UPDATE: Last of 4 KS Prison Escapees Captured in Nebraska
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The last of four inmates who escaped from a north-central Kansas county jail this week is back in custody. The state Department of Corrections says 22-year-old Eric James was apprehended around 5:30 pm Friday in Omaha, Nebraska, and is now in the custody of Omaha police. Details on how he was captured were not immediately released. Authorities also recovered a stolen Nissan Altima that James was thought to have been driving. James was serving a state sentence for robbery and other crimes when he and three fellow inmates escaped Wednesday morning from the Ottawa County Jail in Minneapolis, Kansas, about 120 miles west of Topeka.
County Sheriff Doubts Escapees Had Much Time to Formulate Plot
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff says he doesn't think four state prison inmates who escaped from his county's jail had much time together for planning beforehand. Ottawa County Sheriff Keith Coleman told Associated Press Radio on Thursday the four men spent less than a week together in a section of the jail before Wednesday morning's escape. They were in the county jail because the state prison at Ellsworth was overcrowded. Coleman says the men used homemade knives to overpower two guards. They then got into the jail's control room and opened secured doors. Coleman says he and police quickly apprehended one escapee in Minneapolis, the Ottawa County town where the jail is located. Another turned himself in Wednesday at a Walmart in Nebraska. A third was captured late Thursday night in Russell, Kansas. The fourth and final fugitive was taken into custody around 5:30 Friday evening in Omaha, Nebraska.
Lansing Escapee Still on the Loose
LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A 59-year-old child sex offender who escaped from the Lansing Correctional Facility on Wednesday is still on the run. Corrections department spokesman Jeremy Barclay said Friday law enforcement officials are devoting considerable time and resources to the search for Gary Leslie Furthmyer. Furthmyer escaped from his minimum security assignment at a steam plant in Lansing on Wednesday. He escaped the same day that four state inmates broke out of the Ottawa County jail. Three of the four inmates had been recaptured by Friday. Barclay says while that search has garnered more media attention, law enforcement is equally focused on finding Furthmyer. Furthmyer is serving a six- to 25-year sentence for a 1985 conviction in Sedgwick County for indecent liberties with a child and aggravated failure to appear.
House Panel Rejects State Employee Pay Raise
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican-controlled House committee has rejected the idea of restoring a pay-raise program for some Kansas public employees. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the committee on Thursday voted down a motion to set aside $8.5 million to resume a plan to raise salaries of the state's lowest-paid government workers. The motion was defeated by a 9-11 vote. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican, said state employees should consider moving to the private sector if they think that state pay is too low. Others raised concerns that the state was losing qualified employees, especially nurses at state hospitals, who leave for the private sector.
Kansas Governor Urges Donations for Storm-Damaged Areas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is encouraging Kansas residents to donate to parts of the state hit by tornadoes last weekend. The governor toured the Oaklawn neighborhood of south Wichita on Thursday to survey cleanup operations. He says people could send donations or volunteer their time to help with the cleanup effort. The United Way is accepting donations of money, goods and services as well as offers to volunteer to help. Donations can be made over the phone, by dialing 211 from anywhere in Kansas. Brownback has declared a state of emergency for 39 counties hit Saturday by storms that generated dozens of tornadoes along with heavy rain, hail and high winds. The declaration expedites state assistance to the counties, based on the amount of damage they sustained.
State of Kansas to Waive Fees on Key Documents Lost to Storms
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Residents of Kansas counties hit hard by last weekend's violent storms are getting some guidance and help on replacing lost documents and filing their income taxes. Governor Sam Brownback said Friday the state is waiving the fees to replace birth and marriage certificates, driver's licenses, non-driver ID cards and the titles for vehicle or mobile home. Brownback has declared a disaster emergency for 39 counties where property was damaged or destroyed by last Saturday's tornadoes and storms. Residents needing to replace important documents will have to sign an affidavit of where they live. The administration also says the Division of Taxation will provide replacements of prior year tax returns. The division is waiving interest and penalties in the affected areas on late filing of individual income taxes and automatic extensions until October.
Fort Riley Captain Dies in Afghanistan
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Army officials say a Fort Riley officer has died while on deployment with the 1st Infantry Division in Afghanistan. A release from Fort Riley on Friday says 31-year-old Captain Michael Braden was pronounced dead at a medical facility on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Braden was found unresponsive in his living quarters Wednesday morning. The cause of death is under investigation. Braden, of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. He was on his second deployment with the division, having served when it was in Iraq in 2010. Braden graduated from Slippery Rock University and was commissioned in the Army in May 2003. He had been awarded the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.
