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SUB-STATe

SNOWCAT

Ottawa girls beat De Soto, advance in tourney action. See Page 6.

Fallen formations continue to pop up after winter storm. See Page 9.

Thursday February 28, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

The

Herald

Ottawa

Snow has silver lining for farmers, wheat crop

ERIC SCRUTCHFIELD

Dream, reality debated at child sex trial

75 cents Volume 143, No. 260 16 Pages

THURSDAY Edition FRANKLIN COUNTY SHERIFF

Photo courtesy of the Wyandotte County Detention Center

Jeff Curry, Franklin County sheriff, is shown Wednesday in a booking photo after being arrested.

[Editor’s note: The following story contains graphic details of a sexual nature that might be offensive to some readers. Herald editors, however, think the details are necessary to convey the seriousness of the allegations. The Herald does not publish the names of reported victims.] Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

By DOUG CARDER

Corn stalks protrude Wednesday from a snow-blanketed field south of Ottawa. Two large snowfalls in the past week are likely to help farmers fighting an ongoing drought. “The main benefit this snow will have is providing moisture to the subsoil,” Darren Hibdon, extension agent with Frontier Extension District No. 11, said.

Herald Senior Writer

Was that a dream? It was the first question a young Ottawa mother asked when her 4-year-old daughter awakened before daybreak on the morning of May 25, 2011, and said: “He won’t quit licking my front.” “I was pulling her clothes out of her dresser, and that’s what she said,” the mother testified in Franklin County District Court Tuesday morning on day two of the Eric Scrutchfield jury trial. “I asked, ‘Who wouldn’t stop licking you?’ And she said, ‘Mr. Eric.’” Scrutchfield, 28, a former Franklin County employee, faces three felony counts on suspicion of sexual abuse of the then-4-year-old girl, stemming from an incident alleged to have occurred in spring 2011 at the Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St., a business run by Scrutchfield’s wife. It was closed in late May 2011 by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment because of the allegations. The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Scrutchfield in June 2011 and is handling the case because of Scrutchfield’s previous employment with Franklin County.

‘alternative would be a heck of a lot worse’ By CRYSTAL HERBER Herald Staff Writer

While many people view more than a foot of snow in less than a week’s time as a hassle, one group of Franklin County residents welcomed the wet weather — farmers. The Spencer farm, at 2246 Ohio Terrace, southeast of Ottawa, received between 15 and 18 inches of snow after Tuesday’s winter weather event, Kevin Spencer, the farm’s owner, said. With more than 400 acres of wheat, Spencer said the snowfall will provide some much-needed moisture to the increasingly dry ground. “The snow is going to be really good,” Spencer said. “It’s not going to really put a big dent in the drought at this point, but any time you get snow cover on wheat that’s a good thing.” The hard red winter wheat crop is in dormancy right now, Darren Hibdon, extension agent with Frontier Extension District No. 11, said, so it will not be harmed by the snow. The main benefit the snow will have is providing moisture to the subsoil, Hibdon said. “The benefit of getting our moisture and snow is it will melt slowly and take it into the soil,” Hibdon said, adding slow melting snow doesn’t produce the water runoff of rushing rains.

See TRIAL, Page 5

MORE LOCAL NEWS ■ Area records another 8 inches of snow. See Page 8. ■ Heavy accumulation poses threat to roofs. See Page 8. ■ Farm family plows through slushy snow to help cattle, neighbors. See Page 9. The dormant, or non-growing, wheat also is somewhat protected from the cold temperatures by the layer of snow, Hibdon said. The county definitely is not at the end of the drought, Hibdon said, but it’s a start. Despite the nearly 18 inches of snow the area has seen in the past week, Mary Knapp agreed with Hibdon’s assessment that the drought isn’t over. Knapp, state climatologist with the Weather Data Library at Kansas State University, said the 18 inches of snow equates to less than 2 inches of precipitation. That’s not enough, she said, to make up for the severe drought. See SNOW, Page 8

JANET PADDOCK

County clerk eyed for sheriff duties By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

With the arrest of Jeff Curry Wednesday, it appeared one of the county’s newest elected officials would become acting Franklin County sheriff. “I’ve been caught a little off guard,” Janet Paddock, who was elected Franklin County Clerk in November, said WednesPaddock day. “It’s a surprise. We’re carrying on with everything we would normally do. [I’m] staying in touch with Undersheriff [Steve] Lunger, and we’re working through it.”

Curry was booked Wednesday on charges of interference with law enforcement (false report) and official misconduct, according to a release from the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office. Lisa Johnson, Franklin County administrator and counselor, said she became aware of the arrest Wednesday afternoon and briefed the Franklin County Board of Commissioners shortly after. The situation is a first in Franklin County’s history, Johnson said, but state statute provides a road map for how to proceed. “Statutorily what happens is, if and when the sheriff is in custody, the county clerk assumes the responsibilities of the sheriff, so long as he’s in custody,” Johnson said Wednesday.

Paddock was elected Franklin County clerk after unseating longtime incumbent Shari Perry in the August primary election. Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, met Wednesday afternoon with Paddock, Lunger and Johnson to discuss the interim plan for the office. Hunting himself assumed the Franklin County Attorney role only recently — after the May 2012 resignation of Franklin County Attorney Heather Jones. Elected to the position in November, he acknowledged the difficulty of the situation and asked that the county maintain trust in its law enforcement.

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See SHERIFF, Page 5

Curry urged to resign after arrest

Sheriff faces felony charge; top deputy also implicated By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

Jeff Curry should resign, the county’s top prosecutor said Wednesday. While criminal charges against Curry, the Franklin County sheriff, are just that — charges — Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, said, the seriousness of the allegations associated with Curry’s arrest Wednesday led Hunting’s office to begin ouster proceedings against the sheriff. It would be easier on everyone, however, if Curry simply resigned his office, he said. “I take no joy in this decision. ... Unfortunately, I’m left with no choice but to follow through with ouster proceedings,” Hunting told a room crowded with concerned residents and members of the media Wednesday during a press conference. “In that regard, I today am asking publicly for Mr. Jeff Curry to resign as sheriff of the Franklin County Sheriff’s office.”

More Online Watch a video of Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting’s press conference about Sheriff Jeff Curry’s arrest online at www.ottawaherald.com If Curry resigns, the ouster proceedings — which can take several months — would no longer be needed, Hunting said. Made public in September, though few details have been revealed, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation investigation into Curry’s office resulted this week in the sheriff’s arrest on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement (false report) and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct, setting bond at $3,000, according to a release from the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office. See ARRESTS, Page 5

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, speaks Wednesday during a press conference about the arrest of Jeff Curry, Franklin County sheriff, and Deputy Jerrod Fredricks, Franklin County deputy, in the Commission Chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Community News. Community Connections.


The Ottawa Herald

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Page 5

SHERIFF: County seeks to calm residents after arrest (Continued from Page 1) “The sheriff’s department as a whole is a fine organization with many committed members,” Hunting said Wednesday. “But I think what this illustrates is that regardless of who you are and what position you hold, that if at some point you are alleged

to violate the law it will be investigated fully and based on the evidence obtained in that investigation ... charges will be filed and you will be held accountable. And in that regard I would hope the community would take solace in that fact.” The Franklin County Board of Commissioners

sought to assure residents the investigation would not affect county operations. “The county commission, while not directly responsible for the responsibilities of the sheriff or the sheriff’s office, remains committed to carrying out their duties, on behalf of the citizens of Franklin

County,” the county said in a release. “[The county commission] has full confidence in the legal process to resolve this matter. These events will not impact the day to day function of the county. And the commission along with all county employees will continue to work on behalf of the citizens.”

ARRESTS: First court appearance set for March 6 (Continued from Page 1) Along with Curry, the KBI arrested Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff’s office, on charges of interference with law enforcement, with bond set at $1,500. Details about the investigation and the origins of the charges against Curry and Fredricks have been Fredricks restricted. Multiple open records requests made by The Herald have been declined by the KBI, Shawnee County Attorney’s Office and Franklin County, citing the ongoing nature of the case. Both men were arrested “without incident” at the Franklin County Attorney’s Office about noon Wednesday, Hunting said. Curry and Fredricks, who were in custody Wednesday afternoon at the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office, were set for their first court appearance in Franklin County District Court 11 a.m. March 6.

As a result of the charges, Hunting filed a petition for ouster, which, after proceedings, would remove Curry as sheriff if he does not willingly resign. “The basis for this petition for ouster is the criminal charges that were filed and that Mr. Curry has willfully engaged in misconduct while in office,” Hunting said during the press conference, noting that the contents of the petition are under seal by order of the Franklin County District Court. “The decision to file the petition for ouster was not one that was made lightly, however, after my review, the evidence provided to me from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Shawnee District Attorney’s Office and in light of the criminal charges filed by the special prosecutor, the petition for ouster is appropriate and necessary.” To avoid a conflict of interest, Hunting handed over prosecution of the case to the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, which formally filed the charges against Curry and Fredricks, Hunting said. The Shawnee County Attorney’s Office also will handle the ouster proceedings.

“Since the subject of the KBI’s investigation is the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, a conflict or, at a minimum, the appearance of a conflict, exists with the county attorney’s office having a role in this matter,” Hunting said previously. “Our office works daily with the men and women of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on several criminal matters. ... Due to the nature and number of Franklin County Sheriff’s Office criminal cases currently being prosecuted, and in an effort to keep cases moving through the judicial system, it is necessary to have an independent, outside party handle this matter.” The case will be prosecuted by Todd Hiatt, a senior assistant district attorney with the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation remains ongoing, Hunting said. Interfering with law enforcement, according to state statue is “falsely reporting to a law enforcement officer ... or any information, knowing that such information is false and intending to influence, impede or obstruct such officer’s or agency’s duty.”

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cused on the sexual assault allegation when she talked with detectives. The girl’s grandmother was set to take the stand at 9 a.m. Thursday. The trial is expected to last into next week.

Local news online 24/7: www.ottawaherald.com

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was possible the child saw people engaged in oral sex on the movie, and if it also was possible she had seen her uncle masturbating during the incident. The mother testified it was possible her daughter had witnessed something on the movie. She said she didn’t know if the uncle was masturbating or not. The mother said she became concerned when her daughter walked past her while she was changing her young son’s diaper and said, “I don’t want to kiss that,” referring to her younger brother’s penis. After checking with the 17-year-old uncle’s parents, the mother testified she learned about the pornographic movie incident. The young uncle said he told the girl to leave the room, but wasn’t sure what she saw, the mother testified, adding that she did not ask the uncle if he was masturbating at the time. But because the young girl referred to not wanting to kiss her brother’s penis, Boyd asked the mother if in fact that demonstrated the young girl did have carnal knowledge two years prior to attending the Scrutchfield day care, from early March 2011 to late May 2011. “That’s possible,” the mother said. “Yes.” The mother, under Boyd’s questioning, said her daughter was prone to acting out things she had seen in movies. “But all young children do that,” the woman said. During his testimony, the mother’s ex-boyfriend said he was confident the girl’s story was not based on a dream. “She had a confused and hurt look on her face,” he said. “She’s never had that look before when she’s woke up after a nightmare.” Boyd pointed out that the girl’s mother had contacted a lawyer about a possible civil suit seeking damages against the Scrutchfields, and that the mother had failed to relay the incident about the pornographic movie to detectives with the Ottawa Police Department when she reported the alleged sexual assault. He also said that detectives never asked the girl if she had dreamt the incident. The mother told the jury that the movie incident had happened months before, and that she was just fo-

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Scrutchfield worked for the county as a computer support specialist before his arrest. He has been free on bond, awaiting the trial, which is being presided over by District Judge Eric W. Godderz. Under questioning by prosecutor Catherine Skinner, the young girl, now 6, took the stand Tuesday morning and told the jury of six men and six women that “Mr. Eric” was the one who wouldn’t stop licking her. The mother, during her testimony, explained that Mr. Eric was what the children at the day care called Eric Scrutchfield. The mother also said her daughter used the term “front” to describe her vaginal area. When asked by Skinner if the person known as Mr. Eric was in the courtroom Tuesday morning, she identified the defendant Eric Scrutchfield. The child testified that the assault took place during nap time at the day care. She said the other kids were asleep, and that “I was the only one Mr. Eric wanted to [touch].” John A. Boyd, Scrutchfield’s defense attorney, tried to discredit the allegation by pointing out that the girl had a history of nightmares and behavioral issues and had started seeing a counselor at the Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance before she reported the incident to her mother. He said the girl had told investigators and counselors that “Mr. Eric said he wanted to touch me every day.” But on the stand, the girl said the assault only occurred once. Under cross-examination by Boyd, the mother said the child went back and forth between saying the sexual assault was a dream and it was real before going to the day care that morning. She also said her daughter had experienced difficulty at times in distinguishing between dreams and reality. The mother fought back tears as she told the jury that she was “an idiot” for letting her daughter and toddler son go to the day care on the day her daughter told her about the alleged assault. But she said because her daughter’s allegations were of such a serious nature, she wanted

to find out more before accusing someone of sexually assaulting her daughter. The mother’s then live-in boyfriend testified that he picked up the children from day care that afternoon and that the daughter told him she didn’t like Mr. Eric. “When I asked her why didn’t she like Mr. Eric, she said ‘He won’t quit licking me,’” the boyfriend testified. The boyfriend was living with the girl’s mother at the time and was the father of the girl’s toddler half-brother. The mother testified she called her own mother the evening her daughter told her about the incident to ask her advice. After talking with her mother, the woman testified she took the children to see their grandmother, an Edgerton resident, the next morning. The woman testified her daughter told the same story to her mom. The grandmother said the girl could not have made up that story because she was too young to have knowledge of oral sex, the mother testified. On the afternoon of May 26, 2011, the two women and the girl went to the Ottawa Police Department, where detectives interviewed the girl and took the two women’s statements, the mother testified. In laying out a road map for the prosecution’s case, Jim McCabria, assistant Douglas County attorney, said the state would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the allegations did not stem from a dream or a child’s vivid imagination, but that a sexual assault in fact occurred. He said an expert witness from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab ran tests on two pairs of the child’s underwear, and that Scrutchfield’s DNA was linked to one pair. Defense attorney Boyd countered that his expert lab witness also ran tests on the undergarments and found that several people’s DNA were contained on the samples. Boyd continued to challenge the credibility of the story. Under his questioning, the mother relayed an incident that had occurred two years before in which the child had walked in on her 17-year-old uncle watching a pornographic movie at his parents’ house. Boyd asked the mother if it

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SUB-STATE

STILL IN IT

Ottawa girls lose in tight matchup against Baldwin. See Page 7.

Cyclones advance to sub-state tourney championship game. See Page 7.

Weekender March 2-3, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

The

Herald

Ottawa

Leaders: Arrests might haunt office

75 cents Volume 143, No. 261 14 Pages

WEEKENDER Edition DEAN KATT

Unexpected resignation not a shock to everyone Former school superintendent to stay on district payroll as consultant for another 8 months By CRYSTAL HERBER

By The Herald Staff

Herald Staff Writer

The word circulating this week after Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s arrest: Disappointment. “I am very disappointed in what’s happened,” Craig Davis said Thursday. “I’m sorry that some bad decisions apparently were made.” Davis, who served as sheriff for 9 1/2 years immediately before Curry’s time in office, helped with Curry’s campaign during the 2012 primary and general election seasons, even serving as treasurer of his successful bid. The former sheriff, whose resignation in 2010 led to Curry’s appointment to the position, would not comment on whether he still supported his successor, but Davis said he hoped Curry’s arrest Wednesday on felony and misdemeanor charges would not harm public perception of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office as a whole. “There are great people working down there and they are very dedicated to the citizens of Franklin County and provide good service,” he said.

One of Ottawa’s top school officials stepped down with little explanation Friday morning, though the move apparently was not a surprise to school board members. “I just needed to make some changes,” Dean Katt, Ottawa school superintendent, said. “I appreciate everything the board’s done. Everything is headed in the right direction, and I’m sure they will be very Katt successful.” Katt resigned Friday morning, effective immediately, during a special meeting of the Ottawa school board. Hired in 2006, he expressed gratitude for the board’s faith in him throughout his time as superintendent. “I just want to thank the board for the opportunity to serve,” Katt said. “I appreciate it.” The school board voted 5-1 to accept Katt’s resignation. Board members Bill Allegre, Brian Kane, Marge Stevens, Susan Ward and David White voted in favor, while Brandon Jones was the dissenting vote. Board member Dennis George was not at the meeting. A series of school board executive sessions were called this week to discuss personnel matters, including a 10-minute executive session Friday morning. Discussion of Katt’s departure, however, has been ongoing for a few months, Jones said. In addition to accepting Katt’s resignation, the school board voted 6-0 to appoint Brian Kraus, assistant superintendent, as interim superintendent, also effective immediately. Katt was retained by the district as a consultant from Friday through Oct. 31, after a 6-0 vote by the board. Katt will be on the Ottawa school district payroll until Oct. 31, Teri George, district financial director, said Friday. George said she was not aware of any lump sum buyout of Katt’s contract by the district as part of his resignation.

File photos/The Ottawa Herald

Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry, above, and Jarrod Fredricks, one of Curry’s top deputies, left, are shown during a July 1, 2010, swearing in ceremony at the Franklin County Courthouse, 315 S. Main St., Ottawa. For a timeline leading up to and including Curry’s and Fredricks’ arrests Wednesday, See Page 14.

See REACTION, Page 13

Court documents reveal more about curry case, allegations By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

In late September, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry lied about unlawfully using confidential information to privately benefit himself, another or to cause harm to another, according to documents from Franklin County District Court. The documents also indicate that in late May, Curry — who was arrested by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Wednesday on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct — misused the information and later falsely reported to law enforcement, resulting in his arrest. A criminal complaint filed Wednesday by J. Todd Hiatt, a special prosecutor working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas, stipulates that Curry cannot possess a firearm or discuss the case with any of the at least 13 endorsed witnesses. Curry’s bond initially was set at $15,000, according to the documents, but later was reduced to $3,000. The documents also detail the criminal complaint against Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff’s office. Along with Curry, the KBI ar-

MORE LOCAL NEWS Video: Man accused in child sex case says he can’t explain abuse because it ‘never happened.’ See Page 3. rested Fredricks Wednesday at the Franklin County Attorney’s office on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement, with bond reduced from $7,500 to $1,500. Similar to Curry, the terms of Fredricks’ bond stipulates that he cannot possess a firearm or discuss the case with any of the endorsed witnesses. Further details about the origins of the charges against Curry and Fredricks and the investigation of the sheriff’s office have been restricted. Multiple open records requests made by The Herald have been declined by the KBI, Shawnee County Attorney’s Office and Franklin County, citing the ongoing nature of the case. Both Curry and Fredricks posted bail late Wednesday and no longer are in custody, according to the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office. After posting his bail, Curry appeared to have at least tentatively reclaimed his role as Franklin

County sheriff, a post he apparently lost temporarily Wednesday after the KBI arrested him. According to state statute, Franklin County Clerk Janet Paddock temporarily assumed Curry’s duties Wednesday. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office refused to comment on whether Curry or Fredricks arrived at work Thursday or Friday, citing a policy to not comment on personnel matters and deferred to the Franklin County Attorney’s Office. Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, said Thursday that Franklin County Undersheriff Steve Lunger had assumed the day-to-day duties of the sheriff’s office, and that Lunger had been in contact with Curry. Curry and Fredricks are set for their first court appearances in Franklin County District Court 11 a.m. Wednesday. Made public in September, the KBI’s investigation into Curry and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office remains ongoing, Hunting said. The prosecutor would not comment on whether more charges or arrests related to the investigation are expected.

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See SHERIFF, Page 13

See KATT, Page 3

SHELDON POKORNEY, MITCH LUBIN

Wellsville school principals resign By The Herald Staff

WELLSVILLE — Two top Eagles flew the coop this week. Both Sheldon Pokorney, Wellville High School principal, and Mitch Lubin, Wellsville Middle School principal, filed Thursday their letters of resignation with the school board, Jerry Henn, Wellsville superintendent confirmed Friday. The Wellsville school board voted 6-0 Thursday to approve the resignations, Henn said. Neither provided reasons for their resignations, nor indicated their plans, Henn said. “They’ve served Wellsvile in very good capacities. They have lots of experience,” Henn said Friday. ”They served the community very well.”

Community News. Community Connections.


Page 4

Weekender, March 2-3, 2013

Reader contributions are encouraged and may be sent to Reader Forum, The Ottawa Herald, 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa, KS 66067; or send email to letters@ottawaherald.com

Opinion

The Ottawa Herald Jeanny Sharp, editor & publisher

Editorial

Silver lining

Prosecutor’s professionalism a source of pride amid ordeal Many Franklin County residents were shocked this week when Jeff Curry, Franklin County sheriff, was arrested for official misconduct (a misdemeanor) and interference with law enforcement (a felony charge). In addition, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer for the sheriff’s office, also was arrested Wednesday for interference with law enforcement. Both arrests came as the result of a lengthy and ongoing Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe. The charges were filed by a special prosecutor from the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office in its appointed role on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas. The shock of the arrests was intensified when Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, announced during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that he recommended a petition for ouster of the sheriff and requested that the sheriff resign. Hunting clearly knows what is contained in the sealed case files related to the case, though the rest of us are left to wonder about the details. Hunting said the request for ouster is based on Curry willfully engaging in misconduct while in office and that — based on information gathered through the course of the KBI investigation — an ouster is both appropriate and necessary. Whatever the details, we know Hunting didn’t take the issue lightly nor does he have a personal agenda. He, in fact, stressed that both Curry and Fredricks are innocent until proven guilty. Both are expected to make their first court appearances 11 a.m. Wednesday, at which time the details might become available. Beginning the ouster proceedings had to be a tough decision for the county attorney, who has been in the office for less than a year (though he came to the role after the departure of Heather Jones, former Franklin County attorney, with plenty of experience). As Hunting said at the press conference, he was obligated to make the decision, as well as to act based on the information he had from the KBI investigation. The scope of the investigation might include more charges and more arrests, though Hunting would not specifically comment on that part of the case. While the sheriff’s arrest presents a sad situation for the community, it also is refreshing to see that no one is untouchable or above the law. Hunting stressed the community should take solace in knowing that regardless of the position someone holds in the community or their station in life, they’ll be held accountable and must live by the same laws as everyone else. It’s a comforting notion. As The Herald salutes Franklin County’s most influential community members, as well as the area’s leaders of tomorrow in today’s Progress edition, we recognize that Hunting’s professionalism and expertise provide another example of a local leadership and a source of community pride. — Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher

Reader Forum is an open community forum dedicated to the discussion of issues of local impact and interest. The Ottawa Herald’s institutional voice will be used to honor and support individual rights and to protect the free press and free speech. Editorials will educate and persuade as ways to move residents and institutions to progressive courses of action.

A Harris Group Newspaper; established in 1869. “Covering the news without fear, favor or prejudice.”

Jeanny Sharp, Editor and Publisher jsharp@ottawaherald.com Address: 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa KS 66067 Website: www.ottawaherald.com Fax: (785) 242-9420 Serving Franklin County and the surrounding area Published Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, except New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas at 104 S. Cedar, Ottawa, KS 66067-2392. Periodical Class postage paid at Ottawa, KS.

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What is superintendent’s role? Leadership takes many forms, particularly when it comes to education in Franklin County. Students’ lives are touched on a daily basis by teachers, staff, school administrators and the districts’ elected school board members. But perhaps no leader sits atop public perception as “the” face of a school district more prominently than the school superintendent. What’s the appropriate role for a superintendent in leading his or her school district? Should he or she take the reins of the district’s future, providing guidance to school board members? Or should the roles be reversed, with the superintendent largely just administering the policies and vision of the school board? Dotson Bradbury, West Franklin superintendent, and Dean Katt, Ottawa’s now-former superintendent, in some ways have seemed to operate on opposite ends of this leadership spectrum. Yet both have done so to the benefit of their respective districts and patrons. Hired by the West Franklin school board in 2007, Bradbury came to the Pomona-based district amid a controversial and challenging reorganization that merged Williamsburg and Pomona high schools, as well as created West Franklin high school and middle school at Pomona, and elementary schools at Williamsburg and Appanoose. He has since led the charge for further consolidating the West Franklin school district, pushing a bond election that would help pay for a new centralized school campus in Pomona. Bradbury’s guidance and leadership have helped make clear to school board members and many patrons the need for consolidation for the long-term success of the district.

