Brownback Announces Effort to Spread High-Speed Internet
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have announced a two-year initiative to spread high-speed internet to school districts across the state at a cost of up to $100 million. Governor Sam Brownback says the state might have to allocate as much as $10 million toward the program, which supporters say could help mitigate a teacher shortage in some rural areas. He says the money would come from the Universal Service Fund. The governor says the California-based nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is providing technical expertise at no cost to the state. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the group's CEO says as many as 20 percent of the state's school districts may need upgrading. Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson says greater connectivity will help "level the playing field" between rural students and suburban and urban students.
Federal Judge Rejects Kansas Lawsuit over Unclaimed Bonds
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit filed by the Kansas state treasurer that argued the state had a right to claim ownership to savings bonds it deemed abandoned, in many cases, because the original bond holder had died without a will or legal heir. The Wichita Eagle reports that the ruling was handed down Monday. State treasurer Ron Estes says the state is considering appealing the ruling. The U.S. Treasury Department adopted rules in 2015 that require states to have bonds in their possession and sufficient evidence of their abandonment in order to claim them as property. Estes sued the department in March in an attempt to block the new rules and recover the funds. The state treasurers of South Dakota, Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky joined Estes as plaintiffs in the case.
Lawsuit: Kansas State's Inaction Led to Second Rape
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A female student says Kansas State University's failure to investigate the rape of another woman allowed the same alleged assailant to sexually assault her. The accusations were made in court documents filed Monday seeking to add Crystal Stroup to a lawsuit against the university by Sara Weckhorst. The Associated Press typically does not name alleged rape victims, but their attorney said both woman wanted to be identified. Stroup says she was raped in 2015, while Weckhorst said she was attacked in 2014. If the court agrees to add Stroup to the lawsuit, she will be the third woman to sue Kansas State University this year over rape allegations. The alleged assailant, Jared Ralph Gihring, was charged with rape in both cases, and was expelled from the university.
Commission Dismisses Ethics Complaint Against Kansas Supreme Court Justice
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Supreme Court justice says she's been cleared by the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications after being accused in an ethics complaint. The complaint against Justice Carol Beier was filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. It stems from a political fundraiser that Beier's husband hosted in 2014. The foundation alleged that the political fundraiser for Democratic candidate for governor Paul Davis in 2014 violated the state's judicial code of conduct because it could be viewed as an endorsement. Justice Beier didn't attend the fundraising event.
Shawnee Mission School Board Defends Position on Safety Pins
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County school district is defending its policy of prohibiting staff from wearing safety pins on their clothing as a sign of solidarity with the disenfranchised. The Kansas City Star reports that the Shawnee Mission School District's Board of Education announced at a meeting Monday that it is planning to continue the prohibition. Board president Sara Goodburn said the district determined that wearing safety pins could be considered a disruptive political statement. The pins are intended to show that the wearer is a safe person to which to turn. They've gained popularity following the presidential election. Among those speaking against the policy was Susan Patterson. She says those wanting to identify themselves as willing to act against discrimination should "never be prevented from doing so."
Regulators OK Kansas Gas Service Rate Increase
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Residential customers of Kansas Gas Service will pay an additional $1.25 a month under a settlement agreement approved by state utility regulators. The Kansas Corporation Commission on Tuesday signed off on the deal that increases Kansas Gas Service's revenue by $15.5 million. That includes the $7.4 million Gas System Reliability Surcharge, which is currently being recovered from customers as a separate line item. Kansas Gas Service had proposed a $4.54 monthly increase that would have generated $20 million more than the commission approved. The utility withdrew a request for an alternative ratemaking mechanism that would reset rates each year.
Former Army Officer Admits Illegally Having Grenades
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former U.S. Army explosives expert has admitted in federal court that he illegally possessed grenades that authorities say were among a cache of explosives found in his Kansas home. Forty-two-year-old John Panchalk of Overland Park pleaded guilty Monday in Kansas City, Kansas, to possessing two M-67 fragmentation grenades unregistered to him. Federal prosecutors say they'll recommend probation. Panchalk caught investigators' attention in May when police responding to a report of a stolen vehicle at a Parkville, Missouri, self-storage site found storage trailers vandalized. One of them, later linked to Panchalk, contained explosives that included ammunition canisters, blasting caps, C-4 explosives and military grenade simulators. A search of Panchalk's home uncovered 38 pounds of C-4 explosive, detonation cord, blasting caps, grenade simulators, incendiary devices and the two fragmentation grenades.
