Kansas Tax Collections Nearly $13 Million Less than Expected in October
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas says its tax collections fell nearly $13 million short of expectations in October for the state's sixth consecutive monthly shortfall. The state Department of Revenue's report Tuesday came a week before the election with allies of Republican Governor Sam Brownback facing a backlash in legislative races over the state's budget problems. The state collected $447 million in taxes last month when its official projection was nearly $460 million. The shortfall was 2.8 percent. ince the current budget year began in July, total tax collections of $1.8 billion have fallen more than $80 million short of expectations for a shortfall of 4.2 percent. Brownback said a rural recession is responsible for the monthly revenue shortfalls. His critics blame personal income tax cuts he pushed to help stimulate the economy.
Yoder Campaign Cash from Payday Loan Industry Under Scrutiny
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Contributions from payday lenders are generating attention in a Kansas congressional race amid campaign records showing that incumbent Representative Kevin Yoder is a major beneficiary. The Kansas City Star reports that the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics found that Yoder has taken nearly $250,000 in donations from people and groups associated with the industry during his career. That's more than any other member of the House or Senate. The payday loan contributions include $48,200 for his race this year against Democrat challenger Jay Sidie, who has no record of accepting such donations. Democrats say Yoder has worked to weaken industry oversight. Yoder said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that across the board, he favors less federal regulation of financial services businesses in favor of state oversight.
Black Candidate's Campaign Sign Defaced with 'KKK'
PARKER, Kan. (AP) — A black candidate for sheriff in Linn County, Kansas, says one of his campaign signs was defaced with white lettering that said "KKK." LeRoy McConico, a Democrat, says he was surprised by the reference to the Ku Klux Klan on the sign. He has no idea who did it. The Kansas City Star reports that less than 1 percent of the county's more than 9,000 residents are black. The county is in eastern Kansas on the Missouri border. The sheriff's office took a report about the incident. The FBI also confirmed Wednesday that it was aware of the vandalism but had no other comment. McConico, the chief of police in Parker, Kansas, has worked in law enforcement for about 35 years. He's lived in Linn County for 12 years.
Oklahoma Oil Regulators Mull New Restrictions After Quake
PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — State regulators in Oklahoma say they're considering new restrictions on some oil and gas activity after a 4.5 magnitude earthquake struck the northern part of the state overnight. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission says its earthquake team is preparing a response following Tuesday night's quake that hit Pawnee, the same area that was struck by a record-setting 5.8 magnitude earthquake two months ago. Scientists have linked Oklahoma's sharp increase in earthquakes to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production. Already, the corporation commission has shut down some disposal wells and ordered a reduction in the amount of wastewater disposed of in others. The U.S. Geological Survey says Tuesday night's quake was also felt in parts of Kansas and northern Missouri.
Nominating Panel Member Fundraises to Help Kansas Justices
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney serving on a commission that screens applicants for the Kansas Supreme Court is helping raise funds for a campaign to retain justices in next week's election. Topeka attorney Natalie Haag said Wednesday that she believes passionately that Kansas has a selection system that gives the court strong justices. Haag said she's sent hundreds of fundraising emails to fellow attorneys and acquaintances for Kansans For Fair Courts. It is backing the justices. Five of the seven justices are on the ballot. Four were appointed by predecessors of conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and are targeted for ouster. One of Haag's emails this spring told recipients that supporters of the justices needed to raise $500,000 by June 30. Fellow attorneys named Haag to the Supreme Court Nominating Commission in 2011.
PAC's Funds Tie Brownback to Effort to Oust Kansas Justices
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Republican Governor Sam Brownback is tied to an effort to oust a majority of the Kansas Supreme Court's justices through his PAC despite publicly distancing himself from the campaign. A campaign finance report for the Road Map PAC showed that it donated a total of $65,000 to Kansans for Life in September and October. The Wichita Eagle reported that Executive Director Mary Kay Culp confirmed Tuesday that anti-abortion group will use the money for its campaign to remove the justices in next week's election. Abortion opponents want to oust four of the seven justices ahead of a ruling in a pending abortion case. The four were appointed by moderate GOP Governor Bill Graves and Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Brownback said last month that he would not weigh in.
Person of Interest Sought in Kansas Triple Shooting
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Harvey County officials have identified a person of interest in the shooting deaths of three people in central Kansas. Sheriff T. Walton says Wednesday on the department's Facebook page that investigators want to talk to 35-year-old Jereme Lee Nelson, whose last address was in Augusta. Officers are investigating the deaths of 33-year-old Travis Street, 37-year-old Angela Graevs and 52-year-old Richard Prouty, whose bodies were found Sunday south of Moundridge. The couple's 18-month-old child was not harmed. Walton didn't say why authorities want to talk to Nelson, who isn't charged with any crime. Nelson is white, 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He could be driving either a cream-colored Lincoln MKZ with Kansas plate number 670HHJ or a cream-colored 2005 Cadillac Escalade with Texas plate number SKZ229.
