Headlines for Monday, November 23, 2015
Kansas Police Concerned with State Foster Care Management
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A lobbyist for a Kansas police association has expressed concerns over the way state social workers handle foster care. Lobbyist Ed Klumpp of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police told state lawmakers that social workers with the Department for Children and Families can be difficult to contact, supervisors are sometimes unreachable and calls to a hotline to assist with problems may go unanswered. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Klumpp voiced these concerns at a meeting of the Foster Care Adequacy Committee last week. He said that law enforcement officers responding to a situation involving a child in a foster home are left with very limited options, and a last resort is placing the child in protective custody. Department secretary Phyllis Gilmore acknowledged Klumpp's statements are concerning. Gilmore says the agency will make any needed corrections.
Kansas Secretary of Aging and Disability Resigns
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kari Bruffett, secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, has announced plans to resign at the end of the year. Governor Sam Brownback said Monday in a release that Bruffett's resignation is effective December 31. Bruffett was named KDADS secretary in May 2014. She previously had been director of the Health Care Finance division of the state Department of Health and Environment. Bruffett is leaving her position leading KDADS to join the Kansas Health Institute as director of policy.
Rubio Joins Field for Spot in Kansas Republican Caucus
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Senator Marco Rubio has filed for the Kansas Republican President caucus, making him the sixth presidential contender to file in the state. He joins former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ben Carson. The caucus will be held March 5 from 10 am to 2 pm in 95 different locations around Kansas. All registered Kansas Republican voters are allowed to take part in the caucus.
Kansas Black Leaders Meet to Discuss Legislative Agenda
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group of African-American leaders are calling for expanding Medicaid, repealing restrictive voting laws, reforming criminal sentencing and putting more restrictions on payday lenders. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Black Leadership Council held its first statewide meeting in Topeka Saturday. The group held the conference after deciding to adopt a unified, statewide political agenda for the upcoming legislative session and the elections to follow. The group includes members from Kansas City, Wichita, Salina, Junction City and several other Kansas communities. They met at the historic St. John AME Church near downtown Topeka, which was built in 1864 and has long been a center of political and cultural activity within Topeka's black community.
District Attorney Blocks Recall Effort Against Commissioner
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett has blocked a recall effort against a county commissioner who has refused to accept millions of dollars in grants for local health programs. Bennett announced Monday that the petition for an election seeking the recall of Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau does not meet the narrow grounds prescribed by state law. He told reporters that the remedy prescribed by law when someone disagrees with an elected official is the ballot box. The petition contends Ranzau failed to fulfill his legal duties to contract for the protection and promotion of public health. Ranzau says the DA's decision is a victory for taxpaying American citizens and legal immigrants. The director of the citizens group that filed the petition says the group is disappointed.
State of Kansas Seeking Increase in Engineering Grads
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is moving toward a goal of increasing the number of college graduates majoring in engineering. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas has a multiyear plan to increase college degrees in engineering to 1,365 annually by 2021. That compares with 875 in 2008. The initiative includes more than $100 million in funding by the Legislature for Wichita State, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas. The money is given out over a decade with includes matching university funds. The Kansas Board of Regents says so far the universities are on track to hit the 2021 target. The effort got a recent boost from Spirit AeroSystems, a Wichita-based flight technology manufacturer, that said it'll invest more than half a million dollars in college scholarships, particularly for engineering majors.
KU Officials Sharply Criticize NCAA over Diallo Case
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas officials have sharply criticized the NCAA over its handling of five-star prospect Cheick Diallo, who remains ineligible to participate in games for the fourth-ranked Jayhawks. In a letter from KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger to NCAA vice president Oliver Luck, the school contends that it has found "serious and legitimate misrepresentations attributed to NCAA process, unfounded verbal statements and inadequate professional standards." The NCAA has been investigating the freshman forward's classwork from a prep school in New York and Diallo's relationship with his guardian, Tidian Drame. The six-page letter, first obtained by the Lawrence Journal-World, describes in detail steps made by the school to provide the NCAA with the necessary paperwork for Diallo's eligibility. The letter is dated November 10.
Health Study: Youth Drug Overdoses Spike in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A study by a nonprofit health advocacy group says youth drug overdose rates are up in Kansas, but still remain lower than the national rate. The study released by the Trust for America's Health shows that Kansas's overall drug overdose death rate for 12- to 25-year-olds was 5.9 deaths for every 100,000 youths. That compares to 7.3 deaths nationally for every 100,000 youths. The state's overdose rate quadrupled over the last 12 years. Only Wyoming had a greater increase. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says the waiting list of people who need state assistance in order to receive treatment for addiction has also increased.
Fort Riley's New Hospital Faces More Delays
FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) — The opening of Fort Riley's new hospital faces another delay. The new hospital would replace the Irwin Army Community Hospital, the oldest Army hospital in the nation. The Manhattan Mercury reportsthat the new hospital was originally scheduled to open in 2012 and was later scheduled to open in January 2016. The Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has been managing the project, says the most recent delay is because of disagreements between the contractor and the government. Since the 2009 groundbreaking, the project's contractor has faced lawsuits from subcontractors, and then filed its own subsequent claim against the Corps of Engineers. The case against the Corps of Engineers is under review by the federal government's Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.
Eudora Heath Aide Sentenced in Murder of Disabled Client
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A Eudora man who strangled his disabled home-care client to death has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 49-year-old Ronald Eugene Heskett was accused of killing 65-year-old Vance Moulton in September, 2014. Heskett was originally charged with first-degree murder, but jurors found him guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree murder. Heskett has maintained that the killing of Moulton, who had cerebral palsy, was an assisted suicide. Douglas County District Judge Peggy Kittel sentenced Heskett to 195 months in prison. Heskett was previously convicted of felony criminal damage to property and misdemeanor trespassing in 1986.
