The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 13, 2001 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

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Salina, Kansas
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Friday, April 13, 2001
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Page 13
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FRIDAY APRIL 13, 2001 THE SAUNA JOURNAL Great Plains A LOOK AHEAD / B2 DEATHS / B3 FUN / B4 I i i BRIEFIY Albers gets Jail time, probation after plea A businessman accused of rape in 1999 pleaded no contest Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery. Bob Albers Sr„ rural Tescott, then was sentenced by District Judge George Robertson to 90 days in the Saline County Jail. However, Robertson suspended the jail time and ordered Albers to spend six months of unsupervised probation. Assistant County Attorney Stacy Cunning said the plea agreement was approved by the victim. Albers, 60, who owns The Outpost Restaurant northwest of Salina and formerly owned Bob Albers Construction, was accused in November 1999 of raping a 22-year-old Tescott woman he paid to clean his home. She said he invited her into his hot tub where, she told investigators, she was raped, Board says railway can abandon tracks WICHITA —The Central Kansas Railway can abandon 16 miles of shortline railroad between Garden Plain and Wichita, the federal Surface Transportation Board has ruled. The track is the only portion of the railway's assets in Kansas that was not included in this month's sale to Watco Cos. of Pittsburg, Watco plans to operate the rest of the railway's tracks under the new name of Kansas & Oklahoma. The city of Wichita, Sedgwick Covmty and the Kansas Department of Transportation supported abandoning the track. They argued that removal of the line would help development of highway interchanges and building of greenways in the western part of the county 2 killed in crash west of Medicine Lodge MEDICINE LODGE — Two people were killed when the car they were in veered off a road and rolled several times, authorities said, • Kayla Sue Devine, 17, died at the scene and Jesus DeLeon III, 20, died after being taken to Via Christi Medical Center in Wichita, the Kansas Highway Patrol said Wednesday The driver of the car was seriously injured in Tuesday's accident on River Road 13 miles west of Medicine Lodge. ' Investigators said none of the three was wearing a seat belt. Recall election planned in Merriam MERRIAM — The first recall election for Johnson County in 30 years is planned for Merriam this spring, after a councilwoman was accused of conspiring to improperly use taxpayer money Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt on Wednesday certified a petition with 177 signatures from registered voters calling for the recall of Councilwoman Marsha Williams. Only 108 signatures were needed for the petition, which accuses Williams of conspiring with council members Bill Nye, Gary Glenn and Beth Snell to use tax money to pay for a Web site that advances their political cause. Williams has denied the allegations In the past. Merriam city government has been saturated with turmoil since Williams, Glenn, Nye and Snell defeated incumbents to win their seats in a 1999 election, Since then, Williams and the other three council members have taken sides against the four remaining council members and Mayor Irene French. The two sides have often deadlocked with 4-4 votes, causing the mayor to break the tie. The four newcomers to the council created a Web site at www.newcouncil.com. Some^ have accused the newcomers of using the site to discredit political enemies. From Staff and Wire Reports CORRECTIOIVIS ••••• 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 apace as soon as possible. GOLDEN YEARS SPRING FESTIVAL Photos by JUSTIN HAYWORTH / The Salina Journal Dorothy Lindsay, Clay Center, participates in the hog-calling contest Thursday during the Golden Years Spring Festival at the Bicentennial Center. Springfling 103-year-old McCullough part of senior gathering By SHARON MONTAGUE TJie Salina Journal This past winter was a tough one for LUlian Bragg, Lincoln, "She was sick the whole time." said her daughter, Betty McCullough, also of Lincoln. "She only got out of the house once," But after the long winter, Bragg was all smiles Thursday as she sat at a table at Salina's Bicentennial Center, listening to music and talking with friends. And she was proud of the corsage that adorned her jacket — proof that at age 103, she was the oldest person in attendance at the annual Golden Years Spring Festival sponsored by the Salina Parks and Recreation Department and the Golden Years Club, Bragg and McCullough were among about 1,000 people flrom north-central Kansas who attended the festival, which is designed to provide a full day of fun and fellowship for people ages 50 and older "We • don't have any educational things at all," said Randy Clifford, with Parks and Recreation Department. "It's all just fun. We're trying to provide an opportunity for seniors to get together and Interact, They get out for the day and meet new people." Activities included musical entertainment, carnival games. Bingo, liar and hog 'Calllng contests and two dances — one featuring a country band and another featuring an orchestra. The event costs the recreation department about $2,500, but Clifford said peo- Lee Hoffman, 89, Abilene, was the oldest man at the festival. pie ages 50 and older are charged only for lunch and dinner If they wish to eat at the Bicentennial Center. Businesses donated Items to be given away as door prizes, Bragg likes the event because there's something for everyone, She enjoys the carnival games and the music, "It's a nice outing," her daughter, McCullough, said, "It accommodates everyone. A lot of It Is just coming and watch­ ing and talking." Myrtle Baldwin, Salina, enjoyed listening to the music and talking to people. "I enjoy seeing the groups come In from out of town," she said. "It's hard to get out and mix with people, and this provides an opportunity" Baldwin, who will be 102 years old In August, also had a corsage on her lapel, as she was honored for being the oldest Salina resident In attendance, "I've probably gotten this for five years in a row," she said, fingering the purple-tinged carnation. "When they're giving the prize, they just give my age and ask if there's anyone older, because I'm usually the oldest." Nilus Thornton, Wichita, said the festival offered something different for members of her cUib, the McAdam Golden Age Club. "It takes you out of your regular routine," she said. "There are so many different activities, you don't get bored." Melvln Parks, Wichita, wasn't the oldest, but he was honored as the best storyteller In the annual liars contest, "I was quite a storyteller all through school," he said, "It's just been part of my life," He told the story of a professor whose car battery died