Headlines for Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Northwest Kansas Blizzard Warnings Cancelled
GOODLAND, Kan. (AP) — Blizzard warnings have been cancelled in northwest Kansas after a winter storm dropped 2 to 3 inches of snow and moved out of the state. National Weather Service meteorologist Jerry Killingsworth in Goodland says high wind warnings were still in effect for parts of Kansas, but the snow has moved north and east and was no longer a threat. Killingsworth says there were occasional periods of quarter-mile visibility during the storm along the Colorado and Nebraska borders, but it had only minimal impact on traveling. As of 4:30 pm, he says clouds had been replaced by sunny skies. The weather service also issued a tornado watch Wednesday for east-central Kansas and central Missouri from the same storm system.
White Supremacist Killer Sentenced to Death in Johnson County
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man convicted of fatally shooting three people at Jewish sites in Overland Park has been sentenced to death. A jury convicted Frazier Glenn Miller Junior in August of one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder, and assault and weapons charges. The same jury recommended that Miller be sentenced to death. On Tuesday, Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan followed that recommendation and ordered the death penalty. Miller is an avowed anti-Semite who admitted that he shot the three in April 2014 because he wanted to kill Jews before he died. The 74-year-old man has chronic emphysema and says he doesn't think he has much longer to live. None of the victims was Jewish.
University of Kansas Plans Town Hall Meeting on Race
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas is planning a town hall meeting for today (WED) to discuss race and other matters after recent protests and resignations at the University of Missouri. University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned Monday amid pressure from students who said the school responded inadequately to racial problems. The university's Chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin also stepped down Monday. The University of Kansas says the town hall is set for Wednesday afternoon in the Kansas Union. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU officials say the goal of the meeting is provide a chance for students, faculty and staff to discuss race, respect and responsibility.
Kobach Seeks End to Lawsuit Against Kansas Citizenship Rule
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office has registered two prospective northeast Kansas voters and is asking a judge to dismiss their federal lawsuit against the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement. The Wichita Eagle reported that an attorney for Kobach's office asked Tuesday to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that the two young men no longer have grounds to sue. The men did not comply with a 2013 law requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship when registering. But Kobach said his office regularly checks records from other state agencies for proof of citizenship. Attorneys for the two men say Kobach's office acted simply to prevent court scrutiny of the law. Kobach's office also registered two other men who filed a separate state-court lawsuit, and the judge refused to dismiss it.
Kansas Attorney General Asks Supreme Court Justices to Recuse Themselves
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking all Kansas Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from a lawsuit involving the court system's budget. Schmidt announced Tuesday that the state filed a motion seeking the recusal because the justices have publicly opposed the law in question. Legislators approved a budget measure this year protecting a law that allows local judges to appoint chief judges in the state's 31 judicial districts, rather than the state Supreme Court. The budget measure says if that law is struck down, the judiciary's entire budget is "null and void." Supreme Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor says the justices will consider the recusal motion. Schmidt also argues Kansas Court of Appeals judges should hear the case.
Kansas Officials Say State is Working to Save Federal Arts Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesman for the Kansas Department of Commerce says it is working on initiatives for keeping the state from losing all of its federal arts funds. Agency spokesman Dan Lara said Tuesday that the agency is looking at partnering with other state agencies on arts-related projections. He said doing so would allow the department and its Creative Arts Industries Commission to count the spending on those projects — or even a contribution of employee time on them — as part of the state arts funding needed to qualify Kansas for federal funds. A National Endowment for the Arts official told state officials in a September letter that Kansas must boost its state arts funding by nearly $225,000 by January 15 or forfeit its $591,000 in federal arts dollars.
Report Says Student Scores Rise and Fall with Funding
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A report from the Kansas Association of School Boards shows that the state's performance on national tests rose and fell with funding. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the board says student performance on national math and reading tests improved between 2003 and 2007 before leveling off until 2011, when it began to fall. The board's analysis, which was presented to lawmakers by association advocacy director and lobbyist Mark Tallman during a meeting, says the performance trend follows funding patterns. The report says auditors were more than 99 percent confident a relationship exists between spending and performance outcomes. Kansas State Department of Education deputy commissioner Brad Neuenswander expressed concern over the direction of Kansas test scores, and said that the state is seeing the performance gap widening again between students who can pay for lunch and students who cannot.
Ted Cruz Files for Kansas GOP Caucus
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Senator Ted Cruz has filed for the Kansas Republican Presidential caucus. KSN-TV reports that Cruz is the fifth presidential candidate to file for the Kansas presidential caucus, which is scheduled to be held in March at about 95 different caucus locations around the state. Other candidates who have filed for the Kansas caucus include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
Lawrence Could Face $6 Million Cost for Fighting Ash Borer Infestation
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence could face up to $6 million in costs to deal with the anticipated infestation of emerald ash borers. Mark Hecker, assistant parks and recreation director, told department's advisory board Tuesday that treatment, removal and disposal of the affected trees is estimated to cost as much as $6 million. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Hecker also urges the city to establish a plan to combat the infestation. He says emerald ash borers can devastate an entire population of ash trees, and have been confirmed north of Lawrence. Hecker says a recent count shows about 3,000 ash trees in Lawrence parks and right-of-ways. He says keeping the trees alive will take continual treatment that could cost about $150 for every tree each year.
