CIty of Topeka Asks Public to Consider Water Conservation Measures
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka city officials are asking residents to consider voluntarily conserving water. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the request is in response to Governor Sam Brownback's recent declaration of drought conditions in Kansas. There are 82 counties in the state that have been declared federal drought disaster areas. Temperatures are expected to stay above the 100-degree mark for the next several days, and a heat advisory has also been issued for much of northeastern Kansas through Saturday. Topeka officials say the city has experienced high water usage by customers in recent weeks, but they say the city remains well within its water treatment capabilities. Topeka gets its water from the Kansas River. The city stresses that the request is for voluntary conservation, and that no restrictive orders are in place.
Kansas Receives NCLB Requirement Waiver
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is among the latest states granted waivers from key provisions of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. The Education Department announced Thursday that Kansas joined Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon and South Carolina, along with Washington, D.C., in being exempt from some of the law's most rigorous requirements. A total of 32 states have now been granted waivers; four others have outstanding requests. After Congress failed to change the law, President Barack Obama told states last fall they could seek a waiver from an unpopular requirement that all students test proficient in math and reading by 2014. To get waivers, states must take actions the Obama administration favors. Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said in a news release that she is "extremely pleased" with the state's plan.
State Replies to Fee Requests in Kansas Remapping Case
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State attorneys are arguing that a three-judge federal panel should award little, if any, legal fees to lawyers who have filed more than $669,000 in bills in the Kansas redistricting case. Filing late Wednesday on behalf of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an assistant Kansas attorney general contends that the attorneys representing numerous legislators, communities and individuals are not entitled to the fees they are seeking. One argument is that none of the maps drawn by the judges were sought by the plaintiffs or parties who intervened in the case. The judges drew the district maps in June after legislators failed to produce new boundary lines for the Kansas House, Senate, four U.S. House districts and 10 State Board of Education districts.
Brownback Continues Tour of Kansas Counties Hit Hard by Drought
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says changes in water management are helping Kansas farmers and communities navigate the intensifying drought. The governor said Wednesday that he was encouraged by efforts by city officials and irrigators along the Smoky Hill River basin in central Kansas to manage water resources to meet competing needs. Brownback says other changes in state water laws during the 2012 Legislature will provide more ways for other regions of the state to manage water and prolong the life of the Ogallala Aquifer. Brownback visited Allen and Neosho counties in southeastern Kansas on Wednesday to see the damage caused by lack of rain and temperatures above 100 degrees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 82 Kansas counties federal drought disaster areas.
Brownback Has Positive Outlook on Future of Kansas Trade with Europe
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is bullish about the prospects for increased trade between European nations and Kansas, especially in aviation and energy. Brownback said Wednesday that orders for new commercial aircraft announced at the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom would be good for the aviation business in Kansas. He says supplies that make components for those commercial orders could see more than $5 billion in business. The Republican governor attended the air show with other Kansas officials, as well as making calls on business leaders in Germany. Brownback says officials with Chicago-based Boeing Corporation believe the value of new commercial aircraft orders for Kansas suppliers will exceed the losses to the state economy caused by Boeing's decision to close its defense facilities in Wichita.
Textron CEO Says Hawker Beechcraft Bid Possible
NEW YORK (AP) — Textron's CEO says his company could make a bid for all or part of Hawker Beechcraft if the price is right. Earlier this week, a federal bankruptcy judge allowed Hawker to begin exclusive talks with a Chinese company interested in buying the company. Hawker filed for bankruptcy protection in May. Textron's Scott Donnelly says Textron has always been interested in the Kansas plane maker and that some of its assets would fit in well at Textron. He made the comments during a Thursday morning conference call with investors. But Donnelly says his company is in good shape and doesn't need to make an acquisition. Any such deal would have to boost profits for the Providence, Rhode Island-based company.
