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Headlines for Monday, September 14, 2015


Kansas Governor Links Merit Pay, School Aid

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback says work on a new formula for funding Kansas' public schools should focus on how local districts spend their money, create incentives to shift dollars into classroom instruction and encourage merit pay for teachers. Brownback said during an Associated Press interview that he'd like the Legislature to draft a new formula next year. It would determine how the state distributes more than $4 billion in funding for the 286 districts. The governor said a key issue for him is making sure that a greater percentage of dollars go to classroom instruction, rather than administrative overhead. He said a new formula should encourage districts to use merit pay systems to reward their best teachers. But educators and others say they don't have a problem with allocating resources. They say the state's spending on schools is inadequate.


Police Make 2nd Arrest in Robberies Near K-State Campus

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Another man has been arrested in a series of thefts that led to a nearly four-hour lockdown at Kansas State University. The Manhattan Mercury reports that Riley County Police Department officers arrested a 20-year-old Manhattan man Friday morning in connection with two counts of aggravated robbery, theft and contributing to a child's misconduct. Another 20-year-old man was arrested Wednesday night. The university lockdown began after police received several reports in the early morning hours of Sept. 4 of an armed robbery involving several people. During the lockdown, everyone on campus was urged to stay indoors and those off campus to stay away. Student dormitories were locked down. Authorities also are looking for two teenage runaways from Manhattan. One of the teens is 16, while the other is 17.


Slain Delta State University Professor Was Kansas Native

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) – The name of the professor who was shot and killed at Delta State University has been released. A Bolivar County, Mississippi deputy coroner said Ethan Schmidt, an associate professor at the school, was shot in the head, possibly multiple times. He was killed inside an office in Jobe Hall on the Delta State campus. Schmidt’s bio on the school’s website said he taught American History. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and he had three other degrees from Emporia State University.  He grew up in Peabody, Kansas, in Marion County, according to his Facebook page. The 3,500-student university is in Cleveland, in Mississippi’s Delta region near the Arkansas-Mississippi state line.


Kansas Officers to Increase Child Safety Patrols This Week

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas law enforcement officers plan to increase patrols this week to encourage drivers to be aware of child car safety. The emphasis is part of National Child Passenger Safety Week. Parents can expect to see officers at elementary and middle schools through Friday. Anyone not obeying Kansas laws pertaining to child safety will be issued a citation. The emphasis is on making sure children are properly buckled into cars and are using the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt. Kansas Safe Kids says 28 Kansas children died in vehicle accidents in 2013. Half of them were not wearing seat belts and eight were thrown from the vehicles.


Hearing for 2 Kansas Inmates Charged in Attack Continued 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — The preliminary hearing for two Kansas Department of Corrections inmates charged in an attack on another inmate has been continued because of defense attorneys had not seen an important piece of evidence. Twenty-two-year-old Jerrod Green and 31-year-old Juan Garza are charged with attempted capital murder or aggravated battery in the June 2014 attack on inmate Miguel Garcia at a state prison. The Hutchinson Post reports the preliminary hearing set for Monday was continued because the men's attorneys had not seen a video that the state said shows what happened during the attack. Also, an attorney representing Green is leaving the public defender's office this month, so another attorney will have to be appointed. No new hearing date was set.


Remains Found Near Kansas City, Kansas, Were Those of Topeka Man 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Wyandotte County authorities say remains found in late August in Kansas City, Kansas, have been identified as those of a Topeka man. Authorities said Monday a forensic dentist identified the body as 32-year-old Travis D. Webster. Information on how he died was not available. A fisherman found the skeletal remains of a foot inside a shoe on August 29 near the Kansas River. More remains were found during the next two days. No arrests have been made in Webster's death and the case remains under investigation.


Fort Riley Teen Dies from Gunshot Wound 

FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating after a teenage family member of a Fort Riley soldier died in on-base housing. The base said in a news release that the teen was found suffering from a gunshot wound and died Friday night. The release described the teen's death as "an isolated incident" and said there wasn't an active shooter.  The Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Army is investigating. No other information was immediately available, including the name of the teen.


