News Headlines for Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Kansas Elections Chief Files 3 Criminal Cases Under New Law
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has used new power granted to his office by legislators this year to charge three voters with illegally casting ballots while voting in another state. Details of two cases filed by Kobach's office in the Kansas City area's Johnson County and one in northwest Kansas's Sherman County became public Tuesday. They were filed late Friday. Kobach's office filed 10 criminal charges in Sherman County against 64-year-old Lincoln L. Wilson. Officials in Kansas and Colorado said Wilson voted in both in 2010, 2012 and 2014. In Johnson County, Kobach's office filed three misdemeanor charges each against 61-year-old Steven K. Gaedtke, and his 61-year-old wife, Betty. Election officials said they voted in both Kansas and Arkansas in 2010. None of the defendants immediately returned telephone messages.
Kansas Continues to Cancel Incomplete Voter Registrations
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has seen its number of incomplete voter registrations decline by nearly 6,700 in less than two weeks as counties follow a directive from Secretary of State Kris Kobach to cull their records. Kobach's office said Tuesday that the state had about 31,000 incomplete registrations as of Tuesday, compared to about 37,700 when the Republican secretary of state's directive took effect on October 2. The decline is nearly 18 percent. Most incomplete registrations are for people who've failed to comply with a 2013 law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering. Kobach imposed a new rule requiring county election officials to cancel registrations that are incomplete for more than 90 days. He contends the proof-of-citizenship requirement prevents election fraud. Critics say it suppresses turnout.
Firefighters Killed in KCMO Were Department Veterans
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two firefighters who were killed when a burning Kansas City building collapsed have been identified as longtime members of the fire department. Fire Chief Paul Berardi says 43-year-old Larry Leggio was a 17-year veteran while 39-year-old John Mesh had worked there for 13 years. Berardi says two other firefighters were hurt Monday night when the massive fire engulfed the building on the city's northeast side. Building owner Bo Tran says the building included 16 apartment units, a payday loan and tax business, a nail salon and a bar. Tran says he hasn't been told how the fire started. Berardi says a wall collapsed outward about 30 feet and trapped the four firefighters who had been working to protect a nearby grocery store from the blaze.
Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese Settles Claims for $200K
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has agreed to settle claims involving a pedophile priest for a total of $200,000. The Kansas City Star reports that the out-of-court settlements, finalized last week, stem from a parent's claims that Shawn Ratigan took obscene photos of her two minor daughters. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison and 21 years in state prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. His case also resulted in a misdemeanor criminal conviction in 2012 against former Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to the state. Finn resigned in April. Diocesan spokesman Jack Smith said Monday that the settlements included an offer of counseling for the two girls and their mother if they desire it.
New Study Finds Virus Found in Missouri May Have Spread to Kansas, Other States
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A doctor says a virus found in Missouri in 2009 appears to be showing up in other states. Dr. Scott Folk, director of adult infectious diseases at Heartland Clinic in St. Joseph, says the Heartland virus discovered in 2009 was initially thought to be confined to the region. But he told the St. Joseph News-Press that new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the Heartland Virus may extend through more of the nation than initially thought. He says the new CDC study found Heartland virus antibodies in white-tailed deer, raccoons, moose and coyotes in 13 states, including Florida, Georgia, Maine, Texas and Kansas. The presence of antibodies indicates the animal has been exposed to the virus, which is believed to be carried by lone star ticks.
Christians Sought Changes to Wichita Chapel
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The former campus minister at Wichita State University says renovations that included removing pews from a university chapel were sought by Christians, not by Muslims. The university received criticism recently for the chapel renovations, which included replacing pews with folding chairs. Some said they felt the changes marginalized Christians while accommodating Muslims. The Reverend Christopher Eshelman, a United Methodist minister who served as campus minister at Wichita State in 2011 and 2012, told The Wichita Eagle that several people — including him — had the idea to make the chapel a more flexible worship space. The family that made the chapel possible in 1964 specified that it remain open to all creeds and races. Eshelman says Muslim students made no demands about how the space would be changed.
Kansas Winter Wheat Planting, Corn Harvest Making Progress
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The latest government snapshot shows Kansas farmers have now planted 69 percent of their 2016 winter wheat crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday that about 34 percent of the wheat has already emerged. Harvest of fall crops also is making progress in the state. An estimated 76 percent of the corn has been harvested, well ahead of the 68 percent average for this time of year. About 37 percent of the sorghum and 31 percent of the soybeans also have been cut. Sunflower harvest has now begun in Kansas with 5 percent harvested. The fourth cutting of alfalfa is 90 percent finished.
