The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 10, 2001 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, April 10, 2001
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Page 7
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TUESDAY APRIL 10, 2001 THE SAUNA JOURNAL Great Plains A LOOK AHEAD / B2 DEATHS / B3 FUN / B4 • LEGISLATURE Downturn may benefit slot-machine effort Bad news about state revenues may be enough to revive gambling issue By JOHN HANNA The Associated Press TOPEKA — The state's bad budget news is good news for supporters of a proposal to legalize slot machines. Forecasters have slashed their estimates for state revenues over the next 15 months, leaving a gap of more than $185 million between spending approved by legislators and the amount of money the state expects to collect. The new revenue estimates have revived the hopes of legislators who want to permit slot machines at dog and horse racing tracks. They've tried to sell their plan as a way to raise money for state government. While many opponents of slot machines insist that tough financial times won't cause enough lawmakers to change their positions on slot machines, not all of them are sure. "With our crunch and our financial situation, this may be the year it gets passed," said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, an opponent of slot machines. Less than three weeks ago, the Senate voted 23-17 to kill a slot machines bill, in what some opponents of the legislation hoped would be the final word on the issue. House leaders have consistently deferred to the Senate on slot machines, because proposals have failed there repeatedly. A new proposal probably would be debated by senators first. Before senators debated their bill "I think we'd befools not to seriously consider slots." Sen. Mark Gilstrap D-Kansas City earlier this year, supporters tried unsuccessfully to postpone the debate until last Friday They wanted to wait until after the new revenue estimates were announced. Supporters suspected the news would be bad. But they and legislative leaders — whose scenarios anticipated at worst a $100 million shortfall — were surprised at how bad the new numbers were. "I think we'd be fools not to serious­ ly consider slots," said Sen. Mark Gilstrap, D-Kansas City a supporter The bill the Senate rejected would have permitted slot machines at Wichita Greyhound Park; Camptown Greyhound Park, north of Pittsburg; and The Woodlands in Kansas City which has separate dog and horse tracks. The machines would have been overseen by the Kansas Lottery and would be required to return at least 87 percent of players' money in prizes. The state would get 30 percent of the remaining revenue. Supporters estimated the bill would have raised $75 million a year for the state, although the lottery estimate is $63 million. They argued expanded gambling represented a voluntary tax, something more palatable to Kansans than increasing the state's sales tax or excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. all of which have been proposed. "It almost becomes a no-brainer," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. But critics question whether slot machines could be in place quickly enough to help with the state's immediate budget problems. Legislators have to balance spending and revenues for the state's 2002 fiscal year, which begins July 1. "Slots don't address our immediate needs," said Senate Federal and State Affairs Chairwoman Nancey Harrington, R-Goddard, an opponent of expanded gambling. Harrington and other critics also contend that at most legislators who oppose slot machines are opposed to expanded gambling and won't change their minds no matter how bad the state's financial problems become. BRIEFLY Motorcycle crash puts 2 in hospital Two people remained hospitalized Monday — one in critical condition — as a result of a crash Saturday evening in which the motorcycle they were riding flipped into a ditch on the west side of Salina. Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski identified the victims as Mark Taylor, 35, the driver, and his passenger, Charlotte Bowles, 35, both of 713 N. Second. They were riding the motorcycle east on Kansas Highway 140 when Taylor lost control of the motorcycle on a curve near the Wild Wild West Club. Kochanowski said the department is investigating whether alcohol played a role in the crash. Both are hospitalized at Salina Regional Health Center, where Taylor is in the intensive-care unit for treatment of head injuries. Neither rider was wearing a helmet. K-State to set up recycling program TOPEKA — To avoid paying a $29,025 fine, Kansas State University has agreed to set up a program for recycling batteries and fluorescent lights. • The fine was imposed by the state Department of Health and Environment, which concluded after a 1999 inspection the university was improperly handling and storing hazardous materials on