Kansas Labor Report Carries Mixed Economic News for March
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new report says Kansas continued to gain jobs in March, even though the unemployment rate edged higher. In its monthly jobs report, the state Labor Department said Friday the Kansas economy sent mixed signals in March. The jobless rate rose to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent in February, but was down from 6.8 percent in March of last year. The report also says private-sector jobs rose by roughly 2 percent over the past year, to a total of nearly 1.1 million in March. Kansas Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee describes the growth as steady, but says there appears to be some hesitation among private employers to hire more workers. The biggest gains over the past year were in business and professional services.
KDHE Develops Medication Disposal Program
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials from two Kansas health agencies have collaborated on changes in the way residents can dispose of unused or expired medications, preventing the drugs from accidental ingestion or flushing down the toilet. Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Thursday that changes in agency policy interpretation will allow for establishing medication collection centers. The program is in conjunction with the state Board of Pharmacy, as well as KDHE's Bureau of Hazardous Waste. Moser said allowing pharmacies, law enforcement and household hazardous waste centers to collect and safely dispose of the medications will reduce the number of accidental poisonings of children. It also will prevent contamination of water supplies that can occur when the medications are flushed or poured into municipal sewer systems.
Survey: Higher Fuel Prices Slowing Rural Growth
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Higher fuel prices may be hindering the economy in rural areas of 10 Midwest and Plains states. A monthly survey index of rural bankers dropped to 57.1 in April from 59.8 in March. Organizers of the Rural Mainstreet Index survey say any score above 50 suggests the economy will grow. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says there are signs that higher energy and fuel prices are slowing growth in agriculture-dependent areas. And he says slower global growth has harmed some rural areas that are dependent on agricultural sales. The survey covers Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
City of Lawrence Spends $180,000 on Final Four Expenses
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Parties in downtown Lawrence after the University of Kansas played in the Final Four cost the city about $180,000 — but no one is complaining. City Manager David Corliss says overtime wages for police officers was the biggest expense from three major parties that celebrated the Jayhawks' run to the Final Four. Corliss says those expenses will be offset by tax revenues from sales at restaurants, bars and other businesses during the tournament. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the exact amount of revenues the city reaped from those sales won't be available for several weeks. The city's sales tax collections increased nearly $782,000 in 2008, when the Jayhawks won the national championship but it is impossible to know exactly how much of that was related to the Final Four.
Former Defense Secretary Gates to Receive Honorary KSU Degree
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A native Kansan who was secretary of defense under two U.S. presidents will be the first person to receive an honorary doctorate from Kansas State University. Robert M. Gates will receive the degree during graduation from the Kansas State Graduate School on May 11. He will also be the commencement speaker at the ceremony. The Kansas Board of Regents approved awarding of the honorary degree to Gates at its meeting Thursday. The board changed its policy in 2010 to allow state universities to confer honorary degrees. Gates, a native of Wichita, was secretary of defense for both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama before stepping down in 2011. Before serving in that capacity, Gates had a 27-year career in the national intelligence field and was president of Texas A&M University.
UPDATE: Wichita Physician Struck, Killed While Jogging
KECHI, Kan. (AP) — A jogger who was killed in an apparent hit-and-run accident during an evening run has been identified as a 65-year-old doctor in the Wichita area. The Sedgwick County sheriff's department says a man contacted authorities Friday morning, saying he might have been the motorist who struck Dr. William Howard Whiteside. Deputies are continuing the investigation. KAKE-TV reports that Whiteside was a well-known pediatrician in the Wichita area. His wife reported him missing when he failed to return to their Kechi home after going for a run around 10 pm Thursday. His body was found around 2:30 am in a ditch along a Sedgwick County road.
New NW Kansas Home for the Elderly Ready for New Residents
HAYS, Kan. (AP) — A new northwest Kansas home for the elderly will begin moving in new residents on May 1. The Via Christi Village in Hays is the consolidation of two nursing homes in Hays and Victoria. Residents who plan to live in the 96-bed facility and their families were given tours of the home this week. An open house for the public is planned for Sunday. St. John's of Hays and St. John's of Victoria were consolidated into the new building, which is connected to an existing assisted living complex. The Hays Daily News reports the village is separated into six different "neighborhoods," all named after Ellis County communities. Administrators say residents will enjoy such amenities as an ice cream shop, a beauty shop and gathering rooms for family visits.
Kansas Man Receives Life Sentences for Child Rape
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A registered sex offender will serve more than 51 years in prison before he qualifies for parole for the rape of a northeast Kansas girl. The Kansas City Star reports that 43-year-old Kevin Howard Shives, of Overland Park, was an acquaintance of the 13-year-old victim. Shives lured the girl to his apartment in April 2010 by telling her he had a web cam that she wanted to use. At the time, Shives was a registered offender for a 2005 sex offense in Illinois, also involving a 13-year-old victim. A Johnson County jury convicted Shives last year of child rape and aggravated criminal sodomy. Judge Peter Ruddick sentenced him Thursday to concurrent life sentences on the two charges.