Kansas City Man Charged With Shooting 7-Year-Old Girl
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 32-year-old man faces charges accusing him of injuring a 7-year-old child who was shot in the hand at a Kansas City home. Police were called to the home Sunday morning on a report of a child being shot. Police say she suffered injuries that weren't life threatening. The Jackson County prosecutor's office said Monday that Craig Tinsley is charged with two counts of first-degree domestic assault and two counts of armed criminal action. Court records show police who responded to the call reported it appeared the child had been shot in the left hand and that that she also had a gunshot wound to the lower left back. It's unclear if Tinsley has a lawyer. Prosecutors are seeking a $150,000 cash bond.
Kansas: No Court Order Needed for Birth Certificate from Same-Sex Couples
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say no court order will be needed in the future to process birth certificate applications of children from same-sex couples who conceive by artificial insemination. That assurance came in a court filing Monday in a federal lawsuit that challenges the Kansas ban on same-sex marriages. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling already cleared the way for such marriages in Kansas, but the judge wanted evidence the state was complying with that decision. Kansas also objected to the American Civil Liberties Union even raising the birth certificate issue because none of the plaintiffs in the federal gay marriage case are seeking to become parents. The state says nothing has been offered in this or other lawsuits to show paternity laws that recognize biological differences between men and women are unconstitutional.
Kansas Reviewing Legislative Software Contract
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are reviewing a contract with an Irish software company hired to build custom legislative software that some lawmakers say has been problematic. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas has paid Dublin-based Propylon $15.8 million since 2005 to build software and provide technical support for the Legislative Information Systems and Services. Legislative leaders have held off renewing the contract until the firm addresses problems with the software. Senate President Susan Wagle has said glitches in the software often forced staff members to work late during the 2015 session and delayed votes. Propylon CEO John Harrington says crews are putting plans in place to address the requests from state staff. House Speaker Ray Merrick says he's pleased with progress so far in the state's discussions with Propylon about addressing issues.
Topeka Democrat Resigning from Kansas House
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker from Topeka says he will step down from the Kansas House at the end of October to spend more time with his family. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Representative Harold Lane said Monday that his resignation is effective October 31st. Lane said he already had planned not to seek another two-year term next year and wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. Fellow Democrats in his 58th District in east Topeka will pick a replacement. Democrats selected Lane to fill a vacancy in the seat in August 2003, and he won his first full term in 2004. He also is a former Topeka City Council member. Lane is the ranking minority party member on the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee.
KCK Activist Challenges Charges
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas City, Kansas, activist charged in the death of a pedestrian has filed motions challenging the charges and the legality of the Wyandotte County court proceedings. The Kansas City Star reportsTamika Pledger is charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery. She's accused of running into four teenagers January 13. A 16-year-old girl died a week later from her injuries. Pledger was running for a seat on the board of commissioners of the Unified Government in Wyandotte County at the time of the crash. She contends Wyandotte County officials don't have jurisdiction to prosecute her and that a judge didn't sign the affidavit to support the charges. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerry Gorman says he'll comment on Pledger's comments in the courtroom. Her preliminary hearing is October 29.
20-Year-Old Kansas Man Dies After Crashing Stolen Truck
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has died after crashing a stolen Cox Communications truck into a bridge guard rail in southern Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports the unidentified driver lost control of the vehicle early Monday and hit the guard rail before flipping over and going into Sand Creek. The Harvey County Sheriff's Office says the driver died at the scene. A Cox spokesman says video shows that the truck was stolen shortly before 4am Monday from a company parking lot in Hutchinson. Authorities weren't naming the driver until his family could be notified. The sheriff's office says the guard rail and part of the bridge will have to be repaired.
Kansas Governor Holds Events to Promote Corrections Programs
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback will hold events in four Kansas communities this week to promote corrections programs designed to help offenders return to productive lives after their time in prison. The events begin today (TUE) with a tour and question-and-answer session at Johnson County's minimum-security residential center for adult offenders in New Century. Brownback also plans to visit facilities in El Dorado and Ellsworth this week.
Topeka Plans Demolition for Number of Unsafe Homes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka is expected to quadruple its annual budget to demolish unsafe homes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Topeka demolishes about 11 homes a year after the structures are declared unsafe. But the city expects that total to rise next year to about 44 homes. Richard Faulkner, the city's division director of property code and development, says the city will quadruple its annual budget from $100,000 to $400,000 to demolish those homes. He says a recent survey identified 700 vacant houses in Topeka, and residents have expressed concerns about those structures. The city is also trying to address problems involving vacant homes. Next year's budget also provides funding for the neighborhood services department to increase its number of code enforcement inspectors to 10 from eight.
