The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on June 6, 1998 · Page 15
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 15

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, June 6, 1998
Page 15
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THE SALINA JOURNAL NATION SATURDAY, JUNE 6, 1998 BB The Associated Press A few houses stand on the edge of Spencer, S.D., as the rest of the town lies in ruins after last week's tornado wiped it out. Did killer tornado finally deal a declining town its ' •* ^m^ 9 DEATH B By JULIA PRODIS The Associated Press S PENCER, S.D. — Ron Bennett was 15 years old when his town started to die a little. He huddled with his shivering neighbors and watched the Golden Pheasant Cafe and the Spencer Implement Store go up in flames. "Until that fire on Main Street, on both sides there was a business in every place," Bennett recalls. "Those two holes on Main Street were never replaced." That was in 1953. Over the next four decades, those holes got bigger and bigger, leaving only the bank and the Post Office on the north end of Main Street. Last Saturday, a tornado finished off those two buildings, knocking them down like bowling pins. In a minute of fury, the tornado killed six people in Spencer and leveled the homes of nearly all the other 320. And now, at age 60, Ron Bennett is again standing with the townsfolk, wondering whether there's anything left of Spencer worth replacing. From the looks of it, Spencer has already joined the list of the dead. Many small towns scattered across the Great Plains have ceased to exist. Like Medary, S.D., where nothing is left but a marker describing what used to be. Or Newark, S.D., a ghost town where the old school is used as a grain elevator and the gymnasium is pumped full of wheat. Will Spencer be just another name on a faded road sign directing motorists to nowhere? It's hard to imagine anything more. Spencer is gone. The tornado destroyed all but a dozen houses in the northeast corner of the six-by- five-block town. Everything else is rubble. The good old days Founded by 19th century immigrants from northern Europe, pre-tornado Spencer had two-story Victorian houses with well-tended flower gardens. Cottonwoods and cedars shaded yards for summer picnics and buffered the prairie gales. In the early days, at the turn of the century and for another 50 years or so, Spencer thrived with more than 600 residents. Spencer boasted three groceries, two hardware stores, a barber shop, a lumber yard, a variety store, six or seven gas stations, a Ford dealership, and a pool hall. Teen-agers worked at the drug store, the movie theater or the stone quarry just outside of town. But even in the 1950s, Ron Bennett and his friends had to drive 18 miles to Mitchell if they wanted a stylish flat top. For swimming lessons, they were bused to Salem, the county seat. Autumn in Spencer meant a homecoming parade down Main Street. Summer meant the traveling carnival would set up the Ferris wheel in the park next to the bank. Winter was so cold that tears would freeze on the faces of children as they walked to school. A steady decline But a decline had set in long before nature flicked its wrist at Spencer last Saturday. Family farms that once thrived on a quarter section of land began to consolidate. Farmers soon needed 1,000 acres instead of 320 to turn a profit. Few- er farms meant fewer families coming into town to sell grain, buy groceries or drop in for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. Less business downtown meant fewer jobs. Fewer jobs forced young people to move to big cities like Sioux Falls 50 miles away for work. Over the past 10 years alone, one in four people moved out of Spencer. Bennett, for instance, left after high school and lives in Salem. Interstate 90, built in the 1960s, bypassed Spencer four miles to the south, leaving old Highway 38 with no traffic. The motel and coffee shop on 38 were forced to close. By the 1980s, Spencer and towns like it came to consist of little more than widows and vacant lots. Worth rebuilding? State economists say Spencer probably is not worth rebuilding. But don't mention that to Gov. Bill Janklow. "Those people are idiots," Janklow said Tuesday while touring the town. "It's not economical to rebuild California every five years after earthquakes or Florida after hurricanes, but we're going to do it anyway. This is a community. It's home to a lot of people." But Spencer people find it hard to share the governor's unflagging optimism. Even before the tornado, on each visit to his mother, Bennett would find Spencer a little more dead. The school was bulldozed three years ago, and the few remaining students are bused to Salem. Just two months ago, when the last grocery closed and