The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 18, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, April 18, 2001
Page 1
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Bookend bears PAGE CI the WEDNESDAY APRIL 18, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 50 cents Festival focus PAGE B1 T SALINA FOSTER CARE Morning Star Ministries shuts down Financial trouble forces closing of city's largest operator of foster homes By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal Thirty-two children who were in foster care in Salina have moved, and 30 former employees are seeking new jobs as a result of a decision by Salina's largest operator of short-term and emergency foster care youth homes to shut down operations. The board of directors of Morning Star Ministries announced Monday its plan to cease operations immediately because of financial difficulties. Those obligations include a large amount of unpaid bills, including un­ paid payroll taxes the board claims were inherited from Morning Star's former president, Todd Hadnot. Hadnot, now living in Dallas, was asked by the board to leave his position Nov. 14. "While the board has worked very hard to pay the back bills and keep the ministry operating, cash flow was just not enough to do both," board members said in a news release. Board president Steve Wilson could not be reached for comment. Morning Star formerly operated six youth homes in the city, with a capacity of 52 beds. Five of the homes were the subject of a mortgage foreclosure suit fUed in December against Hadnot, who founded the ministry in 1998, and his ex-wife, Deanna. Solomon State Bank held the properties' mortgages, totaling in excess of $332,000. The suit was resolved out of court March 27. "The bank wasn't willing to give a loan to Morning Star to keep the houses," said Tim Bartz, Morning Star's director. "Morning Star didn't have enough collateral to get a loan. "It wasn't an operations thing. Two days before it was decided to close down, SRS came out for their 60-day review. They were very pleased; they said the paperwork and administration was the best they'd seen in quite a while from Morning Star," Bartz said. "Dayto-day operations were doing great." SRS voiced concerns The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services had raised concerns about Morning Star's compliance with paperwork and recordkeeping that led it to briefly ter­ minate Morning Star's provider agreement to operate. The ministry was eventually given an extension to work out its problems, and in February it entered a new operating agreement with the state. Of late, Morning Star was housing about 32 children in four homes and employing a staff of 30, Bartz said. "Our boys' homes were full the day they (the board) gave the notice," said Bartz, who plans to begin a new job selling cars. He doesn't rule out the possibility of some day going back into social service work. The children in Morning Star's care were moved by their placing agencies to other shelters. In some cases, they were returned to their homes sooner than planned. "That happened before when our provider agreement was terminated, and we actually got some of those kids back," Bartz said. "I'm afraid it will happen again. Or they may go to foster homes that may not be able to take good care of them." Becky Gassman, chief of social services for the Salina SRS office, said Tuesday the agency has determined Salina has a sufficient number of existing youth group home beds. Therefore, SRS won't be approving any new provider agreements for the time being. Roughly 13 youth home providers remain in the city, she said. By reducing the number of shelter beds in Salina, SRS officials hope other cities that sent youths to Salina will create their own youth shelters. See FOSTER, Page A3 Rising RIVER Mississippi jumps banks in 4 states By ROGER PETTERSON The Associated Press Bloated by melting snow and rain across the Upper Midwest, the Mississippi River rose out of its banks and strained against dikes Tuesday in four states — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. Among the developments: • Contractors at Appleton, Minn., rushed to shore up the Marsh Lake Dam on the upper Minnesota River. The earthen dam had been weakened by erosion and battered by huge chunks of ice. If the dam were to collapse, officials said, it could eventually raise water levels downstream at Montevideo and Granite Falls by 1% to 3 feet. "We're going to be ready for this if it happens," Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski said. • Hundreds of people had left their homes in low-lying riverside areas of Wisconsin and Iowa, and volunteers and prison inmates sandbagged homes along the Mississip­ pi at Hampton, 111. Among those who evacuated was U.S. Rep. Ron, Kind, who moved his wife and two children