Review of Kansas Governor's Dinner Meetings Continuing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman says a northeast Kansas prosecutor's investigation into private meetings of Republican legislators with Governor Sam Brownback won't be finished until the end of the month. Lee McGowan, chief of staff to Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, said Tuesday that staff still must interview a few lawmakers and members of the governor's staff. McGowan said interviews won't be completed until the Legislature returns from a break April 25. Brownback, a Republican, had seven meetings in January with GOP members of 13 legislative committees. Taylor, a Democrat, began his investigation in February. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag says the governor is confident the gatherings didn't violate the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Many lawmakers who attended the events said they were social gatherings, not business meetings.
Computer Issue Downs Kansas Driver's License System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas hasn't been able to issue driver's licenses or non-driver identification cards for several hours because of a computer problem. The state Division of Vehicles said Tuesday that a problem with a vendor's server took down the license-issuing system at all 111 offices statewide. The division said the vendor expected to replace a part in its server by mid-afternoon. The division is in the midst of a $40 million computer upgrade. The offices are issuing paper slips extending licenses or ID cards for 15 days. Spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda says that's standard when people come into an office late in the day and too many people still need assistance at closing time. About 3,000 people visit driver's license offices each Tuesday. It's typically a busy day because the offices are closed Monday.
Dream Season Falls Short for Gritty Jayhawks
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The University of Kansas Jayhawks came up short in the national title game. The season, though, was quite fulfilling. A team of overachievers that many thought would have a hard time making the NCAA tournament played its way to college basketball's grandest stage. The Jayhawks simply ran into a team stocked with NBA talent that was too talented, too athletic, and in general, too good. Their loss to Kentucky on Monday night was a disappointing end to a terrific season. Kansas rattled off its eighth consecutive Big 12 title despite the long odds, and then walked a tightrope through the NCAA tournament all the way to the Final Four in New Orleans. The road finally ended for KU, but many folks are already looking ahead to next season, when the expectations will be as high as ever.
Officials to Determine New State Revenue Forecasts
Kansas officials and university economists will meet next week to issue new forecasts of state revenue through June 2013. The forecasting team includes legislative researchers, members of the governor's budget staff, Revenue Department officials and economists from three universities. The April 13 meeting will include a review of economic trends. The forecasters will then issue revised revenue projections for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the 2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The most recent forecast was issued in November and showed Kansas collecting $6.2 billion in revenues in both fiscal years. But tax collections are already running $72 million ahead of the forecast so far this year.
Democrat Mike Slattery Won't Seek Re-Election to Kansas House
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The only Democrat from Johnson County in either chamber of the Kansas Legislature has decided against seeking re-election. Mike Slattery, of Mission, says he's giving up his House seat because he plans to go to graduate school to study business management and law. Slattery is a construction projects manager and has served in the House since 2009. Johnson County is the state's most populous county. Seven of the 40 state senators and 22 of the 125 House members represent part of the northeastern Kansas county. Slattery is the son of Jim Slattery, a Democrat who served in both the Kansas Legislature and the U.S. House. The Kansas House minority leader's office says Mike Slattery hasn't decided which university he'll attend but has been accepted at Georgetown, in Washington, D.C.
Replacement Named for Carlin at Kansas Bioscience Authority
Governor Sam Brownback has appointed a replacement for former Democratic Governor John Carlin on the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Manhattan resident Lee Borck will replace Carlin, whose term expired in mid-March. Borck is chairman of the Beef Marketing Group Cooperative and Innovative Livestock Services, a farming and cattle-feeding company. Brownback and some fellow conservative Republicans in the Legislature have criticized the authority's operations. Carlin has defended the agency and said he hadn't expected to be reappointed. Carlin was governor from 1979 to 1987 and had served on the Bioscience Authority since July 2006.
Hawker Beechcraft Struggling with Debt, Losses
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft has told federal regulators it anticipates reporting losses of nearly $482 million for 2011 when it files its annual report later this month. The firm also said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects its report on April 16 to include an explanatory statement from its independent accounting firm expressing "substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." Hawker Beechcraft said in a statement Monday that the notice reflects the company's financial position as of December 31. It said it is working closely with its lenders toward a recapitalization that would better position the company for the future. CEO Steve Miller said the company is trying to restructure debt taken on in 2007 when the company was acquired.
Manhattan Man Dead Following Standoff
Riley County police say a 22-year-old Manhattan man is dead after a standoff with police. According to police, Derrick Outten shot himself after a standoff at a Manhattan apartment complex that lasted several hours yesterday (MON). The standoff began when Outten's wife called police to say her husband was in the apartment with a handgun and threatening to harm himself. She was not in the apartment. The tenants of the apartment complex were evacuated during the ensuing standoff. When officers could not establish contact with Outten, tear gas was shot into the apartment. Police say a shot was heard shortly after that and officers found Outten's body inside the apartment.
