The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 1, 1996 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, October 1, 1996
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Page 3
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THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1996 A3 T SRS AUDIT SRS out of compliance with foster care program Agency fails to meet requirements for protecting children By JOHN HANNA The Associated Press TOPEKA — The state's welfare agency did not provide adequate protection during the last half of 1995 to children who were reported to be victims of abuse and neglect, an audit has concluded. The Legislative Division of Post Audit based its findings on the reports of an internal monitoring unit of the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The division said SRS failed to meet seven requirements for protecting children. The goals were established in 1993, when SRS settled a lawsuit filed in Shawnee County District Court by a local attorney. The American Civil Liberties Union joined the case against the state. The division released its audit Monday, and the Legislative Post Audit Committee reviewed its findings. "A lot of us are discouraged that we don't have a higher compliance rate," said Sen. Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan, the committee's chairwoman. "We've got a long way to improve." In a response, SRS Secretary Rochelle Chronister noted that because the audit deals with the agency's work from July 1 through Dec. 31, 1995, it may not be "reflective of the current status of the department's success." "The department continues to progress to- ward compliance with the settlement agreement as interpreted by the parties," she said. "We all need to ensure that the public is well informed of the complexities and challenges involved." In October 1995, during the period covered by the audit, 2 year-old Cain Baker of Topeka died,-even though police had been called twice to his home and found him with bruises and a broken left thigh bone. The boyfriend of his mother later was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Rene Netherton, the Topeka attorney who filed the lawsuit, said SRS "failed horribly" in protecting children. She said she and other attorney are considering reopening the lawsuit. She expressed frustration over what she said is SRS' officials unwillingness to seek increases in funding for protective services. "I've never seen SRS so blatant in having money drive its decisions," she said. "They don't even apologize for it." The audit said that of 47 items listed in the agreement settling the lawsuit, SRS complied with only 17 of them, or just 36 percent. But committee members focused on the audit's listing of deficiencies in services designed to protect children. The audit found: • SRS officials failed to properly assess and screen reports of abuse 34 percent of the time. • The department did not conduct a preliminary assessment of risk to a child 36 percent of the time. BRIEFLY Fire damages trailer while owners are gone A fire Monday night extensive- . ly damaged a mobile home in Sundowner West trailer park northwest of Salina. Loring and Rosemary Nelson weren't home when the fire started, neighbors and firefighters said. The fire started in a bedroom in their trailer at 7493 Remington Road, north of Interstate 70 at the Hedville exit. Marty Weaver, assistant fire chief for the Hedville Fire Department, said the suspected cause was a water heater. The bedroom was destroyed, and the rest of the trailer had heavy smoke and water damage, Weaver said. Misty Livingston, who lives near the Nelsons, noticed the fire about i. 7:45 p.m. She and other neighbors called the fire department. [ "I could see flames," Livingston ; said. "It smelled really bad." Thick smoke filled the neighborhood. Neighbors used water hoses to try to control the fire before firefighters arrived, she said. Weaver said about 20 firefighters from four fire departments re, sponded, including Bavaria, Brookville and Hedville. Neighbors were worried about a dog the couple owned. But , Weaver said no animals were * found in the house. Officials were still trying to '• find the Nelsons Monday night to inform them of the fire. Police seek help in finding suspect Salina police are asking for the * public's help in their search for a man wanted on child molestation charges. An arrest warrant has been issued for Julio Cesar Uranga, also known as Julio C. Cesar, 26. Assistant Police Chief Glen " i ID A Mr* A Kochanowski I UHANtlA said Uranga is ;' wanted for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old Salina girl at a Salina . motel on Sept. 7. Uranga is described as Hispan;, ic, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, 130 pounds, ; with black hair and brown eyes. * He was last driving a 1981 two' door, beige Volkswagen Rabbit ; with Kansas license plate KPC 773. Anyone with information about where Uranga