TOMMY FELTS

Voices From the News

Though all parties involved seem to agree no one wants to close schools or raise local tax rates as part of the consolidation process, more and more people now understand the need to take action — in large part thanks to Bradbury’s forward thinking. For Katt, who was tapped in 2006 as Ottawa’s top school administrator, leadership has been more about finding ways to successfully respond to and carry out school board members’ goals and mandates. One of the major difficulties during Katt’s time in Ottawa has been dealing with the ongoing economic crisis that first hit many Franklin County residents in 2007 and 2008. School board members and district patrons demanded Katt stabilize finances amid neverending threats of state-level school funding cuts and changing Kansas education policies. The Ottawa leader did so by researching and recommending difficult, but ultimately fruitful options for the school district — restructuring classes and schedules, eliminating select personnel positions, even closing Eisenhower Elementary School and relocating the district’s board offices, among them — and then implementing those options with board approval. That often has

made Katt the bad guy in the court of public opinion. He’s done his best to accomplish the tasks set before him ... only to be met with criticism and charges that he hasn’t done enough — largely by people who themselves have offered few, if any, workable solutions. With Bradbury’s detractors claiming he’s stepping beyond the scope of his job by pushing consolidation and a bond election, as well as apparent criticism that Katt hadn’t done enough to truly take charge of the future of Ottawa schools, a superintendent’s job clearly can be a thankless one. But what exactly is the job? To lead the school board forward? Or follow the school board’s vision? Perhaps it depends on the school district and the leaders assembled to tackle its challenges. Bradbury and Katt each have been working toward success on behalf of West Franklin and Ottawa students, forging ahead with the leadership styles appropriate for their particular situations. West Franklin needs a strong, forceful leader who cares enough to fight for the district’s future. Ottawa needs a professional, hard-working administrator who shows leadership by making tough calls and seeing even difficult tasks to fruition. Two needs. Two leaders suited to get the job done. Katt’s abrupt Friday resignation leaves a big hole to be filled. Ottawa school board members now must consider both what they want and what the district needs when searching for his successor. Tommy Felts is Herald managing editor. Email him at tfelts@ottawaherald.com

Court affirms lesbian parental rights It’s not often that such entities as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights point to Kansas as a progressive leader in matters pertaining to gay parenthood. But in recent weeks, that’s exactly what’s happened. Representatives of the ACLU and child welfare and gay rights organizations had nice things to say about our state’s Supreme Court after it ruled last month that children who have been raised by two moms — one the birth mother and the other the biological mother’s former partner — were best-served by having two parents, even if one of the parents wasn’t a man. Linda Elrod, of the Children and Family Law Center at Washburn University, accurately called it “a very brave ruling.” Even so, it’s important not to overstate the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in Frazier v. Goudschaal. This narrow ruling, which addressed a specific set of circumstances, has been enthusiastically and incorrectly interpreted by some bloggers and activists as an endorsement of gay rights, gay adoption and gay marriage. Such readings, or nonreadings, of the 34-page ruling are an unwarranted stretch. It’s fair to say that the court took the state a step forward in recognizing a co-parenting agreement between two lesbians as a binding contract and by concluding that it’s in the best interest of children who have been raised by two mothers to continue the relationship with the woman who was not a biological parent, even after the domestic partnership ends. In this case, two women who were

Gwyn Mellinger

Insight Kansas

in a committed relationship had two children through the artificial insemination of one of the women. They executed a co-parenting agreement that extended parental rights to the woman who was not the birth mother, but when the couple split up, the birth mother sought to end the other women’s relationship with the children. The district court ruled against the birth mother, gave the former partner visitation rights and ordered her to pay child support. The birth mother appealed and, in a rather ironic and cynical twist, argued that the parenting agreement was not legally enforceable because only a man and a woman could be parents. The Supreme Court rejected her argument, but it is clear that without the co-parenting agreement, her former partner would have had no grounds for claiming parental rights. In that sense, this was a case about a contract. However, the Supreme Court also framed the ruling around the rights of the children and accepted evidence from the National Association of Social Workers that the sexual orientation of parents is irrelevant

to children’s well-being, that these children would be harmed by losing their relationship with one of their mothers. “Denying the children an opportunity to have two parents, the same as children of a traditional marriage, impinges upon the children’s constitutional rights,” the ruling stated. Moreover, the court suggested that the state was not compromised by the co-parenting contract: “The agreement is not injurious to the public because it provides the children with the resources of two persons, rather than leaving them as the fatherless children of an artificially inseminated mother. No societal interest has been harmed; no mischief has been done.” That finding will rankle opponents of gay marriage and proponents of traditional family values, and it will be interesting to see whether Frazier v. Goudschaal becomes fodder for Gov. Sam Brownback’s effort to bring the appointment of appellate judges under his control. Ultimately, however, the significance of this ruling may be social, not legal. Despite voters’ overwhelming approval in 2005 of a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, this case reminds us that gay people are establishing families in Kansas. What’s more, the children in those families have rights that trump concerns about the gender of their parents. Gwyn Mellinger is a professor and chair of the mass media department at Baker University and a member of the “Insight Kansas” writing group.


The Ottawa Herald

Weekender, March 2-3, 2013

Page 13

REACTION: Differing opinions on sheriff, but all fear for office’s reputation (Continued from Page 1)

“I hope the people out there will not pass judgement until the time comes to pass judgement.”

Steve Harris, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, said he feared the arrests of Curry and Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, as part of an ongoing Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe would undermine the authority of not only the sheriff’s office, but other county offices as well. “Any time you’ve got something like this that occurs, it can cast a shadow and cause people to have doubts in leadership, which is unfortunate,” Harris said. Commissioners largely have been kept in the dark about the KBI’s investigation of the sheriff’s office, Harris said, though the county board’s members had an opportunity in the fall to read a Sept. 27 search warrant executed on Curry’s office by the state law enforcement agency. Commissioners, however, voted Oct. 3 not to reveal or read the contents of the search warrant after several open records requests were issued by members of the public and media. Curry, like Harris, is

— Bill Crowley, owner, Wise Guys Construction

Surprised, but not shaken

an elected official and not subject to commissioners’ supervision. In Harris’ limited dealings with Curry, he said, the sheriff provided “straight forward” information when making presentations to the county board. Noting the ouster proceedings against Curry that were begun Wednesday by Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, Harris said the county’s top prosecutor had information to which commissioners were not privy, and deferred to Hunting’s judgment. “Evidently, [Hunting] sees something within the information that warrants [ouster proceedings] going forward,” Harris said. Hunting also has called on Curry to resign from office to avoid the potentially months-long ouster process.

One top contributor to Curry’s recent primary campaign was surprised by his arrest, but not shaken in his support of the sheriff. Bill Crowley, owner of Wise Guys Construction, 419 W. 18th Terrace, Ottawa, said he did not regret the money donated to Curry’s sheriff’s bid on behalf of his business. “I hope the people out there will not pass judgment until the time comes to pass judgment,” Crowley said. Wise Guys Construction contributed $500 to Curry’s campaign, according to a receipts and expenditure report filed with the Franklin County clerk July 30. Curry defeated two competitors in the Aug. 6 Republican primary, win-

ning more than 50 percent of the vote. “The way I understand it,” Crowley said, “I think in the end, when everything comes out, it’ll be surprising as to how minor what the initial investigation was about, what a minor offense that was.” Crowley said he contributed to Curry’s campaign in support of friends who serve in the sheriff’s office. He echoed Davis’ and Harris’ sentiments that the sheriff’s arrest could have a broader impact on other law enforcement officers. “Because of the bruise that’s being put on the department now, [that] doesn’t mean that everyone down there should be looked upon negatively,” he said.

Arrest expected Though Curry is innocent until proven guilty, one former county official said, his arrest was overdue. “To me, it’s been a while coming,” David Hood, former Franklin County commissioner, said. “I knew there was an investigation and everything. I figured he’d probably be charged with something.”

First court appearances for sheriff, top deputy set for 11 a.m., Wednesday in Franklin County District Court.

The Shawnee County Attorney’s Office is handling the case after Hunting recused his office in September to avoid a conflict or perceived conflict of interest.

Possible witnesses A former Franklin County attorney, an Ottawa police officer and the mother of a fallen deputy appear to be among the witnesses slated to be called to testify in Fredricks’ and Curry’s court cases. Criminal complaints filed by Hiatt Wednesday detail a list of individuals who might be called as witnesses. The potential witness list, according to the document, includes Heather R. Jones, former Franklin County attorney and more recently head of the child abuse and sex crimes unit for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office; Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department; Kathleen “Katie” Smith, the mother of deceased Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sam Smith; James Bridges, special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Sheri McCracken, prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Kansas; Fredricks; Sgt. Christopher Pruitt, with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Lt. Curtis Hall, with

the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Jeremie Thompson; Jessica Blackstone; KBI lab personnel; Wyandotte County personnel; and an unnamed confidential informant.

New contact for Sheriff’s office The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has designated an acting public information officer after Fredricks’ arrest Wednesday. Det. Sgt. Shane Pruitt is expected to succeed Fredricks in many of the office’s communication duties. Pruitt would not confirm whether Fredricks had been terminated by the sheriff’s office, citing a policy to not comment on personnel matters.

Petition for ouster Hunting, who held a press conference Wednesday to make public

have something like that happen.” Hood attended Hunting’s Wednesday press conference, in which the prosecutor briefly discussed the Curry’s and Fredricks’ arrests, as well as the ouster proceedings. The former commissioner said he thinks Curry will be removed from office, regardless of whether he is found guilty of the charges against him. Curry and Fredricks are set for their first court appearances at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Franklin County District Court. Davis, Harris and Hood all said they planned to carefully watch the court proceedings in the coming weeks.

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SHERIFF: Republican group would pick successor (Continued from Page 1)

Hood served on the commission when the KBI issued a search warrant on the sheriff’s office in September. Hood echoed Harris’ statement that the board was not given information about the investigation. Hood was among those who filed an open records request to review the search warrant or other documents pertaining to the investigation. Those documents were kept closed by various agencies, including the county, because of the ongoing nature of the KBI investigation. The sheriff’s arrest Wednesday paints the whole county in a negative light, Hood said. “I think it’s very detrimental to the county,” he said. “I just feel like it’s detrimental to all the people in the county to

Curry’s and Fredricks’ arrests, filed a petition for ouster that would, after proceedings, remove Curry from office. Hunting publicly asked during the press conference that Curry resign as county sheriff to avoid the drawn-out ouster process. “I take no joy in this decision. ... Unfortunately, I’m left with no choice but to follow through with ouster proceedings,” Hunting said Wednesday during the press conference. “In that regard, I today am asking publicly for Mr. Jeff Curry to resign as sheriff of the Franklin County Sheriff’s office.” Late this week, Hunting said he had not received a resignation from Curry. If Curry resigns or is removed by ouster proceedings, Undersheriff Lunger and County Clerk Paddock temporarily would assume the office’s duties until the Franklin County Republican Central Committee appoints Curry’s successor. After a candidate is named by the committee, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback would have to approve the decision. The ouster proceedings also are being handled by the Shawnee County Attorney’s Office. Hunting’s entire Wednesday press conference, including questions from the media, can been seen at www.ottawaherald.com/localvideonews

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Page 14

Weekender, March 2-3, 2013

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com.

Local&Region

The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

Timeline leads to sheriff’s arrest

Curry, his associates no strangers to Headlines Aug. 12, 2009

Jeff Curry is appointed by the Ottawa school board to fill the term of Lanette Stineman on the Ottawa Recreation Commission board.

Franklin County Sheriff Craig Davis announces resignation in The Herald after 9 1/2 years in office.

Davis

July 1, 2010 Curry

July 23, 2010 Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Smith, 22, dies in a single-vehicle wreck near Pomona while responding to a domestic violence call, marking the first such death in the sheriff’s office’s history only a few weeks into Curry’s time in office.

May 12-19, 2011 Curry and Fredricks accompany the mother of Deputy Smith, Kathleen “Katie” Smith, on a trip to Washington, D.C. for National Police Week, which includes a memorial service for fallen law enforcement officers. Money from the Sheriff’s Trust, a fund containing money seized from drug busts, is used to partially fund the trip.

June 10, 2011 Copies of an anonymous letter arrive in the mailboxes of many local government, economic, civic, law enforcement and business leaders, including The Herald, detailing allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Curry and Heather Jones, Franklin County attorney.

July 1, 2011 Curry’s childhood friend, Jerrod Fredricks, is appointed as public information officer for the sheriff’s office, cutting off most direct media access to the sheriff.

July 30, 2011 Herald publishes results of a weeks-long investigation into the anonymous letter and its allegations, largely reporting insufficient evidence and on-the-record confirmation to substantiate the claims about Curry and Jones.

Oct. 12, 2011 Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Russel Geist, 28, dies of an apparent undetected heart condition, marking a second death for the sheriff’s office.

April 2, 2012 Jones announces plans to resign as Franklin County attorney to take a non-elected position with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, saying, “I love being in the courtroom, but the political component was the least desirable part of my job.” Jones

April 20, 2012

Curry files for sheriff, seeking his first election to the office to which he was appointed two years before.

May 22, 2012 Jones’ resignation takes effect with appointee Stephen Hunting succeeding her as Franklin County attorney.

May 30, 2012 Curry misuses confidential information related to law enforcement operations, according to a criminal complaint filed by J. Todd Hiatt, special prosecutor for the Franklin County Attorney’s Office.

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Jones sends a political email from her Johnson County Attorney’s Office email account, campaigning on behalf of Curry’s sheriff bid in the primary election and violating state campaign finance law. The email encouraged, among other tactics, a letter-writing campaign, telling recipients, “You must talk about [Curry’s] lack of arrogance. You must talk about the positive way he treats his staff. You must talk about his dedication to the community. You must talk about his professionalism.”

The sheriff’s office circulates a memo updating its policy on access to certain areas of the sheriff’s office building, restricting access but bringing policies more in line with other law enforcement agencies.

Aug. 2, 2012 Aug. 7, 2012

May 3, 2010

Curry takes sheriff’s oath of office on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse.

October 2012

Curry tells The Herald he didn’t request nor know about the illegal campaign email before it was sent, noting that he told sheriff’s office employees not to open the emails.

April 23, 2010

Lt. Curry is chosen by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee as its appointee to the sheriff’s office in a narrow vote. “I have been here for the long haul, and I intend to stay here for the long haul,” Curry said after the vote.

July 31, 2012

Curry wins Republican primary with more than 50 percent of the vote, defeating challengers Rick Croucher, a former law enforcement officer, and Rick Geist, a retired Ottawa police detective and father of fallen Deputy Russel Geist.

Oct. 15, 2012 Fredricks tells The Herald no policies have changed regarding access to the sheriff’s office building.

Oct. 27, 2012 Curry publicly accuses Jeanny Sharp, Herald editor and publisher, of attempting to discredit him and his office.

Nov. 6, 2012 Curry wins the general election with more than 85 percent of the vote, defeating write-in candidates Philip Brown and Byron Goracke.

Sept. 19, 2012

Jan. 14, 2013

Jones is fined $500 by the Kansas Government Ethics Commission after the group investigated a complaint about her July 31 campaign email.

Curry is sworn in to office again, this time as the elected sheriff.

Sept. 27, 2012 The Franklin County Sheriff’s office is served with a Kansas Bureau of Investigation search warrant, the details of which were not made public, indicating an ongoing investigation into the sheriff and his department.

Sept. 27, 2012 Curry falsely reports information during the course of an investigation, according to a criminal complaint filed by Hiatt, special prosecutor.

Oct. 3, 2012

Feb. 27, 2013 Special prosecutor Hiatt files criminal complaints against Curry and Fredricks, alleging official misconduct and interference with law enforcement against the sheriff and interference with law enforcement against one of his top deputies. The complaints also list potential witnesses in the cases against the two men, including Jones, Fredricks and Katie Smith.

Feb. 27, 2013 Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrest Curry and Fredricks, later transporting them to be booked at the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners votes to keep details of the search warrant executed on the sheriff’s office closed after several open records requests asking for the documents.

Feb. 27, 2013

Oct. 5, 2012

Feb. 28, 2013

Fredricks falsely reports information during the course of an investigation, according to a criminal complaint filed by Hiatt, special prosecutor.

Longtime Undersheriff Steve Lunger assumes day-to-day duties of the sheriff’s office, though Curry remains sheriff.

Hunting, Franklin County attorney, files civil ouster proceedings against Curry and urges the sheriff to resign.


STATEBOUND Cyclone boys headed back to state tourney. See Page 6.

Tuesday March 5, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

The

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OTTAWA SCHOOL BOARD

Halfway there

ORC pick could change amid Curry’s arrest ‘distractions’ Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Moderator Almeda Edwards, right, introduces state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, state Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, and state Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, Saturday during the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Coffee event at Ottawa City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

Lawmakers talk partisanship at session’s midpoint By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

Proposed legislation that would turn city and school board elections into partisan races did not receive a vote of confidence from the three state lawmakers who represent Franklin County. State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, and state Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, talked Saturday about the proposed legislation, House Bill 2271, along with several other bills during a Legislative Coffee in the packed city commission chambers at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa. No elected city, county or school board officials that Finch said he has talked with are in favor of the bill, which would not only make local elections partisan but also move them from April onto the same November ballot with state and national elections. Transforming local elections from nonpartisan to partisan, Finch said, would run the risk of “bringing in money and outside influence into local elections that we don’t need.” “County clerks are not wild about moving the elections from April to November,” Finch added. Finch said he thought the bill raised more questions than it answered, particularly relating to how local officials would be replaced if they left office before their terms expired. Lawmakers said the bill could surface for a vote later in the session. “Pretty much everybody I’ve talked to has not been for that particular bill,” Jones said. “I understand there would not be a substantial savings [from moving the elections to November], and I think it would make [the election process] worse.” Higher voter turnout, Tyson said, probably is the goal of the effort to move the elections from April to November. Tyson said she would like to float the idea of moving local elections to November in odd years to give local elections more prominence on the ballot. “Local elections would stand alone,” Tyson said. “We would keep the dynamics of the elections as is, just move them to November in the odd years. I hope it gets considered.”

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WATCH IT ONLINE Did you miss Saturday’s legislative coffee? See it online, courtesy of GAC 20, at http://vimeo.com/61017411

State Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, answers a question Saturday during the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Coffee event.

Potential amendments A pair of amendments to the state constitution also are being considered that would change how judges are selected and ensure the state Legislature, and not the courts, would decide what funding is appropriate for public education. All three legislators said they would be in favor of seeing those issues come before the voters. Both amendments would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate and House before they could appear on the ballot. Finch, however, said he would not vote for either proposal in their current forms because they stipulate the questions would be put on the ballot during the August primary. “I think either or both need to be voted on during the November election,” Finch said. “A [constitutional] amendment should be voted on by the majority of the public.” Almeda Edwards, a member of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Action Committee and policy chair for the Franklin County Farm Bureau Association, served as moderator for the coffee meeting. She was assisted by Ottawa resident Zach George, who serves as Finch’s intern in Topeka. The pair handed the microphone to a number of residents who asked questions about school funding. The three lawmakers said the

4 DAY

discussion about what is adequate funding for education — and how it should be measured — is ongoing in both chambers, and much work remained before it could be resolved. “A lawsuit is filed about every eight years on school finance in this state,” Finch said. The school funding formula is very complex, Finch said, and deciding what is adequate funding for public education will take more discussion. But he said he was confident the public doesn’t want the courts to decide how much money the state Legislature should spend on education. “I believe in excellence in education,” Tyson said. “Adequate is a subjective word. In a state budget of $14 billion, over $7 billion of it is going for K-12 funding. We need to use our resources in the best possible way to get the best possible outcome.” Jones, a Wellsville school board member, said it goes deeper than correlating the amount of state funding coming in to the test scores coming out of schools. One audience member pointed out that Kansas consistently ranked among the Top 10 states in ACT scores. Tyson also said the Legislature needed to more closely study how at-risk funding should be spent. And she said a proposed bill that would create a local activity budget would raise property taxes for districts that approved it. She wasn’t sure how much traction that bill had at the moment. With regard to spending, Tyson said she supports lower taxes, but she was not in favor of two provisions of Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan that removed property tax and mortgage interest deductions. “I don’t support that, so I’m fighting to keep those deductions in,” she said. Tyson said she would like to see the deductions reduced proportionately as income taxes are cut. See COFFEE, Page 3

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Franklin County’s top prosecutor has called on Jeff Curry to resign as sheriff, but the elected law enfo r c e m e n t office isn’t the only position of public Curry authority Curry still holds after his arrest last week. The sheriff also serves as a member of the Ottawa Recreation Commission board — an appointment the Ottawa school board might soon re-evaluate. While the school board has not yet discussed Curry’s ORC appointment, Susan Ward, school board president, said the body could add a discussion to its next meeting’s agenda. Curry was arrested Feb. 27 by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of interference with

law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. His first court appearance is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. “I’m not quite sure what [Curry] is thinking — if he’s going to be too distracted to do the job that he needs to do on the [ORC] board,” Ward said. “I’m sure the ORC board is a time commitment, but I don’t know how his time will be divvied up, given the other distractions he has. I don’t know. We want to have a board member there who is functioning and participatory.” The ORC board itself has no power to remove one of its own members. However, the entity that makes an appointment to the ORC board, such as the school board, does maintain such a right, Blaine Finch, who acts as legal counsel for the ORC board, said.

See ORC, Page 3

Cyclones’ ‘Shake’

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Ottawa High School students participate Saturday in their own version of the “Harlem Shake,” an Internet video dance craze, during halftime of the boys varsity basketball game at Ottawa High School, 1120 S. Ash St., Ottawa. To see a video of the OHS Harlem Shake, go to www.ottawaherald.com/ localvideonews For more on the Cyclones’ Saturday-night game against De Soto, in which Ottawa was victorious and advanced to the state tournament, See Page 6. Prices effective

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The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

On the Record

Page 3

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com

Daily Report

News Briefs Countywide tornado drill today

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Franklin County plans to activate outdoor warning sirens at 1:30 p.m. today as part of the National Weather Service’s statewide severe weather tornado drill, Franklin County Emergency Management officials said in a news release. Every school, resident and business is encouraged to participate in the drill by practicing seeking a secure, safe shelter in the event of a tornado, the release said. The National Weather Service plans to use the emergency alert system code TOR for the tornado drill message — which will mean National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios that are set to receive the TOR code will activate for the test tornado warning, the release said. The purpose of the annual drill, National Weather Service officials said, is to test everyone’s readiness for such life-threatening severe weather events as tornadoes, flash floods, large hail and damaging winds. Kansas residents are encouraged to review their severe weather safety plans this week as part of Kansas Severe Weather Awareness Week, the release said. For safety tips from the NOAA/National Weather Service, go to www.weather.gov

Hospital Notes

Wellsville Police Department News

Admissions • Friday: Cathy Wickam, Pomona. • Sunday: Sherrie Cunningham, Ottawa. Dismissals • Friday: Nedra Lynch, Wellsville; Douglas Pabst, Pomona. • Saturday: Kenneth Suffron, Ottawa; Cathy Wickam, Pomona.

• Friday: 4500 block of Reece Drive, assist outside agency/suspicious activity; 100 block of North Maple Terrace, traffic complaint; 200 block of West Second Street, welfare check; 400 block of Main Street, theft report. • Saturday: 1000 block of Main Street, traffic complaint. • Sunday: 300 block of East Seventh Street, suspicious activity.

Empty Bowls fundraiser rescheduled

Accidents • 11:35 a.m. Sunday, Rock Creek and Florida roads, sheriff’s officers assisted the Kansas Highway Patrol with a wreck in which a vehicle struck a deer. Damage to the vehicle was less than $1,000, the report said. More details were not available.

Ottawa High School organizers have rescheduled their Empty Bowls fundraiser for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 12 at Ottawa Middle School, 1230 S. Ash St., Ottawa. The sixth annual event, which was delayed because of recent heavy snowfall that canceled classes at Ottawa schools, is designed to raise funds for local food pantries Hope House and East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp., according to a news release. The bowls, which are made by OHS students and community members, cost a minimum donation of $10, or $30 for a family of four, the release said. The bowls are filled with soup, with bread served on the side. A silent auction, which includes “bountiful bowls,” also will take place during the event. Those who want to sponsor or donate a bountiful bowl for the auction may do so, the release said. Empty Bowl organizers also are helping members of the Family Career and Community Leaders of America chapter at OHS collect pop tabs for The Ronald McDonald House charities.

City talks new condemnations

Ottawa City Commission has scheduled public hearings May 1 for three dilapidated properties being considered for condemnation. The structures under consideration include: • Carriage house at 619 S. Elm St. • Single-family dwelling at 735 N. Mulberry St. • Single-family dwelling at 923 E. Ninth St. All three properties have been deemed by city staff to be unsafe and unfit to occupy. Wynndee Lee, Ottawa planning and codes director, outlined for commissioners Monday the city’s correspondence with the owners, which has not resulted in the owners taking steps to repair or remove the structures. The public hearings on all three structures will take place 7 p.m. May 1 in commission chambers at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

Deadline extended after snow

Recent inclement weather has shifted an application deadline. The cost share application deadline for state fiscal year 2014 funding has been extended to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Franklin County Conservation District, 343 W. 23rd St., Ottawa. Funds are expected to be available for cost share projects, including new terraces, waterways, diversions, pasture/hayland renovation, home septic system repairs and interior cross fence. Ponds are not covered by this program. More information is available at http://fccdks.org/ CostShare.htm

ORC: Appointments (Continued from Page 1)

“As I understand it, the board has no power to remove any of its own members,” Finch said. “The entity that made the appointment is the one who would have any authority to consider calling back that appointment or appointing someone else on a temporary basis.” The five-person ORC board is composed of two appointees from the City of Ottawa, two appointees from the Ottawa school board and one at-large appointee. The Ottawa school board appointees are Curry and Linda Spencer. Curry has served on the board since August 2009, according to Herald archives, and was reappointed in March 2012. His current term ends May 1, 2016. Ward said she’s spoken with a few residents who have expressed consternation about Curry remaining on the ORC board. “I’ve had some phone calls — just concerns,” Ward said. “My [concerns] aren’t so much of a judgment thing. It’s just a

sheer time commitment and distraction [issue].” The Ottawa school board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Monday at the Ottawa school district office, 1404 S. Ash St., Ottawa. Along with Curry, the KBI arrested Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff’s office, on charges of interference with law enforcement. Fredricks’ first court appearance also is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday in Franklin County District Court. Curry’s arrest isn’t the first crime-related controversy to touch the ORC in recent years, but it is the first to involve a sitting board member. Therron Dieckmann, former ORC director, was fired in December 2011 after his arrest on suspicion of domestic battery. Dieckmann later plead guilty on a misdemeanor battery charge, as part of a plea deal that dropped a felony count of criminal threat, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation, according to Herald archives.

Fire Calls

Franklin County Jail Sheriff’s Department Arrests • 4:49 p.m. Sunday, Franklin County Jail, 305 S. Main St., Shondi Larios, 42, Ottawa, on two Franklin County warrants. Police Department Arrests • 12:20 p.m. Friday, Franklin County Jail, 305 S. Main St., Joseph Bishop, 19, Ottawa, on a City of Ottawa warrant. • 12:21 a.m. Sunday, 200 block of East 23rd Street, a 17-year-old Ottawa girl on a City of Ottawa warrant.

Sheriff’s Department News

Police Department News Incidents • 12:42 p.m. Friday, 600 block of North Oak Street, a 19-year-old Ottawa woman reported she was battered by a known 46-year-old Ottawa woman. • 6:31 p.m. Friday, The Rink, 222 E. Second St., a 36-year-old Garnett man reported an unknown suspect spray painted graffiti on the building. Accidents • 4:39 p.m. Saturday, 1100 block of South Cedar Street, a vehicle driven by Leigh Guerrero, 23, Ottawa, struck a vehicle driven by Guadalupe Velez, 58, Ottawa. Guerrero was cited for inattentive driving, according to a police report.

COFFEE: Controversies (Continued from Page 1)

What’s next? The senator for Senate District 12 said 260 bills had been introduced in the Senate this session. “Not all of them made it to the floor obviously, but this past week was turnaround week when we move bills from one Chamber to the other Chamber,” she said. “One bill that we passed was drug testing for those receiving welfare benefits.” The Senate also passed a bill, Tyson said, that would prevent the secretary of state from receiving Political Action Committee funds. “That office oversees elections, and so the Senate voted to restrict that office from having PAC money,” she said. The legislative session, freshman lawmaker Jones said, has been “like getting on a treadmill.” “We had some 300some bills on the House side, and it seemed like we worked them all in the last couple of days,” Jones said to laughter from the audience. Jones represents House District 5. Of those 390 bills, Finch said, the House spent about 10 hours debating 48 bills Thursday. After voting on those, the House took up another 11 bills on Friday, Finch, who represents House District 59, said. “The more controversial bills were tucked away in committees and are exempt from having to be out by turnaround, so you’re likely to see some of those bills surface later in the session,” Finch said. Finch, who also gave an update to the Ottawa City Commission at its study session Monday, said six of those bills in exempt committees involved gun legislation that “cover the waterfront.” “Those bills could come up with little notice,” Finch said. Two of the bills that Finch cosponsored passed the House and are on their way to the Senate. HB 2252 would lengthen the statute of limitations

from five years to 10 years for rape and aggravated criminal sodomy, Finch said, adding that Kansas is one of the few states in the nation that has a statute of limitations as short as five years for violent sex crimes. HB 2205 would eliminate a 30-day delay in the adoption process, he said. Both of those bills were approved by a 123-0 vote. Jones said legislators are working hard to push the session through in 80 days, while keeping level heads about their work. “How many snow days do you have built in to your calendar?” Edwards lightheartedly asked the lawmaker. “None,” Jones said, smiling.

