Headlines for Monday, December 7, 2015
US Supreme Court Denies Appeal from Shawnee Mission Parents
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal from parents from the Shawnee Mission School District. The parents asked the court to consider their case challenging a state cap on the amount of local property tax money that the district can spend on education. The court's decision Monday not to hear the case leaves in place a decision from the U.S. Appeals Court in Denver. The appeals court ruled in June that the federal court couldn't override the state's funding plan At issue is a 2010 lawsuit arguing that the state could not limit local school district funding because it creates a new inequality that punishes school districts. The parents also argued that the funding restrictions violated their federal constitutional rights.
Prison Overcrowding Expected to Draw Attention From Lawmakers
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers and corrections officials are looking for ways to address overcrowding in state prisons as the adult population is expected to be nearly 1,700 inmates over capacity by the middle of the next decade. The Wichita Eagle reports that the state's men's prisons are nearly 100 inmates above capacity already. The Legislature has taken some measures to address shrinking bed space, but it has not been enough to curb growth. There are a number of options lawmakers will consider when they convene in January, including housing more inmates in county jails, building additional jail space, reducing sentences for lower-level crimes and increasing the amount of time an inmate can cut from a sentence for completing rehabilitation programs.
Kansas Chief Justice Won't Hear Case Involving Court Funding
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is removing himself from a lawsuit that involves the high court's administrative power and the judicial branch's entire budget. The other six justices are not stepping aside, despite a request from Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Nuss announced Monday in an order from the court that he is stepping aside even though the court does not think it's required by ethics rules. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments Thursday. The lawsuit challenges a 2014 law stripping the Supreme Court of its power to appoint chief judges for district courts and giving it to the local judges. Legislators passed another law this year nullifying the judiciary's entire budget if the policy is struck down. Nuss took responsibility for public statements criticizing the 2014 law.
Tragic Deaths of Home-Schooled Kids Rarely Lead to New Rules
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The case of a missing 7-year-old Kansas boy who is believed to be dead has renewed calls for better oversight of home-schooled children, but state lawmakers say there's no reason to make any changes to home-schooling laws. Earlier this year two home-school children were found in a freezer in Detroit two years after they vanished, while an 11-year-old Florida girl also turned up in a family freezer after being missing more than a year. Home-schooling researcher Rob Kunzman says such horrific events often create a short-term effort to increase regulations in states where they happen, but rarely lead to new restrictions. Kansas House Education Committee Chairman Ron Highland, a Wamego Republican, says no matter how many regulations are in place, people are going to do some bad things.
Few KU Students Use Free Gun Storage Service
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas is one of two universities in the state that provides storage for guns on campus, though only a handful of students use the service. The Lawrence Journal World reportsthat the university's Office of Public Safety has provided gun storage for students, faculty and staff living on campus since 2009. University police Captain James Anguiano says the free storage is aimed at hunters who want to bring their firearms to school, but are not allowed to keep the weapons in their on-campus residence halls or apartments. He says about four to five students per semester store their guns. Emporia State University also provides gun storage for students. Under state law, Kansas public universities must allow concealed weapons on campus beginning July 2017. The Kansas Board of Regents and individual universities are working on policies to implement the change.
Teenager Hospitalized After Being Shot by Wichita Police
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a black teenager was in critical condition after being shot by police as he ran with a gun toward the doors of a high school where a girls' basketball game was being played. The Wichita Eagle reports the teen fled after police pulled over a pickup truck that was pulling into the West High School parking lot around 6:30 pm Friday. Deputy Police Chief Hassan Ramzah says there were four people in the truck, and one got out with a handgun and started running toward the south doors of the school. Ramzah says multiple shots were fired at the teen after he ignored verbal warnings to stop and got closer to the door. He was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in critical condition.
Construction Issues Delay Opening of Fort Riley Hospital
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says disagreements between the construction contractor and the government over final inspections of Fort Riley's new hospital sparked the latest delay in its opening. But the construction company says it is working to complete items that have no bearing on the hospital's opening. The hospital was originally set to open in 2012 to replace Irwin Army Community Hospital, the oldest Army hospital in the nation. Now a planned opening in mid-January has been scrapped. Political pressure is building to finish the work — even if that means issuing new construction contracts to get it done. Senator Jerry Moran says he is meeting with the Corps this month to determine what it will take to get the hospital up and running.
