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Judge orders Kobach to disclose plan taken to Trump

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 14:06

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A judge has told Kansas’ top elections official to disclose proposed changes to federal voting laws that he took to a meeting with President Donald Trump.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson says she reviewed the materials and found no error in the magistrate’s earlier ruling that required Secretary of State Kris Kobach to turn over the documents.

Robinson ordered Kobach to produce them by Friday to the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when voting.

An Associated Press photo of that November meeting showed Kobach holding a paper outlining homeland security issues. The order also requires him to produce a related internal document about proposed changes to the National Voter Registration Act.

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Kansas lawmakers revive plan to fix budget with big tax hike

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 13:18

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas legislators are reviving a plan to fix the state budget by increasing income taxes that many think wouldn’t raise enough new revenue.

House and Senate negotiators signed off Wednesday on a measure that would roll back past tax cuts championed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. It would raise more than $1 billion over two years.

The plan is almost identical to one shelved by Republican leaders last week for lack of support. The Senate expected to vote on the new plan Wednesday afternoon.

Some lawmakers still don’t see the new plan as big enough to close budget gaps and provide new funds for schools.

Kansas faces projected budget shortfalls totaling $887 million through June 2019. The state Supreme Court also has ruled that funding for public schools is inadequate.

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Wichita police seize 80 illegal gaming machines

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 12:26

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police seized more than 80 illegal gambling machines during warrant searches on Tuesday.

The businesses the machines were seized from are located in the 1100 block West 31st Street South and the 3100 block of South Seneca. Police did not name the businesses.

Police said no arrests were made, and the investigation is ongoing.

If business or business owners have any questions about illegal gaming and they type of machines allowed, you can log on to the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission’s website here.

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Trump hosts Russian foreign minister, envoy at White House

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 11:58

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat to the White House for Trump’s highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since he took office in January.

The talks came a day after Trump fired the FBI director who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov entered through the West Executive entrance, out of range for reporters to ask questions. Also attending was Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. who is at the center of many of the Trump administration’s early Russia-related woes.

The Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted a photo of Trump and Lavrov shaking hands in the Oval Office, and another of Trump and Kislyak. The White House called reporters into the Oval Office around the time of the meeting, but Lavrov and Kislyak had already left. And in a surprise, Trump greeted the media with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

In brief remarks to journalists after the meeting, Trump said his decision to abruptly fire FBI Director James Comey the day before his meeting with Lavrov did not affect the meeting “at all.”

Earlier Wednesday, Lavrov met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said the get-together was a chance for the two to “continue our dialogue” and “exchange of views” that they started last month in Moscow. During that trip, Tillerson said relations with Russia were at a low and needed to be rebuilt.

A Russian plan to stabilize Syria after more than six years of civil war was the most urgent foreign policy topic on the Trump-Lavrov agenda.

But their meeting was impossible to separate from the Trump administration’s unfolding political drama in Washington, where FBI and congressional investigations are looking into possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin related to the 2016 election.

U.S. intelligence agencies have asserted that Moscow meddled in the election to help Trump’s chances of victory.

Putin asked Trump to meet with Lavrov when the two leaders spoke by phone last week, according to a person with knowledge of the call. The person insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the private conversation.

During his appearance with Tillerson, Lavrov feigned surprise when asked whether Comey’s firing as FBI director cast a shadow over the U.S.-Russia talks.

“Was he fired? You’re kidding. You’re kidding,” Lavrov told reporters sarcastically before waving his hand dismissively and leaving the room. Tillerson ignored questions about Trump and Comey.

Less than a month into Trump’s presidency, he fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, saying Flynn misled senior administration officials about his pre-inauguration talks with Kislyak.

At a Senate hearing Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates said she warned Trump’s White House in January that Flynn “essentially could be blackmailed” by the Russians because he apparently had lied to his bosses about his contacts with Kislyak.

Trump has said he has no ties to Russia and isn’t aware of any involvement by his aides in any Russian election interference. He calls the various investigations a “hoax” driven by Democrats still bitter that their candidate, Hillary Clinton, was defeated last year.