Hutchinson Hospital Lays Off Dozens
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson Regional Medical Center has laid off 55 employees, effective immediately. Hospital officials announced Monday that 44 full-time and 11 part-time employees were laid off. The hospital also eliminated the equivalent of 45.3 full-time positions through attrition since January. Hospital president Kevin Miller says the combined job reductions will save the hospital between $3 million to $4 million this fiscal year. He says that savings, combined with other expense reductions, could reverse a $5.5 million operating loss the hospital reported in the fiscal year that ended last June. The Hutchinson News reports that the hospital's interim head of human relations said Monday's layoffs hit 16 departments. Nurses on patient floors generally were not affected, although a few were laid off in the surgical department.
Still No Word on Mega Millions Winner from Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials still haven't heard from anyone claiming to hold a Mega Millions ticket for a share of a $656 million jackpot. Kansas Lottery spokeswoman Cara Sloan-Ramos said Tuesday the winner may wait weeks to come forward. Kansas law allows up to a year to claim a lottery prize. The ticket was for Friday's drawing in the multistate game, and state lottery officials have said only that it was purchased at a store in northeast Kansas. Winning tickets also were sold in Illinois and Maryland, making the Kansas ticket holder's share about $218 million. Sloan-Ramos said the ticket holder is likely seeking lots of advice and considering whether to take advantage of a Kansas law allowing winners to remain anonymous.
Garden City High School Students Get iPads
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Students at Garden City High School will each get their own iPad to use at school and take home, starting next school year. The district's board of education approved a measure Monday to provide the iPads to each student. Darren Dennis, the district's assistant superintendent for learning services, said the iPads will be useful for a new type of testing, as school districts move to Common Core Standards for state testing. Technology administrators announced Monday night that the initiative's cost will be lower than previously reported because the district will use the iPad 2, instead of the latest version of the iPad. The Garden City Telegram reports that will save about $170,000 off the original cost estimated of about $1.04 million.
UPDATE: 2 Still Critical after Kansas Crash That Killed 5
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — At least two people remain in critical condition Tuesday after a recreational vehicle crashed in northeast Kansas, killing five family members from Minnesota. The accident on Sunday injured 13 people. The crash happened as the family returned from an annual motocross vacation in Texas. Their Freightliner cab and Haulmark trailer broke through a guardrail on Interstate 35 outside Williamsburg, Kansas, and plunged into a ravine. The injured ranged in age from 2 to 30 and were taken to various hospitals. Several had been released by Tuesday. The critically injured include a 17-year-old and an 8-year-old boy, who are being treated at two Kansas City-area hospitals. The National Transportation Safety Board also said Tuesday it will be looking into licensing issues involved in the crash.
No Move to Change Minnesota License Restrictions after Fatal KS Crash
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Key Minnesota lawmakers say they have no plans to pursue changes to the state's driver's license restrictions after a fatal RV accident involving a Minnesota family. Five people were killed in the crash Sunday in Kansas involving a converted RV. The RV was being driven by a 17-year-old who wouldn't have been allowed to drive it if it was a commercial vehicle because of its heavy weight and number of passengers. The teen was legally allowed to drive the vehicle since it was an RV in private use. House Public Safety Chairman Tony Cornish called the accident a rarity. He said RV drivers are usually older and experienced. He said he didn't want to have a kneejerk reaction. His Senate counterpart, Republican Warren Limmer, said it would be a mistake to rush a legal change.
UPDATE: Scientist Says DNA from Kansas Teen Found in Accused Man's SUV
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A forensic scientist has testified that DNA from a 14-year-old Great Bend girl was found in the vehicle of the man accused in her death. James Newman of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation took the stand for the state Tuesday in the trial of 38-year-old Adam Longoria. Newman testified about testing body fluids found in the driver's side floor mat of Longoria's vehicle. He said the test showed a mixture of DNA from both Longoria and Alicia DeBolt. Longoria is being tried on a charge of capital murder in Alicia's August 2010 death. Newman said a tiny amount of DNA from an unknown male was found in a sample taken from the dead girl's mouth. But he said that sample may have been contaminated. He returns to the stand Wednesday for cross-examination.