Kansas Historical Foundation Receives Million-Dollar Donation
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Historical Foundation says it has received the largest grant in its history. Foundation officials announced Monday that it has received a $1 million gift from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation of Logan. The Hansen Foundation awards grants and scholarships to those who work toward community improvement. The grant will help fund the renovation of the entrance gallery in the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka. The Kansas Museum is operated by the Kansas Historical Society. More than 1.5 million people have visited the museum since it opened in 1984.
School Psychologist Busted for Possessing 14 Pounds of Pot
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas high school psychologist is in custody after more than 14 pounds of marijuana were found in the trunk of her car as she and her husband returned from Colorado. The Wichita Eagle reports 46-year-old Shelly Moore and 44-year-old Frank Moore were arrested early Thursday after a Saline County deputy pulled the couple over on Interstate 135 just south of Salina. The sheriff's office says the deputy smelled the odor of pot found the marijuana in the trunk. Shelly Moore is a psychologist at Wichita Southeast High School. She and her husband were being held at the Saline County Jail on suspicion of drug possession and related charges. The couple are scheduled to be arraigned today (MON).
Lawrence to Host 2017 Junior Olympic Track Championships
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - More than 40,000 people are expected to descend upon Lawrence in July 2017 after the city was selected to host the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Championships. The city beat out Des Moines, Iowa, to host the event. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the nation's top track and field athletes between the ages of 7 and 18 will compete at Rock Chalk Park in northwest Lawrence. Organizers say about 9,500 athletes and 33,000 family members, coaches and spectators are expected to attend the championships. Lawrence will have about 1,400 hotel rooms by 2017, far short of what is needed. The city's visitor's bureau is working to arrange rooms in Topeka, Overland Park, Olathe and Kansas City during the championships, which will run July 23 through July 30, 2017.
2 Firefighters Were in 'Collapse Zone' When They Died
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City firefighters who were killed when a building collapsed had been positioned in a dangerous place where building debris could fall. The Kansas City Star reports that the alley where 39-nine-year-old John Mesh and 43-year-old Larry Leggio died on Oct. 12 had been declared a "collapse zone." Mesh and Leggio were among a half-dozen firefighters working to keep a fire from spreading to an empty grocery store next door. There is no written protocol at the Kansas City Fire Department dealing with collapse zones. But the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is very clear about what is acceptable inside those zones. The institute said "no building is worth a firefighter's life" in a report on a 2012 Philadelphia building collapse that also killed two firefighters.
Haskell Indian Nations University Conducts Facilities Study
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence is conducting the school's first comprehensive facilities study in 10 years. The Lawrence Journal World reports crews analyzed the school's 40 buildings this fall, and the completed report is expected early next year. Stephen Prue, executive assistant to Haskell President Venida Chenault, says the report will advise officials on future planning on the campus. According to Prue, they are trying to determine which of the facilities can be updated and which ones are obsolete. Representatives of the consulting firm hired to do the study are collecting data on everything from traffic to topography to other infrastructure such as parking. Prue says the university needs a new science, technology, engineering and math facility with updated information technology capability, and building issues such as foundation and settling problems need to be addressed.
Man Convicted in Death of 31-Year-Old Liberal Woman
LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A man is set to be sentenced next month for killing a Liberal woman whose death initially appeared to be a suicide. The High Plains Daily Leader reports that Foster Everette was convicted Thursday in Seward County District Court of second-degree murder in the January killing of 31-year-old Andrea Garrison. Sentencing has been set for January 4. Liberal Police Captain Pat McClurg said in a news release that police responded Jan. 2 to a possible suicide. Garrison was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy was completed January 5. McClurg said there were "suspicious circumstances." He said that after talking to witnesses, conducting search warrants and collecting evidence, investigators determined Garrison was the "victim of foul play."
Men Face First-Degree Murder for Double Homicide in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested two men in connection with a double homicide that occurred in Wichita last week. KAKE-TV reports that 24-year-old Brent Carter and 19-year-old Jamion Wimbley have been charged in the home shooting death of Betty "Ann" Holloman and a 24-year-old man last Tuesday. Carter has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and criminal discharge of a firearm. Wimbley faces charges for two counts of first-degree murder, criminal discharge of a firearm and criminal possession of a firearm. The men were booked into the Sedgwick County Jail Friday evening. It was not clear whether either of the two men arrested have attorneys. Police are searching for a third suspect in the double homicide.
