University of Kansas to Cut More Than 150 Positions
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas plans to shed more than 150 positions in an effort to cut $20 million from the school's budget. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Interim Provost Carl Lejuez announced Wednesday that the university will be eliminating about 55 faculty positions and 100 staff positions over the next two school years. Lejuez says the faculty cuts will occur through normal attrition and a buyout program for older faculty. He says the university will need to lay off about 30 staff members, who will be notified by summer 2019. Lejuez says the university plans to make up for the faculty losses by using non-faculty lecturers. The announcement was met with criticism over high administrative salaries. Lejuez responded that the university needs to ensure its administrative pay remains competitive.
Kansas Would Boost Foster Care Spending $35 Million Under New Grants
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will boost its annual spending on foster care by $35 million under state Department for Families and Children grants that have been awarded to five contractors. DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel had a news conference Thursday to introduce the contractors and discuss how she believes the grants will improve services for abused and neglected children. The department announced them Nov. 1 , six months after requesting proposals from interested parties. The grants run four years, starting July 1. The state expects to spend $245 million on foster care during the fiscal year beginning on that date. That's a 17 percent increase over the current fiscal year. Departing Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer's administration announced the grants five days before Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly was elected governor. She takes office Jan. 14.
Kansas Governor-Elect Names Legislative Aide as Chief of Staff
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly has named a Democratic legislative leader's top aide as her chief of staff. The incoming Democratic governor announced Will Lawrence's appointment Thursday and said he has a ``sharp understanding of the legislative process.'' Lawrence had been chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka since 2016 after serving as Hensley's staff attorney. He also was in a law firm with former Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis. During the governor's race, Lawrence filed an unsuccessful legal challenge to independent candidate Greg Orman's right to appear on the November ballot. Kelly also has named 23 advisers for her transition team who include former Republican Gov. Mike Hayden. Also among them is former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who lost to Kelly in the Democratic primary.
Kansas Senate's Democratic Leader Names New Chief of Staff
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate's top Democrat has named the former manager of a congressional campaign as his new chief of staff. Senate Minority Leader and Topeka Democrat Anthony Hensley announced Thursday that Kerry Gooch will serve as his top aide. Gooch replaces Will Lawrence, who became Gov.-elect Laura Kelly's chief of staff. Gooch managed the campaign of Democrat Paul Davis in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Davis narrowly lost to Republican Rep.-elect Steve Watkins. Gooch also served as executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party from 2015 to 2017. He is the grandson of retired Democratic state Sen. Rip Gooch of Wichita.
Kansas Governor-Elect Unhappy with Lack of Psychiatric Beds for Children
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Incoming Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said she is "stunned" by a state agency's lack of response to a shortage of residential psychiatric beds for children. The Wichita Eagle reports the shortage of beds has left about 140 Kansas youth waiting for residential psychiatric care. During a meeting Tuesday of a task force studying the state's child welfare system, Kelly suggested she wants significant changes after she takes office in January. Susan Fout is deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services. In response to Kelly's remarks, Fout acknowledged some children are not getting the psychiatric care they need in Kansas. The centers that provide the care are privately operated. Fout said the agency can ask the centers to add beds, but can't force them to do so.
Activist to Replace Lieutenant Governor in Kansas Senate
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Democrats have picked a self-described "social justice activist" who runs two stores selling legal products derived from hemp to replace Lt. Governor-Elect Lynn Rogers in the Kansas Senate. The Wichita Eagle reports that Democratic precinct committee members in Rogers' district in Wichita selected political newcomer Mary Ware during a weekend meeting. She will serve the final two years of Rogers' four-year term. Ware runs two CBD stores offering oils from cannabis. Ware said that her top legislative priorities include legalizing marijuana, along with criminal justice reform and expanding the state's Medicaid health coverage for the needy. She defeated four other candidates. Her opponents included Kelly Schodorf, an attorney and the daughter of former state Senator Jean Schodorf, who held the seat from 2001 through 2012.
