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.

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 […]

Anti-mask notification system goes offline; nobody shows for protests

By: - November 1, 2020

TOPEKA — A St. Mary’s man digital platform for uniting anti-maskers in defiance of public health orders no longer appears online. Jason Harpe, who operates Motion Fitness martial arts school in St. Marys, railed against COVID-19 as a “manufactured crisis” at UnMaskTogether.com, where he also said mask mandates were a government conspiracy to test the […]

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 […]