The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on June 1, 1998 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

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Salina, Kansas
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Monday, June 1, 1998
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Page 3
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THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains MONDAY, JUNE 1, 1998 A2f T DEVELOPMENT Long-vacant school in Bentley torn down - Housing development to take school's place in small town near Wichita By The Associated Press BENTLEY — The old school outlived its usefulness years ago, and now it's gone, giving way to plans for a housing development in this small community northwest of Wichita. The old Bentley High School was once the biggest and most handsome building in town — a dark brick, two-story structure with impressive stone stairs and decorative details. But the eight-room school closed in 1966 when the school district merged with the one at Halstead and no one had the money — or the foresight — to keep it up. So it stayed, and its place in the hearts of townspeople eroded as the boards rotted and the roof collapsed in places, letting in the rain. It became a curiosity to adventurous youths — and eventually a menace. All that changed Thursday. The school that had stood since 1915 came down in a few hours. By noon, it was nothing more than a nondescript pile of rubble. The new owners, Louis and Laura Belanger and Craig and Karen Burrell, pooled most of their savings to buy the property and tear down the building. They expect to put up around 15 manufactured homes on the five- acre site, giving Bentley its first new housing subdivision in decades. "I'm glad somebody is doing something about that building," said Janice Morgan, owner of Bentley Corner and the Roadkill Cafe. "It's kind of sad," said Lola Biggs, whose husband and two daughters graduated from the school. "But it hasn't been kept up and it was in awful shape." The abandoned building had become a haven for rats, mice and other wildlife, as well as a gathering place for local youths. Graffiti "It's kind of sad. But it hasn't been kept up and it was in awful shape." Lola Biggs Bentley resident stained the walls, and fire pits had been carved into the gymnasium floor. The town paid to board up the building about five years ago, but that kept people out for only a while. City officials, with only 400 residents and a tiny budget, hadn't had any luck forcing owner Coy Lybrand of Wichita to make necessary re- pairs. And they were reluctant to spend $15,000 to $20,000 to demolish the building. Bentley and the county had been in protracted negotiations over who would pay for the demolition. But then the Belangers and Burrells decided to buy the property for around $40,000. They've never developed property before, although all have run small businesses and wanted to try something new. They were searching for just the right opportunity when they saw a classified ad for the school property about two weeks ago. The new owners looked — not very seriously — at restoring the building, but balked at spending several hundred thousand dollars. So they tore it down and will sell the bricks and salvaged lumber for, they hope, $8,000. "It's a beautiful building," Louis Belanger said, "but the damage was just too great." BRIEFLY Information sought on business burglary Salina police are asking for the public's help in solving a burglary at ADM Milling, 310 E. Ash. Between noon May 9 and 6:20 aXm. May 11, someone forced open a 1 door on the east side of the business and took two General Electric communication radios, Model KPC-300, with chargers. The loss is estimated at $1,800. Anyone with information about the burglary can call Crimestop- p'ers, 825-TIPS. ' Callers aren't required to give their names and could be eligible for rewards of up to $1,000. r • -. Clerk dead, another injured in hold-up WICHITA — A convenience store clerk was killed and another critically injured in a hold-up early Sunday. • Authorities were looking for the robber, who fled on foot after shooting the clerks several times around 6 a.m. at a 7-Eleven store on Wichita's northeast side, police said. Killed was a 24-year-old man, who was not identified. A 28-year- old woman, also unidentified, was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds and listed in critical condition Sunday, police said. The clerks were shot after they moved away from the cash register and apparently began trying to comply with the suspect's demands, Wichita Lt. Ken Landwehr said. Police and the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force were investigating. Junction City boy drowns in public pool JUNCTION CITY — A 9-year- old boy drowned in the city's public pool, police said. Lifeguards searched for more than 45 minutes Saturday night before they found Lesley Abbey, of Junction City, unconscious at the bottom of the pool's deep end. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Man killed when vehicle strikes tree [ ROUND SPRINGS, Mo. — A sport-utility vehicle struck a tree along Missouri 19 in south-central Missouri, killing the driver. Christopher Knight, 42, Kansas City, Kan., was pronounced dead at the scene about a half mile South of Round Springs. Knight's Chevy Blazer veered off the highway at about 5 p.m. Saturday and struck a tree, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. The force of the crash threw Knight from the vehicle. The Blazer then hit another tree and came to rest on top of Knight. No one wins jackpot in Powerball lottery None of the tickets sold for the Powerball game Saturday night matched all six numbers drawn, lottery officials said Sunday. The nubmers were 3,14, 24, 29 and 45. The Powerball was 24. ! Players matching all five num- ijers and the Powerball would have won or shared the $12 million jackpot. The prize goes to an estimated $14 million for Wednesday. Tickets that match the first five numbers, but miss the Powerball, win $100,000 each, and there were two of those. They were sold in Connecticut and Idaho. • Kansas is part of the multistate lottery. From Staff and Wire Reports ODD & PECULIAR' With a background in the ministry, his foray into publishing wasn't by the book By JOHN ROGERS The Associated Press SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Neil Swanson didn't find anything odd or peculiar about moving from Hawaii to Missouri when it came time to retire, although he acknowledges many people patiently