Kansas Governor Tells Holder Gun Law Has Strong Support
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has told U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a new Kansas gun law aimed at reining in the federal government has broad support in the state. Brownback sent a letter Thursday to Holder defending the law, which took effect last week. He said Kansans hold dear their right to bear arms. It declares that the federal government has no authority to regulate guns, ammunition and accessories manufactured, sold and kept only in Kansas. The law also makes it a felony for a federal agent to enforce any law, regulation, order or treaty covering those items. In a letter to Brownback last week, Holder said the law is unconstitutional and that the federal government is willing to go to court over the issue.
Kansas Secretary of State Close to Getting Expanded Powers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is close to winning legislative approval for new power for his office to investigate and prosecute election fraud cases. Kobach said Friday that he's optimistic lawmakers will approve the bill when they reconvene next week to wrap up their business for the year. The House and Senate have approved different versions of Kobach's bill, setting up negotiations over the final version. Lead House negotiator Lance Kinzer said Kobach's proposal is on track to pass. Under current law, Kobach's office can collect reports of election irregularities but must turn them over to county, state or federal prosecutors to pursue. Kobach argues those officials are often too busy with other cases. Democrats reportedly still have misgivings about the Republican secretary of state's proposal.
Kobach Considering Appeal of Redistricting Ruling
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he's considering an appeal of a federal court order requiring Kansas to cover $389,000 worth of attorneys' fees and expenses for parties in a lawsuit over political redistricting. Kobach said Thursday that it's "ridiculous" that taxpayers would have to foot such a bill. The lawsuit stemmed from the Legislature's impasse last year over redrawing the state's political boundaries to ensure equal representation. Three federal judges hearing the lawsuit drew new lines themselves. Kobach was sued as the state's chief elections officer. The judges handling the case allowed 27 people to participate in the case against Kobach over his objections. The judges ruled Tuesday that 15 individuals are entitled to have at least some of their attorneys' fees and expenses covered by the state.
Kansas Officers Who Died in Line of Duty Honored
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has honored two Topeka police officers who died in the line of duty last year with a Statehouse ceremony. Governor Sam Brownback, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and dozens of uniformed officers from across the state participated in Friday's annual Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial service. It came after the state added the names of Corporal David Gogian and officer Jeff Atherly of Topeka to the memorial. They were shot to death in December while checking possible drug activity outside a supermarket. Their killer later was fatally shot by law enforcement officers. Members of the two officers' families were present for the ceremony. The attorney general's office says the state's memorial now lists 269 law enforcement officials in Kansas who've died in the line of duty.
Kansas Teens Charged in ATV Fatality
PAOLA, Kan. (AP) — Miami County authorities have charged two teenagers in connection with an ATV crash that killed a 17-year-old student. Miami County Attorney Elizabeth Sweeney-Reeder said Friday that 18-year-old William Mahaffy Sutherland of Overland Park has been charged with aggravated endangering a child and unlawfully hosting minors consuming alcohol. Sweeney-Reeder says another person who was 17 at the time of the crash is charged in juvenile court with involuntary manslaughter-DUI. They're charged in connection with the November 2012 death of Tyler Rathbun. Rathbun was a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School when he died in an ATV crash in a field outside Paola. The ATV driver was flown to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and two other passengers were uninjured. Sutherland's lawyer didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.
4 Arrests Made in Death of 19-Year-Old Wichita Man
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County investigators say four people have been arrested in the death of a Wichita man whose body was discovered in a field earlier this week. The body of 19-year-old Jordan Turner of Wichita was found Wednesday. Investigators said Friday that Turner was shot at least twice either on or near March 31 in the field where his body was discovered. The arrests came after tips to Crime Stoppers. Turner's father reported him missing on April 6, after his son left their home March 30. Authorities say all of the suspects are from Wichita. One has gang ties but police say Turner was not a gang member. Turner was a star football player at Wichita South High, where he graduated in 2011.
Wichita Man Sentenced for Role in Beating Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for a fatal beating in a dispute over a dog. Nelson Glover was sentenced Friday in Sedgwick County District Court, where he pleaded guilty earlier to involuntary manslaughter, robbery and aggravated burglary. Another defendant in the case, Samuel J. Sims, also pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years in prison. The Wichita Eagle reports that the two men were charged in the July 2011 beating death of 47-year-old John Tolliver. Police said Glover and Sims got involved in a dispute between Tolliver and his former girlfriend over possession of a dog. Tolliver was found dead in his Wichita home, where burglars had taken the dog.
