Headlines for Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Hallmark Cards Announces Major Restructuring
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Hallmark Cards is creating three new independently operated businesses as part of a major reorganization of the greeting card company. The company announced today (TUE) that the new businesses are Hallmark Greetings, Hallmark Retail and Hallmark Home and Gifts. Each of the businesses will be led by a separate president. As part of the changes, David Hall, formerly president of Hallmark North America, will be president of the entire company, which reported 2014 sales of $3.8 billion. Hallmark officials said the reorganization is expected to allow for more focused decisions to meet customer and marketplace needs in each business. The Kansas City Star reports the three new businesses join Crayola, Crown Media Holdings, Crown Center Redevelopment, and Hallmark International as separate businesses in the company's realigned structure.
New Bishop Named for KC-St. Joe Diocese
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, permanently replacing a cleric who was convicted of failing to report a suspected child abuser. The new bishop is James V. Johnston Jr. will take over the diocese. Former Bishop Robert Finn resigned in April. He was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected abuse and was sentenced to two years of probation. He is the highest-ranking church official in the U.S. to be convicted of not taking action in response to abuse allegations. Johnston will be installed in his new post November 4. He currently leads the Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri Diocese.
Classes Canceled at University Where Professor from Kansas Was Killed
GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — There are no classes today at Delta State University in Mississippi, a day after the fatal shooting of a professor there. Police confirmed that American History professor Ethan Schmidt was shot and killed inside his office at the university Monday. Schmidt 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. Investigators say Schmidt was killed by Shannon Lamb, another instructor at the college, who was also suspected in the shooting death of the woman he lived with. Lamb took his own life last night as police closed in on him. Authorities say they haven't uncovered a motive for either slaying. The 3,500-student university is in Cleveland, Mississippi near the Arkansas-Mississippi state line.
Former Kansas Senators Dole, Kassebaum To Attend State Fair Saturday
Former Kansas Senators Bob Dole and Nancy Landon Kassebaum-Baker will attend the Kansas State Fair this coming weekend. The Republican colleagues will be promoting construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The two senators will attend the fair Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock. They'll be greeting fairgoers in, of course, the Eisenhower Building. This month, Dole was named to a commission that's trying to raise private funds to help pay for construction of the new memorial.
Hutchinson Inmate Dies at Hospital After Jail Altercations
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An investigation has been opened into the death of an inmate at the Hutchinson jail. The Hutchinson News reports that an inmate from the Hutchinson Correctional Facility died Friday at the hospital after allegedly getting into an altercation with another inmate and then becoming combative with officers. Jail spokesman Dirk Moss says the altercation between the two inmates occurred in the central unit medical clinic. One inmate was then sent to the administrative segregation unit where he became combative with correctional officers before collapsed and becoming unresponsive. He was taken to the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead. The second inmate was treated for injuries and later taken to the hospital for further treatment.
Allegations of Sexual Assault, Harassment Increase at Kansas Jail
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Claims of sexual assault and harassment at the Sedgwick County jail are up for the second year in a row. The Wichita Eagle reports that the number of allegations substantiated after internal investigations remained unchanged at four each of the past two years. Data filed with federal authorities shows 37 allegations of inappropriate sexual misconduct, harassment or contact last year. That compares with 30 such claims in 2013. The sheriff's office tracks the data as part of its compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act. The act is a 2003 federal law aimed at identifying and eliminating sexual violence in America's prisons. Captain Jared Schechter says incidents of sexual assault are reported to the district attorney's office if substantiated.
Schools Adding Laptops After Concerns About Unequal Access
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Schools in Lawrence will be receiving additional laptops after some teachers raised concerns that digital textbooks were creating inequity for low-income students. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 25 additional laptops will be delivered to each of the city's two high schools. The laptops will be available for semester- or year-long checkout for students enrolled in classes that rely on digital content. Those include algebra and advanced placement history at both high schools. Lawrence schools Superintendent Rick Doll says as new curriculum is adopted district-wide, more digital textbooks will go into use. That creates a need for the district to purchase more computers. The district is doing a cost analysis and inventory of laptops and tablets to determine how many computers are needed so that each student has a device.
Kansas City Planning Apartment Complex with Low Energy Use
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Developers are planning a 276-unit apartment complex in Kansas City that they say will use only about 10 percent of the energy used in a comparable building. The complex, called Second and Delaware, is scheduled for construction on the Missouri riverfront just north of downtown. The Kansas City Star reports that national experts say the $60 million project will be the largest U.S. multifamily 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.