Restoration Planned for Fire-Damaged Kansas State Library
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Officials are making plans to restore the main Kansas State University library after a blaze caused extensive smoke and water damage. The Manhattan Mercury reports that students were invited Tuesday to offer input on the renderings of the inside of Hale Library. The building was undergoing renovations in May when a fire broke out. Plans calls for renovating all four floors of the building. The renderings call for an innovation lab on the first and second floors, connected by a staircase, expanded athlete tutoring space in the Student Success Center and new classroom spaces scattered throughout the building. The dean of libraries, Lori Goetsch, says the biggest change students can expect is the innovation lab and maker space. Those areas will be full of virtual reality and artificial intelligence equipment.
Sedgwick County Commission Forces Out Manager Amid FBI Inquiry
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Another high-level Sedgwick County official has been forced out amid an FBI investigation. The Wichita Eagle reports that commissioners voted 3-2 on Wednesday to pay County Manager Michael Scholes $205,427 to get him to leave. Commissioners said their reason for forcing out Scholes was that he had created a toxic environment. Scholes had been under fire after providing information to the FBI in an investigation last year of Commissioner Michael O'Donnell, who is awaiting federal trial on wire fraud and money laundering charges related to campaign funds. O'Donnell, who's still a member of the commission, voted against the payment, saying it's too high. Last month, the commission agreed to pay $77,000 to get rid of former Counselor Eric Yost, who was suspended after releasing details of efforts to oust Scholes.
Man Sentenced for Killing Wife, Leaving Body in Dumpster
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year-old Wichita man who killed his wife and left her body in a dumpster has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years. In October, Donnell Stafford was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Leuh Moore. KAKE-TV reports Stafford killed Moore in April and left her body in a dumpster behind a liquor store less than a mile from their home. Stafford was arrested two days later in Davenport, Iowa. Police said the couple had a history of domestic violence. Moore's 7-year-old son was home when she was killed. Police later found him safe at a relative's house. Stafford was also sentenced to a year for each of two counts of animal cruelty for stabbing two dogs.
16-Year-Old Girl Shot, Wounded in Accidental Shooting
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 16-year-old girl has been wounded in an accidental shooting in Kansas. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Riley County police say the shooting happened around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. The girl's wound wasn't life threatening. Police spokeswoman Hali Rowland says no additional information will be released, including the girl's name, because the case involves a juvenile.
Former Charter Teacher Charged with More Child Sex Crimes
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — More sex crime charges have been filed in Kansas against a former Missouri charter school teacher. The Kansas City Star reports that 42-year-old Randall Carter II, of Overland Park, Kansas, was free on bond when he was arrested again Friday. He had been teaching at Lee A. Tolbert Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, when he was charged in May in Johnson County, Kansas, with multiple sex crimes involving two children. Charter officials said the children weren't students at the school. The new charges of rape, aggravated indecent liberties and sodomy involve a third child and date back to 2012. Bond for Carter is set at $500,000. During a hearing Thursday, a judge denied his request to lower it.
2 Men Charged with Killing 88-Year-Old During Robbery
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two convicted felons have been charged with killing an 88-year-old man in his Wichita home during a robbery. The Wichita Eagle reports that 54-year-old Landon Onek and 36-year-old Austin Stewart were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of theft in the death of Floyd Gilbert. Bond is set at $500,000 for Stewart and $250,000 for Onek. Glibert's son, Abner "Corkey" Gilbert, went to his father's home Thursday night after not hearing from in two days and found his body. He said his father was a retired aircraft sheet-metal worker who lived alone. His father's car was missing. Court records show Onek and Stewart have served time for theft, drug counts and other crimes. And Onek's parole was revoked just last week in a drug case.
2 Wichita Children Shot in Hands While Playing with Gun
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Wichita man has been arrested after two children, ages 2 and 4, arrived at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph suffering from gunshot wounds to their hands. Wichita police spokesman Charley Davidson said the children were playing with a handgun Tuesday when they were each injured. Davidson said the 2-year-old was treated and placed in protective custody. The 4-year-old was still hospitalized Wednesday after surgery. Davidson said Delano Wayne Rogers and the children's 21-year-old mother were home while the children were playing with the gun. Davidson said Rogers is a friend of the children's mother. He drove the children and their mother to the hospital and left. The Wichita Eagle reports Davidson said Rogers was arrested Tuesday at his home. The children's mother has not been arrested.
