UPDATE: Kansas School Finance Trial Ends, Goes to Judges
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A panel of Kansas judges says it may be months before it rules on whether the state's method of funding public schools is constitutional. The three-judge panel heard final arguments Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court in the trial of a 2010 lawsuit challenging the system. Attorneys for the plaintiff parents and school districts argue the state has failed to live up to its promises to increase K-12 funding as ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2006. They say schools have had to make cuts that have hurt student achievement. Lawyers for the state contend the Legislature did its best to mitigate the effects on schools of the recession that began in 2008.
UPDATE: Legal Fight from Special Topeka Vote Not Expected
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two candidates in a Republican primary for a Kansas House seat from Topeka say they won't pursue any court challenges now that an unusual special election has settled the contest. Shawnee County officials on Wednesday certified the results from Tuesday's special election, which was limited to a single Topeka polling place where some voters got the wrong ballots in the August 7 primary. The only race still in doubt from the mix-up was for the Republican nomination in the 52nd House District. The final results show Topeka physician Shanti Gandhi defeating retired Navy and State Department officer Dick Jones by 46 votes. Both said Wednesday that they won't challenge the results after they're reviewed by the State Board of Canvassers. That board meets Friday.
UPDATE: Court Sets Hearing on PETA Lawsuit Injunction
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has scheduled a hearing next week in the case. PETA is asking the court to block the Kansas State Fair from forcing it to shield fairgoers from images depicting animal slaughter displayed in the group's booth. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten will hear arguments Tuesday, just days before the September 7 opening of the fair. PETA on Monday sued the Kansas Fair Board, the state and the fair's general manager, Denny Stoecklein. The animal rights group argues the restrictions violate its free speech rights. The state attorney general's office contends the restrictions are lawful. Marten has been known as a staunch defender of First Amendment rights since taking the federal bench.
Postmaster Ordered to Pay Restitution in Embezzlement Case
HOLTON, Kan. (AP) _ The former postmaster of the Whiting post office is serving two years of probation for embezzling public funds. Fifty-year-old Terri L. Morris of Holton also was ordered last week to pay $5,338 in restitution for embezzling from the post office in Whiting. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that U.S. Postal Service investigators found more than $7,000 missing during a surprise audit at the post office in 2010. Prosecutors say Morris took the money and filed fraudulent statements with the postal service to cover the thefts.
Hepatitis C Testing Continues for Medical Center Patients
HAYS, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas health officials say nine more patients at Hays Medical Center have tested negative for hepatitis C in cases linked to a traveling hospital technician. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says 474 people were potentially exposed to hepatitis C when David Kwiatkowski worked at the Hays hospital from May to September 2010. Fifty-eight of those patients died from other causes before being tested. The Hays Daily News reports that as of Monday, 357 of the remaining 416 patients had been tested. Three tested positive for a strain of hepatitis C similar to one carried by Kwiatkowski. Not all the test results have been returned. Kwiatkowski has denied allegations that he stole drugs from a New Hampshire hospital, injected himself and contaminated syringes later used on patients.
Slightly Fewer Kansas Youths Uninsured, Study Shows
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A new report says slightly more Kansas youths were covered by public health insurance in 2010 than in 2008. The study released Tuesday was paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funds health research and programs. Researchers from the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health analyzed government census data and found that 22.3 percent of Kansas youths had public health insurance in 2010, compared to 20.1 percent in 2008. And the study says the percentage of Kansas youths with private insurance coverage dropped to 69.9 percent in 2010 from 71.6 percent in 2008. The study also found that the number of Kansas children living in low-income households jumped by 60,000 from 2008 to 2010, the latest numbers available. Nationally, 31 percent of children had public insurance and 60 percent private insurance in 2010.
Kansas Says Cities to Share $11M for Road Projects
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Transportation says 18 cities will share almost $11 million in funds for future highway improvements. The agency says the money will be available in July 2014, and in some cases, communities will have to provide matching funds. The projects add lanes or make other improvements to highways as they pass through the cities. Manhattan received the most money, $900,000, to help upgrade the Kansas 18 and K-113 interchange. Independence is receiving $800,000 for improvements on U.S. 75, while Liberal is getting the same amount to help upgrade U.S. 54. Winfield also is receiving $800,000 for improvements to U.S. 77. Other communities receiving funds are Augusta, Baxter Springs, Beloit, Coffeyville, Dighton, Downs, Great Bend, Hillsboro, Horton, Jewell, Leavenworth, Ness City, Norton and Stockton.
