FRIDAY, JUNE 9,2006 REGION AND STATE THE HAYS DAILY NEWS A3 Briefs Golfcart fire damages garage, car Thursday night A golfcart ignited late Thursday night, causing a fire in the garage attached to the residence of 2903 Thunderbird Drive. Firefighters were called out at 11:30 p.m. Twenty-one firefighters arrived in five trucks, and the fire was declared out eight minutes after the arrival of the fire department. "The garage suffered moderate smoke and heat damage and the house suffered light smoke damage," Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown said. A 2005 Cadillac in the garage also suffered moderate smoke and heat damage. "These golfcarts are made of fiberglass, which burns and creates a tremendous amount of heat," Brown said. The golfcart ignited most likely because of an electrical problem, the fire department said. Hays Fire Department offering smoke detectors To increase the fire safety of Hays, the Hays Fire Department is giving away free smoke alarm detectors to citizens who are not able to afford them. The HFD also is providing free installation for senior citizens and those who otherwise could not install the detectors themselves. "We're just trying to provide assistance to the people who need it and make Hays a safer place," Fire Chief Gary Brown said. For more information, call the HFD at 628-7330. Skateboarding bikers next group coming to Hays As the 1,000 members of the Harley Owners Group roar out of town at the end of this weekend, another group of Harley-riding guests will arrive. And they're bringing their skateboards. A caravan of 10 professional skateboarders is making a stop at 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Hays Skate Park for a cross-country interactive , and apparel brand. The Eriieri- (ia's Wild Ride tour stops at 10 cities in 10 days, and is different from many skate tours because it allows fans to interact directly with the athletes in between trick performances. The event is free to the public. Fans can travel to the next city destination with the tour after it departs Hays. Skaters will include Andrew Reynolds, Heath Kirchart, Ed Templeton, Kevin "Spanky" Long, Bryan Herman, Leo Romero, Austin Stephens, Matt Allen, Aaron Suski and Braydon Szafranski. Kansas secretary of state files for re-election TOPEKA (AP) — Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh made two things clear Thursday: He's running for a fourth term and he sees the primary race as an indicator of just how much clout conservatives have in the state Republican Party. "Too late to back out now," Thornburgh quipped as he signed his paperwork and paid the $1,297 filing fee to face conservative Sen. Kay O'Connor in the Aug. 1 primary. Democrats say they will have a candidate file before the noon Monday deadline. The primary winner faces the Democratic challenger in the Nov. 7 general election. "This race is going to be a bellwether race for the primaries in the Republican Party, and it's going to show my capacity for leadership within the party as well," Thornburgh said, For years, the state GOP has been split between moderate and conservative factions. While Thornburgh calls himself a conservative, others view him as more moderate. "While I am a conservative, Kay is clearly more conservative and tends to have support of individuals from that particular camp," he said. "So we are going to see just how strong that base is." CMfwuras The Hays Daily News staff takes care with its reporting and writing. But if we make a mistake, we want to know about It so we can let readers know the cojv rect information. We encourage readers who find an error to contact us at (785) 628-1081. Ask for Patrick Lowry, executive editor, or Mike Corn, managing editor, or e-mail the editors at plpwry@d«llyn«w8.net or mcoro@4aUynew8.net. Panel can't pin down extent of talk House committee examining contact between Morris, court TOPEKA (AP) — A House committee was unable Thursday to confirm some members' suspicions that Senate President Steve Morris' contact with the Kansas Supreme Court about school finance issues went beyond one lunch with a single justice. Morris has said his March 1 lunch with Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, and Justice Lawton Nuss was his only contact with the court, which has ordered lawmakers to increase school funding in an ongoing lawsuit. The three have said the discussion about education funding lasted about five minutes. Justices are prohibited from discussing pending cases with outsiders, and Nuss has since withdrawn from the school finance litigation. He still faces an ethics complaint. Some legislators have speculated about whether the court and lawmakers have communicated more often on education funding than Morris has disclosed. Sens. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, and Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, gave sworn statements to the attorney general's office suggesting Morris might have had more extensive discussions. Both said in those statements that Morris had told them early this year that he had communicated with the court. Barnett wasn't specific about a date; Apple said it was "possibly in February." In testimony under oath before the committee Thursday, Barnett said Morris disclosed having contact with the court even before the Nuss lunch. However, Apple backed off. The 10-member panel is investigating' whether the March 1 conversation influenced the Legislature's passage of a three- year, $541 million school finance plan, which the court must approve. Apple said he could have been mistaken about when Morris told him of communicating with the court, acknowledging it could have been in early March, after the Nuss lunch. "It very well could have been in the first week of March," Apple said. "I probably shouldn't have been speculating." The distinction was important to some committee members, who said if Morris told Apple or Barnett before March 1 about contact with the court, then the communication might have occurred more than once. "I haven't resolved that in my own mind," said Chairman Mike O'Neal, R- Hutchinson. "Today certainly raises those questions and keeps those questions out there." The attorney general's office launched its own inquiry in April after Barnett complained about what he had heard from Morris. In March, Morris told at least seven senators, including Apple and Barnett, about having contact with the court, though he apparently never named Nuss or said his contact was a justice. In his sworn statement, Barnett said Morris also told him "early" in the session that he and the governor's office were DIFFERENT STORIES • CONFLICTING TESTIMONY: A House committee heard different stories from witnesses Thursday about when Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, first told colleagues of having contact with the Kansas Supreme Court about school finance. • THE ISSUE: Morris says his March 1 lunch with Justice Lawton Nuss was his only contact with the court on education funding. If he'd told someone before that lunch that he'd communicated with the court, It might Indicate multiple contacts. • • THE CONTROVERSY: A school finance lawsuit Is before the court, and justices are prohibited from discussing cases with outsiders. • WHATS NEXT: The committee hopes to meet June 88 to continue taking testimony from others, Including Morris, though he has not decided whether to appear. aware "of communications with the court" concerning what would satisfy it. Barnett testified the conversation "would have come some time in February" and that, "it was my understanding that there had been multiple communications." "The implication was that the governor knew about this as well," Barnett testified. Sebelius has said that while Morris made a vague, "offhand" comment to her during a March breakfast meeting, she didn't know he'd talked to a justice until Nuss removed himself from the school finance lawsuit a month later. As for Barnett's testimony, Matt All, Sebelius' chief counsel said, "I don't know what he was told, but we never had any communications with the court, and we weren't aware of any communications with the court, other than what has already been reported." Apple told the committee he wasn't try ing to contradict Mori-is' version of events. Instead, he said, he merely tried to convey to the attorney general's investigator that he had heard the phrase "backdoor communication" before a March 31 meeting in which Morris disclosed having contact with the court to him and Barnett. "I fully support our Senate president," Apple said. "He has a tough job to do. He's been honest with my dealings with him. 1 think he's a good person, just trying to do his job." Apple, who voted against the package that eventually passed, added: "Personally, I don't think what happened affected my vote." Morris said he and Brungardt haven't decided whether they will testify or answer written questions from the committee. Most of Morris' conversations with other senators occurred March 31, the day after the Senate rejected three school finance plans, including one offered by Barnett as part of his campaign for the GCP nomination for governor. Some of those senators, including Barnett, maintain that Morris told them he had been assured that the court could be persuaded to accept a plan under certain conditions, including if it had bipartisan support. Morris has said such statements aren't true. On the Net: Kansas Supreme Court: www. kscourts. org Nuss complaint: www.kscourts.org/nuss complalnt.pdf Kansas Legislature: www. kslegislature. org JAMIE ROPER / Hays Daily News Gay Flax from Hays leads her 3-year-old son, Hunter, on a training ride Wednesday along Hall Street in Hays. Flax, a teacher at O'Loughlin Elementary School, will ride in the 2006 Biking Across Kansas beginning today in southwest Kansas. BAK: Rider to document trek across Kansas CONTINUED FROM PAGE A1 From the time Flax decided to participate in the 2006 BAK, she hit the ground running. She bought her first bicycle July 