Pedestrian Struck, Killed on Highway in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a 75-year-old Kansas man died after being struck by a car has he tried to cross a busy highway. The victim was identified Tuesday as Ronald Smith of Topeka. Police say he was hit Monday evening in the southbound lanes of U.S. 71 in south Kansas City. Smith was on the inside shoulder of the highway and tried to cross the highway for unknown reasons. A Volkswagen traveling south was unable to stop and hit Smith, who died at the scene.
The driver was not injured.
Autopsy: Kansas Community College Player Died of Heatstroke
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy has found that heatstroke killed a western Kansas community college football player who collapsed after the first day of practice. The Wichita Eagle reports that an athletic trainer found 19-year-old Braeden Bradforth, of Neptune, New Jersey, unconscious outside his Garden City Community College dorm room on Aug. 1. He died that night at a hospital. Former coach, Jeff Sims, who's leaving the school to coach at Missouri Southern State University, previously said the emergency room doctor suspected a blood clot. But an autopsy report filed last week blamed the death on exertional heat stroke. The report noted that the 300 pound lineman was vomiting and had a history of asthma. Administrators at the community college are conducting an internal review of the circumstances of his death.
Kansas Man to Stand Trial in Woman's Death by Fire
COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who is accused of fatally burning a woman and injuring two police officers has been ordered to stand trial. The Joplin Globe reports that the preliminary trial for 50-year-old Harvey Raymond Ortberg, of Baxter Springs, ended Tuesday with a judge finding sufficient evidence for him to be tried on a first-degree murder charge and six other felonies. Body camera video showed two officers running inside 65-year-old Sharon Horn's trailer, where Horn's 15-year-old granddaughter was crying. The officers entered the bathroom, where Ortberg was seen with a gas can and lighter in his hands. One officer wrestled with Ortberg, who then doused himself and the two officers with gasoline before flicking the lighter to start the fire. Horn later died at a Springfield, Missouri, hospital.
Kansas Teacher Arrested for Trafficking Meth
LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teacher has been charged with dealing methamphetamine in Oklahoma. The Hutch Post reports that 37-year-old Melissa Abla and a man were arrested last month after law enforcement executed a search warrant at their home in Tyrone, Oklahoma. Abla taught at Seymour Rogers Middle School in Liberal. The school district didn't immediately return a phone message. She is charged in Oklahoma with five felonies and one misdemeanor. Bond is set at $250,000. No attorney is listed for her in online court records. Tyrone is about 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) southwest of Liberal.
67-Year-Old Leavenworth Man Sentenced for Soliciting Teen
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A 67-year-old Leavenworth man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for soliciting a 13-year-old girl on Facebook. Raymond Soden was sentenced Tuesday after pleading no contest in August to solicitation. He admitted in his plea that he knew the girl was 13 when he began exchanging messages with her offering to pay for nude photos of her and her friends as well a sex acts. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said in a news release that Soden had prior convictions for battery and for sexual battery. Prosecutors argued for a sentence of more than 13 years but Soden's attorney asked for probation.
Bob Dole Rises from Wheelchair to Salute Former President Bush
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has saluted President George H.W. Bush at the casket of the late president. Like Bush, Dole is a World War II veteran and represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate. He arrived in the Capitol rotunda Tuesday in a wheelchair pushed by an aide. At the casket's side, the aide lifted Dole, 95, into a standing position. Once steadied, Dole saluted. Bush achieved the office that Dole sought in 1996 as the Republican presidential nominee. Bush died on Friday at age 94.
Triple Slaying Suspect's Defense Optimistic About Readiness
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The new attorneys for a man charged with fatally shooting three people and wounding two others in downtown Lawrence say they are optimistic that they will be ready for trial in two months. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Shaye Downing and another attorney were appointed to represent 21-year-old Anthony Roberts Jr. after his old attorney was kicked off the case over concerns about her competency. The concerns culminated in a judge declaring a mistrial last month. Downing said Tuesday that she intends to hire an investigator and ballistics expert. She says she is hopeful their work will be done in time for a February 4 trial. Roberts is charged with three murder counts and one attempted murder count. Two other suspects face less series charges in the October 2017 shooting.
