Author

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the 2021 and 2022 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. He is a lifelong Kansan.

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

Kansas Department of Corrections reports 11th inmate death from COVID-19

By: - November 18, 2020

TOPEKA — An 81-year-old inmate of the state-run prison in Lansing has died from COVID-19. He is the 11th person to die from COVID-19 while in state custody and the fifth at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Carol Pitts, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Corrections, said the man was transported to a hospital after […]

Gov. Laura Kelly issues new statewide mask mandate, adding teeth to anti-coronavirus directive

By: and - November 18, 2020

Gov. Laura Kelly issues executive order mandating wearing off masks in Kansas that requires county officials to take a public vote to opt out.

White House task force assessment of COVID-19 in Kansas: ‘exponential and unyielding spread’

By: and - November 18, 2020

TOPEKA — Republican Rep. John Eplee wishes he could turn the clock back 10 months and beg for national guidance on a pandemic that has killed more than 1,100 Kansans and threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Eplee, a family physician at Amberwell Health hospital in Atchison, says he is “just trying to survive” until he can […]

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

Kansas Department of Corrections reports 10th inmate death from COVID-19

By: - November 17, 2020

TOPEKA — An inmate at the state-run prison in Ellsworth died Sunday after contracting COVID-19. The 68-year-old man is the 10th inmate in state custody to die from the virus, and the third from the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Carol Pitts, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Corrections, said the man had been transported on […]

Lobbyist urges lawmakers to question accuracy of COVID-19 deaths, infections in Kansas

By: - November 16, 2020

TOPEKA — A frequent skeptic of COVID-19’s impact in Kansas pressed a mostly maskless GOP-led panel Monday to verify reported death totals and refuse heavy restrictions that would cripple a floundering economy. As lobbyist Dave Trabert presented data undermining the increasing severity of the pandemic, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported another surge […]

Kansas senator wants to ban voting machines that don’t provide paper trail

By: - November 11, 2020

TOPEKA — Kansas Sen. Richard Hilderbrand plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session that would ban county election officials from using electronic voting machines that don’t provide a paper backup. The Galena Republican says he is worried about the potential for hackers to gain access to electronic machines and manipulate the outcome of an […]

A Shawnee County District Court judge issued an order requiring Shawn Parcells, who performed autopsy services without professional credentials, pay $764,000 in restitution, penalties and fees. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Autopsy huckster eager for teaching job as Kansas legal troubles mount

By: - November 9, 2020

TOPEKA — Beleaguered by negative publicity and mounting legal problems, Shawn Parcells hopes to have finally landed a job, this time teaching at an online college. That position may be tenuous. Parcells, who exaggerated nonexistent medical credentials to perform autopsies and dupe bereaved families into paying for services he never provided, emailed his attorney, Erik […]

Gov. Laura Kelly said Kansas' last-in-nation COVID-19 vaccination rate, based on CDC reporting, is misleading due to a lag in health workers documenting inoculations across the state. The CDC says Kansas trails the four surrounding states. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Analysts bolster Kansas revenue projections, envision less dire budget outlook

By: - November 6, 2020

TOPEKA — Kansas’ official revenue forecasters say economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic will be far less severe than previously projected for the state’s bottom line. Next year’s budget shortfall now is expected to be $152 million, an upgrade from the $1.4 billion deficit anticipated earlier this year. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, composed of […]

Hospitals near breaking point as COVID-19 patients multiply

By: - November 6, 2020

TOPEKA — As Steve Stites, the chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System, tried to get the message out Friday that hospital resources are more scarce than previously thought, he began to pound his desk. Kansas City area hospitals are approaching the point where they will have to choose who they provide […]

Health officials concerned by tightly packed, mostly maskless GOP celebration

By: - November 4, 2020

TOPEKA — Health officials expressed concern Wednesday with potential implications of the tightly packed, mostly maskless GOP watch party on election night in downtown Topeka. The Kansas Republican Party event at the Cyrus Hotel openly defied county mandates on social distancing and face coverings, and placed the GOP enthusiasts, as well as hotel employees and […]

Kansas congressional races: Republican Jake LaTurner defeats Topeka mayor; Davids wins 2nd term

By: - November 3, 2020

TOPEKA — Republican state Treasurer Jake LaTurner extended his rapid political ascent Tuesday by defeating Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in the 2nd District congressional race Tuesday. The 32-year-old LaTurner won by a 55-41 margin after a campaign marked by his dubious assertions that De La Isla wanted to defund police. He appealed to […]

Topeka men fire guns at five teenagers, shooting three, in possible confrontation over Trump signs

By: - November 2, 2020

TOPEKA — Police say they are sorting through new information from witnesses about what happened Saturday night when two men apparently fired a handgun and rifle at a group of five teenagers, possibly in a confrontation over Donald Trump yard signs. Three of the juveniles suffered gunshot wounds. None was considered to be life-threatening. Incident […]