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.

ACLU of Kansas files complaint for Ellis County election worker over lack of mask mandate

By: - October 29, 2020

TOPEKA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is seeking an investigation into the refusal of the Ellis County clerk and Kansas Secretary of State to require election workers to wear a facemask. The ACLU filed a complaint with the Kansas Department of Labor on behalf of an Ellis County election worker who has […]

ACLU of Kansas wants Ellis County voters to know misprinted ballots will be counted

By: - October 29, 2020

TOPEKA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas wants the Ellis County clerk to provide direction directly to voters who received misprinted ballots. Clerk Donna Maskus says she has done everything she can to mitigate the problem. The county mailed about 3,800 ballots that labeled a Kansas Senate race as the U.S. Senate race […]

Mask hater enlists followers to defy mandates at Topeka, Manhattan businesses

By: - October 28, 2020

UPDATE: The UnMaskTogether website was taken down following publication of this story, and nobody apparently showed for the planned protests. TOPEKA — The facemask-despising owner of a martial arts school in St. Marys is enlisting like-minded science deniers to participate in mandate-defying flash mobs at Topeka and Manhattan businesses. Jason Harpe claims COVID-19 is a […]

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, left, defeated Republican challenger Amanda Adkins in the 3rd District election. Davids remains the lone Democrat in the federal delegation from Kansas. (Kansas Reflector)

Davids, Adkins clash on health care, unemployment aid during 3rd District debate

By: - October 22, 2020

TOPEKA — Democratic incumbent Sharice Davids and Republican challenger Amanda Adkins clashed in a 3rd District congressional debate Thursday with competing views on health care, an economy struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic, and police reform. Adkins blasted Davids for her allegiance to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while Davids vilified her opponent as an extension […]

Ballot misprint could be issue if U.S. Senate race is close between Bollier, Marshall

By: - October 22, 2020

TOPEKA — A ballot misprint in Ellis County could provide an opportunity to challenge the outcome of the U.S. Senate race or a legislative race if the results from either are extremely close. The misprinted ballots list the Kansas Senate 40th District race between Republican incumbent Rick Billinger and Democratic challenger Larry Dreiling as the […]

Gov. Laura Kelly, who expanded her statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 flourished, will brief reporters Wednesday after KDHE reported fatalities in the state surged 119 since Monday. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Norton’s COVID-19 infection rate highest ever recorded in Kansas

By: - October 21, 2020

TOPEKA — A severe and deadly outbreak of COVID-19 that has ravaged the Norton community is by far the worst recorded in Kansas since the start of the pandemic, health officials said Wednesday. Gov. Laura Kelly called the outbreak a “stark reminder” that the threat of COVID-19 is real, even in rural areas. She said […]

Topeka police audit finds concerning behavior by officer who used force on autistic child

By: - October 20, 2020

TOPEKA — A Topeka police auditor determined an officer abided by department policy but used “concerning” judgment last month when he cursed at an autistic child, pepper sprayed the child’s dog, and handcuffed and threw the child to the ground, breaking the child’s wrist. Body camera video shows the officer yelling at the 14-year-old boy […]

COVID-19 kills 10, infects all 52 other residents at Norton nursing home

By: and - October 19, 2020

The city of Norton is grappling with a cluster of COVID-19 infection at a nursing home with dozens of positive cases.

Record number of Kansans eager to vote early in unusual election

By: - October 18, 2020

Teresa Briggs’ facemask invites people to vote. Lately, it’s been a conversation starter. The co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas recently wore her voting-themed facemask to a retail store in Emporia, where she was approached by another woman. “She said, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re gonna vote.’ And I said, ‘Do it early.’ And […]

Gov. Laura Kelly: Wear your mask, but don’t despair over grim COVID-19 updates

By: - October 13, 2020

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday her administration has taken an important step toward funneling federal cash into expanded testing capacity for COVID-19. She also urged Kansans not to despair over the increasingly grim numbers of deaths and infections reported by health officials every couple of days. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment […]

Senate President Susan Wagle embraces gerrymandering to benefit GOP in Kansas

By: and - October 9, 2020

TOPEKA — Democrats blasted Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle on Friday for recent comments she made about the desire to redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries in Kansas to favor Republicans. Wagle, a Republican from Wichita who is retiring from the Legislature after withdrawing from the U.S. Senate race, told a gathering of Republicans last […]

Lee Norman, the state's health officer and secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, issued an order requiring COVID-19 testing of residents and staff of adult daycare homes. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas expands monitoring of wastewater for early warning of COVID-19 outbreaks

By: - October 7, 2020

TOPEKA — Scientists in April discovered wastewater from Hiawatha indicated an extensive presence in the community of COVID-19. At the time, there were no positive cases of the virus in Brown County, which encompasses a sparsely populated rural area along the Nebraska border in northeast Kansas. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which had […]