The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 14, 2001 · Page 9
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 9

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, April 14, 2001
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Page 9
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SATURDAY APRIL 14, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains A LOOK AHEAD / B2 DEATHS/ B3 RELIGION / B4-5 BRIEFLY County administrator issue still uncertain More than a month after they fired Saline County Administrator David Criswell, county commissioners have not yet decided whether the position will be filled. Rita Deister, deputy administrator, is filling the position on an interim basis while commissioners decide whether they want another full-time administrator. Commissioner Sherri Barragree said Friday commissioners have not discussed the issue in the weeks since they fired Criswell. He was fired after blasting Saline County's form of government as inefficient during a public meeting called to discuss his job duties. "We've had so many things going on, we haven't even discussed it," Barragree said. Barragree was the secretary for the commission until she was elected as a commissioner in November. Diane Turner, the new secretary, began her duties early this month. Brookville man jailed for hunting violations A Brookville man will pay about $4,000 and spend 10 days in the Saline County Jail after he pleaded no contest Friday to five charges, including exceeding a daily limit for pheasants, not having a valid guide license and illegally taking a red-tailed hawk. James Hocking, operator of Diamond H Outfitters, also is not allowed to hunt or be in the company of anyone who hunts for the 24 months he is on probation. Hocking initially faced 14 misdemeanor counts that were the result of a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks investigation that lasted for more than a yean Children's deaths under investigation WICHITA — Two children found dead in a one-room apartment in north Wichita Thursday night appear to have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said. Six other people who were in the same apartment were taken to the hospital, and three of them were listed in critical condition Thursday night, Battalion Fire Chief Gary Anderson said. Hospital officials said the family members improved overnight. Three family members — a woman in her 40s, a 7-year-old boy and a 3-or 4- year-old girl — were listed in serious condition Friday morning. Listed in fair condition was an 18-month-old baby and a 50-year-old man. A boy whose age wasn't known was in good condition. Easter said police had determined it was an accident. The family turned on a heater Wednesday night that had not been used for a few weeks, he said. "There was blockage on the back end of the heater that didn't allow carbon monoxide to escape," Easter said. No other information about the victims was available. Neighbors said the family was in the process of moving out of the apartment — which was a unit at a converted motor inn — into a larger home. Historic red barn now must be burned ROLLA — A historic red barn once featured in a Smithsonian exhibit will be burned because its roof was ripped off by a tornado. The white-trimmed barn was a local landmark. It was included in a 1999 Smithsonian Institution exhibit about the history of barns, called "Barn Again!" Karen Steele, who lives on the farm near Rolla in southwest Kansas, said the twister a week ago also destroyed two silos. From Staff and Wire Reports CORRECTIOIMS ••••• 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. Easy rider JEFF COOPER / The Salina Journal Tyler Nickel and his dog Sally ride on north Kansas in Lindsborg Thursday afternoon. Tyler said it didn't talte much to teach Sally to ride on front of his bike — he just put her paws on the handlebars and off they went. KANSAS LEGISLATURE School finance remains stuck at square one 85 days into session, education funding Still is undecided By JOHN HANNA The Associated Press Anaiysis TOPEKA — After 85 days in session, the big question of the 2001 Legislature hasn't changed, and it hasn't been answered. Will legislators increase taxes to raise extra money for public schools? The question is now more urgent because of the state's budget problems. Without an infusion of new revenue, legislators aren't likely to find much extra to give elementary, junior high and high schools. The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to meet Monday to begin drafting a new school finance plan, and legislators are debating whether the bad budget news makes it easier to approve a tax increase or more difficult. But their positions have changed little. In the House, Republican leaders insist a tax increase won't pass. In the Senate, many Republicans oppose a tax increase, but supporters of a tax hike for education remain hopeful. "I don't think the fact that revenues are down changes the need," Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer said. "I don't think it needs to abandon the effort." The debate over school finance began last year, after Gov. Bill Graves appointed a special task force. It said the state needed to rewrite its school finance law but put an extra $215 million into education during the state's 2002 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Some education officials T AIRPORT TOWER : II i M ; :J0r ¥'•''), 1- • 'i^f :*»?