Man Charged in Stabbing of Father 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been charged in the stabbing of his 74-year-old father in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports 36-year-old Jay F. Howey was charged Friday with attempted first-degree murder. According to police, the victim's wife found him with several stab wounds when she arrived at the suspect's home on September 9. According to authorities, Howey stabbed his father multiple times after his father had arrived to help him clean. The man was transported to the hospital in critical condition. Howey's next hearing is scheduled for Sepember 23. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.


Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Kansas Couple's Slayings

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The last of four people charged with fatally shooting a Kansas couple in 2013 has been convicted. Twenty-year-old Braden Smith pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of second-degree intentional murder in the fatal shootings of Roger and Melissa Bluml. The couple was the adoptive parents of his friend, Anthony Bluml, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the slayings. Smith testified last summer that he provided the guns used to shoot the Blumls on November 15, 2013, outside their Valley Center home as part of a plan to collect life insurance. The Wichita Eagle reports that an initial count of capital murder was reduced and other charges were dropped in exchange for Smith's testimony. Sentencing is scheduled October 29.


Authorities Identify Victim in Fatal Traffic Accident 

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal traffic accident south of Salina. KSN-TV reports that the accident happened early Monday morning. The Kansas Highway Patrol report shows a 2001 Pontiac left the roadway, entered a ditch and struck a tree head on. The driver of the car was identified as 53-year-old Steven D. Brunson of Falun. He died at the scene.


Task Force Examining Work Conditions at Jackson County Jail 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A task force examining problems at the Jackson County Detention Center is focusing primarily on work conditions such as mandatory overtime that might have led to inmate abuse. County officials said last month that they had discovered four cases of guards using excessive force against prisoners who were restrained and posed no threat. The Kansas City Star reports the task force was formed at the same time. The task force is looking into numerous problems at the jail, but mainly the effect of mandatory overtime hours forced upon guards at the facility in downtown Kansas City. Experts say long hours make prison guards more prone to abusing inmates. County officials wouldn't speculate on whether fatigue played a role in the alleged abuses, but acknowledged guards are overworked and underpaid.


Police: Shooting Victim Not Cooperating with Authorities 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say the victim in Sunday's shooting in Wichita isn't cooperating with authorities.KAKE-TV reports that police said Monday that a man who told officers he was shot in the Old Town district Sunday was actually shot several miles away. The man also waited two and a half hours before going to a hospital. Police are calling the shooting gang related.


Wichita School District to Explore Using Bus Drivers as Custodians

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Wichita School District says it plans to use bus drivers as part-time custodians as part of a pilot program to keep schools clean and cut costs. The Wichita Eagle reports Wichita school board members will consider a contract today (MON) with First Student, the bus transportation provider for the school district,  to provide workers to clean cafeterias at 16 elementary schools. According to the district's director of operations Darren Muci, several schools moved custodians to later shifts to clean classrooms, hallways and common areas at the end of the school day. That left the schools in need of extra help at lunchtime, but Muci said there were not enough funds to hire additional custodians.


Closure of SE Kansas Hospital Highlights Rural Care Challenges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The impending closure of a hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence is highlighting problems faced by rural health care providers in states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs. Mercy Hospital spokeswoman Joanne Smith says the current climate of rural health care is very challenging. That is particularly true for small hospitals that are facing decreased reimbursements and declining populations. She says the state's refusal to expand Medicaid was a significant factor in Mercy's decision to close its Independence hospital. Medicaid expansion would have brought in $1.6 million annually to the Independence facility. The National Rural Health Association estimates 55 rural hospitals across the nation have closed since 2010 and 283 more are at risk of closure. Mercy Hospital is planning to close its doors next month.


Fliers Urge Casino Backers to Protest Lawsuit

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Supporters of a stalled southeast Kansas casino are urging backers of the project to attend commission meetings in a neighboring county whose lawsuit prompted the delay. The Kansas Lottery picked Kansas Crossing to run a state-owned casino in Pittsburg in Crawford County. The $70 million project was selected despite being half the size of a $145 million Castle Rock Casino proposal in Cherokee County. The Joplin Globe reports Cherokee County and Castle Rock sued, causing construction of the Crawford County casino to be temporarily halted. Kansas Crossing supporters sent fliers to Cherokee County residents urging them to voice their displeasure to county officials for causing local governments to lose $970 a day in gambling revenue.


