The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 8, 2001 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, April 8, 2001
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Page 12
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B4 SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2001 GREAT PLAINS THE SALINA JOURNAL T RESERVOIR PLAN 24-hour house ABOVE: Unidentified Seaman High School students and construction professionals added a roof to their Habitat for Humanity House on the school campus in Topeka Saturday. About 150 Seaman students, recent Seaman graduates and construction workers began building the house Friday afternoon but experienced a delay Friday night due to high winds. The goal was to complete the house in 24 hours. The three- bedroom structure will measure 1,060 square feet. RIGHT: Seaman High School senior David Griffin (center) and Kansas State student John Bloomfield (right) work on the house's roof. Photos by The Associated Press TOZ THEME PARK Senate vote keeps Oz dream alive Senate President Kerr's intervention gives tlieme parl< chance to survive By JOHN HANNA Associated Press Writer TOPEKA — The Oz bill is off to see the governor. The Senate voted 31-8 Friday to approve the bill giving developers of the proposed Wonderful World of Oz theme park an additional year to break ground in Johnson County on the $861 million project. Gov Bill Graves will now consider the measure, which cleared the House last week. The legislation appeared locked in committee earlier this week until Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, intervened to bring it out for debate. Senators dispatched it to Graves with no discussion. "It's got potential, and we'll give them another year to see what happens," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. Supporters say the park will draw thousands of tourists to Kansas. Critics ques- "I've never thought it was going to come off, from the fl,rst day I heard about it. I've always thought it was crazy" Sen Ed Pugh, R-Wamego on proposed Oz theme park tion whether developers can complete it. . The bill extends until July 2002 the life of a state bonding package that would allow the project to be developed, with the bonds to be repaid with taxes collected at the theme park and resort. In the works for nearly a decade, the project was initially proposed for a site in Wyandotte County before developers settled on the former Sunflower Army Ammunition plant near DeSoto. Johnson County commissioners had voted 2-2 last month to table the project, then voted 3-1 to seek the legislative extension so they could conduct their own feasibility study "It was about allowing the county commissioners the right to get an indepen­ dent look at the viability of the project," said Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan. But the bill still had its critics in the Senate. "I've had enough of it," said Sen. Ed Pugh, R-Wamego. "I've never thought it was going to come off, from the first day I heard about it. I've always thought it was crazy" Another critic was Senate Commerce Chairwoman Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, whose committee initially had the bill after it passed the House. She said earlier this week she wouldn't bring the bill up for a vote because the length of the debate over Oz shows that Johnson County residents don't support the project. On Wednesday, Kerr pulled the bill from her committee and sent it to the Ways and Means Committee, which endorsed it Thursday "I think it was on a fast track," Brownlee said. Kerr said he moved the bill because he thought it deserved a vote. "If it had been voted on in committee and failed, that would have been the end of it," he said. "The idea wasn't to move it somewhere else to win." • U.S.-CHINA STANDOFF Former spy not surprised by current situation Dry southwest may get a lake Proposed reservoir near Jetmore would be largest in that area By SUSAN THACKER r /ie Hutchinson News JETMORE — Where others see ridge rock bluffs and rolling valley plains. Dean Beason sees potential. With a 35-foot-high dam across Buckner Creek, Horsethief Canyon in Hodgeman County could become the largest reservoir in southwest Kansas. The Pawnee Watershed District has purchased the land eight miles west of Jetmore and secured permits for the proposed lake, said Beason, manager of the watershed district's Jetmore office. Preliminary studies have been done, and the next step is to find funding. "It's been in the making for probably 25 or 30 years," Beason said. "We've applied to the Multipurpose Small Lakes program of the State Conservation Commission." The location off K-156 is "just about as perfect as you're go^ng to get for southwest Kansas," Beason said. The proposed lake would have 450 feet of surface area and a maximum depth of 50 feet. "This is an outstanding location for a lake, as it is centrally located about 20 miles north of Dodge City and 50 miles east of Garden City," he said. "It has over 123,000 acres of drainage into it and, for southwest Kansas, it is a pretty site. The site ranges from gradual slopes to high rocky bluffs." At this time, the biggest lakes in southwest Kansas are those in Clark and Meade counties, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, said Jim Hewes, president of the Pawnee Watershed District's board of directors. Horsethief Canyon Reservoir would be about three times the size of those lakes. The board has contracted to buy 1,540 acres for the lake, which will cost about $4 million T KANSAS ECONOMY Topeka man says Chinese pilot's stunt is 'nothing new' By The Associated Press TOPEKA — Students whisper that Mr Martin is a spy and they're almost right. Ronald Martin's days of sur- veilling China as a Marine master sergeant are long behind him. Now 70, he works as a substitute teacher in Topeka schools. But he recalls vividly an incident that occurred 35 years ago involving two Chinese aircraft and a U.S. military plane on which he was flying. That encounter had a different ending than last week's collision of a U.S. Navy spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea. "This is nothing new," Martin said Friday "We were doing nothing new." Martin was a Chinese lin­ guist for