The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 18, 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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Wednesday, April 18, 2001
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Page 9
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WEDNESDAY APRIL 18, 2001 THE SALlNA JOURNAL Great Plains A LOOK AHEAD / B2 DEATHS / B3 FUN / B4 BRIEFLY Commission OKs vehicle purctiases The purchase of five vehicles for the Saline County Sheriff's Office was approved unanimously by the Saline County Commission Tuesday The five vehicles — two sedans, two pickups and a sport-utility vehicle — will be purchased from Long McArthur, 3450 S. Ninth, for approximately $129,000. Five vehicles currently used . by the sheriff's office will be traded in as part of the purchase. Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said the two pickups will be bought fully equipped, while the other three vehicles will receive equipment now on used vehicles. Commissioners Tuesday also approved the purchase of a 1991 International truck for $7,000 from Great Plains Trucking, 1621 Dewey, which will be equipped with firefighting apparatus and be used by Rural Fire District No. 1 as a fire truck. The truck will replace a 1984 model fire truck. Equipment from that truck will be placed on the newer model. The county will sell the old truck. Senate chairman releases budget plan TOPEKA — The Senate Ways and Means chairman outlined a proposal for resolving the state's budget problems by cutting $42.8 million in planned spending — less than what House leaders want. The proposal Tuesday from Chairman Steve Morris would cut general government programs $20 million. It also would slice $4.4 million to cities and counties and suspend $18.4 million in payments to a death and disability fund. Morris also proposed tapping $86.5 million in highway, nursing home payment and tobacco litigation settlement funds and using them to pay for general government programs. His plan would step up the collection of delinquent taxes to raise another $48 million. In addition, he proposes to rewrite insurance premium tax laws to raise another $10 million. The tax is paid by insurance companies on the value of policies they write, and the burden under Morris' plan would fall on out-of-state companies. The proposal would come close to eliminating a $205 million gap between expected revenues and spending that legislators have already approved for the 2002 fiscal year, which begins July 1. "I'm not expecting anybody to accept that carte blanche," Morris, R-Hugoton, told his committee. "It's a starting point." Space Center bills Kansas Gas Service HUTCHINSON — The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is asking Kansas Gas Service for help recouping the revenue it lost after natural gas explosions caused attendance numbers to plummet. The space museum has sent Kansas Gas Service a bill for $105,000 to cover losses during the first six weeks following the January 17 and 18 natural gas explosions, which destroyed two downtown buildings and a mobile home and killed two people. The amount sought could grow as the museum continues tracking losses, Cosmosphere officials told the museum's board members Monday Kent Shank, vice president of operations arid finance, said the Cosmosphere showed KGS officials average revenues for the same six-week period during 1998 and 2000 and showed how much the revenue dropped after the gas disaster. "They recognized that our losses continue to accumulate," Max Ary, Cosmosphere executive director, said of KGS. "There are losses not only with us, but with other companies all over town." From Staff and Wire Reports CORRECTBONS ••••• 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. SMOKY HILL RIVER FESTIVAL Photos courtesy of Arts and Humanities Commission This year's festival will focus on the art of the future with "Project Bandaloop," performance artists who will display their aerial, vertical and horizontal dance movements from atop the city water tower on Markley Road the Wednesday of festival week, then on festival grounds on the weekend. Festival looking to the future 25th event to focus on art for youth By SHARON MONTAGUE The Salina Journal Anniversaries tend to be times of reflection, of looking back at past accomplishments. There will be some backward glances this June as the Smoky Hill River Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary but organizers primarily are focusing on the future. "We're looking at the next 25 years," said Sharon Benson, one of the festival coordinators for the Salina Arts and Humanities Commission. That attitude will be shown through a new program designed to introduce children to the purchase of art and through performers invited to participate in the festival. The festival is June 7-10 in Oakdale Park. Festival buttons, which are $6 in advance and $8 at the gate, go on sale May 7. Children ages 11 and younger are admitted free. A new children's art tent will encourage young people to become art patrons, thus looking to the future of art in the