The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 27, 1998 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, May 27, 1998
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Kitchen gifts Graduation, weddings are good times to stock up kitchens/C1 the Faith in action Methodists take hammer in hand before conference / B1 GREAT PLAINS • Wondering why: church wants to know why bomber targeted it / A5 • KJPby HOUSe: Abilene restaurant appeals denial of operating license / C4 *''VL^!MMtidB Low: 65 Mostly sunny today with south winds 5 to 15 mph; mostly clear tonight /B3 Salina Journal Classified / C5 Comics / B4 Deaths/A7 Food/C1 Great Plains / B1 Money / C4 Sports / D1 Viewpoints / B2 ; INDEX Serving Kansas since 1871 WEDNESDAY MAY 27, 1998 SALINA, KANSAS 50 cents ;T REPUBLICAN RIVER Kansas sues Nebraska Lawsuit over Republican River water usage has long been expected By The Associated Press TOPEKA — Kansas filed its long-promised lawsuit Tuesday in a decades-old dispute over water ;in the Republican River. "Nobody wants to sue a neighbor, but sometimes the neighbor gives us no choice," Attorney General Carla Stovall said after one of her deputies filed the lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. "Our well spring of patience has run dry.v she said. Stovall said she didn't call the news conference "to celebrate ... nor to boast or gloat," but to tell Kansans "that we now have taken every step necessary to protect our precious supply of water in the Republican River." But after years of attempted mediation, "There is just no other way" for Kansas to go, she said. Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg said in Lincoln that he had not seen the lawsuit, but generally Nebraska does not believe Kansas has a case. "Our position has been that Nebraska has not violated the Republican River Compact and that Kansas has not put to good use the water they are receiving; therefore they are not harmed," Sten- berg said. Five legislators stood with Stovall at her news conference, each expressing support for the lawsuit. Only one of Kansas' 165 legislators voted against a resolution calling for the lawsuit, and lawmakers appropriated $900,000 for the first year's cost of the litigation. Gov. Bill Graves said he doesn't expect to hear from Nebraska Gov. Ben Nelson, whose office declined comment and let Stenberg speak for the state. "I think that Ben, while probably disagreeing with Kansas' perspective or motives, understands that states have to do what they feel is the right thing to do, especially when you have your Legisla- ture supporting you," Graves said. Kansas alleges that Nebraska for years has illegally withheld water from Kansas under a 1943 compact signed by Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. The compact spelled out distribution of the river's virgin water supply — the natural flow unaffected by man — with Nebraska to get 49 percent, Kansas 40 percent and Colorado 11 percent. The depletion, Kansas contends, was caused by indiscriminate drilling of water wells in the IRe- publican River basins in Nebraska. Stovall said the drilling has intensified, with Nebraska farmers hoping they will be allowed to keep their wells under any settlement or resolution of the lawsuit. The Associated Press Legislators listen as Attorney General Carla Stovall announces Kansas has filed a lawsuit against Nebraska over the Republican River. 1 WANT To GET IT OUT OF MY MIND' Students return to school for first time since deadly shooting By The Associated Press SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Hundreds of students returned to school Tuesday for the first time since last week's shooting rampage, gathering outside to sing "Amazing Grace" and read the names of the two students killed and 22 injured. The desks of the dead and critically wounded were left empty, and counselors were available in every class. Some counselors brought dogs for students to pet as a way to break the tension. Thurston High School cut the day short so students could attend the funeral of 17- year-old Mikael Nickolauson, who was buried with military honors because he had signed up for the National Guard three days before he was slain. The other student killed, 16-year-old Ben Walk: er, was buried Monday. Inside the cafeteria where 15-year-old Kip Kinkel allegedly opened fire, many students went back to where they had been sitting when the shooting started, this time for a free breakfast of muffins and juice. Several who couldn't bear to go back were allowed to eat in an adjacent courtyard outside. "These are young adults, but they are still kids, they are still tender," said school Superintendent Jamon Kent. Walking past walls where bullet holes had been patched and painted over, about 100 students went straight to special "safe rooms" where they could be alone or talk to coun- selors. "I'm kind of scared in a way," said 16-year-old Jessica King. "It's going to be a tearjerker for a lot of people. Everyone is going to come together today." Said 17-year-old Zack Coats: "I want to get it out of my mind." Some students left flowers and messages on a fence that has become a memorial. "Besides the nightmares and the daymares, I know people here care for me," 17- year-old Kira Haley said as she placed a bouquet of daisies at the fence. Principal Larry Bentz said nearly all the 1,400 students, including many of the injured, showed up. Teachers were instructed to let the students dictate how the day would proceed. In a typing class, for example, those in the class simply tapped out their feelings. The school — featured on TV newscasts around the world since the May 21 shooting — put on a closed-circuit newscast of its own Tuesday, featuring some words from the principal. "I assured them that Thurston was a good school and that they were good students, and that this was a onetime act of a tortured soul," Bentz said. Students were later taken by the busload to Nickolau- son's funeral, where more than 900 people packed the Eugene Christian Fellowship to remember him as a quiet boy who loved computers and board games. The Associated Press Students form a circle and sing "Amazing Grace" before returning Tuesday to Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., the