Kansas Auctioning Off Hundreds of Bottles of Booze
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas is selling hundreds of bottles of liquor accumulated by regulators on an online auction. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the selection on the online auction site includes 72 bottles of brandy, 22 jugs of vodka and 13 flasks of rum. The liquor was acquired collected by the Alcoholic Beverage Control from the owners of newly acquired restaurants who can't legally sell alcohol that was left behind by the previous business owners. The bidding isn't open to anyone looking to stock their liquor cabinets, only holders of state retail or wholesale liquor licenses. Kansas Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda says proceeds from the auction will be deposited into the state's general treasury. The auction closes September 28.
No Changes in Greek Recruitment, Housing at KU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Officials at the University of Kansas announced yesterday (MON) that the school will begin implementing suggestions from the Chancellor's Task Force on Sexual Assault. But, administrators say they will not force fraternities and sororities to change the way they recruit and house freshman. That proved to the most controversial recommendation from the task force. It suggested all freshmen live in dormitories and that fraternities and sororities shouldn't begin recruiting until the spring semester. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that university officials say they don't have enough room for all incoming freshmen without the Greek system's housing options. The task force was created in 2014 after reports of sexual abuse in some KU fraternities and elsewhere on campus.
Hearing Set for Florida Man Charged in 9/11 Bomb Plot
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida man accused of sending bomb-making plans to an FBI informant for an planned attack in Missouri on the 9/11 anniversary is due in federal court for a detention hearing. Joshua Goldberg was arrested last week after catching authorities' attention earlier this year because of threatening posts online. The government says Goldberg also used aliases to boast about helping gunmen plan attacks on synagogues in Australia. The 20-year-old is charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction. A criminal complaint says Goldberg told an informant how to build a bomb and suggested targeting a September 11 commemoration in Kansas City. No bomb was produced.
Remains Found Near Kansas City, Kansas, Are 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. A fisherman found the man's skeletal remains on August 29 near the Kansas River. No arrests have been made in Webster's death and the case remains under investigation.
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.
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.
Task Force Examining Work Conditions at Jackson County Jail
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A task force examining problems at the Jackson County Detention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, 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 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.
Action Delayed on Replacing Confederate Flag in Wichita Park
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Board of Park Commissioners has voted to delay any action to replace the Confederate flag that was removed from John S. Stevens Pavilion at Veterans Memorial Park. The board voted Monday to delay action for another 60 days until there is a design for a new memorial at Veterans Memorial Park focusing on the Civil War. The Wichita Eagle reports the flag, which has flown with several other flags in the plaza since 1976, was removed July 2. Mayor Jeff Longwell ordered the flag removed amid a nationwide controversy after nine black churchgoers were killed in South Carolina. The suspect in the shooting, Dylann Roof, had been seen in photographs with the flag.
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 skills, with only four required courses, giving students the ability to craft their own curriculum. According to the proposal, the university plans to offer the new program each year to 20 students with backgrounds in arts, science and technology. University officials say the program and others like it could help modernize higher education by allowing students to design their own programs and take more courses they actually need.
Kansas Winter Wheat Planting on Schedule, Corn Harvest Falling Behind
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas growers are planting next year's winter wheat crop while harvesting their corn and other fall crops. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 5 percent of the 2016 wheat crop has been seeded. That is typical for this point in the season. The agency is also reporting that about 11 percent of the corn in Kansas has now been cut. That is slightly behind the 25 percent average for this time of year.
1,034 Pound Pumpkin Sets New Record at Kansas State Fair
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A pumpkin weighing in at 1,034 pounds has squashed the Kansas State Fair record. Donovan Mader of Garden City grew the monster pumpkin in his abandoned horse pen. The pumpkin was almost 58 pounds heavier than the one that set the state record in 2007. Long lines of gawkers have been viewing the pumpkin at the Kansas State Fair's Pride of Kansas building. It's Mader's first entry in the giant pumpkin division, which has been previously dominated by pumpkin growing experts from Wichita and Liberal. Mader says he got some help from an unusually wet summer in western Kansas. But he stresses there's "a lot of luck involved."
Indians Defeat Slumping Royals 8-3 in Cleveland
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 on Monday night. The Indians' right-hander Carlos Carrasco (13-10) allowed only one run and struck out nine. With the win, Cleveland, which has won 13 of 18, got back to the .500 mark (71-71). The Royals' Edinson Volquez (13-8) allowed four runs in five innings for Kansas City, which has lost eight of its last ten games. The Royals play three more games in Cleveland this week before their road trip continues with a weekend series in Detroit.