Feb 13, 2020 11:00 AM

Governor Kelly pushes new 10-year transportation plan

Posted Feb 13, 2020 11:00 AM
Governor Laura Kelly and Sec. Julie Lorenz during Wednesday's announcement-photo courtesy office of Kansas governor
Governor Laura Kelly and Sec. Julie Lorenz during Wednesday's announcement-photo courtesy office of Kansas governor

Governor Laura Kelly and Julie Lorenz, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), announced a new transportation program, FORWARD, at a news conference Wednesday as part of the Transportation Day activities at the State Capitol.

According to a media release from the governor, “Key features of FORWARD include a flexible, responsive rolling program where major projects are selected every two years rather than once a decade,” Kelly said. “FORWARD also calls for completion of  delayed T-WORKS projects; transit, aviation, rail, bike and pedestrian solutions that solve problems in rural and urban Kansas; and more partnerships with local communities to increase both local matches and the number of improvements we can make.”

FORWARD will also provide more resources to communities through new initiatives such as the Cost-Share, Local Bridge Improvement and Strategic Safety programs to help address Kansans’ pent-up demand for transportation investments, Secretary Lorenz said.

“Most importantly, FORWARD will provide better service through helping communities solve more transportation problems by utilizing all of KDOT’s resources,” Secretary Lorenz said.

Both Governor Kelly and Secretary Lorenz stressed the need to end transfers out of the State Highway Fund. Over the past several years, more than $2 billion has been transferred, causing the condition of the state’s highway system to decline. Governor Kelly’s budget, with the Legislature’s support, began to reverse that trend last year.

“To pass FORWARD, we must close the ‘Bank of KDOT’ – and make sure that funding for transportation is spent on transportation,” Kelly said. Governor Kelly has pledged to close the “Bank of KDOT” by the end of her first term.

The FORWARD program is a plan for Kansans, developed in consultation with Kansans, that works for the whole state.

“Kansans are ready to build a better transportation system for themselves and for future generations,” Secretary Lorenz said. “With FORWARD, KDOT will be ready to deliver.”

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Feb 13, 2020 11:00 AM
Ex-Kan. prison lab instructor wants sex crime conviction thrown out
Tomas Co photo Texas County

TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — A former prison dental instructor who was found guilty earlier this month of one count of unlawful sexual relations with an inmate is asking a judge to throw out the conviction.

Tomas Co was convicted on one charge and found not guilty of five other charges alleging he abused female inmates working in the dental lab at the Topeka Correctional Facility.

The conviction was for a woman who said Co touched the inside of her knee and thigh.

In a motion filed Friday, Co's attorney, Chris Joseph, argued that type of touching doesn’t constitute “lewd” touching under state law. The motion also asks Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios to acquit Co based on insufficient evidence, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Joseph said he also plans to seek probation for Co, rather than the 31 to 136 months of prison time he is facing.

District Attorney Mike Kagay said his office would file arguments in response to the defense motion.

Inmates in the dental lab complained for five years about alleged sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Co, who was dismissed in December 2018.