Kansas Board of Regents Advances Campus Concealed Weapons Policy
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Board of Regents panel has advanced a plan governing how to allow concealed weapons on the state's college campuses by mid-2017. The board's four-member governance committee discussed and signed off on the newest draft Wednesday in Topeka, Kansas. That sends the matter to the full board for its likely consideration and approval next month. In Kansas, gun owners can carry concealed weapons without a license. And public universities in Kansas must allow concealed weapons on campus beginning in July 2017 in buildings that don't have security measures including metal detectors. Opponents argue that classroom dialogue could be hindered because students may worry an armed student or educator who disagrees could react violently, or that a firearm could accidentally discharge. Supporters argue that gun-free zones attract mass shootings.
Chris Christie Files for Kansas Republican Caucuses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be part of the Kansas Republican caucuses next year. The Kansas Republican Party said in a news release Wednesday that Christie has paid the $15,000 filing fee to qualify for the March 5 caucuses. Christie visited Kansas several times in 2014 to campaign for Governor Sam Brownback's re-election. He was chairman of the Republican Governors Association at the time. He is the seventh candidate to file for the Kansas caucuses. Others are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
UPDATE: CURB Chairman Resigns as Board Considers Changes
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of a state board leading an agency that represents home and small-business utility consumers has resigned, partially out of frustration over major changes other board members are considering for the agency. Brian Weber, of Garden City, announced his resignation from the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board Wednesday. It comes five days after other board members discussed either dissolving the agency or changing its mission to focus on fighting federal clean-air regulations. The Wichita Eagle reports that during a meeting last week, the board also stripped acting consumer counsel Niki Christopher of her roles of representing consumers in the Legislature and of speaking to the news media about utility matters. CURB is usually the only legal party representing residential customers and small businesses in rate cases before the Kansas Corporation Commission.
Kansas Issues $400 Million in Highway Construction Bonds
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Department of Transportation has issued a state record of $400 million in highway construction bonds to take advantage of the suspension of a state law limiting the agency's debt burden. Kansas transportation secretary Mike King also says favorable market forces warranted issuing the bonds. The 2015 Kansas Legislature and Governor Sam Brownback agreed to suspend for two years a provision forbidding the transportation department's aggregate bond debt service to exceed 18 percent of the agency's annual highway revenue. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the bond transaction in early December and pushed borrowing in the 10-year, $7.8 million T-Works program to $1.2 billion. King says department advisers recommended a large bond offering because the state's cost to secure capital could rise unexpectedly.
Democratic Kansas House Member from Wichita Stepping Down
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita Democrat plans to resign from the Kansas House over what she says is anti-education rhetoric in the Republican-dominated Legislature. Representative Carolyn Bridges announced Tuesday that she will step down Sunday. Bridges was a school principal for 25 years before being elected to the House in 2012. She told The Wichita Eagle that educators are, in her words, "just beat up daily by the people who don't believe in public education." Bridges has served on the Education and Taxation committees. House Education Committee Chairman and Wamego Republican Ron Highland said lawmakers don't intend to attack teachers and must be willing to listen to differing opinions.
US Attorney for Kansas Criticizes Effort to Bar Syrian Refugees
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. attorney for Kansas has issued a statement criticizing efforts to bar Syrian refugees from entering the country, and discouraging discriminatory acts against Muslims in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris. The Wichita Eagle reports that U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Tuesday that decisions regarding the resettlement of refugees are part of the federal government's authority over immigration. Several governors, including Governor Sam Brownback, have spoken out against letting Syrian refugees into the United States, citing that terrorists could enter the country under the guise of being a refugee. In his statement, Grissom says fear of terrorism is no reason for backlash against Muslims in America. He also says the Department of Justice will act to enforce hate crime laws.
Kansas Group Gets Grant to Study Fort Riley Troop Reductions
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ A Kansas group has received a $294,000 grant from the Department of Defense to evaluate the economic impact of potential future force reductions at Fort Riley. The Manhattan Mercury reports that the director for The Flint Hills Regional Council told Riley County Commissioners Monday that the grant will be used to hire a consultant to complete the evaluation, which will look at the effects of past reductions, and make recommendations about how surrounding communities could handle the impact of a troop reduction. Council director Gary Stith said the evaluations will focus on the impact of potential reductions on local jobs, housing, schools and retail services. Stith said that once the evaluation is complete, the council would have to apply for additional funds to implement the consultant's recommendations.
