Headlines for Friday, September 11, 2015
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 the "dual registration'' 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 does require proof of citizenship. A judge had ruled last month that the lawsuit could go forward despite Kobach arguing the plaintiffs didn't have standing to sue.
Kansas Secretary of State's Office Denies Lawsuit Claim
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas secretary of state's office has acknowledged in a court document that it sporadically hosts Bible study sessions, but has denied firing an employee for not attending them. Its court filing Friday comes in response to the federal civil lawsuit filed last month by Courtney Canfield claiming she was terminated from her clerk's job after declining to attend prayer services held in the office. The state told the court in its response that all were welcome to attend the sessions, but no staff member was required to attend. It noted that the majority of the staff did not attend them. Courtney alleges in her lawsuit that invitations to the religious services were distributed during normal business hours and included a "prayer guide'' to be used at that week's service.
Kansas Legislators Watching 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.
Kansas Regulators Approve 9 Percent Increase in KCP&L Rates
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have approved a 9.3 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 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 last week 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. That would have been about $11.67 a month for an average residential customer. KCP&L argued it needed additional revenues to pay for power plant upgrades.
Kansas Senate Leader's Aide Leaving for Corporate Lobbying Job
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle's top aide is leaving to take a new job managing lobbying efforts for an electric transmission company. Wagle's office announced Thursday that Ryan Gilliland will step down September 21. He has been the Wichita Republican's chief of staff since fellow GOP senators selected her as president in December 2012. Gilliland will become manager of state government affairs for ITC Great Plains. The company constructs, owns and operates electric transmission lines in eight states, including Kansas. He also worked as an aide to three different House GOP leaders in the five years before he became Wagle's chief of staff. Gilliland also worked for Republican Sam Brownback when he served in the U.S. Senate before his election as governor in 2010.
University of Kansas Adopts Formal Social Media Policy
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas has officially approved a procedure to handle possible violations of the university's social media policy. The university has struggled with the issue since September 2013 when journalism professor David Guth posted a tweet criticizing the National Rifle Association. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that a policy enacted by the Kansas Board of Regents in 2014 did not include a procedure for reacting if someone was suspected of violating the policy. The University Senate was told Thursday the process for handling such cases was approved over the summer. The process calls for the university to form a three-member panel to determine within a week whether evidence suggested the employee might have violated the policy. If so, another panel would decide if the employee should be disciplined.
Fans Stand by Kansas State Marching Band After Halftime Show
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Fans have started an online fundraising campaign to support the Kansas State University marching band, which drew criticism over its halftime show at a football game. The school said the band director will miss a November 28 game and that university officials also must approve future halftime shows. The college added that it will pay a self-imposed $5,000 fine after the Big 12 Conference warned of potential sportsmanship and ethical conduct violations. The marching band had shaped itself into a rival mascot and what appeared to be a phallus during its Saturday show. Supporter Sarah Brinkley has started a crowdfunding account seeking donations with for the band. The Manhattan Mercury reports that as of noon Thursday, the account had raised nearly $13,000.
Man Charged in Bomb Plot at Missouri 9/11 Site
ORANGE PARK, Fla. (AP) -- Law enforcement authorities say a Florida man posed online as an Australia resident and tried to help plan an attack on a 9/11 memorial in Missouri by providing details on how to build a bomb with a pressure cooker and rat poison. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday that 20-year-old Joshua Ryne Goldberg of Orange Park was arrested and charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction. On Wednesday, federal agents served a search warrant at the Goldberg family's home and took Joshua Goldberg into custody. The complaint says Goldberg admitted under questioning that he had provided an informant with bomb-making information. However, Goldberg claimed that it wasn't his intention for the attack to be carried out. The complaint says Goldberg "claimed that he intended for the individual to either kill himself creating the bomb or, if not, that he intended to alert law enforcement just prior to the individual detonating the bomb." Australian Federal Police say a witness reports that Goldberg's online personas were part of a hoax and that he was actually a "proponent of radical free speech." They also say Goldberg will face additional charges there.
Shriners to Hold 2020 Convention in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Shriners International has announced plans to host its 2020 national convention in Kansas City. Officials with the Shriners and Kansas City announced the convention plans Thursday. The event is scheduled for July 5-9, 2020, and is expected to bring about 20,000 Shriners to the city. The Shriners, a nonprofit organization known for its Shriners Hospitals for Children, has not held its convention in Kansas City since 1976. The Kansas City Star reports that Shriners International attributed the decision to the city's plans to build an 800-room Hyatt hotel east of the Bartle Hall convention center's Grand Ballroom.
Kansas State Gets $20K EPA Grant for 'Green Infrastructure' Project
LENEXA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State University is getting a $20,000 federal grant for a green infrastructure training project. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday the university is getting the grant to create "living laboratories" to monitor green infrastructure at the rain garden in the university's art museum. The EPA says the grant is aimed at encouraging sustainable storm water management by educating scientists, designers and engineers about green infrastructure and water quality. The EPA says is award builds on the agency's Campus RainWorks Challenge, in which faculty and student teams design green infrastructure projects.
Report: Forecast for Kansas Corn Crop Down From a Year Ago
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government forecast on the size of this year's Kansas corn crop is estimating that growers will bring in 555 million bushels. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Friday that the anticipated 2015 crop in the state will be 2 percent below last year's production. That is due partly to fewer harvested acres and smaller average yields per acre. Kansas is harvesting 3.75 million acres of corn this season, down 1 percent from a year ago. The average yield forecast of 148 bushels per acre is down one bushel from a year ago. The agency is also forecasting the state will bring in 238 million bushels of sorghum, up 19 percent from last year. Kansas soybean production is anticipated to be 133 million bushels, down 7 percent from last year.
