The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 17, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, April 17, 2001
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Page 1
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Kenya beat TUESDAY APRIL 17, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS ournal Serving Kansas since 1871 50 cents Age of fitness PAGE CI • STATE BUDGET Legislators may face taxing decision Income-spending gap may force lawmakers to utter the T' word By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal Despite a potential 4 percent gap between proposed state revenues and planned 2002 spending, Kansas isn't in all that bad of fiscal shape, Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer told a Salina audience Monday State government has more than $300 million in reserves, and its debt level is 47th lowest among the 50 states, he said. Kansans don't "do debt weU," Sherrer said, speaking to a noon meeting of the Salina Rotary Club at the Bicentennial Center. And that, he said, makes it all the more prudent for lawmakers to raise taxes to fund state government. BRUNGARDT SHERRER "It's not very popular but fiscally responsible, in my judgment," said Sherrer, a former Salina teacher who is expected to be one of the Republican candidates for governor in 2002. Freshman Sen. Pete Brungardt listened to Sherrer and said afterward that a tax increase might indeed be necessary, depending on the numbers lawmakers are presented before the session ends. Gov Bill Graves' budget proposes a spending increase of 5.2 percent. It now appears revenues wUl be about $205 million short, Sherrer said. Without raising taxes or raiding other funds, the state would be able to hike spending by only about 1 percent, or $45 million. The result of that would be cuts felt in social services, highways and education, Sherrer said. Of the proposed 5.2 percent increase in the governor's proposed state spending, about 1.25 percent is earmarked for medical services for Social and Rehabilitation Ser- GOLDEN PARACHUTES f • TOM DORSEY/ The Salina Journal Early retirement Incentives convinced Heusner Elementary School teacher Alice Salz to give up the classroom this year. Local teachers use early retirement incentives to bail out By TANA THOMSON The Salina Journal Alice Saiz, who has taught elementary students for 30 years, has decided she wants to retire early and on a high note. And since her daughter, Jarnee Saiz- Fischer, began teaching in the Salina School District a year ago, Saiz, a first- grade teacher at Heusner Elementary School, said she feels like she's left a legacy This is her opportunity to exit gracefully and take advantage of the district's early retirement plan. But while Saiz, 59, is eager to get to her new "adventures," the Salina district must fiU the shoes of an experienced educator. That's something that may not be so easy to do with a nationwide teacher shortage. This year, 28 of the Salina district's staff are taking the early retirement plan — 25 of those are teachers. That is up from the 17 teachers and three administrators who opted for early retirement in 2000. Forty-five percent of the district's teachers are eligible for retirement in the next 10 years. All Saline County school districts of­ fer some financial incentive for their teachers to leave before retirement age. At the Salina district, early retirees get $7,000 per year for up to five years or $35,000, whichever is the least amount. Generally teachers are eligible for early retirement when their age and the number of years they have served at the district total 85. The EU-Saline district offets $5,000 per year for four years and the Southeast of Saline district offers $3,500 per year until they are 65. The incentive is on top of the Kansas Public Employers Retirement System benefits that teachers get. The amount employees get from KPERS per year is the employee's number of years of service multiplied by the final average salary multiplied by 0.0175. The Salina district is looking at other early retirement options to replace those incentives that, Mike Soetaert, the Salina district's director of business, thinks are outdated. "Some view it as a missed opportunity for not retiring early," Soetaert said. "It's a disincentive for them to stay It's kind of backward, in my way of thinking." See RETIRE, Page A2 vices clients. "You know who (those programs) serve. They serve aU of us. It serves elderly It serves kids in foster care. It serves physically disabled, developmentally disabled," Sherrer said. He said $70 million is set aside in the budget for highways, and $100 million is earmarked for education as aU levels. See TAXES, Page A3 