Ottawa Fire Department • 9:24 p.m. Friday, 331 E. 11th St., smoke detector activated. No fire reported. • 4:26 a.m. Saturday, Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., alarm system sounded. No fire reported. • 9:46 p.m. Saturday, Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., alarm system sounded. No fire reported. • 8:19 a.m. Sunday, 1130 N. Main St., firefighters responded to an outside storage fire. • Firefighters assisted with 11 medical calls Friday through Sunday.

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The Appanoose PTO, teachers, staff, parents and students want to thank all the generous donators of time, food and products for our 43nd Annual Appanoose Chili Supper. A-H Gifts & Collectibles All Seasons A/C & Heating Amanda's Country Cuts Appanoose Recreation Commission Auto Plaza Carwash Backwoods Flowers and More Bailey's Auto Service Barbara Pearce Betty Simpson Bill's Auto Repair Brenda Wigger Buzzard's Pizza Cates Surveying Cici's Pizza City Gardner Pool Coterie Theatre Cottonwood Animal Hospital Country Living Country Mart Country Stampede D & D Tire Dangerous Toys Dream Kitchen and Supply First Security Bank Garnett State Savings Bank Gerkan Rent-All Girls Scouts Globe Store Hollywood Theaters

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Ojeleye breaks another record, Cyclones advance. See Page 6.

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THURSDAY Edition

ERIC SCRUTCHFIELD

Trial boils down to DNA, dream claims

©2009 Hometown Content, listings by Zap2it

Jury deliberations follow final testimony By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

Can DNA be transferred through a dream? Prosecutor Jim McCabria posed that question to the jury during his closing arguments Wednesday afternoon on the sixth day of the Eric Scrutchfield trial. The former Franklin County employee was arrested in late May 2011 on suspicion of sexually assaulting a then4-year-old girl at his wife’s in-home day care business in Ottawa. McCabria, the assistant Douglas County attorney, was referring in his closing arguments to testimony earlier in the trial that the girl had first reported that the alleged sexual assault was a dream, before later recanting her story and saying the abuse was real. The prosecutor said DNA found on a pair of the girl’s underwear that matched Scrutchfield’s DNA profile didn’t get there via a dream. Scrutchfield faces three felony charges in connection with the reported assault, which was said to have occurred sometime between March and May 2011 at Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St. The business was closed in late May 2011 by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment because of the allegations. The sexual assault trial was set to march into its seventh day today in Franklin County District Court. The jury deliberated for 4 1/2 hours Wednesday before court recessed 7:30 p.m. The jury was due to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today. Before beginning deliberations Wednesday, District Judge Eric W. Godderz granted the

Developing story Watch for breaking news on a verdict in the child sex abuse case online at www.ottawaherald.com prosecution’s motion to add a new charge — aggravated indecent liberties with a child — as an alternative to the rape charge. The Douglas County Attorney’s Office is handling the case because of Scrutchfield’s previous employment with the county, where he worked as a computer support specialist. The prosecutor pointed out the only male DNA profile that Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic scientists were able to identify in one of three pairs of underwear, collected by police detectives in the case, was that of Scrutchfield’s. McCabria reminded the jury that defense attorney John A. Boyd’s expert DNA witness, senior forensics scientist Stephanie Beine with Genetic Technologies in St. Louis, Mo., also ran tests on the same stains on that pair of underwear, and she was able to obtain a DNA profile that matched Scrutchfield’s DNA, he said. McCabria told jurors the two stains on that pair of underwear, which matched Scrutchfield’s DNA, would be in areas consistent with the victim’s report to Ottawa police detectives May 26, 2011, and again during the trial that “Mr. Eric” had pulled her underwear aside and “licked my front” and put his finger inside her front. See TRIAL, Page 8

Curry in court Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Jeff Curry, Franklin County Sheriff, right, and Trey Pettlon, Curry’s criminal defense attorney, listen to Senior Judge John E. Sanders during the sheriff’s first court appearance at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. For a video including excerpts from the court appearance, go to www.ottawaherald.com

New attorney could delay effort to remove sheriff Preliminary hearing April 1 By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

A defense lawyer for the county’s top law enforcement officer moved Wednesday toward action that could delay ouster proceedings aimed at removing Franklin County’s sheriff from office. Sporting a gray suit and stoic demeanor, embattled Sheriff Jeff Curry made his first court appearance Wednesday morning in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa, following a Feb. 27 arrest on a felony charge. He was accompanied by Olathe-based attorney Trey Pettlon, who indicated he was new to the case and told the presiding judge he needed more time to learn the details of the allegations against his client. In addition to facing a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct, Curry

is the target of an ouster proceeding filed Feb. 27 by Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney. Hunting previously turned the case over to the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, which is handling the prosecution, as well as the ouster proceedings. “The allegations in the ouster obviously are tied very closely to the allegations in the criminal case,” Pettlon said when detailing his need for more time to study the case. “I have not seen the discovery yet.” Extending the discovery process, wherein Pettlon would meet with the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office and examine court documents, potentially could delay the first ouster hearing, which Senior Judge John E. Sanders on Wednesday tentatively set for March 14. Pettlon said he planned to meet with Todd Hiatt, a special prosecutor working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office, the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas, early next

week for discovery. At that time, both parties could agree to delay the civil ouster proceedings until after Curry’s preliminary hearing, which was set Wednesday for 1:30 p.m. April 1. Pettlon told The Herald Wednesday afternoon neither he nor his client were ready to make any statements to the public

Criminal charges Curry sat silently for much of Wednesday’s court appearance. When Judge Sanders asked the sheriff if he wanted the charges against him read aloud, Curry answered no. A criminal complaint filed Feb. 27 by Hiatt alleges Curry lied in September about unlawfully using confidential information to privately benefit himself, another or to cause harm to another, leading to the felony charge of interference with law enforcement. See CURRY, Page 8

OTTAWA AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Breakfast speaker urges hunger for political information By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

It was breakfast with a side of politics Wednesday morning in Ottawa. “I translate politics into English for state and local officials,” Stephanie Sharp, a former Republican representative in the Kansas House, told a crowd of early bird diners Wednesday. “I work with local officials on helping communicate issues to constituents in a

way that is salient and practical for them and helping to make access to government easier.” The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce invited Sharp, owner of Sharp Connections LLC, to speak Wednesday during a legislative breakfast meeting at Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa. During the event, Sharp delved into a variety of political issues in hopes to provide participants some insight into the current

legislative session. Among several strategies, Sharp shared with those in attendance a few tips to help constituents navigate the deluge of information pouring from the Topeka Capitol. In addition to reading newspapers, Sharp advocated residents stay informed on the happenings of the Kansas Legislature by keeping tabs on lawmakers as well as other groups. See BREAKFAST, Page 8

HOME DELIVERY: (785) 242-4700

Photo by Bobby Burch/ The Ottawa Herald

Stephanie Sharp, a former Republican representative in the Kansas House, speaks Wednesday morning to a crowd of diners at an Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast meeting at Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Community News. Community Connections.


The Ottawa Herald

Page 8

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CURRY: Criminal court case moving forward (Continued from Page 1) The documents also allege that in late May 2012 Curry misused confidential information and later falsely reported to law enforcement, resulting in the misdemeanor charge, as well as his arrest Feb. 27 by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Along with Curry, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff’s office, faces a felony charge of interference with law enforcement. Fredricks did not make a first appearance Wednesday, but is scheduled to appear with Curry during the April 1 preliminary hearing. Fredricks is being represented by Scott Gyllenborg, Olathe, according to court documents. As part of the bond agreements for the two, neither Curry nor Fredricks is allowed to possess a firearm or discuss the case with any of the at least 13 endorsed witnesses. Details about the origins of the charges against Curry and Fredricks and the investigation of the sheriff’s office, including the execution of a Sept. 27 KBI search warrant at the sheriff’s office, have been restricted. Multiple open records requests made by The Herald have been declined by the KBI, Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office and Franklin County, citing the ongoing nature of the case.

Possible witnesses The April 1 preliminary hearing for Curry and Fredricks might be one of the public’s first opportunities to learn more about the case against the two law enforce-

the mother of deceased Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sam Smith, James Bridges, special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, KBI lab personnel, Wyandotte County personnel and an unnamed confidential informant also are listed as potential witnesses.

ment officials. At the preliminary hearing, Curry and Fredricks would be expected to enter pleas. If they plead not guilty, the prosecution would present evidence and outline the cases, even calling witnesses to testify. Judge Sanders then would rule whether the evidence was sufficient to proceed to trial. Among the limited information already revealed by court documents is a list of potential witnesses who might be called to testify at the preliminary hearing. That list includes Heather R. Jones, former Franklin County attorney and more recently head of the child abuse and sex crimes unit for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, as well as several members of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Fredricks, along with Lt. Curtis Hall, Sgt. Shane Pruitt and Det. Jeremie Thompson are among those with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office who might take the stand. Pruitt now serves as acting public information officer, following Fredricks’ arrest. Thompson is a member of the Franklin County Drug Enforcement Unit, which recently helped secure the conviction of Connie Edwards, 61, Ottawa, who was sentenced this week for her role in a large prescription drug ring. Other potential witnesses include Jessica Blackstone, a Williamsburg woman who was indicted in December on a charge relating to a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, as well as Sheri McCracken, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Kansas, who prosecuted Blackstone’s case, as well as the case against Edwards. Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department, Kathleen “Katie” Smith,

New judge on case Curry’s attorney was not the only new player in the courtroom Wednesday. Judge Sanders joined the proceedings earlier this week after being tapped by Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss to handle the case. Sanders’ assignment resulted from Chief Judge Phillip Fromme asking the Kansas Supreme Court to assign a judge from outside the Fourth Judicial District, John Steelman, Franklin County District Court administrator, said late Tuesday. Sanders will preside over the criminal cases against Curry and Fredricks, as well as the ouster proceedings initiated by Hunting. Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball, with the Fourth Judicial District, previously was assigned to the cases. Kimball, who had served as undersheriff for former Franklin County Sheriff Craig Davis, swore in Curry in July 2010 after Curry was appointed to the sheriff position. Judge Thomas Sachse, also with the Fourth Judicial District, swore in Curry in January. Sanders, El Dorado, previously served as a Butler County District Court judge before retiring in 2010. The judge also served a stint on the Kansas Supreme Court, when Chief Justice Robert E. Davis was on medical leave.

BREAKFAST: Voter habits (Continued from Page 1) “Follow your legislators,” Sharp said. “Look up [legislators] on their websites, get on those email newsletters from your representatives and senators, and maintain frequent contact with them. Also, follow an organization that’s either your industry trade association or a personal interest group of yours ... so you can get some good feedback on what’s going on in Topeka.” Another outlet for up-todate information on Kansas politics, Sharp added, can be found via social media. Hundreds of Twitter users, including lawmakers, journalists, political action committees, watchdog groups and lobbyists — use the medium to post information directly from the statehouse, she said. Using the “ksleg hashtag” — #ksleg — a Twitter user can track information and commentary regarding the current legislative proceedings, Sharp said. “It’s amazing. I can sit in my basement in Lenexa, watch the two House committees and the Senate floor because people are tweeting about what’s going on there,” Sharp said. “It’s a great resource.” After issuing a few tips on how to obtain helpful legislative information, Sharp discussed the participants’ voting participation. All Kansans’ voter registration information is available to the public, Sharp said while passing

out information about most of the local diners’ recent voting history. In general, Sharp said, she was pleased by the group’s “decent” dedication to voting. But rather than call people out for voting habits, she said, Sharp shared the information to illustrate a point. “Sixty-two percent of [participants] voted in the primary. That’s a huge number and that far exceeds the state average,” Sharp said of the 32 people’s voting history she obtained, adding that about 71 percent turned out to vote during the general election. “Why do I mention that? Because active, engaged groups — like the chamber of commerce — think that we all vote. We come to legislative breakfasts. We interact with our legislators, but not everyone votes. And I point that out simply to say that it’s up to each other. We have to get our friends and colleagues out to vote. We can’t assume.” Sharp, Lenexa, was elected to serve three terms for House District 17, which includes Shawnee and Lenexa. Formerly the Kansas government relations director for the American Cancer Society, Sharp now serves on the Johnson County Community College board of trustees. Her company, Sharp Connections LLC, provides email newsletters and serves the communications needs of state and local elected officials, according to the company’s website.

TRIAL: Fate of man accused in child sex abuse case placed in local jury’s hands (Continued from Page 1) She also told detectives that Scrutchfield, known as Mr. Eric to the children at the day care, had showed her “his big front.” Boyd said the reason forensics scientists only could produce a DNA profile that matched Scrutchfield’s DNA is that police detectives only provided the KBI forensics lab with known DNA profile samples of Scrutchfield and the victim’s younger brother. The defense attorney reminded jurors that Beine, his DNA expert, testified Wednesday morning that her tests showed up to 17 male DNA profiles were present in the three pairs of underwear the police had collected. “Of course, the only profile they are going to find is Eric Scrutchfield’s, because his profile [and that of the girl’s younger brother] were the only known profiles the detectives provided,” Boyd said. McCabria countered that it would have been difficult to obtain identifications from the other profiles that Genetic Technologies’ more sensitive tests detected because they were only partial profiles. He reminded jurors KBI forensics scientist Larry Antle testified Tuesday that the 1-by-1.5 centimeter cutting that contained the complete DNA profile that matched Scrutchfield’s DNA contained 6,400 cells in that minute cutting. The prosecutor repeated that Antle had testified that quantity and quality of DNA was most likely the result of direct fluid contact with the material — not through a dry cell transfer of DNA. Scrutchfield took the stand Wednesday morning and testified about an incident in which he had talked with the girl early one morning in the day care’s nap room where the alleged assault was to have occurred. He testified about waking the girl because she was having a bad dream — right after he had awakened one of his four sons in the adjoining bedroom. Scrutchfield, as well as previous witnesses during the trial, had reported the girl had a habit of sucking on her fingers and of masturbating. Scrutchfield said he

rubbed the girl’s back when she asked him to after the bad dream, and then he said he crouched down beside the girl’s cot in a baseball catcher’s stance and asked her why she sucked on her fingers. He told her sucking on her fingers could prevent her teeth from growing in properly. He said when she didn’t understand what he meant by teeth not growing correctly, he placed her two fingers on his teeth to show her what he meant by how teeth should look. McCabria said Scrutchfield’s story differed from what he had told Ottawa police officer AJ Schmidt toward the end of a five-hour interrogation that started about 8 p.m. May 26, 2011, and finished about 1 a.m. May 27, 2011. About three hours into the interview, now-retired Det. Rick Geist informed Scrutchfield he was being arrested on suspicion of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and lewd and lascivious behavior. Before giving the jury their instructions, Judge Godderz agreed to amend the first count of rape to allow for the option of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. McCabria told jurors that if they were not sure beyond a reasonable doubt that Scrutchfield had digitally penetrated the girl’s vagina, but they were certain the defendant had touched her vagina in a sexual way, the jury could find Scrutchfield guilty of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The prosecutor also told jurors he thought it was unlikely Scrutchfield would enter a room of sleeping children, crouch down and have a conversation with the child about her teeth and her masturbation problem in that setting. Boyd countered that he also found it highly unlikely that Scrutchfield would go into the nap room — after waking his son up in the next room and with his wife asleep on the couch 20 feet away — and perform oral sex on the girl in a room with other sleeping children who were not more than a couple of feet apart. McCabria also pointed out that Scrutchfield told Schmidt about sticking the girls’ fingers in his mouth some four hours into the five-hour interrogation —

after the prosecutor said the defendant had the opportunity to think up a plausible explanation. Boyd said Ottawa police detectives had tunnel vision from the start and presumed Scrutchfield was guilty. The defense attorney reminded the jury the police did not follow up on Scrutchfield’s report that the girl had witnessed oral sex in a pornographic movie when she walked in on her teenage uncle. The police did not follow up on the girl’s initial report that it had been a dream, Boyd said, nor had police interviewed any of the other parents or children who were sleeping in the room to see if any of them had awakened and witnessed anything.

3

“This is a child rape case,” Boyd said. “A man’s life could be ruined, yet the police did not investigate any of these other leads.” Robert Barnett, a child psychologist and expert witness for the defense, said he watched the police detectives’ interview with the girl and found it to be troubling in that they used anatomically correct dolls, though the use of those dolls is frowned upon in most periodical reviews in his profession because no studies have been done to show the dolls aid the investigation and in some ways can hinder them. Barnett said he also found some of the interview troubling because he thought a couple of the questions

were leading in nature and suggested what the girl’s response should be. McCabria countered that the interrogation protocol, Finding Words, that detectives used to interview the girl followed protocols that are accepted in Kansas and 47 other states. During his testimony, Scrutchfield said he voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by police because “I have nothing to hide.” When asked by Boyd if he was guilty of the charges, Scrutchfield replied in a resolute tone: “No.” Boyd also reminded jurors the girl’s own mother had reasonable doubt that the assault had occurred because she took the child back to the day care the

morning she had told her mother about the incident. “No parent in the world would take their child back to a day care if they thought the child had been sexually assaulted there,” he said. McCabria argued the mother initially was confused by the girl’s accounting of the incident and had wanted to make sure the assault actually had happened before she accused someone of such a serious crime. The prosecutor urged jurors to weigh all the evidence and use their common sense and practical life experiences to determine if the defendant was guilty or innocent. “I’m confident you will find the defendant guilty on all charges.”

rd Annual Conference for Pastors and Laity

“The Grace of God in the Whole of Life”

March 14 - 15, 2013

Featuring Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline)

and Nathan Foster (Wisdom Chaser) with Roger and Joel Fredrikson

Thursday, March 14 “How to Become Twice a Child of Hell in the Name of God” “Transforming Grace” “Grace in Our Relationships” “Grace and the Violence of the Kingdom” Friday, March 15 “The Congregation Becoming a Community of Grace”

Events held in the Fredrikson Chapel. Register for the complimentary conference at www.ottawa.edu/pastorsconference , or call 866-324-8788.

11:00 a.m. 1:15 p.m. 3:15 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 8:30 a.m.


ROLLOVER

1971 TEAM

Driver uninjured in afternoon wreck in southwest Ottawa. See Page 3.

Past, present basketball squads had similarities. See Page 6.

Weekender March 16-17, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

Herald

The

Ottawa

75 cents Volume 143, No. 267 16 Pages

WEEKENDER Edition

KANSAS CRIMINAL CASES

Expert: Accused sheriffs face more scrutiny By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

It might be a first for Franklin County, but Jeff Curry isn’t the only sheriff in Kansas’ history to face criminal charges. Recent years even have seen a handful of Sunflower State sheriffs removed from office. In 2001, then-Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley faced two

counts of criminal perjury and 20 counts of theft and misuse of public funds. And in 2003, thenKansas Attorney General Carla Stovall filed 34 counts of bribery against Reno County’s sheriff at the time, Larry Leslie. Last summer, former Rooks County Sheriff Randy Axelson plead guilty to four felony charges, including two counts of distribution of

methamphetamine. Franklin County’s sheriff now is grappling with a felony charge of his own — interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. In late September, prosecutors say, Curry lied about unlawfully using confidential information to privately benefit himself, another or to cause harm to another.

‘A lot more at stake’ While case details vary greatly, history can provide contextual insight on how court proceedings against elected law enforcement officials might be approached, perceived and affected by prosecutors, defendants and the public. Though uncommon, bringing charges against a sitting sheriff

or other law enforcement official is not unheard of in Kansas, Michael Kaye, a 34-year veteran professor of criminal law at Washburn University, said. “We hope it won’t happen because we trust them to carry out the law and not to break it,” Kaye said Friday.

See SHERIFFS, Page 8

PROPERTY VALUATIONS

Farm values rise while area homes drop

&

Then NOW

ABOVE: An unidentified man advertises a speaking engagement on communism by Ed Wiltse during the fall of 1961 in downtown Ottawa. A Nov. 21, 1961, Herald article, titled “What’s With This Man Ed Wiltse?” said about 1,500 people came to hear the Paola postmaster speak on communism at Memorial Auditorium, now Ottawa Municipal Auditorium, 301 S. Hickory St. Wiltse’s earlier talks in Ottawa on Americanism and Communism “had touched off a round of debate in The Herald’s letters column,” the article said. It was a hot topic considering it was nearing the height of the Cold War with the Cuban Missile Crisis less than a year later in October 1962. RIGHT: A vehicle rushes Thursday across the former construction site of the I-35 bridge over the Marais des Cygnes River, depicted in a photo from the late 1950s. The Herald reported a wet opening Oct. 1, 1959, for the Ottawa section of I-35 with Ottawa Mayor Andrews, Wellsville Mayor D.W. Harrison, Gov. George Docking and Sen. Andrew Schoeppel in attendance.

Photos by Matt Bristow/ The Ottawa Herald RIGHT: A basketball game between Ottawa High School (white uniforms) and Lawrence High School is shown in a circa-1950 photo, while present-day gymnasts tumble in the background Thursday in the gymnasium at Washburn Towers, 526 S. Main St., Ottawa. The building once was home to both Ottawa High School and Ottawa Junior High School before the current buildings were constructed. Studio H School of Dance and Gymnastics now uses the gym as a training facility. For another “Then & Now” photo, See Page 8. [Editors Note: The historical photos used in this feature all are from the J.B. Muecke Collection, housed at the Franklin County Historical Society’s Records and Research Center, 1124 W. Seventh St. Terrace, Ottawa. The collection includes three decades of images captured by photographer Muecke during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.]

HOME DELIVERY: (785) 242-4700

By The Herald Staff

The overall appraised value of Franklin County’s residential and farmstead properties dropped about 1.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the county appraiser’s office. The county’s agriculture land values, however, shot up 11.4 percent compared to 2012. Franklin County property owners should receive their 2013 certified value notices in the mail Monday or Tuesday, the appraiser’s office said in a news re-

lease. The notices were to be mailed Friday, the release said. “Commercial values overall were pretty stable, with little fluctuation in value,” Philip Dudley, county appraiser, said in an email. The appraiser’s office planned to mail 14,302 notices this year, with 14,337 total real estate parcels in the county, the news release said. Thirtyfive state assessed utility properties do not receive notices, Dudley said.

See VALUES, Page 3

DAVIS ROAD AT K-68

Busy intersection set to close for lengthy project By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

A major improvement project is set to get under way on a busy roadway near Ottawa’s industrial park. Killough Construction, 3633 U.S. 59, Ottawa, plans to begin work Monday on the improvements to the K-68 and Davis Road intersection, according to a City of Ottawa news release. The improvements are designed to move traffic through the intersection more efficiently, Andy Haney, Ottawa public works director, said. The project is expected to include the addition of turning lanes on all three “legs” of the intersection, as well as a traffic signal that will be responsive to changing traffic conditions, he said. Workers are allowed

More local news ■ Northbound I-35 to be rerouted Monday during construction. See Page 3. ■ Industrial business seeking tax abatement. See Page 2. ■ Pomona welcoming new Mexican restaurant. See Page 9. 180 calendar days for construction, and the project should be completed with the intersection completely reopened to traffic by mid-September, the city news release said. But, weather permitting, the project could be completed more quickly, Haney said.

See PROJECT, Page 3

Community News. Community Connections.


The Ottawa Herald

Page 8

THEN & NOW

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Children splash in a wading pool in an undated photo at City Park, Fifth and Main Streets, Ottawa. Barbara Dew, Franklin County Historical Society digital project librarian, said she remembers the pool being staffed by an Ottawa Recreation Commission member to watch over the swimmers. The pool remained in operation in the park until the early 1980s, and is now the location of the park’s playground equipment. [Editors Note: The historical photos used in this feature all are from the J.B. Muecke Collection, housed at the Franklin County Historical Society’s Records and Research Center, 1124 W. Seventh St. Terrace, Ottawa. The collection includes three decades of images captured by photographer Muecke during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.]

SHERIFFS: Kansas cases offer context (Continued from Page 1) “I think what it tells you is that a lot of such people are subject to the same kind of pressures that everybody else is, and sometimes it gets beyond them,” he said. Speaking in generalities rather than on specific proceedings, Kaye, who also is the director of Washburn’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy, noted differences between criminal cases involving elected officials and rank-and-file citizens, including the potential for more serious punishments. “You’re dealing with someone who has a lot more at stake than a non-official,” Kaye said. “Those people can be punished much more severely because of the public trust they’ve got.” During his January sentencing, former Rooks County Sheriff Axelson’s punishment apparently was stiffened because of his elected status. Judge Edward Bouker sentenced Axelson to four years and one month in prison, saying that if he hadn’t been sheriff at the time of his crimes, he likely would have received probation because of his family situation, according to the Hays Daily News. Another difference, Kaye added, are the methods to ensure a fair trial for the accused. As with Sheriff Curry’s proceedings, such cases often require outside prosecutors or judges to help limit the appearance of conflicting interests, he said. Senior Judge John E. Sanders, El Dorado, now is presiding over Curry’s case after Chief Judge Phillip Fromme asked the Kansas Supreme Court to assign a judge outside the Fourth Judicial District. Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting previously had asked the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office designate a special prosecutor to the case. The often high-profile nature surrounding criminal cases involving elected officials also presents an issue in providing a fair trial, Kaye said. Whether through gossip or extensive media coverage, a judge might opt to seal information on a case to limit the potential of a prejudicial jury. Before Curry’s Feb. 27 arrest was publicly announced, Franklin County District Court Judge Thomas H. Sachse sealed documents relating to both the criminal and civil ouster case against the sheriff. “The reason they’re sealing [details on a case involving an elected official] is because they’re afraid that he won’t be able to get a fair trial if people start making up their minds right away,” Kaye said. “[But] the longer the information doesn’t get out, it provokes the form of disequilibrium in the community.”

