Kansas Governor Has Until April 8 to Act on School Aid Bill
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has until April 8 to act on a school funding plan approved by legislators in hopes of satisfying a recent state Supreme Court order. The Republican-dominated Legislature delivered the bill to the GOP governor's office Tuesday. The state constitution gives Brownback 10 days to review the measure. Lawmakers approved the bill last week to give the Supreme Court adequate time to review it. The high court ruled last month that the state isn't giving poor districts their fair share of more than $4 billion in annual state aid. The justices said lawmakers had until June 30 to fix the problems and threatened to shut down schools statewide. The plan redistributes $83 million in aid for the 2016-17 but prevents any school district from losing money.
Kansas Governor Seeks Changes to Revenue Estimating Process
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is seeking improvements to the revenue forecasting system after the state's monthly estimates became overly optimistic during the past year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Brownback's administration said Monday that it'll consult with experts in other states to identify potential changes. The state missed revenue targets for 11 out of the past 12 months, and long-range forecasts have been downgraded during the past two years. The governor's critics say that it isn't the estimating process, but the state's tax policy, that's at fault as revenues continue to drop. The state is scheduled to release the March revenue report Friday. If the trend holds, the amount of generated revenue will fall below estimates. In the past, Brownback has made budget cuts in response to below-estimated revenue.
Therapist: Convicted Killer Wrote of Wanting Suitcase Death
OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) _ A therapist says an eastern Kansas man convicted of four 2013 killings once wrote that he wanted to die in a suitcase, but that he couldn't remember penning that when she questioned him in jail. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Robin Burgess recounted her interviews with Kyle Flack while testifying Tuesday during the penalty phase of Flack's Franklin County trial. Flack last week was convicted of the slayings of Kaylie Bailey, her toddler daughter, Bailey's boyfriend and his roommate at a rural Ottawa farmhouse. The toddler's body was found in a suitcase in a creek. Jurors eventually will decide whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison for Flack.
Over 40 Structures Burned in Kansas/Oklahoma Wildfire
MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Officials say a wildfire that burned hundreds of square miles of rural land in Oklahoma and Kansas this week destroyed at least 41 structures in both states. Oklahoma Forestry Services spokeswoman Hannah Anderson says authorities in both states determined 16 residential structures and 25 minor structures were destroyed in the blaze. Officials have yet to determine the cause of the fire, which started last week in Woods County in northwest Oklahoma and spread into Kansas. The fire was mostly contained Wednesday, with crews monitoring for hot spots. Agricultural officials are estimating the damage. The Oklahoma Forestry Service says about 600 head of cattle died. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says no cattle death estimates are immediately available.
Officials Tabulate Losses from Kansas/Oklahoma Wildfire
MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — Agricultural officials are working at estimating losses from a wildfire that burned hundreds of square miles of sparsely populated land in Kansas and Oklahoma. Kansas Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne says damage to livestock, fencing, water systems and stockpiled hay will be in the millions. The fire was mostly contained Wednesday, with crews monitoring for hot spots. The Oklahoma Forestry Service says the state lost about 600 head of cattle and 1,000 round bales of hay. Lansdowne says efforts are underway to estimate cattle losses in the state. Kansas Livestock Association spokesman Todd Domer says some cattle are suffering from smoke inhalation. The association is collecting money for fence repairs. Lansdowne says thousands of miles of fencing have burned and that it will cost $11,000 per mile to replace.
Nebraska Group Aiding Wildfire Victims
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska cattle producers will be donating hay and fencing and other supplies to victims of the massive wildfire that has blackened land and destroyed buildings along the Oklahoma-Kansas border. Officials estimate that the Anderson Creek fire has ravaged nearly 600 square miles of land, destroying fences, residences, outbuildings and livestock. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Nebraska Cattlemen group is organizing the aid drive. Monetary donations to the Kansas Livestock Foundation and Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation are being encouraged as well.