the Club Cafe was shuttered, Bennett's mother and her lady friends moved their daily kaffee klatch to the gas station. "It started to go down and down and down and get worse and worse and worse, and now it's really worse," said Frances Nafziger, 82, stepping gingerly over the remains of her house, looking for pieces of her grandmother's treasured china. Now, even the gas station is gone. So is City Hall, where she attended monthly meetings of the Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary. And St. Matthews Lutheran Church, where she prayed each Sunday, is nothing but sticks. "We'll have to get an apartment — a furnished apartment," she said. "Spencer was a great place to live. It was really home. But you gotta go. There's nothing you can do." Around the corner, Todd Kirby tried to salvage the corn seed and soybeans that spilled from his felled grain elevator. "I'd like to think we'd rebuild," said Kirby, who was still looking for an auger and fertilizer spreader that blew away in the twister. "But there's so much destruction here it's overwhelming." Don Sieverding, whose family has been in Spencer for five generations, believes the town will follow Kirby's grain elevator. "If he don't rebuild, I don't think anyone will," said Sieverding, 61, whose family lost four of five homes in town. Rose Marie Hoiten, a mother of four, is more optimistic. "The town's been in the hands of the elderly for years. But I guess it's up to us now — the young families," she said. "When we lost our cafe and grocery store a couple of months ago, we asked, 'What do we have here?' Now I realize we have family, friends and support. I don't know where else I'd want to go." T PARKINSON'S DISEASE Brain implanti eases suffering of Parkinson's i Electrical impulses offer no cure, but they alleviate symptoms By LAURAN NEERGAARD The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Parkinson's disease was rapidly crippling Karen Stephani: She had to use a wheelchair, and muscle spasms in her neck left her head bobbing so wildly that "in a restaurant, food would fall out of my mouth." Exhausted and embarrassed, the once-active 55-year-old seldom left her Minnesota home — until, desperate, she tried an experimental brain implant. Now Stephani is suddenly so healthy that she's stored away her wheelchair and is dusting off her water skis. "I was instantly better," said Stephani, four months after surgeons drilled a hole in her skull and implanted a device that essentially blocked the motor-control symptoms of Parkinson's disease. "It was the most exhilarating experience to all of a sudden feel your life isn't over; it's just beginning." Doctors don't know just why a device that sends small, continual electrical shocks to deep brain tissue would fight Parkinson's — it doesn't stop the brain-cell death that characterizes the devastating and incurable disease. But European doctors are reporting dramatic effects. And although this new procedure has not yet won Food and Drug Administration approval, Americans are beginning to clamor for it. "I don't want to be gushy, but it's very exciting," said Dr. Mark V'Ef Stacy, director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson's Research Center in Phoenix, who advises the National Parkinson Foundation. ,-,, The implant already is sold for.a^i- other brain operation. The FDA has approved placing Medtronic Inch's Activa device inside the thalamusjto stop uncontrollable tremors, including some caused by Parkinson's. But French surgeons discovered that putting the implant into deeper, more delicate brain tissue worked far better: It could block the rigidly, slow movement, impaired balance and even the uncontrollable muscle jerks that imprison advanced Parkinson's patients inside alternately frozen and robotlike bodies... "The results were truly spectacular," said Dr. Alim-Louis Benabjd of the University of Grenoble, France, who developed the surgery and has operated on about 250 people. "Cured would mean the disease is gone, and the disease is fl^t gone, of course. But... the suppression of symptoms is so strong tljey look like they're almost cured."' f < Last month, Medtronic won European Union approval to implant its pacemakerlike device into the subthalamic nucleus or the globus pallidus, regions that control th;e worst Parkinson's symptoms. , Next month, Medtronic will meet with the FDA to discuss approving Activa Parkinson's therapy hece. Without FDA approval, insurance will not pay for the operation-,.