2 Sentenced in Kansas City Drug Conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Two Missouri men who led a multi-million drug trafficking ring in the Kansas City metropolitan area were sentenced to 13½ years in federal prison. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom of Kansas says Eduardo Perez-Alcala, of Independence, and Hector Aguilera, of Sugar Creek, were sentenced Tuesday for conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors say the two men led a $28.5 million drug trafficking group. Aguilera received shipments of cocaine from Perez-Alcala and two other Mexican sources. An investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration resulted in the seizure and forfeiture of more than $2 million in cash, 194 firearms, 29 vehicles, 26 kilograms of powder cocaine and three kilograms of crack cocaine.
Voter Group Targets Young Citizens in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The League of Women Voters has launched a campaign to educate young citizens about the Kansas voting registration process. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that in the "Your Right to Vote: Kansas Campus Initiative," professors at four universities will discuss the registration process and show students a five- to 10-minute instructional video produced by the public television station KTWU. Students in the Washburn University political science department wrote the video's script. The League of Women Voters had the idea for the initiative after the group analyzed the state's list of suspended voters and found that 40 percent of people on the list were under the age of 30. Many lived in the state's college towns. The League hopes that the effort will spread to high schools in the future.
Lawrence Overpaid Hotel's Development Group, Mayor Says
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence mayor says the city is seeking reimbursement after money was overpaid to a hotel through a redevelopment agreement. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that unspecified overpayments were found during a city-ordered audit of The Oread hotel's special taxing district. Mayor Mike Amyx said commissioners heard the audit results Tuesday night. The upscale hotel is located 1 ½ block from the University of Kansas campus. The city's agreement with The Oread allows private developers of the hotel to keep a large amount of the sales taxes generated there to pay for parking and other infrastructure. City documents say the special taxing district has generated more than $2 million for the development group. A phone message that that The Associated Press left for the hotel on Wednesday wasn't immediately returned.
De Soto Man Sentenced to Life in 2013 Killing
DE SOTO, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City man has been sentenced to life in prison in the 2013 killing of a 21-year-old Prairie Village man. The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1OwpYBa ) reports that 33-year-old Dustin Adam Maynard, of De Soto, was sentenced Wednesday for first-degree murder in the killing of Jordan MacDonald. Prosecutors say MacDonald was stabbed and strangled. Authorities say the victim's body was found partially burned in a grassy area near Maynard's apartment in October 2013. Authorities say the two men had been at a De Soto bar together the night before and that the victim had given Maynard a ride home. Detectives and crime scene investigators later found blood in Maynard's apartment that was linked to MacDonald through DNA testing.
Professor Finds Rare Audio of Basketball Inventor Naismith
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas researcher has uncovered an audio recording of James Naismith talking about setting up the first game of basketball in 1891 in Massachusetts. The school says it is believed to be the only known recording of basketball's founder. Associate professor Michael Zogry found references to a 1939 interview with Naismith on a New York radio program "We the People" while researching a book and obtained the roughly three-minute recording in November. He says Naismith's description of roughhousing among 18 players in the first game sheds new light on the creative process that led him to draft the 13 original rules. Naismith moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1898 and became the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas.
Topeka Police Investigate Death of Man Found in Vehicle
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are looking for a person of interest in the death of a 24-year-old man. Police said Tuesday that officers searching for the person of interest obtained search warrants for two residences. But the officers who searched the residences weren't able to locate the 25-year-old man. The man is wanted for questioning in the investigation into the death of Terrin Holloway, of Topeka. Police said that officers were dispatched Sunday afternoon and found Holloway's body in a vehicle that was stopped in the middle of a street. A police news release describes the death as a homicide but offers no details about how Holloway died.
Teen Sentenced to Probation in Hutchinson School Threat Case
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — One of five teenagers accused of conspiring to carry out a shooting at Hutchinson High School has been sentenced to five months of probation. The 17-year-old boy was sentenced Tuesday in juvenile court after pleading no contest to a single count of criminal threat. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed a solicitation to commit first-degree murder charge. The teen also was ordered to write a letter of apology to the school. Police arrested five teens in April after they were alerted to postings on Facebook that threatened a mass shooting on the last day of school. District Judge Patricia Macke Dick ordered the five teens to be released from custody this summer. The other four teens are scheduled for plea hearings on Dec. 29 in juvenile court.
Baldwin City Woman Charged with Sex Crimes Against Student
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A former teaching aide in the Lawrence school district has been charged with having unlawful sexual relations with a 17-year-old boy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the 33-year-old Baldwin City woman also is charged with sexual exploitation of a child and promoting obscenity to minors. The woman is jailed in Douglas County on $40,000 bond. District spokeswoman Julie Boyle says the woman was hired in November 2014 as a para-educator. She was assigned to the Douglas County Youth Services Day School at the Northeast Regional Juvenile Detention Center. The woman was placed on administrative leave after the allegations surfaced last week and was fired Monday night. A court records says the woman was in a sexual relationship with the boy from August to December of this year.
2017 US Figure Skating Championships Headed to Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships will be held in Kansas City. The U.S. Figure Skating Association announced its choice Wednesday. It will be the first nationals staged in Kansas City since 1985, when Brian Boitano won the first of four straight U.S. crowns. U.S. champions will be crowned in men's, women's, pairs and ice dance at the senior, junior, novice, intermediate and juvenile levels. U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director David Raith says, "We look forward to hosting our athletes, coaches, officials and fans from around the world in one of the Midwest's greatest cities." Next year's nationals will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, from January 15-24, 2016.
Kansas City Zoo Had Highest Visitor Count Ever in 2015
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Zoo officials say more than 900,000 people visited the attraction this year, the highest attendance in the zoo's 106- year history. Zoo officials said Wednesday the goal will be to draw more than 1 million visitors in 2016. The Kansas City Star reports the previous record attendance was 714,367 in 1998 after the new African section opened but the numbers fell to 386,835 in 2006. Zoo visits began rising steadily with new amenities and exhibits, such as bringing in polar bears and penguins. The progress was helped when voters approved a $30 million bond issue for the zoo. Officials are now considering improvements to the elephant exhibit and other projects.
Newman University Gets $2 Million from Fugate Enterprises
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Newman University in Kansas has received a $2 million gift from Fugate Enterprises. The university announced Wednesday that the gift will be used for the school's science, nursing and allied health professions program. It's the latest of several donations to the Catholic school from Larry Fugate, owner of Fugate Enterprises, and his wife, Dana. Fugate Gymnasium and one of Newman's residence halls are named after the Fugates. Larry Fugate said in a news release that the couple believes in the Catholic university, especially its contributions to health care professions in the Wichita region.
Anonymous Donor Gives 4 Gold Coins to Wichita Nonprofits
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An anonymous donor has arranged for four gold coins to be given to two Wichita nonprofits. The Wichita Eagle reports that two gold coins were given Tuesday morning to the Guadalupe Clinic and two more later to the Lord's Diner. For more than a decade, the Wichita Community Foundation has presented the gold coins to local nonprofits from an anonymous donor. The first set of gold coins was distributed in 2005 to five organizations. This year's coins are valued at $1,064 each. The Guadalupe Clinic provides health care for those in need at three locations. The Lord's Diner provides 2,200 to 2,500 meals daily at a cost of a $1 a meal at four Wichita locations.
Butler Community College to Build Training Tower
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas community college is building a training tower for aspiring firefighters. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Butler Community College's Board of Trustees approved a more than $170,000 investment in a training tower last month. It will be constructed behind El Dorado's Fire Station No. 2. The tower will be three stories tall with a rooftop. The school said in a news release that it will allow fire science students to train more extensively in a realistic environment. El Dorado Fire Chief Steve Moody said previously, firefighters had to train in houses that were in the process of being demolished. The tower is expected to be completed and in use by mid-spring.
Midwestern Volleyball Will Be Showcased in NCAA Semifinals
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- It will be a celebration of Midwestern volleyball in the NCAA semifinals Thursday night at the sold-out CenturyLink Center in Omaha. For the first time in the national tournament's 35 years, there are no teams from the West Coast or Hawaii in the final four. Big Ten champion Minnesota (30-4) meets Big 12 champ Texas (29-2) in the first semifinal. Nebraska (30-4) faces Kansas (30-2) in the second semifinal. The title match is Saturday. Nebraska coach John Cook says the four teams that made it are proof there is great balance in the sport across the country. Minnesota has won four of seven all-time matches against Texas. Nebraska is 86-0-1 all-time against KU, with the tie coming in 1977.