Headlines for Thursday, September 17, 2015
Kansas Lawmakers Consider Medicaid Expansion
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Some state lawmakers are considering allowing some form of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act amid the looming closure of a hospital in southeast Kansas. Mercy Hospital in Independence announced last week that it was closing its doors on October 10, partly due to declining reimbursement rates from Medicare. Senate Vice President Jeff King says that Kansas should consider a state-centric approach to addressing poor residents' health care needs. King's support of an expansion plan could be important because the only Medicaid expansion bills introduced so far in the Legislature have been in the House, where Republican leaders have refused to allow debate or votes on any bills. At least 30 other states have implemented some kind of Medicaid expansion plan.
Kansas High Court Hears Challenge to Wichita Marijuana Ordinance
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments about the legality of a Wichita ordinance that lessens the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The justices are scheduled to hear testimony today (THUR) in a case that could shake up the political landscape as citizens in other communities across the state consider launching similar initiatives. Wichita voters approved the ordinance in April with 54 percent in favor of the measure, but Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has argued that the ordinance conflicts with state law. The ordinance imposes a maximum $50 fine for first-time possession of a small amount of pot, while state law deems it the same offense punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Attorneys for the city of Wichita say the local law does not conflict with state law because marijuana would still be illegal but there would be more sentencing options in some cases. The ordinance has been on hold because of the legal challenge.
US Justice Department Awards $950,000 to 2 Kansas Tribes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded more than $950,000 in public safety grants to two Native American tribes in Kansas. The grants are among 206 national awards totaling more than $97 million announced Wednesday for Native American tribes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports about $875,000 of the grants will go to the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska for various causes including alcohol and substance abuse programs and tribal government projects. About $75,000 was awarded to the Prairie Band Pottawatomie Nation of Kansas to fund tribal justice systems.
Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Former Deputy's Murder Appeal
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal from a former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy who is serving a life sentence for killing his wife days after she filed for divorce. Brett Seacat was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of his 34-year-old wife, Vashti. Prosecutors contend Seacat then set fire to the family's home to destroy evidence as their two young sons slept down the hall. The Supreme Court will consider today (THUR) whether the judge should have allowed hearsay statements his wife allegedly made before her death. It will also consider whether some evidence should have been barred from trial. Seacat accused the judge at sentencing of helping to convict him by hiding evidence he claims proves his innocence.
Kansas State-Salina Seeks New Name
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas State University wants to change the name of its Salina campus. The university asked Kansas university provosts Wednesday to allow the Salina campus to change its name to Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. The new name would emphasize the school's focus on technical arts and applied sciences. The proposal was heard by the provosts of the seven state universities who will make a recommendation to the Board of Regents. The state Legislature also might have to approve the name change because the current name is included in state statutes. The university also wants to merge the departments of aviation, engineering technology, and arts, sciences and business into a School of Integrated Studies in Salina.
Victim of Great Bend Shooting Identified as Texas Man
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) - Police have identified the victim of a fatal shooting in western Kansas as a 39-year-old Texas man. Great Bend police say the man shot last Friday was Jeremy Saldana, of San Angelo, Texas. An Ellsworth Correctional Facility employee is jailed on $1 million bond in the killing. Authorities say Saldana was shot during an altercation. Saldana and the suspect knew each other. Ellsworth Correctional Facility spokesman Todd Britton says the suspect has been placed on administrative leave. The suspect worked at the prison entry and on perimeter watch, driving a vehicle.
Koch Foundations Give $10.5 M for Wichita Arts Center
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Two Koch family foundations are making a $10.5 million donation in land and money to the new Wichita Center for the Arts. A new 38,000-square-foot center is planned for 17 acres owned by the Kochs. The Charles Koch Foundation is donating the land, which is valued at $4.5 million. The Fred and Mary Koch Foundation is giving $2 million and will offer another $4 million challenge grant. Liz Koch, an honorary trustee for the arts center, says the donation honors her mother-in-law, Mary Koch, a strong supporter of the arts center who died in 1990. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and be finished by late 2017 or early 2018.
