Headlines for Thursday, September 10, 2015
Kansas Regulators Approve 9 Percent Increase in KCP&L Rates
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have approved a 9 percent increase in Kansas City Power & Light's annual electric rates, raising them less than the utility sought. But the three-member Kansas Corporation Commission split over how much profit KCP&L's stockholders should be allowed to earn. The final rate is 9.3 percent. The commission said KCP&L's charges for its 247,000 customers in northeast Kansas will increase nearly $49 million a year. The company said the average residential customer would see a monthly increase of $7.73 starting in October. Missouri regulators approved an 11.7 percent rate increase for KCP&L customers there. In Kansas, KCP&L proposed boosting annual revenues by $67 million, or 12.5 percent and $11.67 a month for an average residential customer. KCP&L argued it needed additional revenues to pay for power plant upgrades.
ACLU, Kansas Official Battle over 'Dual Registration' System
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union wants a judge to declare illegal the so-called "dual registration" system for voters in Kansas while Secretary of State Kris Kobach seeks to have the lawsuit dismissed. Under that system, people who register to vote using a federal form, which doesn't require voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship, may only vote in federal races. Voters may only cast ballots in state and local races if they register using the state form, which requires proof of citizenship. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a judge had ruled last month that the lawsuit could go forward despite Kobach arguing the plaintiffs didn't have standing to sue.
Kansas Legislators Keep Eye on New Judicial Budget Lawsuit
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Several Kansas lawmakers say they're keeping an eye on the outcome of a new lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a state law that deals with financing for the court system. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the lawsuit against the state of Kansas aims to strike the law linking funding of the entire judicial branch to the survival of a mandate that judges in each judicial district control appointment of their administrative chiefs. The latest case follows a judge's ruling in a different lawsuit that determined it was unconstitutional to shift the selection power away from the Kansas Supreme Court to the district court judges. The judge stayed his order pending an appeal.
Man Arrested in Thefts That Led to K-State Lockdown
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- A man is jailed in a series of thefts that led to a nearly four-hour lockdown at Kansas State University. WIBW-TV reports that Riley County police arrested the 20-year-old Manhattan man Wednesday night. He is being held on a $150,000 bond while officials continue to investigate. The university lockdown began after police received several reports early Friday of an armed robbery involving several people. Riley County police said in a news release that officers got into a foot chase with a possible suspect, who was last seen running to the campus. That prompted alerts urging everyone on campus to stay indoors and those off campus to stay away. Student dormitories were locked down. Authorities say they expect additional arrests. Anyone with information is urged to contact authorities.
Florida Man Charged in Plot to Bomb Kansas City 9/11 Memorial
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man faces up to 20 years in federal prison after authorities say he was trying to help plan an attack on an upcoming 9/11 memorial in Missouri. The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday that 20-year-old Joshua Ryne Goldberg was arrested and charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction. A criminal complaint says Goldberg, of Orange Park, about 15 miles south of Jacksonville, began communicating online with an FBI informer in July and gave that person information on how to build a bomb with a pressure cooker, nails and rat poison. The complaint says Goldberg also instructed the informer to place the bomb at an upcoming memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, that was commemorating the 14th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It wasn't immediately clear if Goldberg had an attorney.
Emporia State Investigation Finds No Evidence of Hate Crime
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Emporia State University says an investigation has found no evidence to support hate crime or discrimination allegations made by a black couple while they were working for the university. In a letter released Wednesday, interim President Jackie Vietti says the investigation into allegations made by assistant professor Melvin Hale and his wife, Angelica, did find areas for improvement within the School of Library and Management, including a need for a "more open environment" that values different opinions. The Hales say they've endured a hostile work environment since reporting in April that someone wrote a racial slur in Angelica Hale's office. She later resigned because she said the department dean refused to investigate the complaint. Melvin Hale on Wednesday called the investigation "a sham." The couple is planning a protest march next Tuesday.
