Headlines for Friday, September 25, 2015
Kansas Congressman Pleased by US House Speaker's Resignation
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp hopes to eventually regain a seat on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee now that Speaker John Boehner has announced plans to resign. But Huelskamp said Friday that he's focusing first on fellow Republicans picking a replacement for Boehner. Huelskamp clashed with the Ohio Republican, and Boehner stripped him of an Agriculture Committee seat late in 2012. Huelskamp said Republicans need new leaders and that voters are tired of the political establishment. The western Kansas congressman said GOP House members returned to Washington after their latest recess tired of defending Boehner back home. Other Kansas Republicans were complimentary of Boehner, including former presidential nominee and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. Dole said Boehner had been plagued by, in his words, a group of Republican naysayers.
Governor Brownback's Office Sends Email on Welfare Policies
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has sent a message criticizing government dependence and touting his welfare reforms to his supporters. The email was sent Wednesday night by governor's office spokeswoman, Melika Willoughby. The Wichita Eagle reports that Brownback's office regularly has sent out emails lauding his policies since he was re-elected. In the email, the Republican governor accuses Democrats of trying to "increase the number of Americans who are dependent on the government." A bill Brownback signed in April that solidified a work requirement for able-bodied welfare recipients without dependents also was praised in the email. The email sparked backlash on social media, with critics pointing out that Brownback hasn't fulfilled his promise to create more jobs.
Prison Sentences Upheld in Kansas Overdose Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Relatives of some patients who overdosed on pain medication prescribed at the clinic of a former Kansas doctor say they are pleased that he and his wife have been resentenced to lengthy prison terms. A federal judge upheld the decades-long prison sentences Thursday for Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife Linda Schneider. The couple were convicted in 2010 of conspiracy to commit health care fraud resulting in deaths, unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering. The judge ordered a new sentencing after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that a victim's drug use must be the actual cause of death, not just a contributing factor. But on Thursday, the judge upheld the original prison sentences of 30 years in prison for Stephen Schneider and 33 years behind bars for Linda Schneider. Defense attorneys for the Haysville couple say they'll appeal the sentences.
Head of KCK District Named Top Superintendent in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The woman at the head of the Kansas City, Kansas, school district has been named the state's top superintendent. The Kansas School Superintendents Association announced Thursday that peers of Cynthia Lane picked her as 2016 Superintendent of the Year. Since 2010, Lane has led the 22,000-student district. Lane said in a written statement that she was "humbled and honored." The district has been pushing its students to graduate with college credits or technical training. Association executive director G.A. Buie said in a statement that Lane is "a passionate advocate not only in her district, but for students across Kansas." Lane will now be considered for National Superintendent of the Year. The association also provides a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior to be selected by the Kansas winner.
Free Public Access to Kansas State Parks on Saturday
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas state parks are opening their gates to the public for free Saturday. The Wichita Eagle reports that numerous free activities are planned. They include an archery clinic at El Dorado State Park and a fishing clinic at Elk City The event is a celebration of National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day. The parks typically open free of admission two days out of the year, but this is the first time the department added the third free day of the year. The parks typically cost $5 a day for each car. People still have to pay to camp at the parks on Saturday. BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas partnered with the parks department to sponsor the events and encourage people to get active outdoors.
Court: KU Can't Expel Student Over Off-Campus Tweets
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Court of Appeals says the University of Kansas can't expel a student for offensive tweets he sent from off campus. The court ruled Friday that Navid Yeasin must be reinstated. Yeasin was expelled in 2013 after posting several tweets about his ex-girlfriend. The university said the tweets violated a no-contact order it had issued prohibiting Yeasin from having any contact, including electronic or written communication, with the woman. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university argued it had to extend its student code of conduct to off-campus behavior to comply with federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, at educational institutions. The court rejected the argument, saying it was "obvious" the university can control student conduct only on campus or at university-sponsored events.
Kansas Regulators Approve $78M Rate Hike for Westar Energy
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas regulators have given final approval to a rate increase for the state's largest electric company that will cost most households in its territory between $5 and $7 more a month. The Kansas Corporation Commission approved a request Thursday by Topeka-based Westar Energy to raise rates by $78 million annually. It ratifies an agreement among the company, the commission's staff, a state consumer advocacy agency and some of Westar's largest customers. Westar's rates will rise about 4 percent and the increase will take effect for Westar's nearly 700,000 customers in Kansas. Westar initially proposed a $152 million increase in its annual rates, largely to cover costs it already has incurred for improvements at power plants.
Coalition of Kansas Hospitals Pushing for Medicaid Expansion
PITTSBURGH, Kan. (AP) — A hospital in southeastern Kansas says it's losing almost $14 million each year as a result of the state's decision not to expand Medicaid. Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg has joined a coalition of health care organizations pushing Governor Sam Brownback and the state Legislature to expand Medicaid during next year's session. As part of that effort, the hospital provided an update on its finances Wednesday, saying it lost about $14 million in both 2013 and 2014 because Medicaid wasn't expanded. The Wichita Eagle reports that Via Christi's president and CEO expects the hospital to see the same loss this year. Kansas is one of 20 states that have refused to expand Medicaid, the health care program that helps the poor and disabled.