Report: Sales of Tractors, Combines Down in September
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A new industry report shows that sales of farm tractors and combines are down in September as well down overall for the first nine months of this year. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers reported Monday that the 16,546 tractors sold nationwide in September represents a 12.5 percent drop from the same month a year ago. Year -to-date sales of tractors at 159,191 are down almost 1 percent from the same period last year. Sales of combines are doing even worse with an almost 20 percent drop in September with 694 of them sold. Sales of combines during the first nine months of this year fell nearly 37 percent with 4,033 combines sold in the United States.
Washburn University Celebrates 150th Birthday With "Ichabods Around Town"
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The first in a series of 23 5-foot-tall fiberglass statues of Washburn University's Mr. Ichabod makes an appearance outside a Topeka bank to help mark the school's 150th anniversary. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the first statue was unveiled Monday, with eight more to be installed by the end of the week outside local businesses. Fourteen more will be on display by the end of April 2016. The statues have been dubbed "Ichabods Around Town." University President Jerry Farley says the project shows the school's desire to be woven into the fabric of the Topeka community. Each statue will remain in place for a year and requires a $5,000 sponsorship to help cover the cost of making, decorating, setting and maintaining them. Each will be decorated by a local artist.
Police: 2 People Arrested in Fatal Topeka Shooting
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka authorities have arrested two people in connection with the fatal shooting of a man after an argument. Police Captain Ash Kaboudan said Monday that a man and a woman were arrested just before 9 pm Sunday following a short police chase, and taken to the Shawnee County Jail. They face charges of first-degree murder. Authorities say 43-year-old Keith Leon Reed was found wounded around 12:30 pm Saturday. Reed was taken to a hospital, where he died about an hour later.
Woman Struck, Killed on Side of Wichita Road Identified
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified a woman killed after being struck by a vehicle on the side of Interstate 135 in southern Wichita. Police say 21-year-old Jasmine Love died Sunday morning. Wichita Sergeant Matt Lang said Love was having car trouble, when she and a passenger pulled off to the side of the road. Authorities say when the two exited the vehicle, Love was thrown into a ditch when another vehicle struck her. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The passenger was transported to a hospital with minor injuries. Police say the suspect in the incident turned himself in to authorities Monday. The 26-year-old man faces vehicular homicide charges.
Royals Rally Late to Beat Astros 9-6 and Even ALDS
HOUSTON (AP) — The Kansas City Royals ralied for five runs in the eighth inning to beat Houston 9-6 Monday and force their playoff series to a decisive Game 5. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa homered twice, doubled, singled and drove in four runs in Game 4 of the AL Division Series. Houston took a 6-2 lead into the eighth, but a tough error charged to the 21-year-old rookie keyed the Royals' comeback to even the matchup at two games apiece. Game 5 will be back in Kansas City on Wednesday night.
Royals Pay Tribute to 2 Firefighters Killed in KC Blaze
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals honored two firefighters who were killed while fighting a massive blaze that engulfed an apartment building. Two other firefighters were injured when the building collapsed in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday night, shortly after fire crews evacuated its residents and rescued two people from the second story. The two injured were hospitalized in stable condition. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, whose father Mike is a retired Miami firefighter, wore a Kansas City Fire Department shirt during batting practice on Tuesday. So did third baseman Mike Moustakas, while pitcher Jeremy Guthrie wore a hat honoring the department. The Royals forced Game 5 in their AL Division Series against the Houston Astros with a dramatic late-inning comeback. The decisive game is Wednesday night.
Jinx? Texas Governor Congratulates Astros Too Soon, Before Team Collapses
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Here's a new "oops" moment for a Texas governor: prematurely celebrating a Houston Astros playoff victory. With Houston up four runs and six outs away Monday from finishing off Kansas City, the office of Republican Governor Greg Abbott tweeted congratulations to the Astros for advancing to the AL Championship Series. The Royals then rallied in the eighth inning and forced a decisive Game 5 with a 9-6 victory. The tweet has since been deleted. Abbott, who is an avid Twitter user, responded to the gaffe by telling Astros fans to unfollow his office and stick to his personal Twitter account. He tweeted: "No predictions. Just support." Abbott spokesman John Wittman said the deleted tweet was sent by a staffer and declined further comment.
KC Chiefs Place Charles on Injured Reserve with Torn ACL
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs placed Jamaal Charles on injured reserve Tuesday after the star running back tore the ACL in his right knee while making a cut against the Chicago Bears. Charles had an MRI on Monday that confirmed the extent of the injury. The Chiefs filled his roster spot by promoting running back Spencer Ware from the practice squad. Ware is a former sixth-round pick out of LSU who spent the offseason with Kansas City. The Chiefs also released linebacker Tyrell Adams, cornerback Jeremy Harris and offensive lineman Daniel Munyer from the practice squad Tuesday. Running back Darrin Reaves, offensive lineman Michael Liedtke, cornerback Saalim Hakim and linebacker Jayson DiManche were signed to replace them.