But his hopes for a possible rapprochement with Moscow, so regularly repeated during the campaign, have been derailed. Ties soured further in April after the U.S. blamed a Russian ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians and Trump ordered that some 60 cruise missiles be fired at a Syrian air base in response.

After Tillerson visited Putin and Lavrov in Moscow on April 12, Trump said flatly, “Right now we’re not getting along with Russia at all.”

Still, Tillerson’s meeting provided a blueprint for how the former Cold War foes might go about improving ties.

A main focus is Syria, where both governments want to end a civil war that has killed up to 400,000 people, contributed to a global refugee crisis and allowed the Islamic State group to emerge as a global terrorist threat. The continued fighting between rebels and Assad’s military has complicated U.S. efforts to defeat IS.

Lavrov was conveying a Russian plan to end the violence, after hashing out an agreement with Iran and Turkey last week.

It focuses on the creation of four de-escalation zones. Critical details need to be finalized and the U.S. response has been cautious, with top officials such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis saying they’re still studying the concept and its various unanswered questions. The would-be safe zones would not cover areas where the U.S.-led coalition is fighting IS.

Despite the lack of clarity, the meeting between Trump and Lavrov in itself was a sign of some progress.

The Russian diplomat hadn’t visited Washington at all since 2013, a year before Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and two years before it intervened militarily in Syria to help Assad remain in power.

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Associated Press writer Julie Pace contributed to this report.

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Follow Vivian Salama at http://twitter.com/vmsalama

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Police: 200 vehicles marked with tow sticker

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 11:57

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police conducted a special assignment Tuesday to clear vehicles illegally parked on streets.

Officers marked 200 vehicles that are inoperable, have been parked for longer than 48 hours, or without current tags. Officers placed green impound tags on them.

If the vehicle isn’t removed by tomorrow, it will be towed away at the owner’s expense.

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Postal Service, citing losses, seeks higher stamp prices

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 11:40

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service is hoping it can soon raise stamp prices by a penny or more.

The postal service on Wednesday reported a quarterly loss of $562 million. The loss was blamed om continued erosion in the use of first-class mail as well as expensive mandates for its retiree health care obligations.

It also attributed losses to a forced reduction in stamp prices last year.

The postal service notched double-digit growth in its package business. But that wasn’t enough to offset losses in both first-class mail and junk mail.

Legislation passed by a House committee would relieve the postal service of expensive pre-funding requirements and allow a one-cent increase in the price of a first-class stamp. The postal service is urging congressional action soon.

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United Passenger forced to pee in cup

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 09:40

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSHB) – A Kansas City woman says she was forced to urinate in a cup on a United Airlines flight, and now she wants to know why the flight attendant didn’t just let her go to the restroom.

Nicole Harper tried to use the restroom on United flight 6056 on April 10. A flight attendant ordered her back to her seat. The seatbelt sign was still illuminated.

“I said ‘I’m going to need to use the restroom or I’m going to need a cup.’ They handed me the cup which was about this big and I was like ‘I’m going to need a second cup.'” said Harper.

She’s lived with an overactive bladder her entire life. She says she alerted the flight attendant of her condition.

“I don’t know if they just didn’t understand that I don’t have any control over the situation,” said Harper.

Harper has filed a complaint with United Airlines and the Department of Transportation.

Ironically, she says her incident happened the same day a United Airlines passenger was knocked unconscious on a flight.

“I’ve been talking to them throughout this process. And they haven’t given me any sort of explanation or answers. They need to focus a little bit more on their paying customer and the customer service,” said Harper.

United Airlines released this statement about Harper’s case:

Customer safety is always our first priority. Initial reports from the Mesa Airlines flight attendants indicate that Ms. Harper attempted to visit the lavatory on final descent and was instructed to remain seated with the seat belt fastened per FAA regulations. The situation as described by Ms. Harper and our employees is upsetting for all involved. We have reached out to Ms. Harper and our flying partner Mesa Airlines to better understand what occurred.

