Wichita Lawmaker Jim Ward Announces Gubernatorial Run
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A top Democratic lawmaker says he is joining the crowded race to replace Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita announced his candidacy Saturday. He had named former Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch as his campaign treasurer earlier this week. Brownback is serving his second term and is expected to leave office early to become U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Ward was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2002, and is the ranking Democrat on the House committee on Education. Other Democrats in the race include former Wichita mayor Carl Brewer and former state representative Josh Svaty. GOP candidates include Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer.
Trial to Examine Bias Claim against Kobach's Office
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former employee's lawsuit alleging that she was fired from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office for not going to church enough is set to go to trial next week. Courtney Canfield worked for Kobach's office for more than nine months in 2013. She learned of her firing from her grandmother, a longtime Republican Party volunteer who knew Kobach's chief deputy. Kobach has said the allegation of religious discrimination is "ridiculous." The lawsuit blames Kobach's chief deputy, Eric Rucker, for the firing. While Canfield is suing the office, Kobach isn't a defendant himself. But the case is sure to draw attention to Kobach, a Republican with a national reputation for championing tough voter identification laws and helping to draft proposals in numerous states aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.
Six Horses in Finney County Euthanized after Infectious Diagnosis
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Six horses at a Finney County facility will be euthanized after becoming infected with equine infectious anemia. The Kansas Department of Agriculture said in a news release Friday that it was contacted this month about a positive test for the disease. All the exposed horses were tested and five other horses tested positive. Because the disease isn't curable, the animals will be euthanized. The remaining horses at the facility will be observed and retested in 60 days. The facility is under quarantine. EIA is most commonly spread by biting flies and ticks. It doesn't affect people but can be spread to horses, mules and donkeys.
Senators Roberts, McCaskill: Food Supply Needs Protecting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two U.S. senators from Kansas and Missouri say an emphasis on protecting the nation's food supply has waned since the September 11th terrorist attacks and it's time to make the issue a priority again. Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, met Friday with government, education and private officials involved in ensuring the nation is prepared to protect food, agriculture and livestock from terrorism and infectious diseases. McCaskill and Roberts stressed that the nation's food supply is still the safest in the world and they were not reacting to any imminent threat. But Roberts, who leads the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the nation and media's focus often shifts to other problems and it's important to "ramp up" agriculture protection efforts again.
Wichita Man Gets Probation in Hit-and-Run Fatality
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to probation for a hit-and-run that killed a U.S. Marine. The Sedgwick County district attorney's office says 27-year-old Dreu Wikle was sentenced Friday to two years of probation. He would serve three years in prison if he violates probation. KAKE-TV reports Wikle pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. The accident in May 2016 killed 31-year-old Grant Burris, of Haysville, a Purple Heart recipient who was checking the mail at his parents' home when he was hit. Witnesses told police the driver didn't stop after hitting Burris, who served four tours in Iraq. He died 11 days after being hit. Court documents say Wikle thought he hit a mail box but didn't stop.
Worker Killed in Wichita Demolition Accident
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has died in an industrial accident at a building demolition site in north Wichita. KAKE-TV reports the incident happened Friday afternoon when debris fell on the worker. Firefighters responding to the call say the dead worker was trapped under the debris. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Battalion Chief Scott Brown says the man was off by himself when the roof collapsed on him. Further details were not immediately available.
Kansas Couple gets Probation in Money Laundering Scheme
MEADE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas couple was sentenced to three years of probation for laundering millions of dollars in suspected drug money through their small-town bank. The Hutchinson News reports 71-year-old George Enns and his 69-year-old wife, Agatha Enns, both of Meade, were sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to money laundering conspiracy. George Enns was ordered to pay a $1.5 million judgment. The couple admitted about $7 million in cash and third-party checks was deposited at Plains State Bank in Plains from 2011 to 2014. The two knew proceeds came from unlawful activity but didn't know who wrote the third-party checks. George Enns brought the money back to the U.S. after trips to Mexico. The funds were transferred out of state to purchase genetically modified corn seed that was taken into Mexico. George Enns told authorities the U.S. currency was to be used to buy seeds for his seed business in Mexico.
Kansas Boosts Prison Pay Amid Staff Shortages
EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has announced pay raises at state prisons in the wake of inmate disturbances that have drawn public attention to staff shortages. Uniformed officers across the state would receive about a 5 percent raise. Officers at El Dorado Correctional Facility will see raises of about 10 percent. The increase would kick in later this month if the employees' union agrees. Brownback says the state can fund the raises in the short term but lawmakers would have to find money next session to continue them. The move would boost pay from $13.95 to $14.66 per hour statewide, and to $15.74 per hour at El Dorado. Department of Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood says the higher pay in El Dorado facility is due to the tighter job market in that area.
Ex-Manhattan City Attorney Pleads to Child Porn Charge
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The former city attorney for Manhattan has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. Prosecutors say 55-year-old Bill Raymond, of Andover, pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of transporting child pornography and one count of possession child pornography. He admitted that he emailed child pornography to himself using a cell phone and a computer, and that he possessed child pornography. The crimes occurred in Butler and Riley counties. Raymond was Manhattan's city attorney from 2012 to 2015. He previously was an assistant county counselor in Sedgwick County. Sentencing is scheduled for November 6th.
Family Mourns Mother, Daughter Killed near Lawrence
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The family of a mother and daughter killed in a double murder-suicide near Lawrence is planning a celebration of life for the two. The Lawrence Journal-World reports 36-year-old Erin Berg and her 3-year-old daughter Mazey Berg were found dead last Sunday. Police say Mazey's father, 41-year-old Peter Sander, fatally shot them and himself. Berg's family is planning a celebration of life for the mother and daughter Saturday in Lawrence. Their obituary says their deaths are the result of "a senseless act of domestic violence." Berg's mother, Kim Thomason, says her daughter and Sander never married but shared custody of Mazey. Thomason says Sander had been mentally and emotionally abusive but that he had never physically abused Mazey or her mother beforehand. She says Berg was empathetic and genuine.
Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in Tuttle Creek Reservoir
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — The state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says invasive zebra mussels have been found in Tuttle Creek Reservoir. The 12,500-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake is a popular recreation area six miles north of Manhattan. The department said in a news release that the zebra mussel population is currently small but noted there is no way to completely rid a lake of the species. They are usually introduced into lakes after attaching themselves to boats or from bait buckets. Zebra mussels can produce huge populations in a short time. Their vast populations can clog intake pipes, hindering water treatment and other operations that draw water from the lakes. The invasive mollusks have also been found in most of the other reservoirs in Kansas, including Hillsdale in Miami County.