Kansas Man Accused of Stealing Combine, Assaulting Officers
ELLINWOOD, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old central Kansas man accused of leading law enforcement on a slow-speed chase in a stolen combine and ramming two patrol cars with it is charged with aggravated assault of a law officer. Barton County prosecutor Doug Matthews also charged Kenneth Lamb Jr. of Ellinwood on Friday with theft, vehicle burglary, criminal damage to property and reckless driving in the Tuesday incident. Lamb is accused of stealing a combine from a farmer's field and driving it erratically through Ellinwood, striking power poles and a pickup truck. The ensuing pursuit ended when two officers fired 18 shots into the machine to disable it after it rammed a deputy's patrol car outside of town. Lamb's attorney didn't immediately return a call left after his office was closed Friday afternoon.
Trial Set for Man Accused of Aiding Topeka Officer's Killer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of helping a Topeka police officer's killer escape is scheduled to go on trial next year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the trial of 31-year-old Randy Allen Ridens Jr., of Topeka, will begin February 29. The date was set Thursday during a hearing in Shawnee County District Court.Ridens is charged with obstructing apprehension of Ross Preston Lane, who pleaded guilty in July in the September 2014 slaying of Jason Harwood. The 40-year-old police corporal was shot three times after stopping Lane's car for speeding. Prosecutors allege Ridens helped Lane escape by giving him a ride on a stolen motorcycle. Ridens also is charged with possession of a stolen motorcycle. Ridens wasn't in court, but was represented by an attorney from the firm handling his case.
Man Critically Injured in Wichita Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man has been critically injured in a shooting in south Wichita. According to Wichita police Sergeant Matt Lang, someone reported their neighbor had been shot around 10:30 pm Thursday. Lang said when police arrived at a residence, they found a man with multiple gunshot wounds. The man, who is believed to be in his 20s, was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis and went into surgery. Authorities say no arrests have been made, but the investigation is ongoing.
Wichita Teen Arrested After Threats Against Student, School
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A North Wichita High School student has been arrested after police say he made threats of shooting another student and gun violence at another Wichita high school. According to Wichita police Lieutenant James Espinoza, two Wichita West High School students approached a school resource officer just before 3 pm Wednesday and told him of a threat made during a Facebook chat the night before. Espinoza said the 16-year-old student was arrested at his home and taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center on suspicion of criminal threat.
Man Convicted of Killings at Jewish Sites Seeks New Trial
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — The Missouri man convicted of killing three people outside Jewish sites in Kansas is seeking a new trial. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. was convicted in August of capital murder for the three shooting deaths in April 2014. He said he wanted to kill Jewish people, although none of his victims were Jewish. The Johnson County jury recommended Miller receive a death sentence. The Kansas City Star reports that Miller's motion for a new trial cites the denial of his request for a change of venue, his inability to consult with "standby" lawyers during court hearings and not being allowed to present all of his evidence. Miller also contends the judge gave jurors the impression that he thought Miller's defense was "outlandish and stupid." The motion will be considered before sentencing November 10.
Senator Moran Seeks National Honor for Kansas Fallen Educators Memorial
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas is seeking a national honor for the Memorial to Fallen Educators in Emporia. Moran introduced legislation this week to designate the memorial on the Emporia State University campus as a National Memorial to Fallen Educators. He noted it is the only memorial in the country dedicated to teachers who have died while working with students. The Emporia Gazette reportsthe designation would not make the memorial part of the National Park Service or require any federal funding. It would still be owned by the National Teacher Hall of Fame and Emporia State and would continue to be maintained with private funds. Moran said it's important to recognize teachers on a national level to remind people how important teachers are to the country.
Missouri Decision Ends Clinical Privileges for Planned Parenthood Doctor
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ The ability of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri to offer medically-induced abortions after November is in question after a decision by the University of Missouri Hospital's governing committee. The committee announced Thursday night that it had decided to discontinue a type of limited clinical privilege effective for the clinic's physician effective December 1. The privileges had been granted to a doctor responsible for abortions in Columbia. State law requires doctors to have hospital privileges to perform or induce abortions. The university described the privilege as ``outdated and unnecessary.'' But Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said in a written statement that the decision ``puts politics above patients.''
Wichita Officials to Consider Changing Bike Fines
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials are considering a plan to end penalties for people who ride bicycles at night without headlights. And the city will give away hundreds of free lights to riders who need them. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board is recommending that riding without a light be treated as an equipment violation instead of a moving violation. If the City Council approves, violators would receive a "fix-it" ticket and could avoid a fine by putting a light on their bike and getting a police officer to sign off. The Wichita Eagle reports that riding without a light at night is listed in the city code as a $20 fine, but the fine comes with $67 in add-on costs. About 140 bikers were cited for headlight violations last year.
