Local/Kansas The Salina Journal Tuesday, January 7,1986 Page 3 School board to discuss negotiations, Barlett report By DAVID CLOUSTON Staff Writer Two items dominate an abbreviated agenda for Wednesday's Salina School Board meeting: a report on Bartlett Elementary School and the appointment of a committee to represent the board in teacher contract negotiations this spring. To comply with a school closure policy ^adopted in October, school officials are to present the board with information on the ; operation of Bartlett. Included in the report are a feasibility study of remodeling the school, an enrollment study, school boundary policy, two options for boundary realignment and a list of other uses for the building. The board is considering two options for the school: to spend $465,665 to renovate it or close it and change boundary lines to transfer its 176 students to other schools. Keeping the school open likely would involve acquiring two homes south of the school's playground. The property acquisition might be necessary to make up for playground space lost to new construction of a 5,200 square foot addition to the west of the school, which would house a 2,000-square-foot library and two classrooms. One of the homes that might be acquired is at 313 S. 10th and is owned by Arthur Bettenbrock, 312 N. llth. The other is at 319 S. 10th and is owned by Romaine 0. Nelson, 912 S. llth. Officials also have included in their report the option of purchasing other properties south of the school for a playground, should the first two properties be unavailable. If board members decide to close Bartlett, officials have included in the report a plan to shift the 176 students to other district schools. Administrators suggest changing the boundaries of Franklin, Hawthorne, Lowell, Oakdale and Whittier elementary schools. The net result would be to increase enrollment at Whittier by 26 students, at Hawthorne by 56 students, at Oakdale by 13 students and at Franklin by 69 students. The enrollment at Lowell Elementary School is not expected to change. Because the board has until April to decide whether to approve the additions or close the school, neither Bettenbrock nor Nelson have been approached about acquiring their property. Both owners indicated Monday, however, that they might be willing to sell, depending on the price. The administrators' report estimates each property could be purchased for $35,000. Appointments to the teacher contract negotiations committee also are to be discussed Wednesday. To be selected are two board members, an elementary principal, a secondary administrator and administrators from either the Central Kansas Cooperative in Education or the Salina Area Vocational- Technical School. The board's chief negotiator will be Pat Baker, senior legal counsel for the Kansas Association of School Boards. Baker will be serving her third year as the board's repre- sentative. Last year, the district paid the school board association $2,503.33 for Baker's services. Included in that amount was a $60 per hour fee for Baker's preparation time and time spent in negotiations, said Steve Mulvenon, coordinator of public information. Another $40' an hour was paid to the association for Baker's traveling expenses. The district has $7,000 budgeted for negotiations this year, Mulvenon said. Included in the figure is the cost of administrators attending a school board association workshop on negotiating and the cost of printing the negotiated agreement. The school board meeting will begin at 4 p.m. in room 200 of the City-County Building, 300 W. Ash. Legislators aren't betting on lottery By DAVID CLOUSTON Staff Writer A statewide lottery might get a lot of attention this legislative session, but legislators in the Salina area aren't counting on it to fund state government. "It would be nice to bring in $30 million from it, but I'm not going to base state government on a lottery," state Rep. Jayne Aylward, R-Salina, told area members of the National Education Association Monday night. Besides Aylward, state lawmakers attending the NEA-sponsored dinner were Rep. Elaine Hassler, R- Abilene; Rep. Bob Ott, R-Salina; Rep. Larry Turnquist, D^Salina; and Sen. Ben Vidricksen, R-Salina. A primary topic of discussion was the funding of state government and education. ! Of the three most-talked-about sources of additional state revenue, a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax would be the simplest to administer and would generate the most income, Vidricksen said. Education could receive up to $200 million if the sales tax were increased from 3 percent of retail sales to 4 percent. A lottery is estimated to raise $30 million and parimutuel betting would raise $6 million to $9 million, he said. A lottery or parimutuel betting "would be a supplement, but not a way to fund government," Vid- ricksen said. • Also at the meeting, NEA spokeswoman Carol Brandert gave a short presentation on the organization's "Kansas Plan" — a blueprint for improving state education. : Leading the list of items the group wants approved this session are state funding for the teacher intern program recommended by the state Board of Education. The NEA also ;wants the state to provide $1 million to local school districts for inservice education, increase teacher salaries 18 percent to reach the national average, and become responsible for funding 50 percent of the cost of public education to lessen reliance on property taxes. The state also should increase funding for post-secondary education by 10 percent, the NEA says. The legislators generally reserved comment about specific points in NEA's Kansas Plan, preferring instead to concentrate on the state revenue issue. Looking at the state's overall budget, Turnquist said more must