Kansas Lottery Sales Up in FY 2012
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Lottery posted a record sales year in the fiscal year ending June 30, topping $244 million on the strength of record-setting, multi-state jackpots. Lottery Executive Director Dennis Wilson says the agency will transfer $72 million to the state general fund, which is the highest amount transferred to the fund since the lottery began in 1987. The previous high was $70 million in fiscal year 2011. One of those record jackpots was the $656 million pot for Mega Millions in March. One of the three winning tickets was sold in Kansas.
CDC: Whooping Cough Cases Could Reach Highest Level in 5 Decades
ATLANTA (AP) — Health officials say the nation is on track to have the worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far — more than twice the number seen at this point last year. At this pace, the number of whooping cough cases will surpass every year since 1959. "There is a lot of this out there, and there may be more coming to a place near you," Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Wisconsin and Washington state each have reported more than 3,000 cases, and high numbers have been seen in a number of other states, including New York, Minnesota, Kansas and Arizona. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial disease. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath. In rare cases it can be fatal, and nine children have died so far this year. Children get vaccinated against whooping cough in five doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the final one between 4 and 6 years. Then a booster is recommended around age 11. The vaccine's protection does wane and health officials have debated moving up the booster shot. The CDC is urging adults and especially pregnant women to get vaccinated so they don't spread it to infants who are too young to get the vaccine. Whooping cough used to cause hundreds of thousands of illnesses a year but cases fell after a vaccine was introduced in the 1940s. Starting in the late 1960s, fewer than 5,000 cases were reported annually in the United States, for a stretch of about 25 years. But the numbers started to rise in the 1990s.
Washburn University Plans $40 Million Law School
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Washburn University in Topeka is planning to build a new $40 million School of Law. The school's regents on Wednesday approved a funding proposal for what would be the most ambitious single- building construction and fundraising project in the university's history. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the university plans to finance the building through a $20 million fundraising effort, $10 million from university reserve funds and borrowing $10 million in short-term bonds. University officials say a developer determined it would cost more to renovate the current building. No timeline for constructing the building has been determined. University officials estimate it will take two to three years to raise the $20 million. They say no final plans will be made until the funding is determined.
UPDATE: Missing Kansas Woman Found Safe in Arkansas Forest
CASS, Ark. (AP) — Authorities say a missing Kansas woman has been found safe in the Ozark National Forest. Franklin County (Arkansas) Sheriff Anthony Boen says authorities located 30-year-old Ann Naylor on Wednesday night about a half-mile from where her car was parked. Naylor was reported missing by her roommate in Pittsburg, Kansas, on Tuesday. The sheriff tells the Southwest Times Record that Naylor was dehydrated, hungry and tired but otherwise doing all right. Boen says Naylor had recently stopped taking her medication and that may have led to her confusion.
Chronic Wasting Disease Confirmed in 7 Kansas Deer
PRATT, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in seven deer in the state. The agency also said there are two other presumptive positive samples that require more testing. The number is down slightly from the 10 found with the disease last year. Since testing began in 1996, Kansas has had 49 confirmed cases of deer with chronic wasting disease. The disease was first detected in Cheyenne County in 1955. The fatal disease causes holes in the brain, giving it a sponge-like appearance. The agency says there's no evidence that the disease in deer poses a risk to people or livestock.
Suspected Heat Death in KC
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — There's been another suspected heat death in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Health Department says it's been notified that the Jackson County Medical Examiner is investigating the recent death of an elderly woman as possibly heat-related. The department says the woman was born in 1935, but didn't provide any other details. So far there have been eight suspected heat deaths this year in the Kansas City metro area, and one confirmed heat fatality. Temperatures in the Kansas City area have been hovering near the 100-degree mark for several days.
