The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 7, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, April 7, 2001
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Charging PAGE D1 CMMSTERS the SATURDAY APRIL 6, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 50 cents Changing hands PAGE B1 Dust blast Two men suffer severe burns in elevator explosion A Greenleaf firefighter lool<s out the blown-out section of a feed storage building that was damaged in the explosion. By TIM UNRUH The Salina Journal GREENLEAF — Some workers at the Farmers Coop Elevator Association thought the loud boom was a tornado hitting the feed mill, but they soon learned it was something just as serious. Two men were severely burned Friday when an apparent dust explosion and flash fire damaged the concrete mill and steel feed storage building. John Woltje, 42, and Max Hubbard, 52, were in the University of Kansas Medical Center burn unit Friday night. They were in the mill when the explosion occurred about 2:30 p.m. Friday "They were alert, talking," said Allison Mueller, a nurse practitioner and an emergency medical technician for the Greenleaf Ambulance Service. The men were taken to Washington County Hospital in Washington before being transferred. "We helped them at the hospital," she said. "They were in a lot of pain, and that's expected. But they were, surprisingly, doing well." Back at Greenleaf, Washington County deputies evacuated a one-block area around the feed mill. Officials shut down power to the buildings, including the co-op office across the parking lot, where about dozen or so workers gathered after the blast. Company spokesman, Pat Breedingrwho will take over as general manager April 16, said it appeared the fire had been extinguished. "Our first concern is the employees," he said. "The facilities are, by far, secondary." He said Woltje was loading a truck in the feed mill with ground mixed feed that was to be hauled to a farm. Hub- Washington Greenleaf WASHINGTON Site of a grain eievator explosion This is an overall view of the Greenleaf Co-op. bard was inside the mill, mixing feed. The feed mill and elevator manager, Mike Woerner, was in the doorway of a shop about 30 yards north of the mill when he heard the explosion. "There was some debris flying out the walls," Woerner said. "I knew right away something wasn't good. "I jumped in my pickup and came around to see if anybody needed assistance." His next move was to account for the rest of the employees. Woerner said when he found Woltje and Hubbard, they were sitting on the loading dock. "Whether or not they Photos by JEFF COOPER / The Salina Journal Greenleaf firefighters inspect a feed trucl< that was damaged in Friday's grain elevator explosion in the small Washington County town. came out on their own, I don't know," Woerner said. "They were talking." Extension damage The blast knocked windows out of the concrete mill. The hood and the grill of the truck that was being loaded were blown off. Behind it was a mangled steel roUup door. Upstairs, windows were blown out in the headhouse and gallery "The ignition point was somewhere in the concrete structure," Washington County Sheriff Bill Over- beck said. "It went southeast into the feed room, and the blast blew out the northwest wall. It came out where the weakest point would've been." Jim Hogan, a Greenleaf volunteer firefighter and insurance appraiser, said he was told the workers "heard a boom and looked up. They saw a fire and smoke cloud go off the top" about 100 feet from the ground. More than 21 firefighters from every department in Washington County responded to the explosion at Greenleaf Greenleaf Fire Chief Ron Laflen said some, water was applied to the building early on, but the fire was out, although Laflen was concerned about hot spots. Firefighters planned to monitor the area through the night. He wouldn't speculate on what sparked the explosion. "We're waiting on the state fire marshal to get here," Laflen said, "and we'll investigate it closer." • Reporter Tim Unruh can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 137, or by e-mail at sjtun ruh@saljournal.com. • STATE BUDGET We must 'bite the buUef Budget chairmen don't see tax hike as a good budget fix By JOHN HANNA The Associated Press TOPEKA — The chairmen of the Legislature's budget committees say they see little enthusiasm for increasing taxes as a way to solve state government's financial problems. Lawmakers sent an incomplete budget that the state cannot afford to Gov. Bill Graves Thursday and began scrambling to find ways to balance spending and revenues. On a 22-17 vote Thursday, the Senate approved a compromise $9.11 billion spending bill that contains most of the budget for fiscal 2002, which begins July 1. The House had passed the measure Wednesday just hours before revenue forecasters slashed their estimates of tax receipts for fiscal 2001 and 2002. Forecasters predicted a $185 million gap between likely revenue and the spending approved in the compromise bill. Legislators must cut some appropriations they have already approved, raise taxes, find new sources of money or produce some combination of all three. Some were prepared to reduce appropriations, while others put staffers to work researching possible tax increas- '""'Bu'f 'Hou¥e 'i ^^ppropriations Chairman Kenny Wilk said he isn't counting on legislators increasing taxes. "I don't sense a groundswell of support for a tax increase," said Wilk, R-Lansing. Sales tax hike unlikely Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steve Morris said he won't rule out any tax increase, but he said he thinks it would be small and limited to the state's "sin" taxes, on alcohol and tobacco. He said he doesn't see his colleagues approving a general tax increase, such as a sales tax hike. "Right now, we're going to have to bite the bullet," said Morris, R-Hugoton. Legislators plan to start their annual spring break Saturday, reconvening April 25 to complete the year's business and consider one last budget bill. "We would like to avoid across-the-board cuts," said Rep. Rocky Nichols, Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. "Those are clumsy and lazy cuts." Graves proposed — and the bill sent to him Thursday contemplates — spending more than $4.66 billion from the state general fund. See BUDGET, Page A5 T BUSHTAX PLAN Senate scales back Bush's tax cut by 25 percent President accepts cut of $400 billion from 10-year plan By ALAN FRAM The Associated Press WASHINGTON — The Senate dealt a blow Friday to President Bush and his drive for a $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut, approving a budget that would shave $400 billion off his tax plan and spend billions more than he wants. By 65-35, the Senate approved a budget for next year that BUSH WEATHER High: 77 Low: 50 Mostly sunny and windy; pardy cloudy toni^t. • would open the way for a $1.2 trillion tax reduction. The vote came after White House officials and top Republicans abruptly abandoned days of intense efforts to pump up the size of the tax reduction, the keystone of the new administration's economic policy Republicans claimed victory with Bush saying he was "really pleased" at the Senate's decision to provide "meaningful. PAGE A2 real tax relief for the American people." They also said that though Democratic leaders supported a tax cut of just $750 billion, Republicans pushed a figure far closer to Bush's through the Senate. And they promised the figure would get even larger after negotiations with the House, which approved a budget March 28 permitting Bush's full $1.6 trillion reduction. "The fact that both houses of Congress have committed to provide significant relief is good for the American people, and it's good for our economy," Bush said at the White House. "This is pretty good, for the semifinal. We're in the Super Bowl when we get in conference," said Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, referring to talks with the House. "I think we've advanced the ball downfield." But Democrats contested GOP claims of a triumph. Ever since embracing it in 1999 during his fight for the GOP presidential nomination, they noted. Bush has said $1.6 trillion is the right size for a tax cut. "If this is a victory, there ought to be more like them," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The Republican leaders' inability to push Bush's full tax cut through the Senate illustrated again the unpredictable nature of a chamber that is divided 50-50 between the two parties. Just last month, the Senate defied expectations and approved a major overhaul of campaign finance laws opposed by GOP leaders. But Friday's vote also underlined that 77 days into office. Bush can't yet count on his powers of persuasion with Democrats that he boasted of during his campaign. Kansas vote How Kansas senators voted in the 65-35 roll call by which the Senate . voted Friday to approve a fiscal 2002 budget that would limit President Bush's tax cut to $1.2 trillion over 10 years, $400 billion less than he wanted. • Brownback (R) Yes • Roberts (R) Yes A blurry photo, the only public peek of the Navy air crew held in China, shows the Americans looidng straight ahead, their faces blank. PAGE B5 The nation's unemployment rate inched up to a 20-montii high at 4.3 percent in March as businesses cut the most jobs in a decade. INSIDE Classified / C1 Comics / B8 Deaths / B3 Families / A6 Great Plains / B1 Money / B5 Religion/ D6 Sports / D1 Weather / D8 Viewpoints / A7

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