State Investigating E. Coli Outbreak After Ciderfest
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli among people who attended the Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Wednesday that seven cases have been confirmed so far but the investigation is continuing. The festival was held September 24-25 and October 1-2 in Louisburg. The Kansas Department of Agriculture, the state health department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted an on-site assessment October 27. Anyone who became ill within one to 10 days after attending the Ciderfest is asked to call the state health department's Epidemiology Hotline at 877-427-7317.
Shawnee County Jail Officials to Expand Mental Health Aid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County Department of Corrections says it's expanding its mental health intervention program. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that officials are preparing to ask the Shawnee County Commission for authority to adopt a program next year to better identify inmates with mental health issues, intensify adherence to prescribed medication schedules and engage those juveniles and adults in group or individual counseling and therapy. The expanded program could feature a 50-bed unit at the county jail for people suffering from psychosis. The cost of adding two floors to the jail's general medical unit could be $7 million. Corrections department director Brian Cole says a lack of funding for community services and insufficient space at state hospitals leaves the jail to deal with inmates who are more likely to struggle with mental health issues than in the past.
Kansas Man Sues Ottawa Police over Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Brother
OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man alleges in a lawsuit that police in Ottawa fatally shot his unarmed brother even though relatives warned that the brother was suicidal and trying to bait officers. The Kansas City Star reports that Chris McHenry, of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the lawsuit last week in federal court. He alleges that Ottawa police were "reckless and careless" in the 2014 shooting of his brother, 18-year-old Joseph Jennings, in an Ottawa parking lot. The shooting was deemed to be justified. The Franklin County attorney determined that Jennings was shot after pointing a dark item, which turned out to be sunglasses, toward officers. The lawsuit says two family members at the scene told officers that Jennings was trying to goad the officers into shooting him. Jennings had attempted suicide the night before.
Teen Boy on Bicycle Hit by School Bus in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a school bus has struck and seriously injured a Wichita high school student on a bicycle. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 17-year-old boy was hit Tuesday morning and taken to a hospital. Wichita public schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman says preliminary reports were that the student ran a red light before the collision. The bus was headed to an elementary school with three students aboard. No other injuries were reported.
First Phase of Dredging at Kansas Reservoir Completed
NEW STRAWN, Kan. (AP) — The first phase of the dredging of an eastern Kansas reservoir has been completed. The Emporia Gazette reports that the dredging of sediment from the bottom of the John Redmond Reservoir on the Neosho River began in mid-May. The project was started after a study determined water supply needs in the region couldn't be sustained during a drought. Officials considered building new reservoirs or importing water, but ultimately decided that dredging to restore water supply storage space at the site would be the most cost-effective solution. A total of 3,000,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed from John Redmond. The sediment has been placed in confined disposal facilities on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land and private property.
Group: Similarity Between Amelia Earhart, 1940 Skeleton
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A group investigating the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart says it's uncovered another similarity between the pioneering pilot and a body found 76 years ago on a remote Pacific island. But The International Group for Historic Aircraft Discovery says its finding doesn't prove the body is Earhart's. The group says a forensic analysis of a photo of Earhart shows a match between the size of her bones and those of the skeleton found in 1940 on Gardner Island in Kiribati. A 1998 analysis found a general similarity between the bones and a female of Earhart's type. Some critics insist the Pennsylvania-based group hasn't found anything tied to Earhart. Earhart's plane vanished over the Pacific while she was attempting to fly around the world in 1937.
Schlitterbahn Water Park Founder Dies at 89
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (AP) — The man who founded the Schlitterbahn water park in Central Texas has died. Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts said in a statement Tuesday that Bob Henry died at his New Braunfels home a day earlier after a prolonged illness. He was 89. Gary Henry, president of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, says his father leaves a legacy "to generations of guests who have made memories in the parks he made possible." Henry and his family started Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels in 1979. The Henry family named the water park by combining the German words for slippery — Schlitter — and for road — Bahn. The company also has water parks in three other Texas cities — South Padre Island, Galveston and Corpus Christi — as well as in Kansas City, Kansas.
Group Wants More People to Get "I Like Ike" License Plates
ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - The Eisenhower Foundation is hoping that people still like Ike enough for Kansas to continue production of "I Like Ike" specialty license plates. The Salina Journal reports that 300 of the license plates with the slogan from the 1952 U.S. presidential campaign for former President Dwight D. Eisenhower need to be purchased by May 2017 for production to continue. The license plates are available in all counties in Kansas. Foundation executive director Meredith Sleichter says every plate that is sold and renewed sends $50 to benefit the foundation. Sleichter says the Kansas Legislature approved the tags and part of the statute requires that 500 plates be purchased in two years for production to continue.
Kansas Jayhawks Beat Washburn Ichabods 92-74 in Men's Exhibition Basketball
The Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Washburn Ichabods at Allen Fieldhouse last (TUE) night in the first exhibition basketball game of the new season.