Blue Bell Suspends Operations at Oklahoma Plant
HOUSTON (AP) — Blue Bell Ice Cream says it's suspending operations at an Oklahoma production facility that officials had previously connected to a foodborne illness that contributed to the deaths of three people. In a statement released yesterday (FRI), Blue Bell says it's "taking this step out of an abundance of caution." It says the action is voluntary. Last month, the company and health officials said a contaminated 3-ounce cup of ice cream was traced to a plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Ten products recalled earlier in March were from a production line at a plant in Brenham, Texas the company's headquarters. The recall began after five patients in Wichita became ill with listeria while hospitalized. Officials determined at least four drank milkshakes containing Blue Bell ice cream. Three of the patients died.
Kansas Tightens Rules for Cash, Food Assistance
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Critics of tighter rules for social services in Kansas focus on how they expect those policies to make daily life difficult for needy families. Republican Governor Sam Brownback and his allies emphasize their goal of moving people from state assistance into jobs. Legislators have approved a bill putting policies imposed by Brownback's administration into state law, so they'll be harder to undo. Those policies require able-bodied adults receiving temporary cash assistance to work or be looking for jobs. Lawmakers added rules, too. One bans using cash assistance for entertainment, cruises, spa trips, tattoos, body piercings and consultations with psychics. Another would limit ATM withdrawals with assistance cards to $25 a day. The House passed the bill on an 87-35 vote Thursday, a day after the Senate approved it, 30-10.
Sheriff Says Kansas Man Found Beneath Destroyed Mobile Home
SCOTT CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 62-year-old southwest Kansas man is dead after strong winds destroyed his mobile home. KWCH-TV reports Scott County Sheriff Glenn Anderson says deputies arrived at the home in a rural area near Scott City early yesterday (FRI) and found the man under the frame of the trailer. Anderson says the home was believed to have been destroyed by strong winds Thursday night.
Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Convictions in Fatality
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the murder convictions of a man who killed two people when he crashed into their vehicle while running from police. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Kaston Hudgins of Galena hit speeds reaching 120 mph in July 2009 while trying to elude a Cherokee County deputy after a traffic stop. The chase ended when Hudgins' vehicle hit the back of a car driven by 41-year-old Teresa Kemp. She and her 13-year-old daughter Taylor were killed.Hudgins was convicted in 2012 of two counts of first-degree felony murder and one count of fleeing a law officer. He received two concurrent "Hard 20" life sentences for murder and six months for fleeing. The high court yesterday (FRI) said there wasn't sufficient cause for a new trial.
Florida Youth Suspected of Making Threat to Kansas School
DERBY, Kan. (AP) — Investigators say a juvenile in Florida is suspected of posting an online threat that there would be a shooting at Derby High School, prompting the district to beef up security for a day. Officials say the suspect has no connection to Derby High School and it appears the threat was random.Derby police on Tuesday received a tip that the threat was posted on a gaming website, but it didn't specify a date.Classes at Derby High School were held on schedule Wednesday, though additional law enforcement officers were present. Derby spokeswoman Kristy Bansemer says the FBI helped Derby police identify the suspect on Thursday. She says the FBI and Florida law enforcement will continue investigating the case.
State Ramps up Pressure Against Wichita Marijuana Initiative
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some lawmakers and state officials are ramping up the pressure against a Wichita ballot initiative that seeks to ease penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. But supporters of the measure are also pushing back after crashing their news conference yesterday (FRI) in front of the Sedgwick County courthouse. The issue is on the ballot for Tuesday's election in Wichita. The proposed ordinance does not legalize marijuana. It makes first-time possession a criminal infraction with a $50 fine. Under state law, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in jail. Opponents contend the city has no legal authority to adopt an ordinance that conflicts with state law. Supporters say people should vote for the measure anyway to send the Legislature a message.
Kansas Wesleyan Drops Nursing Accreditation, Seeks Another
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Wesleyan University's nursing program has voluntarily withdrawn its accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education. The Journal reports that the Salina school's withdrawal was effective March 11th, and is a part of a plan to pursue accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. That process is expected to take about two years. According to Matt Thompson, president of Wesleyan, the new accreditation is "more appropriate" for programs that offer bachelor's, master's or doctorate degrees in nursing. Thompson says the lack of accreditation will not affect the school's graduates. According to him, about half of the graduate nursing programs in Kansas don't require incoming students have a degree from a program with ACEN or CCNE accreditation. Wesleyan still has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and the nursing program is licensed by the Kansas Board of Nursing.