Eisenhower Memorial Focus of Dole Institute Talk
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The man leading efforts to build a memorial honoring Dwight D. Eisenhower says conflicts about the design shouldn't derail the effort. Speaking Thursday at the Dole Institute in Lawrence, Retired Brigadier General Carl Reddel said "it's about time that we do this." Lawmakers have questioned the project's design and cost. And some members of the 34th president's family have called for it to be redesigned. The 14-year-old project is planned for a site on the National Mall near the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. Planners could lose that space soon without an extension from Congress. For more than a year, the memorial's design by architect Frank Gehry has been criticized by some for its approach to memorial architecture. Others have praised it for its innovative elements.
Small Historic Church in Central Kansas Will Close
PAWNEE ROCK, Kan. (AP) — A small Mennonite Church that opened in 1915 in central Kansas will close in June and then be torn down. Bergthal Mennonite Church near Pawnee Rock in Barton County will hold its final service June 30. Before that, the congregation is planning a memorial gathering on May 26. Membership peaked at 260 in 1953 but only about 14 people regularly attend services. Part-time pastor Lynn Schlosser says church members decided to have the church torn down because they did not want to watch it deteriorate. The Great Bend Tribune reports that the church began when Russian Mennonites established a colony near Dundee in 1875. They built a wood frame church near Pawnee Rock in 1899, which was replaced by the current structure in 1915.
Missouri Soldier Convicted of Killing Man
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A military jury at Fort Leavenworth has convicted a 22-year-old Missouri soldier of a murder committed while he was home for his wife's funeral. The Kansas City Star reports that Justin Cannon, an Army specialist from Peculiar, Missouri was found guilty Thursday of murder without premeditation in the death of Michael Griggs, whose body was found in Truman Lake in August 2011. He was charged with premeditated murder in Griggs' death, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge. Cannon was on his way to Fort Benning, Georgia in July 2011 when he learned his wife, Amber Cannon, had died in Grandview from an overdose. Prosecutors say while he was home for her funeral, Justin Cannon hit Griggs in the head with a rock. Sentencing is Friday.
Shawnee Approves Google Fiber Launch
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Shawnee have approved an agreement authorizing the launch of Google Fiber in the Kansas City suburb. The Shawnee City Council said in a release that council members approved the agreement Thursday, making Shawnee the fifth Johnson County municipality to strike a deal bringing in the high-speed service to compete with cable and telephone companies for TV and Internet access subscriptions. Google Fiber offers a network that strings fiber optic lines to homes and supplies commercial strength Internet hookups at home consumer rates. So far, only a few neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kansas have been connected to the network. A few more homes in Kansas City, Missouri are scheduled to get the service this month.
Raytown Says It's Getting Google Fiber, Too
RAYTOWN, Mo. (AP) — Raytown officials have announced a tentative agreement to bring Google Fiber to the Kansas City suburb. The Kansas City Star reports that a vote on the agreement could come in late May. The Raytown announcement comes the day after the city council in nearby Shawnee, Kansas endorsed a deal to bring Google Fiber its residents. The Internet giant's entry into the Kansas City area began in 2011 when it chose Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas as the launch pad for an Internet service nearly 100 times faster than conventional home broadband. Late last fall, Google Fiber began providing the service in a few pockets of Kansas City, Kansas, and hopes to start turning on some service on the Missouri side of the metro area this month.
Kansas Wheat Tour Forecasts 313 Million Bushel Crop
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Participants in the Kansas wheat quality tour have forecast the state will harvest 313 million bushels despite drought and freezes. The announcement Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade pegged average yields at slightly above 41 bushels per acre. The estimates are based on about 570 stops at wheat fields across the state during a three-day tour. This year's estimate is down from the 382.2 million bushels cut last year. But it is still better than the 276.5 million bushels harvested during drought-plagued 2011. Aaron Harries, marketing director for Kansas Wheat, says the state has two very different crops. Extreme western crops are suffering due to the ongoing drought, while fields are faring better in more eastern sections.
