Headlines for Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Anthem Subsidiaries Face Lawsuit in Kansas over Data Breach
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former candidate for Kansas governor says he and other lawyers suing two subsidiaries of health insurer Anthem can show individuals were harmed by a cyberattack on its computer networks. Paul Davis is a partner in one of three law firms that filed the lawsuit this month in Douglas County District Court for a Kansas City, Kansas, woman. Davis was the Democratic nominee for governor last year, narrowly losing to incumbent Republican Sam Brownback. The lawsuit cites future potential harm to the woman, but Davis said Monday that her lawyers plan to add other individuals who've been harmed. Anthem spokeswoman Cindy Wakefield said there's no evidence fraud has occurred against clients. An Anthem subsidiary is one of three companies running Medicaid in Kansas. A similar lawsuit was filed in Missouri.
Kansas Urges Dismissal of Federal Lawsuit over Gay Marriage
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas argues in a new court filing that the ability of same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses in many counties should prompt a federal judge to dismiss a gay-marriage lawsuit. But an American Civil Liberties Union attorney said Tuesday that lawyers representing state officials are not raising any new legal issues. The state's filing Monday in federal court was expected to be its last before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree considers whether to permanently bar enforcement of the state constitution's ban on gay marriage. The Kansas Supreme Court in November left it to chief judges in each of the state's 31 judicial districts to determine whether marriage licenses would be issued to same-sex couples. The state argues that as a result there is now no legal controversy.
Drought Takes Toll on Winter Wheat in Western Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Rains which swept through parts of Kansas this weekend missed vast stretches of parched winter wheat crops in western Kansas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 28 percent of the wheat in Kansas is in poor to very poor condition. But weather forecasts are predicting heavy rains in western Kansas and eastern Colorado later this week, followed by another generous round of rain expected next week. Western Kansas could receive as much as 3 inches total from those two upcoming storm systems. Agricultural meteorologist Don Keeney of MDA Weather Services says that won't end the drought, but it will be very good for the wheat. The Maryland-based commodity risk firm is now forecasting the 2015 winter wheat crop will come in at 292 million bushels in Kansas.
State Agency Slams 'Left' in Facebook Post on Welfare Reform
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state agency is fielding criticism for social media comments that some say were too partisan. A Friday post on the Facebook page of the Kansas Department for Children and Families accused the left of "mocking the State of Kansas" and said it has "stood in the way of progress." The post defended restrictions approved by the Legislature in April on how welfare recipients can spend their money. Republican Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign the restrictions, which have been criticized by pundits and comedians as unnecessary and demeaning for poor people. DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said the post was an appropriate response pointing out facts to "liberal media organizations and activists." She noted thousands of welfare recipients have found jobs under the program.
Animal Health Firm Moving Headquarters to Lawrence
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — An Australian-based animal health company says it plans to move its global headquarters to the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. Integrated Animal Health announced Monday that it plans to break into the U.S. market with a product that reduces antibiotic use in dairy herds. It will be located on the Bioscience and Technology Center on the university's west campus. The company will employ only two to five people at first but plans to eventually have up to 50 employees with an annual payroll of $4 million. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Integrated Animal Health is the third animal health company since late 2011 to sign a deal to locate in the technology center. The company will seek a financial incentives package to relocate to Lawrence.
Despite Pleas, South-Central Kansas School to Close
HAVEN, Kan. (AP) — Despite pleas from parents, a south-central Kansas school board has reaffirmed an earlier decision to close an elementary school. The Haven school board voted 4-3 Monday night to close Mount Hope Elementary School at the end of the current school year. The school has fewer than 40 students in kindergarten through eighth grades. Parents, students and Mount Hope residents showed up Monday's meeting to argue that closing the school would devastate Mount Hope. The Hutchinson News reports that the Haven school district is facing a deficit of $707,437 through a combination of losses from state block grant funding, an expected drop in its local option budget, an increase in health insurance costs and a cut in its state aid for the current year. The district has reserves of $15,000.
Fire Damages Businesses in Olathe
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Fire officials say a fire has likely destroyed five businesses in a Kansas City suburb. The fire was reported late Monday in the strip mall in Olathe. The businesses included Fronteras Mexican Restaurant, a Sprint store, a KFC, a hair salon and a massage spa. Fire investigators are trying to determine what started the blaze. They say a preliminary investigation indicated it might have started in a common attic area and spread to the businesses. No injuries were reported.
Hollywood Casino Cites Legislation in Delaying Hotel Project
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Hollywood Casino officials are opting to pay the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, more than $1 million rather than starting construction on a 248-room hotel. Unified Government spokesman Mike Taylor says Penn National Gaming, which owns the casino at the Legends complex west of Kansas City, indicated that proposals before the Kansas Legislature played a role in its decision. Taylor says one of the measures would change the way casinos are taxed, while another is designed to help the Woodlands re-open by adding as many as 2,800 slot machines. Ralph Ostmeyer, chairman of the Senate State and Federal Affairs Committee, says Penn National's explanation was just an excuse, since it doesn't appear any changes to the state's current gambling makeup will happen anytime soon.
