Headlines for Friday, August 28, 2015
Advocacy Group Sees New Issues With Kansas Welfare Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A child advocacy group's leader says parts of a new Kansas welfare law appear to conflict with federal child care policies, potentially jeopardizing more than $40 million a year in federal funds. Kansas Action for Children CEO Shannon Cotsoradis raised additional issues Thursday about the welfare law approved by legislators this year. Her comments came weeks after the state dropped a $25-per-day limit on ATM withdrawals with cash assistance cards following questions from federal officials. Congress last year reauthorized a program providing federal grants for child care. Cotsoradis said penalties in the new Kansas law for parents who don't comply with regulations appear to run afoul of a policy in the federal reauthorization. Theresa Freed, Communications Director for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said that DCF has received no guidance from its federal partners that the Kansas HOPE Act would need revisions related to the Child Care Development Block Grant.
Attorneys for Kansas Judge, State Spar Over Policy Change
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge is suggesting that the independence of the state's courts is at stake in a dispute over an administrative policy imposed on them by legislators. An attorney for District Judge Larry Solomon of Kingman County on Friday asked District Judge Larry Hendricks of Shawnee County to strike down a 2014 law changing who selects chief judges in the state's 31 judicial districts. Solomon is chief judge in the 30th District in south-central Kansas. Hendricks had a hearing in a lawsuit by Solomon against the statute and said he will rule soon. Judges in each district now pick their chief judges. The Kansas Supreme Court previously did. The state contends there's no attack on judicial independence. But lawmakers tied the court system's budget to preserving the policy change.
White Supremacist Testifies; Rests Defense Case
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A white supremacist charged with killing three people at Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City last year has testified that he wishes he could have killed more. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., who is acting as his own attorney, called himself to the stand, where he was also cross-examined by the prosecutor. Miller has admitted that he killed the three in April 2014, but says he was compelled to act because of his belief that Jewish people are trying to wipe out the white race. None of the victims was Jewish. He detailed Friday afternoon how he went to the two sites and shot the people because he thought they were Jews. He later rested his defense.
KU Reaches Agreement With Economics Lecturer Over Documents
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The University of Kansas says it's reached a settlement agreement over the release of documents to a student group looking for ties between an economic research center and Charles and David Koch. Art Hall, a lecturer and executive director of the Center for Applied Economics in the KU School of Business, sued the university to prevent the release of emails and other correspondence to the group, Students for a Sustainable Future. Hall previously was chief economist for the Public Sector Group of Koch Industries Inc. The case was set for trial in November. Under the agreement announced Thursday, Hall released several pages of documents, including correspondence with the Kochs' foundations discussing funding. The student group's president, Schuyler Kraus, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
Kansas and Nebraska Reach Agreement on River Water
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas and Nebraska will extend for one year an agreement that allows Nebraska to pump more water from the Republican River while ensuring that Kansas eventually gets all the water it is due. The Republican River Compact Administration, which includes Colorado, announced the agreement Thursday. It extends similar agreements reached for the past two years. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Nebraska expects to pump about 35,000 acre-feet more than its share would allow in 2016. In return, Nebraska will pump enough groundwater to a Harlan County reservoir this winter and spring to help Kansas through the 2016 growing season. Officials say the agreement allows both states to use the water when it's needed, and lets Nebraska replace the extra water when it's not being used.
Kobach: Trump Correct on Immigration Proposals
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is correct on his immigration proposals. Kobach was an adviser on immigration policy for 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and says he urged Romney to adopt the "self-deportation" concept in his campaign. Immigration enforcement is "a huge issue" for independent voters, and Kobach believes that focus on the issue will not hurt Republican chances in the general election. He is not advising any of the presidential campaigns now, but says he may do so in the future. Kobach says other contenders in addition to Trump who have made statements on immigration enforcement in line with his own thinking are Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Jury: Cable Company Largely Responsible in Fatal KC Restaurant Blast
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A jury says Time Warner Cable is largely responsible for a fatal natural gas explosion that leveled an upscale Kansas City restaurant. Jurors returned the verdict Thursday in lawsuit stemming from the February 2013 blast at JJ's restaurant near the city's Country Club Plaza shopping and entertainment district. The brothers who operated the restaurant, David and Jimmy Frantze, wanted more than $9 million in damages from Time Warner and USIC Locating Services, which contracts with utility companies. Jurors ordered Time Warner to pay $5.78 million, but found USIC was not liable. The explosion occurred after a crew for cable company subcontractor Heartland Midwest broke an underground natural-gas supply line. Fumes from the gas leak filled the building and ignited. The explosion killed restaurant server Megan Cramer and injured dozens of others.
Hearing Delayed in Kansas Gun Store Shooting
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - A plea hearing has been delayed for one of four men charged with killing a suburban Kansas City gun store owner. Deanthony Wiley is charged in Johnson County court with first-degree murder in the January shooting death of Jon Bieker at the She's A Pistol gun store in Shawnee. Bieker was killed while defending his wife during a robbery at the store. His wife suffered minor injuries. Wiley had been scheduled to enter a plea Thursday, but defense attorneys said they needed additional time to review sentencing documents. The plea hearing was postponed until September 18. Three other men are also charged in the case. All four suspects are being held in the Johnson County Jail.
Kansas Man Convicted For Identity Theft
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Junction City man is facing up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine after being convicted of stealing his father's identity to apply for a loan. A federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursday found 47-year-old Matthew Williams guilty of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors say Williams used his father's identity - including claiming to have won a Purple Heart in Vietnam - to take out a loan for a $490,000 house. He was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time. Williams's father, Earl Williams won a Purple Heart and other commendations for his service in Vietnam and Desert Storm.
1 Dead After Collision with KCK Police Car
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating after a man died when the car he was riding in collided with a Kansas City, Kansas, police car. The patrol says the accident happened late Thursday when a car made left turn in front of the police car on a Kansas City, Kansas, street. The 31-year-old police officer suffered minor injuries. A passenger in the car, 50-year-old Wendell L. Hall of Kansas City, was killed. The driver of the car, 37-year-old Fatimath Jones, was hospitalized with serious injuries.
After Delay, Kansas City Streetcars to Arrive in October
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials say the supplier of streetcars for the city's new downtown line is promising a new delivery date. The cars were expected in June. City officials are concerned the streetcars won't arrive in time for use by the thousands of people who attend the Big 12 conference basketball tournament in March. The city must conduct months of testing before the streetcars can be used by the public, and was hoping to get the cars by late September to allow time for the testing. The Kansas City Star reports the manufacturer, CAF USA, of Elmira, New York, said the first of the four streetcars will be delivered by October 29. Deputy Public Works Director Ralph Davis says he's not sure when the system will be ready for public use.
Hutchinson Teenager Refuses Plea Deal in Fatal Fire
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Hutchinson teenager charged as an adult with setting a fire that killed his mother and sister has declined to take a plea deal. During a hearing on Thursday, the attorney for 16-year-old Samuel Vonachen announced he will pursue a defense of mental disease or defect. The Hutchinson News reports prosecutors offered to allow Vonachen to plead guilty to premeditated first-degree murder and drop other charges. Vonachen's attorney, John Henderson, said his client would not accept the deal. Vonachen's 47-year-old mother, Karla Jo Vonachen, and his 11-year-old sister, Audrey, died in the fire in September 2013. His father escaped the burning home. The trial was scheduled to begin September 21, but it was continued. No new date was set.
Lenexa Patrol Car Not Hit by Bullet
LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Investigators have determined that the windshield on a Lenexa patrol cracked from a stress fracture and not from a bullet as earlier believed. The Kansas City Star reports a stress fracture in the glass caused the rear window to shatter on the parked police car Thursday. Authorities shut both a section of Kansas 7 for about three hours while police searched for a possible shooter after the officer reported the broken windshield. Police said investigators determined that the stress fracture caused the window to "buckle and make a loud noise." They reopened the road shortly later Thursday afternoon. During the search for a shooter, three schools in the area were placed on lock down.
Police Investigate After Kansas City Officer Fires Into SUV
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say the department is trying to determine whether a baby with a toe injury was shot when an officer fired into a sport vehicle that had rammed the officer's motorcycle. Police said in a news release that hospital personnel told authorities the child's injury appears to be the result of a gunshot wound. The release said it was "horrible" that an infant was involved. Police say the SUV fled after the ramming and was spotted after nearly hitting another officer's vehicle. The SUV then disappeared before it was found unoccupied, with a man, the injured child and another infant nearby. Officers detained the man found with the children and another man who was walking away from the SUV. The officer who was rammed suffered only minor injuries.
Police: Mother, Young Daughter Found Safe
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a woman and her 2-year-old daughter, who hadn't been seen since Wednesday, have been found safe. Police say 27-year-old Nicole Nelson and her daughter, Dajahnay Nelson, were found Friday morning. Local media reported the two were found walking on a street in Kansas City, Kansas. No further details were released. Authorities believed the two could have been in danger because Nicole Nelson has a traumatic brain injury and the mental capacity of a teenager.
Body Found Near Elementary School in Haysville
HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after the body of a minor was found near a school playground in south-central Kansas. Sedgwick County sheriff's Lieutenant Lin Dehning told the Wichita Eagle the juvenile's death appears to be a suicide. The body was discovered Thursday morning near an elementary school in Haysville. The sheriff says the juvenile, who was not identified, did not attend school in the Haysville school district.
Wichita Plans Urban Wetlands Park
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita officials say they are planning an urban wetlands park in northwest Wichita. Mayor Jeff Longwell announced Thursday the city will use more than 40 acres of land to create the park and public nature area. The land is being donated by Slawson Co., which is planning a mixed-use development adjacent to the property. The Wichita Eagle reports the city council must approve the land donation, which could happen next week. Longwell says the park could include walking and jogging trails and a boardwalk, with other nature-related activities, such as bird watching and a fishing pond. Part of the park and commercial development could be ready by fall of next year.
Royals Beat Orioles 5-3, Win Series
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals' Yordano Ventura (9-7) struck out a career-high 11 batters, allowed two hits and four walks in six innings Thursday to beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-3. The Royals' usually dependable bullpen nearly blew the lead as reliever Kelvin Herrera served up a homer to the Orioles' Ryan Flaherty in the seventh. Greg Holland allowed two more runs in the ninth before getting Gerardo Parra out to end the game. Baltimore's Chris Tillman (9-9) lost for the first time since May 31.