Oil to Be Sought on State-Owned Wichita Land
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas will join with private companies and the city of Wichita in searching for oil in Sedgwick County. The Wichita Eagle reported Tuesday the Kansas revenue department will open bids this month for five-year oil and gas lease rights on state-owned land along the Arkansas River. The 125-acre site is the second drawing attention from mineral explorers along the Arkansas in Sedgwick County. County recorder of deeds Bill Meek tells The Eagle the number of mineral leases recorded in his office has been surging. Meek says there's been more filing of lease-related documents in the past year than in the past decade.
State Budget Delays Could Mean Possible Hiring Lag at State Parks
The top tourism official in Kansas says state parks may have to delay hiring some seasonal workers because lawmakers didn't pass budget legislation last week. Robin Jennison says parks may have to cut back on things such as mowing the grass... but he doubts visitors will notice much.
South-Central Kansas Lawmakers to Host Public Forum
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — State lawmakers from south-central Kansas will hold their final public forum of the 2012 session later this month. The gathering is scheduled April 21 from 9 am to 11 am at Wichita State University's Metroplex. Members of the House and Senate will take comments and questions from the public. The Legislature ended its regular session last Friday with several major issues unresolved, including a new state budget. Lawmakers are taking a break before returning to Topeka on April 25 for the annual wrap-up session.
Military Hall of Fame Inducting 3 Honorees
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Military officers from three countries will be at Fort Leavenworth on Thursday to be inducted into a hall of fame on the northeast Kansas post. The officers are from Turkey, Moldova and the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The International Hall of Fame is located at the Command and General Staff College and has 245 members from 69 countries. The honorees are graduates of the command college who have achieved their nation's highest military rank or held a top position in an international military organization. The hall of fame was established in 1973.
Great Bend Man Sentenced in Teen Girl's Death
A Great Bend man was sentenced to five years in prison in the death of a girl he injected with morphine last July. Thirty-one-year-old Joseph Jeffrey Rykiel was sentenced Monday for the death of 15-year-old Jessica Shearer of Garden City. Rykiel entered an Alford plea in February to involuntary manslaughter. The Garden City Telegram reports that Shearer was reported missing from the Barton County Youth Care Home three days before her death. She was found dead last July 4th in a basement room Rykiel was renting in Great Bend. Barton County Attorney Doug Matthews says Rykiel used a morphine prescription for one of the home's occupants to inject Shearer at least twice. She died from an overdose.
Sentencing Date Set for Man Who Threatened President Obama
A Kansas man who admitted threatening President Barack Obama faces two years in prison at his sentencing. A notice filed in U.S. District Court lists a June 18 sentencing for Michael Ramsey. The Hutchinson man pleaded guilty last week to writing a letter in 2009 threatening to kill the president. A charge related to a second threatening letter sent last year was dropped under a deal with prosecutors. A psychological exam found no evidence Ramsey suffered from any disorder that made him unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his action.
Comeback Magic Eludes Jayhawks in NCAA Championship Finals
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Kansas Jayhawks couldn't come all the way back this time. The gritty team that had walked a tightrope all the way to the national championship game finally stumbled against the powerful University of Kentucky. An 18-point deficit against a team full of future NBA draft picks was too much for the Jayhawks, who fell 67-59 on Monday night. KU had rallied from big early deficits against Purdue and North Carolina State in the NCAA tournament, giving some folks the feeling that things were meant to be this season. That premonition gained support when the Jayhawks dug themselves out of a 13-point hole against Ohio State in the national semifinals, setting up a showdown with the team that had been predicted as the eventual national champions by many analysts for most of the season.
**this story has been updated. Please see above.
Woman in Fatal Weekend Crash Upgraded to Stable Condition
A woman from Jordan, Minnesota, has been upgraded to stable condition at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. She and her family were involved in a weekend motor home crash in Kansas that killed five people and injured 13 others. While 46-year-old Pauline Kerber is now listed as being in stable condition... her 17-year-old son, Adam, remains in critical condition. Authorities say Adam was driving the RV when the accident happened.
**this story has been updated. Please see above.
Witness Says Kansas Murder Suspect Asked Him to Lie
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — A witness has testified that the man charged with killing a 14-year-old cheerleader asked him to lie about the suspect's whereabouts the night the victim disappeared. Adam Longoria's capital murder trial entered its fourth day of testimony Tuesday in Barton County court. The 38-year-old Great Bend man is charged in the 2010 death of Alicia DeBolt. Her charred body was found at the asphalt plant where Longoria worked. KWCH-TV reports that Emmanuel Ferrell testified that Longoria asked him to lie and tell investigators they were at a bar at the time DeBolt was seen getting into an SUV matching the description of one Longoria was driving. Harold Riddle, a chemist with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, also testified that gym shoes Longoria wore that night tested positive for gasoline.
**this story has been updated. Please see above.