The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 27, 1996 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, September 27, 1996
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Page 11
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FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 27, 1996 THE SAUNA JOURNAL Great Plains VIEWPOINTS / B2 ALMANAC / B3 FUN / B4 B * WATERSHED DISTRICT Voters to decide fate of Westfall district Several landowners in Ellsworth County are -opposed to watershed By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING The SaUna Journal WESTFALL — Alfred Aufdemberge jtiinks the biggest benefit to the establishment of a watershed district in his area would be a reduction in floodwaters, which in 1993 poured over crops and into homes. "We just saw so much water go by in 1993," said Aufdemberge, a Westfall farmer. "A watershed district could totally control a small flood and partially control a big flood." On Nov. 12, landowners and residents in portions of Lincoln, Ellsworth, Saline and Ottawa counties will go to special polling places to vote on the establishment of Westfall Watershed Joint District No. 111. A seven-member boai-d, which includes Aufdemberge, approved a reso- A Westfall water district "could totally control a small flood and partially control a big flood." Alfred Aufdemberge Westfall farmer lution Sept. 23 calling for the election. If the question passes, district officials will have the authority to levy a 2- mill property tax (each mill equals $1 per $1,000 assessed valuation) on land inside the district. The district also could raise money through special assessments, the issuance of bonds, and state and federal cost-share programs. George Austin, engineer with the state Department of Agriculture's Division of Water Resources, said there are 88 active watershed districts in Kansas, including Spillman Creek and Salt Creek, centered in Lincoln County. Most use a system of dams to store floodwater in ponds so the water is released at a slower rate to move downstream. Other benefits of a watershed district include conservation of soil and water and a reduction in the amount of sediment reaching streams. Watershed districts also have the authority to condemn land, a circumstance that has sparked opposition in Ellsworth County. During a meeting earlier this month, several landowners questioned Austin and organizers about future plans. Their main concerns: • The district could misuse its condemnation powers. • Even though the organization is local, it could provide an avenue for state or federal government to usurp private property rights. "They are gun-shy, and understandably so," Aufdemberge said of the Ellsworth County landowners, some of whom saw their pastures divided by construction of Interstate 70 in the 1960s. He said other watershed districts have been built with little condemnation and he hopes the proposed Westfall district can take a similar path. Austin said it would not be feasible for the district to proceed without Ellsworth County. "The district is based on the drainage area, and a drainage area is blind to county or political boundaries," he said. The Westfall district would include the drainage areas of Elkhorn, Brush, Owl and Table Rock creeks. There are 40 eligible voters in both the 10 sections in the northwest corner of Saline County and 10 sections in the southwest corner of Ottawa County; the southeast quarter of Lincoln County has between 200 and 300 eligible voters; and a portion of Ellsworth County has 50 eligible voters. Watershed election The steering committee of the proposed Westfall Watershed Joint District No. 111 has called for a special election Nov. 12 for eligible voters in Lincoln, Ellsworth, Saline and Ottawa counties. There is no provision in Kansas statute for absentee ballots, so eligible voters must be present to vote. Voting hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; voting locations are: • LINCOLN COUNTY — Westfall Community Building. • ELLSWORTH COUNTY — Martin Oil Company, junction of Interstate 70 and U.S. 156. • SALINE COUNTY — Kenneth Bremerman farm, 4 miles south of Tescott on the east side ofBrookville Road. • OTTAWA COUNTY — Tom Hurtig farm, which from Tescott is located 1 % miles south, 2 miles west on Buffalo Road and 1 A mile south on North 10th. The farm is on the west side of the road. BRIEFLY United Way has raised 22.3 percent of its goal The Salina Area United Way has raised $227,680, or 22.3 percent of its goal of $1,019,000, so far this year. Campaign chairman Greg Bengtson said contributions are a little higher than what was raised at this time last year. "I think we've seen some encouraging results," Bengtson said. "We've got a long way to go, obviously, but we seem to be on schedule." Bengtson said that he would like to meet this year's goal by Thanksgiving. "We know there are some who don't make that decision to give until year-end," he said. "But we would like to have everything wrapped up by Thanksgiving." The United Way funds a variety of projects handled by 18 local social-service agencies and provides money for other projects through Venture Grants and Community Initiative Grants. Dole solidifies lead over Clinton in Kansas Bob Dole has apparently improved his lead over Bill Clinton in Kansas, according to a new poll. In a phone survey of 838 registered voters who said they regularly vote, 51 percent said they would vote for Dole, 39 percent for Clinton, and 3 percent for Reform Party candidate Ross Perot. Seven percent remained undecided. The poll was conducted last Saturday through Monday for The Kansas City Star, the Lawrence Journal-World, KSNW-TV in Wichita and KTKA-TV in Topeka by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research of Columbia, Md. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. A July Mason-Dixon poll found 45 percent of respondents supporting Dole, 38 percent supporting Clinton and 5 percent backing Perot, with 12 percent undecided. Enrollment falls at state universities TOPEKA — Enrollment in Kansas' state universities declined nearly 1 percent this fall, the Board of Regents disclosed Thursday in a preliminary report. Total headcount at the six universities, medical school, veterinary medicine school and technology college was 79,662 as of the 20th day of classes, the regents said in a statement. The preliminary 1996 enrollments and change from a year earlier were: ' University of Kansas, 24,874, down 162 students or 0.7 percent. « Kansas State University, 19,184, down 131 or 0.7 percent. . Wichita State, 14,264, down 403 or 2.1 percent. • Pittsburg State, 6,355, down 71 or 1.1 percent. • Emporia State, 5,772, down 140 or 2.4 percent. • Fort Hays State, 5,540, up 211 or 4 percent. . Medical Center, 2,533, down 70 or 2.7 percent. • Veterinary Medical Center, 373, up 7 or 1.9 percent. • Salina College of Technology, 767, down 28 or 3.5 percent. From Staff and Wire Reports Wlten you need to know. - Tomorrow's Headlines 825-6OOO Category 6006 (Call alter 7:30 p.m.) In the trenches KELLY PRESNELL / The Salina Journal Junior Lemon, with Ludes Plumbing, is reflected in a puddle of rainwater on the Kansas Wesleyan University tennis courts Thursday afternoon as he fills in a trench used to install drainage line. Rains turned the loose earth to a gooey mass for Lemon who had to stop frequently to clean his shovel of the sticky mud. T BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS Zoning board denies pitch for taller sign City planners feared businesses would wage 'sign wars' if precedent established for Kansas Truck Center By CHRIS KOGER Tlie Salina Journal Organ Donors Logan couple help finance new organ recital hall at KU By CHRIS KOGER The Salina Journal LAWRENCE — The newest building on the University of Kansas campus has perfect acoustics, but if a professor tried to give a lecture there, students would have a tough time deciphering the words. "The acoustics are so rich and reverberating, if you say a word, it will hang in the air for a few seconds," said Peter G. Thompson, KU's Dean of Fine Arts, about a new organ recital hall at the university. The organ recital hall, perhaps the finest on a university campus anywhere in the world, was built primarily with funding from a Logan couple, Dane and Polly Bales, and the Logan-based Dane G. Hansen Foundation. The hall will be dedicated Oct. 9 in Lawrence. The invitation-only dedication will kick off a week of special concerts and lectures that will attract acclaimed composers from throughout the world. "It is just breathtaking," said Polly Bales, who practiced organ in the early 1940s at the university's Hoch Auditorium. "The first time we were inside we got really excited," Bales said. "It's absolutely stunning, and the stained- glass windows are just magnificent." The hall is on the northeast side of the new Lied Center for performing arts, and shares a lobby with the center. The 72-foot high building, with walls two-feet thick for acoustic purposes, can be seen at 15th and Iowa streets KU's new organ recital hall Is 72 feet tall, has 196 seats and Is located In the northeast corner of the Lied Center. on the west side of campus. "As we came around the corner and saw it for the first time, Dane said, 'You know, that kind of has the shape of a Kansas grain elevator,'" Polly Bales said. "I said that was appropriate, because we're from wheat country." Bales, who graduated from KU with a music education major, has been a church organist since 1952. Her uncle, for whom the foundation is named, donated an organ to the university in 1948. The new organ was built at a cost of $700,000, more than half of which was provided by the Bales family. They also donated $750,000 to help fund the building that houses the instrument. The Hanson Foundation provided $200,000 and former KU Chancellor Gene Budig contributed $500,000. "The nice thing about the hall is that the very first day we met with the architects, the acousticians were in the room, the organ builder was in the room, and the faculty who will be teaching there were in the room," said Thompson, a painter who designed the colorful windows for the hall and the ornamental woodwork on the pipe shades. The organ is dubbed the "Hellmuth Wolff, opus 40," named for the Canadian who made the 35-foot tall instrument. The 45-stop