'Dream 9' Supporters Stage Vigil, Hunger Strike
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of nine immigrant activists detained in Arizona after demanding re-entry from Mexico on humanitarian grounds say the group is now on a hunger strike seeking release. Among those pleading Friday for the group's release were the sisters of 37-year-old Claudia Amaro, a member of the group dubbed the "Dream 9" following their detentions Monday. The former Wichita woman was brought illegally into the U.S. as a child after her father was murdered in Mexico. She lived in Kansas for more than 17 years but returned to Mexico after her husband's deportation. Mohammad Abbollahi, an organizer with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, says the detained activists began the hunger strike Thursday. The supporters spoke during a Friday news conference and prayer vigil in Wichita organized by Sunflower Community Action.
Ruling Expected Soon in KC Charter School Case
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A judge has announced plans to rule by Monday on a Kansas City, Missouri charter school's bid to stay open. Lawyers for Gordon Parks Elementary made their case Thursday and Friday in Cole County Circuit Court for a permanent injunction. A temporary injunction had allowed it to stay open through the end of classes in late June. Missouri education officials voted in May to pull the school's charter because of poor academic performance. The loss of the charter means a loss of state funding. School officials say their children are making progress even though many live in poverty. Gordon Parks Board President Doug Curry says the state "stacked the deck against Gordon Parks from the start." Gordon Parks Elementary had about 240 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Lightning Blamed for Fire at Kansas Middle School
GALVA, Kan. (AP) — The crew of a passing freight train is getting the credit for spotting an overnight fire that damaged a middle school in central Kansas. Authorities believe lightning started the fire at Canton-Galva Middle School. Damage was confined to the gymnasium, where flames left a large hole in the roof while charring the walls and floor. Canton-Galva superintendent Bill Seidl tells The McPherson Sentinel classes are expected to start as scheduled on August 22nd. The building houses fourth- through eighth-graders. The conductor of a Union Pacific train called 911 after seeing the fire around 2:30 am Friday. Seidl says the quick report and the response by firefighters prevented damage that could have included a cave-in.
Teen's Body Recovered from SE Kansas River
INDEPENDENCE, Kan. (AP) — The second of two teenagers who disappeared in a southeast Kansas river has been found dead. The Montgomery County sheriff's office says crews recovered the body of 16-year-old Steven Whittley in the Verdigris River shortly after 10:30 am Friday. KSNW-TV reports Whittley and 16-year-old Bo Miesner were swept beneath a low-water dam near Coffeyville while swimming Wednesday evening. Whittley dove into the water to try to save his friend but was also pulled under. Rescuers arrived in time to pull Miesner from the river, but he died at a Wichita hospital. Both boys were from Independence.
Ex-Cheer Coach Sentenced for Sex with Girls
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita cheer coach has been ordered to spend at least 42 years in prison for having sexual relations with four young girls. Twenty-nine-year-old Timothy Wells-Lee was convicted in April on 10 counts involving girls age 12 to 14 whom he coached at Wichita cheer academies between 2006 and 2008. KWCH-TV reports Wells-Lee was sentenced Friday in Sedgwick County District Court to life plus 20 years, with a chance of parole after 25 years. The judge structured the sentence in such a way that Wells-Lee could not be paroled until he's in his 70s. Wells-Lee requested a minimum sentence, telling the judge he's not a threat to society. The girls also spoke Friday, with one telling Wells-Lee that he had ruined her life.