Kansas Speedway Preparing for Repaving Project
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Speedway will have a different feel when the Sprint Cup series returns this fall. Immediately after Sunday's race, an M1A1 Abrams tank and armored combat earthmover from the Kansas Army National Guard will rumble over its asphalt surface, the ceremonial start to a massive renovation project that will include the construction of an infield road course. The biggest change will be to the surface itself. The old, worn-out pavement will be stripped away and the underlying material sculpted to transform the uniform 15-degree banking of the original layout to variable banking of 17 to 20 degrees. Pit road will also be reconstructed, along with both straightaways.
Hendrick Motorsports Seeks 200th Win with Weekend Race at Kansas Speedway
Hendrick Motorsports is back at Kansas Speedway, hoping a track that has yielded plenty of success over the years will allow it to finally reach a milestone. The team has been stuck at 199 wins since last October, when Jimmie Johnson drove to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway. The 13-race winless streak is the longest for the organization since the 2002-2003 seasons...roughly contemporaneous with the period when Johnson was breaking into the Cup series. Hendrick drivers have come close in the past couple of races. Johnson and Jeff Gordon were in contention at Martinsville before a late wreck, and Johnson dominated last Saturday night's race in Texas before Greg Biffle passed for the lead late in the race, and held on for victory.
NCAA Denies Eligibility Waiver Request for KU Football Player
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The NCAA has denied an eligibility waiver request for Justin McCay that would have allowed the former University of Oklahoma wide receiver to play at the University of Kansas this fall. McCay had requested a waiver of the NCAA rule that requires transfer to sit out one year of competition because of what the school termed "extenuating personal circumstances." NCAA staff denied the request Friday, but recommended that McCay appeal directly to the organization's subcommittee for legislative relief, which is comprised by representatives from conferences and universities and has the authority to deviate from NCAA waiver guidelines. KU must file its appeal by April 24. The subcommittee would rule by May 1. McCay played in three games for the Sooners because of injuries. He was granted a hardship release and transferred to KU to be closer to family in the Kansas City area.
Missouri Man Charged with Robbing Kansas Banks
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man has been charged with holding up four northeastern Kansas banks at gunpoint and trying to rob one of them a second time. The U.S. Attorney's office says 54-year-old Charles Shaw of Kansas City, Missouri was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Kansas. The indictment charges Shaw with robbing Kaw Valley State Bank in Topeka in October 2010 and the Main Street Credit Union in Leavenworth the following month. He's also accused of holding up Citizens National Bank in Leavenworth in February 2011 and the Educational Credit Union in Topeka in December 2011 — and attempting to rob the credit union again six weeks later. Court records did not list an attorney for Shaw on Thursday.
Kansas Man Sought in Toddler's Abuse Death
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Salina are looking for a man charged in the abuse death earlier this month of an 18-month-old girl. The Saline County prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant charging 25-year-old Troy Love the Second with first-degree murder and child abuse. Authorities say Love was an acquaintance of the mother of Bre'elle Jefferson, who died April 10th at a hospital in Wichita. The toddler had been transferred there from a Salina hospital the previous day, after emergency crews went to her home on a report of a baby not breathing. Police have not disclosed the nature of the toddler's injuries, but say they were consistent with abuse.
Boy Scouts to Camp at Eisenhower Boyhood Home
ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — More than 200 Boy Scouts from five Kansas counties will be hiking and camping this weekend on the grounds of Dwight D. Eisenhower's boyhood home in Abilene. Saturday's event includes a seven-mile "Ike Hike" from the Brown Memorial Scout Camp in rural Dickinson County to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Scouts will take county roads into town. The Boy Scouts will also tour the Eisenhower facilities and exhibits. Other activities will highlight the 34th president's interests in sports and the American West. Scouts will camp on the grounds overnight.
New Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Route Unveiled
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Officials have unveiled a new preferred route for the Nebraska portion of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline that avoids the state's groundwater-rich Sandhills region. Nebraska environmental officials released details Thursday about the proposal that would veer east around the Sandhills before looping back to the original route. Developer TransCanada says the reroute adds about 100 miles to the original 1,700-mile project that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. TransCanada submitted the proposal after Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman allowed state officials to proceed with an environmental review. The review had stalled in January after the Obama administration rejected a federal permit for the pipeline. Administration officials said they didn't have time to review the project before a congressional deadline and cited uncertainty about the Nebraska route. TransCanada says the pipeline will accept crude pumped from Montana and North Dakota's Bakken shale formation.
Jail Break Fugitive Arrested; One Remains at Large
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A double-murderer who escaped from a county jail in Kansas days ago has been captured. The Kansas Department of Corrections says in a Friday news release that Santos Carrera-Morales was arrested about 11:30 p.m. Thursday in Russell, Kansas. Further details about the arrest were not immediately available. Four inmates who were transferred from a state prison because it was overcrowded managed to escape from Ottawa County jail on Wednesday. One remains at large. Carrera-Morales was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for a double-slaying in 2007.