Kansas Man Bitten by Snake, Charged with Drug Possession
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Great Bend police who responded to reports that a man was bitten by a venomous snake allegedly found the snake decapitated and hallucinogenic mushrooms at his home. The department says on a Facebook post that officers went to the home of 25-year-old Ari Hooley on Tuesday after he was treated Monday for bite from a Coral Cobra, a venomous snake. It is illegal to own an exotic or venomous snake in Great Bend. KAKE-TV reports Hooley refused to cooperate with officers. When they returned later with a search warrant, officers found the snake decapitated and buried. Police say they also found "a large quantity" of hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Hooley is facing several drug-related charges, including unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances near a school.
KC Teens Charged After Guns, Tasers Stolen from Police Car
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Two Kansas City men are facing federal gun charges after firearms and police equipment were stolen from an unmarked police car. Leronte Swinton and Carvon Brown, both 19, are charged with illegal possession of stolen firearms. The Kansas City Star reports federal court documents show the two are suspects in several car break-ins and thefts around Kansas City and in Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties. Prosecutors say a rifle, handgun and shotgun were taken from a patrol car parked in a south Kansas City on Nov. 10. Two Tasers, two bullet-resistant vests and two hand-held radios were also taken. Investigators determined two vehicles the suspects were in were involved in several other thefts. Police arrested Swinton and Brown Monday at a Kansas City home, where other stolen items were found.
For-Profit College Closes Operations, Surprising Students
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A troubled chain of for-profit colleges has closed abruptly in dozens of locations nationwide, after its accrediting agency suspended approval. Birmingham, Alabama-based Education Corp. of America on Wednesday closed schools operating as Virginia College, Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute and Golf Academy of America. The company in October said it owed $46.8 million to unsecured creditors, asking a judge to keep landlords from kicking it out of locations. ECA earlier announced it was closing some locations once students completed classes, but said it would continue others. Project on Predatory Student Lending Director Toby Merrill says students can ask the U.S. Department of Education to cancel loans if a school closes. The company website says information about transcripts and recommendations about transfers will be available starting about December 17.
NCAA President: No Speedy Resolution in Basketball Corruption Cases
NEW YORK (AP) — NCAA President Mark Emmert said Wednesday that new rules allowing the use of information from legal proceedings will help in the investigation of college basketball corruption, though he cautioned that the inquiry is unlikely to be done before the men's tournament begins in March. The first federal trial in the case in October resulted in the conviction of three men for wire fraud after testimony that implicated several schools, including Louisville, Arizona and Kansas, of being involved in payments to high school players. The trial was held in New York. "There's been, I think, some confusion out there where some people have said the Southern District has now given you a green light to race forth and engage and that's a bit of a simplification to say the least," Emmert said during an interview at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.
Emmert did not attend the trial, though he said the NCAA had representatives in the courtroom. The NCAA is using an outside law firm to communicate with the FBI and federal prosecutors. "There's still ongoing trials. There's still investigatory work being done by the U.S. Attorney's office. We have to be very respectful of that process," Emmert said.
Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person and another man are scheduled to go on trial in February and former Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, former USC assistant Tony Bland and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans are defendants in a trial that is scheduled to begin in April. "We don't want to inadvertently obstruct any of that justice process. We're moving forward as assertively as we can, while still having to respect that process," Emmert said.
Even before the NCAA dives into the information gleaned from the FBI investigations and the trials, there is work to be done internally. Among the many reforms recommended early this year by a commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a new independent body that would adjudicate major infractions cases. Emmert said "business leaders, former politicians (and) high-stature people the public will have confidence in" are likely to be on the panel.
Emmert said the new enforcement body could be in place as soon as August. In the meantime, few schools have taken action to discipline players or coaches who have been implicated publicly. "We need to make sure that schools are fulfilling their role and holding everybody accountable," Emmert said. "But the NCAA as an association of member schools is built upon the notion of collaboration and collegiality, and there's a notion among the schools that they will all hold themselves accountable. So to the extent that doesn't happen, I think all of the members are not happy with that."
Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Bray, during an interview session at the forum, said the lack of action has been notable. "As a profession, coaches look at it and say, 'Wow, that's interesting,' maybe there should be more ineligible guys," Bray said. "But I sense that is coming."