Woman Accused of Killing Mom, Taking Baby Fights Extradition
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Texas woman accused of faking a pregnancy before killing a mother and kidnapping her newborn daughter is fighting extradition to Kansas. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office said Tuesday it has begun the process of obtaining a governor's extradition warrant for Yesenia Sesmas. She has been held in a Dallas jail on an outstanding Kansas warrant and immigration detainer since a police raid on November 19 at her Dallas home. The 34-year-old Mexican national is a suspect in the killing earlier this month of Laura Abarca-Nogueda of Wichita and the abduction of Abarca-Nogueda's 6-day-old daughter, Sophia. The baby has been reunited with family. The complaint detailing the charges against Sesmas won't be revealed until she appears in court. Extradition could take up to 90 days.
Woman Who Gave Hesston Factory Shooter Guns Gets Probation
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman who gave her ex-boyfriend the guns he used in February's mass shooting at a factory in Hesston has been ordered to spend a year on supervised release. A federal judge in Wichita Monday also credited Sarah Hopkins for time she's already served in jail. Hopkins pleaded guilty to not alerting authorities that a convicted felon unlawfully possessed firearms. Prosecutors say Hopkins gave a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun to Cedric Ford, who used the weapons in a February 25 shooting at the Excel Industries plant in Hesston that killed three people and wounded 14. Ford was killed by police. Hopkins' attorney says she suffered from PTSD and battered woman's syndrome at the time.
Kansas Judge Rules Sperm Donor Not on Hook for Child Support
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has ruled that a Topeka man who donated sperm so two women could have a baby together isn't legally the child's father and doesn't have to provide financial support. The state Department for Children and Families had not decided as of Tuesday whether it would appeal last week's ruling by Shawnee County District Judge Mary Mattivi. The department sought to force William Marotta to pay child support for the girl born in December 2009. Marotta answered a Craigslist ad from the same-sex couple. Kansas law says a donor providing sperm to a doctor for insemination isn't legally a father, but the two women didn't use a physician. The women later separated. Mattivi ruled the woman who didn't give birth is the girl's second parent.
Police ID Man Shot, Killed by Officers Outside Kansas Store
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man fatally shot by officers outside a suburban Kansas City retail store has been identified as a 50-year-old Texan. Police say Walter R. Echols of Cypress, Texas, was shot Sunday night outside a Wal-Mart in Olathe, Kansas, after he hit one of the officers with a long wooden rod. Lenexa, Kansas, police spokesman Dan Friesen says the rod resembled a martial arts bo stick. Friesen says officers responded to a report of a man with a weapon and tried to use non-lethal force to subdue him, including an attempt to use a stun gun, but those measures were not effective. The officer hit with the stick was treated and released at a hospital.
Man Accused of Wounding Topeka Detective Appears in Court
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A 29-year-old man made his first court appearance Monday on charges linked to the shooting and wounding of a Topeka, Kansas, police detective. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Christopher Curtis Harris was secured to a wheelchair in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka. Harris was wounded during a gunfire exchange involving detective Brian Hill on November 5. He is charged with attempted capital murder, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated robbery and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He's jailed on $1 million bond. Detective Hill is expected to make a full recovery after being shot twice while trying to capture the suspect after a convenience store robbery.
2 Kansas Men Plead Guilty in Somali Hate Crime Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two southwest Kansas men have pleaded guilty for their roles in a hate crime against black Somali men in Dodge City. The Justice Department said 24-year-old Armando Sotello pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of a hate crime for the June 2015 attack on a Somali man who was sitting on a bench with two other Somali men outside an African grocery store. Thirty-two-year-old Omar Cantero Martinez pleaded guilty to one count of perjury for falsely testifying during last month's federal jury trial related to the hate crimes. Martinez admitted during his plea hearing that he used a broken glass bottle to stab one victim and slash another without justification. He also acknowledged using racial and anti-Somali slurs during the attack. Sentencing is set for February 22.
Kansas City Man Accused of Causing Deadly Wreck
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is jailed on $200,000 bond after being accused of causing a traffic crash that killed a woman in August. The Kansas City Star reports that Wyandotte County prosecutors charged 45-year-old David Wayne Colvin of Kansas City, Kansas, with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the August 16 incident. Investigators say a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper was trying to stop a driver for a traffic infraction when he sped away, ran a red light and hit a vehicle driven by 66-year-old Janet Eimer, also of Kansas City, Kansas. Eimer died. Court records show that Colvin was arrested after the wreck on an unrelated aggravated assault charge.
Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Deadly Johnson County Wreck
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man who admitted causing a Kansas traffic crash that killed a pregnant woman has been ordered to spend more than 12 years in prison. Twenty-one-year-old Raphael Sherman of Shawnee was sentenced Monday in Johnson County. He pleaded guilty in August to charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. Authorities allege that Sherman ran a red light in January after a police officer tried to pull him over for a traffic offense. That's when authorities say his car hit a vehicle occupied by 25-year-old Denise Lopez, who was 39 weeks pregnant. Sherman's car also struck a minivan, injuring several of its occupants. Lopez died at a hospital, where doctors managed to deliver her baby.
Garden City Police Arrest Man in Death of Woman Hit by Car
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested by Garden City police in connection to a crash that killed a pedestrian. The Hutchinson News reports police responded to the crash Saturday night and found the body of 80-year-old Maria De Ubiarco in the roadway. Authorities say a car struck De Ubiarco while she was crossing the street, and then fled. Sergeant Andrew Roush said Tuesday that a 62-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident involving a fatality, failing to provide information at the scene of an accident and interference with law enforcement.
Wildlife Cameras Capture Photos of Jokers Dressed as Lions
GARDNER, Kan. (AP) — Motion-activated cameras intended to capture images of mountain lions in a Kansas park have instead snapped pictures of pranksters dressed as animals, monsters and Santa Claus. Police said they found the images on the two cameras at the park in Gardner on Monday. Interspersed among images of skunks and coyotes were photos of people wearing costumes pretending to be lions wrestling, a gorilla, various monsters and an old person with a walker. And of course Santa made an appearance during the three nights of high jinks. Corporal Robert Huff said it was "pretty comical" and "creative." The pranksters have not come forward. The cameras were established this month to investigate reports of mountain lions. No mountain lions were detected. Gardner is 30 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
Former Kansas Lawmaker, Federal Judge Richard Rogers Dies at 94
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Richard Rogers, a decorated war veteran who served in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature before spending 40 years as a federal judge, has died. He was 94. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Rogers died Friday evening at a Topeka care center. Stewart Funeral Home in Wamego confirmed he died of natural causes. Rogers was born December 29, 1921, at Oberlin in northwest Kansas and moved with his family to Wamego when he was in the first grade. He graduated from Wamego High School in 1939 and from Kansas State University in 1943. Rogers was a World War II bombardier before leaving the military in 1945 and graduating from law school in 1947. He served 12 years in the Legislature before being appointed as a federal judge in 1975.
Wichita Science Museum Plans New Aviation Exhibit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita science museum is creating a new aviation exhibit focused on workforce development and inspiring young people to choose a career in science, technology, engineering or math. The Wichita Eagle reports that Exploration Place is scheduled to unveil the "Design, Build, Fly" exhibit in December 2017. Exploration Place began discussing the idea of overhauling the flight pavilion more than five years ago. The museum received a $1.25 million grant from NASA earlier this year that will go toward the exhibit. Representatives from aviation companies, schools and nonprofit groups have been meeting at the museum to brainstorm ideas for the exhibit. The exhibit will feature a fuselage theater in which visitors will be able to watch short videos about aviation research or production processes.
Police Release Names of 2 Killed in Kansas City, Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified two men who were fatally shot over the weekend in Kansas City, Kansas. Police said Tuesday in a news release that 46-year-old Santiago Alan Munoz, of Kansas City, Kansas, was found dead late Sunday on a bridge. Police also identified a victim who was shot earlier in the day as 29-year-old Louis Scherzer, of Kansas City, Kansas. He was found lying on a sidewalk and taken to a hospital, where he later died. Authorities are urging anyone with information to call a tips hotline.
Hutchinson Man, WW II Vet, Donates 296th Pint of Blood
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson man is set to donate his 296th pint of blood. The Hutchinson News reports that 87-year-old Harold Walters made his first donation in 1955, when he was 26. He donated his 296th pint at the Hutchinson Community Blood Drive Monday. Walters says his job was across from the donation center, so he started donating. He says that with the exception of when he traveled for work, he made it a habit to donate blood every two months. Walters says he has no plans of stopping any time soon. The World War II and Korean War veteran is promoting a blood drive sponsored by the American Legion on Wednesday.