The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on March 29, 1998 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 A3 LEGISLATURE Salina legislators split on limiting property tax Beggs, Horst voted for amendment that failed; Kejr voted against it By DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal : Some Salina legislators believe a constitutional amendment designed to limit property taxes would have helped grandmothers living in their little cottage homes. Others believe it would have hurt them. •'. Reps. Carol Beggs and Deena Horst vot- 'ed for the amendment, which was rejected by the Legislature Friday. Rep. Joe Kejr Voted against it. The amendment would have capped appraised growth by limiting the percentage of increased valuation to the national Consumer Price Index. So if the CPI was 2 percent, then the valuation on a piece of property could go up only 2 percent. The amendment fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority it needed to be approved by the House. Beggs said Saturday that he voted for the tax to protect the classic story of the aging grandmother who has lived in her home for years. The grandmother, the story goes, suddenly finds that her property valuation has shot up because of nearby construction that has increased the value of her land, and that means that her property tax is much higher than a year ago. But he also looked at his own property, Beggs Yamaha, 129 S. Fourth, and said his value jumped from $51,000 last year to BEGGS HORST KEJR $69,120 this year. "That's hard to digest," he said. "I know what this beat-up stuff on Fourth is bringing." Local governments haven't had to raise their mill levies in recent years because increases in their property's appraised value have offset levy decreases, Beggs said. "That's a little smoky," Beggs said. "The BRIEFLY County commission sets public hearing ; A public hearing on proposed minimum road standards and city annexation of a portion of Schilling Road top the agenda for the Saline County commission's formal meeting. The formal meeting is 11 a.m. Tuesday in Room 107 of the City- County Building. * Commissioners also meet from 9 a.m. until business is concluded on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Room 209 of the City-County Building. Appointments sched- faled for the week include: ; • 10 a.m. Monday, monthly up- jlate and quarterly budget review with Rod Broberg, Saline County appraiser. x • 11 a.m. Monday, discussion With Sheriff Glen Kochanowski .about requests to spend $2,835 for seven road-spike sets and $3,412 for training equipment. '•• • 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, discussion with Reno County commissioners. Collision claims life of Colby man, 72 A two-car crash Friday in Plainville claimed the life of a 72- year-old Colby resident. Donald D. Smith died at Hays Regional Medical Center Saturday. Smith was a passenger in a car driven by his wife, Francis M. Smith, also of Colby. The Smith car and a vehicle driven by Brad T. Nuckols, Plainville, collided at North Jefferson and N.W. Second streets. Francis Smith and Nuckols were treated at Plainville Hospital and released. Mother charged with injuring infant ATCHISON — An 18-year-old woman accused of violently shaking her infant son has been charged with child abuse and aggravated battery. Leeanne P. Woodcock of Atchison was charged Friday with injuring her 2 y 2 -month-old son, Zachary Nelson. The baby, who investigators say was injured twice in the last two weeks, is in very poor condition at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, $'. ptedics were called to the home is't Sunday afternoon on a report of the baby not breathing, reportedly after being dropped. He was later flown to Children's Mercy by helicopter. , Woodcock was arrested Friday at the hospital on a fugitive warrant, police said. She could face 31 to 34 months in prison on each of the child abuse charges and 38 to 43 months in prison on the aggravated battery charges, according to Kansas sentencing guidelines. KC board waives forced retirement rule KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Board of Police Commissioners have voted to waive a rule that would have forced city police chief Floyd Bartch to retire. Bartch would have been forced to retire May 1 because of rule that limits service to the department to 30 years. Four of the five board members voted an exemption Friday to the 42-year-old rule that applies only to Bartch. Bartch had the support of the local Fraternal Order of Police, who had circulated petitions among its members urging the board allow the chief to stay. Officers say morale has improved since Bartch replaced Steven Bishop in March 1996. From Staff and Wire Reports Local Huck Finn easy thing to do is not to raise the mill levy but allow these valuations to constantly go up." But Saline County Appraiser Rod Broberg called the bill "a fallacy." He said the bill would do nothing to lower property taxes. He said the bill would simply shift the burden of property taxes to those who don't live in the suburbs. So in