federal court in Wichita will help prosecutors begin to repair the havoc left behind for Marcus Calvillo, the Grand Prairie, Texas, man whose identity he assumed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson says he doesn't know of a case where the theft of an identity had a more devastating impact than this one. The 41-year-old convicted child sex offender and Mexican national admitted to using Calvillo's Social Security number to hide his own identity and lack of legal status in the United States. Sentencing is July 25. His attorney declined comment.
Historic Building in Suburban Kansas City Collapses
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a building has partially collapsed on the historic square in the Kansas City suburb of Liberty. Liberty city fire marshal Dustin Paddack says there are no known injuries but that a rescue team is searching the rubble as a precaution. The collapse happened around 8:50 am Tuesday at the building, which is across from the Clay County (Missouri) Courthouse and Liberty City Hall. The building was built in the 1880s and was last used as a furniture store. It was being expanded for retail space. A neighboring microbrewery also planned to use part of the building. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known. Police have closed off several streets surrounding the building. Crews also are evaluating the structural integrity of neighboring buildings.
Weather Service to Re-enact Deadly 1991 Tornado Outbreak
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — National Weather Service branches in Wichita and Tulsa, Oklahoma, are re-enacting a deadly 1991 tornado outbreak on social media a week after the threat of nasty weather forced them to postpone a similar exercise. The Wichita Eagle reports the Wichita office will focus on conditions leading to an F5 tornado that killed 17 people and injured more than 200 in Andover, south Wichita and McConnell Air Force Base on April 26, 1991. The first tweets Tuesday will focus on the atmospheric environment on that day. The Wichita branch will then live-tweet the actual event starting with the first tornado warning at 4:36 p.m Meterologist Vanessa Pearce says there will be about 60 tweets issued by the Wichita branch.
Killer in Long-Unsolved Kansas Murder to Be Freed
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former student body president of a small Christian college in Kansas who escaped capture in a killing for more than two decades is about to be freed. The Kansas City Star reports that 56-year-old Mark Mangelsdorf, of Pelham, New York, has served 10 years in a Kansas prison for the fatal beating of 25-year-old David Harmon. He is scheduled to be released Saturday. Harmon's wife, Melinda Raisch, worked at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe while Mangelsdorf was a student there. Prosecutors claimed Mangelsdorf and Raisch were romantically involved and conspired to kill Harmon. Before his arrest, Mangelsdorf got married and moved to New York, where he worked as a marketing executive. Raisch moved to Ohio before she was convicted in the killing. She was paroled last year.
Fugitive in Joplin Police Shooting Case in Custody in Kansas
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A man who left a Joplin hospital against medical advice after he was wounded by police is jailed in Kansas. Police in Wichita arrested 50-year-old Jeffrey L. Hill last month on charges of interference with a law enforcement officer, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The Joplin Globe reports that he is jailed without bond in Sedgwick County, Kansas. He could be brought back to face charges in Missouri once the Kansas charges are resolved. Joplin police said officers shot Hill, who is white, on November 30 when he attempted to run over an officer with a vehicle during a domestic disturbance call. No attorney is listed for him in Missouri court records. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney in the Kansas case.
Preliminary Hearing Set for Pair Accused of Salina Killing
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A preliminary hearing is set for next week for two people charged in the killing of a Nebraska man in a Salina motel parking lot. The Salina Journal reports that 21-year-old DiAntre Lemmie and 24-year-old Amber Craig appeared Monday in Saline County District Court. They are scheduled to return to court May 10. They are charged with first-degree murder in the death last week of 21-year-old Adonis Loudermilk, of Lincoln, Nebraska. Both also are charged with aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. Lemmie faces additional charges of fleeing and eluding and criminal possession of a firearm. Lemmie's attorney, Jeff Adam, declined to comment. Craig's attorney, Julie Effenbeck, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Mayor: Effort to Reconfigure Kansas City Airport on Hold
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Mayor Sly James says the city will not put the question of whether to build a new, one-terminal airport on the ballot this year. The mayor announced Tuesday only 39 percent of people polled last week said they supported building a new, nearly $1 billion Kansas City International Airport. The city had discussed putting the issue on the August or October ballot. The airlines using the Kansas City airport said last week they supported the single terminal concept.The current airport is nearly 50 years old and has three separate terminals. Supporters of the existing layout proposed renovating the terminals, rather than building one terminal.James says he believes the city will eventually have a single-terminal airport, but now is not the time to pursue the project.
Former Kansas Police Chief to Change Plea in Gun Scheme
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Bel Air Police Chief John Daily plans to change his plea over his role in a scheme to buy and sell discounted firearms by falsely claiming they would be used for law enforcement purposes. A notice posted Tuesday notified the court of his intention and set May 31 for the change-of-plea hearing. Charges against two Bel Air police officers were initially filed in December 2014, and the investigation eventually ensnared the department's police chief along with a third police officer. The indictment against one officer was dismissed in January. Most charges involve wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with the alleged scheme. Prosecutors allege the officers bought and sold numerous firearms by falsely certifying they were for law enforcement use and not resale — thereby avoiding paying taxes.
University of Kansas Class Unveils New Sustainable House
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas architecture graduate students are completing final touches on a newly constructed sustainable house in east Lawrence. Officials at the university's architecture school tell the Lawrence Journal-World that the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a detached garage is designed to meet two sustainable building standards: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum and the Passive House Institute standards. The home is the latest design-build project of the Studio 804 class, which concentrates on environmentally-friendly development. The house includes solar panels on the roof that will supply nearly all of its electricity needs and barn door-style sliding panels on the house's exterior can be closed to block sunlight in the hottest months. There is also a concrete storm shelter in the back of the lot near the garage.
B-29 'Doc' a Step Closer to Airworthiness Certificate
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A World War II bomber is moving closer to achieving its Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness certificate. The Wichita Eagle reports that four volunteers attached a nameplate Monday to the B-29 Superfortress known as "Doc." The volunteers were among the earliest to work on the restoration effort and included Connie Palacioz. As an 18-year-old in 1944, she worked on the B-29 production line and riveted "Doc's" nose section. She says she "never thought" she would see the restoration reach this point. The Wichita-built plane was dubbed "Doc" after being assigned to a squadron of eight bombers named for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was finished too late to fly bombing missions during World War II, though it eventually served as a radar trainer during the Korean War.
Arkansas City Woman Sentenced in 16-Month-Old Child's Death
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An Arkansas City woman found guilty in the death of her 16-month-old daughter has been sentenced to 18 months of probation. KAKE-TV reports that 30-year-old Lindsey Abegg was sentenced Thursday. She had pleaded guilty to aggravated endangerment of a child in the August death of Astra Abegg. She also pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. Police say that Astra Abegg was found dead at an Arkansas City apartment when emergency crews responded to a report of a medical emergency involving a child. The cause of the child's death is unclear. Prosecutors argued that abuse led to the child's death.
Weber Makes Sweet Investment in Illinois Custard Shop
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Four years after he was fired by the University of Illinois, basketball coach Bruce Weber is making a comeback in Champaign. He's bringing former Illini football coach Ron Turner with him, too. According to The News-Gazette in Champaign , Weber and Turner are part of a group that has bought local landmark Jarling's Custard Cup. Weber now coaches Kansas State and Turner is football coach at Florida International. The Jarling family had said last summer it was looking for a buyer for the seasonal dessert shop. Tom Siegel was a 1980s Illini basketball and baseball player. He is part of the new buyers' group and said the menu will essentially stay the same. After he was fired in 2012, Weber and his family made a last stop at the Custard Cup.