KU's McCollum Hall to be Demolished This Week
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas residence hall is coming down this week. McCollum Hall will be demolished with about 750 pounds of explosives Wednesday morning. Engineers say the 10-story, 220,000-square-foot residence hall will become a pile of rubble in about 18 seconds. Opened in 1965, McCollum initially housed 910 students. It has been the largest of KU's Daisy Hill dorms ever since. Demolition preparations began last month with crews removing all soft material such as wood and sheet rock, and tons of metals for recycling.
Wichita Reporting Increase in Armed Robberies
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they're dealing with a dramatic increase in armed robberies of businesses. The Wichita Eagle reports that police say that through late last week there had been 102 armed robberies of businesses so far this year. That's up 33 percent over the same time last year and nearly 50 percent over 2013. Sergeant Stephen Patton, who heads the robbery section of the Wichita Police Department, says the robberies are also more aggressive and dangerous. Patton says he doesn't know the reason for the increase, and the largest increases came in the spring and summer.
Dodge City Man Named 2016 Kansas Teacher of the Year
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A high school mathematics teacher from Dodge City is the 2016 Kansas Teacher of the Year. Justin Coffey's selection was announced by Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson during a ceremony Saturday night in Wichita. He received $4,000, free enrollment to several Kansas universities for life and other prizes. Coffey received a business administration degree from the University of Wyoming and a transition to teaching certification in 2011 from Fort Hays State University. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in education. He is part of his school's leadership team, the co-founder of an annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics camp and the head wrestling coach at Dodge City Middle School. Coffey was chosen from among eight finalists.
Non-Profit Group Gives Kansas a 'C' Grade in Battling Sex Trafficking
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Seattle-based nonprofit has given Kansas a grade of "C'' for its legislation addressing child sex trafficking. The group Shared Hope International's rating places Kansas 29th in the country. The state Legislature passed a package of bills to protect and support victims in 2013. Deputy Director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit for the Kansas Attorney General's Office Jennifer Rapp says Kansas also increased penalties for traffickers. In October, seven Topeka residents were indicted on allegations of running an interstate sex trafficking ring that included recruitment of a minor, and the Wichita area reported 44 cases of human trafficking. Wichita had 29 total cases last year.
8-Year-Old Kansas Girl Dies After Crashing Car She Was Driving
TROY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say an 8-year-old northeast Kansas girl has died after the car she was driving ran off a roadway and down an embankment. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 8-year-old Cadence Orcutt of Troy died in the accident Sunday. The patrol says a 56-year-old Missouri man in the car with the child sustained possible injuries in the crash. The Kansas Highway Patrol and Doniphan County Sheriff's deputies investigated the accident. Authorities say the adult in the car had given the child permission to drive. Simon says the accident is under investigation
Wildlife Officials Concerned About Wind Farm Dangers
TARKIO, Mo. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials are concerned about a proposed wind farm project in northwest Missouri they say is in the migratory corridor for birds flying into the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Lenexa, Kansas-based Tradewind Energy plans to build roughly 150 of the 500-foot-tall wind turbines in central and eastern Atchison County, near Tarkio Prairie Conservation Area. There already are about 100 turbines on the county's west side. TheSt. Joseph News-Press reportsthe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants Tradewind to do an environmental assessment and apply for permits to allow protected species to be killed at the facility. Tradewind officials say the company plans to work closely with federal wildlife officials on conservation plans for endangered birds.
1902 Victorian Home Moves to New Wichita Location
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A two-and-a-half-story Victorian home has moved to new spot in north Wichita. Months of planning led up to Sunday's move of the 240,000-pound home. KFDI-FM reports that QuikTrip bought the 1902 home for $203,000 to allow for a convenience store expansion. The home then was donated to the Historic Preservation Alliance, which found it a new location. QuikTrip paid an additional $100,000 to help move the house. Historic Preservation Alliance president Greg Pike praised city of Wichita and Westar Energy for their help. The move involved taking down street lights, traffic signals and power lines, as well as trimming trees.
Chiefs Defeat Chargers 33-3 in San Diego
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs embarrassed the San Diego Chargers 33-3 Sunday as the Chargers (2-8) lost their sixth straight game. Alex Smith led the Chiefs (5-5) to their fourth straight win following a five-game losing streak early in the season. Chargers' QB Philip Rivers had his worst game of the season, throwing for just 178 yards. The Chiefs' Justin Houston intercepted a Rivers pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown and a 19-3 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter. The Chiefs' Alex Smith was 20 of 25 for 253 yards. Smith grew up in San Diego and led the local Helix High School team to consecutive city championships at Qualcomm Stadium in 2004 and 2005.
KU Drops to 5th in AP Men's College Basketball Poll
The University of Kentucky is back in a very familiar spot — on top of The Associated Press men's college basketball poll. The Wildcats, who were No. 1 every week last season, moved up one spot Monday following North Carolina's loss to Northern Iowa. Kentucky (4-0) beat then-No. 5 Duke in the Champions Classic last week and the Wildcats received 59 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. Maryland (3-0) moved up one spot to second and received the other six first-place votes. Michigan State, which beat then-No. 4 Kansas in the Champions Classic, jumped from 13th to third. The Spartans were followed in the top 10 by Iowa State, Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma, Villanova, North Carolina and Gonzaga.