T IWcPHERSON Future of MCDS is in the bag McPherson firm wins contract to make biodegradable bags By SHARON MONTAGUE Tlxe Salina Journal MCPHERSON — Multi community Diversified Services is set to break ground Friday on a 35,000-square-foot building that could house the first Biocorp biodegradable trash bag manufacturing plant in the United States. The new building also wUl allow MCDS to reunite its workshop and its administrative of fices, which now are in different buildings blocks apart in McPherson. "It will aUow us to consolidate our operations," said Barry Adamson, president and chief executive officer of MCDS. .'; MCDS provides employment, training and assisted-living services to about 150 area residents with developmental disabilities. The groimdbreaking ceremony is planned for 4 p.m. Friday at the Board of Public Utilities Industrial Park, on the east side of McPherson, across from Abbott Laboratories. Adamson said the new, pre-engineered metal building will have about 25,000 square feet for manufacturing and 13,600 square feet for offices, meeting areas and maintenance. Construction is expected to cost about $2 million. About $400,000 of that will come from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing through a community development block grant. Plans call for borrowing about $1.3 million through a local bank and the U.S. Rural Development Administration, with the remainder of the money coming from donations and other grants. See BAGS, Page A2 T MIDWEST FLOODING The worst is yet to come for upper Midwest Two-thirds of Minnesota counties see flooding as rivers continue to rise By The Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The rising Mississippi River submerged a stretch of raih-oad track near here Monday, forcing Amtrak to put passengers onto buses be-, tween Minneapolis and Chicago. The Mississippi also seeped into basements and covered parks and boat landings, sending residents of low-lying areas to higher ground. Flood warnings were in effect from the Twin Cities in Minnesota along the Minnesota-Wisconsin state line to northern Iowa. Communities along other rivers in Minnesota and North Dakota waited to see if sandbag levees would hold. Light snow fell on the Red River Valley Monday, but the National Weather Ser­ vice said it would not affect the river, which crested during the weekend and started to recede slowly A search resumed Monday for a 19- year-old man missing in the Minnesota River near Shakopee, Miim. His older brother was rescued Sunday The two men had driven onto a flooded road, bypassing warning signs, and were swept away by rushing water in the area southwest of Minneapolis. "It's going to get worse," said Al Blencoe, an emergency dispatcher in La Crosse, Wis., about 150 miles southeast of Minneapolis. The river there was 4 feet above flood stage Monday morning at 16 feet. Some residents of nearby French Island left to stay with friends and relatives. "Unfortimately, when you live in a river town, you have to take it in stride," said Brian Larson, who lives on French Island. The river was expected to crest near La Crosse at 17 feet early Wednesday, just short of the record 17.9 feet set in 1965. "It's been coming up a good foot every day" said La Crosse homeowner Mike Flaten from the cab of a front-end loader filled with sandbags. Two houses down, Marjorie and Charlie CoUins carried cartons fi-om their wet basement but considered themselves lucky They had built their home 2 feet above the 100-year flood mark, and their front yard was dry while canoes and boats floated in their neighbors' yards. "I'll never forget this one, this Easter. We're lucky We have nothing to complain about, only a little water in the crawl space," Marjorie CoUins said. Police closed almost every park on the river's edge and several boat landings, and joggers were warned of washed-out nmning trails. Nearly two-thirds of Minnesota's counties had reported some level of flooding. Only a few homes were evacuated but many of the state's rivers have yet to crest. The Associated Press Jack Grossell, Winona, Minn., loads a boat with sandbags Monday before crossing flooded Highway 35 In hopes of saving a water-threatened business. WEAtHER High: 56 Low: 33 Mostly sunny with north wind 5 tolO mph. PAGE B1 Debbie Divine takes her seat on the Salina City Commission, and Commissioner Kristin Seaton takes up the mayor's gavel. TOMORROW After Salinan Gerri Tanuis had the bear facts, she turned the information into an award-winning cake. INSIDE Classified/ 03 Comics / B4 Crossword / B4 Deaths / B3 Great Plains / 81 Health /CI Money / A4 Sports / D1 Weather /C8 Viewpoints / A7

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