Public Defenders Try to Block TV Crew from Filming at Jail
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Public defenders are seeking to block a television crew from filming a prison documentary at the Sedgwick County jail. The MSNBC show "Lockup" has been filming there since September 8 for a show profiling life in prison. The Wichita Eagle reports that the objections come from the Sedgwick County Public Defender's Office, the Sedgwick County Conflicts Office and the Death Penalty Defense Unit. Their motion filed Thursday seeks a court order that prohibiting the TV crew from entering the facility to interview and record inmates. Defense attorneys fear defendants could incriminate themselves. 44 Blue Productions referred comment Friday to its public relations firm, which did not immediately return a message. Sheriff Jeff Easter says everyone who appears on the show must sign a waiver agreeing to be filmed.
Trial Set for Man Accused of Aiding Killer of Topeka Officer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A man accused of helping a Topeka police officer's killer escape is scheduled to go on trial next year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the trial of 31-year-old Randy Allen Ridens Jr., of Topeka, will begin February 29. The date was set Thursday during a hearing in Shawnee County District Court. Ridens is charged with obstructing apprehension of Ross Preston Lane, who pleaded guilty in July in the September 2014 slaying of Jason Harwood. The 40-year-old police corporal was shot three times after stopping Lane's car for speeding. Prosecutors allege Ridens helped Lane escape by giving him a ride on a stolen motorcycle. Ridens also is charged with possession of a stolen motorcycle.
Death of 11-Month-Old Oklahoma Girl Ruled a Homicide
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The state medical examiner's office has ruled the death of an 11-month-old Owasso, Oklahoma girl to be a homicide due to "multiple blunt impact injuries." The boyfriend of the child's mother is charged with murder in the girl's death and is jailed without bond. Emmerson O'Rourke died July 12 at a Tulsa hospital where she was taken with a possible brain injury after 22-year-old Brandon Nordstedt called for an ambulance a day earlier and reported the child was having trouble breathing and suffering a possible allergic reaction. Nordstedt has said the child may have been injured by hitting her face on a desk or hitting her head in her crib. Nordstedt was arrested August 20 in Hutchinson, Kansas, after the murder charge was filed and is now in the Tulsa County jail.
Twin-Engine Plane Crashes in West Wichita; 1 Killed
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A twin-engine Cessna 310 crashed near a west Wichita neighborhood Friday, killing the pilot. Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says the plane crashed about 4 pm in a wooded area behind some homes. Blackwell says the pilot was the only person on board the plane. He says there was no fire at the crash site and no homes in the area were seriously damaged. The pilot had taken off from a Wichita airport and then radioed that the plane was experiencing problems. Blackwell says the pilot was told to return to the airport and that is when the plane went down. The fire chief says the investigation is continuing. The pilot's identity and the flight plan of the plane were not immediately available.
Arizona Republic Lures Away Kansas City Star Publisher
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Republic has named Mi-Ai Parrish of the Kansas City Star as its new publisher. Parrish has been publisher at the Kansas City newspaper for the last four years and previously held the top position at the Idaho Statesman in Boise. She replaces John Zidich, who was promoted to president of domestic publishing for Gannett Company. In her time in Kansas City, the 44-year-old Parrish won praise for embracing digital media and engaging with readers and the community while improving the overall quality of the newspaper's journalism. She previously worked at newspapers in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Chicago and served as an editor at the Arizona Republic from 1999 to 2001. Parrish said she looks forward to returning to Phoenix and building on the paper's strong tradition of investigative journalism.
Kansas City to Establish Inner-City Youth Baseball Academy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals are teaming with Kansas City officials, Major League Baseball and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on a youth academy that will include an indoor training facility and outdoor fields. The Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy will be built on a 21-acre park near the museum, with the first phase expected to be completed by next fall. The academy will partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City to help grow the game of baseball in the inner city. A portion of the funds for the project will be supplied by a new MLB-MLBPA joint youth development initiative announced in July. The first phase includes two full-size fields, youth fields and a walking trail. The second phase features an indoor training facility and batting cages.
Royals Clinch AL Central by Beating Mariners 10-4
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals clinched the AL Central Division for their first division title in 30 years, beating the Seattle Mariners 10-4 Thursday night. Royals' pitcher Johnny Cueto picked up his first victory in nearly six weeks, and the win, coupled with the Minnesota Twins' loss to the Cleveland Indians, ensured the title. In spite of a recent slump, the Royals have dominated the division this season, leading by as many as 14 games. It's the Royals first division title since 1985, when they won the AL West on their way to their only World Series championship. The Kauffman Stadium announced crowd of 32,244 cheered when the Twins' final score was shown on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth inning.