Kansas Senate Leader: Governor Should Boost Prison Pay Now
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Senate's top Republican is calling on Governor Sam Brownback to give corrections officers at state prisons an immediate pay increase. Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita issued a statement Wednesday urging Brownback to take executive action. She toured the El Dorado Correctional Facility with Republican Senator Bruce Givens whose district includes El Dorado. The Department of Corrections has confirmed three inmate disturbances at the El Dorado prison in May and June and a pair of inmate-on-inmate stabbings July 28. The prison is struggling with an annual turnover rate among uniformed officers of 46 percent. They are sometimes working 16-hour shifts because of staffing shortages. Wagle said she would leave the size of the pay increase to Brownback and Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood. She said lawmakers could cover the cost next year.
Westar Says New Merger Plan Will Be Filed With Kansas Corporation Commission
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The CEO of Westar Energy says the utility and Great Plains Energy will file their new merger plan with Kansas regulators later this month. CEO Mark
Ruelle says meetings will be scheduled later this year for a shareholder vote on the proposal. Ruelle updated investors Wednesday on the second plan to combine the utilities. The Kansas Corporation Commission rejected a proposal in April for the $12.2 billion sale of Westar to Great Plains. Ruelle says paperwork will be filed with state and federal entities by the end of August and, he says, the goal is to complete the agreement in the first half of 2018. Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light, is based in Kansas City, Missouri. Westar is the largest utility in Kansas.
Kansas State Provost to Resign in June
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State Provost April Mason says she plans to resign next summer. Mason has announced that her resignation will be effective June 30. Mason, who has been provost and senior vice president since 2010, was a finalist for the chancellor position at the University of Nebraska in March 2016. She withdrew her name for that job to help Richard Myers' transition when he was appointed Kansas State president in 2016. She said that transition is nearly complete and now is a good time to move on. Myers thanked Mason for her contribution to the university and said Kansas State will soon appoint a search committee to find her replacement.
Kansas County Hard Hit by Fires Gets Fencing Funds
ASHLAND, Kan. (AP) — About five months after wildfires swept through Kansas, ranchers in the hardest-hit county have received the second installment of federal funds needed to replace fences. Clark County ranchers will get about $18 million in federal funds for miles of fencing lost when fires burned about 425,000 acres in March. The county received half of the $18 million shortly after the fire but the rest was delayed by budget shortfalls. Carla Wikoff, with the Kansas Farm Service Agency, says the rest of the funds for Clark County came in last week. A mile of fence, with labor, costs about $10,000 to replace. The Hutchinson News reports about 711,000 acres burned in Kansas in early March, with most of the losses coming in what was called the Starbuck fire in southwestern Kansas.
El Dorado Pool Shut Down After Unusual Vandalism
EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) — El Dorado officials are looking for those involved in an unusual vandalism case at the city's pool. El Dorado police say officers were called to the pool Sunday after the water was dyed a reddish-purple color. The vandalism caused officials to shut down the pool on Sunday and Monday. A note was left behind saying the dye wasn't toxic, would not stain and should eventually filter out. Police have classified the incident as vandalism, or criminal damage to property.
Kansas Weighs Action Against Abortion Doctor
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A doctor facing possible disciplinary action over allegations that he broke Kansas law in handling a 13-year-old girl's abortion told medical regulators he was unaware of the patient's age — and that staff at the Planned Parenthood clinic was to blame. Dr. Allen Palmer told the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts during a hearing Thursday that he would have relied on Planned Parenthood's staff to inform him if the patient during the December 2014 procedure was younger than 14 because he didn't do abortions on patients so young. Palmer is accused of failing to preserve fetal tissue from the abortion and submit it to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The petition by the board's deputy litigation counsel says Palmer was a part-time Planned Parenthood contractor solely tasked with performing abortions for patients in their first trimester. The board deferred a ruling, which is expected within 30 days.
Topeka Capital-Journal Sold to NewMedia Investment Group
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Morris Communications is selling its 11 daily newspapers to New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media, Inc. New Media said Wednesday it purchased Morris Publishing Group, the newspaper division of Georgia-based Morris Communications, for $120 million. The sale includes The Topeka Capital-Journal and daily newspapers in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Alaska. A news release said the deal should be finalized in October. GateHouse Media owns more than 130 daily newspapers and other publications in 36 U.S. states. Morris Communications, a family-owned media company, will still publish magazines, sell broadband services and operate other business ventures.
