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The halls of Briarwood Elementary School are filled with water, bricks, insulation and just about everything else you can imagine in a disaster zone.
On Thursday afternoon, fifth-grade teacher Robin Dziedzic – who grew up in Arkansas City – walked into what used to be her classroom to salvage some personal items. An EF-5 tornado had ripped through Moore on Monday afternoon, and what bits and pieces were left suffered water damage after thunderstorms early Thursday.
“I don’t even know what all to take,” Dziedzic said as she tried to salvage some teacher appreciation gifts from her room, which had several inches of water on the floor, scattered debris and sunlight peeking through the ceiling. The clock was stopped at 3:17.
Shutout Thursday kept Wichita State alive in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The second-seeded Shockers defeated sixth-seeded Indiana State 5-0 in Thursday afternoon’s game to set up a rematch at 12:30 p.m Friday. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game. WSU run-ruled seventh-seeded Southern Illinois 15-0 in seven innings in Thursday morning’s game.
WSU starter Kris Gardner held Indiana State to seven hits and didn’t walk a batter in a masterpiece of efficiency. He struck out three and needed a mere 99 pitches to roll through 32 hitters. Freshman Garrett Brummett struck out a career-high seven and scattered three hits in five innings against SIU.
Kansas Tornado Relief, a nonprofit organization composed of several Wichita churches, is aiding in the recovery of Moore, Okla., which was devastated by an EF-5 tornado Monday.
A group of volunteers from the organization, led by Terry Johnson, executive pastor at GracePoint Church, drove to Moore on Wednesday. They brought with them a 26-foot truck containing an estimated $15,000 in supplies and $5,000 in monetary donations to Moore all donated by Wichitans.
For the volunteers, the goal is simple:
The Kansas Legislature has approved a bill that makes several changes in alcohol laws.
The bill allows alcohol tastings at events put on by nonprofit groups to support the arts. It also will permit hotels to distribute drink coupons for use on site or at certain licensed clubs, and allows the sale of 64-ounce pitchers of mixed drinks.
The House approved the bill Wednesday, after the Senate approved it last week. It now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback.
Groceries would be taxed at a lower rate, but the elevated sales tax rate approved in the wake of the recession would continue indefinitely under a plan approved by the Senate in the waning hours of the legislative session Thursday.
The plan, which sought to break a political logjam after weeks of disagreements between the Republican-dominate House and Senate over the sales tax rate, won approval on a 25-14 vote.
It would lower income tax rates. It would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to stabilize the state budget in the wake of big income tax cuts last year. It would do that by keeping the sales tax rate and by phasing out deductions that return tax money to Kansans for a variety of activities, such as buying a home.
Visitors to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson are in for something new.
Starting Friday, they can purchase tickets to tour the Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks division as workers there go about preserving Apollo F-1 artifacts. A new observation gallery has been built where visitors can look on as conservators preserve more than 25,000 pounds of artifacts plucked from the ocean, some weighing more than 2,000 pounds.
“For us, it is really exciting,” said Jim Remar, the Cosmosphere’s president and chief operating officer. “Every time I go out to SpaceWorks and see the engine components, I’m like a kid at Christmas.”
President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his administration’s use of drone strikes to kill terrorists as effective, lawful and “heavily constrained,” but he also appeared to be laying groundwork for an expansion of the controversial targeted killings.
In remarks at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama cast the use of such operations as a necessary part of an overall national defense strategy, even as he acknowledged targeted killings risk “creating new enemies” and could “lead a president and his team to view drone strikes as a cure-all for terrorism.”
He said the U.S. is at a crossroads of national security issues with a diffuse array of terrorist threats that require a recasting of a war on terror.
Private investment has outpaced public investment in downtown Wichita by more than 6 to 1 since a plan for downtown revitalization was unveiled in 2010, according to numbers released Thursday by city officials.
Private investment downtown totals $194,012,200 since 2010, according to sales and valuation data from the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Public investment is $30,631,921, a ratio of approximately $6.30 in private investment for every dollar spent by the city on public infrastructure.
The investment numbers, contained in the 2012 Downtown Economic Report released Thursday by the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., included $564.8 million in private investment and $396.8 million in public investment dating back to 2003. None of the figures include the $190 million spent by Sedgwick County to buy land and build Intrust Bank Arena downtown.
State and local relief efforts remain under way to help tornado victims in Moore, Okla.
Kansans should contact disaster-relief organizations of their choice, such as the American Red Cross ( www.redcross.org), Salvation Army ( www.salvationarmyusa.org) or United Way ( www.unitedway.org), or local organizations to find out how they can help.
Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, has urged people who want to volunteer their time and services to go through official channels rather than act on their own.
As families head out to lakes and pools for Memorial Day weekend, the Greater Wichita YMCA is hoping to reduce water-related fatalities this season by offering a series of free water safety sessions for both children and adults.
The sessions, sponsored by Koch Industries, will begin Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA, 402 N. Market.