Man Sentenced in Connection with Death of Manhattan Woman
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A man accused of alcohol-related violations in connection with the fatal fall of an Arizona State University student in 2014 has been sentenced. Maricopa County Superior Court officials say Matthew Farberov was sentenced Tuesday to nine months of probation and community service for a misdemeanor count of soliciting an adult for alcohol. The 21-year-old Farberov was among two people charged following Naomi McClendon's death in March 2014. Tempe police say the 18-year-old freshman plunged 10 floors to her death from an apartment complex near campus. They say McClendon got too close to the edge, lost her balance and fell over. Police say the woman from Manhattan, Kansas, initially attended an "all-you-can-drink" party thrown by ASU fraternity members. Surveillance video showed her stumbling and intoxicated when she entered the residential building.
Sister to Stand Trial As Adult in Saline County Girl's Death
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that a 15-year-old girl will be tried as an adult in the fatal stabbing of her 13-year-old sister. Saline County District Judge Patrick Thompson ruled Tuesday that Sierra Niehaus will be tried as an adult in the August 1 death of Galazia Niehaus in northwest Saline County. Thompson ordered that juvenile charges be dropped when an adult charge of first-degree murder is filed. Formal reading of charges is set for April 27. The Salina Journal reports attorneys who had represented Niehaus in juvenile proceedings were dismissed and a new attorney will be appointed. Thompson said Niehaus has shown no remorse or any other reaction to the death of her sister. Niehaus will be transferred from juvenile detention in Junction City to the Saline County Jail.
Former Soldier Fire Chief Pleads Guilty to Felony Theft
SOLDIER, Kan. (AP) — The Jackson County attorney says a former fire chief in northeast Kansas has pleaded guilty to theft and agreed to pay restitution. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports 45-year-old Ryan L. White was set to stand trial Thursday, but has entered a guilty plea for one count of felony theft. White, who was the former fire chief in Soldier, had been charged with two felony counts of theft and five counts of misdemeanor theft. White was accused of writing a Soldier Ball Association check in the amount of almost $1,500 to his own business account in October 2012. He also was accused of writing another ball association check in the amount of around $1,300 in December 2012. The sheriff's office began an investigation after discrepancies were found in the association's accounting.
New Natural Gas Extractions Plant Operating in Kansas
HAVEN, Kan. (AP) — A new natural gas liquids extraction plant began operating in central Kansas this week. The Tenewa Haven Processing plant started operations Monday near Haven, in Reno County. The plant is near Kansas 96, at the junction of two major natural gas pipelines owned by Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line. The Wichita Eagle reports the plant separates natural gas liquids from methane and pipes them to an Oneok Hydrocarbon gas fractionation plant near Hutchinson, where they will be separated into individual products. Company president Greg Ameringer said the Haven plant can handle 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas liquids a day. It employs 12 people. Ameringer says no natural gas liquids are stored at the plant and all the gas handled there will be immediately shipped out.
CertainTeed to Renovate Plant in Kansas City, Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — CertainTeed Corporation officials say the building materials company will renovate its plant in Kansas City, Kansas, creating more than 70 new jobs over the next three years. The company announced Tuesday that it has begun renovating its plant to begin production of fiberglass insulation products during the second quarter of this year. Greg Silvestri, president of CertainTeed Insulation, says the company is investing more than $30 million to re-engineer the plant's furnace and restart related production lines to give it greater flexibility to support its growing business needs. CertainTeed employs about 6,000 people in 65 facilities in the U.S. and Canada. It is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, the world's largest building materials company.
Sprint to Offer In-Home Phone Setup
A new customer strategy for Sprint: Phone setup in your house. Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint has been trying to draw subscribers from its bigger rivals, Verizon and AT&T. Meanwhile, the No. 4 carrier, T-Mobile, is winning customers through discounts and other programs. Sprint's home service starts Monday in Kansas City for customers who are eligible for an upgrade, and will expand to Chicago and Miami next week. More cities are expected. How it works: A Sprint rep will bring a new phone or tablet to a customer's house, transfer over data from an old device and offer advice on how to use it. Sprint is still investing in stores, though. It's building mini-shops in many of the remaining stores of bankrupt electronics chain RadioShack.
Hoops Stars to Return to Wichita State Next Season
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State has already scored a big win for next season. Guard Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet announced Monday they will return for their senior seasons for the Shockers. The announcements come weeks after coach Gregg Marshall turned down a chance to leave Wichita to coach at Alabama. Baker and VanVleet both applied to be evaluated for their NBA draft potential. They issued separate statements Monday saying they wanted to return to try and lead the Shockers to an even better season than this year, when the Shockers finished 30-5 and defeated Indiana and Kansas in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Notre Dame 81-70 in the Sweet 16. Baker led Wichita in scoring, averaging 14.7 points per game, with VanVleet second at 13.6 points per game.
Royals Outfielder Alex Rios Breaks Hand, Out Indefinitely
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kansas City right fielder Alex Rios is out indefinitely after suffering a broken bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in Minnesota earlier this week. The team said Tuesday that Rios has a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. He was hit by J.R. Graham's first pitch in the eighth. He eventually scored but was removed as a precaution in the bottom of the inning and sent for X-rays. The team said no timetable has been set in terms of his return. Rios was batting .321 with eight RBIs and a home run through Kansas City's 7-0 start to the season.