September 18, 2018

Meeting Planned to Discuss Water Issues in Upper Republican River Basin

St. Francis, Kan. - State water officials will host an informational meeting and forum for water users and others interested in Republican River Basin issues, including options for Bonny Reservoir and how to best invest in the basin’s water resources. The meeting will take place at 9:30 a.m. CDT on Tuesday, Oct.2, 2018, at the Cheyenne County Fairgrounds on N. College Street, St. Francis, Kansas.

Representatives from the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas Water Office will discuss how to best invest $2 million in the basin’s water resources and share information about the options for the future of Bonny Reservoir. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend and provide input to state water officials about how to best serve your community.

For more information on the meeting, please contact Chris Beightel at the KDA Division of Water Resources, at 785-564-6659 or To read more about the Republican River Compact, go to

Kansas Receives Request For Hurricane Support To North Carolina

Topeka, Kan. The Kansas National Guard’s Joint Operations Center has received a tasking call from the North Carolina National Guard seeking support for an Emergency Management Assistance Compact request.

Four Kansas Army National Guard and eight Kansas Air National Guard nurses will provide support to North Carolina Public Health at local shelters in the Brunswick, North Carolina, area. The mission duration will be 14 days with two days travel time.

"We are grateful to the members of our Kansas National Guard for always being ready to lend a hand when called upon,” said Governor Jeff Colyer, “and thank them for their willingness to assist the people of North Carolina with much needed hurricane relief."

Two other Kansas Guardsmen are currently in Washington D.C. providing support to the National Guard Bureau for military intelligence and logistics, and nine Airmen from the 184th Intelligence Wing are in Wichita providing satellite imagery support.

Yukon’s Becky Oglesby named 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

Oklahoma City, Okla. - A Yukon elementary school art educator whose alter-ego as the Caped Crusader earned her the nickname the “Batman Teacher” is Oklahoma’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. Becky Oglesby teaches Pre-K through third grade at Ranchwood Elementary School in Yukon Public Schools.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the announcement today in a ceremony at State Fair Park. Hofmeister said Oglesby’s creative teaching style, along with her optimism and passion for education, is a model of excellence for Oklahoma.
“Becky is a teacher who does not falter, no matter the circumstances. She demonstrates compassion and courage, and treasures her students, never failing to celebrate the individuality of each one,” Hofmeister said. “Often, our teachers are literal heroes. Becky Oglesby is proof of that.”
Oglesby was a second-year teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary in 2013 when a deadly EF-5 tornado tore through the Moore school and claimed the lives of seven students. At the height of the storm, she used her body to shield her first-graders as the twister destroyed the school.
The events of that day, she said, illustrate the dedication and compassion of Oklahoma’s teachers.
“Any educator who truly has the heart of a teacher would have done the exact same thing given the opportunity,” Oglesby said. “My greatest contribution to education has been showing the world that teachers are more than babysitters worried about test scores. Your kids become our kids, and our priority is to create a safe learning environment where they can flourish.”
Known in her school and community as the “Batman Teacher” for the abundance of comic-book memorabilia in her classroom, Oglesby identifies with ordinary people striving to do incredible things.
“Batman believed that one man could make a difference and took it upon himself to do so and in turn became a legend. I want to be Batman,” Oglesby said. “I want to be the ordinary person who puts on the mask that hides the simplicity of who I am and fights to give my students the best education that empowers them to find their purpose.”
In her art lessons, Oglesby incorporates core subject areas, provides the opportunity for students to express their uniqueness, emphasizes state academic standards and provides life lessons.
Oglesby will remain in her classroom for the current school year. Beginning July 1, 2019, she will assume full-time Teacher of the Year duties, which include speaking engagements and serving as Oklahoma’s teacher ambassador, encouraging others to enter or remain in the profession. She will succeed 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Donna Gradel, an environmental science teacher from Broken Arrow High School, who will continue to tour the state until July.
A panel of more than 20 judges selected the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year after extensive interviews with the 12 finalists, themselves district Teachers of Year from across the state. The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year program is organized by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in conjunction with the national competition.
The other 11 state Teacher of the Year finalists are as follows: 
Catherine Adams, Piedmont Elementary School, Piedmont Public Schools
Natalie Fielden, Freedom Elementary School, Sapulpa Public Schools
Shari Gateley, Putnam City West High School, Putnam City Schools
Amy Greenhaw, Jenks High School, Jenks Public Schools
Carol Hunsperger, Grove Lower Elementary School, Grove Public Schools
Teresa Lansford, Lincoln Elementary School, Norman Public Schools
Jenny Morphis, Hilldale Lower Elementary School, Hilldale Public Schools
Warren Neff, Bartlesville High School, Bartlesville Public Schools
Jessica Robinson, Altus High School, Altus Public Schools
Michelle Shelton, Pioneer Intermediate School, Noble Public Schools
V. Jannean Thompson, Berryhill North Elementary School, Berryhill Public Schools
For more information about the finalists, visit