the Marines, responsible for recording conversations of interest to U.S. intelligence and, on surveillance flights, to look out for other aircraft. On one occasion, he said, two Chinese jets came up behind the four-engine U.S. plane. When one jet pulled to the side, Martin's plane turned the other direction to get away "They came to surprise us," Martin said. "We had no weapons or way to defend ourselves." He speculates that the Navy plane involved in last week's collision was in a similar position but that, when it turned, the Chinese jet was at its side rather than behind it. A Chinese pilot is still missing and China blames the U.S. aircraft for the collision, demanding an apology. The Bush administration has expressed regret but has not apologized — and Martin agrees with that decision. "There's no reason for the U.S. at all to apologize," he said. He predicted China will release the Navy crew of 21 men and three women, given its hope of gaining admission to the World Trade Organization and of holding the 2008 Summer Olympics. "If they are going to act like that, the world community is not going to accept them," he said. However, in learning the Chinese language, Martin said he also learned about their culture. "One thing they don't want to do would be to lose face," he said. Better technology and satellites might let the United States end its spy flights, Martin said. But that is in the future. As for the past, Martin noted one aspect in which his missions 35 years ago differed from today's flights. "We didn't have three ladies aboard," he said. It Moaove! Sell your old wheels fast and save big!— Reach thousands of readers each day. Readers "skim" our classifieds daily for great deals. Call 785-823-6353 or 1-800-827-6363 •^Salina Journal Conivxling communities with ivjarmation to build, Hewes said. That doesn't include recreational structures. Horsethief Canyon got its name in the days of Wyatt Earp, Hewes said. Horse and cattle thieves saw a different kind of potential in the area, which they used as a natural corral. After the Dust Bowl, the State Conservation Commission Was created to implement programs to control soil erosion. As early as the 1930s, people saw the potential for a reservoir, Hewes said. "There's a real need for it," he said. Buckner Creek is usually a small stream; its flow is constant. In the 1980s, a flood washed out a bridge in the area. But the real need is for recreation, Hewes said. He pictures picnic areas, camp sites and boat ramps on the north side of the lake with a view of dramatic rock bluffs to the south. "I can see it being a major draw," Hewes said. The watershed district board would own and maintain the lake. A separate committee would be in charge of the recreational Side of things, he said. Groundbreaking for the lake is probably three to five years away Beason said. After that, it would take about two years to build. Water from Buckner Creek could fill the lake in two years, or earlier if there's a major storm, Hewes said. The water rights of downstream irrigators would be maintained. "Things are just starting to happen to come together really fast here," Hewes said. "There's been real interest up in Topeka" and from area cities. The sec and corporate sponsors have expressed interest in funding the project. The Kansas Historical Society has surveyed the area, which includes the remains of a large Indian camp site, Hewes said. Few artifacts were found, and the historical society has given its blessing for construction on most of the area. High gas prices snuff out spending Economic forecasters predict spending will be down by millions By The Associated Press TOPEKA — Although many carts were full at the Wal-Mart Super Center, shopper Riad Radwan said he had been spending a bit less as his natural gas bills rose and the economy slowed in recent months. "It's not much," Radwan said. "Maybe a few dollars a month." The Topeka resident said his natural gas bills had not risen as sharply as those of many users whose winter bills were two or three times those of past years. Still, even small declines in consumer spending can affect the state's financial picture. Economic forecasters recently slashed their prediction of the state's revenue collections in the next 15 months by $185 million. The leading factor, they said, was the likelihood that Kansans' natural gas bills — on which the state does not collect sales tax — will drive down their spending on consumer items, which do carry the tax. . "One explanation is that utility bills have been so high, and there's no sales tax on utility bills," said Duane Goossen; the state's budget director. "People are spending the money there that they would have spent elsewhere." Take Radwan's few dollars a month and multiply it. If all 2.68 million Kansans reduced their retail spending by $10 a month, $26.8 million less would be spent per month. With the sales tax at 4.9 percent, the state would lose about $1 million each month. Kansas Gas Service has said more than one out of 10 of its 570,000 residential customers can't pay their bills and collectively owe about $20 million compared to $4.4 million a year ago. The average debt is $560 versus $243 last year Goossen and Ben Barrett, director of legislative research, point to another indicator of the significant increase in the cost of natural gas — the severance tax. The tax is tied to the value of gas removed from the ground. The tax is expected to bring in about $20 million more than the state estimated in the budget year that begins July 1. The sales tax, on the other hand, is predicted to bring in about $65 million less. "They are not really linked, but they kind of work in tandem," Barrett said. The sales tax isn't the biggest chunk of the state revenue, though. The sales tax makes up about 32 percent of $4.48 billion dollars the state expects to collect in the coming budget year. The income tax brings in about 46 percent of that total. At the Statehouse, some legislators are referring to the shortfall as a crisis and searching for places to cut dollars. SPA SERVICE 825-9888 SPA SERVICE Seraphin Angels Steinhauser's 109 NW 3rd. St., Abilene 785-263-1401 /1-800-321-7668

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