Kansas Child Welfare Agency Described as Overly Secretive
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Legislators, former employees and family members say the state agency in Kansas charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect works instead to hide how it operates. The Kansas City Star reports that a former state Department for Children and Families supervisor says she was told to shred notes from meetings and not document anything after a child's death. Former DCF Deputy Director Dianne Keech said she was given the guidance by an agency attorney in 2014 and saw an attorney shredding notes after a 2015 meeting. The department said in a statement that it is committed to transparency. The department has faced increased scrutiny because of five high-profile deaths of young children in five years and a scathing state audit of the state's foster care system last year. A legislative task force on child welfare is meeting today (TUE) in Topeka.
Kansas Removing More Children from Homes with Drug Abuse
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has seen a 42 percent increase over the past five years in the number of children removed from homes in which a parent is using drugs. The state Department for Children and Families reported Tuesday that the number of cases in which a child was removed and substance abuse was a contributing factor grew to more than 1,850 during the fiscal year ending in June. Five years ago, it was about 1,300. The department reported the data amid questions from a legislative task force about why the number of children in foster care has grown steadily in recent years. Some lawmakers see a potential tie between the increase and tougher rules for state cash assistance. Department officials said the agency's internal data does not suggest much of a link.
K-State Walk and Rally Held to Respond to Racism
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of Kansas State University staff and students, along with Manhattan residents, gathered on campus to urge each other to unite make everyone feel welcome on campus. The university took the unusual move of cancelling all classes from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday so participants could walk together and attend a KSUnite rally. Kansas State President Richard Myers urged the crowd to define the school by its common humanity and to not be dominated by fear. The event comes after a noose and racist flyers were found on the campus during the summer. Two weeks ago, a 21-year-old defaced his own car with racist graffiti, which was investigated as a possible hate crime until the man, who was not a Kansas State student, admitted it was a Halloween prank.
$10 Million Grant for Johnson County Community College
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Johnson County Community College says it plans to use a $10 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation on a major campus renovation plan. The college based in Overland Park said Tuesday the gift is a matching grant intended to spur other people and organizations to contribute to a $102.6 million renovation plan. The donation will be applied toward the college's new Career and Technical Education Center. The Kansas City Star reports the plan includes renovation and expansion of the Arts and Technology Building and the Welding Laboratory Building, a new entrance for the Student Center, upgrades to athletic facilities and consolidation of five academic resource centers. Kent Sunderland said the gift was the largest in the foundation's history.
Kansas Lawmakers Disagree on Funding for Water Resources
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An interim legislative committee in Kansas is struggling to agree on where funding should come from to extend the life of the state's water resources. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the joint Special Committee on Natural Resources decided Monday not to recommend raising any fees to pay for projects that would prevent sedimentation in reservoirs or address blue-green algae. The committee instead said the Legislature should fully fund its obligation to put $6 million of state general fund money into the water plan, along with $2 million of lottery proceeds. Kansas' State Water Plan Fund receives money from the general fund, lottery proceeds and a wide assortment of fees charged to different classes of water users. Lawrence Republican Rep. Tom Sloan says he's disappointed by the committee's decision.
Lawyer: Topeka Parents Denied Footage of Son's Shooting by Police
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Lawyers for the family of a black Topeka man fatally shot by police say the city is trying to prevent his parents from viewing officers' body camera footage. An attorney for the family, Gillian Cassell-Stiga, says the city initially agreed to allow Dominque White's parents to see the body camera footage, but later reversed course. The attorney says the city later said that Kansas law allows the footage to be viewed only by White's four children, who range in age from 3 to 13. Cassell-Stiga called that position "entirely ridiculous." City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield says Kansas law allows parents to view footage when a minor is the subject. Also heirs or estate administrators can view footage involving someone who has died. She said talks with the family are ongoing. The 30-year-old White was shot September 28 by two still-unidentified officers.
3 Charged in Shootout with Kansas City Police and FBI
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The Wyandotte County District Attorney has filed charges against three men who were wounded in a shootout with FBI and Kansas City, Kansas, police officers last week. Aggravated assault charges were filed Monday against 32-year-old Jason Trevillion; 27-year-old Ernest Jones; and 25-year-old Arthur Mitchell. The Kansas City Star reports police said the gunfight started when several officers in the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force tried to stop a car in Kansas City, Kansas, on November 6. The three people in the car suffered non-life-threatening injuries. No officers were injured. Further information on what prompted the officers to stop the car and how many officers were involved have not been released. A police spokesman said Kansas City, Kansas, officers who were placed on leave are back on duty.