Veteran Says Marijuana, Not Legal Trouble, Led to Kansas DCF Taking Custody of Kids
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Navy veteran seeking to get five of his children back from state custody in Kansas says his use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD — not the family's past scrapes with the law — prompted the state's action. Raymond Schwab has campaigned on the Statehouse steps to get his children back, and drawn national attention as medical marijuana proponents describe the case as an example of government overreach. State officials have declined to specify why the children were removed, but say Schwab isn't telling the truth about it being because of marijuana. Police and court documents show that in the five months before it occurred, Schwab's wife was arrested for domestic battery and hospitalized for mental health issues, and police were called to their home for a domestic disturbance.
Kansas Postal Clerk Accused of Nearly $14K Workplace Theft
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A southern Kansas postal clerk is accused in federal court of stealing nearly $14,000 while at work. A federal grand jury in Wichita, Kansas, indicted 25-year-old Micah Hutchinson of Arkansas City of one count of employee theft from the U.S. Postal Service. The indictment alleges that from October to December of last year, Hutchinson issued to herself money orders worth roughly $13,780 while working at the post office in Rock, Kansas. She allegedly then cashed the money orders, using the money for her own benefit. Online court records don't show whether Hutchinson has an attorney. The felony count is punishable by up to a decade in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
1 Dead After Domestic Dispute, House Fire in Lawrence
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — One man is dead after a domestic dispute and house fire in Lawrence. Police said they received a report of a domestic dispute early Wednesday. Sergeant Trent McKinley says during the dispute a man threatened occupants with a handgun. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that when officers arrived the other occupants had left the home, but authorities could see one man in the home. Police say a short time later the house was on fire. Fire officials say firefighters took a "defensive fire attack" from outside the home and did not enter because of the reported domestic dispute. After the fire was extinguished, fire officials said one man was dead inside the home. The cause of death wasn't released. McKinley says the victim's name hasn't been released.
Former Kickapoo Tribal Leaders Charged in Tribal Court
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Three former Kickapoo Tribe leaders have been charged in tribal court with misusing federal dollars. Former tribal council chairman Steve Cadue, tribal treasurer Bobbi Darnell and secretary Adolph Cadue Jr. also were charged Monday in the Kickapoo court in Horton with fraudulent handling of recordable instruments and tampering with records. None of them had listed numbers. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the complaints allege that the three used federal burial funds to subsidize payroll and other tribal expenses in violation of tribal law. Kickapoo Tribal Special Prosecutor Tom Lemon alleges that the former leaders modified tribal resolutions and produced fraudulent documents to cover up the misspent money. It is unclear from the court filings how much of the burial funds were misspent.
Activists Lobby Federal Reserve Official on Interest Rates
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George says she advocates for "a very slow process'' of getting interest rates back to something normal, while maintaining the recovery. George made the statement during a meeting Tuesday in Wichita with a coalition of labor and community leaders who champion working-class families. Sunflower Community Action and its allies were lobbying her to keep interest rates low to allow the economy time to fully recover for low-income people. Activists told her of their personal struggles feeding their families and paying bills on minimum wage jobs. George says the Federal Reserve plays an important role in the economy, but a narrow role relative to what it can directly affect. She cites other actors in the economy, such as the government and the private sector.
Heartland Park Topeka Owner Appeals Property Value
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The owner of a Topeka racetrack is appealing the county's $8.9 million appraisal. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Heartland Park Topeka owner Chris Payne filed the appeal Friday. In its first major assessment in decades, the nearly 480-acre facility was evaluated in September for the 2016 tax year. Payne's attorney, Wesley Carrillo, says the appraisal doesn't accurately reflect ``the true value of the park.'' He says the land is high maintenance and would attract a limited interest from future buyers. Carrillo says parts of the park are in disrepair, and that Payne would like to invest a significant amount during the coming years to improve the park. Payne's company, Shelby LLC, would be expected to pay about $341,870 in taxes, based on last year's levy.
Police: Kansas Father and Son Face Drug Charges in Idaho
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Southwest Idaho authorities say a father and son traveling to their home state of Kansas after a brief stay in Oregon have been taken into custody after police found more than 11 pounds of marijuana in their vehicle. The Elmore County Sheriff's Office says 65-year-old Richard Grant and 30-year-old Patrick Grant of Shawnee, Kansas, were arrested Monday and face charges of felony drug trafficking. Police say a deputy pulled over an eastbound vehicle driven by Richard Grant on Interstate 84 and detected an odor of Marijuana. The deputy deployed a drug dog that alerted to the presence of narcotics. A search found packaged marijuana worth an estimated $44,000 and nearly $5,000 in cash. The Grants have preliminary hearings scheduled for April 21. It's not clear if they have attorneys.