*— even though doctors already can-pf- fer the surgery since the same device is sold for FDA-approved tremor therapy. That means patients like Stephani, who can pay fcr the $25,000 to $35,000 surgery themselves, can try the procedure today. THE YEAR 2000 CRISIS WILL AFFECT EVEN YOUR SMALL BUSINESS! The year 2000 computer crisis will affect EVERY BUSINESS directly o|t indirectly, are you going to be prepared? How about your suppliers, ; bank, accountant, security system, cash register, billing system, phone systems, and voice mail, etc.? ANYTHING with a computer chip can be affected. When the systems ' fail, so can your business. BE PREPARED! There are less than 600 days left to prepare! ' PLAN TO ATTEND THE YEAR 2000 SEMINAR Sponsored By The Salina Regional Small Business Development Center 'u: Wednesday, June 17th, 1998 from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm at ; the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, 120 W. Ash. { 3 PRESENTERS covering ;i , Assessment, Protection and Correction of < i • Business Risks • Solution Planning • Hardware • Software The alternative to being prepared for the YEAR 2000 is GOING OUT OF BUSINESS Limited Seating! Reservations are strongly suggested by calling Jerry or Melissa at the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce at 785-827-9301. $10 per person. A Public Service Message of The Salina Journal Y.ASSISTED SUICIDE Reno rules federal agents can't act against assisted-suicide cases ! 'v ' - ^—^ .Bill introduced in Congress to counter Oregon suicide laws By The Associated Press -WASHINGTON — Attorney .General Janet Reno ruled Friday .that federal drug agents cannot move against doctors who help terminally ill patients die under Oregon's landmark death-with- .Vdignity law. Within hours, a bill to overrule her was introduced in Congress. Already rebuffed by the Supreme Court, opponents of physician-assisted suicide said "they would turn to legislation. .House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-I1L, joined by James Oberstar, D- Minn., sponsored the first bill to "explicitly ban drugs for assisted suicide. '• Advocates of Oregon's first-in- the-nation law hailed Reno's ruling as clearing the way for political debate in the 50 states on the morality and ethics of the issue. '.' But few predicted an immediate surge in doctor-aided deaths. Although Oregon's law took effect in October, only three terminally ill Oregonians — including a cancer- stricken grandmother in her 80s — have killed themselves with lethal prescriptions. Only one other state is even near following Oregon's lead — a Michigan group claims to have gathered enough signatures to put the issue on that state's ballot. And Reno warned that doctors in states with no assisted suicide law or even those in Oregon who ignore the law's safeguards could face federal penalties. President Clinton signed a law last year barring RENO federal assistance for the practice and "continues to maintain his long-standing positions against assisted suicide and any federal support for that," Reno said. The Oregon law requires two doctors to agree the patient has less than six months to live, is competent and has made a voluntary decision. Two other witnesses must agree the request is voluntary. The doctor can prescribe, but not administer, the lethal dose. In November, without consulting the Justice Department, one of Reno's subordinates, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas Constantine, told Congress his agents could use the federal Controlled Substances Act to arrest doctors who participated or revoke their DEA drug licenses. But Reno concluded the law was designed to curb drug trafficking and abuse of stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens. "There is no evidence the Congress, in the Controlled Substances Act, intended to assign DEA the novel role of resolving (what the Supreme Court last year called) the 'earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality and practicality of physician-assisted suicide,' " Reno wrote Rep. Hyde. "There is no evidence that Congress, in the CSA, intended to displace the states as the primary regulators of the medical profession, or to override a state's determination as to what constitutes legitimate medical practice." Mississippi, Mississippi, FOUR,, Mississippi r^WHHHW»i Reach a market that grows bigger by the second. Every eight seconds a Da,by boomer turns 50. The over 50 baby boomers are becoming the largest, most powerful demographic category in the country. Make sure your ad targets the population with purchasing power. Your ad can reach this market in the Salina Journal's Senior Lifestyles edition. This annual publication will feature stories on travel, health, volunteering and using the internet. To take advantage of this timely opportunity, contact your marketing consultant at 823-6363 or 1-800-827-6363. Deadline: Tuesday, June 9 Publishes: Sunday, June 21 the Salina Journal 333 S. 4th • Salina, Ks. -67401

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