be done to assure the state has an adequate cash balance at the end of each fiscal year. This June, he said, the state will have a balance of $40 million to $50 million and experts say the balance should be $90 million to $100 million. Gov. John Carlin's proposal to cut $35 million from state spending would be necessary, he said, "just to restore us to the $70 million or $80 million level." Turnquist indicated he might support a sales tax increase but said other fiscal measures also might be necessary, such as eliminating some tax exemptions. "I'm not really ready to say yet because I'm not sure we should go just with a one-cent sales tax (increase)," he said. Although offering his support for the sales tax increase, Vidricksen said the state needs more industrial development to retain graduates of Kansas schools. "I don't think any of us wants to see education go backwards," Vid- ricksen said. "We have the best schools of any in the country. "But my concern is so many people are going out of state — they leave when they graduate. The out- migration is terrible." Judge expected to rule on condemnation suit A judge is expected to rule today whether to grant a temporary injunction to halt the condemnation of the Great Plains Building, the site of which is earmarked to become a parking lot as part of the downtown revitalization plan. Saline County District Court Judge David Knudson heard testimony Monday from Salina attorney D.E. Watson, who has filed the injunction suit to stop the city Watson from razing the building at 119 S. Seventh, where he leases an office. Watson testified he had a right to stay in the building under his lease agreement until 2002 and that he has not been able to find an office to rent for less than $550 a month. At the Great Plains Building, his rent is $200. He said his main objection to the city's condemnation action is that the property will be used for parking to benefit downtown merchants and not for public use. He also argued that the action is unconstitutional under Kansas law and is in bad faith, fraudulent, discriminatory and arbitrary. City attorney Larry Bengtson argued that the city's action was constitutional and that construction of parking spaces would be for public use. The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the taking of private property for off-street parking as a public use, he said. The Great Plains Building is one of five downtown properties that the city has filed condemnation suits against as the next step in the downtown renovation project. The sites are being acquired to make room for 290 to 350 parking spaces, the construction of arcades and crosswalks, street improvements, landscaping, weather shelters and other improvements. Appraisers have been appointed to examine the properties listed in the condemnation suits so that compensation can be determined. Other property involved in the condemnation proceedings are three buildings in the 100 block of North Seventh and the former Wehmeier's Bakery in the 100 block of South Santa Fe. A firefighter and police officer motion people away from the explosion site. Elevator blast injures four WICHITA (AP) — A grain elevator explosion Monday seriously burned four men and forced the evacuation of numerous business and houses in north Wichita for about three hours. "It sounded like a sonic boom at first," said elevator employee Jim Gubitz, describing how he and others fled the facility when the explosions occurred. "And you heard one little small explosion then two big ones. Then out the door we went.'' Firefighters evacuated a three-block area around the Ralston Purina Co. elevator shortly after the noontime explosions started a fire and sent four elevator employees to the burn unit at St. Francis Regional Medical Center. Debris was strewn as far as a half-block away, officials said. Hospital officials identified the injured, all of Wichita, as Bob Stephens, 67, who had burns over 80 percent of his body; Carl Humble, 64, with burns over 20 percent of his body; Frank Weston, 51, with burns over 10 percent to 15 percent of his body; and Jim Carpenter, 28, with burns over 5 percent to 7 percent of Ms body. All four men were listed in critical condition. Wichita Fire Department Capt. Ron Blackwell said investigators think the blast occurred when a spark ignited accumulated grain dust in an unloading area. He said damage estimates and a final determination on the cause of the explosions still were being made. Blackwell said the evacuation of nearby businesses and residences was ordered as a precaution because initial grain elevator explosions sometimes are followed by secondary explosions. He and other officials didn't have an estimate of the number of people or structures evacuated. The evacuees were allowed to return about three hours after the explosions. The fire captain said he expected firefighters to remain at the scene all night dousing hot spots and trying to prevent any further explosions. Richard Jacobs, who lives about a block away from the elevator, said the explosion shook his house for about 15 seconds. City schedules new hearing on hotel bonds By GORDON D. FIEDLER Jr. Staff Writer A new public hearing on a revenue bond issue for the old Hilton Hotel at Fifth and Iron will be Jan. 27. The hearing was to have been Monday, but it was delayed because the original $1.45 million bond request has been increased to $1.65 million. Local attorney C.L. Clark, representing Salina Motel Partnership, said the change was necessary because the cost of renovating the 144- room motel, which has been closed for two years, is higher than originally estimated. The bonds would finance renova- tion, as well as the purchase of the motel, club and restaurant. Clark said the partners in the venture had