•: «w»»»»S*55'» immmmiif^- t »-^««»-jj ttammmm4' «s- '"w _ , , JUSTIN HAYWORTH /The Salina Journal JD Steel employees work on re-bar forms which will become exterior walls at the Salina airport's new control tower. Airport tower to be first of its kind Precast concrete structure scheduled to be fully operational by early 2002 By SHARON MONTAGUE Tlie Salina Journal It started with drilling holes in the ground — 24 of them, each 24 inches in diameter and 22 feet deep — then filling each hole with a circular cage of reinforcement bar and pumping each with concrete, leaving re-bar extending from the top. Then came a 4-foot-thick slab of concrete, again with re-bar protruding. On top of that came a basement of sorts, with 15-inch thick poured concrete walls and more re-bar connectors, and a crawl space for mechanical and electrical equipment. All of this was needed below ground level to support what will be the first of its kind in the United States — a 125-foot air traffic control tower at the Salina Airport constructed of precast concrete panels with a surrounding base building made of poured concrete. Work began in January on the nearly $4.5 million project, which is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. Completion is expected in November. Mark Benne, site engineer for the FAA, said the Salina tower and one under construction in Grand Canyon National Park are the first "low activity" towers to be constructed entirely of precast concrete. "Other regions have done towers for larger airports of precast concrete, but this is the first for a low-activity airport," Benne said. Panels for the tower are poured by Waffle-Crete of Hays, then trucked to Salina and erected. Each segment is 8 feet tall and weighs about 20,000 pounds, with five panels completing the circumference of the pentagonal tower. "We have a rather large crane from Ferco Construction (in Salina) that's used to erect the tower," Benne said. Paul Sphon, construction manager for general contractor Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis, Minn., said the panels are so large only two at a time can be carried on the flatbed trailer from Hays. Once they arrive, the sections are connected like Legos, with re-bar protruding from one piece fitting into sleeves built into the other. "That takes a lot of coordination in the design itself and in the aspect of actually putting them together in the field," Sphon said. "So far, we've had pretty good luck." See TOWER, Page B2 said the figure for districts' actual needs approached $600 million. In his State of the State address in January Graves proposed an increase in spending of $68 million but told legislators that amount was inadequate. He didn't specifically call for a tax increase, but legislators took his speech as an endorsement of one. He came up with a plan to increase the state's sales and motor fuels taxes, raising another $112 million for education. A group of senators drafted a plan to increase spending on schools by $469 million over three years by increasing the state's sales tax from 4.9 percent to 5.5 percent over that period. The Senate Education Committee drafted a compromise that would have raised an extra $263 million over two years for education by increasing sales, alcohol and tobacco taxes and imposing a new one on soda pop. The Senate returned that bill to committee but members also voted 24-16 against Graves' original $68 million proposal, suggesting a majority thought it inadequate. That left supporters of a big increase in spending wondering whether they'd been told senators wouldn't accept a tax increase or just wanted the right proposal. Then the bottom fell out. New estimates told legislators they'd have a $185 million gap between spending they've already approved for fiscal 2002 and expected revenue collections. That gap grew to $205 million last week, when legislators learned that some social service programs would cost more than legislators anticipated. See SCHOOLS, Page 82 • SCHOOL SPENDING Local boards pinch pennies Local board members not big on attending school conventions By SHARON MONTAGUE Vie Salina Journal About six years ago, shortly after she was elected to the Salina School Board, Ruth Cathcart-Rake joined two other board membei's on a trip to Florida for the annual meeting of the National Association of School Boards. "I thought it was a valuable learning experience," said Cathcart-Rake, who now serves as board president. "As a new member, the learning curve is very steep. We came back with a lot of information about various topics, and we wrote up our notes and distributed them to other board members. "1 think there is some merit to attending national conventions." But since that time, district officials say no board members from the Salina district have attended an NASB convention. Board members of the Ell-Saline School District and Southeast of Saline School District also generally have attended few school conventions. "In the nine years I've been here, we've never had a board member go to a national convention," Superintendent Bob Goodwin of Southeast of Saline said. "It's just not something we promote." See BOARDS, Page B2 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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