Thousands Attend Parade in Oklahoma Ghost Town
PICHER, Okla. (AP) — Thousands of people returned to an Oklahoma ghost town for a Christmas parade years after its residents moved out of the mined-out area. The Joplin Globe reported Saturday's "Coming Home for Christmas" parade featured dozens of entries and drew many former residents who grew up in the town. Picher was the center of the EPA's Tar Creek Superfund site, a 40-square-mile area that also included portions of Missouri and Kansas and was one of the world's most productive regions for lead and zinc. Polluted lead waste, sinkholes and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that found dozens of homes in peril of collapsing into old mines prompted a federal buyout. Most residents had left by 2009, but some former residents still return each year for a school reunion.
Kingman County Hunter Takes Down Rare Antlered Doe
KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas hunter has taken down an antlered doe in Kingman County. The Wichita Eagle reports Jerika Francis thought she shot a 10-point buck on Saturday afternoon on land owned by her husband's family. She said that her husband, Russell Francis, realized the animal was a doe with antlers as he prepared to clean it. Grant Woods, a Missouri-based biologist who researches whitetail deer, said antlered does are females with unusually high levels of testosterone. Woods said that all does have testosterone, but some have enough to grow male-like antlers. Keith Sexson with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism last year estimated he'd heard of fewer than 15 antlered does in the 50 years the state has had deer seasons.
'Bike Box' Installed at Downtown Kansas City Intersection
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City bicyclists have a new amenity to help them safely navigate a busy downtown intersection. The Kansas City Star reports that a lime green "bike box" has been painted at a major downtown intersection in order to give cyclists a head start in front of other cars. Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Deb Ridgway says the box's separation of bikes and cars turning at the intersection provides a safer environment for cyclists. The coating of reflective green paint was applied to the streets on November 24. The cost of the project was about $8,500. The location will soon have signs telling motorists where to stop as well as white bicycle decals in the green box to make it clearer that the section is designated for cyclists.
Kansas Woman Killed on Phoenix Freeway
PHOENIX (AP) — A pedestrian who died after being struck by a commercial tractor-trailer and then run over by four other vehicles has been identified as a Kansas woman. The Arizona Department of Public Safety says the identity of 29-year-old April Lanae Rhodes, of Montezuma, was confirmed by fingerprints. Arizona DPS investigators say it's still unclear why Rhodes was running onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 traffic west of Dysart Road around 6 pm Sunday. The roadway was closed for about six hours while authorities investigated the death.
Chiefs Rally to Beat Raiders 34-20
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Jeremy Maclin had two touchdowns catches after fourth-quarter interceptions and Tyvon Branch returned a third interception for a game-clinching score as the Kansas City Chiefs rallied for their sixth straight win, 34-20 over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The Raiders (5-7) were leading by six points and driving for more when interceptions changed the tide of the game and helped keep the Chiefs (7-5) in the lead in the AFC wild-card race. KC's Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third while Maclin had 95 yards on nine catches to lead the Chiefs. Oakland's Derek Carr threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but his three fourth-quarter interceptions sent Oakland to its fourth loss in five games.
KU Climbs to #2 in AP Men's College Hoops Top 25
Michigan State is number 1 in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll for the first time since early in the 2013-14 season. The Spartans (9-0) jumped from third to a runaway first following last week's losses by then-numbers 1 and 2 Kentucky and Maryland. The University of Kansas (6-1), which had one first-place vote, moved from fourth to second, while North Carolina, the preseason number 1, jumped from ninth to third and received two votes for number 1.
Royals Sign Right-Hander Young to $11.5M, 2-Year Deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have signed right-hander Chris Young to an $11.5 million, two-year contract that includes a mutual option for the 2018 season. The veteran also is eligible for 250,000 in bonuses for active roster days. The mutual option is worth $8 million with a $1.5 million buyout. The 6-foot-10 Young was the comeback player of the year two years ago with Seattle, but he had few suitors last offseason and signed with Kansas City in spring training. He went 11-6 with a 3.06 ERA for the Royals, starting in the bullpen before moving to the rotation. He earned the win in relief in Game 1 of the World Series against the New York Mets. He also allowed two runs over four innings in Game 4, which the Royals ultimately won. Kansas City announced the deal on Monday.