Wichita Superintendent Seeks Security Upgrades
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita's school superintendent is asking the district to spend $3 million to improve school security. The school board will consider superintendent John Allison's request at its meeting next Monday. Allison says the money is needed to install high-definition cameras, computers, keyless-entry doors, a revamped dispatch center and more. He has proposed a contract with Aventura Technologies Inc. to install and launch a centralized surveillance system that would monitor more than 100 schools and other sites. The district's current surveillance system includes video cameras and digital video receivers that were installed through a grant nine years ago. The Wichita Eagle reports that a report on the proposal says the system is prone to equipment malfunctions and doesn't cover enough area.
Man to Face Trial in Double Fatal at Wichita Store
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The man accused of shooting and killing two people at a Wichita Dollar General store last year will face trial on capital murder charges. A judge bound Marquis Marshall over for trial after a preliminary hearing Thursday. He's charged in the November 2012 shooting that killed a store employee, 22-year-old Zachary Hunt, and a 79-year-old customer, Henry Harvey. Three witnesses at Thursday's hearing did not indicate a possible motive for the shootings. Marshall will be arraigned May 16. Prosecutors have not said if they will seek the death penalty.
Missouri Public Defender Retires Early, Hoping to Prevent Office Layoffs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Western Missouri's top federal public defender says he is resigning early to prevent layoffs in his office. Ray Conrad says he will retire June 1 from the Federal Public Defender Office in Kansas City because of automatic federal budget cuts that have reduced his office's resources. The Kansas City Star reports that the 73-year-old Conrad has led the federal public defender's office since 1980. He had intended to serve until the end of his four-year term in 2016. Conrad says his retirement is not a protest. He says he couldn't bring himself to lay off colleagues because of an expected $270,000 budget shortfall in the next fiscal year. Conrad said he could cover the shortfall with his salary and that of a senior investigator who is also retiring.
Ex-KU Chancellor, Wife to Receive Dole Award
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Former University of Kansas Chancellor Gene Budig and his wife, Gretchen Budig, will receive the Dole Humanitarian Award. The award from the university's Department of Special Education will honor the Budigs for their work to improve the lives with people with disabilities and their families. The university announced Thursday that the Budigs will be honored during a private ceremony next Friday at the Dole Institute of Politics. Gene Budig was chancellor at the university from 1981 to 1994, when he resigned to become president of baseball's American League. The university said in a news release that Budig supported the special education department and other disability-related campus programs while he was chancellor. The Budigs also endowed the Budig Teaching Professorship in Special Education.
Kansas Governor Names Ex-Chiefs Player to Turnpike Board
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has appointed a former Kansas City Chiefs player and businessman to the board that oversees operations of the state's only toll road. Brownback's office announced Thursday that David Lindstrom of Leawood will serve a four-year term on the Kansas Turnpike Authority board. Lindstrom was a defensive end for the Chiefs in the 1970s and 1980s before entering the restaurant business and becoming a real estate associate and securities broker. He's also served on the Johnson County Commission and the state arts commission. He was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2002 as the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Shallenburger. Lindstrom will replace longtime turnpike board member and former Chairwoman Mary Turkington of Topeka. Her term expired.
Seat Belt Crackdown Planned Along Famous Route 66
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is teaming up with other states as part an effort to get drivers along historic Route 66 to wear their seat belts. The crackdown begins Friday and will last 24 hours. The effort started in 2010 with a handful of law enforcement agencies in central Oklahoma. It has now expanded to include highway patrol troopers, state police officers and other agencies in eight states along the famed "Mother Road." New Mexico State Police Chief Robert Shilling says seat belts are the best way for drivers and passengers to protect themselves. Federal statistics show motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in rollover crashes if they are buckled up. Other states taking part in the "Get your 'Clicks' on Route 66" mobilization include Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and California.
Kansas Schools Honored for Character Education
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several Kansas schools and school districts have been recognized for their support of character education. Officials with the Kansas Department of Education, Kansas Character Education Initiative and the Brown v. Board National Historic Site in Topeka honored the schools and districts on Thursday. The Hesston school district was named the 2013 District of Character. Iola High School was the State School of Character. Anthony Elementary School in Leavenworth and the Kiowa County Elementary-Junior High School were recognized as Emerging Schools of Character. In addition, 12 schools and two school districts were presented with Promising Practice in Education Awards. Another 46 schools received recognition for specific activities aimed at reaching state standards for social, emotional and character development.