Man Pleads Guilty to 1997 Homicide in Kansas City, Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ Wyandotte County authorities say a man already serving a life sentence for murder has pleaded guilty to killing a woman in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1997. Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Lidtke said in a news release that 34-year-old Torry Johnson pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder in the October 1997 death of 33-year-old Vicky Ernst inside her Wyandotte County home. The crime went unsolved until prosecutors and detectives turned up new evidence during a case review. Johnson and Jason L. Rucker were charged in April. Johnson, who will be sentenced October 16, is serving a life sentence in Missouri for the 2005 killing of a man in Kansas City. Rucker is being held on $1 million bond in Wyandotte County while his case is pending.
Kansas State Fair Offers Mustache and Beard Competitions
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Mustaches and beards will be judged along with livestock for the first time this year at the Kansas State Fair. The Wichita Eagle reports that the hairy competition is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Nex-Tech Wireless Stage at Lake Talbott on the fairgrounds. Among the categories in the competition are best in show, natural mustache with no styling, freestyle mustache, and female's fake facial hair, in which contestants will be allowed to use whatever materials they want. The competition has room for 10 contestants in each category. The Wichita Beard and Mustache Club says it has sought for more participants in facial-hair contests in the area and says that the fair is making that happen.
Bob Dole to Lead Fundraising to Build Eisenhower Memorial
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bob Dole, the longtime Kansas senator, is planning a fundraising effort to build the long-debated Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, and he will have help from Tom Hanks and others. Dole told The Associated Press on Friday that he aims to raise $150 million in private money to build the memorial after more than 15 years of planning. Critics of the memorial's design have stalled funding in Congress. The 92-year-old World War II veteran says it's long past time to honor Ike, the 34th president and supreme Allied commander during World War II. In a statement to the AP, Hanks says he's happy to join Dole in working to honor Eisenhower. The two also worked together to raise $170 million to build the National World War II Memorial.
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.
Texas-Bound Flight Lands in Wichita After Lightning Strike
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Delta Airlines flight traveling from Minnesota to Texas was diverted to Wichita after being struck by lightning while flying through a storm over Manhattan last night. Wichita Airport Authority spokeswoman Valerie Wise said the aircraft operated by ExpressJet, a Delta regional connection carrier, was struck by lightning on its left wing after encountering severe storms. The flight had left Minneapolis and was headed toward San Antonio. Wise said passengers reported smelling smoke in the cabin before the flight landed safely at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita just before 7:30 p.m. None of the 65 people onboard were injured.
Arrest Made 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, 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.
Police Identify 3 Fatally Shot in Missouri Home
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police have identified two teenagers and a child who were shot to death earlier this week in a Kansas City home. Police on Friday said the victims have been identified as and 18-year-old Shannon Rollins, 17-year-old Bianca R. Fletcher and her young son, who police identified as "Baby Boy" Fletcher. Captain Tye Grant said earlier that a family member returned home late Tuesday and discovered the bodies in the home. Kansas City has had 65 homicides so far this year, which is 12 more than the city had at this time last year. Police statistics also show that so far, seven of the 2015 homicide victims have been under the age of 16.
Man Killed Twin at Same Home Where Police Shot Him
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who was fatally shot this week by police during a standoff at a Kansas City home had killed his twin brother in the same residence about nine years ago. The Kansas City Star reports that since fatally shooting his sibling in 2006 after a fight, Tyrone L. Holman has suffered from mental health issues, unsuccessfully filed disability claims and threatened federal workers. On Wednesday, he refused to leave the home when process servers arrived to enforce an eviction notice, prompting the 12-hour standoff with police. Police say Holman eventually came outside and threatened officers with a hand grenade, which caused one officer to shoot at him. Holman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in his brother's death. He told police that the gun accidentally discharged during a struggle.
Kansas City Police Identify 2 Adults Dead in Home
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police have identified the man and woman found dead inside a home where a baby was found unharmed. Police say officers were called to the home last week by an employee of the Division of Family Services. The DFS employee got no response after knocking on the door, but could hear a baby crying inside. Officers entered the home and found a man and woman dead inside from unknown causes. Police on Friday identified them as 35-year-old Renitta Crutchfield and 33-year-old Leo Wagers. The baby was uninjured but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Police said the cause of death remains under investigation.
Summer Travel on Kansas Turnpike Reaches Record High
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Turnpike officials say summer traffic on the nearly 60-year-old highway rose more than 6 percent this year to an all-time high. The turnpike collected more than $33 million in tolls this summer. Traffic increased every month this summer compared with last year. July was the busiest travel month with more than 3.5 million vehicles using the turnpike. Turnpike officials say lower fuel prices have contributed to the increase in travel on the 236-mile highway.
Man Arrested in Wichita Stabbing
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old man has been arrested in the stabbing of his father in Wichita. Wichita police Lieutenant Todd Ojile said Thursday the suspect was arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder. According to police, the suspect stabbed his 74-year-old father multiple times Wednesday afternoon at the suspect's home. Authorities say the victim was found by his wife, who contacted police. The suspect was arrested several blocks away from where the incident happened. Ojile said the victim, who has not been identified, was transported to a hospital, where he is in "extremely critical" condition.
Chiefs' Dontari Poe Probable for Season Opener at Houston
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe was listed as probable for the Kansas City Chiefs' opener Sunday in Houston, less than two months after undergoing surgery on a disc in his back. Poe hurt his back in June and received two rounds of epidurals that did little to alleviate the pain. He had surgery on July 15 and missed all of training camp and the preseason. He returned to a light workout on Sunday, and had his first full-pad practice Wednesday. There were no major surprises on the final injury report Friday. The only players listed as questionable were right tackle Eric Fisher, who's expected to play after practicing all week, and right guard Jeff Allen, who has been dealing with a knee injury.