this case, the grandmother would be hurt by the bill. With the cap, values on those suburban homes that normally would go up 10 percent could only go up, say, by 2 percent. But the owners of homes that normally would go up only 2 percent — the ones in poorer neighborhoods — would have to pay a larger share of the burden, Broberg said, because local governments simply would raise the mill levy to make up for T ARMED ROBBERY any money lost. So essentially the owners of the poorer homes would be paying for the richer homeowners' tax break. "There would be a great inequity within, the town," he said. "That's why 1 think this is a bad idea. The money has got to come from somewhere. I've asked anyone, 'specifically what do you not want us to do?' That's what it would come down to. I never have had any takers on that." That's exactly why Kejr, normally someone who votes to cut taxes every session, voted against the bill. "I'd just as soon the state get out of the property tax, and then we wouldn't have to worry about all this," Kejr said. "But t think the concern that there would be, § shift is a valid one. I think it's appropriate that we have correct values set on property." DAVIS TURNER/The Salina Journal Devrin Hubbard, 14, balances on a sinking log Saturday in Lakewood Park as he looks for baft fish to scoop. Having fallen in a few times already, Devrin said the water temperature wasn't too cold around the edges of the lake. Moundridge reacts to robbery by juveniles Thursday's armed robbery raising suspicions of effect of Arkansas school shooting By DWIGHT JURGENS Tlie Hutchlnson News MOUNDRIDGE — The morning after Goering Hardware store clerk Mitzi Harper had a shotgun pointed at her head in a robbery Thursday, barber Morris Perkins considered his options. "Truthfully, yes, I thought about bringing a gun to work," Perkins said Friday while tending to a customer in his small shop a few doors down from the hardware store. "It could have been any of us — the flower shop, the bookstore, me, any of us." But Perkins decided against the gun. He didn't want to illegally haul it back and forth to work every day, and he didn't want to leave it in the shop. "Then one of these people would steal it, and I'd just be contributing to the problem," he said. *? But, he quickly added, if he could legally carry a concealed weapon, he would. Police Chief Brent Galle said Friday the robbers probably were juveniles, based on their small stature. And, he said, he thinks it's possible their actions were influenced by the two young boys who killed four students and a teacher this week after opening fire at a middle school in Jonesboro, Ark. "Maybe not a direct correlation," Galle said. "You never know what kids like this key on. But I wonder if it didn't have something to do with it. Like, 'They did it down there, so let's try it here.' " A clerk at a local convenience store agreed. "I think so. I really do," she said, refusing to give her name. "And tell those idiots to quit publicizing it. All it does is glamorize it." Thursday's robbery occurred minutes after Moundridge's combined middle school and high school recessed for the day at 3:30 p.m. Two robbers entered the back door of the hardware store. One went to clerk Lanny Stucky with two paper grocery bags. He told Stucky to fill one with money and put the other one over his head. Meanwhile, the second intruder found Harper kneeling in one of the aisles, checking inventory on shelves. He stuck a pump shot gun to her head and told her to stay down. Stucky sent the second robber up front where the money was kept. Manager Mike Kaufman was behind the counter. "At first, I thought it was a joke," Kaufman said. "Then when I realized it wasn't, I thought about what happened in Arkansas. I couldn't see where Lanny was, and I was scared for the safety of my employees." The two robbers got their money, although no one will say how much. They then backed out the door they came in and disappeared. 'Too tough' teacher disciplined By The Associated Press KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City school board has told a veteran math teacher to resign or be fired for alleged insubordination and incompetence. But Vera Locke, who has taught 34 years in the Kansas City School District, contends she's being ousted for sending unruly students to the office, having high expectations and giving too many F's. Locke, a high school teacher, also said Friday that she had resisted pressure from administrators to change grades after parents complained. The school district lawyer, Maurice Watson, denied those claims. He said the school board had been fair with Locke. He said the district collected substantial evidence of Locke's shortcomings in the classroom and did not proceed lightly against any teacher with such longevity. Home phone numbers were not available for Locke or Ingram. The Associated Press tried to contact Ingram at his office Saturday, but there was no answer. Ingram told The Kansas City Star in Saturday editions that Locke had received contradictory evaluations, was never given adequate notice about what her deficiencies were and received little guidance or assistance to improve. The board's decision against Locke came in a Thursday night vote. T THE JOURNALIST Novel idea: Extra money could be spent on a study But not just any study, a study of warm state drivers, cruise control and anti-lock brakes Rumor is that our federal government will experience its first budget surplus in a quarter-century. I could suggest that any windfall be used to pay down the national debt, but I'd rather not be responsible for the deaths by laughter of so many legislators. Instead, I'll propose we spend the money on a study. But not just on any study, but one that would examine automobile mishaps and the link between Southern drivers, hazardous road conditions and cruise control. The idea came to mind while listening to a proponent of anti-lock braking systems talking up the devices at a recent meeting in Salina of Kansas drivers' education instructors. The advantages of ABS technology are many, said Rosemarie Kitchin, a director of ABS Education Alliance in North Carolina. Her appearance in Salina was part of her mission to educate as many people GORDON D. FIEDLER JR. The Salina Journal as possible about how to use anti-lock brakes correctly. A U.S. study found that vehicles equipped with anti-lock brakes were up to 65 percent more likely to be in fatal wrecks than vehicles with conventional braking systems. Blame the driver, not the brakes, Kitchin said. "Eight out of 10 driver's education graduates were not taught about ABS," Kitchin said. A survey by her organization found that two-thirds of all drivers didn't know how anti-lock brakes worked, or had misconceptions about the technology. Part of the problem is that we motorists who carry class C "Fossil" drivers' licenses were taught to vigorously pump the brakes to avoid locking the wheels. Anti-lock brakes do this for you, and at a faster rate than you can pump manually. Were you able to move your leg that quickly the resulting friction would ignite your trousers. If your car has anti-lock brakes on all four wheels, just mash the brake pedal to the floor and hold it there. Executed correctly anti-lock brakes will still allow you to steer if necessary, rather than impersonating Volkswagen's "spinning car" commercial. What do anti-lock brakes have to do with cruise control? Nothing, unless all those smashed cars that had anti-lock brakes al- so had working cruise controls. I suspect most did, as vehicles new enough to have anti-lock brakes would most likely also have cruise. After her presentation, I asked Kitchin if she knew of any tests of anti-lock brake performance or lack thereof, combined with the use of cruise control devices. She did not. Hence, the need for a government study. For a laboratory I suggest using a snow- packed and icy Interstate 40 between Tucumcari, N.M., and Flagstaff, Ariz. There, researchers will find an abundance of vehicle test subjects, most bearing license tags issued by states where winter means mowing around the pink flamingo yard art just once a-month. While I was negotiating this stretch of interstate last December, I noticed that drivers of these vehicles from these greenhouse states would fly down the highway apparently oblivious to the hazardous road conditions. Ice was building up like Siberian cotton candy on the wipers, yet there they went, passing us more cautious motorists, one hand lightly on the wheel, whistling Dixie and so forth. It is as if they had convinced themselves that snow, because it's the color of paste and is said to "stick" to things, actually improves traction. This is what I think happens: The driver has the cruise set at or just above the posted speed limit. He or she is making good time. The defroster is maintaining a suitable porthole of visibility through the windshield. Suddenly the driver feels an odd sensation as the rear half of the car, without signaling, attempts to pass the front half. Of course the cruise control computer doesn't know, or care, whether the drive wheels are on pavement, on ice, churning through the median, or orbiting Jupiter. By the time the panicked driver stops screaming and hits the brakes, disengaging the cruise, it is too late, according to Kitchin, for anti-lock brakes to perform their special magic. Asked if the fancy brakes work when a vehicle is traveling sideways at 75 mph down an ice-shrouded interstate, her technical response was: "No." If I'm right, the findings of a brake- cruise control study will reveal the bad chemistry when the two mix. The government can then launch a campaign instructing drivers to shut off their cruise controls in inclement weather. Sure, it may cost thousands of dollars, perhaps trillions if the Defense Department gets involved. Whatever the price, it will be cheaper than keeping drivers of certain states at home, where, in winter, I'm convinced they belong. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (785) 823*6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbwearlng@saljournal.com

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