Headlines for Monday, September 7, 2015
Audit Finds More Problems at Kansas Juvenile Center
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new state audit says a Topeka facility for juvenile offenders is still not adequately supervising young offenders. This comes three years after another report found problems at the Kansas Juvenile Corrections Complex. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that auditors found video footage showing that officers, on multiple occasions, did not complete required checks for young offenders considered suicide risks despite recording in a log that they had. The report from the Legislature's auditing division said the complex addressed most problems disclosed in an earlier 2012 audit but not all of them. The maximum-security complex houses about 140 juveniles. Auditors recommended that the complex establish a more formal and documented process to verify that officers perform required checks on offenders. Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts promised to focus on improvements.
4 Judges Sue to Overturn Kansas Court Funding Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Four district court judges are challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that threatens the budget of the judicial branch. The lawsuit was filed in Shawnee County District Court on behalf of judges from the counties of Douglas, Kingman, Labette and Riley. Issues first arose in 2014 with the passage of a law that said judges in each of the state's 31 judicial districts pick their chief judges, taking that power from the Kansas Supreme Court. A Shawnee County judge ruled this month that the law was unconstitutional. But that ruling doesn't address another law, which is the focus of the new lawsuit. That law declares that if the administrative policy is invalidated, the court system's funding through June 2017 is "null and void.
Kansas to Issue 1st Reports from New Tests in Public Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is preparing to release its first data from the revised statewide English and math tests given to public school students in the spring. Officials are telling parents, teachers and policymakers that the data represents a significant shift in thinking about what matters. State Department of Education officials said ahead of this week's release that reports will provide data about how many students are on track to succeed in college or careers instead of focusing largely on how many read or do math at or above their grade levels. It's the first data to be released from tests aligned with multistate Common Core academic standards adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. Department officials say the revised tests are lighter on multiple-choice questions and heavier on critical-thinking problems.
Amman Reu-El Claims Ineffective Counsel in Kansas Retrial
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old Kansas man claims he didn't have effective counsel during a retrial of his death penalty case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reportsthat King Phillip Amman Reu-El wants a Shawnee County judge to void his two consecutive sentences, as well as his convictions based on no-contest pleas. He was convicted in 2005 of capital murder and other charges in the killings of two women in Topeka in 2013. Those convictions were overturned, and the case was sent back for retrial. During his second trial, Amman Reu-El says he was misled into thinking a no-contest plea wouldn't be used by the Kansas Supreme Court to deny a pre-trial action he filed in 2014. Amman Reu-El changed his name from Phillip D. Cheatham Jr. while awaiting retrial in the capital murder case.
Authorities Investigating Woman's Death in Northeast Kansas
WAMEGO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Kansas are investigating the death of a woman who was found bleeding in a roadway. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Department received a call Sunday about a bleeding woman lying in a road northwest of Wamego. Sheriff Greg Riat says deputies and emergency medical personnel found the woman with serious injuries lying in the road near a pickup. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim's identity and cause of death haven't been released. The sheriff's office and the Kansas Highway Patrol are investigating.
Topeka Man Convicted in 1973 Murder to Appear for Parole Hearing
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 60-year-old man convicted of killing a Topeka woman in 1973 is up for parole. The Kansas Prisoner Review Board is considering parole for James Elder, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 1973 slaying in Topeka of 23-year-old Barbara Butler. She was stabbed 23 times. Elder was sentenced in Shawnee County to 15 years to life in prison. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas has considered parole for Elder 19 times before. The state paroled Elder in 2005 but returned him to prison for violating parole in 2007. Elder then was considered for parole but denied in 2007 and 2012. The board will accept public comments about the possible parole of any of 40 eligible inmates, including Elder on Sept. 18 in the Topeka Municipal Court chambers.
Shawnee County Seeks to Replace Aging Kansas River Bridge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County officials have been working to make sure that state and federal officials are aware of efforts to replace a decaying bridge. Shawnee County Commissioner Bob Archer says he spoke with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner about the $24.7 million project to replace Willard Bridge while Boehner was attending a recent fundraiser for U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins. The Topeka Capital-Journal reportsthe bridge, built in 1955, has structural issues. The county has lowered the weight limit to deal with the decay. The commission also approved a letter requesting $10 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation to help replace the bridge and has written to Jenkins and Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts requesting their help get federal assistance.
Kansas Examines Teachers Getting Benefits for Union Work
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new state audit says a handful of Kansas teachers may be earning retirement benefits for the work they do as officers of their state and local unions. The auditors said the practice technically should not be allowed. One Republican legislator called it fraud within the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. But others said the practice is merely a technical error caused by vague instructions from the state. The issue involves credits public employees receive for each year on the job, which determine when they can retire. Auditors noted that while teachers are covered by KPERS, employees of teachers' unions are not. Auditors said they selected 34 teachers in a "targeted sample," and found seven incorrectly awarded KPERS service credits while working for unions.
Wichita State Center Says Economic "Misery" Up in Kansas
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Data from a research center at Wichita State University shows economic misery was up slightly for Kansas in the second quarter of this year. Data compiled by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University shows the misery index for the state went from 4.44 in the first quarter to 4.46 in the second quarter because of a small increase in the unemployment rate.The Topeka Capital-Journal reports a lower number indicates greater economic comfort. The index measures changes in housing prices, inflation and unemployment. Pattie Bradley, a senior research economist at CEDBR, says the theory is that people's economic contentment is generally determined by whether they have jobs, if inflation is hurting their paychecks and how the value if their home is being affected.