campus. The university and KDHE entered into a consent agreement last month, outlining the actions the university will take to avoid the fine. KDHE estimated Kansas State will spend $101,000. In addition to setting up the recycling program, K-State has agreed to set up a free site for Riley County residents to drop off hazardous waste and hire a student intern in its Department of Environmental Health and Safety. The university also agreed to have workshops on handling hazardous materials. Kansas winter wheat crop doing poorly WICHITA — Kansas winter wheat condition deteriorated further last week as the crop struggles to recoup some of its growth stunted during last year's drought. As much as 29 percent of the wheat was ranked poor or very poor, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday Only 2 percent of the crop is good enough to be rated as excellent, with 31 percent being rated good. About 38 percent qualifies as fair, KASS said in its weekly crop weather report. The latest government assessment comes as farmers decide in the coming weeks whether to kill off poor stands and put in a spring-seeded alternative crop. The agency also reported 74 percent of the crop showed no winter kill or wind damage, with 89 percent showing no insect damage. From Staff and Wire Reports CORRECTIONS ••••• The Journal wants to set the record straight. Advise us of errors by calling the Journal at (785) 823-6363, or toll free at 1-800827-6363. Corrections will run in this space as soon as possible. Water work T EXTENSION TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal Sid Young, an employee of the Salina water department, shuts off a fire hydrant Monday morning after flushing the line. Young said the annual hydrant flushing serves two purposes — it cleans the line and checks the hydrant after the winter. T SALINA GITY COMMISSION City reaches agreement on woodchips Practice of giving away woodciiips felled by new plan By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal An agreement has been carved out ending a woodchip controversy that arose after a business that processes yard waste complained about the city's practice of periodically giving away woodchips. The result: Salinans still will be able to drop off their yard waste for free at the East Crawford Recreation Area when the city conducts its yard-waste weekends, but they'll have to pay Kanza Organics to buy woodchips. It was with grudging support at best that some commissioners voted at their meeting Monday to approve the proposal. "My reaction is this is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist," Commissioner Larry Mathews said before the vote. T CENSUS 2000 Rodger Schneider, owner of Kanza Organics, 600 Lightville, raised his concern at last week's commission meeting, saying the city's free wood- chips undercut his business. On free-yard-waste weekends, conducted each spring and fall, residents have been able to dump limbs and grass clippings at the park without charge and take home wood chips, also without cost. Schneider met last week with City Manager Dennis Kissinger to discuss the issue, and they sketched out the plan presented to commissioners. That plan means residents still will be able to drop off their yard waste at the park without cost. But Kan­ za will grind the limbs and sell the woodchips from its location a little more than three miles west of the city Kanza sells various kinds of woodchips at prices ranging from $5 to $35 a cubic yard. Three-fourths of Konza's annual revenue comes from a $4,000-a-month contract it has with the city to collect yard waste not collected during the free-yard-waste weekends. "I agree we may find out this is not a good solution, but it's worth a try" Commissioner Kristin Seaton said. The city will have a free- yard-waste day Saturday and, the spring weekend is set for the first weekend in May About those potholes ... Also Monday, commissioners approved spending an extra $225,000 from the city's share of the state gasoline tax to fix potholes. Money from the fuel tax funds the city's budget for removing snow and ice from streets. Kissinger said city officials are reviewing pothole damage caused by the harsher-than-average winter temperatures. Some of the repair projects will exceed $10,000, Kissinger said. Road repairs During a study session preceding their meeting, commissioners got an update on a $1.2 million project to upgrade Marymount Road between Crawford Street and Mariposa Drive. The plan calls for connecting Mariposa with Markley Road and eliminating the part of Cloud Street that runs adjacent to the Elks Country Club. The plan calls for the asphalt road to be replaced with a regulation street, curb, gutter and sidewalk on the east side of the street. Taxpayers wiU shoulder 65 percent of the cost, or $798,989, and adjacent property owners will pay 35 percent, or $433,773. The estimated cost for each property owner on 102 nearby lots is $4,253. City officials think the street improvement could stimulate growth in the Mariposa subdivision, an affluent neighborhood. Original development plans called for 300 homes in the area, but far fewer homes have been built. City Engineer Shawn O'Leary said. The construction could begin by September Book catalogs bugs in Kansas Effort took 10 years to complete instead of the estimated one By The Associated Press MANHATTAN — When then- Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Sam Brownback authorized the first update to the state's insect guide since 1946, he thought it might take a year to complete. That was in 1990. It took 10 years of painstaking work for state entomologists Stephan White and Glenn Salsbury to update "Insects of Kansas," now being distributed through the Kansas State Extension Service. "This is an incredible book," said Robert Brooks, who oversees the massive insect collection at the University of Kansas' Natural History Museum. "Anybody with a copy of 'Insects in Kansas' in their hands is going to be able to identify — or get real close to identifying — any insect they come across in Kansas or, for that matter, the Midwest." Aphids to giant moths An inch thick and spiral- bound, "Insects in Kansas" has 920 color photographs of 875 species, ranging from the tiny sunflower aphid to the giant ce- cropia moth. The first edition was first published in 1943 by the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. The state extension service printed a second edition in 1962. Within a few years, the second edition was out of print. But the Extension service and the agricultural board kept getting calls from farmers, 4-H leaders and naturalists wanting to buy a copy So in 1990, Brownback — now a Republican U.S. senator — figured the time was right for a third edition. "Sam Brownback came to a plant-protection and weed- See BUGS, Page B3 Graham County knows too well of decline County saw highest percentage drop in population in Kansas By The Associated Press ST. PETER — Within the past decade, some towns in northwest Kansas have discovered they, too, can fill a chapter in the all too-familiar story of rural America, which has been withering for a century Graham County lost 16.8 percent of its population from 1990 to 2000, the biggest percentage drop of any Kansas county New data from Census 2000 confirm dozens of counties in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and the Dakotas lost population again in the 1990s — even as the nation was setting a growth record. "We have been moving Americans out of the countryside into the nation's cities for a century or more," said Mark Drabenstott, director of the Center for Study of Rural America at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City "At some point along the way, it seems we should ask questions like: Do we care how the countryside is stewarded? Do we care what the countryside looks like?" For the 2,946 residents left behind in Graham County it's evident what the population decrease has done to their community One town in the county, St. Peter, consists of abandoned farms and a church where worshippers no longer regulai-ly attend Sunday Mass. "I feel terrible," said long- Dwindling towns Nicodemus Hill City • St. Peter time farmer Earl Schamberger. "I drive by these empty farmsteads, and it tugs at me." The Graham County population dropped by 600 in the 1990s, after a decline of 450 in the 1980s, the Census shows. The population of Hill City another Graham County town. dropped from 1,835 to 1,604 in the '90s. Residents of Hill City said their troubles started about two decades ago, when, they say, prices for petroleum and farm products plunged. It was a double calamity for a county where the economy hinged on both industries. "We've seen it coming," said Jim Logback, a civic leader who is a partner in the Hill City Times. "The big thing is the farms." Fighting back But residents haven't given up. Graham County has teamed up planning and development activities with neighboring counties. And county boosters see economic possibilities, particularly with industries related to agriculture and tourism. A potential opportunity is the promotion of Nicodemus, a historic Graham County town founded by blacks who journeyed there after the Civil War Another potential opportunity: a line of agriculture products, such as flour, which would bear the Nicodemus name. And business people are confident, too. A businesswoman in Hill City thinks traditional business — with a twist — can survive. Alice Ruder owns Serendipity and Gambles, two local stores. She said she recognizes a business must identify local needs and serve more than one of them to be successful in the county. "I haven't given up on Graham County," said Ruder, a native of St. Peter. "I have faith." SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbwearing@saljournal.com

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