Kansas Revenues Miss August Forecast
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says the state's tax collections missed expectations by $14.9 million in August. Jordan attributed the numbers released Friday to flat individual income tax collections and the beginning of payments on bonds issued by the state. Total tax collections for August came to $438.7 million. The state had expected to collect $453.6 million. Jordan said that while individual income tax collections were flat, sales taxes beat expectations by $6.4 million. Kansas has enacted a package of income tax cuts that will take effect next January, including reductions in individual rates and the end of income taxes for certain types of businesses.
Kansas Supreme Court Hears Power Plant Case
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court justices have heard arguments over a permit issued by state regulators to allow the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in southwestern Kansas. The court hearing on Friday will determine if a permit issued in 2010 to Sunflower Electric Power Corporation is proper, allowing construction to begin on the plant near Holcomb. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups contend the permitting process was flawed. They argue the Kansas Department of Health and Environment took shortcuts for political reasons, and that members of the environmental groups have or will be harmed by the plant's emissions. Attorneys for Hays-based Sunflower and the state contend the permit process relied on the best available scientific data, assuming the plant would use modern technology to reduce emissions.
Kansas Supreme Court Sides with BP in Cleanup Costs Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has reinstated a jury verdict finding residents of Neodesha are not entitled to recover the cleanup costs caused by an oil refinery owned by BP Corporation. The state's high court on Friday overturned a judge's ruling that threw out the verdict after one of the longest jury trials ever held in Kansas. The judge who presided over the 17-week trial had overturned the verdict in 2008 after concluding he had given the jury improper instructions. He ruled the city was entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law. But the Supreme Court said the issue before jurors was whether BP had done enough to clean up the pollution and ruled the disputed facts were a matter for jurors to decide.
Kansas Officials Certify August Primary, Settle Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic primary for a seat in the Kansas House has been decided by the flip of a coin. The August 7 election for the 65th District seat in northeastern Kansas ended in a tie between Melody Saxton and Tom Brungardt, both of Junction City and both with 206 votes. Saxton won a coin flip Friday by the State Board of Canvassers as the results of the primaries were certified. She'll face Republican Allan Rothlisberg in November. Kansas law requires the state board to settle ties by the casting of lots, in this case a coin toss. Secretary of State Kris Kobach says turnout for the primaries topped his forecast of 18 percent, as 23.2 percent of registered voters participated.
Kansas Farm Tour Highlights Agricultural Concerns
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Farm Bureau holds its annual governor's tour next week, giving farmers and agribusiness leaders a chance to talk with state officials about issues ranging from drought to regulations. The tour takes place Tuesday. Governor Sam Brownback and state Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman are both expected to participate. Stops will include the Don and Linda Sale farm in Cherryvale and at Genetic Horizons in Galesburg.
2 Kansas Schools Systems in Race to the Top Competition
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two school systems in Kansas are among nearly 900 nationwide planning to apply for a slice of nearly $400 million in grants from the U.S. Education Department. The federal agency announced Friday that the Topeka School District and the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center are among those slated to participate in the Race to the Top-District competition. The Southwest Plains Regional Service Center is in Sublette and provides area schools with a variety of resources. The grants are intended to support initiatives that help close achievement gaps and prepare students for college and a career. The Obama administration has already awarded more than $4 billion to 18 states and the District of Columbia through its Race to the Top competition. Kansas hasn't benefited so far.
Kansas Officials to Amtrak: No Funding for Southwest Chief
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico transportation officials say the states don't have funding to save Amtrak's Southwest Chief route through the three states. The funding problems could cause western Kansas to lose easy access to Amtrak passenger service. Amtrak wants the three states spend a total of $100 million in the next decade to improve tracks between Hutchinson and Garden City that are in such poor condition the train has to slow down on its daily route. The Hutchinson News reports Amtrak also wants the states to split $10 million a year in operating subsidies with Amtrak and BNSF Railroad, which owns the tracks. Dennis Slimmer, of the Kansas transportation department, says the states are looking for solutions, but don't have the millions needed to maintain the route.
Emporia Has First Wind Turbine
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Emporia has its first wind turbine. KVOE-AM reports faculty and students of Flint Hills Technical College were on hand this week as the 2.5-kilowatt turbine was raised after two years of planning. The final step will be connecting the turbine to a computer that will register energy savings. Flint Hills Technical College will use the turbine to help power its Jones Education Center, which also gets power from photovoltaic cells. The turbine will also be a teaching tool. The college's Power Plant Technology and Sustainability Studies programs both plan to use it in their curricula.
Topeka Man Sentenced to Life for Fatal Wreck
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man was sentenced to life in prison for fleeing from police and causing an accident that killed one man and injured several others. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Shawnee County Judge David Debenham will recommend that 34-year-old Kody Shane Godfrey serve his sentence at Larned State Hospital. Godfrey, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was sentenced for felony first-degree murder and other charges. Topeka police say Godfrey hit three cars at a Topeka intersection last November, killing 22-year-old Jordan Dodgen of Shawnee. Godfrey sped off when an officer tried to make a routine traffic stop. The pursuit lasted only about 30 seconds before Godfrey's pickup hit three cars stopped at the intersection.
Minimum-Security Unit to Open at Ellsworth Prison
ELLSWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A new minimum-security unit is set to open at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts will be among those attending the grand opening Friday at the Ellsworth prison's east unit. It will house 95 minimum security inmates. The unit will be in the former St. Francis Academy Ellsworth. The state bought the building this summer for about $350,000. Prison spokesman Todd Britton says the state put another $100,000 in renovations into the building. Sixty-eight inmates will be moved into the unit on Tuesday.