Forecasters Warn Storms Possible in Central Plains Thursday
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Forecasters say large, damaging hail, a few tornadoes and high winds are possible in parts of the Central Plains. The Storm Prediction Center said there is a chance for strong storms Thursday afternoon in northern Kansas. Storms are also possible in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and far northwestern Arkansas. Areas south of a cold front should see the strongest surface heating Thursday, increasing the potential for high winds. There is a risk of hail and possibly tornadoes early during storm development, with the threat changing to high winds later, according to the forecasters.
Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Wichita Pot Ordinance
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas's highest court will consider the legality of Wichita's marijuana ordinance next week. Oral arguments are set for September 17 in the legal challenge brought by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. At issue is the state's effort to invalidate a voter-approved ordinance in Wichita lessening criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Schmidt says the Wichita ordinance conflicts with state law. The ordinance Wichita voters approved in April imposes no more than a $50 fine for first-time possession of a small amount of pot. State law deems it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Kansas Gas Station Owner Admits Unlawfully Hiring Immigrants
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The owner of a McPherson gasoline station and convenience store has admitted hiring immigrants who were not authorized to work in the United States. Satishkumar Patel pleaded guilty Thursday to routinely employing workers living illegally in the country and then paying them in cash without withholding federal income and Social Security taxes. Patel also admitted he operated a money transmitting business without the required state license. His wife, Daxaben Patel, pleaded guilty to unlawfully operating a money transmitting business. Prosecutors say the Patels are citizens of India who are themselves living illegally in the United States. The plea agreements require the couple to forfeit more than $706,000 in cash, bank accounts, and gold seized by the government. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren set sentencing for November 25.
Suspect Arrested in Death of Woman Found in Reno County Creek
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A woman has been arrested in connection to the death of a Hutchinson woman whose body was found in a creek bed in Reno County. According to the Reno County Sheriff's Office, a 27-year-old woman was arrested Wednesday afternoon. Authorities say the body of 38-year-old Mary Ann Arnett was found June 22 in a shallow creek south of Nickerson. The suspect faces charges of first-degree murder. She is being held in the Reno County Correctional Facility on a bond of $500,000.
Man Fatally Shot in Kansas City After Threatening Officers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City police say an officer fatally shot a man after he threatened officers with a device that they believed was a grenade and claimed his home was rigged with explosives. The shooting ended a 12-hour standoff that began around 10:30 am Wednesday when deputies attempted to serve an eviction order. Police said that surrounding homes were evacuated as negotiators talked to the man. But police say the man threatened officers with a gun and said that he had explosives in the home. He was shot after threatening officers with a device that police have since determined doesn't appear to be an actual live grenade.
KU Student Charged with Sexual Battery Enters Diversion Program
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old former University of Kansas student accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in a university dorm room has entered a diversion program. Douglas County prosecutors charged the man with sexual battery after a woman said he forced her to have sex with him in April 2014 in a campus residence hall. The Douglas County district attorney's office will not prosecute if the man meets several conditions, including writing the woman an apology and abstaining from alcohol and recreational drugs. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that an assistant district attorney said the woman agreed with the state's decision to put the man in a diversion program.
Summer Travel on Kansas Turnpike Reaches All-Time High
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Turnpike officials say summer traffic on the nearly 60-year-old freeway rose more than 6 percent this year to an all-time high. The Wichita Eagle reports that the turnpike collected slightly more than $33 million in tolls this summer, compared with $30 million collected last year. The Kansas Turnpike said Thursday that traffic over the recent Labor Day weekend was 8.5 percent higher than in the same period in 2014, and that traffic increased every month this summer compared with last year. July was the highest travel month with more than 3.5 million vehicles using the turnpike. Kansas Turnpike Authority chief Steve Hewitt says lower fuel prices have contributed to the increase in travel on the 236-mile highway, which opened 59 years ago.
Vandals Break Headstones in South-Central Kansas Cemeteries
CONWAY SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — Vandals have targeted multiple cemeteries in the south-central Kansas town of Conway Springs. KAKE-TV reports that the Conway Springs Police Department shared on its Facebook page Wednesday that the problem should make people "sick, sad and angry." Conway Springs Police Chief Kelley Zellner says cemeteries on the town's south, north and east side have been targets. He says that over the weekend, 14 headstones in the north cemetery were vandalized. Thirteen were knocked off of their bases or completely pushed over; 4 of the 13 headstones were broken. Zellner urged anyone with information to call authorities.