Families Sue Over Atchison Grain Elevator Blast
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Families of four of the six people who died in an explosion at a grain elevator in northeast Kansas have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against some the elevator's employees. The families contend employees of Kansas City, Missouri-based Bartlett Grain Company, including current president Bob Knief, disregarded the safety and health of the workers. An explosion in October 2011 in Atchison killed four Bartlett employees and two grain inspectors. The lawsuits were filed Monday by families of the Bartlett employees. Investigators determined the explosion was an accident, but federal safety officials accused Bartlett of willfully ignoring workplace rules. Officials proposed $406,000 in fines against Bartlett. The Kansas City Star reports the company has vowed to fight the fines. It issued a statement Tuesday saying employees acted appropriately and reasonably before the explosion.
Company Admits Not Cleaning Pool Where Boy Drowned
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas company will pay $5,000 in fines for not properly maintaining an apartment swimming pool where a 6-year-old boy drowned. Noah Davis drowned June 29 in a pool at Four Winds apartments in Overland Park. Police say his family could not see him at the bottom of the pool because the water was too murky. On Tuesday, the management company that operates the pool pleaded guilty to 10 violations, including failure to maintain the water clarity. PASSCO Four Winds was fined a total of $5,000. The Kansas City Star reports that Noah, who wanted to be a policeman, was made an honorary officer of the Shawnee Police Department on Monday, his seventh birthday. He also received a Medal of Valor because his family donated his organs.
Sitter Pleads Guilty in Death of Kansas Toddler
ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A south-central Kansas woman has pleaded guilty in the death of a toddler who drank rust remover in her home. Two-year-old Davin Manly became fatally ill last October at the Arkansas City home of baby sitter Jennifer Bowman. Authorities said the rust remover was in a plastic beverage bottle. KSNW-TV reports that Bowman pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter. She had been scheduled for arraignment but entered the plea instead. Sentencing is scheduled for October 11, a little more than one year since the toddler died.
Topeka Police Check Suspect's Ties to Holdups
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka say the suspect in last week's holdup of a pharmacy may also be connected to nine other robberies, including one in which a pizza shop employee was sexually assaulted. The 27-year-old Topeka man was questioned after a traffic stop Monday and later arrested as the suspect in Friday's pharmacy holdup. No charges had been filed Tuesday, but police said they believe the man is also connected to the recent string of holdups at Topeka businesses. Four of those occurred on a single day in late July. Police have said the holdups were becoming increasingly violent, including the sexual assault on Aug. 15. Police Chief Ron Miller says the suspect was released from jail in January after serving time for aggravated robbery.
Wichita Man Loses Hand in Workplace Accident
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 55-year-old Wichita man has lost a hand after getting it caught in a machine at his workplace. The Wichita Eagle reports the man works at a custom cabinetry company with about 200 employees. A dispatcher told the newspaper the man's hand was fully separated from his arm in the accident just after 1 pm Tuesday. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Court Sets Hearing on PETA Lawsuit Seeking Injunction
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The federal judge overseeing a lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has scheduled a hearing next week in the case. PETA is asking the court to block the Kansas State Fair from forcing it to shield fairgoers from images depicting animal slaughter displayed in the group's booth. U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten will hear arguments Tuesday, just days before the September 7 opening of the fair. PETA on Monday sued the Kansas Fair Board, the state and the fair's general manager, Denny Stoecklein. The animal rights group argues the restrictions violate its free speech rights. The state attorney general's office contends the restrictions are lawful. Marten has been known as a staunch defender of First Amendment rights since taking the federal bench.
Trial Set for Unidentified Kansas Immigrant
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has scheduled an October trial for a Topeka resident whose true identity is unknown to the courts. The woman is charged with producing a false document, aggravated identity theft and misuse of a Social Security number. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Tuesday scheduled her trial for October 30. Court records identify her only with an acronym that means "first name unknown, last name unknown." The Department of Homeland Security has filed a notice saying she may be an illegal immigrant. On Monday, a federal magistrate judge concluded the woman is a flight risk and ordered her to remain in custody. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale said the evidence indicates that the woman's true identity is either unknown, or is different from what she provided court services.
Visitors Flock to Monument Rocks Before Sale
ULYSSES, Kan. (AP) — An auction to determine the new owners of a western Kansas ranch that contains the historically significant Monument Rocks chalk formations is ending. The owners of the ranch announced in July that the land, along with 12,000 acres of mineral rights, was for sale. Mark Faulkner of Ulysses, whose is overseeing the telephone auction, says Tuesday was the last day to submit bids. He says the high bidder is likely to be determined Thursday or Friday. The Hays Daily News reports that as of Monday, Faulkner had received only one bid for $4 million, or $310 an acre. The 13,000-acre Pyramid Ranch also includes fossil finds and two graves of U.S. Cavalry soldiers. It was considered a territorial marker and spiritual site for Native Americans.