“We’re not instructing them to swim, necessarily – we’re teaching basic tools kids can use should they find themselves in an unfortunate situation in the water,” said Shelly Conrady, communications director at the YMCA.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has vetoed legislation that would have allowed limited expansion of charity raffles.
The Republican governor said Thursday he determined that the bill violated the Kansas Constitution’s provisions on lotteries and gambling.
Brownback says he supports the Legislature’s intent to allow limited raffles, but he suggested that lawmakers should seek a constitutional amendment instead.
A bill that would have allowed limited expansion of charity raffles was vetoed by Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday.
The Republican governor said he determined the bill violated the Kansas Constitution’s provisions on lotteries and gambling.
“However, I support the Legislature’s policy goal of permitting certain limited raffles for charitable purposes,” Brownback said in a statement. “I encourage the Legislature to consider a constitutional amendment to accomplish this goal.”
Four children have been placed in protective custody and police arrested their parents after finding human feces, dirty diapers, trash and rotting food throughout their house on Wednesday.
“The odor was overwhelming,” Lt. Doug Nolte said of the house near 13th and Old Manor in east Wichita.
Two young children in the house, boys ages 2 and 4, were immediately placed in protective custody when officers went to the house shortly before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to check on their welfare, Nolte said. Officers then found two older siblings, a 6-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, at their schools and took them into protective custody.
The twister that prompted a tornado emergency alert for Wichita before it lifted just southwest of the city Sunday afternoon has been upgraded to an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
A Doppler on Wheels measured wind speeds of as much as 135 miles per hour in the tornado near the surface, said Suzanne Fortin, the meteorologist-in-charge of the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.
The tornado touched down at about 3:30 p.m. five miles north of Clearwater, then traveled northeast for more than four miles before lifting about two miles southwest of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The tornado’s track would have taken it right into downtown Wichita had it stayed on the ground.
A Sedgwick County judge appeared to be teetering between prison and probation Thursday as he prepared to sentence a former Clearwater Middle School teacher for sexually abusing a 15-year-old former student.
In the end, District Judge Terry Pullman concluded “by the narrowest of margins” that Cathleen Balman, 40, would be less likely to re-offend if she were placed in a treatment program rather than be sent to prison for 34 months as prosecutors were recommending.
He placed Balman on probation and ordered her to have no contact with non-relatives under the age of 18.
Cessna Aircraft laid off an undisclosed number of salaried workers Thursday, a month after it offered a voluntary retirement program for hourly and salaried workers.
The company is working to align its workforce with a reduced forecast for sales and production.
“On April 29, Cessna announced as part of the Voluntary Retirement Plan offering that the company would also proceed with involuntary separations based on performance and scope of work,” a Cessna spokesman said in a statement. “The communication at that time indicated that notification of these involuntary separations would occur within the next 30 days. Today’s (Thursday’s) actions represent the implementation of the plans announced last month.”
This is what Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson envisioned all season: Casey Gillaspie and Johnny Coy smacking baseballs, scaring pitchers and driving in runs.
While it didn’t turn out that way, the middle of the order showed up big in Wednesday’s 11-4 win over third-seeded Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Bass Field. If they can continue, the timing is perfect.
Second-seeded WSU (35-26) plays seventh-seeded Southern Illinois or sixth-seeded Indiana State at 9 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. Should WSU win, it plays again at 4 p.m. Creighton (30-18) competed for the final time as an MVC member and will officially exit for the Big East on July 1.
Investigators think a driver’s medical condition triggered a three-car collision late Wednesday morning that killed an elderly woman on East Kellogg.
A 75-year-old man was driving east in the 11400 block of East Kellogg shortly after 11:30 a.m. when he passed out, Wichita police Lt. Doug Nolte said. His vehicle drifted across the median and struck a Volkswagen Passat approaching Greenwich Road heading west in the inside lane.
The impact forced the Passat into a semi traveling in the curb lane of westbound Kellogg, Nolte said. The woman, who is in her 80s, was a passenger in the Passat. She was gravely injured in the collision and was taken to Wesley Medical Center. She was pronounced dead at 12:08 p.m.
The president of Wichita State University has said he has always known when his honeymoon period will end as the new leader.
It will end, John Bardo has said, when a big section of WSU parking lot is sealed off for construction, on a campus where parking is always at a premium.
That day arrives Sunday.
Wichita schools sustained about $2 million damage from wind and hail during a storm that swept through the city Sunday, district officials said.
During a special school board meeting Thursday, board members authorized up to $2 million for repairs to district properties. All but $250,000 should be reimbursed by the district property insurance, officials said.
Julie Hedrick, director of facilities for the Wichita district, said several schools in northeast Wichita sustained damage to windows, siding, roofs or interior spaces. Schools that got the most damage were Buckner Elementary, L’Ouverture Elementary, Brooks Middle School and the Chester I. Lewis Academic Learning Center.