The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 28, 1998 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 28, 1998
Page 1
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Risky remedies Dietary aids such as herbal remedies can be dangerous/C1 New challenge Jennifer Head to coach volleyball, basketball at Kansas Wesleyan/D1 aS6: Judge sentences Michael Fortier to 12 years in prison / A6 • Top t63ChGT: First-grade science teacher in Hays wins national honor / B1 ',in / Ugh: 94 Low:65 Mostly sunny today with south winds 15 to 25 mph; mostly clear tonight /B3 the Salina Journal O A*iiiv\n lS*\ir\r\t^r\ rsS*\«s«*t 4 Q*^4 ^^^^^ Serving Kansas since 1871 Classified / C3 Comics / B4 Deaths/AS Great Plains / B1 Health /C1 Money/ A4 Sports /D1 Viewpoints / B2 *%•*,&"»•» r ,i,l't wan I* • ' THlMslDAY MAY 28, 1998 SALINA, KANSAS 50 cents MINISTER OF The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. and his followers bringing pickets to Salina this weekend By CRISTINA JANNEY The Saltna Journal When you ask people to describe their feelings for the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. of Topeka, they might answer with an uncomfortable laugh, an awkward silence or a flash of anger in their eyes. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have received national attention for their anti- gay messages and picketing of church services and funerals of AIDS victims and others they have labeled as "fags" or "fag supporters." He and his fellow picketers, most of whom are family members, carry brightly colored signs that quote Bible verses and carry messages in large block letters such as "God Hates Fags" or "Fags = AIDS." Phelps and his followers are scheduled to picket the Salina Journal and the United Methodist Conference Friday and Saturday in Salina. The Methodists will consider a resolution titled "Sexuality according to Scripture" at the conference. Phelps' picketers yelled cruel things at a woman and her children who were trying to visit her baby's ashes in a Topeka church courtyard, said attorney Jerry Palmer, who has taken Phelps on in court. As he was entering his church, picketers yelled "put away the razor blades" at a man whose daughter tried to commit suicide, Palmer said. "These people are evil," Palmer said. "I don't say that lightly, but it is the only way to explain them." Kelly Nelson-Roberts, a Salina disc jockey, was enraged when Phelps threatened to picket her husband's funeral after he died of AIDS in 1996. "You can't print what I think about Fred Phelps," she said. Even those who agree with Phelps' message balk a bit at being labeled supporters because of his extreme techniques. Phelps, 68, is an ordained Baptist minister and a disbarred lawyer. He is known for his confrontational flre-and- brimstone style of preaching and the lawsuits filed by his family law firm against those who would attempt to silence his message. Eleven of his 13 children are lawyers, and four of the chil- dren have spouses who are lawyers. State laws and Topeka ordinances have been passed in an attempt to curtail Phelps and his supporters. The Journal has been labeled a "fag rag" and targeted for picketing because of editorial page editor George, Pyle's support of the newspaper printing a gay marriage announcement in. 1993, Phelps said. Why target gays? Phelps' crusade against homosexuality began about 10 years ago. He said he and his family were upset by what they perceived to be open homosexual activity in Topeka's Gage Park, which is a few blocks from Phelps 1 church. His son Tim was propositioned by a man in the park about that time, Phelps said. "You can't go to the park without being bothered by homosexuals," Phelps said. "They go trolling through the park and then make off into bushes." Efforts to persuade local officials to crack down on homosexual activity in the park failed, so seven years ago this Sunday Phelps and his followers conducted their first anti- gay picketing in the park. The group's weekly picketing of the park continues today. Phelps said "the gays started it" through their public displays and efforts to gain rights and protection under law. Phelps said modern America mimics the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed-by God. He said the depravity of today's society is indicative of the second coming of Christ, which he thinks will happen within his lifetime. To justify his anti-gay message, he quotes Bible scripture in fluent, hell-fire style that is indicative of his experience in front of the bar and behind the pulpit. "WBC's Gospel message is that homosexuals are wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly (Gen. 13:13) that they are murderers and liars (Ju. 8:44) that they are filthy and lawless (2 Pet. 2:7,8), that they are natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed (2 Pet. 2:12) that God likens them unto dogs eating their own feces (2 Pet. 2:22)..." Phelps said in a May 1 fax. Journal file photo The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. of Topeka has labeled the Salina Journal a "fag rag" because of an editorial page stance regarding the printing of a gay marriage announcement In 1993. 'Minister of Hate' Phelps chuckled when his nickname, the "Minister of Hate," was mentioned in a telephone interview. He does not deny he preaches hate. "The maudlin, kissy-pooh, feel-good, touchy-feely preachers of today's society are damning this nation and this world to hell," Phelps states on his Web site, www.godhatesfags. com. "They are telling you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. "What you need to hear is that God hates people and that your chances of going to heaven are nonexistent, unless you repent." He says preaching God's message of hate is the only effective way to get people's attention and persuade them to repent. Although his message of "God Hates Fags" is echoed in his weekly faxes, on signs and in the 13,000 protests he has conducted over the years, Phelps says he does not hate homosexuals. "The highest, noblest form of love is to tell the truth on a serious matter," he said. Phelps said that he would prefer all people repented and were allowed into heaven but that homosexuals have a scant chance of making it past the pearly gates. Conversion is not the point of his ministry, although he said he has received letters from homosexuals who have repented and turned from their gay lifestyles. See PHELPS, Page A3 T