Escaped Inmate from Kansas Prison Captured
WINFIELD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man who escaped from a Kansas prison where he was serving time on a burglary charge has been recaptured in another county. Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet says 53-year-old Lewis Mitchell was caught shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday after a sheriff's deputy saw him hitchhiking along a highway and, after approaching the man, saw him run into a corn field. The Kansas Department of Corrections said Mitchell had walked away Tuesday night from the Winfield prison in Cowley County. Mitchell was serving a sentence of two years and three months for a burglary conviction.
16 Empty Railroad Freight Cars Derail on Topeka Bridge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Sixteen empty cars on a Union Pacific freight train derailed near downtown Topeka near the Kansas River. Union Pacific spokesman Jeff DeGraff says no injuries were reported after the derailment Wednesday morning. He says the cars derailed on a curve and landed on their side just south of a railroad bridge that crosses the river. The derailed cars were near the middle of the 80 railroad cars being pulled by the train. Another locomotive was called to move the cars that stayed upright. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the derailed cars were moved off the track about two hours after the derailment. DeGraff says the derailment caused minimal damage to the track.
KBI Identifies Man Shot by Officers in Junction City
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has identified the man who was fatally shot by law enforcement officers in Junction City. The agency said Wednesday that 23-year-old Peter James Robbins was killed outside a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Junction City. KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood says Junction City and Geary County officers responded early Tuesday to a report of an armed disturbance at the Walmart. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the officers located a man who was armed with two handguns on the sidewalk near the store's parking lot. Underwood says the man was told to drop his weapons and when the confrontation escalated, four officers from the two agencies fired at the man, killing him. No officers were injured.
UMKC Chancellor Leaving a Year Early
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo Morton says he plans to leave the school earlier than expected. Morton announced Wednesday that will step down in October. He had said in May that he would retire until after the 2017-18 academic year. The 71-year-old Morton will become chief operating officer for DeBruce Companies in Kansas City. He also will be chancellor emeritus at UMKC. The university appointed Barbara Bichelmeyer, current provost and executive vice chancellor, to be interim chancellor. Morton previously worked at Aquila, AT&T Microelectronics, Bell Laboratories, General Motors and Corning Glass.
Fatal 2015 Helicopter Crash in Colorado Caused by Rotor Failure
ERIE, Colo. (AP) — A 2015 helicopter crash that killed two people in northern Colorado was caused by cracking in the helicopter's rotor system. That's according to a report released recently by the National Transportation Safety Board. The federal investigators say that the crash near the Erie airport was caused by an in-flight break-up of the aircraft's rotor system prompted by undetected fatigue cracking. The crash killed flight instructor Alex Viola, a 23-year-old from Arkansas City, Kansas. The crash also killed his student, 25-year-old Amy Wood of Boulder. The Denver Post first reported the NTSB's conclusion. The NTSB also cited the Enstrom 280FX's design as a contributing factor to the helicopter's crash. The aircraft was manufactured in 1985.
Royals to Visit Omaha Storm Chasers for Exhibition in March
PAPILLION, Neb. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals will play the Omaha Storm Chasers in an exhibition next March to kick off the 50th year of the Royals having their top farm club in the Omaha area. The Storm Chasers announced on Thursday that the game is March 26 at Werner Park. It will be the first time the Royals have visited their Triple-A affiliate since 2000. The Storm Chasers franchise has been Kansas City's top farm club since 1969. No other major-league team has had its Triple-A affiliate in the same location as long. Tickets for the exhibition go on sale September 1.
Cardinals Rally to Beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Cardinals' Yadier Molina hit a grand slam in the sixth inning, helping St. Louis rally to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-5 on Wednesday night. The Cardinals loaded the bases off Royals relievers Brandon Maurer and Peter Moylan. Kansas City's Melky Cabrera hit his 15th home run, a two-run shot, that had given the Royals a 5-4 lead in the fifth before the Cards came roaring back to take the lead in the sixth.