Manhattan man found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound

A Manhattan man was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday night.

According to a press release from the Riley County Police Department, 61-year-old Paul Wash was deceased by the time officers arrived in the 700 block of Osage just before 9 p.m.

Authorities say Walsh’s family has been notified.

Police do not suspect foul play based on information and evidence collected at the scene.

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RCPD Report 4/22/2017

An Ogden man was arrested for rape charges late Friday afternoon.
35-year-old Rondal Michael Genzel was arrested by the Riley County Police Department in Ogden. According to his arrest report, the victim was younger than 14.
 Genzel is confined in the Riley County Jail on a $100,000 bond.
A Manhattan man was arrested in a separate just after midnight Saturday for traffic and drug charges.
20-year-old Jacob Vestweber was arrested in the 6000 block of Tuttle Creek Boulevard for possession of marijuana, DUI, driving while suspended and failure to stop at an accident.
Authorities tell KMAN the arrest is unrelated to a hit and run case that put a K-State student in the hospital on April 14th.
Vestweber is confined in the Riley County Jail on a $10,000 bond.

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K-State extends campaign to raise $1.4 billion by 2020

The Kansas State University Foundation’s board of trustees and K-State President Richard Myers announced the Innovation and Inspiration Campaign has surpassed its $1 billion goal ahead of schedule, and that a new goal has been set: $1.4 billion by 2020.

Myers said that the decision to extend the campaign was based on the extraordinary success of the effort thus far.


“Years ago, when we were first discussing the campaign goal, leaders at K-State and the KSU Foundation made the bold decision to pursue a $1 billion goal,” said Myers, who also serves as a campaign co-chair. “Over time, we’ve come to realize that we shouldn’t underestimate the K-State family. We’ve proven that we can achieve more than we ever thought possible. After careful deliberation, the KSU Foundation leadership, board of directors, Campaign Steering Committee and I made the decision to extend the campaign.”

Funds raised through the campaign will continue to support students, faculty, facility enhancements and program support, and will propel Kansas State University toward becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025. Three signature drivers will lead the Innovation and Inspiration Campaign forward:

• The land-grant mission of providing an accessible and affordable education to the people of Kansas and beyond.

• Centers of excellence and interdisciplinary programs — areas where Kansas State University has a competitive advantage and the potential to change the world.

• Substantially increasing the endowment for the future of the university through estate-planning gifts.

“We are inspired by the generosity of the K-State family, which is vital now more than ever,” said Greg Willems, president and CEO of the KSU Foundation. “To live up to the original spirit of the university’s land-grant mission, we must remain laser-focused on access and affordability. We rely ever more on support from K-State alumni and friends to meet the needs facing the university and to make college education possible for those who desire it.”

“The success of the campaign to date and the decision to extend it is because of the amazing generosity of K-State’s philanthropists and the hard work of hundreds of campaign volunteers,” said Rand Berney, campaign co-chair and chair of the KSU Foundation board of directors. “We sincerely thank all of the volunteers and donors who have invested their time, talent and treasure to benefit K-State faculty, students and programs today and for future generations. We invite all who want to help K-State reach new heights to join the Innovation and Inspiration Campaign.”


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KSU students lost to World War I honored with Memorial Stadium ceremony

Jed Dunham speaks during Friday’s re-dedication ceremony of World War I Memorial Stadium on the campus of K-State. (Staff photos by Brady Bauman)

K-State students lost to World War I were honored Friday afternoon with a re-dedication ceremony of Memorial Stadium.

Now, it is officially World War I Memorial Stadium.

“If we were to hold one second of silence for each death caused by the first World War,” Jed Dunham told the crowd. “It would require us to remain quiet for 162 days.”

Fort Riley soldiers, dignitaries and a crowd filled the west side of the former KSU football stadium that has been a landmark on the campus of Kansas State University since 1922.

Dunham, a writer and researcher for K-State’s Office of Military Affairs, took one of those seconds to honor Capt. Willis Comfort, a K-Stater who was one of the founding leaders of the 1st Infantry Division before he was killed in France in 1918. After his death, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross — the nation’s second highest military award.