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Wife of ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman dies in crash

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 09:32

WOODBURY, Conn. (AP) — The wife of longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman died in a traffic crash in Connecticut, the sports network’s president confirmed Wednesday.

Katherine Ann Berman, 67, of Cheshire, was one of two victims in the two-vehicle crash at about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday in Woodbury, state police said. The other victim was identified by police as Edward Bertulis, 87, of Waterbury.

“This is a devastating tragedy and difficult to comprehend,” ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement. “Chris is beloved by all his ESPN colleagues and for good reason: He has a huge heart and has given so much to so many over the years. We know how much his family means to him and all we can do at a moment like this is give him the love and support he will surely need at this hour.”

Both vehicles were travelling in the same direction on a two-lane road when Kathy Berman’s car struck the rear of Bertulis’ SUV, and both veered off the road, according to the police account of the crash.

Berman’s Lexus went down an embankment and overturned in a small body of water. Chris Berman was listed as the car’s owner.

Bertulis’ Ford Escape struck a utility pole and landed on its roof in the street.

Berman, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Bertulis, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Woodbury is not far from the Bermans’ home in Cheshire, and ESPN headquarters in Bristol.

According to a 1993 profile of the family that appeared in the Hartford Courant, Chris Berman met the former Kathy Alexinski in 1983 by faking car trouble so he could ask her for help. The couple has two grown children.

Chris Berman, a Brown University graduate, started working at ESPN in October 1979, a month after its founding.

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Save-A-Lot recalls Chicken Waffle Sandwiches

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 09:13

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Save-A-Lot recalls Pick 5 Mix & Match Chicken & Waffle Sandwiches due to the potential to be contaminated with listeria.

The product was sold frozen and distributed nationwide to Save-A-Lot stores. No illnesses have been reported to date. No other products are affected by this recall.

Item UPC Product size/Box Save-A-Lot  Pick 5 Mix & Match Chicken & Waffle Sandwich 051933353664 14.4 oz /box

Consumers seeking a replacement or refund for recalled products should call the Customer Hotline at 724-483-2056 Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

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Teens arrested for Garden City High School threat

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 08:56

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Garden City police arrested a 16-year-old girl in relation to a Snapchat message threatening violence towards students of the Garden City High School last week. KSN News is not identifying the juvenile.

According to police, the girl is in custody and could face the possible charges of criminal threat, identity theft, and making false information.

In relation to the case, another 16-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly creating a fake Snapchat account to send defamatory messages to other students at the school. He is facing charges of stalking and identity theft.

Both cases have been referred to the Finney County Attorney’s Office.

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40-year-old man jailed in Topeka homicide, police say

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 08:44

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Authorities have arrested a man in a Topeka homicide.

Police said in a news release that the 40-year-old Michael Stephen Murphy was booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree murder and a weapons violation.

The release says the victim was suffering from head trauma when officers responded Tuesday night to a disturbance call. The victim was taken to a hospital, where he died from his injuries. The victim’s name wasn’t immediately released.

The homicide is the 12th of the year in Topeka.

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Find the entry-level job after graduation in Wichita

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 07:08

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With college graduations scheduled statewide, many people know someone wrapping up their education and ready to join the workforce.

But what does the workforce look like right now?

It turns out, there are a few specific areas of work that are seeing more success than others, according to Jeremy Hill, Wichita State’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research director.

Kansas is historically an oil, agriculture and manufacturing state but the jobs being created over the last few years have largely been within the service providing sectors, Hill said.

Specifically, Hill’s findings show the regional demand for entry-level college graduates is greatest in the business and professional service sectors.

Some examples of that include financial analysts and accountants. That sector is seeing a lot of competition and increasing wages.

Entry-level positions in management show some demand, Hill said, but prior experience is needed.

Prior experience is necessary to finding most entry-level jobs, according to Alicia Halloway, president of the Wichita Independent Business Association.

The best way to get that prior experience, Halloway said, is through an internship.

“Get an internship position with a company within your field of study even if it is an unpaid one,” she said. “Because it gets your foot in the door. It allows you to hone some real life experience, work experience skills, develop that and network from there.”