Plea bargains used When compared to other sheriffs’ cases, it appears prosecutors often seek plea bargains to ensure a conviction. Such was the case for Axelson in July, when five charges against him were dismissed in exchange for four guilty pleas — two counts of distribution of methamphetamine and two counts of distribution of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of school property. In a case that spanned three years, former Shawnee County Sheriff Meneley initially faced 22 counts of various crimes, including 16 counts of felony theft, during an investigation into whether a Shawnee County sheriff’s deputy stole drugs from the office’s evidence room. Ultimately, most of the charges were dropped against Meneley, who plead guilty to three misdemeanor offenses and was ordered to pay fees and an unspecified amount of restitution in addition to being placed on one year of supervised probation. Former Reno County Sheriff Leslie accepted a plea deal in October 2002 in

“[A sheriff’s arrest] causes the public to distrust the system, and that distrust can have negative consequences as far as obeying the law goes.” — Michael Kaye, criminal law professor, Washburn University admitting guilt to a misdemeanor conflict of interest charge. Leslie illegally failed to disclose his substantial interest in MgtGp Inc. after he and Hutchinson attorney Gerald Hertach won a contract to run Reno County’s jail annex, according to The Hutchinson News. Leslie accepted $284,000 in payments from the annex. Leslie was sentenced to serve one year in jail, and the deal included a “joint or separate” agreement to pay Reno County $750,000 in restitution.

Lasting effects When a law enforcement officer is convicted of such a crime as obstruction of justice or interference with law enforcement, Kaye said, that could have a collateral effect on other cases with which the officer was involved. Tampering with or mishandling evidence, he said as an example, could discredit other cases and convictions. “It could affect other cases, too,” Kaye said. “If an officer obstructs justice — say by mishandling evidence, as an example — that could taint a criminal case.” The other effect of a law enforcement officer’s conviction can be seen in the public response, Kaye said. If one officer is guilty of a crime, it could cause the public to lose faith in or question law enforcement’s authority. “It also causes the public to distrust the system, and that distrust can have negative consequences as far as obeying the law goes,” Kaye said. “It’s hard on the community.” In addition to the stress such cases might place on residents served by the elected official charged with a crime, the effect on law enforcement’s credibility as a whole can be tinged. During Meneley’s case, Sgt. Randy Listrom, then a veteran narcotics investigator for the Topeka Police Department, wrote a letter to the Topeka Capital-Journal asking the former sheriff to resign. In the letter, Listrom implored citizens to become more involved in community policing, as well as officers’ desire to exhibit their core ideals. “This is not a case of lying about sex, this issue goes to the core of your profession — truth and justice. This is not about politics — it is about judgment and accountability, about leadership and honesty,” Listrom wrote in his 1999 letter to the Capital-Journal. “We want to exhibit honesty, integrity and professionalism. ... When an incident like this comes up, it casts a shadow on the whole profession.” In the Curry case, Franklin County Attorney Hunting quickly called on the sheriff to resign, launching an ouster proceeding aimed at removing Curry from office Feb. 27, the same day he and Jerrod W. Fredricks, master deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, were arrested. When urging Curry’s resignation, Hunting indicated law enforcement officers were not above the law, but would be held accountable like other community members. “Regardless of station in life ... you have to abide by and uphold the law,” the county’s top prosecutor said.

Weekender, March 16-17, 2013


LAST SUPPER

LETTER HOME

Actors portray painting inspired by Bible story. See Page 9.

Vet details his role, that of dogs in modern US military. See Page 9.

Herald

The

Ottawa

Tuesday March 19, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

75 cents Volume 143, No. 268 16 Pages

TUESDAY Edition

JEFF CURRY

Herald: Public deserves details in sheriff cases Newspaper files court action in bid to open sealed records By The Herald Staff

The public has a right to know, The Herald’s publisher said Monday. And the newspaper is prepared to take its argument to court in an attempt to secure information about the ongoing civil and criminal cases against Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry. The amount of vital information about the cases being withheld from the public is shaking residents’ confidence in both local law enforcement and the judicial system, Jeanny Sharp, Herald editor and publisher, said. “We have business owners, community members and even fellow elected officials telling us, ‘We don’t even believe in justice anymore,’” she said. “People are demanding answers — or at least an explanation.” Curry was arrested Feb. 27 as part of a morethan-five-month, ongoing Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. But before the sheriff’s arrest was announced, many details associated with the case were sealed by court order. Though the public was told the charges facing the sheriff — including a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct — the exact nature of the crimes alleged have not been disclosed, leaving many to merely speculate about the details involved, Sharp said. After a dozen mostly failed open records requests to the agencies involved in the case, The Herald has filed a motion to intervene in Franklin County Dis-

trict Court. The action is aimed at gaining access to the sealed court documents. Court officials have declined to comment on why the documents were sealed. Curry’s status as an elected official makes Franklin County District Court Judge Thomas H. Sachse’s decision to seal the documents associated with the case all the more troubling, Sharp said, especially since Curry is the county’s top law enforcement official. “The public is beyond merely curious about this case,” Sharp said. “The community has a high interest in the proper conduct of law enforcement officers and elected officials. It is important to the community that the rules of justice and disclosure are applied uniformly regardless of the individual’s station in life. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation would not have filed charges against Curry without a great deal of certainty of wrongdoing. Disclosure of the details of the case enables the public to assess for itself whether the allegations are legitimate. The court has not met the burden of detailing why sealing documents in the case is necessary or prudent. We wish it wasn’t necessary for us to take legal action in order to have the details of the court case open for the public, but we take our role of exposing wrongdoing and misuse of power seriously.” Citing several legal precedents in its case, The Herald must prove that the sought-after information is of “significant public interest” and beyond curiosity. See HERALD, Page 3

Clover cousins

Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

ABOVE: Ina Wilper, Shawnee, greets her cousins, Gary and Frances Smith, Neosho Rapids, Sunday during the St. Patrick’s Day dinner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Emerald. Wilper said her ancestors were members of the church and are buried in the church’s cemetery. The Easter season offers former residents of the once-largely Irish Catholic community an opportunity for homecoming festivities. LEFT: Shirley and Bill Gloy, Topeka, receive helpings of corned beef and cabbage Sunday during the annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Emerald. Proceeds from the dinner go to maintenance of the church and future projects, including the hopeful return of the church’s dome. To see a video from the St. Patrick’s Day dinner, go to www.ottawaherald.com/ localvideonews BELOW: Members of the band Tullamore — Mary Hanover, Mark Clavey and Rachel Gaither — perform Sunday during the St. Patrick’s Day dinner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Emerald. The group, which plays traditional and contemporary Irish music, now is in its 10th season of performing. RIGHT: St. Patrick’s Day dinner attendees arrive Sunday to misty Irish weather at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Emerald. The community of Emerald was founded in the 1850s by Irish immigrants.

COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS

Organizers: Program targets most at-risk students, finds success By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

An Ottawa school district nurse was faced with a dilemma. A teenage girl was coming to her three or four times a day, asking for pain medication for her

The

Ottawa

Herald

Community News. Community Connections.

said of the student. “She needed dental work, and her family did not have the ability to pay for it.” So Myers talked with a local dentist, who consented to perform the necessary work at no charge.

teeth. The nurse asked Cassie Myers, Communities in Schools site coordinator at Ottawa High School, for help. “It’s pretty hard to concentrate in class when your mouth hurts that bad every day,” Myers

“It was about $2,000 worth of dental work,” Myers said. Helping students with life’s challenges beyond the classroom walls is just part of the territory for Myers as a member of the Communities in Schools

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The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

On the Record

News Briefs Deputy on paid leave after arrest A Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy continues to receive a paycheck after his arrest last month. Jerrod Fredricks, who was arrested Feb. 27 on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and bonded out of jail later that day, now is on paid administrative leave, Lisa Johnson, Franklin County administrator, confirmed Monday. Johnson would not comment on the county’s pending personnel matters, including when or if Fredricks, who has served as master deputy and former public information officer with the sheriff’s office, might return to his post. An open records request for more information on Fredricks’ employment status was declined by the county. The sheriff’s office has designated Det. Sgt. Shane Pruitt as its acting public information officer in Fredricks’ absence. Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry also was arrested Feb. 27 on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement, in addition to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Curry cannot be placed on paid administrative leave, as the Franklin County Personnel Rules and Pay Plan does not apply to elected officials, Johnson said. Shortly after Curry’s arrest, Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting filed a petition for ouster that would formally remove the sheriff from office if Curry doesn’t resign. The first hearing for Curry’s ouster proceedings was set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa.

KDOT offers help on airport project Ottawa city commissioners learned Monday the Kansas Department of Transportation has offered financial assistance to the City of Ottawa. This time it’s not with a road improvement project, but rather with the costs associated with a land acquisition the city completed last fall to allow future runway expansion at Ottawa Municipal Airport, located about three miles southeast of Ottawa on Montana Road. Ottawa city commissioners voted in October 2012 to annex about 54 acres of land at 2040 Montana Road, south of the airport, into the city limits. The city already had purchased the property from Old Granddad LLC for $201,750. A Federal Aviation Administration grant was expected to pay for $181,575 of that purchase. Those federal funds, which were to pay 95 percent of the land acquisition’s cost, had been reduced to 90 percent, Andy Haney, the city’s public works director, told city commissioners Monday. KDOT’s Division of Aviation, however, has agreed to pay the 5 percent — $10,088 — affected by the federal funding change, Haney said. The expansion of the airport’s runway would allow the airport to accommodate larger aircraft and help solidify the city’s economic development portfolio, city officials have said. A timetable has not been established for the runway expansion. City commissioners agreed Monday to place the KDOT funding offer on Wednesday’s agenda for a vote. The commission is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the commission chambers at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

HERALD: Curry case (Continued from Page 1) The Curry case’s public details now largely are limited to claims that the sheriff lied about unlawfully using confidential information to privately benefit himself, another or to cause harm to another, according to documents from Franklin County District Court. The unknown details of the case apparently were serious enough to warrant Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, to begin civil ouster proceedings against Curry, along with calling on the sheriff to resign. The first hearing for Curry’s ouster proceedings was set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. It is unknown whether details associated with the ouster efforts will become public at the hearing. “Although the rights asserted by the Ottawa Herald are also enjoyed by the public at large, a newspaper suffers an injury in fact because the court’s order impeded its ability to gather news,” the motion filed on behalf of The Herald reads. “That impediment is within the zone of interest sought to be protected by the First Amendment ... An elected official, the Franklin County Sheriff, has been charged with civil and criminal wrongdoing. It is truly difficult to imagine a matter of greater public interest than the possible punish-

ment of a person elected to office, and the possible removal of that person who had been chosen by the voters.” Sharp, who might testify during the case, concurred. Details on Curry’s case, as well as court proceedings for Jerrod Fredricks, a master deputy with the sheriff’s office who also was charged with a felony, are relevant to the community for reasons beyond pure inquisitiveness. “The public is outraged that it might have elected someone to office who could have willingly violated the responsibilities of his office yet refuses to resign, despite the county attorney’s request for him to do so,” Sharp said. “The public’s interest in disclosure of records promotes rather than discourages fair trials. It promotes public confidence in the proper conduct of law enforcement; it promotes public confidence in the proper prosecution of wrongdoers; it promotes confidence in the legal system and it also promotes keeping citizens informed about official government action. ... What is fair for the general populace is fair in this case, too. The Kansas Open Records Acts exists to ensure public confidence in government, to increase the accountability of governmental bodies and to deter official misconduct.” Senior Judge John E. Sanders, El Dorado, is presiding over the cases.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Page 3

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com

PROGRAM: Sneaking in lessons for Ottawa students (Continued from Page 1) From the Reach for the Stars after school program for elementary students to the annual Day on the Job event for OHS seniors, Communities in Schools touched the lives of more than 1,800 Ottawa students in 2011-2012, according to the organization’s 2012 annual report. That’s about 75 percent of the school district’s 2,400 students. Some of the organization’s year-long programs include an after school program for kindergarten through fifth-grade students, K-5 Weekend Warriors BackSnack program, K-12 YouthFriends Mentoring program and 6-12 WhyTry resilience education program. Other grade-level events include Scrubby Bear handwashing program for kindergartners, bike safety/helmet head program for second-graders, Brilliant Bookworms for third-graders, disability awareness program for fourth-graders and Careers on Wheels for fifthgraders. Communities in Schools is funded through a variety of sources. Last year, the program received $139,537 in grants, $5,250 from foundations, $3,690 from corporate sponsors, $1,776.50 from organizations, $1,521 from individual donations and $6,106.82 from fundraising activities, the annual report said. Nevergold credits former superintendent Dean Katt with getting Communities in Schools started in Ottawa. “I was the principal at the former Hawthorne Elementary, and Dean said he wanted to keep me on as an administrator to run an after school program,” Nevergold said. “But then Dean said he wanted to go further than just an after school program. He had heard about a program called Communities in Schools that he wanted to try in our school district.” Communities in Schools, based in a modular building behind the school district’s central office at 1404 S. Ash St., Ottawa, has continued to expand each year since it kicked off in 2008, Nevergold said.

Reach for the Stars Ottawa’s Reach for the Stars after school program underwent an expansion this school year with the aid of a nearly $750,000 federal grant. The after school program, which was centralized at Garfield Elementary School, was expanded to all three of the Ottawa school district’s elementary schools: Eugene Field, Garfield and Lincoln. The new 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant, administered through the Kansas State Department of Education, helped cover the costs of expanding the program to all the elementary schools, Nevergold said. The district will receive $145,279 in grant money for the 2012-2013 year, Nevergold said, the first of five installments during the life of the grant. The fiveyear payout would total $726,395. The after school program includes time to complete homework, as well as physical fitness activities and field trips to such places as Ottawa Library, Ottawa Recreation Commission facilities, Prairie Paws Animal Shelter and The Rink, Jamie Keiter, Reach for the Stars program director, said. “The after school program also incorporates 4-H, robotics, cooking, roller skating, woodworking and many other activities,” Keiter said. “The kids love it.” The program also uses

Photo courtesy of Communities in Schools of Ottawa

Chris Ferguson, Ottawa firefighter and driver, helps Caleb Richards-Melnick try on a fire suit in October during the Communities in Schools of Ottawa Reach for the Stars Lights On After School and Parent Night at Garfield Elementary School, 1213 S. College St., Ottawa.

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Communities in Schools of Ottawa staff members Steven Lane, Cassie Myers, Jamie Keiter and Becky Nevergold stand March 12 at the organization’s office 1404 S. Ash St., Ottawa. Communities in Schools of Ottawa is celebrating five years in Ottawa.

“We don’t believe in charity. We believe in change.” — Becky Nevergold, Communities in Schools, Ottawa a web-based tutoring program called Study Island to assist students who need a little extra help with their homework, Keiter said. The program offers students a chance to play a 15- to 30-second game online after they master their math and reading lessons, for example, she said. Steven Lane, site coordinator at Ottawa Middle School, said Study Island provides enrichment as well as helps students improve their reading and math skills. “The kids are having so much fun that we can sneak a lesson in on them, and they don’t see it coming,” Lane, a December 2012 graduate of Ottawa University, said, laughing.

‘One student at a time’ Lane, who started out as a volunteer with the after school program, took on more of a mentoring roll when he became the program’s site coordinator at OMS in January. “I helped Miss Becky give shoes to some kids, and I realized that [Communities in Schools] is making a difference in so many kids’ lives,” Lane, a standout defensive back for the OU football team from Newport News, Va., said. “I wasn’t planning to stay in Ottawa, but I saw that I could help these kids because I can relate to them. I told myself that my work was not done here.” OMS students have been very accepting of Lane, Nevergold said. “He’s only been there three months, but I can tell he’s making a difference,” she said. The students are on a first-name basis with Lane. “I tell them not to call me Mr. Lane, because I’m not their teacher,” Lane said. “I think they can relate to me because I found myself homeless in the seventh grade. They ask me how I made it through high

Or making sure homeless families are put in touch with local food pantries and other organizations that can offer assistance. Fighting back tears, Myers talked about a senior at OHS who has been homeless since she was a freshman. “We now have 200 homeless students in the Ottawa school district,” Myers said. “They often move from home to home, staying with friends or relatives, sometimes sleeping on floors.” The tally was about to climb, Myers said last week, as she learned about a mother and children who were going to be evicted at the end of the month. Site coordinators Myers and Lane, Reach for the Stars director Keiter and executive director Nevergold each talked about the enjoyment they get from Communities in Schools is being able to help the students and sometimes their families. “I think we’ve built a solid base through the first five years, and now I think the program is on the verge of really taking off,” Nevergold said. The Ottawa school board recently approved a memorandum of understanding that it would continue to support the program. “It’s amazing what you have accomplished,” Dennis George, school board member, told the Communities in Schools representatives at that February meeting. “It’s very important [to the Ottawa school district].” Nevergold has told the school board and district administrators that she plans to retire in spring 2014. Lane attributed much of Communities in Schools’ success to Nevergold. “This will be Miss Becky’s legacy,” he said.

school and college. And I know they think, ‘If Steven can do it, I can do it.’” Communities in Schools is aptly named, Lane said. “It takes a community to raise a child,” he said. Lane and Myers said they work with numerous students on a one-on-one, case-management basis. “It’s about helping one student at a time,” Myers said. “Every student is important.” Whether she’s helping a student with a clothing need or encouraging the teen to seek counseling for a deeply rooted hurt, Myers values her relationship with each student, Nevergold said. “I get to be their friend,” Myers, who keeps healthful snacks for the teenagers on hand, said. “I get to talk with them when they are angry, mad, troubled, hungry or happy and want to share it with me.” Lane nodded in agreement. “One of the hardest parts of the job is knowing the kids are hungry,” Lane said. The food some students receive at school might be the only meals they eat that day, Nevergold said. Whether the program provides assistance with clothing, food or other needs, Nevergold said, Communities in Schools’ role is to “even the playing field” for the at-risk students. “We don’t believe in charity,” she said. “We believe in change.” Sometimes that requires tough talk, Myers said, like Doug Carder is senior urging a parent to get a job writer for The Herald. Email when their government him at dcarder@ottawaherksp.ad_Layout 1 2/25/13 3:24 PM Page 1 support is about to run out. ald.com

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LOVE STORY

Winter weather gives soft start to spring sports. See Page 6.

Romantic gesture brings couple back to Ottawa. See Page 9.

Weekender March 23-24, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

The

Herald

Ottawa

WEEKENDER Edition

DORIS BRANSON

Curry notes ‘a great deal of sadness’ in resigning

1992 cold murder revisited ‘I’ve never forgotten it’ By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

Though Doris Branson was murdered in her rural Franklin County home 21 years ago Wednesday, former Sheriff Craig Davis said he hasn’t stopped thinking about the case. And the sheriff’s office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation haven’t given up on solving the crime either. Franklin County Crime Stoppers, Inc. has made the unsolved homicide its “Crime of the Week.” Branson was 45 when she died of blood loss from multiple stab wounds to the face, neck, chest and abdomen, according to Herald news accounts of the crime. Davis confirmed Wednesday that Branson had suffered multiple stab wounds.

prosecutor pleased with Sheriff’s decision to step down By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

See MURDER, Page 3

PROFILES

Candidates vying for city seats By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

With the April 2 general election less than two weeks away, five Ottawa residents vying for three city commission seats are honing their campaign messages in preparation for a candidate forum scheduled 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa. To give voters a chance to know the five candidates a little better before the public forum — or for those who cannot attend Tuesday night’s event — The Herald asked each candidate to share a little about themselves and why they are running. Incumbents Linda Reed and Jeff Richards and challengers Rocky Fleer, Helen Hood and Mike Skidmore are squaring off for the three openings on the commission. Longtime commissioner and five-time mayor Gene Ramsey did not seek re-election. Ramsey has served on the commission since 1994. See CANDIDATES, Page 2

More local news Candidate forums planned in Ottawa city and school contests, as well as West Franklin school board races. See Page 3.

75 cents Volume 143, No. 270 16 Pages

Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

ABOVE: Jeff Curry, Franklin County Sheriff, right, appears in court Thursday with attorney Trey Pettlon, Olathe, in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Curry’s legal counsel announced Thursday that the elected official will voluntarily resign as sheriff April 1. RIGHT: Senior Judge John E. Sanders, presides Thursday over the ouster hearing of Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry in Franklin County District Court.

Jeff Curry’s resignation is what’s best for Franklin County, Stephen Hunting said Friday. About three weeks after the county’s top prosecutor called on Curry, Franklin County sheriff, to resign and began ouster proceedings to remove him from office, the sheriff announced his intention to voluntarily leave the post April 1. “I was glad to hear [Curry] chose to resign and pleased we are able to take one more positive step forward in working through this issue,” Hunting said. “I was pleased to see that he resigned and glad that he made, in my opinion, the right decision. I think it’s going to be best for the sheriff’s office, best for the county and best for the citizens that this decision was made.” Curry, who has served the sheriff’s office in some capacity since 1994, remained outwardly devoid of emotion Thursday as his attorney announced his resignation plans during the first hearing of the ouster proceedings filed by Hunting Feb. 27. Appointed as sheriff in 2010 and then elected in 2012, Curry on Thursday mailed his letter of resignation to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. “It is with a great deal of sadness that I have come to the decision that I will be resigning from the Office of Sheriff,” Curry wrote in the letter, signed and dated March 21. “It has been a tremendous source of pride for me to work with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for roughly 18 years. ... The events of the last few weeks have created a distraction for me and for my office which makes it difficult for me to continue to serve effectively at this time. ... I have appreciated all the support of my colleagues in law enforcement and the citizens of Franklin County more than I can express in a letter.” As a result of his planned resignation, prosecutor Todd Hiatt said he would dismiss the civil ouster proceedings on April 2 if Curry resigns as planned. Until his April 1 resignation, Curry will remain on administrative leave to allow for an orderly transition of operations to Undersheriff Steve Lunger, who temporarily will serve as sheriff until the Franklin County Republican Central Committee appoints a new leader to the position.

See RESIGNATION, Page 7

Residents’ resignation reactions mixed Ongoing support for WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? sheriff’s office urged By DOUG CARDER

Picking new sheriff falls again to Republican group. See Page 7.

Herald Senior Writer

The public’s reaction Friday to Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s announced resignation resembled James Bond’s martini. Some residents were shaken by Curry’s plans to step down April 1. “I was surprised he resigned,” Ottawa native Tab White, 53, said. “With Curry being a Marine, I thought he would have fought it to the last block.” But most citizens were not

stirred from their strong conviction that the sheriff’s office would continue to perform its duties without a hiccup in the wake of Curry’s departure. “I think the sheriff’s staff and deputies will continue to do their job,” Tony Keim, owner of Keim Bakery in Ottawa and a Franklin County Crime Stoppers, Inc. board member, said. “I don’t think Curry’s resignation has created a foul mood for

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anybody around the community. Undersheriff Steve Lunger is quite capable of running the department, and I am confident he will do a good job.” Facing a crowded courtroom gathered for an ouster hearing Thursday aimed at removing the sheriff from office, Curry said he would voluntarily resign, effective 5 p.m. April 1. Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, filed the ouster proceedings in late February. In doing so, he called on Curry to resign immediately following his Feb. 27 arrest on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. The arrest came

as the result of a months-long investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Bob Bezek, attorney for the City of Ottawa, said he thought Hunting had acted properly regarding the ouster proceedings. “I think it was handled well and professionally by Stephen Hunting,” Bezek said. “I think he analyzed it from every perspective and did what was professionally and ethically required.” White, a senior engineering technician of avionics with Garmin Industries in Olathe, was critical of Hunting’s handling of the Curry matter.

See REACTIONS, Page 7

Community News. Community Connections.