1 Dead in Kansas House Fire
HARTFORD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified a person killed in a weekend house fire in eastern Kansas. The Emporia Gazette reports that the fire was reported Sunday at a home in Hartford. The Lyon County Sheriff's Department says in a release that the coroner's office identified the person found dead at the scene as 53-year-old Mearl Edvin Whillock II. The cause of the fire and the cause of death are under investigation.
Parents of Abused, Isolated Teen Given 68-Month Sentence
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita couple has been sentenced to more than five years in prison after beating and abusing their adopted daughter. Authorities say the girl had been starved and chained up in a windowless basement. The Wichita Eagle reports that the judge ordered the 68-month sentence after the girl testified in court Tuesday morning. The girl was 14 years old when authorities placed her and three other children in police protective custody in March 2014. The mother and father pleaded guilty in July to criminal charges, including three counts of child abuse, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated endangerment of a child and one count of criminal restraint. The father was also convicted of other charges. The parents have not been named to protect the girl's identity.
Protesters March in Kansas City for Higher Wages
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Protesters marched in Kansas City Tuesday to demand higher wages for service industry workers. The Kansas City Star reports that the rally began at a fast-food restaurant in mid-town Kansas City and ended at City Hall. The protest was part of a nationwide action to advocate for higher wages for an estimated 64 million American workers who make less than $15 an hour.
Kansas Education Board Against Nonstudent Sports Recruitment
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas State Board of Education says it will oppose a bill that would allow high schools to recruit athletes from home schools and private schools. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Senate Bill 60 states any student who is a resident of a school district must be allowed to participate in any activities the district offers, regardless of whether the student attends a school in that district full time. Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, argues that the bill is similar to requiring universities to allow any college-age student play on their sports teams, even if they are not enrolled at the school. The bill has passed in the Senate and has been sent to the House for consideration.
Jackson County Recommends Pay Raise for Jail Guards
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - Jackson County officials are recommending a pay increase for corrections officers at the county jail. The Kansas City Star reports wages for guards would increase from $11.45 an hour to $12.60 and then to $14.55 after one year on the job. Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders' 2016 budget recommendations were submitted to the County Legislature Monday. Sanders has also proposed more training for guards, expanded medical care for prisoners and hiring an ombudsman to better mediate prisoners' complaints. He created a task force in late August after revealing that the FBI was investigating the alleged use of excessive force by jail guards at the facility. The proposals would add $2.7 million to the Corrections Department budget.
Workers Help Fund All-Terrain Wheelchairs for Veterans
NOVI, Mich. (AP) — Fundraising by employees at an electric transmission company is helping get nine all-terrain wheelchairs to veterans in Michigan, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas. Novi, Michigan-based ITC Holdings Corporation is working with Paralyzed Veterans of America to get the wheelchairs to veterans and groups. They allow users to more easily participate in activities such as hunting and fishing that aren't as accessible in a traditional wheelchair. Michael Harris of the Paralyzed Veterans of America's Michigan chapter says the wheelchairs "will assist veterans to further pursue their outdoor passion." Camp Liberty, which serves veterans and their families, is getting one of the Action Trackchair wheelchairs. The camp operates on 137 acres in southern Michigan's Jackson County. Two are going to the Iowa chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. Others will go to individual veterans.
Former AP Newsman in Topeka, Elon Torrence, Dies at 98
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Associated Press newsman and Kansas ethics commission member Elon Torrence has died. He was 98. His daughter confirmed that he died Wednesday at a Topeka retirement community. His wife of 70 years, 95-year-old Lois "Polly" Torrence, died Monday following a stroke. Elon Torrence was an AP newsman at the Kansas Statehouse for more than 35 years, from 1946 to early 1982. He also worked at The Garden City Telegram. He covered the trial of the two men hanged by the state for the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in the southwest Kansas town of Holcomb that inspired Truman Capote's book, "In Cold Blood." He also covered a deadly 1966 tornado in Topeka. He served 16 years on the state's Governmental Ethics Commission, starting in 1994.
Jayhawks Quarterback Cozart Will Have Season-Ending Surgery
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart will have surgery on the shoulder he injured last month, while his replacement Ryan Willis continues to be hampered by a sore groin. Jayhawks' Coach David Beaty sounded hopeful Tuesday that Willis will play Saturday at TCU. Last year's starter, Michael Cummings, sustained a season-ending knee injury in the spring game and that leaves only Willis, redshirt freshman Keaton Perry and transfer T.J. Millweard on the roster. Willis, a freshman, has been impressive enough at times that Cozart could transition to wide receiver when he does return next season.