might be is asked . to call Crimestoppers, 825-TIPS. . Callers aren't required to give [ their names and could be eligible j for rewards of up to $1,000. Audit raises question about development < TOPEKA — State auditors have I identified 13 instances in which I employees for Kansas' economic : development agencies had ties to v companies that received money or • technical help from those agencies. [ Employees or their spouses ; owned, held stock or had manage- I ment jobs in the companies. • Many of the cases involved em- ', ployees of Centers of Excellence . for research on state university campuses. The employees included Rich ; Bendis, the president of .the ] Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, or KTEC, which provides assistance to high-technology ventures. Bendis and his wife invested in a company that later received money from a fund KTEC oversees. ' The auditors did an in-depth re" view of records involving 61 companies, as well as a cursory review of records for more than 600 others. From Staff and Wire Reports Tomorrow's Headlines Category 6006 (Call alter 7:30 p.m.) Photos by The Associated Press The book "Unlimited Partners" by Bob and Elizabeth Dole is on display in the front window of the Russell Flower and Gift Shop on Main Street in Russell. Although they don't see him often, some store owners display Dole's book. Home Sweet Home After years of being away, is Dole still a Kansan? By BILL FOREMAN The Associated Press USSELL — When you r think of Kansas, images ( of golden wheat, yellow | sunflowers, flat land- Iscapes and Bob Dole come to mind — or at least that's what the Republican presidential candidate hopes. Dole is quick to remind voters he's a man from the "heartland," born and raised in this gritty prairie town surrounded by wheat fields and oil wells. When he announced he would leave the Senate, he said he would stand before the people as a "Kansan, an American, just a man." But is Dole a Kansan anymore? Sure, he was born and raised here, but how much does he have in common with the average Kansan? Dole has spent the past three decades in Washington, far away from the dusty streets of tiny Russell. His home since 1972 has been a two-bedroom Watergate apartment on the Potomac River, a sharp contrast to his family's humble Attorney Jerry Driscoll, a Russell Democrat, says Dole hasn't spent much time in his hometown In the past 35 years. brick home on Maple Street. Some Kansans believe the state long ago became a prop or a backdrop for Dole's political ambitions. He would return to Kansas to campaign before flying back to Washington until the next election. "For the past 35 years, not many people have seen much of Bob Dole here," said Jerry Driscoll, a Russell attorney and Democrat. "We've seen more of Bob Dole this year than any other year." Dole's taste in clothes are probably as foreign to many Kansans as his choice of residence. His father wore overalls to work every day; Dole wears tailor-made Brooks Bros, suits. His favorite places to eat include Mr. K's, a Washington restaurant where egg rolls cost $5.50 each. For the same price in Russell, you can get a three- piece chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and a roll. Dole's hometown supporters say apartments, clothes and egg rolls are superficial things that don't reflect the man's core, which is solid Kansas. In their minds, Dole earned his lifelong Kansas credentials at an early age. They say Dole showed true Kansas grit as a soldier in World War II. His love of hard work helped him recover from a paralyzing war wound, earn a law degree and become one of the most powerful men in Washington. Russell resident Pam Lightfoot, who worked as a clerical aide in Dole's Washington office in 1977, said she knows ex- actly what Dole means when he says he's a Kansan. "It's just that: hard work, don't depend on welfare or anything else," Lightfoot said. "If you're in a hole, dig yourself out." Many Russell residents say it's obvious that Dole still feels comfortable in Kansas. When he visits his hometown, he laughs more, looks more relaxed and speaks freely. "He never uses notes when he comes home," said Janice Marshall, who owns a jewelry store in downtown Russell. "He just looks at us and waves just like we are family." Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, believes that Dole has pulled off being both a Kansan and a Washington insider. "I do take seriously his notion that his core values were shaped in those 30-some-odd years when he was living in Kansas," Loomis said, "and so I think if you see him in Russell, he really is at home there, even though he goes back for symbolic purposes." T TRANSPORTATION Subsidies might double for seven airports Increased federal funding for airports in Hays, Goodland and other towns may start in 1998 By JOHN MARSHALL Harris News Service Congress on Monday appeared ready to approve a measure that would nearly double federal subsidies for rural airline passenger service, including seven cities in Kansas. The proposed increase, funded through a new fee to foreign airlines, could begin by 1998. "We had heard the rumors last week, but it now appears that Essential Air Service funding is on the brink of huge increases," said Hays City Manager Hannes Zacharias. "If it happens, it's nothing but good news for western Kansas." Zacharias was part of a western Kansas delegation in Washington this week to discuss federal issues with an assortment of government agencies and with the state's congressional staff. The group, headed this year by Al Silverstein, president of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, was composed of about 30 local government officials, business leaders and economic development representatives. At a breakfast meeting near Capitol Hill, the group learned that the government's $26 million subsidy for rural air service could nearly double under a measure to be voted upon later that day by the Senate. The subsidy last year was $23 million. The provision, in a conference report approved by the House, would for the first time assess a fee to foreign airlines for using the U.S. air traffic control system. Foreign govern- ments for years have charged such a fee to U.S. international carriers. The U.S. fee, effective on passage of the bill, is estimated to generate about $100 million a year in revenues from foreign carriers. Half the revenues — $50 million — are committed to the government's Essential Air Service program. "In effect, this would double revenue for airports now designated for Essential Air Service subsidy," said Heather Smith, a transportation specialist for U.S. Rep. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. In Kansas, seven designated airports receive $939,000 in Essential Air Service payments to carriers that serve low-traffic rural areas. The communities and per-passenger subsidies are Topeka, with a per-passenger subsidy of $7.13; Goodland, $102.79; Dodge City, $12.19; Garden City, $12.01; Great Bend, $30.24; Hays, $10.92; and Liberal,$28.95. T BRIDGE CLOSING Collision leads to closing of bridge County official isn't sure if century-old bridge can be repaired By SHARON MONTAGUE Tlie Salina Journal A century-old bridge on Lightville Road near Smolan has been closed because of damage caused when a pickup crashed into it last week. On Monday, an engineer inspected the bridge three-quarters of a mile south of McReynolds Road, said Jerry Fowler, Saline County public works director. Fowler was unsure if the bridge could be repaired. Joseph Arpad, 41, 1914 E. Claflin, told sheriffs deputies that he was driving on the wooden- decked bridge about 2 a.m. Thursday in the rain when he lost control. The rear tires of Arpad's pickup hit the bridge, Undersheriff Cal Johnson said. The impact spun the truck, and the side of the truck hit the bridge a second time, Johnson said. No report of the accident was filed until Saturday afternoon, Johnson said, when a sheriffs deputy met county highway workers at the bridge. Johnson said Arpad called a wrecker after the accident and had his pickup towed to 6312 S. Lightville, without the permission of the landowner. The tow truck driver called the sheriffs office, Johnson said, but no accident report was made. A county highway worker who lives in Smolan notified county workers Saturday that the bridge had been damaged, Fowler said, and workers went to inspect it. It was unclear whether county workers called the sheriffs office after they inspected the bridge, or whether people who own land near the bridge called the sheriffs office. The bridge was closed to traffic and barricaded Saturday morning, Fowler said. Fowler said the pickup hit the west truss of the bridge, bending the steel out about 2.5 feet and breaking a wooden railing. A plaque on the bridge shows that it was constructed in 1889. Fowler said bridges constructed in that era were designed with decks supported by overhead trusses, instead of by structures below the deck. That's why damage to the steel above the bridge deck could compromise the safety of the bridge. The bridge is constructed somewhat like a child's swing set: the steel superstructure is like the swing set frame, with the superstructure supporting the deck like a swing set frame supports the swing. Just as damaging the frame of a swing set would weaken the structure, damaging the overhead trusses on a steel truss will weaken it. Authorities didn't know Monday afternoon just how much the bridge was weakened. After they determine whether the bridge can be repaired, and the cost, Fowler said he would talk to county commissioners. Since authorities are certain the damage to the bridge was caused by Arpad's crash, Fowler said the county can negotiate with Arpad's insurance company to get some money to help repair or replace the structure. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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