Page 4

Opinion

Weekender, March 23-24, 2013

Reader contributions are encouraged and may be sent to Reader Forum, The Ottawa Herald, 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa, KS 66067; or send email to letters@ottawaherald.com

The Ottawa Herald Jeanny Sharp, editor & publisher

Editorial

Open can of worms

Efforts to hide sheriff’s court records misguided, harmful to public, county Denied. It’s a word with which the community and The Herald have become all-too-familiar during the past few months. Our readers want to know why the Kansas Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant on the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in September. They want to know exactly why the sheriff was arrested late last month. They want to know why the allegations of wrongdoing are so serious they warranted the Franklin County attorney’s efforts to remove the sheriff from office, but aren’t being made public for the people who voted him into the position. The answers from the KBI, county government and the courts: Denied. Denied. Denied. After the newspaper made more than a dozen largely failed open records requests to different agencies — attempting to gain access to documents about the investigation and the subsequent arrest of Sheriff Jeff Curry — we filed a motion to intervene in the case earlier this week. Our efforts are aimed at unsealing court documents that would detail the specific allegations against the county’s top law enforcement official. Members of the public aren’t merely curious about Curry’s arrest. They have a right to know. So far, however, the KBI, Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, Franklin County, Franklin County District Court and even Curry’s defense attorney have presented a unified front in keeping such records out of the public’s reach. Though some people might have been surprised Thursday by Curry’s resignation announcement, the maneuver was effective in again denying the public vital information about the case by curtailing Thursday’s ouster hearing — a courtroom proceeding that presumably would have revealed the exact nature of the charges against Curry and the allegations of his wrongdoing. Such across-the-board tactics to conceal the details of the sheriff’s criminal and civil cases do more than deny members of the public information they deserve; the efforts reek of hypocrisy and double standards. The court has not provided a rationale for keeping documents in the case sealed — itself an affront to transparency and justice — but some have suggested the action is to prevent the information from prejudicing potential jury members (if the criminal case actually makes it to trial), while others have indicated the documents are sealed to protect the reputations of those implicated in the investigation and arrests. Why do those involved in Curry’s case get such a courtesy? When Eric Scrutchfield, then a Franklin County employee, was arrested in 2011 on charges related to the reported sexual assault of 6-year-old child, no one in law enforcement or the courts attempted to protect his right to a fair trial by limiting public information to only vague details of the allegations against him. To our knowledge, no one sealed up court documents to prevent people from learning the case’s graphic details, which became widely known at trial. In Scrutchfield’s case, the public wasn’t kept in the dark. But the sheriff — a top elected official responsible for upholding the law — appears to face justice with a different set of rules. Whether reality or not, the public perception increasingly is that of a cover-up, a damaging senti-

Date by Date An updated timeline shows the path to sheriff’s resignation and beyond. See Page 8. ment that threatens the credibility of both the sheriff’s office and the local judicial system as a whole. In the absence of information, community members are left only with speculation. And, boy, are they speculating. The Herald gets calls and emails every day from people with their own theories about the sheriff, his officers and others potentially involved with the case. Their speculation runs the gamut, but — largely based on information gleaned from the list of potential witnesses, as well as other bits and pieces of news and observations about the case — they typically center around the sheriff, drugs, money and Heather Jones, a former Franklin County attorney and longtime Curry associate who also is listed as one of the likely witnesses if the sheriff’s case goes to trial. One other constant from such concerned community members: Fear. Not everyone admits it outright, but they’re afraid of the sheriff. And because they don’t know the scope of the alleged crimes, many people also are afraid of the sheriff’s office as a whole. Some have told us they won’t call 911 because they fear the sheriff’s office might be at the other end. Others have said they won’t open their doors if deputies come knocking. Residents have said they aren’t willing to speak out because they’re afraid of retaliation by Curry and his officers. Justified or not, such speculation and fears are dangerous — both for the community and the sheriff’s deputies who might now enter hostile situations with scared residents when merely attempting to respond to calls. Keeping the details of the civil and criminal cases against Curry secret not only does a tremendous disservice to the public, but also jeopardizes the faith community members have placed in their elected officials, law enforcement officers and the judicial system. It calls into question fundamental ideas of fairness and equality under the law. Eric Scrutchfield got a fair (though far from speedy) trial, even though information about his case was made widely available. Earlier this month, a jury of Scrutchfield’s peers found him not guilty on two of the charges in the child sex abuse case (they were hung on two other charges after more than 23 hours of deliberation). The verdict wasn’t tainted by the court’s transparency — the jury took its time considering the evidence presented, and it appears the system worked as well as could be expected. Why wouldn’t the same be good enough for the sheriff? We suspect the prosecutors, investigators and others targeting Curry in court merely are trying to safeguard their cases against the sheriff by withholding detailed information. But such efforts come at a cost — namely undermining the public’s trust in the agencies set up to protect and serve justice on behalf of the community. If the case against Curry is strong enough to warrant calling for the sheriff’s resignation, it ought to be strong enough to withstand public scrutiny. That logic can’t be denied. — Tommy Felts, managing editor

Online exclusive: More editorial cartoons at http://ottawaherald.com/opinion/editorialcartoons/

Postal plan returned to sender Congress dealt the U.S. Postal Service a blow this week when it passed legislation requiring sixday delivery of first-class mail despite the postal service’s board’s decision to discontinue Saturday delivery beginning in August. The people, organizations and businesses — including newspapers like ours — that are dependent on the postal service for Saturday delivery breathed a collective sigh of relief with the decision (though it undoubtedly is only a short-term reprieve). The financially troubled organization had hoped to save $2 billion annually by switching to five-day per week delivery. Those hopes were dashed with this week’s Senate decision. The postal service lost $16 billion in 2012, and certainly will have to make more changes to keep it more nimble and out-ofdebt. It would make more sense to drop Monday mail delivery — a day post office employees frequently have off for national holidays — and lessen the impact on our readers. While we have been exploring other options for Saturday postal delivery, we are happy to kick the proverbial can and this dilemma a little further down the road for now. Social media could unknowingly be helping out its snail mail brethren by charging to send messages to people the users aren’t “friends” with. Facebook — the scourge of the postal service — now is charging $1 for individuals to send a message via Facebook to people they don’t know. That $1 fee is more than twice as much as the postal ser-

JEANNY SHARP

Herald Editor and Publisher

vice charges for first-class mail — currently 46 cents per piece. Perhaps Facebook’s initiative could drive some people back to traditional mail delivery, but the ease of finding people on Facebook, which doesn’t bother itself with privacy rules likes its legacy postal service comrade, makes it difficult to believe it will become a reality. Free rides never last, and Facebook is bringing that message home to many. Facebook’s experiment, which was supposed to be only for a small group of users, was developed to discourage spammers from filling users’ Facebook message boxes with unwanted messages. For nonspammers who just want to send a simple message, however, the move could hurt their chances of reaching someone who might otherwise be unreachable because of the near extinction of telephone books and other traditional directory services. Facebook also is experimenting with allowing users to send messages to all of their friends — just like an advertiser would — for $7. All that unwanted content might overload users with

full message boxes and ultimately get treated like traditional, physical junk mail that goes right into the trash bin. Perhaps the ones who ought to pay a fee are those who want to avoid the unwanted mail. This new economic strategy for Facebook was reported to include a $100 charge to send a message to other non-friends, such as Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg. Some people would pay that price to get a message to precisely the person they want, though there still is no guarantee the message actually would be read by the intended recipient. Those kinds of charges almost make the postal service’s relatively democratic system of charging the same amount to reach anyone — regardless of their address in the continental United States — a bargain. Just imagine if the postal service charged higher rates to mail letters to people who lived in rural areas because it cost more to deliver to those households. It might not be popular, but could be part of the beleaguered organization’s new business model. While the postal service adapts to its new realities and relevance in the marketplace, it is important to remember that reduced relevance doesn’t mean no relevance. The service is very important and, at least for the time being, can’t be beat by alternative means — even at double the price. Jeanny Sharp is the Herald’s editor and publisher. Email her at jsharp@ottawaherald.com

Share your views with The Herald A Harris Group Newspaper; established in 1869. “Covering the news without fear, favor or prejudice.”

Jeanny Sharp, Editor and Publisher jsharp@ottawaherald.com Address: 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa KS 66067 Website: www.ottawaherald.com Fax: (785) 242-9420 Serving Franklin County and the surrounding area Published Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, except New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas at 104 S. Cedar, Ottawa, KS 66067-2392. Periodical Class postage paid at Ottawa, KS.

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Opinions of readers are welcome in the Reader Forum. All submissions must include the author’s name, address and telephone number. Send letters by email to letters@ ottawaherald.com or mail to Reader Forum, The Ottawa Herald, 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa, KS 66067. Submissions should be no longer than 400 words. Letters may be edited for space, grammar and clarity. Readers will be limited to one letter per month. Form letters, poems, consumer complaints or business testimonials will not be printed.

Community News. Community Connections.


The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

Local&Region

Weekender, March 23-24, 2013

Page 7

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com.

New sheriff pick again falls to GOP Verdict on position goes back to voters November 2014

... [The committee’s appointment] will be open to anyone — whoever wants to apply for the position.”

By BOBBY BURCH

Similar to the appointment process that followed former Franklin County Sheriff Craig Davis’ resignation announcement in 2010 (which ultimately led to Curry being tapped as Davis’ successor), the Franklin County Republican Precinct Committee eventually will vote on whichever candidates file with the party. Several names have been publicly suggested for the appointment process, including Davis, who served as Franklin County sheriff for 9 1/2 years; Jeff Richards, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee and an Overland Park police detective; and Rick Geist, a retired Ottawa police detective who served the department for 30 years and ran against Curry in the 2012 Republican primary election. Geist, Ottawa, confirmed Friday that he plans to apply for the position with the committee.

Herald Staff Writer

For the second time in three years, the Franklin County Republican Central Committee is expected to pick a new sheriff. After learning of Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s intention to leave his post effective April 1, Cathy McClay, vice chair of the Republican committee, said the group already is organizing a meeting between its officers to discuss the coming nomination (which will be sent to the governor for appointment). But before the committee can take formal action toward choosing a new sheriff, the group must first hear that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has accepted Curry’s resignation, McClay said. “We’ll have an executive board [meeting] and then we’ll contact all of our members,” McClay said Thursday. “We’re going to get organized, get everything in order and we’ll go from there.

Potential candidates

The appointed sheriff’s primary duty must be focused on building rapport with the county’s residents, Geist said. “The main thing is that they’ve got to build the integrity back up, get the community behind them and let the community know that they are working for them and it will take some time to do that,” Geist said. “I’m wanting to build the office’s trust up for the community.” Davis and Richards did not respond Friday to phone calls from The Herald.

Next election in 2014 One key difference between the resignations of Davis and Curry, however, is the time frame involved. Davis resigned in June 2010, well into the second year of his term. In contrast, Curry, who was elected in November 2012, will have served only three months of his four-year term when his resignation becomes effective April 1. As such, a state law relating to vacancies in the office of sheriff comes into effect. The statue — KS 19-804 — states that if a vacancy in the

office occurs before May 1 of the second year of the term, the committee’s appointment lasts only until the next general election, which would take place in November 2014, Janet Paddock, Franklin County clerk, confirmed Friday. The nomination and election of candidates for the 2014 vote would be done in the same manner as a regular term, according to the statue, with candidates vying for their party’s nomination in a primary election before moving on to a general election matchup. The winner of the November 2014 sheriff’s race would only serve the remainder of Curry’s original term, Paddock said. Caleb Correll, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party, said the local group plans to actively and “aggressively” recruit candidates to run for the sheriff position in 2014. While he remains hopeful, Correll said the party faces a challenge in finding a viable sheriff candidate. “We definitely want someone to run on the Democratic ticket in 2014,” Correll said. “It’s hard to find Democratic candidates in

Franklin County in general, but especially for sheriff because most of the law enforcement community is members of the Republican Party.” Correll added that local Democrats were dissatisfied with Curry, and hope to offer voters in the area an alternative candidate. “We feel very disappointed with the ways that things have turned out with the current sheriff,” he said. “We want to be able to give voters a chance to vote for someone else.” Until his resignation is accepted by Brownback, Curry will remain on administrative leave to allow for an orderly transition of operations to Undersheriff Steve Lunger, who temporarily will serve as sheriff until the Franklin County Republican Central Committee appoints a new leader to the position. Sherriene Jones-Sontag, communications director for Brownback, said Friday afternoon that the governor’s office had not yet received Curry’s letter of resignation. Once it’s received, she said, the governor’s office will notify the Franklin County Republican Central Committee.

RESIGNATION: Curry ‘is a man of tremendous integrity,’ attorney says (Continued from Page 1) The Franklin County Board of Commissioners is not planning a statement regarding Curry’s resignation, Lisa Johnson, county administrator and counselor, said late Friday. On Feb. 27, Curry was arrested by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Details of the allegations against Curry remain sealed by order of the Franklin County District Court, though no reason for sealing the documents has been given. Trey Pettlon, an Olathe defense attorney representing Curry, said Thursday’s hearing was taxing for Curry as his resignation marks at least a temporary departure from

Image courtesy of attorney Trey Pettlon

A letter sent to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback details Jeff Curry’s planned resignation as Franklin County sheriff. a near two-decade stint in law enforcement. “[Thursday] was difficult for Jeff Curry,” Pettlon wrote in an email to The Herald. “He has spent closer to 20 years in law enforcement altogether. It has been his goal to be a law enforcement officer

literally since he was a child.” Pettlon also defended Curry’s character in the email, contending the embattled sheriff’s record illustrates his integrity. Citing years in law enforcement and with the U.S. Marine Corps, Pettlon

maintained Curry’s resignation is by no means an admission of guilt in the criminal charges against him. “[Curry] is a man of tremendous integrity. His record bears that out,” Pettlon wrote. “Not just his law enforcement record,

which includes the Meritorius Service Award, but his prolific involvement in charitable work and his military record with the Marines, which includes the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal as well as numerous other decorations. The Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal is a difficult distinction to attain with the Marines and my client is very proud of that. That is the kind of person my client is.” Along with Curry, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff’s office, faces a felony charge of interference with law enforcement. Fredricks now is on paid administrative leave from the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office has designated Det. Sgt. Shane Pruitt as the point of contact for the media in

Fredricks’ absence. Both Fredricks and Curry are scheduled to appear at an April 1 preliminary hearing regarding the criminal charges brought against the two. Though Curry’s resignation doesn’t affect his office, Hunting said, he’s been in contact with members the sheriff’s office about the changes since Curry’s arrest. Undersheriff Lunger already had assumed day-to-day operations of the sheriff’s office, Hunting said, and the county attorney’s office will maintain its relationship with local law enforcement to help fight crime in the area. “We’ll continue to work with the sheriff’s department on the cases they bring over,” Hunting said. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to do what we’ve been trying to do all along.”

REACTIONS: ‘Accusations against a public official should be made public’ (Continued from Page 1) “I think if Mr. Hunting would have said, ‘I’m confident we have enough to proceed with the ouster, but I will wait until the public is better informed [about the allegations],’ then I think Hunting’s decision would have been well-received,” White said. “Growing up in Ottawa and living here my whole life — except for the time I was in the military — I can say with confidence that I’m not the only person who feels that way.” Out of respect for the electorate, White said, the more appropriate measure would have been to ask the public official to be put on paid leave of absence until enough information was put before the voters to trigger a recall — if enough people thought it was warranted. Helen Hood, a voting delegate of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee, which will be tasked with nominating a new sheriff for Gov. Sam Brownback to officially appoint, said she thought Curry should have resigned. Hood, 68, a longtime Ottawan and lifetime Franklin County resident, said Curry’s resignation was in the county’s best interest, because no one wanted to see a drawn out ouster proceeding. “If I were in the position Jeff was in, I think it was in his best interest to resign,” Hood said. “Now, instead of this dragging on, maybe we can move forward and get the county back on the right road.”

“Now, instead of this dragging on, maybe we can move forward and get the county back on the right road.” — Helen Hood, Ottawa But Hood said Curry’s voluntary resignation probably would increase the likelihood that the public would never learn the exact details of the charges leveled against the sheriff. Her husband, former county commissioner David Hood, was one of a few individuals and media outlets that filed open records requests to try and obtain a copy of the KBI search warrant executed at the sheriff’s office. Those requests were turned down by the county. The Herald, which also filed numerous open records requests with other agencies that also ultimately were rejected, filed a motion to intervene in the case, attempting to open the sealed records. Senior Judge John E. Sanders, who is presiding over the case, said he would grant The Herald’s motion to intervene, and attorneys in the case must respond with their arguments for or against unsealing the documents on or before April 1. After the attorneys file their responses, the judge is expected to decide whether to open the records. “By resigning, I think he has more of a chance of getting a plea bargain deal,” Hood said. “And,

honestly, I’m not sure how much of it we will ever know. I think less of it will come out now.” And the shroud of mystery regarding the allegations is what White said he finds most troubling — Curry supporter or not. “The fact is, the voters are being kept in the dark about what this public official is accused of doing,” White said. “Accusations against a public official should be made public. I also have a deep concern with the judicial system making decisions on its own for the electorate.” White said he was referring to the fact details relating to the criminal and civil cases against Curry — most of which have been sealed by the Franklin County District Court — have yet to be disclosed to the voters who put Curry in office. The move to oust Curry and the court’s refusal thus far to unseal records related to the charges against a public official is irksome, White said. “The fact that this has moved forward and has been done under a veil of secrecy is a slap in the face to every voter in Franklin County,” White said. Regardless of the public’s lim-

ited knowledge of the allegations, the charges brought against the sheriff could tarnish the department’s image, some residents said. Hood said whomever the Republican Central Committee nominates should be a person of strong character. “Transparency and honesty will be vital,” she said. “I think that was one of Jeff’s faults. He was not transparent with the commission. Instead of talking with the commission about car purchases, for example, and asking for their input, he would just tell them what he was going to do. I realize it’s his budget, but other sheriffs in the past have been more transparent. “Why, on the morning he was arrested, he told commissioners he was going to purchase three Dodge Chargers [for the department],” Hood said. Bezek said credibility is crucial in law enforcement. “[In] law enforcement, credibility of the office is the first and most important element, and everything else assumes that,” Bezek said. “Credibility is the absolute requirement, and every aspect of law enforcement knows you treat everyone fairly.” Whatever the facts of the case are, Curry isn’t talking about it either. He did not make a statement at Thursday’s hearing. The silver lining might be that many residents and various officials expressed the utmost confidence in the sheriff’s office to carry on its duties in the wake of Curry’s departure. The sheriff’s office has a contract with the City of Pomona to provide 30

hours of patrol duty each week in the community. “I haven’t seen any drop off in patrols, and I’m confident that the sheriff’s office will continue to fulfill its contract obligations with the City of Pomona,” Marie Seneca, Pomona mayor, said Friday. “I know [Undersheriff] Steve Lunger, and I have every confidence in his ability to run the sheriff’s office.” Franklin County Crime Stoppers board member Keim said he was confident the sheriff’s office would continue to support the local Crime Stoppers organization, and he said he anticipated no change in the organization’s relationship with the sheriff’s office after Curry’s departure. In the meantime, the Republican Central Committee will be notified by the governor’s office once it receives Curry’s resignation letter. Hood said once the committee has received that notification, it would schedule a convention to select a nominee. That meeting will be open to the public, Hood said, but the voting process that evening will be conducted by private ballot. Hood said she does not feel sorry for Curry, but does have empathy for him because his law enforcement career is in ruins. Curry has a stubborn, sometimes “arrogant” streak, she said, that might have been his undoing. “I’ve known Jeff since he was a kid, and I think when he came back from the Marines he thought he was invincible,” Hood said. “I think he thought he was on top of the ladder and he couldn’t be knocked off.”


Page 8

Weekender, March 23-24, 2013

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com.

Local&Region

The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

Updated timeline shows path to sheriff’s resignation March toward curry’s final days in office

Curry and Fredricks, later transporting them to be booked at the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Feb. 27, 2013

Aug. 12, 2009

Hunting, Franklin County attorney, files civil ouster proceedings against Curry and urges the sheriff to resign.

Jeff Curry is appointed by the Ottawa school board to fill the term of Lanette Stineman on the Ottawa Recreation Commission board.

Feb. 27, 2013

April 23, 2010

District Court Judge Thomas H. Sachse seals civil ouster case against Curry.

Franklin County Sheriff Craig Davis announces resignation in The Herald after 9 1/2 years in office.

Feb. 27, 2013 Curry is bonded out of jail with Smith paying $3,000 cash surety.

May 3, 2010 Lt. Curry is chosen by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee as its appointee to the sheriff’s office in a narrow vote. “I have been here for the long haul, and I intend to stay here for the long haul,” Curry said after the vote.

Feb. 28, 2013 Longtime Undersheriff Steve Lunger assumes day-to-day duties of the sheriff’s office, though Curry remains sheriff.

Davis

March 5, 2013

July 1, 2010 Curry takes sheriff’s oath of office on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse.

Curry Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Senior Judge John E. Sanders, El Dorado, replaces Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball, of Franklin County District Court, as the presiding judge in the cases against Curry and Fredricks. The move follows a request from the Kansas Supreme Court that a judge from outside the Fourth Judicial Court District handle the cases.

July 23, 2010

Todd Hiatt, a special prosecutor working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office, addresses the court Thursday during Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s ouster hearing in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa.

March 6, 2013

Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Smith, 22, dies in a single-vehicle wreck near Pomona while responding to a domestic violence call, marking the first such death in the sheriff’s office’s history only a few weeks into Curry’s time in office.

May 22, 2012

course of an investigation, according to a criminal complaint filed by Hiatt, special prosecutor.

March 11, 2013

Jones’ resignation takes effect with appointee Stephen Hunting succeeding her as Franklin County attorney.

Oct. 3, 2012

The terms of Curry’s bond are changed, reversing a ban on the sheriff’s ability to communicate with potential witnesses in the case, as long as attorneys are present.

May 12-19, 2011 Curry and Fredricks accompany the mother of Deputy Smith, Kathleen “Katie” Smith, on a trip to Washington, D.C. for National Police Week, which includes a memorial service for fallen law enforcement officers. Money from the Sheriff’s Trust, a fund containing money seized from drug busts, is used to partially fund the trip.

June 10, 2011 Copies of an anonymous letter arrive in the mailboxes of many local government, economic, civic, law enforcement and business leaders, including The Herald, detailing allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Curry and Heather Jones, Franklin County attorney.

July 1, 2011 Curry’s childhood friend, Jerrod Fredricks, is appointed as public information officer for the sheriff’s office, cutting off most direct media access to the sheriff.

July 30, 2011 Herald publishes results of a weeks-long investigation into the anonymous letter and its allegations, largely reporting insufficient evidence and on-the-record confirmation to substantiate the claims about Curry and Jones.

Oct. 12, 2011 Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Russel Geist, 28, dies of an apparent undetected heart condition, marking a second death for the sheriff’s office.

April 2, 2012 Jones announces plans to resign as Franklin County attorney to take a non-elected position with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, saying, “I love being in the courtroom, but the political component was the least desirable part of my job.”

April 20, 2012 Curry files for sheriff, seeking his first election to the office to which he was appointed two years before.

May 30, 2012 Curry misuses confidential information related to law enforcement operations, according to a criminal complaint filed by J. Todd Hiatt, special prosecutor for the Franklin County Attorney’s Office.

July 31, 2012 Jones sends a political email from her Johnson County Attorney’s Office email account, campaigning on behalf of Curry’s sheriff bid in the primary election and violating state campaign finance law. The email encouraged, among other tactics, a letter-writing campaign, telling recipients, “You must talk about [Curry’s] lack of arrogance. You must talk about the positive way he treats his staff. You must talk about his dedication to the community. You must talk about his professionalism.”

Aug. 2, 2012 Curry tells The Herald he didn’t request nor know about the illegal campaign email before it was sent, noting that he told sheriff’s office employees not to open the emails.

Aug. 7, 2012 Curry wins Republican primary with more than 50 percent of the vote, defeating challengers Rick Croucher, a former law enforcement officer, and Rick Geist, a retired Ottawa police detective and father of fallen Deputy Russel Geist.

Sept. 19, 2012 Jones is fined $500 by the Kansas Government Ethics Commission after the group investigated a complaint about her July 31 campaign email.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners votes to keep details of the search warrant executed on the sheriff’s office closed after several open records requests asking for the documents.

Oct. 5, 2012 Fredricks falsely reports information during the course of an investigation, according to a criminal complaint filed by Hiatt, special prosecutor.

October 2012 The sheriff’s office circulates a memo updating its policy on access to certain areas of the sheriff’s office building, restricting access but bringing policies more in line with other law enforcement agencies.

Oct. 15, 2012 Fredricks tells The Herald no policies have changed regarding access to the sheriff’s office building.

Oct. 27, 2012 Curry publicly accuses Jeanny Sharp, Herald editor and publisher, of attempting to discredit him and his office.

Nov. 6, 2012 Jan. 14, 2013 Curry is sworn in to office again, this time as the elected sheriff.

Feb. 27, 2013

The Franklin County Sheriff’s office is served with a Kansas Bureau of Investigation search warrant, the details of which were not made public, indicating an ongoing investigation into the sheriff and his department.

Sept. 27, 2012

Feb. 27, 2013

Curry falsely reports information during the

March 14, 2013

Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, and Jeffry Owen, with Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, are added to the list of planned witnesses in the cases against Curry and Fredricks.

March 18, 2013 Lisa Johnson, Franklin County administrator and counselor, confirms Fredricks is on paid administrative leave, but denies Herald requests for more information about the deputy’s employment status.

March 18, 2013 The Herald and attorney Mike Merriam, Topeka, file a motion to intervene in the newspaper’s bid to open sealed documents related to Curry’s civil and criminal court cases. The move follows about 12 largely failed open records requests from The Herald to various agencies associated with the cases.

March 21, 2013 Curry announces his plans to resign during the first hearing in the ouster proceedings filed by Hunting. •••

Curry wins the general election with more than 85 percent of the vote, defeating write-in candidates Philip Brown and Byron Goracke.

Special prosecutor Hiatt files criminal complaints against Curry and Fredricks, alleging official misconduct and interference with law enforcement against the sheriff and interference with law enforcement against one of his top deputies. The complaints also list potential witnesses in the cases against the two men, including Jones, Fredricks and Katie Smith.

Sept. 27, 2012

Curry makes his first court appearance with attorney Trey Pettlon, Olathe, at this side.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrest

April 1, 2013 Curry’s resignation is set to become effective with Undersheriff Lunger formally taking over duties until a new sheriff is appointed by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee and approved by Gov. Sam Brownback. Ouster proceedings against Curry are expected to be formally dropped April 2 once his resignation is complete.

April 1, 2013 Special prosecutor Hiatt and attorney Pettlon are expected to present their arguments against opening the sealed documents in Curry’s civil and criminal cases.

April 1, 2013 A preliminary hearing is set for Curry and Fredricks in the criminal cases against them.

Judge to consider motions to unseal court documents Photo by Matt Bristow/ The Ottawa Herald

Mike Merriam, a Topeka attorney representing The Ottawa Herald, and Alison Auxter, an attorney with Lathrop & Gage from Kansas City, Mo., representing The Kansas City Star and KCTV-5 News, respond Thursday to Senior Judge John E. Sanders’ approval to grant The Herald’s motion to intervene in the civil and criminal cases against Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry. The judge’s action came Thursday during an ouster hearing for Curry at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa.

By The Herald Staff

Citing efforts to limit the potential of a prejudicial jury, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s attorney plans to argue against The Herald’s efforts to unseal court documents detailing the allegations facing his client. The Herald and The Kansas City Star both have filed motions to intervene in the criminal and civil cases against Curry, who announced his plans to resign as sheriff Thursday during a civil ouster hearing aimed at formally removing him from office. “The documents, in my view, should not be unsealed because the [criminal] case is not re-

solved and there are allegations that are very much in dispute in the pleadings,” Trey Pettlon, an Olathe defense attorney representing Curry, wrote in an email to The Herald. “The documents are currently sealed to avoid any possible prejudice they might cause to prospective jurors.” Senior Judge John Sanders granted the media groups’ motions to intervene during the Thursday hearing. Attorneys in the case must respond with their arguments for or against unsealing the documents on or before April 1. After the attorneys file their responses, the judge is expected to decide whether to open the records.


SNOWY START

CHICK DAYS

Spring sports off to a slow beginning with cancellations. See Page 5.

Fuzzy farm animals arrive in time for Easter holiday. See Page 9.

Herald

The

Ottawa

Tuesday March 26, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

75 cents Volume 143, No. 271 12 Pages

TUESDAY Edition

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Police look ahead to new relationship with sheriff Ottawa chief: Curry’s resignation a first step in repairing partnership By DOUG CARDER

Let the healing begin. Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s plan to resign from office April 1 is the first step in a partnership-rebuilding process aimed at restoring public confidence in law enforcement, Ottawa’s police chief said Friday in the wake of Curry’s pending departure. The chiefs of Franklin County’s two police departments — Ottawa and Wellsville — talked about what effect Curry’s resignation would have on the relationships between their departments and the sheriff’s office. The Ottawa Police Department continues to look forward to serving the community with all of its law enforcement partners, Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, said. “Obviously, we are more effective when working together while not distracted by events that undermine these efforts,” Butler said. “The sheriff’s resignation is the first step in what will be a long process to repair a partnership that consists

Snow bird

More local news

Herald Senior Writer

GOP group sets tentative date for vote on sheriff nominee. See Page 2. of many important components, none of which are more important than trust at every level. “In that spirit, we are committed to supporting our colleagues in the sheriff’s office and ask the community to do the same as we work with them to provide the absolute best service to our citizens,” the chief said. Facing a crowded courtroom gathered for an ouster hearing last Thursday aimed at removing the sheriff from office, Curry said he would voluntarily resign, effective 5 p.m. April 1. Curry submitted his resignation letter to Gov. Sam Brownback’s office last week, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Herald from the sheriff’s Olathe-based attorney N. Trey Pettlon.

ABOVE: Maylee Mace, 7, and her brother Tucker Mace, 11, stand Monday next to a snow sculpture of a Jayhawk, the mascot of the University of Kansas, in the front yard of their home in the 1100 block of South Main Street, Ottawa. Maylee thought of the idea for the snow bird while playing in the snow Sunday with her father, Gabe Mace. Tucker also constructed race car snow sculptures during this year’s previous snow storms. The KU Jayhawks advanced Sunday in the NCAA basketball tournament, defeating North Carolina and earning a Sweet 16 matchup against Michigan Friday. For more on Jayhawks basketball action, See Page 5.

LEFT: Keira Yohe, 10, removes snow Sunday from Ottawa resident Stephanie King’s doorstep while Keira’s father, Brandan Yohe, left, uses an all-terrain vehicle to plow a sidewalk in the 200 block of East Fifth Street in Ottawa. For more on this week’s weather forecast, See Page 9.

Photos by Matt Bristow/ The Ottawa Herald

See POLICE, Page 2

OTTAWA

Candidates eye school board seats By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

With the April 2 election on the horizon, six Ottawa residents who are vying for three seats on the Ottawa school board are scheduled to participate in a candidate forum tonight. The 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. forum is planned for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa. To give voters an opportunity to learn

The

Ottawa

more about the six candidates before the public forum — or for those who cannot attend tonight’s event — The Herald asked each candidate to share a little about themselves and why they are running. The six candidates are Bill Allegre, current school board member, and challengers Lynda Alderman, Tim Catlin, Richard Jackson, Russ Wilson and Norman Wooge.

Herald

Community News. Community Connections.

See CANDIDATES, Page 3

ABOVE: A layer of snow sticks to the statue of George P. Washburn Sunday on the lawn of the Franklin County Courthouse, 315 S. Main St., Ottawa. The total snowfall from the weekend’s unseasonable winter storm was 7 inches, according to the Ottawa water treatment plant, which maintains local weather data. RIGHT: A grape hyacinth stands out against a white, snowy background Sunday in a flower planter in downtown Ottawa. Signs of spring, which began March 20, are visible despite lingering winter weather.

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Page 2

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com

On the Record

News Brief

Obituary

GOP sets tentative vote on sheriff The Franklin County Republican Central Committee is planning a public convention to nominate the county’s next sheriff following Jeff Curry’s Thursday announcement that he plans to resign from the post. The meeting tentatively is set for 7 p.m. April 4 at the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm streets, Ottawa. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback must first accept Curry’s resignation before the committee can move forward with a sheriff nomination, spurring the tentative nature of the convention. As of Monday afternoon, Brownback’s office had not yet received the letter, Jeff Richards, chairman of the Republican committee, said. The position is open to all Republican applicants and no formal list of candidates for the position has yet been made, Cathy McClay, the GOP group’s vice chair, said. “We’re in a holding pattern right now,” McClay said Monday. Curry’s resignation is set to take effect 5 p.m. April 1, with Undersheriff Steve Lunger handling the sheriff’s office’s operations until a new sheriff is nominated by the Republican Central Committee and appointed by the governor.

Today in History National headlines from today’s date in history, compiled by the Associated Press.

On March 26, 1997, the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate techno-religious cult who’d committed suicide were found inside a rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

GORDON LEE PAUL Gordon Lee Paul, 72, Ottawa, died Saturday, March 23, 2013. Funeral serves are planned for 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at Dengel & Paul Son Mortuary. Friends may pay their respects to Mr. Paul 2 p.m. Tuesday to the service hour at the funeral home, where the family will meet with friends 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Interment is planned for Highland Cemetery, Ottawa. He was born Tuesday, July 9, 1940, in Ottawa, the son of Merle and Eva (Young) Paul. Gordon was a lifelong Ottawa resident. He graduated from Hot Springs High School, Hot Springs, Ark., with the class of 1958. Gordon was united in marriage with Audean McKinzie June 4, 1978, in Lane, Kan. She survives of the home.

Obstetrics & Gynecology

He previously was married to Juanita Hackett. They later divorced. Gordon was a lifelong trucking company owner and entrepreneur. He owned and operated Gordon Paul Trucking and later formed Dependable Trans Inc. of Ottawa. He was a member of the Ottawa First United Presbyterian Church. Survivors include his wife, Audean Paul, of the home; son, Darrin Paul and his wife, Tracie, Bothell, Wash.; daughter, Amanda Paul, Ottawa; grandchildren, identical twins, Hannah and Hailie Paul, Bothell, Wash.; and sister, Mauritta Marconette and her husband, Lee, Ottawa. He was preceded in death by his parents, Merle and Eva Paul; and brother, Merle Paul, Jr. The family suggests memorial contributions to Grace Hospice or Prairie Paws Animal Shelter through Dengel & Son Mortuary, 235 S. Hickory St, Ottawa, KS 66067. An online guest book is available at www.dengelmortuary.com

Community News. Community Connections.

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Maria Teresa D. Nicolas, 52, Garnett, died Sunday, March 24, 2013, at St. Luke’s Plaza Hospital, Kansas City, Mo. Funeral services are planned for 10:30 a.m., Thursday, March 28, 2013, at Holy Angels Catholic Church, Garnett. A rosary is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday

POLICE (Continued from Page 1) Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, filed ouster proceedings in late February against Curry. In doing so, he called on the sheriff to resign immediateButler ly following his Feb. 27 arrest on a felony charge of interference with law enfor cement and a misGillespie demeanor charge of official misconduct. The arrest came as the result of a monthslong investigation Curry conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. “It is my belief that the resignation will have no effect on the working relationship between the Wellsville Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office,” Steve Gillespie, Wellsville police chief, said. “We will continue to work as we always have.” The sheriff’s office has a contract to provide 30 hours of patrol duty each week to the City of Pomona. “I haven’t seen any drop off in patrols, and I’m confident that the sheriff’s office will continue to fulfill its contract obligations with the City of Pomona,” Marie Seneca, Pomona mayor, said late last week. “I know [Undersheriff] Steve Lunger, and I have every confidence in his ability to run the sheriff’s office.”

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••• • In 1804, the Louisiana Purchase was divided into the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana. • In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Baker v. Carr, gave federal courts the power to order reapportionment of states’ legislative districts, a 6-2 decision that eventually led to the doctrine of “one man, one vote.” • In 1979, a peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and witnessed by Democratic U.S. President Carter at the White House. • In 1982, groundbreaking ceremonies took place in Washington, D.C., for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. • In 1992, a judge in Indianapolis sentenced former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to six years in prison for raping a Miss Black America contestant. (Tyson ended up serving three years.) • In 2002, Yasser Arafat decided not to attend a key Arab summit in Beirut, Lebanon; his Cabinet accused Israel of trying to “blackmail” the Palestinian leader with tough conditions for allowing him to go. Arthur Andersen chief executive Joseph Berardino resigned, bowing to mounting pressure as a result of the accounting firm’s role in the Enron scandal. President George W. Bush nominated Dr. Richard Carmona to be surgeon general. • In 2007, the U.S. military concluded that highranking Army officers had made critical errors in reporting the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, but that there was no criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of the former NFL star by fellow soldiers. (The findings were rejected by Tillman’s family.) • In 2011, more than 250,000 people took to London’s streets to protest the toughest spending cuts since World War II; riot police clashed with small breakaway groups and arrested more than 200 people. Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first female major party nominee for the office, died in Boston at 75. • In Today’s Birthdays: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is 83. Actor-director Leonard Nimoy is 82. Actor Alan Arkin is 79. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is 73. Actor James Caan is 73. Journalist Bob Woodward is 70. Singer Diana Ross is 69. Rock singer Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) is 65. Singer and TV personality Vicki Lawrence is 64. Comedian Martin Short is 63. TV personality Leeza Gibbons is 56. Actress Jennifer Grey is 53. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen is 53. Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton is 51. Actor Michael Imperioli is 47. Rock musician James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) is 45. Country singer Kenny Chesney is 45. Actor T.R. Knight is 40. Rapper Juvenile is 38. Actress Amy Smart is 37. Actress Keira Knightley is 28. Rapper J-Kwon is 27. Actress Carly Chaikin (“Suburgatory”) is 23.

The Ottawa Herald

Friday • March 29th, 2013 2:00 - 3:00

at the church, followed by visitation. She was born April 30, 1960, in Manila, Philippines, to Alejandro and Sylvestra (Tugaoen) Donato.

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SURVIVOR

Injury wreck disrupts traffic on busy roadways. See Page 3.

Police detective who was shot in 1990 retires. See Page 9.

Weekender March 30-31, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

The

Herald

Ottawa

75 cents Volume 143, No. 273 16 Pages

WEEKENDER Edition HERALD’S MOTION TO INTERVENE

Prosecutor: Curry court records can be unsealed

Beyond honor

Documents related to sheriff’s arrest, alleged crimes could be opened Monday By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

Photos courtesy of Jim and Cindy Butler

ABOVE: The intersection in Iraq where U.S. Army Sgt. Jacob Butler, Wellsville, was killed is shown during a visit his father, Jim Butler, Wellsville, made to the site to pay tribute to his son. RIGHT: Jacob Butler is shown in 2003 during his tour of duty in Iraq. Butler was the first Kansan killed during the U.S. operations in Iraq.

Father and Son’s journeys meet at Iraqi intersection Family celebrating life of first fallen Kansan on 10th anniversary of death By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

The three Blackhawks took off from Doha air base in Kuwait before dawn on a nearly 500-mile flight to the war-torn Iraqi city of As Samawah. Though it was early in the morning on that October day, the temperature already had reached a sweltering 105 degrees inside the helicopters. Shortly before noon, the Blackhawks touched down on the outskirts of the city, about 175 miles southeast of Baghdad. Twenty-five soldiers and one civilian poured out into the stifling heat — made worse by winds that kicked up swirling dust. Jim Butler and his military escort trekked the final two miles on foot to a main intersection on the south end of As Samawah. Butler’s journey — which had started three days earlier at Kansas City International Airport — had come to an end. The Wellsville man found himself stand-

ing at the crossroads where his son’s life had ended 6 1/2 months earlier. U.S. Army Sgt. Jacob Butler, 24, Wellsville, became the first Kansan killed during the U.S. operation in Iraq on April 1, 2003.

Killed at war Jim Butler was sitting on the couch, watching TV, when he heard a car pull into his Wellsville driveway about 10:40 p.m. April 1, 2003. He heard two car doors shut. He listened to the footsteps mounting his deck, and two somber-looking men appeared at the slidJacob Butler ing glass door. “I opened the door and said, ‘Is he hurt real bad or is he dead?’ They just held their heads down,” Butler said. “I’ll never forget the sound of their footsteps on my deck as long as I live.”

In the weeks that followed, Jim and Cindy Butler learned more details about the events leading up to their son’s death. Butler was riding in the second of three military Humvees as part of a calvary reconnaissance unit that was on a scouting mission when their northbound vehicles reached the intersection in As Samawah. A rocket-propelled grenade — fired from the other side of the river to the west of the intersection, struck the first Humvee, immobilizing it with soldiers inside. “Jake ordered his driver to pull their Humvee up in front of the Humvee that had been hit by the RPG to block it from more incoming fire,” Butler said of his son’s actions. “Jake had his driver pull it up so that the passenger door where he was sitting was facing to the west.” Butler said he learned from some of the soldiers who had been there that day that 25 to 30 Iraqi soldiers started firing their weapons at his son’s Humvee. “Jake was shot in the head — the bullet went clear through,” Butler said. “I was told Jake fired one-anda-half clips from his M-16 before he was killed.”

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See BUTLER, Page 7

Unsealing records detailing the crimes alleged to have been committed by Jeff Curry wouldn’t jeopardize the Franklin County sheriff’s access to a fair trial, the prosecutor handling Curry’s case said this week. Such details, however, would not likely be released until at least Monday — the same day the sheriff is set to step down from his post and face a preliminary hearing in the criminal case against him. Responding to The Herald’s legal Curry efforts to open sealed court documents relating to Curry’s Feb. 27 arrest, special prosecutor J. Todd Hiatt, who is working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas, said revealing such information would not infringe on Curry’s rights. “There is currently no evidence before the court that making the pleadings in [the criminal case against Curry] available to the public poses a clear and present danger to the fairness of the trial,” Hiatt wrote in his 5-page response. “At the time of the alleged criminal conduct, the defendant held a prominent, public position as Sheriff of Franklin County, Kansas. In fact, the criminal allegations stem from the defendant’s position as sheriff.” As of late Friday, Curry’s attorney, Trey Pettlon, Olathe, had not responded to The Herald’s efforts to unseal documents. It was unknown whether the defense would seek to keep the details of the case secret. Curry was arrested in late February on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Jerrod Fredricks, the public information officer with the sheriff’s office, also was arrested Feb. 27 on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement.

See PROSECUTOR, Page 8

WEST FRANKLIN

School board vote won’t change June bond election plans By The Herald Staff

Regardless of its future composition, the West Franklin school board cannot stop the June 4 vote on a $14.3-million bond issue, the district’s superintendent said Friday. Four seats on the board are in play during Tuesday’s election, Dotson Bradbury, West Franklin schools superintendent, said Friday afternoon. But even if all four incumbents are ousted, Bradbury said, the bond issue still will be left up to the district’s patrons via the

Inside Today ■ EDITORIAL: West Franklin school board vote not a single-issue election. See Page 4. ■ Central Heights voters also facing June bond election. See Page 8.

mail-in ballot this summer.

See ELECTION, Page 2

Community News. Community Connections.


The Ottawa Herald

Page 8

Weekender, March 30-31, 2013

Central Heights facing bond issue to fund school district improvements By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

RICHMOND — Patrons of the Central Heights school district soon will face the question of whether to support a $1.75-million bond issue or delay improvements to district facilities. If approved by voters on a June 4 mail-in ballot, Jim White, superintendent of Central Heights schools, said the bond would fund several improvements for the district. The improvements include the construction, equipment and furnishing of a new music room, locker room, kitchen, improved seating in the gymnasium and auditorium, as well as replacing the original building’s roof, which was built in 1967, White said. “The reason a bond issue was considered the most cost-effective for district patrons was the state would pay 46 percent of an approved bond issue,” White wrote to patrons in a March 16 letter. “So, you see why a bond issue is the most cost effective funding source for district improvements, the state will send back to the district 46 percent of the cost of each bond payment. You, as a district taxpayer, would recapture some of the money — 46 percent of the bond issue — you have already sent to Topeka and put it back to work for USD 288.”

More local news ■ Handcuffed man recaptured after police chase. See Page 3. ■ Wild ‘wheelies’ lead to motorcyclist’s arrest. See Page 3. If voted in, local taxpayers would encounter a 3 mill increase for 14 years, White said, equating to $34.50 per year on a $100,000 home. The relatively low levy should make the bond issue an appealing option for taxpayers, he said, considering the state plans to reclaim nearly half the cost. The plans have thoroughly been discussed by the school board for several years, White said, and the improvements address some of the district’s most urgent needs. “[Feedback] has been positive,” White said. “The [patrons] that I have spoken with see the needs as we have outlined them. But I’ve heard also that there are folks out there that think this is not a good time to be increasing taxes, but it will be only a minimal increase.” In addition to better facilities, the prospective plans should provide

better educational opportunities for students, White said. What’s more, he added, bond rates might never be this low again. “I don’t think there will ever be a time that’s better to undertake these upgrades — we’ll have great financing and the bond rates will be low,” White said. “One thing I would reinforce with the voters is that the facilities need these upgrades. ... I believe with improved facilities we will see an improved learning environment that will lead to higher academic achievement for our students.” The full bond issue’s question, as it will appear on the mail-in ballot, reads: Shall the following be adopted? Shall Unified School District No. 288, Franklin County, Kansas (Central Heights), issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,750,000, to pay the costs to construct, equip and furnish additions to the existing district school building, including a new music room, new locker room, new roof, and kitchen, gymnasium and auditorium improvements and make all other necessary improvements related thereto; all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A 10-101 ET SEQ.; K.S.A 25-2018(F); K.S.A. 72-6761; AND K.S.A. 75-2315 ET SEQ.?

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Attorneys representing the reported victim of an alleged sexual assault have filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages against Yvonne Scrutchfield and her former day care business. Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St., was the location Scrutchfield’s husband, Eric Scrutchfield, was accused of assaulting a then-4-year-old girl in spring 2011. A Franklin County jury March 8 found Eric Scrutchfield not guilty of rape and lewd and lascivious behavior in connection with the alleged assault. The jury of six men and six women, however, could not reach a verdict on the other two charges in connection with the case — aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated criminal sodomy — after 23 1/2 hours of deliberation. Scrutchfield could be retried on those two counts if prosecutors seek a new criminal trial. The jury was split 11-1 in favor of acquittal on those two counts, according to reports. Scrutchfield maintained throughout the investigation and criminal trial that he was not guilty and said no such assault

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Attorneys are seeking an unspecified monetary amount in damages against the day care and its owner. The petition also asks for a jury trial.

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ever took place. Attorneys Ryan T. Merrigan of Lenexa and Brant McCoy of Olathe filed a civil suit this week on behalf of the girl and her family, seeking an unspecified monetary amount in damages against the day care and its owner. The petition, filed Monday in Franklin County District Court, also asks for a jury trial. District Judge Eric W. Godderz, who presided over the criminal trial, was listed as the judge for the civil case. A hearing date has not been set in the case. Attorneys Merrigan and McCoy did not return phone calls Thursday and Friday, and Yvonne Scrutchfield could not be reached for comment.

PROSECUTOR: Trial venue could move (Continued from Page 1) Although Hiatt aired no qualms with The Herald’s motion to intervene in the case, he indicated that details of the allegations, which also are sought after by KCTV5 and The Kansas City Star, likely would become available during Curry’s first criminal hearing 1 p.m. Monday. Senior Judge John E. Sanders ultimately will decide whether to open the sealed records. Hiatt said Curry’s defense attorney had not sought to close Monday’s court proceedings. “Most, if not all, the information contained in the state’s petition will be presented through testimony at the preliminary hearing in [the criminal case against Curry],” Hiatt wrote, adding that Franklin County District Court’s unstated rationale to initially seal the information was likely to ensure a fair trial. “While there is not a factual record supporting the decision to seal the pleadings in [the civil case against Curry], it may be assumed that one of the primary reasons was to ensure a fair trial free from prejudice for the individuals charged. It was well known to all involved that this matter would almost certainly be widely reported by the media. ... At least one of the intervenors in this matter [The Herald] has followed the defendant’s professional and personal travails very closely.”

To overcome the potential prejudice as a result of the public’s and media’s significant interest in the cases against Curry, Hiatt intimated that courts historically have changed a trial’s venue. In the past, courts have changed a trial’s venue as a means to ensure a jury without prejudice against the defendant or defendants. “The ultimate outcome of the court’s decision on whether to unseal pleadings in [the civil case against Curry] may be a motion to change venue,” Hiatt wrote. “To succeed, the movant must show actual prejudice to substantial rights of the defendant in the community from which the venire will be drawn.” Though a change of venue is possible, Haitt contended that such concerns about unsealing the information relating to the allegations against Curry and Fredricks are without evidence and “speculative.” As such, the decision to unseal the documents is “left wholly up to judicial discretion,” he said. “The court could certainly conclude the matters pending before the courts are of great interest to the residents of Franklin County,” Hiatt wrote. “Providing a fair trial in [the criminal case against Curry] is always an important consideration for the state and for the judiciary. Public dissemination of the pleadings in [the criminal and civil cases against Curry] could impair the abil-

ity of the judicial system to provide the defendant a fair trial; however, these concerns are cautionary at this time and absent specific evidence must necessarily be based, at least in part, on speculation.”

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Tuesday April 2, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

Court deal means jury trial averted

Ouster petition allegations

75 cents Volume 143, No. 274 16 Pages

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Document: Sheriff tipped off lover on meth probe

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry sits quietly Monday during questioning from Senior Judge John E. Sanders after Curry said he would apply for diversion in the criminal case against him in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Former sheriff agrees to surrender law enforcement license to gain diversion Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

By DOUG CARDER

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Herald Senior Writer

A deal made public Monday means Franklin County’s former top law enforcement official won’t face a jury trial in the criminal case against him. The trade off? Jeff Curry must leave his profession of nearly 20 years. Charges against former Sheriff Curry and Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy and public information officer with the sheriff’s office, likely will be dismissed at a future date as part of an agreement worked out between the defendants’ attorneys and the prosecutor’s office. The details of those agreements were presented to Senior Judge John E. Sanders during a scheduled preliminary hearing Monday afternoon at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Curry accepted the terms of a 12-month “diversion” agreement, and he and Fredricks both agreed to surrender their law enforcement licenses and never again seek such licensing. Curry was arrested Feb. 27 by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of in-

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■ Diversion stipulation: Former sheriff must go back to school. See Page 3. ■ County enters post-Curry era after resignation takes effect. See Page 3. terference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Fredricks also faced a felony charge of interference with law enforcement. If Curry successfully completes the diversion, both criminal charges against him would be dismissed, special prosecutor J. Todd Hiatt, who is working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas, told Judge Sanders. Diversions are agreements entered into between defendants and prosecutors that stipulate if the defendant complies with the terms of the agreement, the charges are dismissed. Diversion programs are available in most district courts, including Franklin County.

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Attorney Robin Fowler, Overland Park, asks Senior Judge John E. Sanders to censor his client’s name from the court documents Monday during a hearing for former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Fowler later was revealed to be the attorney representing Heather Jones, former Franklin County attorney.

Court allegations unsealed By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

The secret’s out. A prosecutor’s now-dismissed effort to remove Jeff Curry from office accused the Franklin County sheriff of telling his lover — former county attorney Heather Jones — that federal authorities were investigating her for buying meth. The allegations came to light Monday when Senior Judge John E. Sanders ruled in favor of a motion filed by The Herald and two Kansas City media outlets to unseal the civil ouster petition against Curry. The petition, filed by Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, shortly after Curry’s Feb. 27 arrest, was intended to remove the then-sheriff from office, though Curry’s March 21 resignation announcement largely rendered it moot. Information contained in the petition, however, detailed separate criminal allegations against Curry, which until Monday’s ruling largely had been sealed by Franklin County District Court. “By notifying Heather Jones on or about May 30, 2012, that she had been identified and accused by a [confidential informant] of having purchased methamphetamine in Franklin County, Kansas, [Curry] unlawfully used confidential information acquired during the course of and related to [Curry’s] official

Mike Merriam, a Topeka attorney representing The Ottawa Herald, argues Monday to open documents regarding the civil ouster petition filed against now-former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry during a hearing for Curry at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. capacity as sheriff of Franklin County for the personal and private

benefit or gain of the defendant and/or Heather Jones,” the petition reads, noting the tip constituted a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. The alleged incident in May spurred a Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the sheriff’s department, which itself led to the Sept. 27 execution of a search warrant at the sheriff’s office, 305 S. Main St. On or about Sept. 27, Curry participated in an interview with a special investigator as part of the KBI investigation, according to the ouster document. During that interview, Curry allegedly lied about engaging in an ongoing, sexual affair with Jones, who had resigned from her post as county attorney May 22. “The defendant denied ever having an inappropriate or sexual relationship with Heather Jones,” the petition document reads, later adding that such a violation constituted the felony charge of interference with a law enforcement officer. “[Curry’s] assertions that he did not have an intimate and sexual relationship with Heather Jones were false. In fact, he and Heather Jones were involved in an ongoing, intimate and sexual relationship at the time of the May and September interviews.”

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Former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry already planned to continue his education. Now it’s mandatory. Among the terms of a 12-month diversion agreement Curry must complete in order to have criminal charges against him dropped, the former sheriff must attend school or work regularly in a lawful occupation. Curry had been attending classes at Ottawa University earlier this year in hopes of obtaining an undergraduate degree in business administration. “I’m at the pinnacle of my career,” Curry told the OU Campus student newspaper for a Feb. 6 cover story. “If I ever decide to seek other job opportunities, having a college education will help.” Curry was arrested Feb. 27 by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. If Curry successfully completes the diversion, both criminal charges against him would be dismissed, special prosecutor J. Todd Hiatt,

Former Franklin County sheriff Jeff Curry’s diversion agreement stipulates he must be willing to submit to any drug testing requested by law enforcement. who is working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas, told Senior Judge John E. Sanders during a scheduled preliminary hearing Monday afternoon for the former sheriff at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Diversions are agreements entered into between defendants and prosecutors that stipulate if the defendant complies with the terms of the agreement, the charges are dismissed. Diversion programs are available in most district courts, including Franklin County. In addition to surrendering his law enforcement license and never again seeking such licensing, the pretrial diversion agreement stipu-

lates that Curry would not violate any federal, state or local laws. The agreement also stipulates the following: • Curry would have no violent contact with any victims, witnesses or codefendants in this case. • That Curry would pay a diversion filing fee of $75 and $240 in court costs. • Curry must notify the county attorney’s office, in writing, of any change of residential address within 10 days of the change. • Once every three months, Curry must report in writing his whereabouts and employment to the county attorney’s office. • Curry shall not possess or consume any type of illicit drug while in the diversion program, and that he be willing to submit to any drug testing requested by law enforcement, the county attorney’s office or a judge. As part of the agreement, Curry acknowledged that he understood if he violated the terms of the agreement the case would be placed back on the court docket for a bench trial. By agreeing to the diversion, Curry waived his right to a jury trial.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, Jeff Curry no longer was sheriff of Franklin County. Curry’s planned resignation became effective just hours after he appeared at Franklin County District Court for his preliminary hearing, with Undersheriff Steve Lunger temporarily becoming acting sheriff. Lisa Johnson, Franklin County administrator, issued a written statement from the Franklin County Board of Commissioners following Monday’s hearing that said county officials were reaffirming their commitment to continuing to serve residents in a postCurry Franklin County. The county commission “looks forward to the appointment of the next sher-

iff and working with the next sheriff in rebuilding public trust and confidence in the sheriff’s department, and continuing to make Franklin County a safe place to live, work and raise a family,” the statement said. Curry, who has served the sheriff’s office in some capacity since 1994, announced his resignation plans March 21 during the first hearing of the ouster proceedings filed against him after his Feb. 27 arrest by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Appointed sheriff in 2010 and then elected in 2012, Curry’s resignation

was accepted by Gov. Sam Brownback’s office, Senior Judge John E. Sanders acknowledged Monday afternoon at Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Because Curry had resigned and his resignation had been accepted by the governor, Sanders said, he dismissed the ouster civil case against the former sheriff during Monday’s proceedings. Lunger is to serve as acting sheriff until the Franklin County Republican Central Committee appoints a nominee to fill the vacated position. The nominee must then be approved by Brownback. The Republican group has slated a convention for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Church of the Nazarene,

Addressing Curry in the packed courtroom, Judge Sanders asked him if he understood that if he violated the terms of the diversion agreement, the case would be placed back on the court docket. The judge said as part of the diversion, Curry waived his right to a jury trial on the two charges. The only proceedings, the judge said, would be a bench trial on stipulated facts, as set forth in the criminal affidavits and on the testimony of Jim Bridges, a KBI special agent who was the lead investigator in the case. A petition for Curry’s ouster from office, filed by Franklin County Attorney Stephen J. Hunting Feb. 27, indicates Bridges was assigned in late May 2012 to “investigate allegations that former Franklin County Attorney Heather Jones has purchased methamphetamine,” according to the court document, which Sanders unsealed Monday during the proceedings. The court document alleges that Bridges learned during the course of his investigation that Curry had notified Jones that she had been identified by a confidential informant as someone who purchased methamphetamine, according to the ouster petition. Bridges’ testimony and all affidavits, documents and reports that were part of the KBI’s months-long investigation would be admitted to support the charges in the complaint,

the judge said. It would then be up to the judge, not a jury, to determine if the defendant was guilty of the charges, Sanders said. When asked by Sanders if he understood and accepted the terms of the diversion agreement, Curry replied, “Yes, your honor.” The judge accepted the diversion agreement and stayed prosecution of Curry on the charges for 12 months while the diversion was in place. The prosecutor, Hiatt, also told the judge that under an agreement worked out with Fredricks, the deputy agreed to surrender his law enforcement license. In exchange, the felony charge against him would be dropped. Hiatt asked that Fredricks’ hearing be postponed until Fredricks had completed the paperwork associated with the agreement. Once the paperwork was returned to the prosecutor’s office, Hiatt said, the prosecutor’s intention would be to dismiss the charge. Sanders accepted the terms of the agreement worked out between Fredricks’ attorney Chris Brown and the prosecutor and agreed to postpone Fredricks’ preliminary hearing, pending the likely dismissal of the charge. Fredricks was not present in the courtroom Monday. Curry, who has served the sheriff’s office in some capacity since 1994, announced his resignation plans March 21 during the first hearing of the ouster proceedings filed against him after his ar-

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rest. Appointed sheriff in 2010 and then elected in 2012, Curry’s resignation became official at 5 p.m. Monday. Because Curry had resigned and his resignation had been accepted by the governor, Sanders said, he dismissed the ouster civil case against the former sheriff during Monday’s proceedings.

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Seventh and Elm streets, Ottawa, to determine the sheriff nominee.

CURRY: Deputy’s charge to be dismissed (Continued from Page 1)

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Post-Curry era begins after resignation By The Herald Staff

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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Page 4

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reader contributions are encouraged and may be sent to Reader Forum, The Ottawa Herald, 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa, KS 66067; or send email to letters@ottawaherald.com

Opinion

The Ottawa Herald Jeanny Sharp, editor & publisher

Editorial

Unsealed at last Opening of records in sheriff case worth a little rejoicing Most people don’t equate a courtroom to a church, but many in attendance at Monday’s hearing for Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry were wishing they could say “Amen” aloud when Senior Judge John E. Sanders ruled in favor of unsealing a civil ouster petition, which initially was aimed at removing the sheriff from office. The courtroom at Franklin County District Court indeed became a sanctuary for the public’s best interests Monday with J. Todd Hiatt, a special prosecutor working on behalf of the Franklin County Attorney’s Office and the State of Kansas, saying, “I’m a minister of justice.” Seeking that justice on behalf of Franklin County’s public “congregation” was the driving force behind The Herald’s efforts to open documents related to Curry’s Feb. 27 arrest, specifically those involving Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting’s ouster petition. The Herald’s attorney, Mike Merriam, Topeka, said Monday that a courtroom full of the good people of Franklin County deserved to know what their duly-elected sheriff did to warrant such proceedings against him. “It is intolerable and unfair” not to open the records, Merriam said. Curry’s defense had the burden to substantiate why the ouster petition’s contents shouldn’t be open to the public and “they fully failed to do so,” Alison Auxter, an Overland Park attorney working on behalf of Kansas City media outlets, said. Those arguments and others ultimately won out with Judge Sanders ruling to open the petition to the public. Though the prosecution and defense’s attorneys argued to redact the identity of a third-party in the petition because of an ongoing criminal investigation, the petition ultimately was released in its entirety. The document alleged Curry had an ongoing, intimate relationship with then-Franklin County Attorney Heather Jones. It also alleged Curry tipped Jones off about a drug investigation in which a confidential informant claimed she had purchased methamphetamine on at least two occasions. Sanders ultimately said the potential embarrassment or shame to Jones by releasing the information in the petition was not by any stretch of the imagination enough justification for sealing the case files. We agree. Balancing First Amendment rights with the interests of a defendant is a tough call, however, once Curry reached a settlement for diversion in the criminal case, no factual circumstances remained that outweighed the public’s right to know what actions prompted the initial charges of official misconduct and false report. Though media outlets obtained requested copies of the ouster petition after the judge ruled the documents unsealed, members of the public also formed a long line to lay down $1.50 to acquire their own copies of the document. Imagine the travesty of justice that would have occurred if the judge had not stood on the side of justice and openness. If Curry had escaped public scrutiny for his actions with simply a diversion and the records remaining sealed, the court’s actions would have been an affront to every taxpayer in the county. We might never know if the allegations within the petition are true. But with regard to finally getting answers about Curry’s arrest, justice was served. And to that, the people said, “Amen.” — Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher

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Tax cuts’ real effects not yet clear Every week this session, House and Senate Democratic leaders have lamented last year’s shockingly large tax cut bill that produced maybe 190,000 Kansans with apparently no need to write an income tax check to the state any more. Now, it might just work out that if Kansas does away with its income tax for everyone else, people will move here and spend money on cars and clothes and food and such and the sales tax will rise so that the state’s treasury will grow and Kansans can be taken care of. Or, maybe not. But Gov. Sam Brownback makes the point that it will take a year or so for this income tax-elimination drive to spur the rest of the economy so the state can support education and health care and public safety — the stuff we expect the state to do. While the state’s leading Democrats make the point that it hasn’t happened yet, and distribute charts showing that the state budget will be a wreck in three, maybe four, and for sure by five years, they are having a problem getting people excited now. And, because government moves relatively slowly and, like a child, always believes there are more cookies in the cupboard, Democrats have

MARTIN HAWVER

At the Rail

had a difficult time getting people worried or upset about further tax cuts the governor has in mind. Practically, Kansans are busy, and most of us don’t think about broad economic policies until we learn that our next vacation may not include the thrill of crossing a county line. Democrats so far haven’t come up with a stunning forecast or iconic figure to get most Kansans to care about the tax/budget scrap coming up. They need a publicity program. Or maybe a Warren Buffett, who wails that his secretary pays a higher percentage of her income in taxes than he does. Or perhaps some leading Republican they can focus on who pays a disappointingly low Kansas income tax that upsets not only the poor, but maybe the upper-

middle class, too. But Democrats are having a tough time selling the general public that last year’s tax bill has caused many problems. Now ... next year ... maybe. And the year after — that would be the year after the House and the governor stand for re-election — it’s likely to mean some reduction in state services that Kansans will notice. (Or, there is the chance that Brownback is right, and everything is good, tax money rolls in, people are taken care of, and schools are adequately funded and all the rest.) But the real key is that most Kansans aren’t looking that far into the future and so far, the real effects haven’t shown up. Now, maybe if the state has to rein in spending, and local units of government have to raise property taxes and let their streets crack and crumble and schools wind up putting 30 kids in a classroom, the public will notice. But that takes time and budget cycles for the state and for local units of government. So, we’re guessing, the Democrats’ lamentations continue. Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his website at www.hawvernews.com

Obama’s unethical end run on transparency Back in 2010, President Obama declared: “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests.” That was so 2010. By 2013, the mist of corporate money has fogged over Team Obama’s commitment to such ethical niceties. For example, take a glance at all the special interests that paid $50 million for his January inaugural festivities. Except ... you can’t. While the White House pledged that it would put the names of every donor online so people could see that there’s no conflict of interest, that’s all they disclosed. Just names of individuals. There’s no info on where they live, what corporation they represent, or how much they gave. Even the highly skilled watchdogs of the Sunlight Foundation haven’t managed to identify 40 percent of the individuals. They’ve traced some

JIM HIGHTOWER

Hightower Lowdown

donors back to such “powerful interests” as AT&T, Coca Cola, FedEx and Microsoft. But they have no clue how much these special interests paid — i.e. how many presidential favors they purchased. And now, another layer of fog has descended over the White House. The Obamacans have set up a darkmoney haven called Organizing For Action (OFA), again making a show

of transparency by pledging to issue quarterly lists of donors. But the listings again won’t include the donors’ corporate identities. And why only quarterly? Why not reveal the names online the moment the checks arrive? Plus, some checks from corporate executives will be bundled, but OFA won’t disclose the corporations delivering the bundles. OFA donors will have access to special White House briefings. But, as the Sunlight group asks, will someone who gives $50 be invited — or just those giving $50,000 and up? I think you can guess the answer. To help oppose this sad end run around real ethics, visit SunlightFoundation.com Jim Hightower is a syndicated columnist. Email him at info@jimhightower.com

Share your views with The Herald Opinions of readers are welcome in the Reader Forum. All submissions must include the author’s name, address and telephone number. Send letters by email to letters@ottawaherald.com or mail to Reader Forum, The Ottawa Herald, 104 S. Cedar St., Ottawa, KS 66067. Submissions should be no longer than 400 words. Letters may be edited for space, grammar and clarity. Readers will be limited to one letter per month. Form letters, poems, consumer complaints or business testimonials will not be printed.

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Page 8

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Accusations the latest in a series of curry-jones stories A long-rumored extra-marital affair between now-former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry and former Franklin County Attorney Heather Jones, which developed when both were actively serving as elected officials, appeared to be confirmed Monday during court proceedings related to a case against Curry. But this week’s development isn’t the first time Curry and Jones have made headlines.

June 10, 2011 Copies of an anonymous letter arrive in the mailboxes of many local government, economic, civic, law enforcement and business leaders, including The Herald, detailing allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Curry and Jones.

July 30, 2011 The Herald publishes results of a weekslong investigation into the anonymous letter and its allegations, largely reporting insufficient evidence and on-the-record confirmation to substantiate the claims about Curry and Jones.

April 2, 2012 Jones announces plans to resign as Franklin County attorney to take a non-elected position with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, saying, “I love being in the courtroom, but the political component was the least desirable part of my job.”

April 20, 2012

Aug. 2, 2012

Feb. 27, 2013

Curry files for sheriff, seeking his first election to the office to which he was appointed two years before following the resignation of Sheriff Craig Davis.

Curry tells The Herald he didn’t request nor know about the illegal campaign email before it was sent, noting that he told sheriff’s office employees not to open the emails.

May 22, 2012

Aug. 7, 2012

Jones’ resignation takes effect with appointee Stephen Hunting succeeding her as Franklin County attorney.

Curry wins the Republican primary with more than 50 percent of the vote, defeating two challengers.

May 30, 2012

Sept. 19, 2012

Special prosecutor Hiatt files criminal complaints against Curry and Jerrod Fredricks, alleging official misconduct and interference with law enforcement against the sheriff and interference with law enforcement against one of his top deputies. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrest Curry and Fredricks. Hunting, Franklin County attorney, files civil ouster proceedings against Curry and urges the sheriff to resign. District Court Judge Thomas H. Sachse seals the civil ouster case against Curry.

Curry misuses confidential information, telling Jones about an investigation of her alleged meth purchases, according to a civil ouster petition filed by the Franklin County Attorney’s Office.

Jones is fined $500 by the Kansas Government Ethics Commission after the group investigated a complaint about her July 31 campaign email on behalf of Curry.

July 31, 2012 Jones sends a political email from her Johnson County Attorney’s Office email account, campaigning on behalf of Curry’s sheriff bid in the primary election and violating state campaign finance law. The email encouraged, among other tactics, a letter-writing campaign, telling recipients, “You must talk about [Curry’s] lack of arrogance. You must talk about the positive way he treats his staff. You must talk about his dedication to the community. You must talk about his professionalism.”

Sept. 27, 2012

Feb. 28, 2013 A divorce is finalized in Coffey County between Heather Jones and her husband, Brandon Jones, who serves as county attorney for Anderson and Osage counties, and is an outgoing Ottawa school board member.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s office is served with a Kansas Bureau of Investigation search warrant, the details of which were not made public, indicating an ongoing investigation into the sheriff and his department.

March 21, 2013

Sept. 27, 2012

April 1, 2013

Curry falsely reports information about his affair with Jones during the course of an investigation, according to the ouster petition filed against him.

Curry’s resignation becomes effective with Undersheriff Steve Lunger formally taking over duties until a new sheriff is appointed. The civil ouster petition becomes public by order of Senior Judge John E. Sanders.

Curry announces his plans to resign during the first hearing in the ouster proceedings filed by Hunting.

ALLEGATIONS: Attorneys say unsealed claims about Jones’ meth buys false (Continued from Page 1)

Third-party accusations Curry and his attorney, Trey Pettlon, Olathe, did not appear to dispute revealing the information to Jones, who now serves as an assistant prosecutor with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, nor did they deny the affair. Pettlon, however, said certain accusations within the ouster petition — specifically those aimed at Jones — were false. “All parties who have reviewed the evidence and followed up on the drugrelated allegations have confirmed that the [confidential informant’s] report was completely false as it related to Heather Jones,” Pettlon wrote in a press release. “Subsequent investigation has confirmed that Ms. Jones was either knowingly or recklessly slandered by the [confidential informant]. This misinformation is what my client was trying to avoid all along.” During Monday’s hearing, an attorney representing a “third party,” later identified as Jones’ attorney, stepped forward to address the court after both The Herald’s and Kansas City media attorneys offered statements. Robin Fowler, Jones’ attorney, argued against unsealing the documents on behalf of his thenconfidential client on the grounds that the accusations were unfounded. “The ouster petition unsealed today in Franklin County, Kansas, gives a misleading and inaccurate description of the investigation involving Heather Jones,” Fowler wrote later in a press release. “While the petition describes the allegation made last May in full detail, it neglects to point out that the confidential source has since that time been contradicted by at least two sources whom the [confidential informant] claimed would corroborate his/ her version of events. ... The allegation that [Jones] purchased or used methamphetamine is false. She is not now, and never has been, the subject of any federal investigation. The state drug investigation has not only failed to corroborate the source of allegation, but has in fact developed evidence from multiple sources which contradicts that allegation.” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe previously declined to comment on the case. He told the Associated Press Monday that Jones had been working in his office as an

attorney for about a year and that he has unsuccessfully pressed the KBI and prosecutors in Shawnee and Franklin counties for more information. “Once we receive all the facts, we will make a decision on this matter,” Howe told the AP. “Beyond that we cannot comment on this personnel matter any further.”

Harm versus public interest For the past month, details on the criminal alle-

gations against Curry were sealed by Franklin County District Court without reason. Judge Sanders said Monday during a two-hour hearing that “protecting someone from public shame or embarrassment was not a reason to seal the petition” and later opened the court document. Sanders also denied requests to redact certain names within the ouster document. While Sanders moved to unseal the petition for ouster document, he opted not to open documents related to Curry’s criminal

charges. Those documents, which include details on names of confidential informants and other sensitive information, might hamper or adversely affect the ongoing KBI investigation, Sanders said. After discussing the terms of Curry’s 12-month diversion, which if successfully completed would absolve him of the criminal charges against him, Sanders addressed the motions to intervene filed by The Herald and two Kansas City media outlets. Special prosecutor J. Todd Hiatt previously

indicated that the state had no qualms with unsealing the documents as long as the documents wouldn’t jeopardize the then-Franklin County sheriff’s access to a fair trial. However, Pettlon argued Monday against the unsealing of documents relating to the allegations against Curry. His argument aimed to prove that “a private harm that predominates the case and such interest or harm outweighs the strong public interest in access to the court record and proceedings,” according to court

documents provided to The Herald. Judge Sanders disagreed. In a press release following the hearing, Pettlon defended the integrity of Curry, whose resignation as sheriff became effective Monday evening. “Sheriff Curry has devoted his life to law enforcement,” Pettlon wrote. “He has made mistakes in his personal life that he regrets, but it never affected his ability or his desire to be the best sheriff he could be. Today Franklin County lost a good sheriff.”


VOTE RESULTS

LEGISLATORS

Tuesday’s election yields winners in city, school races. See Page 6.

Budget, taxes still brewing at final coffee of session. See Page 8.

Thursday April 4, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

Herald

The

Ottawa

75 cents Volume 143, No. 275 16 Pages

THURSDAY Edition

FRANKLIN COUNTY

Community: Curry’s out, let’s move on ‘Healing will occur’ after sheriff case By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

It’s time to put mistakes in the past and move the community forward, residents said this week. After three days without its elected sheriff, Franklin County has begun the coping process associated with a court case some say has damaged trust between the public, its officials and law enforcement. And while it might take some time, community members seem confident the county can heal from the ordeal. “Healing will occur with this thing. We’re not the only community to go through something like this,” Tony De La Torre, who serves on the Ottawa Recreation Commission board with former Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry, said. “I’ve been around here for over 40 years and during that time I’ve served 20 years in law enforcement. I’ve seen several issues that have come forth in the sheriff’s and police departments involving different members, and during that time the

More local news GOP group expected to vote on next sheriff tonight. See Page 3. departments have been able to come together to heal along with the help of the entire community. Healing will occur.” Prosecutors agreed Monday to allow Curry to enter a 12-month diversion program in exchange for the dismissal of his felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. The sheriff’s planned resignation, which stemmed from the civil and criminal cases against him, also went into effect Monday. With Curry’s court situation more or less settled, De La Torre said, Franklin County now must focus on coming together and moving on from the situation. A big part of that process, he said, will involve the community’s next sheriff.

Turnout tally Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

Janet Paddock, Franklin County clerk, posts election results on an erasable white board Tuesday after the night’s early votes were tabulated in the clerk’s office at the Franklin County Courthouse, 315 S. Main St., Ottawa. It was Paddock’s first time overseeing an election since, having taken office in January. Paddock defeated longtime incumbent clerk Shari Perry in the August Republican primary election.

Paddock casts first election on the job By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

See SHERIFF, Page 8

Death to winter? Janet Paddock, Franklin County clerk, oversees city and school board election result reports from across the county Tuesday night in the clerk’s office at the Franklin County Courthouse. It was Paddock’s first time overseeing an election since taking office in January. Paddock defeated longtime incumbent clerk Shari Perry in the August Republican primary election.

Who’s that knocking at the door? Janet Paddock said her job Tuesday was to make sure every registered voter in Franklin County who wanted to cast a ballot had the opportunity to do so. Even if that meant the county clerk had to personally go to the homes of Pomona voters who received the wrong ballots at the polling place. “Fourteen voters received Pomona Township ballots instead of Pomona city ballots, so I tried to contact all of them to let them know they could come back to the polls before 7 [p.m.] and cast a provisional ballot — I even went to two of their homes,” Paddock said. “They wouldn’t be able to vote twice in the school board race [by casting a provisional ballot], but it would give them an opportunity to vote in the city election.” That appeared to be the only blemish on what otherwise seemed to be a trouble-free day for Paddock and her staff during her first Election Day as county clerk.

See JOB, Page 6

Bond issue sweeps out West Franklin incumbents By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

A groundhog peaks out from under a shipping container Tuesday behind Dollar General, 305 N. Main St., Ottawa. The local varmint is facing far less scrutiny this week than its Pennsylvania cousin, Punxsutawney Phil, the famed weather predicting groundhog. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year on Groundhog Day, giving false hope of an early spring. Persistent winter weather across the country has many Americans angry with the groundhog’s weather forecast. Michael T. Gmoser, an Ohio prosecutor, recently indicted Punxsutawney Phil on one count of misrepresentation of spring, an unclassified felony. “Phil let us down,” Gmoser said, according to ABC News. The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty. For more on the local weather forecast, See Page 9.

Patrons of West Franklin offered some spring cleaning Tuesday, bringing a clean sweep of the school board’s incumbents on the ballot. Of the 10 candidates vying for four open seats on the board, all four incumbents were defeated during Tuesday’s vote in Franklin County’s most highly contested election. Among those incumbents includes the board’s president, Thayne Bush, who has served on the board for four years. Matt Froggatte triumphed over Bush and Bruce Rockhold by capturing 437 of the 859 total votes. Bush acquired 312 votes and

MORE ELECTION NEWS AND RESULTS ■ Ottawa banker earns most votes in city commission race, incumbents re-elected. See Page 7. ■ Two newcomers joining Ottawa school board alongside veteran board member. See Page 7. Rockhold earned 110. While he said he wishes the new board members luck, Bush expressed Wednesday his disappointment in losing the race, noting that he opted not to campaign but rather stand by his voting record. “It looked like it turned into a one-issue campaign ... But that’s what the people wanted,” Bush said, refer-

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ring to West Franklin’s highly contentious bond issue, which will be decided by patrons in a June 4 election. “There is a lot more that goes on than just one item and most of the newly elected said in the forum that [the bond issue] was the reason they were there. ... I felt all along that I didn’t want to close schools and raise taxes, but for the

long-term that’s the best option. They may change their minds when they sit on the board and see what they’ve got themselves into. ... I wish the newly elected members good luck, and my advice would be to educate yourself and do what’s best for the kids.” Pleased with his win, Froggatte said Wednesday he felt honored by patrons’ support. “I was humbled and grateful — I was surprised at the sweep,” Froggatte, who has four children in West Franklin schools, said, adding that the newly assembled board likely will re-examine the bond issue. See WEST FRANKLIN, Page 6

Community News. Community Connections.


Page 8

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com.

Local&Region

The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

Budget still brewing at session’s final coffee By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

Lawmakers and Franklin County residents are on the same page when it comes to taxes, Caryn Tyson said. But that doesn’t mean their views mesh completely with those of Gov. Sam Brownback. The first-term state senator joined other local legislators Saturday for the final Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Coffee of the 2013 session. Tyson, along with freshmen state Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, took the opportunity to reflect on the Legislature’s work so far. A key topic at the state capitol, she said, has been Kansas’ budget, which must be finalized before the session concludes. “Like you’ve heard me say before, I support lower taxes, but we need to get there in a smart manner,” Tyson said. “The Senate put out a tax bill that I’m proud to say — I heard from

Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

State Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, answers a question Saturday during the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Coffee event at Ottawa City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa. To read an editorial about a successful bill Finch co-sponsored, See Page 4. many of you [in the audience] and I was on the same page — we did

not need the mortgage interest deduction removed from that bill so the Senate removed a portion of that and held it harmless.” To preserve the mortgage deduction, Tyson said, the Senate took a percentage across all deductions but removed the property tax and charitable deductions. The measure was then sent to the House, she said, where the body must agree on its components before the governor can sign it into law. Asked for his thoughts on the prospective budget, Finch said the House’s plan has modified the tax plans previously proposed by Brownback. The changes, he said, should provide a more gradual and calculated transition to achieve the cuts. “In the House plan — instead of agreeing with the governor’s recommendations to cut rates on a set schedule — says whenever the growth of state revenues exceed 2 percent there will be a corresponding cut in the tax

rates on income tax,” Finch said. “So as the state grows, if this theory holds and we actually do end up seeing growth because of tax cuts, when the growth occurs we’ll cut tax rates further in a slower, more measured fashion.” To illustrate the House’s plan, Finch said if the state were to experience a 2-percent growth in Kansas’ revenues — or roughly $60 million by 2015 — residents would see an income tax cut of about $20 million. The biggest difference in the House’s plan, Finch added, was how the state would address Brownback’s plan to maintain a six-tenths-cent sales tax increase that is set to expire. “The governor has asked that it remain. The Senate has agreed with that and House position has been ‘No, we’re not going to keep the six-tenths.’ They want to let it sunset,” Finch said. “That’s probably the biggest sticky widget that we’ve got to work out between the two houses in conference com-

mittees — what’s going to happen with that six-tenths of a cent. It’s worth about $265 million dollars, so it’s not small potatoes.” The final coffee event of the session wasn’t all about taxes. Asked about his stance on a house bill that would repeal the availability of in-state tuition for undocumented aliens, Jones said he’s in support of the measure. “It’s a bigger issue that it looks like,” Jones said. “When I look at the whole thing, it comes down to what happens in campaign season when people are called whether undocumented or illegal and I tend back up my law enforcement people. When they are given a law and they are supposed to uphold it, this is such a difficult thing to call someone illegal and yet is it or isn’t it? And that’s really what we have to tackle as a state. ... I don’t think that if you call them illegal that they should get in-state tuition. But at the same time it’s a lot bigger than just that.”

SHERIFF: ‘A different type of justice from the average person,’ Ottawans says (Continued from Page 1) “It’s time to go forward with this,” De La Torre said. “[Curry] did make some mistakes, and I think that it’s up to him to deal with those mistakes. And it’s time for us as a community to go forward to [pick] a new sheriff — someone that can bring this community back together.” Echoing De La Torre’s sentiments, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners issued a statement shortly after Curry’s Monday court hearing in which the diversion was announced. In the release, commissioners buttressed its commitment to and working relationship with area law enforcement. “The [Franklin] County Commission has full faith and confidence in the legal process and is aware of the events that transpired today in the cases pending against Franklin County Sheriff Curry and Deputy [Jerrod] Fredricks,” the release reads. “Based on these events and the resignation of the sheriff, the commission reaffirms its commitment to continuing to serve the citizens of Franklin County and looks forward to the appointment of the next sheriff and working with the next sheriff in rebuilding public trust and confidence in the sheriff’s department, and continuing to make Franklin County a safe place to live, work and raise a family.” Bob Dodson, owner of Dodson Aviation Inc., Ottawa, said that while he wasn’t shocked by the state’s agreement on Curry’s diversion, he thinks the judicial system operated unfairly in the case. “I really wasn’t surprised by it,” Dodson said. “I think there’s justice for the average person, and there’s justice for lawyers and people within law enforcement. It seems they have a different type of justice from the average person. It just seems to be

different and not in a good way. ... So much stuff was hidden and unavailable.” Elbert Swank, Williamsburg, expressed similar concerns, though from a different perspective. Swank contended that the situation was manipulated and exploited by the “power structure” of Franklin County who wanted Curry, along with his alleged lover and former Franklin County Attorney Heather Jones, out of office because the powersthat-be could not control the two. Still, he said, Curry’s actions weren’t excusable. “I think he shouldn’t be sheriff under the circumstances,” Swank said. “As far as trust is concerned with [law enforcement] — my trust wasn’t too high to begin with.” As part of Monday’s court proceedings, Senior Judge John E. Sanders agreed to The Herald’s motion to unseal the petition to ouster filed by Stephen

Hunting, Franklin County attorney, shortly after Curry’s Feb. 27 arrest. The newly opened document detailed, for the first time, the state’s long-secret allegations against Curry, namely that he tipped off Jones about a drug investigation targeting her, and later lied to investigators about his and Jones’ affair. Some residents joined Curry’s and Jones’ attorneys in voicing their displeasure with the court’s decision to unseal the documents, claiming the information violated Jones’ privacy, especially since she has not been charged with a crime. “[It’s] not our business what goes on in the personal aspect of his life,” Cheri Crooks McNeill wrote on a Facebook discussion on the case. Others in the discussion, however, felt the public had a right to know the details of the case. “We have a right to know

exactly what they did,” Colleen Roth Adams wrote. “Hopefully it will stop others from thinking they can do whatever they want because they are a public official.” While many still debate the merits of the case, its extensive media coverage and whether justice was served, some simply are ready to move forward. “I agree with a lot of the comments that if it were anyone else more would have been done,” Amber Hennessey wrote. “But this is the way it went down. Time to move on and hope the next sheriff has the gall enough to whip the department into what it should be and hopefully gain the

nominee must then be approved by Brownback. The Republican group has slated a convention for 7 p.m. today at the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm streets, Ottawa, to determine the sheriff nominee.

public trust back.” Undersheriff Steve Lunger is expected to serve as acting sheriff until the Franklin County Republican Central Committee appoints a nominee to fill the vacated position. The

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FRIDAY FORUM

BOX SCARE

Speaker details bioscience’s impact on Kansas economy. See Page 6.