Tree-Killing Beetle Detected in Eastern Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A beetle that has killed millions of ash trees in the eastern U.S. and parts of the South has now been detected in Kansas. The Kansas Department of Agriculture said Thursday a live emerald ash borer was found in a tree in Wyandotte County. Trees there were being inspected after the presence of emerald ash borer was found last month in nearby Platte County, Missouri. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notified Kansas of the confirmation Wednesday. Kansas has imposed an emergency 90-day quarantine in Wyandotte County in hopes of keeping the insect from spreading throughout the state. All ash trees and materials in the county must be treated or disposed of, and the transport of firewood out of the county is prohibited. Ash trees become infested when adult beetles lay eggs on the bark, leading to larvae that bore into the tree. For more information, visit the Kansas Department of Agriculture website. You can learn more about how quickly pests move through the transport of firewood at www.dontmovefirewood.org.
Topeka Man Sentenced for Deer Poaching
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man will serve 15 consecutive weekends in jail for killing a whitetail buck that would have set a state record if it had been hunted legally. David Kent was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail, to be served on weekends, and $1,500 in fines. He also was ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution to the landowner in Osage County where he shot the deer in November 2011. He also lost his hunting privileges for five years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kent claimed he shot the 14-point buck in Nemaha County while legally hunting during the firearm deer season. He was arrested after wildlife agents compared the deer's antlers to a photo that showed the buck was alive in the fall in Osage County.
Muzzleloader Deer Hunt Chances to Be Offered at Kanopolis
KANOPOLIS, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says a few lucky people could win a chance to hunt deer with muzzleloaders on land near Kanopolis Lake. The corps says names will be drawn to hunt at the assigned area. One hunter and a guest will hunt September 17-23, while a second hunter and guest will hunt September 24-30. The Salina Journal reports hunters must have a hunter education certificate and valid hunting license. They also will need to carry a special hunt permit issued by the corps. Normally, only shotgun and archery hunting is allowed below the dam at Kanopolis Lake.
General Motors Plans Expansion at Fairfax Plant
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — General Motors is planning a major expansion at its Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Unified Government officials said the company plans to seek $120 million in industrial revenue bonds to fund a new paint shop at the plant, where the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu are assembled. Mayor Joe Reardon says the project would be the largest expansion at the plant since it was built. He says the plans could ensure Fairfax's future for years. That's good news for the more than 3,700 employees at the plant. The Kansas City Star reports a GM spokeswoman confirmed the company is seeking $120 million in bonds for the addition and upgrading at the plant. The Unified Government will consider the request at a meeting next Thursday.
Man Tries to Steal Purse, Gets Fractured Skull
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say a 51-year-old man ended up with a fractured skull after trying to steal a 92-year-old woman's purse at a grocery store. The Wichita Eagle reports the man approached the victim Thursday afternoon and grabbed her purse. The woman resisted and began screaming. Police spokesman Lieutenant Doug Nolte says the woman hung onto the purse even after being knocked down. A bystander got the robber in a bear hug, but the assailant bit the man's hand and pulled away. The suspect dropped the purse and struck his head on a pole as he tried to flee. He was treated for a fractured skull at a hospital, and will be booked into the Sedgwick County jail when he's released.
California Woman Sentenced for Credit Fraud Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A California woman has been sentenced in Missouri to 14 months in federal prison for a credit history fraud scheme that enabled three men to illegally buy houses in suburban Kansas City. The U.S. Attorney's office says 50-year-old Karen Washam-Hawkins must also pay nearly $2 million in restitution under the sentence she received Friday. Washam-Hawkins, of Carson, California, pleaded guilty last October to two fraud charges. She admitted selling fake Social Security numbers to help buyers create false credit histories so they could deceive lenders. She sold the false numbers to Shade Jerome Howard of Anaheim, California. He bought two homes in Lee's Summit and helped two Kansas City-area men buy four others in a mortgage fraud scheme totaling more than $2.7 million. All three pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
Jenkins Comment Criticized
COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic challenger is taking exception to comments made by 2nd District Representative Lynn Jenkins at a forum in southeastern Kansas. Jenkins said in Columbus Wednesday that some people are happy to collect unemployment benefits rather than work. The Joplin Globe reports that Jenkins made the statement during a gathering with a handful of candidates and residents in Cherokee County. She is being challenged in November by Topeka minister Tobias Schlingensiepen. He said the comment showed that Jenkins has spent too much time in Washington and is out of touch with her district. The 2nd District stretches from far southeastern Kansas north to the Nebraska border. Jenkins is seeking her third term.
KC Diocese Worker Recanting 'Boys Will Be Boys' Testimony
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An employee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is backing away from her sworn testimony that the bishop said "boys will be boys" when told of lewd images on a priest's laptop. The diocese's computer director, Julie Creech, said during a deposition earlier this month in a civil lawsuit that Bishop Robert Finn made the statement. The Kansas City Star reports Friday that Creech's attorney now says his client had "misspoken." Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to be charged with shielding an abusive priest. Part of the transcript of Creech's deposition was included Thursday in a court filing in a Jackson County civil case. That lawsuit alleges the Reverend Shawn Ratigan abused a girl after the diocese learned of the photos.
Kansas Man Gets Probation for Copper Thefts
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who admitted stealing copper from dozens of air conditioning units won't be going to jail. KAKE-TV reports 41-year-old Byron Stuckey was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison, but the judge suspended the sentence to 12 months of probation. Stuckey was arrested by Wichita police in July, allegedly while trying to steal an air conditioner from a vacant home. He pleaded guilty in Sedgwick County District Court to one count each of felony theft and trying to elude officers. Police have said they believe Stuckey vandalized or stole 68 air conditioners from homes and churches in the Wichita area since January. The cost of replacing the damaged units was estimated at more than $100,000, while the stolen scrap metal was valued at roughly $6,800.