Within Wichita alone, there are several organizations that allow for networking opportunities for young professionals.

“Take advantage of business organizations like the Wichita Independent Business Association. Come to our monthly luncheons, come to our mixers, meet these business owners. Our members are all owners of businesses,” Halloway said.

Before Halloway became president of WIBA, she was a partner at Right Recruiting, which recruits permanent full-time employees for local Wichita businesses.

In her experience, Halloway said, joining organizations such as WIBA can give someone a foot in the door and can lead to opportunities down the road.

Another local organization known for networking opportunities is the Young Professionals of Wichita.

YPW is a perfect fit for someone who may still be looking for that first entry-level position, according Suzy Finn, the YPW executive director.

The group allows people to engage with other young professionals and practice workplace skills such as managing peers, negotiating with vendors and planning and executing events.

If joining an organization doesn’t sound appealing, the best advice, Finn said, is to just do something in the community.

“Think about what they’re interested in and passionate about and find opportunities to get involved in the community that way,” she said. “Building those networks and those relationships is going to be key to both finding that first job and moving up within the company and being able to move around within the community beyond that first job.”

 

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KSN Threat Tracker for Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:56

12:56AM No warnings in effect but the Watches remain as depicted just below. Storms will continue for now at below severe levels.

12:24AM Some Kansas Counties have been removed from the Severe Thunderstorm Watch–here is the updated plot.

Watches as of 12:25AM

12:08AM Storms have now weakened so warning has been cancelled for Decatur and Norton Counties.

12:05AM The Oberlin airport has reported a wind gust of 65mph. Warning continues for portions of Decatur and Norton Counties. Stay connected and protected with our KSN Storm Tracker 3 Everywhere app.

12:01AM We are tracking strong storms in Western Kansas including some in the Northwest with 60-70mph winds. Warnings continue for parts of Decatur and Norton Counties. And a Severe Thunderstorm Watch continues for much of Western Kansas. Here is the plot:

Watches as of 11:05PM
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Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office looking for detention deputies

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 23:17

SEDGWICK CO., Kan. (KSNW) – A disturbing trend, fewer and fewer people wanting to join the ranks of law enforcement.

It’s being felt right here in Sedgwick County.

Officials say there’s a shortage of detention deputies, meaning that some are working double shifts. And, more.

“You’ve got to be a special kind of person to work here, or at least in law enforcement,” stated Dep. Jonathan Suellentrop.

Deputy Suellentrop has been with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for more than three years.

“It has its days. There’s days where it’s pretty rough, some of the inmates may be tougher on you here and there. Other days it actually comes pretty easy,” explained Suellentrop.

With the department down 42 detention deputies, employees like Suellentrop are pulling in some hefty overtime.

“Normally I’ll put in 17 hours a day, 2 to 3 overtime shifts a week,” said Suellentrop.

“We can’t just say, ‘Oh, we don’t have enough people and close our doors and go home, we can’t do that.’ We have to operate this facility all day, every day, all year,” explained Lt. Lin Dehning.

Lt. Dehning says regardless of staff shortages, the sheriff’s office makes sure they’re constantly running with the minimum amount of detention deputies, to keep safety measures in place in case something goes wrong with the inmates.

Suellentrop tells KSN he loves his job, but the grind is not for everyone.

“You’ve got to be able to take a lot of stress. You’ve got to be able to take a lot of slack, a lot of name calling here and there. You’ve got to be separate from the job. You can’t take everything personal. If I took everything personal, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t last a week,” stated Suellentrop.

Both Suellentrop and Dehning agree, the grueling hours can be tough, but, the benefits of working for their community outweighs everything else.

“There’s the pride in knowing your serving your community. Any number of things can draw you to this career field,” said Dehning.

It’s not just Sedgwick County that is experiencing this loss in numbers. Wichita police are also down dozens of officers, and it’s also a trend we’re seeing nationwide.

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Wichita woman describes brother’s vandalized memorial: ‘I feel that he has been attacked’

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 22:44

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita woman said someone tried to destroy her late brother’s memorial.