on a cold night, The professor went to the closest building, a coed dorm, and asked a young girl If he could use the telephone. As he was on the phone, the house mother came in and berated the girl for allowing a man into the dorm. "It's OK. His battery is dead," the girl replied. T LEGISLATURE State eyeing overdue taxes As budget gap widens, officials want delinquent taxes paid By JOHN HANNA The Associated Press TOPEKA — Kansas may soon step up Its collection of delinquent taxes as Gov Bill Graves and legislators look for ways to relieve the state's growing budget problems. Budget Director Duane Goossen said Thursday that Graves is considering plans to beef up the Department of Revenue's collection staff during the state's fiscal 2002, which begins July 1. The department believes spending $3 million on new staff could lead to an extra $40 million In tax collections in fiscal 2002, Goossen said. Legislators would need the money, a possible net gain of $37 million. New estimates for social service caseloads will require them to set aside an extra $19.9 million for medical service, cash assistance and foster- care programs over the next 15 months. Those extra costs widened a budget gap to $205 million. The gap is the difference between spending already approved or to which the state is committed and the revenues the state is expected to collect. When the Legislature reconvenes April 25, members must balance spending for the state's 2001 and 2002 fiscal years with the latest revenue figures, Goossen said he expects a plan to increase the collection of delinquent taxes to find favor with lawmakers, though he said the administration hasn't drafted anything specific yet. Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchln- son, already had identified the Idea as "low-hanging fruit" that would make budgeting easier. Some legislators and officials estimate the state has $500 million in uncollected delinquent taxes. Lawmakers expect to hear from the Department of Revenue next week. Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steve Morris, R- Hugoton, said he expects the Legislature to approve a plan to speed up the collection of delinquent taxes. Democratic leaders also said they would support such efforts, "We won't be in a position to say we won't collect delinquent taxes," said Rep, Melvln Neufeld, R-Ingalls, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "You've got to go after It." The new estimates for social service caseloads reflect state officials' belief that the economy Is slowing down. When the economy slows down, demand for assistance from the state typically Increases. • BY GEORGE Kansas plows itself into budget blight Doing something about fariD woes would make our economy less dismal They call economics "The dismal science," That is because, according to my 25- year-old Economics lOl textbook, even some of Its most devoted practitioners are resigned to the Idea that all the rS' search and analysis In the world will never really affect the directions In which money flows. But, while understanding might not change the course of economic behavior, emotion does, The negative emotions that afflict the agricultural economy of Kansas are a big part of what has left our state with an anticipated revenue shortfall that Is overshadowing everything else In Topeka. Doing something about the woes of Kansas farmers might not add up to better economic days on paper. But a real, enthusiastic devotion to a new day for agriculture might have the psychic effect necessary to get the farmer, the banker, the grain elevator and the truck dealer out of the dumps and into the state's revenue stream. Agricultural economics are dismal, indeed. And, as state budget-makers rightly take that into account, they force our elected officials to raise taxes, cut services or both, The usual Prozac prescribed by national politicians for a depressed economy, tax ^ cuts, is not an option In Kansas, That's because the Kansas Constitution requires a balanced budget, and state law requires both a small yearend surplus and a budget based on the science, however dismal, of unbiased economic forecasts. In Washington, Congress and the White House can make their own Rosy Scenario guesses about how much money Is going to come In over the next year or decade, then proceed to spend It, In Topeka, the Statebouse and Cedar Grest must obey the Consensus Estimating Group, a conclave of state budget of- flclals and university economists, This group's predictions are no mere office pool, By law, the amount of money GEORGE B. PYLE Th0 Salina Journal ——• the group expects to flow into state cof- . fers Is the amount of money we will use to determine whether state budgets meet the legal requirement of remaining in the black. The group's most recent casting of rune stones foretold a take that will leave Uncle Sunflower $185 million short of expectations In the fiscal year just ending and the one about to begin. That's when the Statebouse fuss over whether to raise taxes to Improve education became a Statebouse fuss over whether to raise taxes Just to stay even. Because the estimating group's charge Is to predict the future, one of the factors it considers Is something called "consumer confidence," And, in Kansas, the constant downward pressure on farm prices and upward pressure on farm costs have left that confidence low, Ann Durkes is a senior budget analyst for the Kansas Division of the Budget. She told roe last week that, even though consumer confidence nationwide is up, Kansans do not share that enthusiasm. Kansas, she said. Is a conservative state, and people who work In agriculture and related fields are conservative people. By "conservative." Durkes stresses, she does not mean to the right of the political center, but cautious, the very opposite of Wall Street's "irrational exuberance," "When there are changes and when you have a conservative group of people, their consumer confidence will be affected," Durkes said, "They are going to adjust it downward, whether they know it or not," That means Kansans wiU spend less, build less, hire fewer people, pay less In taxes. A great many Kansas farmers have kept their heads above water only because of the billions In emergency federal farm payments, There is no reason to believe that temporary rescues won't continue to be necessary unless some permanent policies are changed. Yet calls by some members of the Legislature to make state government an active partner in improving the farm economy, through enforcement of anti-trust and fair marketing laws and research geared to the small operator, have mostly evaporated. No wonder our farm economy Is depressed. No wonder our state revenue forecasts are so dismal. • Journal columnist George B. Pyle can be reached at 823-6464. Ext. 101, or by email at gpyle@saljournal.com. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT 8jbwearlng@8alJournal.eom

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