Kiowa County Landmark Celebrates 100 Years
MULLINVILLE, Kan. (AP) _ A round barn that has been a landmark on the Kiowa County horizon for 100 years is being celebrated this Saturday. The 50-foot-tall barn was built in 1912 by a German immigrant, Henry W. Fromme, who used it to house draft horses and a stallion he imported from France. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hutchinson News reports that because of its unusual shape, the barn was used as a landmark for training bomber navigators during World War II. The Kiowa County Historical Society owns the structure, which is a few miles southwest of Mullinville. This Saturday's celebration will include arts and crafts, historic demonstrations, barn tours and entertainment.
Donors Standing by Lance Armstrong's Foundation
NEW YORK (AP) — Lance Armstrong's reputation may be in tatters but in the eyes of corporate and individual donors, his charity still wears an unsullied yellow jersey. Armstrong announced last week he would no longer fight the doping allegations that have dogged him for years. He ws subsequently stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned from professional cycling. But in the days following the announcement, the Lance Armstrong Foundation was showered with donations and pledges of continued support for its mission of promoting cancer awareness and research. That same day Armstrong was banned, the number of donations to his foundation nearly doubled to $60,900 from $32,300 the day before. Corporate sponsors including Nike, Anheuser-Bush and sunglasses maker Oakley have also pledged their continued support for the charity. The Kansas City, Kansas facility that is home to the Sporting Kansas City soccer club is the Livestrong Sporting Park. Officials with Sporting KC say they will not rename the stadium.
Tow Truck Driver Killed in Kansas City Honored
SMITHVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of tow truck drivers joined friends and family to honor an 18-year-old who was killed while helping a stranded driver in Kansas City. Blake Gresham died Monday after being hit by a truck while securing the woman's vehicle to his tow truck on an interstate bridge in Kansas City. On Tuesday, a procession of tow truck drivers drove to the vigil at Smithville High School. Gresham graduated early from the school to work with at his father's towing company, Gresham and Son Transport. Police say it's unclear why the truck driver didn't see Gresham. No charges have been filed. The drivers say they hope Gresham's death will remind motorists to move over at least one lane when passing a tow truck.
Kansas City Chiefs Enduring Wretched Preseason
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Those who say the preseason doesn't count for anything probably haven't been following the Kansas City Chiefs. For Chiefs fans, August augurs almost nothing but pain. At 1-2 going into Thursday's final 2012 tuneup at Green Bay, Kansas City is a woebegone 7-28 in preseason games since 2004. Their combined 6-26 exhibition record the past eight years has been followed by 53 wins and 75 losses in the regular season, one playoff appearance and no playoff wins. In their last two August games, a 31-17 setback to St. Louis and a 44-14 embarrassment against Seattle, the performance has been especially grim. For that reason, coach Romeo Crennel may use his starters against Green Bay much more than first-teamers normally play in a game that usually belongs to long shots and backups.
Ex-Notre Dame Quarterback Crist Takes Control at KU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Dayne Crist took the field at practice with a play in mind, then at the last second had to change his plan. He called an audible the team had heard but never practiced. Crist and coach Charlie Weis crafted the play three years ago and had not touched it since, but Weis recognized it almost immediately. The play resulted in a 30-yard run down the left side, the kind of success that surprised everyone but Weis. Weis recruited Crist to Notre Dame, and the oft-described quarterback guru mentored him for two years. But Weis was fired and things soured quickly for Crist under a new coaching regime, and he began to look elsewhere to play. Crist decided to follow Weis to the University of Kansas and will start Saturday night against South Dakota State.
Arguments Concluding in Kansas School Litigation
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A three-judge panel is set to hear final arguments in a lawsuit by parents and school districts challenging the way Kansas funds public education. Wednesday's hearing was expected to last all morning in Shawnee County District Court. Attorneys for a coalition of 54 school districts and parents filed suit in 2010. They contend the state has failed to live up to its promises to increase K-12 funding as ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2006. Lawyers for the state argue the Legislature did its best to mitigate the effects on schools of the recession that began in 2008.
**this story has been updated. Please see above.
Topeka Special Election Settles Kansas House Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka physician still leads a Republican primary race for a Kansas House seat following a special election for a single polling place where some voters had received the wrong ballots. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Tuesday's special election left Shanti Gandhi 46 votes ahead of former naval and U.S. State Department officer Dick Jones with more than 4,100 ballots cast in the 52nd House District. Gandhi led after the state's August 7 primary, but some voters at the Light of the World Christian Center had received the wrong ballots. The church is the polling place for two precincts, one in the 52nd District and the other in the 56th. Local officials expect to certify the results Wednesday. The winner will face Democrat Ted Ensley in November.
**this story has been updated. Please see above.