As the Arkansas River water flows and the birds chirp, Misty Yardley sits on a bench nearby and reflects on the many memories she and her younger brother Chris Samuels shared on the water.

“I picture him in the river. That’s not hard to picture. That’s where he has been half of his life. He was just in the water doing something, always,” said Misty Yardley.

Yardley describes her brother as an outdoors man, a family man, and someone who loved making other smile.

“He was one of my best friends. He was the goofiest, friendliest, smartest person that I really have known,” Yardley said.

Samuels died on May 4, 2014 of a brain aneurysm.

“Instead of hearing from him, I heard from my mother telling me that EMS was there and they couldn’t do anything for him,” Yardley said.

Yardley and her family raised nearly $3,000 to install a park bench and memorial plaque at the South Arkansas River Canoe Launch, one of Samuel’s favorite locations.

“We spent a lot of time here, so it just seemed perfect,” she said.

Yardley said the memorial was perfect until she visited it on her brother’s anniversary death on May 4, 2017 and noticed it had been vandalized.

“It was a shock all over again. I feel that he has been attacked,” Yardley said.

Yardley said it appeared someone slashed the face of Samuel’s plaque and shot it with a BB gun .

“I just feel that whoever did this should know that it’s not something to play around with,” she said. “It may be something that can be replaced, but the feeling is not repairable.”

Wichita police are investigating this incident as a destruction of property case. They do not have any leads at this time.

Yardley said she and her family are looking into replacing the plaque, but are still figuring out the cost and other logistics.

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Proposed changes to Cowtown wooden boardwalk met with mixed reviews

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 22:40

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW)  The Old Cowtown Museum could get a more modern look in the near future.

In March, the Wichita City Council approved a project that would remove the current wood boardwalks and replace them with composite wood.

They also are planning on putting concrete sidewalks in.   This is so they will be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.

Officials with Cowtown say the 800-thousand dollar project was also approved by the Cowtown Board of Directors.

However, the changes to the boardwalk has been heated, and at times, an emotional discussion.

Tuesday evening, 40 to 50 people, including volunteers, officials with Cowtown and those who frequent the museum turned out for an open forum, to discuss the issue.

Kiera Adams has been volunteering at Cowtown for over a year.

Adams feels changes to the wooden boardwalk would take away from what makes Cowtown special.

“You want authentic, you want real deal, you want in the movies,” said Adams.

While some of the volunteers say it would tarnish the appeal of Cowtown, others say it would help make it more accessible.

“Personally, my mom, my mom and my aunt can’t walk on the boardwalks for that long and they aren’t the best, maybe plastic is the best,” said Keith Wondra, Assistant Curator, Old Cowtown Museum.

The three fold project is slated to make improvements to both drainage and lighting, something officials say is much needed.

The addition of concrete sidewalks is something David Calvert says will help him get around easier.

Calvert has been a wheelchair since he was 10 years old, after he was diagnosed with Polio.

He says the transition from wood to composite on the boardwalks would allow him to enjoy the many things Cowtown has to offer.

“With me it is just a very practical issue, can I get around here and can I participate like everyone else does,” said Calvert.

 

Jacky Goerzen, the Executive Director for Cowtown says she understands where both sides are coming from.

“I understand the concerns from the public works stand-point, I also understand what the volunteers are saying, so yeah, they definitely have a valid argument,” said Goerzen.

The input from Tuesday’s meeting will go to city officials for discussion.

The city’s design council is set to meet on Monday, May 15th.

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Andover voters pass school bond issues

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 22:19

ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) – Voters in the Andover school district east of Wichita passed two bond issues Tuesday night that would bring state-of-the-art changes to the schools, according to district officials.

Since school district voters live in both Sedgwick and Butler counties, the combined two-county vote was 2,412 votes for and 815 votes against Proposition 1, and 1,772 votes for and 1,452 votes against Proposition 2.

The total vote was split between two propositions. Proposition 1 was a $168.8 million proposal that would build storm shelters and make other improvements to six schools. That proposition would not increase taxes in the district.