Testimony Continues in Topeka Zoo Lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veterinarian says when she was fired by the Topeka Zoo her world was "turned upside down." Shirley Yeo Llizo has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the city of Topeka, alleging she was fired from the Topeka Zoo in 2009 because she is a female of Chinese ancestry and a naturalized U.S. citizen. The city has denied the allegations. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Llizo got her job back in 2010 after an arbitrator ruled the city shouldn't have dismissed her. During testimony Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, Llizo said she was embarrassed about being fired and didn't know if she could continue working in zoos. The trial continues today (THUR).
KC Fire Chief Retiring
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's longtime fire chief has announced his retirement. Smoke Dyer says his last day will be July 30. City Manager Troy Schulte says he hopes to have a replacement in a few months. The Kansas City Star reports that Dyer and several dozen senior firefighters are taking advantage of a retirement incentive package. Dyer was hired to lead the Kansas City Fire Department in 2000 and spent 13 years as fire chief in nearby Lee's Summit before that. He also served for almost a decade on the board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Councilman Ed Ford says Dyer's retirement comes at a time when the fire department needs to look at putting more emphasis on first response and ambulance calls rather than putting out fires.
New Sheriff Appointed for Rooks County
STOCKTON, Kan. (AP) — Rooks County Undersheriff Chad Sterling has been chosen as the county's new sheriff. Governor Sam Brownback has appointed Sterling to fill the unexpired term of Randy Axelson, who resigned in May after being charged with methamphetamine distribution. The Hays Daily News reports Rooks County Republicans forwarded Sterling's name to Brownback for the appointment. The 43-year-old Axelson faces nine felony counts of methamphetamine distribution. He is free on $45,000 bond.
Bankers Survey Suggests Drought Hurting Regional Economy
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey of bankers suggests the economy is slowing down in rural areas of 10 Midwest and Western states because of drought conditions. The overall economic index dropped into negative territory at 47.9 in June from May's 56.7. Any score below 50 on the index, which ranges from 1 to 100, suggests contraction in the months ahead. The survey covers parts of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It focuses on communities with 1,300 residents, on average. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the drought is hard on farmers, livestock producers and ethanol plants in the region. The confidence index collapsed to 40.9 in June from May's strong 58.5. That suggests bankers aren't confident in the economy over the next six months.
Man Pleads to Attempted Murder in Downs Standoff
OSBORNE, Kan. (AP) — A man who was shot after a standoff in north-central Kansas has pleaded no contest to one count of attempted murder. Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Thille was scheduled to go to trial Monday on four counts of attempted murder. The Hays Daily News reports Thille pleaded no contest to one count in a plea agreement earlier this month. Thille was charged after an eight-hour standoff March 21 in Downs that came after he ran from a Jewell County courtroom and led police on a chase from Mankato to Downs. He was shot several times by Kansas Highway Patrol officers. Prosecutors say he had a gun in his hand. The attempted murder charges were filed after Thille shot at officers during the chase and standoff. Sentencing is set for August 15.
Kansas Adds 4 Sites to Historic Register
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has four new listings on the National Register of Historic Places. The Kansas Historical Society said in a release Thursday that the new listings include El Dorado's Amos Gish Building, where Gish ran a veterinary business in the early 1900s; the David Gorden House in Abilene, which dates back to the mid-1800s; Osage County's Arvonia School, which was the only school for the area's Welsh community in the late 1800s until 1949. The Calvinistic Methodist Church, also in Osage County, was also added. The church was the center of activity in the rural Welsh community until the congregation disbanded in 1968. Kansas now has 1,276 listings on the National Register, which is the country's list of historically important properties.
Deputies Investigating Dog Bite Find Alligator
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Deputies who responded to a reported dog bite at a Sedgwick County lake were surprised to find a 4-foot alligator in a camper-trailer. The Wichita Eagle reports a 13-year-old called 911 from the top of a vehicle around 11 am Wednesday after his dog bit him at Lake Afton in southern Kansas. While emergency responders were treating the boy for a bite on his hand, deputies discovered the alligator in a box. It's illegal in the state to own an inherently dangerous and exotic pet. Animal control officers were called to the scene to take custody of the alligator.