site of last week's shooting rampage. T CHURCHES AND HOMOSEXUALITY Scriptural debate Churches struggle with support for gays By DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal Jason grew up with his faith. He grew up in the church. He grew up in a tiny town with his Christian family that went to church every Sunday. He believes God called him to his job as a youth director of a Salina church. He also believes that God doesn't care that he grew up gay. Jason, a 32-year-old Salinan whose name has been changed for this story, didn't always feel that way. He began to feel attracted to other men when he was in junior high school, but he didn't come out to his parents until he was 22, and it took him four more years before he felt comfortable about being gay. His faith had something to do with that. "I never heard anything specific about homosexuals as I grew up in that small town and in that church," Jason said. "But I knew it was something that people didn't accept. "Now I believe that God is a loving and caring God and not a God that's going to condemn me. He created me this way. There are a lot of people who quote scripture, but Jesus never mentions homosexuality. Period. I don't believe God is so small that he's going to throw away 10 percent of the population." Things have changed since Jason was a child, but churches still struggle with the issue just as Jason struggled within himself. Many churches don't want to say it's right, but an increasing number are having a hard time saying it's wrong. The issue threatens to divide congregations, and two distinct Methodist groups may spilt that church down the middle. See GAYS, Page A8 T WEATHER Hailstorm takes heavy toll on state wheat crop Some northwest Kansas farmers have lost nearly all of crop By The Associated Press HAYS — Wheat farmers in northwest Kansas were calculating the damage Tuesday from a hailstorm that flattened the crop on thousands of acres. • "We lost almost everything; 80 to 90 percent is gone from our wheat crop," said Loran Zimmerman, a farmer from Schoenchen. "There is nothing there. We don't even have to pull a machine in on it. It's gone." The storms developed shortly after noon Sunday near Goodland and moved to the southeast, dying out south of Salina. "I would say we're looking at 2 to 3 million bushels-plus of loss at this time," says Vance Westhusin of Midland Marketing in Hays. Initial reports suggest that hundreds of thousands of acres of crops were affected. Greg Whitehair of Collingwood Grain in McCracken said the hardest-hit areas were along county lines. "There was a band eight miles wide on both sides of the Trego- Ness county line. It continued to the Ellis-Rush county line where there was close to 100 percent loss," he said. Whitehair said it is early enough in the season for farmers to plant sorghum or sunflowers. Grinnell farmer Bernard Otjley was weighing whether to replant his crops. "I've never seen this big of an area hit before, not this bad," Ottley said Tuesday. "We are looking at 14,000 to 15,000 acres with 100 percent damage." V SCHOOL VIOLENCE Threat leads to teen arrest Teacher overheard youth tell friends, 'I could bring a gun to school and shoot somebody' By SHARON MONTAGUE The Salina Journal The day after two people were killed and 22 injured in a shooting spree at a Springfield, Ore., high school, a Salina Central High School boy was arrested after someone reported he threatened to bring a gun to school and shoot people. James Snyder, 15,109 E. Grant, was placed in the Saline County Juvenile Detention Center on a charge of making a criminal threat. "Given the climate we're living in now and the number of school shootings, we've adopted a 'no-tolerance' policy toward verbal threats," said Gary Norris, superintendent of the Salina School District. Lt. Mike Sweeney of the Salina Police Department said that about 1:40 p.m. Friday, a Central High teacher overheard a youth telling a group of students he was so angry that, "I could bring a gun to school and shoot somebody." The teacher told school administrators, and Norris said someone talked to the boy and to witnesses before notifying police. Snyder was arrested about 2:20 p.m. Friday, less than an hour after the comment was overheard. Norris said Snyder also could face school disciplinary action, from a short-term suspension to one-year expulsion. But because the school year ends Thursday, and because Snyder hasn't been a disciplinary problem in the past, Norris said, he probably wouldn't be expelled. Norris stressed that Snyder didn't have a gun and didn't threaten any particular student or teacher. But still, he said, the threat was serious. Even before the incident, Norris said, he had planned to discuss verbal threats with school administrators as part of a retreat June 3 and 4. Also, school handbooks probably will be rewritten to discuss the seriousness of threats. Norris said the teacher and administrators at Central High handled Friday's threat appropriately. But, he noted, there's no cut-and- dried rule that can be followed when students make threats. "It's 90 percent judgment, 10 percent policy and procedure," Norris said. Teachers are trained in recognizing signs that a student might be troubled or might be prone to violence. "So much responsibility is placed on administrators' and teachers' shoulders to make a judgment," Norris said. If a teacher judges too harshly, he said, parents might be upset. If a teacher doesn't judge harshly enough, and a student does commit violence, the teacher could be blamed. There is no one answer to solve the problem of violence in schools, Norris said. Metal detectors wouldn't have helped in Jonesboro, Ark., when students pulled a fire alarm and waited outside, mowing down classmates with high-powered rifles as they emerged from the building, Norris said. "I wouldn't be reluctant to add them (metal detectors) if I thought it was the only thing we could do to ensure student safety," Norris said. "I don't think we're at that point now." But still, he noted, personal awareness and personal judgment on the part of teachers are the keys. "Teachers can spot characteristics before they're ready to blow up," Norris said.

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