out of their home at French Island, Wis. Water was 4 feet deep in the house. "We were completely engulfed and surrounded by the Mississippi," the congressman said after a canoe trip to check on the house and his neighbors. • A 403-mile stretch of the Mississippi from Muscatine, Iowa, to Minneapolis was closed to boat and barge traffic. Nine counties in western Wisconsin were under a state of emergency and a disaster proclamation was posted for 10 Iowa counties. • The Mississippi rose above 23 feet at St. Paul, Minn., for the time since the 1960s. Four city parks and the downtown airport for small planes were under water. • Amtrak suspended its Empire Builder train service between Minneapolis- St. Paul and Chicago because of high water on the tracks. Passengers were put on buses. The Associated Press Rock Corbett surveys water levels Tliesday In a park near LaCrosse, WIs.The Mississippi River Is expected to crest today In western Wisconsin. T ELECTRICITY RATES UtiHty^s push for rate hike unpopular If KCC OKs request, KPL bills would rise about $9.25 a month By AMY SULLIVAN The Salina Journal Pushing higher electricity costs onto customers already struggling to pay higher natural gas costs would be a heavy burden for those with low incomes, Salina area residents said Tuesday at a hearing to consider a utility's plan to increase electric rates. The three-member Kansas Corporation Commission listened to those comments and others at the Bicentennial Center, site of the second of four public hearings planned across the state. The commission must decide by this summer whether or not to approve a request by Topeka-based Western Resources to raise electricity rates in Kansas by $151 million. Western is the parent company of two electric utilities — KPL, which serves Salina and is based in Topeka, and KGE, which is based in Wichita. If the rate hike is approved in full, residential customers in Salina and other northern Kansas towns served by KPL would pay an average of $9.25 more each month for electricity About 60 people, many of them elderly attended the Salina hearing. Among those addressing commissioners was Sister Beth Stover of the North Central Flint Hills Area on Aging, who said many elderly people in this area have limited incomes. See RATES, Page A2 • WHEAT CROP Kansas may fall to No. 2 in wheat production Wheat harvests, such as this one in southern McPherson County, likely will be reduced across the state this summer. Kansas ag officials expect the state's wheat farmers to harvest about 640,000 fewer acres than a year ago. File photo WEATHER High: 71 Low: 51 Mostly sunny today with south wind 15 to 25 mph and gusty. North Dakota may be No. 1 as Kansans could abandon 640,000 acres By ROXANA HEGEMAN The Associated Prvss WICHITA — Poor crop conditions are expected to spur Kansas farmers to abandon as much as 11.5 percent of their planted winter wheat acres, an agricultural economist said. William Tierney Jr., an Extension ag economist at Kansas State University, issued his projections based on current crop conditions and an economic model for wheat abandonment in the state. Tierney projected Kansas would harvest just 8.76 million acres — down 640,000 acres from last year. David Frey, administrator for the Kansas Wheat Commission, said Tierney was probably being conservative in his estimates. Wheat acres to be plowed up Other estimates forecast that as many as 30 percent to 40 percent of the wheat acres in Kansas will be plowed up and replanted into other crops or grazed out by cattle this spring, he said. Scott Count farmers, for example, are expected to abandon as much as half of their wheat acres — and the remaining wheat is below average, Frey said. "It is pretty rough out there in west-central Kansas," he said. "The wind has been blowing pretty hard out there, too, and we had 20-degree temperatures following those of 70 and 80 degrees." Based on this year's poor crop, Tierney also estimated the wheat yield at just 35.7 bushels per acre. If his estimates hold true, that means the 2001 Kansas wheat crop is projected to be 313 million bushels — 35 million fewer than last year. The state's wheat crop may be so small that North Dakota could overtake Kansas this year as the nation's biggest wheat producer, Frey said. North Dakota overtakes Kansas in wheat production about 10 percent of the time, he said. PAGE A6 A report by the National Center for Health Statistics has found the birth rate for teen-age mothers declined 3 percent in 1999 and Is at a record low. TOMORROW Home & Garden — Spring has sprung and it's time for that annual ritual: Spring cleaning. Helpful hints make the job easier. INSIDE Classified / C2 Comics / B4 Crossword / B4 Deaths / B3 Food /CI Great Plains / B1 Money/ A5 Sports / D1 Weather /C8 Viewpoints / A7

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