Kansas Man Pleads No Contest to Overland Park Man's Death
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Kansas, man has pleaded no contest in the 2015 fatal shooting of an Overland Park man. Twenty-year-old Marquise Stokes was scheduled to go on trial Monday but instead entered the plea to second-degree murder in the June 2015 death of 18-year-old Velik Henderson. Henderson was fatally shot inside his home. Nineteen-year-old Trevon Anderson also died at the home. The Kansas City Star reports court documents said Stokes helped Anderson during an attempted robbery at Henderson's home. Investigators say Henderson and Anderson shot each other. Stokes will be sentenced February 12.
Man Found Not Guilty in Northeast Wichita Shooting Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Prosecutors say a man has been acquitted in a deadly shooting at a Wichita apartment. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office says in a statement that Kirby Lewis was found not guilty last week in the December 29 death of 28-year-old Robert Young. KAKE-TV reports that officers found Young in a hallway at Woodgate Apartments. He'd been shot multiple times. Wichita police say a fight started while Young was drinking with Lewis and his roommate at their apartment. Young and Lewis' roommate left the apartment. They returned a short time later and hit the door of the apartment. Police says that is when Lewis grabbed his firearm, opened the front door and fired several shots at Young. Lewis initially told officers that Young tried to rob him.
Woman Found Dead in Wichita Home, Suspect in Custody
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a suspect is in custody after a 42-year-old Wichita woman was found dead in her home. Police Lt. Todd Ojile says the woman's body was found early Tuesday. The suspect was arrested in Olathe. Officers had been sent to the woman's home Monday night after officers in Andover found some of her property. They left after not being able to make contact with the woman. They returned to the home early Tuesday after Olathe police arrested the man, who was driving the woman's car and had some of her property. Wichita officers found the woman's body after forcing their way inside the house. Ojile said she died of blunt force trauma. No names have been released.
Man Accused of Stealing from KU Animal Lab Acquitted
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A jury has acquitted a man accused of stealing equipment from an animal laboratory at the University of Kansas. The Douglas County jury found 37-year-old Matthew Reynard not guilty of one count of burglary and two counts of theft. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Reynard was accused of taking thousands of dollars of equipment, such as a veterinary camera, from Malott Hall in June. He also was accused of person items from a man who worked at the Animal Care Unit. At the time, police said the lost items were valued at $13,000. Reynard was released from the Douglas County Jail Thursday. The animal care unit cares for all teaching and research animals on the Lawrence campus.
3 Friends Killed in Deer-Vehicle Collision in Eastern Kansas
IOLA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say three women have been killed after colliding with a deer on an eastern Kansas highway. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Sunday when the deer ran out of a ditch along the east side of U.S. 169 about four miles south of Iola in Allen County. The patrol says a northbound car and then a southbound mini-van hit the deer. The van went into the southbound ditch, and the car came to a stop on the shoulder. The car's driver wasn't hurt, but three people in the van were killed. The victims were identified as 33-year-old Sherry Bingham, of Chanute, 32-year-old Ciara Edwards, of Chanute, and 37-year-old Samantha McMillan, of Walnut. Family members say the three women were all friends.
Coin Flip Decides Close Suburban Kansas City Council Race
MISSION WOODS, Kan. (AP) _ A suburban Kansas City council race was so close that it took a coin flip to pick a winner. The Kansas City Star reports that William Young won the toss Monday for an at-large seat on the council for Mission Woods, which has fewer than 200 residents. Voters were supposed to pick five winners out of six candidates. Young and Michael Knierim tied for last, with 35 votes each. And even after Johnson County officials added in provisional ballots and crunched the final official results on Monday, the tie still existed. It's still possible that Knierim could request a recount because the race to represent the community in the northeast part of the county was so close. The deadline for doing so is late Tuesday.
Suspect Arrested After OnStar Disables Stolen Vehicle
PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - A Missouri man is facing charges in two states after he allegedly committed a string of vehicle thefts that ended when OnStar disabled one of the automobiles. The Crawford County Sheriff's Department says officers were called early Sunday to a vehicle theft in rural Crawford County. A truck that previously was stolen from Frontenac was found at that address but another truck was missing. The second truck was found when deputies were dispatched to another home, where a Chevy Malibu equipped with OnStar technology had gone missing. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports OnStar was contacted and located the Chevy in Ashbury, Missouri. The Jasper County Sheriff's Office found the vehicle, with the suspect inside, after OnStar disabled it. A 20-year-old from Butler, Missouri, was arrested and is jailed in Jasper County.
Kansas Jayhawks Take on Kentucky in College Basketball
One of the great rivalries in college basketball continues tonight (TUE) when the Kansas Jayhawks take on the Kentucky Wildcats. The teams tip-off at 8:30 tonight (TUE) in the Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago. The game will be televised on ESPN. The Jayhawks have won the last two meetings against Kentucky.