Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.

The ksvotes.org website offers the best platform for registering to vote online, but language in the privacy policy raises concerns about the data being collected and whether it could ever be used for political purposes. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Privacy concerns shadow popular voter registration website

By: - August 2, 2020

The 41,700 people who have turned to ksvotes.org as a superior alternative to the state’s primitive online platform for voter registration probably don’t realize they signed away their personal information to be used in targeted advertisements. Language in the site’s privacy policy gives permission to Blueprint Kansas, the organization that operates ksvotes.org, to collect contact […]

Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said wearing masks, improving testing capacity and isolating people infected with COVID-19 was the best approach during the pandemic as long as there is no approved vaccine. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

‘A lot of anger’: Kansas authorities on alert for threats to health officers

By: - July 30, 2020

TOPEKA — Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman says he is used to “looking over my shoulder,” behavior the lieutenant colonel in the Kansas Army National Guard learned while serving as senior medical commander in a combat zone. Norman again finds himself under threat of attack. Public health officials across the the […]

Felony charges against Rep. Steve Watkins have become a flashpoint in his GOP primary race against state Treasurer Jake LaTurner. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Affidavit: Rep. Steve Watkins lied about address change, not voting

By: - July 29, 2020

A Shawnee County sheriff’s detective in her affidavit report says U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins lied to her when he claimed he didn’t actually vote in a local election and wasn’t responsible for listing a UPS store as his home address. Video surveillance and a review of mail-in ballots provide the basis for three felony charges […]

The Kansas Department of Corrections led by secretary Jeff Zmuda says a fifth inmate who contracted COVID-19 has died. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

Employee at Topeka women’s prison dies from COVID-19

By: - July 28, 2020

A facility maintenance supervisor for the state-run women’s prison in Topeka has died after being infected with COVID-19. The Kansas Department of Corrections said Richard Rose, 74, died on Saturday. He was a 17-year employee at the agency. Rose is the third staff member and the first at Topeka Correctional Facility to die after being […]

Julie Herron was booked into jail Wednesday on charges of unlawful sexual relations with a patient in state custody who was younger than 16. (Shawnee County Jail)

Topeka therapist charged with having sex with child in state care

By: - July 24, 2020

TOPEKA — A Topeka mental health professional faces charges of having sexual relations with a patient in state care who was younger than 16. Julie Herron, 51, is accused of engaging in intercourse, lewd fondling or sodomy with the child between February and July of 2015. She was booked into jail on Wednesday and released […]

Health secretary Lee Norman outlines the growing number of COVID-19 infections in Kansas during a news conference last week in which Gov. Laura Kelly announced her order to keep schools closed until after Labor Day. On Wednesday, Norman told board members that schools can't be safe islands in unsafe communities. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Medical experts dispute claims by Kansas Board of Education member

By: and - July 23, 2020

TOPEKA — Kansas State Board of Education member Michelle Dombrosky confronted health secretary Lee Norman during Wednesday’s meeting to ask why his advice — to delay the start of school for three weeks — conflicts with the opinion of other medical experts in the state. The board member from Olathe identified Children’s Mercy Hospital, the […]

The Kansas Department of Corrections led by secretary Jeff Zmuda says a fifth inmate who contracted COVID-19 has died. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

Norton inmate tests positive for COVID-19

By: - July 23, 2020

Kansas Department of Corrections secretary Jeff Zmuda on Thursday said an inmate at the state-run prison in Norton had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of corrections facilities with known infections to eight. The infected man was among 96 residents in the minimum security unit at the Norton Correctional Facility. All of the unit’s […]

OPINION
From left, Kansas Reflector's founding team members are reporter Noah Taborda, senior reporter Tim Carpenter, opinion editor C.J. Janovy and editor in chief Sherman Smith. (Thad Allton for Kansas Reflector)

I was on front lines, and sidelines, of pandemic coverage. Now, I’m living the dream.

By: - July 21, 2020

At the height of an unprecedented health crisis, I found myself on the sidelines. I knew somebody who knew somebody, and before I knew it, I had accepted an offer for my dream job — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to launch a nonprofit news organization dedicated to serving the people of Kansas.