KU's Spencer Art Museum Passes Fundraising Goal
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has surpassed a $5 million fundraising goal for the first phase of a renovation project. The university announced Wednesday nearly 200 donors had raised $7.4 million for the museum. More than $5.8 million was given by 11 donors. The first phase of the project encompasses 30,000 square feet of the museum's galleries, teaching and research areas and collections storage. The university says the additional money will help improve more gallery and public spaces, and address several longstanding infrastructure needs. The Spencer closed for construction in April, and galleries are expected to reopen in 2016. It's the first renovation since the museum opened in 1977.
Restoration of Historic Korean War Bomber Nearly Finished
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Volunteers are preparing to fire up the engines of a B-29 Superfortress bomber that was last used during the Korean War. The Wichita Eagle reports that restoring the historic airplane has been a 15-year effort. The plan is to run all four of its radial engines Friday, a step that volunteers hope will put it closer to its first flight. The event will be streamed live but won't be open to the public. Built in Wichita 70 years ago, the plane was dubbed "Doc" after being assigned to a squadron of eight bombers named for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was finished too late to fly bombing missions during World War II, though it eventually served as a radar trainer during the Korean War.
Suburban Kansas City Teacher Wins Education Honor
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) - A third-grade teacher from Blue Springs, Missouri has been named the state's top educator. Linda Glasgow was surprised with the Missouri 2015-16 Teacher of the Year honor Wednesday during an assembly. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says the teacher at John Nowlin Elementary School began teaching in 1984 and has been with the Blue Springs School District since 1987. During her 30 years in the profession, she's taught students in several grade levels and served in numerous special education roles. She also works as an adjunct instructor at Graceland University.
Cleveland Indians Beat Royals 5-1
CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) _ The Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-1 Wednesday night. Indians' right-hander Danny Salazar (13-8) took a three-hit shutout into the seventh before Mike Moustakas scored the Royals' only run with a homer to start the inning. That was the only run Salazar allowed as he struck out six batters in seven innings. Kansas City starter Danny Duffy (7-8) allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings. The Royals have now dropped nine of their last 12 games. They will try to even the Indians series at two wins each when they face Cleveland again tonight (THUR) then the road trip continues to Detroit for a three game set against the Tigers over the weekend.
Man Charged in 3 Deaths in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 22-year-old Kansas City man is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend, her toddler son and her new boyfriend at a south Kansas City home. Joseph L. Nelson was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action and one count of first-degree burglary. The victims of the Sept. 8 shooting were 17-year-old Bianca R. Fletcher; her 1-year-old son, Joseph; and 18-year-old Shannon Rollins Jr., Fletcher's boyfriend. Nelson was arrested at his home on Wednesday.
Man Charged in Shooting Death in Atchison
ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man is charged with second-degree murder after a fatal shooting outside an Atchison, Kansas, convenience store. Nineteen-year-old Terell Dixon of Clinton, Missouri, was charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors say he shot 24-year-old Winston Dowling of Atchison, Kansas, Wednesday at the convenience store. Dixon is being held in the Henry County, Missouri, where he was arrested after the shooting. He refused to waive extradition earlier this week. The St. Joseph News-Press reportsAtchison County Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Kuckelman Jr. said the extradition process could take four to six weeks.
Kansas Restaurant Admits Hiring Illegal Immigrants
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas company that operates a Twin Peaks restaurant in east Wichita has admitted it knowingly employed at least 30 immigrants who were living unlawfully in the United States. Le Grande Tetons, LLC, pleaded guilty in federal court to engaging in a pattern and practice of hiring workers it knew were not authorized to be employed in this country. The company was immediately sentenced to pay the $50,000 fine called for in the plea agreement. A U.S. Department of Homeland Security inspection in September 2013 identified more than 20 such immigrants working illegally at Twin Peaks in Wichita, and the store manager promised at the time to stop hiring such workers. The government says restaurant management again began the practice in 2014, even rehiring six of those former workers.
Kansas High Court Hears Case of Ex-Deputy Who Killed Wife
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court justices heard arguments on the appeal of a former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy serving a life sentence for killing his wife days after she filed for divorce. Brett Seacat was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder and other charges in the 2011 death of his 34-year-old wife, Vashti. Prosecutors contend Seacat set fire to the family's home to destroy evidence as their two young sons slept down the hall. Seacat accused the judge at sentencing of helping convict him by hiding evidence he claims proves his innocence. The court is considering whether the trial judge should have allowed hearsay statements Vashti Seacat allegedly made before her death indicating her husband had threatened to kill her and burn down the house with her inside.