Racetrack Equipment to Be Auctioned
ANTHONY, Kan. (AP) — A century-old racetrack in south-central Kansas will ride into history Friday, when all of its equipment and assets are auctioned off. The Anthony Downs racetrack, which opened in 1904, closed in 2009 after losing simulcasting money when larger tracks in Kansas closed. KAKE-TV reports a group of people who lived near the quarter-mile track bought the property. The auction is being held to clear the area for potential development. Everything left at the track will be auctioned, including grandstands, fences, horse stalls and barns. Auctioneer Brandon Gerber says the auction was scheduled so people can buy a piece of the track, which was an important part of the city's history and economy.
New Catholic Archbishop Appointed for Denver
DENVER (AP) — Denver has a new archbishop to replace Archbishop Charles Chaput. The Most Reverend Samuel Aquila was installed Wednesday afternoon at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver. Chaput, now the archbishop of Philadelphia, was among those attending. Another previous Denver archbishop, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, also attended the invitation-only event yesterday (WED). The Denver Roman Catholic archdiocese streamed Aquila's installation live on the Internet. Aquila is the fifth person to lead the archdiocese.
Engineering Building at Wichita State University Renamed
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An engineering building at Wichita State University has been renamed for a former president of the school. The Engineering Research Building began going by the name Donald L. Beggs Hall earlier this month, after the widow of a late Cessna executive committed $3 million to the school and requested the name change. Beggs stepped down as Wichita State's president in June after 13 years. Velma Wallace says Beggs and his wife, Shirley, have had a "tremendous" influence on the university and community. She says naming the building after Beggs is a "testimony to his many contributions." Her gift will help pay for bonds used to construct the building. Wallace is the widow of aviation pioneer Dwane Wallace, who is credited with guiding Wichita-based Cessna Aircraft Company to dominance in the light plane industry. He died in 1989 at the age of 78.
Oklahoma Tops Preseason Big 12 Football Poll
The University of Oklahoma has been picked to win the Big 12 football conference, followed by West Virginia and Texas. A preseason poll of media members who cover the league was released Thursday. Oklahoma received 32 of a possible 41 first-place votes. The Mountaineers, who beat Clemson in the Orange Bowl last season, had seven first-place votes headed into their first season in the Big 12. The University of Texas Longhorns were picked third, followed by defending league champion Oklahoma State University. TCU is picked to finish its first year in the league in fifth place. The Horned Frogs and Kansas State (sixth) each got one first-place vote. Baylor, Iowa State, Texas Tech and the University of Kansas round out the poll.
Houston Beats Sporting KC in MLS Game
HOUSTON (AP) — Calen Carr scored twice and the Dynamo defeated 10-man Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Wednesday night to extend Houston's unbeaten streak to five games. The home win tied Houston with the Chicago Fire for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and ended Sporting's unbeaten streak at three games. Carr put Houston ahead 2-1 in the 79th minute after feeding a pass to Brad Davis outside the left box and hitting Davis's cross inside the near post from inside the 6-yard box. Carr scored from eight yards out in the 25th minute to give Houston a 1-nil lead, and Kei Kamara scored on a penalty kick in the 42nd for Kansas City.
Authorities Seeking Kansas Woman Lost in Arkansas Forest
CASS, Ark. (AP) — Franklin County, Arkansas authorities are looking for a missing 34-year-old Kansas woman in the Ozark National Forest. KHOG-TV reports Ann Naylor was reported missing by her roommate in Pittsburg, Kansas on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after that report, police say Naylor called 911 and said she was being chased by a man with a shotgun. 911 operators continued to talk with her, but lost cell phone communication about 7 pm. The sheriff's office says Naylor has a history of mental illness. Her red Ford Escort was found off Mineral Hills Road in Franklin County. Law enforcement officers said they're working with Naylor's cell phone company to track her phone.
**this story has been updated; the woman has been found. Please see above for latest details.