Proposition 2 is a $19.8 million proposal that would build a district pool and make other improvements. It would increase the mill levy by 2.3 mills. That amounts to a tax increase on a $100,000 home by $26.45 per year.

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Local business giving law enforcement thin blue line rings

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 20:56

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There has been an out pour of support for injured Wichita police officer, Brian Arterburn since he was critically injured earlier this year. Local businesses and citizens held fundraisers, put out yard signs and sold t-shirts; all to support the Arterburn family.

Some may say that the efforts shown after the Arterburn incident place a stamp on the lengths Wichitans are willing to go, to support local law enforcement. The owner of a local Wichita store told me that when they saw the #BlueForBrian hashtags across social media networks and they felt compelled to get involved. They gave both Brian and his wife a tungsten ring with a thin blue line in but after some thought, they decided to go one step further.

“Originally this was just for the Arterburn family,” said Kim Briers, owner of Jewelry Savers. “But after a while we thought, these rings should be extended to all law enforcement.”

Kim tells me it started as an idea and a Facebook post.

“We got almost 20,000 shares on Facebook,” said Jewelry Savers manger, Mark Payne.

Before they knew it, word had spread throughout the community and crowds showed up to get their thin blue line rings.

“There have been police officers in here nonstop, 5 days a week,” said Kim. “And I love to see them coming; this is all about them right now.”

So far, hundreds of tungsten thin blue line rings have been given out to local law enforcement.

“Right now, we’re signing people up on a waiting list for their rings,” said Kim. “We plan to place another order soon.”

Jewelry Savers is the first in Wichita to offer officers these rings and they say the reason is simple.

“For all they do for us, it’s the least we can do,” said Mark Payne. “We appreciate them and love what they continue to do for our community.”

An officer in the store, signing up for the waiting list, says this is a sign that the attitude towards law enforcement is changing.

“I’ve been working there for 10 years and when I first got there, it wasn’t a lot of support,” said Danielle Woodard. “It seems like over the year more and more businesses and more and more citizens are supporting what we do and that’s awesome.”

 

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Ron Baker partners with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 20:29

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After his first season with the New York Knicks, Ron Baker decided to give back to the state where he made so many memories. Baker will serve as celebrity champion for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi Health.

“I really trust what this network is doing. They’re involved in a lot of events and foundations across the community. And they’re just all about bringing fun to these kids, and helping the community. And I think that’s very important when you have a community like Wichita, to give back and use some of my free time,” Baker said.

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Wichita police chief says he needs more officers

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 18:59

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita’s top cop says he needs more officers on the streets. Police Chief Gordon Ramsay’s comments come after a year-long study that found the department is understaffed.

Ramsay says he wants enough officers that will allow his men and women to do their jobs, but also go above and beyond that to become more engaged in the community.

Both the chief and a community activist say the more the officers interact with the public, the better off the community will be.

“They are out there working hard trying to serve the community to the best of their abilities,” said Ramsay. “But the study clearly shows there is a need for additional staff.”

Ramsay says he needs about 73 new positions, 49 of them sworn officers because the study found during critical times each day, specifically during daylight hours, officers are too busy responding to calls to interact with the community.

“If all we are doing is responding to crime and we don’t have time to build relationships and get to know our citizens that we serve, that is detrimental to solving crime and making people feel safe,” Ramsay said.

Brandon Johnson is a community activist who’s been heavily involved in efforts to bridge the gap between people and officers. He helped plan the WPD community cookout, and he has hosted forums where beat officers sit down with people in the neighborhoods they patrol.

“Residents really liked it, getting to know them,” said Johnson. “They got their cards, so if there is an issue they can ask for them directly.”

And, both Ramsay and Johnson feel the more officers there are, the better off the community will be.

“You know, it really helps out when dealing with crime,” Johnson said. “Knowing who the officers are, knowing they care. All of those things are a big plus in the city if we can get to that.”

That’s a point on which Ramsay agrees.

“We solve crime when people know our officers.”

The big question is, how much it will cost taxpayers to add those new officers. The Wichita City Council will meet in a month after looking at the city’s budget to see what they can afford.

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