organ has a solid mahogany case, and the pipe shades are butternut and mahogany. It is decorated with snakewood, rosewood and boxwood inlays. The organ may be beautiful, but its sound is truly remarkable, said James M. Higdon Jr., director of the division of organ and church music at KU. "When we met with the organ builders, we decided we wanted not just a beautiful organ, but there had to be other considerations," Higdon said. "We can't just make music in a box, so we built the hall with that particular organ in mind." The acoustics are modeled after those in a church at Lyon, France, Saint-Francois- de-Sales. Higdon, who made a recording at the church, asked the acousticians to duplicate the sound. "It was a thrill, because you don't really know how exactly everything is going to turn out, especially with the acoustics," he said. "It really turned out well. It looks and sounds so beautiful." The 196-seat hall has accommodations for those with disabilities, and in time practice organs will be available. The university has one of the largest organ programs in the country, partially because the hall attracted new students even before it was completed. Higdon said there are 25 organ majors at the university. "This is certainly the finest facility of its kind at any university in the world," he said. The general manager of Kansas Truck Center lost a bid Thursday to have a sign 20 feet higher than current standards, despite his argument that the truck dealership depends on truckers on Interstate 70 who won't be able to see a lower sign. David Mitchell, whose previous request for a 70- foot-tall sign was granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals, was called back after city officials asked the board to reconsider its decision. City planners feared the decision would set a precedent and prompt other businesses adjacent to interstate highways to wage"sign wars." The sign height limit is 50 feet. But last year, the planning and city commissions wrote ordinances allowing signs within 660 feet of an interstate to be up to 70 feet tall if the elevation of the businesses is below the highway. Such elevation difference is the case at Ninth Street and 1-70 because the interstate rises to cross over the street. Kansas Truck Center, 2552 N. Ninth, is 2,500 feet north of the interstate. Other signs closer to the interstate, including those of McDonald's restaurant and Bayard's Cafe, exceed the 50-foot standard, but are allowed because they are within 660 feet of the interstate. An Amoco sign, at 90 feet, was erected before the city annexed the property. At the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Thursday, motions for and against the variance failed while board members struggled with the issue. Leek casts deciding vote In 3-2 decision Mitchell's pitch for a taller sign finally failed, 3-2, when board member Rosalie Leek voted against it on the third vote. "I feel like he should have it, but... that's not the reason I'm here," Leek said. "I'm to stick with the ordinances. "I know how to vote now," she said. "It's not because I want to, but it's because it's what I'm supposed to do." In opposing the sign variance, Leek joined members Randall Hardy and Michael Ogborn. Randy Sterrett and Dick Worth favored the taller sign. Sterrett was the most vocal proponent of allowing the taller sign, saying that to deny Mitchell would deprive him of business. Although the truck business has been at that location for 20 years, a new Freightliner sign is being erected and the business is expanding its hours. "We need to stand up and say a man has a right to free enterprise, trade, the opportunity and the liberty. It's the American way," Sterrett said. City officials outline considerations But Roy Dudark, the city's director of planning and community development, and Mike Peterson, the city's director of permits and inspections, urged the board to consider the sign issue on its own merits. The board, they reminded members often, should focus on the five considerations that, under the ordinance, would allow them to grant a sign variance. Those considerations are: • The uniqueness of the property. • Any adverse effect on neighbors. • Unnecessary hardship if a variance was not granted. • Any effect on public health, safety or welfare. • The general spirit and intent of the sign ordinance. It was the first and last considerations that snagged the board members. Sterrett argued that trees on Mitchell's lot and an adjoining property made the property unique. But Dudark said many other properties are similar. Sterrett also termed the 660-foot rule a technicality and said that waiting for a change in the ordinance from the zoning commission would delay Mitchell's plans at least six months. Ogborn said the board had a responsibility to stick to the ordinance's intent. "(Allowing the variance) really violates the intent of the law," Ogborn said. "The law may be wrong, but that's really not our decision." Mitchell and his attorney, Bob Constable, said they don't know if they will appeal the board's decision. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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