Trial Starts for Caregiver Accused of Killing Eudora Patient 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A trial is beginning today (MON) for a Eudora health care attendant who claims he killed a client in an assisted suicide. Douglas County prosecutors have charged 49-year-old Ronald Eugene Heskett with premeditated first-degree murder in the September 12, 2014, suffocation death of 65-year-old Vance Moulton. Heskett has called it a "mercy killing" because Moulton was depressed, helpless and in pain from cerebral palsy. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that prosecutors plan to argue at the trial that some of Moulton's money has been missing since his death. Heskett's attorney, Mike Warner, says no clear evidence has been presented to support financial motive in the killing.


Fans Support K-State Marching Band After Controversial 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 last week. 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 the image of its rival Kansas University's mascot and what many observers saw as an obscene display during its halftime show on September 12th. Supporter Sarah Brinkley has started a crowd-funding account seeking donations with for the band. The Manhattan Mercury reports that, as of late last week, the account had raised nearly $13,000.


Kansas City Developers Planning Low Energy Use Apartment Complex 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Developers are planning a 276-unit apartment complex in Kansas City, Missouri that they say will use only about 10 percent of the energy used in a comparable building with conventional energy technology. The complex, called Second and Delaware, is scheduled for construction on the Missouri riverfront just north of downtown. The Kansas City Star reports national experts say the $60 million project will be the largest U.S. multi-family apartment complex using construction certified by the Passive House Institute. Construction will include 16-inch-thick walls that sandwich insulation between concrete panels. Proponents say the method saves large amounts of energy and is capable of withstanding all types of severe weather. Excavation is scheduled to begin next month. If all goes as planned, tenants could begin moving in by February 2017.


Argument Leads to Shooting Death, Suspect in Custody

GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — Great Bend police have arrested a person suspected of fatally shooting another man as the result of an argument. The Hutchinson News reports police responded Friday evening to a shooting and found a wounded man they tried unsuccessfully to revive. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say they arrested a suspect and have no reason to believe anyone else was involved. The police department didn't identify either person in a news release.


Wichita State University to Hire 4 More Police Officers 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University says it will add four more police officers as it continues to work on multiple fronts to ensure a safe campus. University Police Chief Sara Morris said in a news release Monday the university recognizes that several recent incidents have raised concerns about campus safety. She says the crime rate is low, but no crime is acceptable. The four new officers will be in addition to the 28 already employed, and will be hired under an expedited search process. The university began deploying officers on foot last week to hear directly from students about their concerns and offer advice on how to increase their safety. On Monday Wichita State is also hosting a campus safety town hall, one of three safety events scheduled this week.


Wichita State Seeking Innovation Design Degree Program 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University is working to implement a new degree program aiming to give students more freedom in their course of study. On Wednesday, the university will seek final approval for the "Master in Innovation Design" program from the Kansas Board of Regents. The program is intended to focus on design-thinking skills, with only four required courses, giving students the ability to craft their own curriculum. According to a proposal, the university plans to offer the new program each year to 20 students with background in arts, science and technology. Faculty adviser Jeremy Patterson tells The Wichita Eagle that the program and others like it could help modernize higher education.  He says it will allow students to design their own programs and take more courses they actually need.


Orioles Beat Royals 8-2

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles took the three-game series against the Kansas City Royals with an 8-2 victory Sunday night. The Orioles have won four of their past five as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Royals have lost seven of their last nine games and dropped their third straight series for the first time this season. Orioles' left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (9-7) allowed two runs on six hits with two strikeouts over seven innings. Royals' right-hander Johnny Cueto (2-6) lost his fifth straight start. He allowed a season-high eight runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and one walk over 6 1-3 innings. He tied a career-high by allowing four homers and has given up 28 runs over his past 26 1-3 innings. The Royals now travel to Cleveland to begin a 4-game-series tonight (MON). 


Chiefs Defeat Texans, 27-20 in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) — The Chiefs' Alex Smith threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Kansas City Chiefs built a big lead and held on for a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Chiefs were up by 14 in the second quarter when Kansas City recovered a fumble followed by a 7-yard touchdown reception by Jamaal Charles pushing the lead to 27-6. The Texans' Brian Hoyer struggled in his Houston debut before Ryan Mallett took over with about six minutes left and led the Texans on two scoring drives to cut the lead to a touchdown.


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