Dunham said he told Comfort’s story to another Distinguished Service Cross recipient, retired Col. Mike McDermott, a Vietnam veteran who is a senior consultant for veterans programs at KSU.

Brigadier General Patrick D. Frank, left, and retired Col. Mike McDermott salute the memory of Capt. Willis Comfort. Comfort was one of 48 K-State students who left for World War I but did not return.

McDermott discovered Comfort qualified to be a member of the Legion of Valor, a federally-chartered corporation that requires a Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross or Air Force Cross for admittance.

McDermott discovered Comfort’s name wasn’t in the group’s roster.

“He took it upon himself to rectify that,” Dunham said of McDermott, who was on stage for the ceremony. “In this past year, at the national convention of the Legion of Valor, Mike McDermott sponsored Willis Comfort and formally inducted him into the organization that he rightfully belongs.”

Comfort’s photo, guarded by a solider dressed as they did in WWI, was featured at the ceremony and a wreath was laid near it by McDermott and Brigadier General Patrick D. Frank of Fort Riley.

“If you’re a K-Stater, this has to be meaningful to you,” said Richard Myers, the president of K-State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from the podium. “If you’ve been in the military, this is very meaningful to you, because we’re finally bringing to close a chapter that was opened, but never officially closed.”

The day — which was threatened by drops of rain — was possible because of the curiosity of Dunham.

Dunham, a 1996 KSU graduate, took special notice of a plaque on the southern end of the stadium’s east stands while visiting Manhattan in 2014. The plaque displayed the names of 48 K-State students who lost their lives in World War I and Dunham, who lived in New Hampshire at the time, wanted to know more about them.

Click to view slideshow.

Initially, the task wasn’t as easy as he hoped and more was required than a simple Google search of names.

“Nothing came back,” Dunham told the audience. “And this did not sit well with me, and thus began an odyssey to find out who these individuals were. And as I pulled the string and unraveled what became a long journey down the rabbit hole, the stories of the 48 fallen emerged.

“And they were fascinating. And they were beautiful. And they were sad, and they were horrific and they were unbelievably American.”

Once more and more information was found, Dunham said he reached out to K-State officials. Interest grew and snowballed into Friday’s ceremony.

“It was never my intention to have this moment here, today,” he said. “Yet, here we are. Keep believing.”

Dunham said that the stories of the lost soldiers and K-State students are remarkable. Although not all of them went to war with zeal, they answered the call of their country.

“Individually, they are worthy of Hollywood epics, but taken together, they are a national treasure,” Dunham said.

Dunham, who said the day was also an opportunity to unite what he called an increasingly divided country, hopes to release published works of the 48 fallen soldier’s stories.

Dunham’s full remarks can be listened to below:

      Jed Dunham 1
      Jed Dunham 2

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Area unemployment numbers trending downward

Unemployment rates across the area dropped during the month of March. According to a release from the Kansas Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in Riley county for March was 2.7-percent, which was nearly a .5-percent drop from February. The unemployment rate in Geary county dropped nearly one percent and currently sits at 5-percent unemployment. Pottawatomie county’s unemployment rate is 3-percent, down .3-percent from last month. The state average unemployment rate in March was 3.8-percent, and that was down from 4-percent in February.

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Three arrested in rural MHK drug bust

On Monday evening, members of the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by members of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks executed three search warrants in the rural Manhattan area of Pottawatomie County. Three arrests were made and approximately nine pounds of marijuana was seized.

67-year-old Robert E. Snyder and 42-year-old Brian D. Greer were both arrested on a variety of charges including possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Sandra S. Snyder, 70, was taken into custody for possession of marijuana was released on a $1,000 bond.

The search warrants were served on residences on Canary Lane, Sparrow Lane and Elbo View Drive northeast of Manhattan as the result of an ongoing investigation into illegal drug use and sales in the Pottawatomie County.

In addition to the marijuana, cash and firearms were seized.