Police Shooting of McPherson County Man Ruled Justified
CANTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have determined that a deputy was justified in shooting a central Kansas man in March. McPherson County Attorney Torrance Parkins announced the results of a review of the March 31st shooting. The prosecutor's office said that deputies went to the suspect's home near Canton after receiving a report of battery. The office said a deputy fired multiple shots after the suspect refused several orders to drop a shotgun and pointed the weapon in the direction of another deputy. The suspect was struck in the pelvis and survived. Neither deputy was injured. Both deputies were wearing personal body cameras that recorded the shooting and the footage was reviewed as part of the investigation.
Another Small Earthquake Shakes South-Central Kansas
CALDWELL, Kan. (AP) — Another small earthquake rattled south-central Kansas over the weekend. The Kansas Geological Survey says the latest quake struck Saturday night near the small town of Caldwell in Sumner County. It had a preliminary magnitude of 2.5. At least one earthquake a day has rattled the area in the past week, with magnitudes ranging from 2.2 to 3.1. More than 200 earthquakes have been recorded in Kansas since January 1st, 2013. Only five were detected in the previous 10 years. Many have been centered in Sumner and Harper Counties. The Kansas Geological Survey said last month that the increase in the two counties was linked to saltwater injection after oil and natural gas drilling.
Caution Urged for Purchases at State Fairs
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The Better Business Bureau wants consumers to be cautious when making purchases at state fairs. The Topeka Capital Journal reports the Better Business Bureau says it's calling on the public to "exercise smart consumerism." The Kansas State Fair, along with the exhibits and contests, starts Friday and lasts for 10 days at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. The Better Business Bureau says the Federal Trade Commission's "cooling-off rule," which lets consumers change their mind about purchases within three days, doesn't apply to the state fair if the value of the item is less than $25, the goods and services aren't primarily for personal, family or household purposes and if the purchase is of insurance, securities or real estate, motor vehicles or arts and crafts.
Kansas Woman, 83, Dies After Being Struck by Motorcycle
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An 83-year-old woman who was hit by a motorcycle in Overland Park has died. Overland Park police said in a release Monday the accident occurred late Sunday when the motorcycle struck the woman while she was trying to cross in the middle of a roadway. The woman, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Police said she died early Monday. The driver of the motorcycle sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene. Police say the accident remains under investigation.
Former Kansas Governor Carlin to Speak at K-State Salina
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Former Kansas Governor John Carlin is among the speakers at a Kansas State lecture series. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Carlin is scheduled to speak Thursday at Kansas State Salina's College Center on education in Kansas. The presentation is part of the campus's 50th anniversary celebration, which began last spring and wraps up with events September 9-11. The Civic Lecture Series is free and open to the public. Carlin was elected Kansas governor in 1979 and served until 1987. He's a visiting professor and executive- in- residence with the university's political science department and Staley School of Leadership Studies.
Adventure Seekers Rappel from 13-Story Topeka Building
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Raising money for charity has turned into an adrenaline-producing adventure in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that adventure seekers turned out Saturday morning to rappel down a 13-story Westar Energy building. The event was a fundraiser for the Kansas Children's Discovery Center. Each participant is responsible for raising $1,000 for the center. The Children's Discovery Center and Over the Edge, a Canadian company that works with nonprofits, hosted the event. The participants included newlyweds Madison and Jenni Ruelle, who exchanged a kiss after making their way down building. Another participant, 33-year-old Chris Rogers of Lawrence said he had pure adrenaline running through his veins when he stepped off the edge of the building. The money raised will go toward educational programs, exhibits and camps that the center provides.
Man Dies in Southeast Kansas Lawnmower Accident
CHETOPA, Kan. (AP) — A 42-year-old man has died in a southeast Kansas lawnmower accident. The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victim as Jason B. Simpson of Chetopa. The patrol says he was killed Friday night after his mower left a yard and drove onto a Labette County road. The mower then was hit by a pickup truck. The truck's driver and two children in the vehicle weren't injured.
Chiefs Could Have Poe, Fisher Back for Season Opener
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs could have Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe and offensive tackle Eric Fisher back for their season opener Sunday in Houston. Chiefs coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey said Monday that both were progressing nicely from injuries. Poe had back surgery that kept him out all of training camp, and Fisher had a sprained ankle that kept him from playing the final three preseason games. Reid also said that Fisher, the former No. 1 overall draft pick, would move from left tackle to right tackle. Donald Stephenson has been handling the quarterback's blindside while Fisher has been out, and Reid has been pleased with the way he has performed.
White Sox Beat Royals 7-5 Sunday to Sweep Series
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — (AP) — Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox homered and scored three times as Chicago beat the Kansas City Royals 7-5 on Sunday to sweep the three-game series. The Royals' Johnny Cueto struggled again for his fourth straight start. Cueto lasted just three innings Sunday, giving up five runs and seven hits. Even after Kansas City reliever Chris Young surrendered a solo homer in the sixth, the Royals remained within striking distance of Chicago thanks to three solo homers by Salvador Perez, Jarod Dyson and Mike Moustakas. The Royals rallied in the 7th inning to cut the White Sox’s lead to 6-5, but another Chicago run in the eighth sealed the game and the series for the Sox. The Royals take on the Minnesota Twins for a three-game series starting tonight in Kansas City.