University of Kansas Holds Spring Powwow this Weekend
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ An annual spring powwow at the University of Kansas is expanding into a daylong educational festival. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the 2016 KU Powwow and Indigenous Dance and Culture Festival will be Saturday at the Lied Center. The festival will feature workshops, food, a matinee and an evening powwow. Admission is free. Each event will kick off with a grand entry featuring dancers in full regalia, followed by competitive dances in various categories for men, women and children. First Nations Student Association staff adviser Melissa Peterson says competitive dancers from different tribes will come from all across the country. First Nations Student Association president Landri James says she hopes the event will help share Indian culture with the community.
Manhattan Foundation Benefits from Couple's $6 Million Gift
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ A Manhattan Foundation is receiving a $6 million donation from a couple's estate. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the gift from the estate of Dorothy and Lincoln Diehl is the first installment in what could add up to more than $11 million for the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation. A news release says the Diehls established two funds with the foundation. One supports Kansas State University's Beach Museum of Art and another is a donor-advised fund to support community charitable causes focusing on the arts, youth and basic human needs. The estate gift will be added to the donor-advised fund. The Diehls moved to Manhattan in 1979 to work at Kansas State after spending several years teaching abroad in a variety of countries including Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia.
Zoos, Feds Ask Court to Dismiss Elephant Importation Lawsuit
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials and three U.S. zoos want a judge to drop a lawsuit against the recent importation of African elephants. The Wichita Eagle reports that in a motion to dismiss the case, the Wichita, Dallas and Omaha zoos said legal concerns about the permit process are irrelevant because the 17 elephants were flown from Swaziland to the U.S. earlier this month. Friends of Animals sued in February to stop the proposed importation, alleging that the government violated the law by approving the importation. The animal rights group hasn't dropped the suit, saying it needs to prevent future importations. The Connecticut-based nonprofit, as well as other conservationists and animal-rights supporters, opposes the importation of the elephants to zoos in Wichita, Dallas and Omaha because they're highly intelligent, migratory animals.
Parole Considered for Kansas Man Serving Life for Murder
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Prisoner Review Board will consider parole for a 58-year-old man serving a life sentence for killing a man in 1993. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Gregory L. Walls was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of 18-year-old Timothy Orr in 1993 in Topeka. He's a minimum-custody inmate at Lansing Correctional Facility. The review board will hear public comments April 22 about the possible parole of any of 28 eligible inmates, including Walls. The state Department of Corrections says Walls has twice been considered for parole.
Sheriff: Evidence Indicates Sex Assault on Swim Team Bus
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The Barton County sheriff says its initial investigation found evidence of a sexual assault during a bus ride last month involving members of the swim team at Great Bend High School. Sheriff Brian Bellendir said in a phone interview Wednesday that their investigation supports evidence of criminal sodomy, battery and criminal restraint during the February 3 bus ride in Barton County. The 15-year-old victim and 17-year-old suspect are both members of the Great Bend swim team who were on their way back from a meet. The Barton County attorney will decide if any charges will be filed. A similar February 6 incident involving the Great Bend swim team is under investigation in Ellsworth County, but Bellendir says he does not know if the same people were involved in that case.
KU Forward Brannen Greene Entering NBA Draft Early
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas forward Brannen Greene is skipping his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft. The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter said in a statement Wednesday he intends to hire an agent, which would preclude him from returning to school. Junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. announced the same plan Tuesday. Greene averaged just 5.4 points last season, though his size and 3-point ability could make him an intriguing prospect for NBA scouts. He shot 49.2 percent from beyond the arc last season. Greene and Jayhawks coach Bill Self were frequently at odds during his career, which may have had a role in his decision to leave. He was suspended earlier this season, missing the Maui Invitational. Self said in a statement that Greene's skillset "will translate very well at the next level."