Suspect Arrested in Atchison Shooting Death
ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Atchison police say they've arrested a suspect in the shooting death of an Atchison man in the parking lot of a convenience store. Atchison police Chief Mike Wilson says Clinton, Missouri, police arrested the 19-year-old suspect Thursday while he was hiding in a wooded area near Clinton, which is south of Kansas City. Wilson says 24-year-old Winston Downing died in the shooting Wednesday evening. The chief says Downing and the suspect knew each other and police believe they know what happened before the shooting. The suspect is being held in the Henry County, Missouri, jail pending extradition.
Advocates for New Wichita Library Set $8 Million Fundraising Goal
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a new library in downtown Wichita say they are more than halfway to their goal of raising $8 million for the structure. The Wichita Public Library Foundation announced Wednesday it has raised $4.4 million including a $3 million gift from the Dwayne and Velma Wallace Foundation. The Wichita Eagle reports that city leaders voted in January to pay about $27.5 million if the library foundation provided $2.5 million. Don Barry, chairman of the foundation, says the fundraising will allow architects to add about 10,000 square feet to the library, providing space for a children's area, genealogy research and special collections. Library officials say construction will start next spring and take about two years.
Nuclear Power Plant in Kansas Celebrates 30th Anniversary
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant in Kansas is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The anniversary comes at a time when attitudes have softened toward the use of nuclear plants because of more immediate concerns over climate change related to coal fueled plants. The Wolf Creek plant began commercial operation in 1985 and was a focal point in a debate over the safety and costs of nuclear energy following a major accident at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. As a result, few plants have been built since Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek was initially licensed to operate for 40 years, but it has received a 20-year extension.
New Claims Suggest Abuse at Missouri Jail Occurred for Years
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Several former inmates and a former jail guard at the Jackson County (Missouri) jail, which is under investigation over excessive force allegations, claim that the abusive practices go back several years. Two ex-inmates tell The Kansas City Star that they were victims of gratuitous violence by corrections center officers, while the parents of a third former inmate allege their son suffered broken bones after Critical Incident Response Team members went too far in restraining him. The former guard says it's common for other guards to use excessive force when he worked at the jail in 2011. The FBI is investigating allegations that corrections officers used excessive force against inmates who were retrained. County officials have declined to discuss the specifics of the allegations that led up to the FBI's involvement.
Father Arrested in the Death of 1-Year-Old Wichita Girl
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police have arrested a father in the death of his 1-year-old daughter. Wichita police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says the man called police around 7:20 pm Wednesday night to say the girl was unresponsive. KWCH-TV reports that emergency crews were unable to revive the girl, who had numerous bruises and scratches to her face. She was pronounced dead at 8 pm. Ojile says the man had been watching his daughter while the girl's mother was at work. Ojile said the child's mother said her daughter did not have any bruising when she left for work that morning. The father is jailed on suspicion of felony murder and child abuse.
New AP News Editor Named for Missouri and Kansas
CHICAGO (AP) — Veteran journalist Julie Wright has been named news editor for The Associated Press in Missouri and Kansas. The appointment was announced Thursday by AP Central Regional Editor Tom Berman. Wright has held senior newsroom management positions in Kansas, Alaska, Minnesota and Tennessee over a three-decade journalism career. She will be based in Kansas City, Missouri, from where she will oversee the AP's reporting efforts throughout two states. Wright most recently worked as managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, planning and editing news coverage for the print and digital editions as well as supervising other print and digital publications owned by The World Company, based in Lawrence, Kansas. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Wright has bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Twins Defeat Royals 3-2 in 12 innings
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Minnesota Twins beat the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Wednesday night. The Twins took the series two games to one. The Royals have lost 6 of the last 9 games during their home stand. They hope to fare better on the road. The team leaves today for a two-week road trip to Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit.