B2 THURSDAY. MAY 14, 1998 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "Nobody asked me about it. The system is working but nobody took that into account.' Gus Bogina chairman of the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals, on a new law revamping the board, signed Wednesday by Gov. Bill Graves. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal The Saline solution THE ISSUE Beating plowshares into siding THEARGUMBVT Set high standards for rural development W hen farmers and ranchers took this land away from the Indians, it was with a clear conscience. We need this land more than they do, our ancestors believed, and we will make better use of it. Now the farmers and ranchers are on the other side of the crosshairs, as sub- dividers and homebuyers are looking to take from agriculture more and more of the same land that agriculture took from the Native Americans. But these days, rather than call the cavalry, farmers appeal to the county commission. And, rather than come charging over the hill, commissioners refer the matter to their planning commissions and their lawyers. In Saline County, commissioners are understandably stumped by the clash of two worthy goals — the need to preserve prime agricultural land and the need to herd rural homes into manageable clusters. The biggest part of the problem is the fact that, once housing developments spring up amidst farm acres, the ability of farmers to spray pesticides, collect smelly animals, pump water, burn off wheat stubble or just raise dust by plowing will be limited by law or by consideration for one's neighbors. But it is a problem that elected officials and their counselors have a limited ability to solve. If the county wants to guide the development of currently rural areas — and it should — it is going to have to come up with a serious, and measurable, set of criteria that can be explained to developers, to potential homeowners, to farmers and, perhaps most important, to judges and juries. The core of such criteria should be the same sort of rules that govern the development of housing in cities, and for the same reasons. They do not deal with location so much as with services. Is the water pressure sufficient, not only to water the lawn but also to put out a roaring house fire? Are the sewage treatment needs being met in a way that does not threaten the health of the new development or of anyone downstream? Will the roads handle the increased traffic development will attract? And will they be built to a standard the county can reasonably maintain, through all of the harsh Kansas weather? If the county will set clear — and demanding — standards for such unchallengeable health and safety reasons, they will not only force homes to be clustered where they can share the expense of water, sewer and road development, they will also raise the price of such projects to a level where only the strong will survive and any marginal or fly-by-night development will be abandoned before it begins. The question of whether land is best used for growing food or housing people will, ultimately, be a decision of the marketplace, not government. But government, local government, does have the right and the duty to put its thumb on the scales of this marketplace to make sure that, when farmland becomes homeland, it is not done on the cheap. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Questions about school plans P lease understand, I am pro- education and am willing to pay whatever taxes are necessary to have the best school system our city can afford. However, there are a few questions which, in my opinion, have not been adequately answered. 1. Is the board willing to give up the neighborhood school concept because they feel bigger is better? Ask any teacher and she/he will tell you there is a need for more parent involvement. Keeping close communication among parents, teachers and students is imperative and has a definite bearing on student achievement. Moving away from the neighborhood schools will not increase parent involvement. 2. What is really going to happen to the abandoned buildings? The board doesn't need the added expense of maintaining or paying insurance on unused buildings. It doesn't seem reasonable that neighborhood groups will be able to afford maintenance, repairs and insurance. Supervision is a must or insurance will be very high. It has been suggested that neighborhood groups could use the libraries, art rooms, etc. Surely the board will not leave books and other supplies. 3. Where will the new super-elementary schools, middle school or new high school be built? What effect will this have on transportation? If Central High School becomes the middle school, transportation will become an issue. It seems reasonable that, because we have a South High School, we should have a North High School. (Let's not make it East High School.) East students are more likely to have access to transportation than students in North Salina. Before I vote on a bond issue, I want to know where the new schools will be constructed. I can't help but note that the board abandoned the Central Office, then took over and remodeled Gleniffer Hill Elementary School. Remodeling some old buildings apparently is not too expensive. — BARBARA M. NELSON Salina All letters to the Journal should include a daytime telephone number for confirmation. Mf IfJMV 37 MORE Boxes. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Join Judie's Army in the war on cancer It is time for everyone to stand together and defeat cancer once and for all A bout a year ago at this time, I wrote a column to share with you the story of my special friend, Judie Hooven. She is a banker, a civic-minded volunteer, a devoted daughter, a faithful wife and a loving, caring, Christian mom. She is my friend. And she has breast cancer. Her children Cambria and Crista are 13 and 8 years of age, and they along with their father, Jeff, love Judie very much. We here at the bank love her, too. She is now engaged in a war with an angry cancer which is $ attacking her lungs, and continuing to grow, in spite of every attempt by modern chemotherapy methods to turn things around. Her cells seem to be resistant to many of the more common chemotherapy treat- T NONE OF THE ABOVE TOM WILBUR For Tlie Salina Journal ments, and there are few other options. Week in and week out, Judie accepts large doses of toxic chemicals into her veins, knowing that along with the bad cells, good cells are harmed as well. She is often weak, and nauseous, and unable to eat. At our bank, we have become a part of her army — Judie's Army — troops made up of flower senders and card makers, telephone callers and visitors. Judie has good days and bad. We have taken up her flag in times when she stumbles. We are part of her extended family, and a support structure to her when times get a little rough. We pray for her daily. Cancer seems to be so prevalent these days. It impacts us all, as it wages war against people we know and family members so dear. To date, cancer has certainly had the upper hand. But there are amazing bits of news every single day about possible cures on the horizon. And I am not willing to let my friend Judie go without putting up the best fight that I can, as she is doing with every breath she takes. I would like to invite you to become a part of Judie's Army. There are numerous ways in which you can help. First, you can pray, as we did on Mother's Day and every day, for Judie Hooven and so many other mothers like Her who are fighting breast cancer. Secondly, you may make a donation to the American Cancer Society in the name-of Judie's Army — it's time for our team to break through the barriers and bring cancer to4ts knees. It feels as though we are so close — we just need to get by that final bunker. Third, you can send Judie a note or a card personally in care of: Security Savings Bank, 11599 Ridgeview, Olathe, Kansas 66061. Let tier know that you're behind her, and that ,she needs to stay strong. Her cavalry is on the way. Fourth, you can share this column with people you know, no matter where they live, that they might participate in the conflict. Judie is battling for her life — and there are millions of women across this nation who are doing similarly. You can help do something about it. Before breast cancer takes one more step, let's band together and gun it down — right where it stands. Let's force all forms of cancer into retreat, never to return. With your help, our army will be victorious! • Tom Wilbur is a Salina banker and a member of the Salina Journal Board of Contributing Editors. ' • Seinfeld: Timor gravitatis conturbat mea Wildly popular sitcom assuaged our fear of depth; Seinfeld rest in peace Y ou'd think America's family dog was dying. NBC's ratings favorite, "Seinfeld," gives up the ghost tonight, and retrospective paeans to the show have focused on its contributions to * pop culture and public discourse: the soup Nazi, master of one's domain, yadda, yadda, yadda. When I first heard the show's hype I, like any good cultural watchdog, added it to my To Check Out list. I got around to tuning hi a year or so later. At first I sat stone- faced, clueless as to its popularity. Soon I caught on: three pals with no lives, neurotically reveling in the fact they have no lives, even pitching a sitcom pilot about characters who have no lives. It was the pop version of "Waiting for Godot," the savvy version of "Beavis and Butthead." But, like B&B, once you got the joke, you got the joke. New tellings could be cute, but ardent Seinfeld loyalty gnawed at your consciousness as a pretty pitiful addiction, all told. Then what explained the show's continuing appeal? The answer lies in another level of self-reference, the Seinfeldification of Language (SOL). A show with nothing to say must end up playing endless word games, its popularity measured by how effectively its lingo in- JAMES TALLEY for the Salina Journal 1 fects the body politic. You had to watch "Seinfeld" to be hip. It was a postmodern vocabulary primer. Be the first on your block to use "No pick!" in a sentence, and you're with it. A good Kramer impression made you golden. I see it in most gatherings of my like-aged peers, though recently it was some reference to "Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery." I hadn't seen the film, had no plans to, so I sat silent as the room laughed. A night in Lawrence found my pals arguing over the best TV offerings: "South Park" vs. "The Simpsons" vs. "King of the Hill." As absurd as it was, I felt left out — as if in the company of English professors discussing the bildungsro- man tradition in American literature. Just about our only common ground these days is based on what we caught last night on prime time, and if one abstains from that fare, one becomes an outcast. Sadly, what passes for wit today is far more valuable than any tone of sobriety or weight in conversation. If you can't serve up trendy banter — if you can't Seinfeldify — then you really are SOL, in the older meaning of the abbreviation. Ah, if only Huey Lewis had been right and it really was "hip to be square." Conversations might just seem worth our time instead of inevitably evoking a ruthless life-clock ticking off precious seconds wasted trying to out-glib our contemporaries. A night of Seinfeldification is like a night of hinging. Next morning you see the dishes, the bills, the empty fridge and curse yourself for goofing off instead of focusing on what mattered. But "what matters" is hokey, fertile ground for mockery. The earnest group member DOONESBURY serves as straight man and comic foil in a conversational game of pratfalls. How uncool to foist sober topics in lieu of freshly-minted TV repartee. We must avoid thinking about important things. The initiator of such subjects into the "chat" (much less weighty a term than "conversation") brings folks down. It's hard to pull a punchline from a comment on Rwandan executions. But to the conjurer who can goes the applause. Seinfeldification works this way. Serious issues confuse. They're a drag. We are but brief candles, without hope of offering real illumination. Better to use our words and brains to jazz up pretty birthday cakes for superficial to- dos. If someone speaks soberly, a chill befalls'-the room. We wait desperately for the wit who will finagle a pun from the silence and free us of depressing realism. Yet some things are simply not worth the tune it takes to "chat" about them. Suggesting such priorities runs risks. Priorities entail judgments, now anathema. They beg for'en- dorsement or dispute, either one a bummer. Barring those, conversationalists are left uncertain and uncomfortable. By contrast, airy wit deludes us into believing we flow through life well-grounded and confident. The end of "Seinfeld" will change little. Click around to find would-be replacements aspiring to contribute to the cheapening of civil conversation. The whole point of surfing (with remote or boogie board) is avoiding the depths. ,«.-; As them Latin Americans used to say, "Tkij 1 or mortis conturbat mea," the fear of death disturbs me. :; 1 Seinfeldian wit changes it to "the fear of depth." Cue laugh track. :"•'* By G.B. TRUDEAtJ THE MOST SVSJBMATIG oeennucTrcN OFJUsrtc IN 7H& HISTORY OF im UNFOKTUHMBW, M? OWXHMe 10 PIFF&&NT COMMITTEES OFOJNJONANPHISCKJNtB&f ev iHArn 0BZ.T040! UHY? eectvse THZ AMERICAN PEOPLE WHY? MHATP HBPO?
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