**This story has been updated. Please see above.
KS Man Dies after Apparent Hit-and-Run
KECHI, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man has died in an apparent hit-and-run while he was jogging. The Kechi man, whose name has not been released, was reported missing by his wife late Thursday. She said he didn't return after going for a run shortly after 10 pm. KAKE-TV reports his body was found about 2:30 am Friday. Kechi is about 10 miles north of Wichita.
**This story has been updated. Please see above.
UPDATE: Details Emerge on Recapture of Jail Break Fugitive
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A convicted murderer who escaped with three other inmates from a Kansas county jail has been captured and sent back to a state prison after nearly two days on the run, authorities said Friday. Santos Carrera-Morales, 22, was arrested in Russell, Kansas, about 80 miles from the Ottawa County jail, late Thursday, the Kansas Department of Corrections said in a statement. Two of the escaped inmates were caught Wednesday. Eric James, 22, remained at large. The four who escaped Ottawa County jail early Wednesday had been transferred there because of overcrowding at the state prison in Ellsworth. The jailbreak prompted state officials to return all state inmates held at the county jail in Minneapolis, a small town about 120 miles west of Topeka, back to Ellsworth. Two officers took Carrera-Morales into custody without incident after a 911 caller alerted police to a suspicious person at a convenience store in Russell, city Police Chief Jon Quinday told The Associated Press. Carrera-Morales told police that he hitched a ride into the city. "He was sitting on the side of the store," Quinday said. "He had been given a ride there by somebody who picked him up north of the city." Quinday did not say if police have identified the person who Carrera-Morales said drove him to Russell. Carrera-Morales was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of a teenager and a young man in Sedgwick County in March 2007. Police in Wichita, where Carrera-Morales has ties, have described him as a gang member. One of the inmates was recaptured shortly after the escape, and another, Drew Wade, 21, turned himself in Wednesday evening at a Walmart in North Platte, Nebraska, about 240 miles northwest of the Ottawa County jail. Authorities said Wade, serving time for robbery and aggravated battery, was traveling in one of the stolen vehicles, a minivan. The Kansas Highway Patrol and state Department of Corrections say the escaped inmates stole at least two vehicles in Minneapolis, Kansas. Highway Patrol spokesman Ben Gardner said authorities believe they can now place James in the other stolen vehicle, a gold 2002 Nissan Altima with a Kansas license plate of 649-CIC. James was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping and criminal damage in 2008. "We still don't know where that Nissan Altima is," Gardner said. Corrections department spokesman Jeremy Barclay applauded the Russell city police for their help in the arrest of Carrera-Morales, who he said was taken straight to Ellsworth Correctional Facility. On Thursday, Barclay told The Associated Press that the department was reviewing its policy on inmate transfers to Ottawa County — one of four county jails that accommodates prisoners from overcrowded state facilities. "This is an interim step while the investigation is taking place," Barclay said. The department said Thursday it still houses 86 male inmates in county jails under contracts paying the counties an average of $40 a day per inmate. The state also has contracts with jails in Butler, Cowley and Leavenworth counties, Barclay said. County lockups must pass an inspection that includes a review of training and facilities before it can accept state inmates. An Ottawa County website said its jail can house 60 offenders and has eight corrections officers on staff. Sheriff Keith Coleman told The Associated Press Radio the inmates used homemade knives to overpower two guards, get into the jail's control room and unlock doors. Sending inmates to Ottawa County allowed the state to keep the population at the Ellsworth prison, about 50 miles to the southwest, below its capacity of 818 inmates. As of Thursday, the state had 8,654 male inmates, exceeding its bed space by 212, or 2.5 percent. The prison system's budget has declined in recent years as the state has faced financial problems. But lawmakers are considering proposals this year to increase prison space. Barclay said the Department of Corrections has had informal, internal discussions about undergoing more training since the escape.
**This story has been updated. Please see above.
County Sheriff Doubts Escapees Had Much Time to Formulate Plot
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas sheriff says he doesn't think four state prison inmates who escaped from his county's jail had much time together for planning beforehand. Ottawa County Sheriff Keith Coleman told Associated Press Radio on Thursday the four men spent less than a week together in a section of the jail before Wednesday morning's escape. They were in the county jail because the state prison at Ellsworth was overcrowded. Coleman says the men used homemade knives to overpower two guards. They then got into the jail's control room and opened secured doors. Coleman says he and police quickly apprehended one escapee in Minneapolis, the Ottawa County town where the jail is located. Another turned himself in Wednesday at a Walmart in Nebraska, and a third was captured late Thursday night in Russell, Kansas.
**This story has been updated. Please see above.