29, started training immediately and began planning how to involve her class all year long. She decided to have her students set a goal for points for Accelerated Reading, a popular reading program for elementary and middle school students. So many points earned by the students equaled so many miles Flax would ride in a single day on BAK. Flax charted her students' progress on a map in the classroom, and on Sunday and Tuesday, she will ride 100 miles each day to represent those AR points. "Two things I stress are reading and being healthy," Flax said. "If you have a healthy mind and a healthy body, it just goes good together." Students and parents agree that it's been a fun project from start to finish. "I think it was a good way for us learn how to set goals," said Madison Kaus, one of Flax's students. "She showed us where she would be traveling and which stops she would be at, so we'll kind of know where she's going." William Steinkuhler, father of Alexa Steinkuhler, another of Flax's students, said that his daughter talked about the project at home a lot this year. "Mrs. Flax does such a wonderful job of motivating the students," he said. "I think it's a great way to get them involved in learning while stijl having fun." Flax has involved her class throughout the project. Each of her 24 students addressed three postcards, which Flax is planning to send out along various stops on the route. "I've been looking in the mail already," Madison said. ONE LONG RIDE Biking Across Kansas began in 1975 with less than 100 riders and grew to several hundred within the first five years. It started with a single route and evolved Into an event that Included three routes for 15 years. BAK, which returned to a single-route format In 2004, Is now limited to between BOO and 900 participants each year. More Information can be found on the Web at www.bak.org. Madison and her classmates won't have long to wait to hear from their teacher. Flax will be at the Colorado border tonight for the early start to Johnson City, then take off Saturday morning for Satanta, the next overnight stop. Ever the teacher, Flax also will be making lesson plans for next year during her week of traveling. She plans to document her trip by keeping a daily journal and taking pictures all along the way. O'Loughlin has "looping" classes, where students stay with the same teacher two consecutive years. So Flax's fifth-graders next year will continue to work on the project they all started together during their fourth-grade year. "I'll put an i-movie together and have the students figure out my average speed, elapsed time and graph the elevation," Flax said. Forecasts call for hot, dry weather next week. Flax knows that in Kansas, that probably also includes wind. But it doesn't really matter to her. "I asked (the students) to set a goal, and I let them see I'm working toward a goal, too," she said. "I just have to be ready for whatever the weather is." "It's a goal we all set together," she added. "The students made theirs. I'll make mine, too." Reporter Diane Gasper-O'Brien can be reached at (7B5) 628-1081, ext. 126, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hays City Commission hears first budget request for 2007 By KAREN MIKOLS HAYS DAILY NEWS No formal action was take, but the Hays City Commission heard the first formal budget request for 2007 during Thursday night's meeting. Herb Songer and Craig Karlin from Fort Hays State University requested $100,000 for scholarships and continued support for the one-third residence hall discount for Ellis County students. "The scholarships are one of the key points to retain the students," Songer said. "There is an 85-percent retention rate for scholarship students." The money is split, with $68,000 funding 85 scholarships for recruitment and $32,000 funding 64 scholarships for retention. The request will be considered as part of the city's 2007 budget. The commission unanimously approved: • An annexation agreement for the old Carrico Implement building. • A pre-annexation agreement for the old High Plains Roofing building. 9 Designating 45th Street as a main trafflcway. • The Community Development Block Grant for the Eighth Street waterline project. About $1,000 is due. This is the final installment of the nearly $11,000 project. • Repeal an ordinance for the System Enhancement Project that contained an error and pass an ordinance with an updated legal description for the System Enhancement Project. • Issuing and authorizing General Obligation Internal Improvement Bonds for about $5.7 million from Harris Bank in Chicago. This is the lowest of nine bids, with a 4.14 percent interest rate. The bonds will pay for Vine Street, Hall Street reconstruction, General Hays Road, reverse access roads, 43rd Street stormwa- ter, East 55th Street, system enhancement and Eighth Street construction. Reporter Karen Mikols can tie reached at (785) 628-1081, ext 143, or by e-mail at kmlkola&dallynows.net.
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