Anti-Tyson Group Gathers in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — About 75 people attended the first meeting of a group opposing bringing a Tyson processing plant to Sedgwick County. The Wichita Eagle reports Sedgwick County is one of three finalists for the plant, which the company says would bring 1,600 jobs to its new location. Cloud County and Montgomery County are the other finalists. Don Stull, who has studied the meat and poultry industry for 30 years, warned the crowd Saturday that the plant would mean deplorable working conditions, injuries and police issues. He said Tyson plants bring jobs but damage the quality of life. Tyson said in a statement it will work to answer residents' concerns and asked people to keep an open mind about the plant, which it said would mean an annual economic benefit of $150 million.
Lenexa Social Worker Pleads Guilty to Medicaid Fraud
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Lenexa woman has pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and has been ordered to pay $88,880 in restitution. Kansas prosecutors say 48-year-old Kerri Jo Hal pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony counts of making a false claim to the Medicaid program. Investigators say Hall, a social worker, billed Medicaid for mental health therapy that she said provided to several eligible recipients but she did not keep records to support the billings. Most of the people denied receiving services or receiving only part of services claimed by Hall. Hall was accused of billing 1,157 hours between January 2012 and January 2015 for services without the required documentation. She will be sentenced December 20th.
Kansas Man who Pleaded Guilty in Son's Death Seeks New Trial
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who pleaded guilty in the death of his 7-year-old son whose body was fed to pigs wants a new trial. The Kansas City Star reports court records show 46-year-old Michael Jones will appear in court Friday seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in the 2015 death of Adrian Jones. Jones was sentenced in May to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years after a trial that detailed horrific abuse Adrian suffered from his father and stepmother before he died. Jones pleaded guilty in March to first-degree murder. His stepmother, Heather Jones, also is serving life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The boy's maternal grandmother, Judy Conway, says he was buried last week at a Lawrence cemetery.
Wichita State Police: Expect Traffic Tickets on Campus
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State police say they plan to start writing tickets — rather than issuing verbal warnings — for traffic offenses on campus. Beginning November 1st, bad driving habits like running stop signs will bring tickets and fines. Police said in a news release the plan is designed to change the perception that driving violations are tolerated on campus, and to protect people from unnecessary accidents. The department says it has received several complaints, particularly about drivers running stop signs and not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. University affiliated citations can be appealed by students, staff and faculty. But another type of citation will be set in Sedgwick County Court, depending on the nature of the violation. Those citations generally will be written for people not connected to the university.
Attorneys Seek Disability Waiver for Death Penalty in Ark City Murder
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man's attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to spare him from being executed for a college student's murder over questions about whether he is developmentally disabled. The court heard arguments Friday in an appeal from 34-year-old Justin Eugene Thurber. The south-central Kansas resident was sentenced to die for the kidnapping, rape and killing of 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm after he stalked members of her college dance team. A ruling will come later. The judge rejected the defense's request for a hearing on whether Thurber is developmentally disabled, ruling that the defense hadn't presented enough evidence to warrant a hearing. The state notes that Thurber graduated high school and attended college. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute defendants with even mild developmental disabilities.
Kansas Proposes Work Requirement in New Version of Medicaid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are proposing a new version of the state's privatized Medicaid program that would require about 12,000 adults to work. The proposal was unveiled Friday as the state considers changes to a program that serves more than 400,000 residents. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas currently has no work requirement for Medicaid recipients and it would be the first state in the country to do so. Governor Sam Brownback's administration says requiring some people to work will improve their lives. Officials note that of the 12,000 people that would be affected, most already are required to work because they receive welfare assistance. Advocates for Medicaid recipients say work requirements are illegal and were not allowed before President Donald Trump's administration. The proposal must be approved by the federal government.
Experts: Kansas Depends on Immigrant Labor, Foreign Trade
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Experts are saying the Kansas economy is heavily dependent on global free trade and immigrant labor at a time when both are considered charged political issues in the U.S. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the University of Kansas' Institute for Policy and Social Research sponsored the annual Kansas Economic Policy Conference on Thursday. Alexandre Skiba is a former economics professor at the university and spoke at the conference. He says the dependence on immigrant labor and foreign trade is especially true in rural western Kansas, where the meatpacking industry depends on immigrant labor and the entire agriculture industry generally depends on access to foreign markets. Olathe-based Garmin International official Laurie Minard says the current U.S. political climate is hard on her business that's dependent on access to an international workforce.
Baker University Gift Seeks to Attract Low-Income Students
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Baker University officials say a $1 million gift will provide scholarships for low-income students. Bob Carr, CEO and president of the Give Something Back Foundation, announced the gift last week. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the foundation has already given $1 million to Wichita State University and $500,000 each to Kansas State and Pittsburg universities. The money will provide scholarships to at-risk students from low-income families, those with an incarcerated parent or those eligible for Pell Grants. Eighth-graders who would qualify will be identified this year and will be paired next year with mentors and offered internships through their high school years. If they maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in high school and take college prep courses, they will be eligible for scholarships covering tuition, fees, and room and board.
Fifth Teen Enters Crowded Race for Kansas Governor
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A fifth teenage boy has launched a campaign for governor and entered a field of 19 candidates. The Hutchinson News reports that 16-year-old Joseph Tutera Jr. of Mission Hills is running as a Republican. He appointed his father as his campaign treasurer this week to take a step required for him to legally collect contributions. Kansas has no minimum age for gubernatorial candidates. So far, twelve Republicans, six Democrats and one independent have launched campaigns. Tutera is sophomore class president at the private, Catholic, all-boys Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. 17-year-old Rockhurst senior Dominic Scavuzzo is seeking the GOP nomination, too. The Republican candidates also include 17-year-olds Ethan Randleas of Wichita and Tyler Ruzich of Prairie Village. 16-year-old Jack Bergeson of Wichita is running as a Democrat.