Apparent scavenger hunt item prompts OU evacuation. See Page 8.

Weekender April 6-7, 2013 Ottawa, Kansas

Herald

The

Ottawa

Nominee to drop city post if tapped by Brownback

75 cents Volume 143, No. 276 16 Pages

WEEKENDER Edition

Jeff Richards nominated

New sheriff in town

Governor must OK GOP’s pick By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

Jeff Richards’ nomination for Franklin County sheriff appeared to be in the cards. His name was written on every index card in the ballot box Thursday night at the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm streets, where the Franklin County Republican Central Committee gathered to pick the county’s next sheriff. It was Richards’ second political victory of the week. OtRichards tawa voters on Tuesday elected him to a second, two-year term on the Ottawa City Commission. Richards joked with the voting delegates and audience members that it was probably the first time in modern memory that a person had been “elected twice in the same week.” If Gov. Sam Brownback accepts the central committee’s nomination and appoints Richards as Franklin County’s next sheriff, the veteran law enforcement officer said he would resign his seat on the city commission. See CITY, Page 8

Who’s Jeff Richards? By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

A man walked into Ottawa City Commission chambers Wednesday night and asked for Jeff Richards. “Why are you looking for Jeff?” Scott Bird, city finance director, responded as a group assembled before Wednesday’s regular city commission meeting at City Hall, 101 S. Cedar St. “I want to see what he looks like,” the man answered. “I’ve heard around town he’s going to be our next sheriff.” City Commissioner Richards arrived to the gathering a short time later, but the man didn’t speak to him. He left before the meeting began — but not without getting a look at the man who just a day later would indeed be nominated to serve as Franklin County’s new sheriff. Though word apparently spread quickly that Richards planned to seek the sheriff position at Thursday’s Franklin County Republican Central Committee convention, some residents want more information about the man now chosen to help rebuild public trust in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office — and they’re interested in more than a quick look at his face. See RICHARDS, Page 8

Photos by Bobby Burch/The Ottawa Herald

Jeff Richards, a detective with the Overland Park Police Department and an Ottawa city commissioner, addresses members of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee Thursday night as Capt. Randy Allen, with the Ottawa Police Department, looks on during a question-and-answer session at the committee’s special convention at the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm streets, to nominate the next county sheriff. Richards and Allen were the two candidates for the position. The committee nominated Richards for the sheriff’s post.

And a ‘new beginning’ for Franklin County By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

Sandy Snethen, Pomona, collects ballots Thursday night during the Franklin County Central Committee’s special convention to nominate the next county sheriff. Jeff Richards, a veteran law enforcement officer and Ottawa city commissioner, won the nomination, which would have to be approved by the governor to become official.

Franklin County’s next sheriff promised to bring transparency and leadership to the office. And those are two qualities that will be crucial to rebuilding public trust in the department, observers and voting delegates alike said Thursday night during a special Republican convention to nominate the county’s next sheriff. “It’s a new era and it’s a new beginning, and I believe that [Jeff Richards] has demonstrated

that he’s going to bring the level of leadership that this county deserves and that the department deserves,” Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, said. If Jeff Richards is not a household name across Franklin County, it likely soon will be. The Franklin County Republican Central Committee voted 33-0 to select the veteran law enforcement officer as its nominee for sheriff.

See SHERIFF, Page 6

Manning Construction

Ottawa schools seeking $375K-plus in lawsuit By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

A long-standing disagreement between the Ottawa school district and an Olathe-based contractor over leaky roofs at Garfield and Lincoln elementary schools soon could be patched up in court. The Ottawa school district filed a civil suit April 13, 2011, against Manning Construction Co., seeking damages for epoxy floor cracks and leaky roofs at Lincoln and Garfield schools. Manning was the general con-

Attorneys for the Ottawa school district, as well as the defendants, Manning Construction, are scheduled to make their pretrial motions 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Franklin County District Court. A fiveday jury trial has been set for June 3. tractor in charge of the construction of Lincoln and a major renovation project at Garfield, which began in 2005. The school district’s petition

for damages, filed by its Overland Park-based attorney Michael Norris, details five counts of alleged contract violations against Manning Construction related to the

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construction projects. The five counts are breach of contract, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of workmanlike performance, negligence and negligent misrepresentation, according to the court document. The school district seeks $75,000 in damages for each count, plus attorney fees, court costs and any other relief the court deems appropriate. Four subcontractors also are named as defendants: Cannon Building Systems Inc., Lenexa; Epoxy Coating Specialists Inc.,

Kansas City, Kan.; Uhlman’s Midwest Erectors Inc., Liberty, Mo., and AEP Span Inc., a Tacoma, Wash.-based engineer and manufacturer of steel roofing systems. Attorneys for the school district and defendants are scheduled to make their pretrial motions before District Judge Eric W. Godderz 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. A five-day jury trial has been set for June 3, with Judge Godderz presiding. See LAWSUIT, Page 8

Community News. Community Connections.


Page 6

Weekender, April 6-7, 2013

If you have news to report, please call us at (785) 242-4700 or (800) 467-8383; or send email to news@ottawaherald.com.

Local&Region

The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

Speaker: Bioscience efforts helping Kansas grow By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer

Kansas’ agricultural sector provides it opportune positioning to excel in the world of bioscience, a leader in the field said Friday during a public forum in Ottawa. During the First Friday Forum, Duane Cantrell, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, said he’s confident his organization will not only add jobs to Kansas, but also bolster the state’s economy. “Why bioscience? Because in a worldwide basis it’s one of the fastest growing sectors in the world economy,” Cantrell, who has led the organization for about five months, said. “If you look at the opportunities that exist for a state like Kansas to be a worldwide leader, bioscience is certainly one of those opportunities.” Bioscience, Cantrell said, largely is broken down into four primary

Photo by Bobby Burch/The Ottawa Herald

Duane Cantrell, president and CEO of the Kansas Bioscience Authority speaks Friday morning at Neosho County Community College, 900 E. Logan St., Ottawa, during Ottawa’s First Friday Forum. segments: bioenergy, agor bio-based products and animal and human health. The field studies the use of compositions, methods and organisms in cellular and molecular research to be used in the development for

such areas as pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostics devices and instruments in addition to veterinary medicine, plant biology and much more, according to the KBA’s website. Kansas is part of what

Cantrell referred to as the “animal health corridor,” which spans from Manhattan and to Colombia, Mo. That corridor, he said, is responsible for a significant portion of the world’s animal health products and services. “Most people don’t realize that one-third of the total global GDP of animal health is represented by that corridor,” Cantrell said. “There is no place in the world that can say that.” The KBA, which receives no federal funding, was developed by the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004, Cantrell explained to a crowd of about 40 people Friday. As part of the legislation, the KBA’s funding is derived from the growth of state income-tax withholdings from employees of bioscience-related companies, he said. State taxes that exceed the baseyear measurement of such taxes accrue to the authority for investment in additional bioscience growth,

the KBA’s website reads. The KBA’s funding has been capped at $35 million per year, Cantrell said. The goal of the KBA, he said, is to make Kansas a global destination for bioscience innovation, commercialization, growth and economic development. While the group is partially dependent on state funds, Cantrell said, he hopes the KBA soon will become independent with revenue coming from private companies. “I don’t think we ought to be in a long-term role of having the state fund [the KBA],” Cantrell said. “It was a great way to start, but we’ve got to find a way to privatize that and to bring in private equity into its funding and to create a platform for doing that.” Cantrell previously was the president of Payless ShoeSource, and managed its $3 billion revenues in addition to 35,000 employees. He now serves as the chairman of the Kansas

State University Foundation Board of Trustees and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Kansas State University. In addition spurring economic development, Cantrell said, one of the KBA’s five primary objectives is to add jobs to Kansas. To enable that job growth, the KBA offers an incubator space within the Kansas Bioscience Park in Olathe. Eleven companies already reside within the company, the KBA’s website reports. “The third [objective] is to create economically stable jobs,” he said. “A million-dollar grant for university research creates three grant jobs, and then the grant dollars go away, the jobs go away and the scholar moves to Florida. That’s not changing our economy. We’ve got to create an economic base that attracts a company that brings a hundred jobs, paying $70,000 to $100,000 each.”

SHERIFF: Nominee aims to help guide community through ‘rebuilding time’ Richards and Allen also said if they were nominated for the position, they would look at ways to make patrol officers more visible in the outlying areas of the county. Allen said officer visibility is a good deterrent to crime.

(Continued from Page 1) Clayton Barker, executive director and general counsel for the Topekabased Kansas Republican Party, served as chair of the special convention Thursday night at the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm streets, Ottawa. Barker said he planned to hand-deliver the nomination to the governor’s office in Topeka. Gov. Sam Brownback would have to appoint Richards as sheriff. Committee representatives said Thursday night they anticipated the governor would accept their nomination of Richards, and they expected to receive word from the governor in about a week’s time. Richards perhaps is best known in the city’s county seat of Ottawa, where he was just elected Tuesday night to a second term on the Ottawa City Commission. Richards said that if he is appointed sheriff by the governor, he would resign from the city commission.

Professionalism and empathy With 20 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, the 44-year-old Richards would succeed Jeff Curry, who resigned Monday as sheriff in the wake of allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Richards served as a law enforcement specialist and law enforcement supervisor — among many other law enforcement-related duties — while in the U.S. Air Force for nine years. Before enlisting in the Air Force, he worked as a reserve/part-time deputy and jailer with the Neosho County Sheriff’s Office. At the end of his second enlistment in the Air Force, Richards moved to Ottawa in 2000 and went to work for the Overland Park Police Department, where he has been a detective in the criminal investigation division for the past nine years. “Jeff is everything you would want in a leader,” Det. Sgt. Charles Tippie, one of Richards’ longtime supervisors with the Overland Park Police Department, told the delegates when speaking on Richards’ behalf during the convention. Richards conducts himself with great professionalism and has retained a sense of empathy that some detectives lose after years of working homicides, burglaries and other criminal

Confidence in a new leader

Photo by Bobby Burch/The Ottawa Herald

Jeff Richards addresses the Franklin County Republican Central Committee Thursday evening at the Church of the Nazarene in Ottawa during his first appeal to become Franklin County’s next sheriff. Richards, who also is chairman of the committee, was elected by a unanimous 33-0 vote.

More local news ■ City codes official says bond election campaign sign up too early. See Page 3. ■ Apparent scavenger hunt item prompts OU evacuation, heavy law enforcement response. See Page 8. investigations, Tippie said. “Jeff possesses all the qualities you would want in a sheriff,” he said. Richards defeated Capt. Randy Allen, with the Ottawa Police Department, who was the only other nominee at the convention. Allen, a lifelong Franklin County resident, also brought impressive law enforcement credentials to the table Thursday night. Allen said he began his law enforcement career in 1987 and has served in numerous capacities while moving up the ladder at the Ottawa Police Department, where he has served in a leadership position for more than a decade. The veteran public servant appeared to take the loss in stride after Richards was announced the winner. “I think they elected a good man,” Allen said. “He’ll be a good sheriff. I

know him as a city commissioner, and I’ve met him professionally on a few occasions. He’s very professional, very knowledgeable and I think he’ll make a great sheriff.”

Familiar territory The Franklin County Republican Central Committee had the task of nominating the new sheriff because Curry was a Republican. If appointed by the governor, Richards is expected to serve for two years, according to state statue, until the next general election in 2014. Richards also is a staunch member of the Republican Party, and currently serves as the county Republican Central Committee’s chairman. Curry himself was appointed sheriff using the same process in 2010, following the resignation announcement of thenSheriff Craig Davis. Curry, who served the sheriff’s office in some capacity since 1994, announced his resignation plans March 21 during the first hearing of the ouster proceedings filed against him by county attorney Hunting after Curry’s Feb. 27 arrest by agents with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct.

The charges against Curry would be dismissed if the former sheriff successfully completes a 12-month diversion agreement reached Monday in Franklin County District Court.

Candidates talk county issues Helen Hood, an Ottawa resident and a voting delegate at Thursday’s convention, asked Richards if he would be transparent in his dealings with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners with regard to his budget. Hood had been critical of Curry for not seeking the commission’s advice before he made some big-ticket purchases, including vehicles for the department. Richards said he would seek the commission’s blessing for his budget and would take spending proposals before the commission. “I realize [county commissioners] are accountable to the taxpayers, just like I would be,” Richards said. As a city commissioner, Richards said he also is familiar with how budgets work, and he would be careful with how he spent taxpayers’ money. “I would be very frugal with taxpayers’ dollars,” Richards said.

Don Stottlemire, county commissioner, said after the convention that he thought Richards was the right man for the job. “He’s going to face a lot of challenges, but I think he will hit the ground running and he’ll do great,” Stottlemire said. During his comments to the convention delegates, Allen also said he was familiar with the budgeting process. As a captain with the Ottawa police, Allen said he had input into the department’s budget. When asked about gun control, Richards and Allen both said they believed in the right to bear arms and would protect citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Asked about his initial goals, Richards said one of his first acts would be to do away with the public information officer role at the sheriff’s office. He said the public should hear from the sheriff, the person elected to the office. “I don’t think there should be a buffer between the sheriff and the public,” he said. Richards said he would have to analyze how the department is functioning before he made any other changes. “I don’t want to go in there with an agenda — that would not be fair to the men and women of the department,” he said.

After the convention, voting precinct delegate Richard Oglesby, assistant chief of the Ottawa Fire Department, said he was satisfied that the process worked as it was supposed to work. “I have all the confidence in the world that he’s a man of integrity and that he’ll fill the office quite well,” Oglesby said of Richards. “I’ve known Jeff for about six years. I’ve found him to be a man of integrity.” Almeda Edwards, who was among the more than 100 audience members in attendance, as well as a member of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Action Committee, said she was pleased with the Republican Party’s choice. “I’m happy for Jeff being selected,” she said. “I’ve worked with him on a lot of committees, and I think that Jeff is a real fine person, and I think it’s a good selection.” Hunting said he was optimistic that the highest professional stands of law enforcement are going to be demonstrated and exhibited by Richards. “I’m very happy for him, and I’m very pleased for the law enforcement community and the citizens of Franklin County.” Hunting said. After convention chairman Barker announced the results, Richards shook hands with Allen, and he told the committee he was humbled by their vote of confidence and looked forward to serving the citizens of Franklin County. “I believe our county, in general, and the sheriff’s department, specifically, needs a strong, ethical leader to move us through and past this current situation,” Richards told the committee members during his opening remarks. “I am that leader. I want to continue to serve my community and will use my training and experience to help guide us through this rebuilding time.” Bobby Burch, Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.


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Weekender, April 6-7, 2013

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The Ottawa Herald Tommy Felts, managing editor on the Web at http://www.ottawaherald.com

Apparent scavenger hunt item prompts OU evacuation, heavy law enforcement response By DOUG CARDER Herald Senior Writer

Discarded “treasure chests” used in an on-campus scavenger hunt at Ottawa University attracted an unintended participant Thursday morning — the Topeka Police Department Bomb Squad. In the end, the “suspiciouslooking” packages turned out to be nothing more than props from a reported birthday party. But the uncertainty surrounding the boxes prompted the evacuation of some students and staff early Thursday as a precautionary measure until authorities could determine the contents of the packages. The incident also raised the eyebrows of a few residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the OU campus, 1001 S. Cedar St., who were unaware anything was amiss until Ottawa police and other first responders started arriving on the scene and cordoning off routes into the campus. A custodian noticed a package about 5:20 a.m. Thursday at Tauy Jones Hall on the OU campus, Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, said. The worker said the package was out of place and had not been there previously. The custodian backed away from the package and notified authorities, Butler said. Other custodial staff apparently had reported seeing similar boxes Wednesday near OU’s Mowbray Student Union. Law enforcement officials set up a perimeter around the campus early Thursday, where students and faculty had been evacuated and classes were canceled until the all clear was given later that morning. Ottawa Mayor Blake Jorgensen, who lives across the street from OU’s campus, said he was notified about an incident at the university early Thursday morning by Richard Neinstedt, city manager. At the time, however, details were unclear and the mayor said he didn’t realize the incident was so close to his home. Other residents expressed similar surprise to learn a suspicious package had been discovered on the campus. Capt. Adam Weingartner, with

More local news ■ City codes official says bond election campaign sign up too early. See Page 3. ■ Sequester’s control tower closures delayed until June. See Page 16.

Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald

ABOVE: Law enforcement officials place a suspicious package in the back of a truck Thursday morning following a campus lockdown at Ottawa University, 1001 S. Cedar St., Ottawa. Officials later said the box was empty and part of “an innocent student activity.” LEFT: Law enforcement officials approach Ottawa University’s Tauy Jones Hall Thursday morning to retrieve a suspicious package that closed the campus for part of the morning and caused the evacuation of nearby Bennett Hall, 501 Otter Lane, Ottawa.

the Ottawa Police Department, said Friday that although the police department set up a perimeter that sealed off the campus, after consultation with the bomb squad, it determined it was unnecessary to evacuate the surrounding neighborhoods and that those residents were in no danger. “If we thought we would have needed to bump out the perimeter to a larger geographic area, we would have gone door-to-door in the [surrounding] neighborhoods and evacuated those residents,” Weingartner said. “We also would have posted information through our social media [outlets].

About 7 a.m., university administrators notified OU students and staff via the university’s electronic E2 Campus Electronic Alert notification system and by email about the incident, Weingartner said. The appropriate buildings were evacuated, the police captain said, and police notified the Ottawa school district and local residents through a “reverse” 911 alert call to landlines. The package — described as a treasure chest (an oversized cardboard box with a shaped lid) — appeared to be sealed with duct tape, Police Chief Butler said. Interviews conducted by the Ottawa Police Department de-

termined the packages posed no threat and there was no criminal intent, Weingartner said. Ottawa police, bomb squad members and OU staff examined the packages, which later were collected by Ottawa police for safekeeping. Paula Paine, the university’s manager of public relations and publications, confirmed Friday morning that the packages were part of a scavenger hunt conducted by some students. Paine said she had heard reports that it might have been associated with a birthday celebration, but said she could not confirm those reports. “There was no malicious or criminal intent” on the part of the students, Paine said. The university did not identify the students involved in the scavenger hunt, and Paine said she was not aware of any disciplinary action that might result from the incident. “This was an innocent student activity,” she said. But Paine said the incident might prompt some “student training” to help the university avoid a reoccurrence in the future. Jenna Lunger, a junior at OU and a member of The Campus student newspaper staff, said Thursday morning that similar cardboard boxes were used Wednesday for a scavenger hunt to celebrate a fellow student’s birthday. Lunger also is the daughter of Undersheriff Steve Lunger. About 150 students were evacuated shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday from Bennett Hall, because the student residence hall was within 300 feet of where the suspicious package was found, Paine said. Bomb squad representatives

arrived Thursday morning, and after interviews determined the packages posed no specific threat and there was no criminal intent, a K-9 unit with the Kansas Highway Patrol completed a search of Tauy Jones and Mowbray Student Union. The campus was given the “all clear” at 10 a.m., and students were allowed back on the campus, Weingartner said. Classes resumed as scheduled Thursday afternoon. “We are extremely grateful that this incident did not prove to be a credible threat to our campus and that all of our students and staff are safe,” Dennis Tyner, OU vice president and provost, said in a statement released Thursday afternoon by the university. “Their safety is our No. 1 priority, which is why we implemented the protocol that was followed for responding to this incident. “We are pleased that the protocol was effective and proud of our emergency response team and the way they handled the situation,” Tyner said. “In addition, we want to thank local and area law enforcement for their rapid and professional response to this situation.” Agencies responding to the incident included the Ottawa Police Department, Ottawa Fire Department, Franklin County Emergency Medical Services, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Emergency Management Office, Topeka Police Department Bomb Squad, Kansas Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “In an incident such as this, our first priority is the safety and security of area residents, including students and staff at Ottawa University,” Weingartner said. “The notification systems in place for such an event worked and worked well. I’d like to thank all of the agencies who responded to assist. Working together, this incident was resolved quickly and safely.” Jeanny Sharp, Herald editor and publisher, contributed to this report.

LAWSUIT: Former school superintendent, Dean Katt, set to testify in court (Continued from Page 1) Manning Construction Co., formerly known as MPW Construction Inc., entered into a contract with the school district in January 2005 to build Lincoln Elementary at 1102 N. Milner Road, Ottawa, and to complete a renovation project at Garfield Elementary, 1213 S. College St., Ottawa. Both projects were substantially complete in early 2007, according to court documents.

The bulging case file 2011-CV-80, so thick it fills two manila folders, has continued to mushroom since the first petition was filed in spring 2011. The original petition indicates district officials noticed cracks in epoxy floors and “widespread construction deficiencies in the roofs of both schools,” according to the document. The school district notified Manning Construction in writing of the alleged deficiencies

CITY: Next step for seat (Continued from Page 1) “If I’m appointed sheriff, I will get with [City Attorney] Bob Bezek and talk about what the procedure would be for resigning,” Richards said after Thursday night’s convention. Bezek said Friday that Richards would need to submit a resignation letter. Once the city commission receives Richards’ resignation letter, the remaining commissioners would have 45 days to appoint a successor, Bezek said, citing a city ordinance that is based on state statute. The appointee would serve Richards’ two-year term until the next general election. Bezek said Richards’ seat would not automat-

within one year of the project’s completion, according to the court document, but “Manning failed to correct the defects and deficiencies.” Subsequent court documents chronicle details about one leak in the roof at Garfield and four leaks in the roof at Lincoln. Manning Construction, an award-winning contractor, is no stranger to large school, municipal and commercial projects. Some of Manning’s re-

cent construction projects include Madison Elementary School, Gardner; Eudora High School, Eudora; Platte County Middle School, Platte City, Mo.; Wellsville Elementary School, Wellsville; Olathe City Hall, Olathe; Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino, north of Topeka in Mayetta, Kan., and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Gardner. Norris and Michael Seck, the Overland Park attorney representing Manning Construction, could

ically go to the person who received the next highest number of votes in Tuesday’s election. The city commission would advertise the opening and accept applicants from Ottawa residents interested in serving on the commission. The applicants would go through an interview process, and the commission would then appoint Richards’ successor, Bezek said. Applicants must reside within the city limits to be eligible for the atlarge commission seat.

quires that Katt be available to testify in the court proceedings. Ottawa school district patrons passed a $25.9 million bond issue in 2004 to cover the costs of the Lincoln and Garfield construction and renovation projects, as well as other improvements in the district.

Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at dcarder@ottawaherald. com

RICHARDS: Veteran Overland Park police detective (Continued from Page 1)

City would appoint new commissioner if Richards resigns.

not be reached for comment Friday. The trial promises to feature expert witnesses testifying for the plaintiff and defense, according to court documents. Representatives with the contractor and subcontractors also might be called to testify, along with Dean Katt, former superintendent of Ottawa schools. A settlement agreement between the school district and Katt, who resigned March 1, re-

Unanimously dubbed sheriff-elect at Thursday’s convention — which was necessitated by the April 1 resignation of Jeff Curry amid criminal charges against the now-former sheriff — Richards boasts decades of law enforcement experience and a blossoming political career in Franklin County. Richards, 44, moved to Ottawa in 2000 and has three sons and one daughter with his wife, Michelle. First elected in 2011, Richards has served one term on the Ottawa City Commission and was re-elected Tuesday for a second term. Once Gov. Sam Brownback appoints Richards as Franklin County sheriff, which likely will occur sometime next week, Richards said he would resign as a city commissioner. In 1989, Richards first began serving in law enforcement as a part-time deputy and jailer for the Neosho County Sheriff’s Office. Two years later, he left the department to join the U.S. Air Force and served

in Operation Desert Storm. During his nine years in the Air Force, Richards served as a law enforcement specialist and later as a law enforcement supervisor. In those roles, Richards said, he worked as team leader of an emergency services team, a field training officer, dispatcher and flight chief. He was selected as 1996 Law Enforcement Airman of the Year for the Pacific Air Forces and as the 1998 Law Enforcement Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. In 2000, Richards joined the Overland Park Police Department, where he has served nine years as a detective, in addition to other work as a patrol officer, rifle team member, accident investigator and motorcycle officer. He also serves as the chaplain liaison officer for the Police/ Fire Chaplain program, he said. Politically, Richards now is the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Central Committee. He also is chairman of the finance and personnel committee for the Church of the Nazarene, Seventh and Elm

streets, as well as one of its board members. He previously served on the Franklin County Planning Commission and with the Innovation Committee for the Kansas GOP. Richards also plays the drums at the Church of the Nazarene. He has played the drums since middle school, he said, in addition to being a singer and a trumpet player. Asked about his life philosophy before the city commission race, Richards said he is a man of God and adheres to his faith though decision-making. “As a Christian, I am guided by my faith,” Richards wrote in a response to The Herald. “As a citizen, and elected official, I look to our Founders and our founding documents as a guideline. As an Air Force veteran, I still follow the USAF motto: ‘Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.’ I think all of these complement each other well and give me a strong foundation.��� Doug Carder, Herald senior writer, contributed to this report.


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