budgeted $520,000 for renovation but discovered they needed $200,000 more because the cost of rehabilitation was more than the architect's estimate. The partners, including Salinans Darwin and Jim Sampson, plan to contribute $345,000 to the project, bringing the total investment to nearly $2 million. The motel closed after its last owners lost the Hilton franchise and failed to keep the motel from bankruptcy under the name Hospitality Inn. In other business, commissioners agreed to acquire the property at 120 S. Santa Fe as part of the downtown renovation plan. The property, known as the Shank building, will be razed to create a pedestrian arcade joining Santa Fe with Seventh Street. Cost of the acquisition is $49,500. The existing arcade property in the 100 block of South Santa Fe will be sold, said City Manager Rufus Nye, when the other is built. In other downtown business, the commission approved assessments for downtown property in the Business Improvement District. The assessments are expected to generate about $11,000. To help meet the improvement district's $35,970 budget, the city will contribute a portion of sales tax revenue. Commissioners agreed on Sept. 10,1984, to supply $5 of public money for each $1 of private funds for the public portion of the downtown development project. Commissioners also rezoned property in six blocks of South Santa Fe from multiple-family residential to single-family residential. The application was filed by Nancy Hodges, 850 S. Santa Fe, on behalf of her neighbors. Mayor Merle Hodges, her husband, abstained from voting on the matter. Commissioners share ideas with legislators By GORDON D. FIEDLER Jr. Staff Writer Getting a larger share of the state's sales tax, reducing the cost of liability insurance coverage and controlling the erosion of the city's home rule powers topped concerns cited by Salina city commissioners, who met Monday with three of four area Kansas legislators. Commissioner Sydney Soderberg said that as federal revenue subsidies to cities begin to dry up in 1986, Salina will be looking for ways to make up the $400,000 loss. Soderberg told Sen. Ben Vid- ricksen and Reps. Jayne Aylward and Bob Ott, all Republicans, a partial solution would be to increase local government's share of the state's 3-percent sales tax. Democratic Rep. Larry Turnquist was unable to attend the meeting, which was part of the commission's informal session that precedes the commission meeting. Local governments receive 3.5 percent of the gross sales tax receipts, which, for Salina, is about $165,000. Soderberg said there is sentiment from Kansas cities to bump the local share from 3.5 to 5 percent. That would give Salina a proportionately larger share but would not offset the loss of $400,000 in revenue sharing, she said. Mayor Merle Hodges asked that the state examine ways to reduce liability insurance costs. Escalating insurance premiums are increasingly difficult to pay and the risk of possible litigation is driv- ing away qualified public servants, Hodges said. City Manager Rufus Nye said he is concerned about possible changes in annexation laws. "We would oppose anything that impinges on our home rule authority," Nye said. In a related matter, he asked that legislators relax the state law requiring cities to publish a legal description of the city's limits. Nye said the annual formality costs the city $790. Delinquent borrowers to get notices KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Signaling an end to a court-ordered moratorium on farm foreclosures, the Farmers Home Administration will be sending notices this month to thousands of Kansas and Missouri farmers who are behind on repaying FmHa loans. The notices, which will be sent sometime after Jan. 23, instruct the farmers to pay up or select one of several options the FmHA has outlined to deal with their delinquent loans. If the farmers do not respond, the FmHA could begin the legal process toward foreclosure. Charles W. Ladner, chief of farmer programs for the FmHA in Topeka, said notices would be sent to roughly 1,790 farm borrowers in Kansas. They make up about 22.5 percent of the 7,947 active FmHA borrowers in the state as of Dec. 19. If the farmers do not respond to the notices, legal procedures leading to foreclosure could be taken, said Larry Davis, director of the FmHA in Kansas. However, Davis said he does not anticipate a large number of liquidations. Judge refuses to alter sentences Prison sentences given to two Salina men in separate cases, involving a rape and a series of residential burglaries, will not be changed, a Saline County District Court judge ruled Monday. Judge David Knudson denied motions to modify the sentences of Albert 0. Plunkett, 26, formerly of 1131 N. Santa Fe, and Ricky Nesmith, 21, formerly of 212 S. Connecticut. Plunkett was sentenced to 10 years to life for raping a 27-year-old Salina woman in her north Salina home on March 3. Knudson denied the motion to shorten the sentence, stating that the crime was a despicable act in which a knife was used to terrorize the victim. A sentence of 10 years to life originally was imposed, rather than the maximum sentence of 15 years to life, he said. Nesmith is serving a ,four- to 10- year sentence on two counts of aggravated burglary and three counts of burglary. He was accused of 11 resi- dential burglaries that occurred in May and June. Knudson denied the modification request because he said Nesmith had expressed little remorse for his actions and had committed the crimes while on probation for a prior felony conviction. A sentencing judge retains jurisdiction over a defendant for 120 days, during which time he can shorten the sentence or place the defendant on probation.
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