explained to him they'd have done it the other way around. But then why should the 79- year-old minister be nonplused? He's the guy, after all, who wrote the book on "Odd & Peculiar." His collection — of such offbeat names of U.S. towns as Odd, W.Va., and Peculiar, Mo., and an explanation of how each one came to be — was published a little more than a year ago. It was such a success that Swanson has found scant time since to retire. He's running his own publishing house, Wainsley Press, out of his regular house in Nevada, Mo., a town of about 8,500. Wainsley Press has just brought out its third book, "Every Day a Good Day," and plans are in the works for a handful of others. "We're doing quite well," the soft-spoken, bespectacled author says from his home. "When you get something started like this, you have to start out with putting your own money into it, then when you get ready for your second book you have money from the sale of the first one and so forth." With some 1,500 copies sold, "Odd & Peculiar" has fueled the business so far, although Swanson says the second title, "Writing it Out," a self-help book written by a friend of his, is about to go into the black. And he has high hopes for several others, including the just-published "Every Day a Good Day," which includes 366 How to reach his company Wainsley Press can be reached at P.O.Box 546, Nevada, Mo. 64772. daily meditations (one for each day of the year) culled from his years of writing an inspirational column for a Maui newspaper. Although he'd been writing since childhood, publishing is something Swanson didn't stumble into until after moving back to the mainland in 1990. "I always thought I was going to get into the newspaper business," he muses now. "My father was a newspaperman." And he was preparing to be one, too, writing a column for his high school newspaper, until one day he was approached by the minister for his church youth group in Minneapolis. "He said, 'Well, you know, if you're going to be a writer you've got to know people, and there's no better way to get to know people, to really get to know people, than being a minister.' " His work as a Congregationalist minister took him to Hawaii in the 1960s, where he stayed for more than 20 years. But despite his religious calling, the writing bug never completely went away. He wrote the inspirational column in Hawaii, signing it TAO for "The Anonymous One." Meanwhile, ideas for books were piling up, and when it came time to retire from the ministry it was time to pursue them. But not in Hawaii, where he knew there would be too many distractions, so he aimed for a small town in the middle of the country. He couldn't have picked a better time to start publishing books or any better place than Nevada, say publishing industry observers. "I think everyone will say it's easier right now that it ever has been in history for someone to become a publisher," said Judy Platt, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Publishers. The Associated Press Neil Swanson sits at his desk in his home in Nevada, Mo., where he wrote "Odd & Peculiar." The book tells how towns such as Odd, W.Va., and Peculiar, Mo., got their names. He is now publishing his third book and has plans for more. T POLITICS Republicans elect conservative as state party leader Chairman's support of Miller over Graves rankles Vidricksen By LEW FERGUSON The Associated Press WICHITA — Social conservatives have retained control of the Kansas Republican Party. Republicans elected Steve Abrams as state party chairman chairman to replace David Miller, who resigned to challenge incumbent Gov. Bill Graves for the GOP nomination in the August primary. Abrams, an Arkansas City veterinarian and member of the State Board of Education, defeated former legislator Tom Robinett of Overland Park for the partly leadership. Abrams received 71 votes from the Republican State Committee. The Associated Press Steve Abrams is an Arkansas City veterinarian and a member of the State Board of Education. Robinett, who mounted a last- minute campaign, got 52. Abrams had openly declared his support for Miller. But Abrams pledged that, if elected as party chairman, he would remain neutral, saying the party rules require it. Abrams was a gubernatorial candidate until Miller decided to challenge Graves — a contest that will pit strong social conservatives against the moderate Republican governor. When Abrams pulled out of the governor's race, he said he was conceding to Miller because the conservative wing needed someone who could defeat Graves. That statement rankled many Graves supporters and prompted State Sen. Ben Vidricksen, R-Salina, to demand of Abrams whether he planned to stay neutral. "I think that the bylaws of the Kansas Republican Party require that the chairman be neutral," Abrams said. "I have no intention of breaking the rules. I will re- main neutral." Vidricksen said he was not satisfied by Abrams' response. "I would hope that's what he would do," Vidricksen said. "We've got enough division without that." Abrams, 48, said there was little he could do to erase the perception some GOP moderates have that he favors Miller. "All I can say is I'm not going out and doing anything for either candidate," Abrams said. Miller was at the hotel where the GOP state committee met, but he did not appear at the meeting. Abrams said he did not talk to Miller in the days leading up to the election but said he "didn't hear otherwise," as far as still having Miller's support. House Speaker Tim Shallen- burger, R-Baxter Springs, who nominated Robinett, alluded to the sharp conservative-moderate split in the party. He said it started in 1990 when the party "was propping up a governor (Mike Hayden)" who had turned off conservatives. Now, Shallenburger said, the party is in the same position, this time favoring Miller, at least at the party leadership level. After the vote, Robinett congratulated Abrams and pledged to support him. Jud Jones, a member of the GOP State Committee from Pottawatomie County, said Abrams won because conservatives considered him the better choice to continue the changes they brought to the party in the early 1990s. "The vote today is a direct re-- flection of what happened eight years ago," Jones said. "They (conservatives) are not willing to go back. They built a grassroots organization and they want to keep it." SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (785) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbwearing@saljournal.com

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