To see a video of Oglesby, visit
Link to Oglesby Video

Noonletter: Sept. 18, 2018


And a quarter-century later …
In 1991, Anita Hill’s testimony that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her nearly stopped him from taking a seat on the nation’s highest court.
Now a California professor has come forward contending that current U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when the two were in high school. Both are tentatively set to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week — perhaps interrupting Kavanaugh’s glide path to confirmation.
U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran both have said this week that the allegations need to be studied before moving forward on his appointment. But Roberts complained that Democrats have made the scrutiny of Kavanaugh overly partisan.
Now this
The Department for Children and Families and its contractors have struggled with ballooning numbers of children in state care. Critically, the agency been unable to find enough foster homes and, at times in recent years, been forced to keep children overnight in the offices of the contractors who place those kids in temporary homes or facilities.
DCF has made progress. The number of kids sleeping in offices has dropped this year. But the problem persists.
Now The Kansas City Star reports that an 18-year-old has been charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old at a suburban Kansas City child welfare office in May. Michael Anthony Hamer was charged last week with rape and aggravated indecent liberties of a child. His bond was set at $500,000. The incident apparently happened while one adult was supervising Hamer, the alleged victim and another child.
What’s more, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe expressed a broader concern about the KVC Behavioral Healthcare office in Olathe where the attack allegedly happened.
“This is not an isolated incident involving criminal conduct at the KVC offices involving children,” Howe told the newspaper. “Our office and Johnson County law enforcement are extremely frustrated by the situation.”
Kassebaum backs Kelly
Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker — a name rich in political tradition — has lined up behind Democrat Laura Kelly’s campaign for governor. That’s a Republican, popular in Kansas during her 20 years in the U.S. Senate and in the two decades since, snubbing her party’s choice for governor in favor of a Democrat from the state Senate.
Kassebaum, a moderate-to-liberal politician, also represents of a wing of the state’s GOP that’s waned in eras of Sam Brownback and, now, Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
“Kelly,” Kassebaum said in a Kelly campaign news release, “studies the issues and is willing to work with others for solutions to real problems. Her competence, understanding, and dedication are leadership qualities that Kansas needs at this time.”
Who’s there?
The ACLU of Kansas has filed suit asking for the release of the names of people whose provisional ballots in the August primary in Johnson County were ultimately rejected.
By getting the names, the organization contends, voters can know that their votes went uncounted and why.
That way, the group argues, those voters can take steps such as making sure they go to the correct polling place, that their signature on file with election officials matches the way they sign their names now, or other things to clear them to vote in upcoming elections.
“We aren’t asking to see who they voted for or any private information,” the ACLU said in a news release. “(But) people should know whether their vote counted or if people faced any unnecessary barriers to voting. The public interest here is just transparency.”
Schools and candidates
Kobach has said Kansas schools don’t need more money so much as they need to spend less of it on bloated administration.
He claimed in a recent debate that a single Wichita high school had a dozen assistant principals on the payroll. The Wichita Eagle debunked that. Kobach then said he was passing on something he’d been told by a legislator. His campaign later replied that between Wichita’s East High and North high schools, the number of principals and assistant principals combined adds up to 12.
On KCUR’s Up to Date program on Monday, independent candidate for governor Greg Orman said the state’s education system needs to gear itself more toward job training. For starters, he said vocational programs should have the same kind of scholarship money available for a liberal arts education.
“If you want to get a welding certificate,” Orman said, “you’re on your own.”
Kelly has also backed state aid for trade schools and more state support for public school districts.
Who’s packing?
Orman also said on the KCUR talk show that Kansans shouldn’t be able to carry concealed weapons without permits.
“It’s just ludicrous that someone would be able to carry a concealed, loaded weapon without a minute’s worth of safety training ... in our schools and our hospitals,” he said. “That’s just ludicrous and ridiculous.”
Kobach, who's campaigned with a Jeep sporting a faux machine gun, supports the existing law that says you don’t need a permit to carry a concealed gun.
Kelly has shifted her position on guns over the years and voted for the right to conceal a weapon without a permit. But she’s also voted to ban concealed weapons from university campuses, state hospitals and adult care homes.
Country business
Orman has released his plan for boosting the rural economy in Kansas. It calls for expanding markets for farm commodities, including within the state; for spending on water conservation in western Kansas; for building more housing in small communities; and for improving internet access in rural areas.
Belly up, online
It’s getting easier for booze makers and suppliers to register brands and new liquor permits in the state. The Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control says that starting next month, wineries, microdistilleries, microbreweries, and manufacturers can sort out those bureaucratic issues over the internet. The new system also eliminates some fees.
Health care work requirements
A new report, put together by Harvard researchers for the REACH Healthcare Foundation and Commonwealth Fund, throws water on efforts to tie Medicaid coverage to a work requirement. Both the Trump administration and Gov. Jeff Colyer — although he’s run into resistance from lawmakers — have pushed the idea.
In fact, a compromise floated to expand Medicaid coverage in the state and draw in more federal dollars would add a work requirement.
But the new study suggests that bargain might not have great impact.
The authors of the report say “our data suggest such a provision would likely have little impact on employment in Kansas, where most potential Medicaid enrollees are disabled or already employed.”
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. 

Attorney General Derek Schmidt Urges Congress to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

Topeka, Kan. - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today joined a unanimous group of state, territory and the District of Columbia attorneys general in urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The attorneys general sent a letter earlier today to congressional leaders and the chairs of the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees asking lawmakers to vote soon to reauthorize VAWA, as the current short-term extension is set to expire in December.

“VAWA has substantially improved access to advocacy, health care, and legal services, but unfortunately, violence against women remains prevalent in all communities,” the attorneys general wrote.

“Every aspect of our society — rural, suburban, urban, and our tribal communities — has all been impacted by the painful effects of violence against women. Yet, the work to eradicate sexual and intimate partner violence is far from complete. Congress must act swiftly to re-authorize VAWA to maintain the essential tools so necessary to support survivors and reduce the frequency of these senseless acts of violence.”

Since VAWA was passed in 1994 more than $6 billion in grant funding has been awarded to government and nonprofit organizations nationwide. The grants have funded training and assistance to address and reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The grants have also funded resources and services to assist survivors, prosecute offenders and facilitate partnerships between prosecutors, judges, advocates, community organizations and health care providers.

The letter was signed by all 56 state, territory and District of Columbia attorneys general. A copy of the letter is available at