ECONOMY Plant to be built in Salina Hot-dip galvanizing plant will be built by owners of PKM Steel By CHAD HAYWORTH The Salina Journal The Paul Mai family, owners of PKM Steel, Salina Steel Supply and MSS Transport, plans to build what is thought to be the largest hot-dip galvanizing plant in the nation on 110 acres at the northeast corner of Pacific and Ohio streets. Pending tax abatement and platting approval, construction of the 156,000-square-foot A-Plus Galvanizing plant is expected to start later this summer. The $9 million plant is expected to be in operation in February, said Frieda Mai, vice president and general manager of Salina Steel Supply. She is Paul Mai's daughter. Galvanizing is a process whereby oxide-free iron or steel is immersed into molten zinc, which forms a metallurgically bonded coating to its surface. The zinc coating protects the surface against corrosion and extends its durability. Mai said the plant will feature a zinc tank that is 85 feet long, 10 feet wide and 12 feet tall, enabling the plant to coat pieces that are larger than can be galvanized at any other plant in the United States. "By double-dipping, we can handle pieces up to 100 feet long," she said. The large zinc tank will allow designers and engineers to build bigger structures — such as bridges — that can be galvanized all at once, Mai said. Hiring to start in fall A-Plus Galvanizing will initially employ 60 to 70 people, with the potential to grow to about 150, Mai said. She said hiring should start in the fall, with an average starting wage of about $9 an hour. Mai said the company will work with the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing to set up training programs for employees. Because the plant will be hiring unskilled laborers and paying a high starting wage, Salina Area Chamber of Commerce president Gerald Cook said he doesn't anticipate the plant having any trouble finding workers. The site appeals to the Mais because of the available utilities, access to Union Pacific rail lines and Interstate Highway 70, Cook said. Mai said she doesn't anticipate needing a large sales force to bring in customers. The plant's large size, coupled with the scarcity of galvanizing plants in the Midwest, will bring clients to them. The new venture will fit nicely with the families' other businesses, Mai said. "We have the potential for PKM to fabricate a piece, A-Plus to galvanize it, and MSS is available to deliver it to the customer's job site," she said. T SALINE COUNTY COMMISSION Commission to hire consultant to study sheriff's office Against sheriff's wishes, 2-1 vote authorizes study of sheriff's budget By SHARON MONTAGUE TJte Salina Journal Saying the public needs to know their feelings on the issue, Saline County commissioners voted 2-1 Wednesday to hire a consultant to study the Saline County Sheriffs Office after analyzing recommendations from an advisory committee appointed by the sheriff. The advisory committee, made up of about a dozen community leaders and business people, is expected to complete its recommendations in early July. Commissioner Mike White, who «f voted against the proposal, and Sheriff Glen Kochanowski urged commissioners to wait until the committee's report was received to decide whether to hire a consultant. The idea of a consultant first surfaced several months ago, as commissioners and County Administrator David Criswell discussed overspending in the sheriffs office. Criswell told commissioners that the sheriffs office budget had been overspent nine of the last 10 years. Kochanowski contended the budget was unrealistic, which is why it was overspent. Kochanowski initially pledged his cooperation in developing a scope of areas to be studied by a consultant. He withdrew his support and appointed the advisory committee after Criswell suggested 4 County commissioners may increase sheriffs budget / Page B1 the consultant study privatization of the jail and other operations. At a meeting of the advisory committee Wednesday night, Kochanowski told members of the commission's decision to hire a consultant and gave them the option of resigning. But he urged them to stay, saying, "I really think this committee can come up with some very good advice for not only this agency but for the commission." All of the members agreed to continue their work. "We all volunteered to do the job," said Cork Umphrey. "We owe it to ourselves to continue." The committee, which has been meeting for about two months, has been broken down into four subcommittees studying such things as the budget, medical and food services expenses, staffing and overtime and a scope of services. Commissioner Doug Forsberg said he was interested in hearing the committee's findings, but he also wanted recommendations from a professional consultant with experience in law enforcement and jail operations. Kochanowski acknowledged that his committee members weren't law enforcement experts but said they knew how to develop budgets and could recommend positive changes. "I think we can accomplish the same thing with this group of peo- ple here as we could with somebody from New Jersey or California or wherever," Kochanowski said. White urged Forsberg and Chairman Deane Allen to wait to decide on whether to hire a consultant until after reviewing the committee's recommendations. "I think it would be advantageous to think about this more, get through this year's budgetary process, listen to the advisory group recommendations and make a decision after that," White said. But Forsberg noted that it could take six months to get a consultant on board. If commissioners waited several months to decide to hire a consultant, the consultant might be rushed to make recommendations in time for preparation of the budget for the year 2000. Larry Dunlap, who serves on the budget subcommittee, contended that a hired consultant would tell commissioners what they wanted to hear, and suggested that the county administrator was hired to do such things as develop realistic budgets. "I don't know what an outsider would know that you don't," he said. Allen told subcommittee members that commissioners were trying to do what was best for taxpayers and for the sheriffs office. "If you have trouble with the commission seeking more information, I guess that's tough," Allen said. "I need more information to make the decisions I'm expected to make."

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