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“Friended at the Front” author visits K-State

Dr. Lisa Silvestri, author of Friended at the Front:Social Media in the American War Zone” delivered the 17th annual Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media Thursday morning and also participated in a roundtable discussion later in the day with a group that included KMAN’s Cathy Dawes. Cathy spoke to her following that afternoon discussion and her interview follows:

      Dr Lisa Silvestri


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RCPD: Suspect identified in hit and run that left MHK woman hospitalized

The Riley County Police Department says a suspect has been identified in the hit and run accident that put a Manhattan woman in the hospital last week.

According to a press release from the RCPD, a male has identified himself as the driver of the vehicle that struck 21-year-old Amber Wilhelm during the early morning hours on April 14. At this point, no arrests have been made as the investigation continues.

Police say that due to department policy, the name of the individual will not be released until the conclusion of the investigation and enforcement action in the form of a citation or arrest is made.

The Wilhelm family has been notified of the development.

“They, and we, want to thank the thousands of people in Riley County and beyond that shared this story from the beginning,” the RCPD stated. “Your help and support has been incredible.”

Wilhelm’s parents filmed video statements through the RCPD Facebook page earlier this week pleading for the driver to come to the police. They were shared through various media outlets in the region and through the social media accounts of everyday citizens.

KMAN will have more information as it becomes available.

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Medicaid veto felt in Riley/Pott County ambulance fee hikes

Pottawatomie and Riley County officials are scrambling to find a more cost-efficient way to pay for its ambulance services — and Medicaid expansion could’ve helped, according to local leaders.

County officials, along with City of Manhattan commission members, met Thursday afternoon in the Riley County Commission Chambers for their monthly joint meeting. Leadership from Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan were also involved in discussions.

Via Christi, who operates the ambulances, will be raising their fees nearly $200,000 for each county this year.

“We’re looking at both counties maybe coming together with an administration office, that we can keep these costs to maybe a quarter of a million dollars,” Pottawatomie County Commissioner Pat Weixelman told KMAN after the meeting. “We’re going to explore these options and see if there is any substantial route that we can take to try and save a little money.”

Bob Copple, the president of Via Christi in Manhattan, agreed the veto of Medicaid expansion by Gov. Sam Brownback on March 30 didn’t help the situation. After the meeting, both Copple and Pottawatomie County Administrator Robert Reece said Medicaid expansion would be a positive for both local governments and hospitals when it comes to eliminating expenses for unpaid ambulance transports.

“Everybody would actually benefit from that scenario,” Copple said. “Because right now, truly, as we were talking in the meeting, there’s a percentage of the folks who are transported who don’t have insurance, don’t have coverage and can’t pay.”

Copple said the hospital hasn’t changed its fees for more than a decade. But now, the hospital can’t afford to keep doing so.

“It’s apparent that people are starting to understand what these services actually cost to operate,” he said. “We have been subsidizing these services for both counties for well over a decade each, and I think the county commissioners understand that.”

Copple said one option for each county is to add another mill levy to support an ambulance district, which is granted under state statute.

Riley County commissioner Ben Wilson hopes a plan is figured out soon.

“Riley County would like to have a final answer by the time we finalize our budget discussions, which is just a couple months away now,” he said.

Wilson and Weixelman volunteered to lead a subcommittee to investigate options.

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383 board hears discussion on parks and rec improvements

Members of the USD 383 board of education heard an update on proposed parks and recreation improvements that were discussed at a Manhattan City Commission work session last week. On Wednesday evening, deputy city manager Jason Hilgers told board members about the resolution passed by city commissioners that allows a ballot measure to be prepared for the November election. The quarter-cent sales tax increase would fund $27.5 million in parks improvements — including the addition of two city-owned gymnasiums being built at Susan B. Anthony and Dwight D. Eisenhower middle schools.

Hilgers unveiled a timeline for the projects that was also introduced last week. If the sales tax increase is approved by voters, the design process for the gymnasiums would begin next year with construction being completed by 2021. The two gymnasiums would cost a combined $16 million. Hilgers and board members talked about the need for coordination between the two groups when both the district and parks and recreation department will need to use the facilities.

In new business, the board approved the purchase of $244,000 in textbooks for next school year. A $77,000 contract was also awarded to Parsons Communications, of Manhattan, for network infrastructure upgrades at Susan B. Anthony Middle School which will be completed this summer.

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