Salina area, said Brigid Hall, community resource director for the arts and humanities commission. Through the program, art exhibitors for the festival have been asked to donate pieces of their work to the "First Treasures: Art for Young Collectors" tent. Children ages 13 and younger will See FESTIVAL, Page B3 ^0 The festival's "retrospective component" comes in Friday, when the band Cruisin' will play for an old-fashioned street dance at 8:30 p.m. T SCHOOL FINANCE Districts paint a grim funding picture Many districts face cuts in programs, staff, salary raises By CAROL CRUPPER Harris News Service TOPEKA — As senators drew a new plan for public education Tuesday they carried a grim financial picture from school districts all across the state. Education Chairman Dwayne Umbarger spent Monday night reading notes he received that morning from 180 Kansas school superintendents. His committee had asked dis- T BY GEORGE NORRIS tricts what would happen if the Legislature enacted Gov Bill Graves' original recommendations for school finance: a $50 increase in the base state aid per pupil. Responses came as no surprise. Superintendents said the money would do little to boost teacher salaries. Indeed, it would barely cover increased heating and gasoline costs. Gary Norris, superintendent of the Salina School District, said in his note that the district next year must fund a $500,000 transfer to special education to cover mandated services. The governor's original proposal would give Salina a 1.6-percent total funding increase for next year: $528,197. "Obviously, this leaves nothing for inflationary increases, employee compensation, or other priorities that have been set by the legislature, local citizens and district staff," he wrote. Norris said the proposal would put the district's plans to upgrade its early childhood education program and to recruit and retain quality teachers at risk. "We hold ourselves accountable to the needs of our young people and their education. However, the uncertainty of school funding from year to year makes long-range planning nearly impossible," Norris said. Without a significant hike in funding, some districts said they'd have to cut faculty support staff and programs. Other districts would delay new textbooks, technology equipment and maintenance projects. Robert Shannon, McPherson School District superintendent, said the district would face a $43,000 loss under the governor's original plan. With that, the district would not offer pay raises. Already the district is considering cutting teaching positions and the athletics and activities budget. "Either we would have to make cuts in those areas or go to a 'pay for play' concept that is in place in several districts already," he said. At Beloit, the district would neither repair nor replace two worn-our air conditioning units that cool the library and six classrooms. See SCHOOLS, Page 83 Sales consultant calls Salina 'a super town' Newcomer from California finds community to be a treasure in the rough Understand, at the outset, that Sandie Johnson is a professional enthusiast. She's a sales and marking consultant, business grower, staff trainer and motivational speaker So one might expect that she would be excited about, well, everything But Johnson also would hasten to point out, she does her homework. Her enthusiasm, she says, is based on research, not pie in the sky And Sandie Johnson is sold on Salina. "Salina is absolutely a super town," she told me last week. "The attitude is outstanding. People are very positive." Johnson left Southern California late last year to follow her son and daughter-in-law to Salina. She had to. "They had the nerve to take my 3- year-old granddaughter with them," she said. But a girl's gotta make a living, so she set about studying her new surroundings to determine how she might be of profitable service. She went out to talk to local movers and shakers and, even, newspaper columnists. She didn't have the permission of her interview subjects to name names, but when I started asking her questions right back, she promised to come back and share her overall findings and conclusions. Folks won't be surprised with what Johnson's study labeled as our community's shortcomings. High on that list is the lack of affordable housing, especially for the blue-collar and young-professional ranks. That, in turn, makes it hard to attract the new businesses that would employ a lot of such people. We're also a bit thin in the romantic restaurant department, Johnson said, the kind of place 20-something couples with a little money go for a pleasant evening. And, situated in the middle of Kansas, Salina has a Why-would-anyone-want-to-live-there? burden placed upon it by people who know nothing GEORGE B. PYLE Pie Salina Journal # about it. Still, Johnson said. Salina does well in so many of the quality-of-life areas that she believes many people would fall in love with the place, just as she has, if they would just give us a chance. "I'm staying," Johnson said. "I've been gardening. I've been dancing. I've listened to live jazz and blues. There are an awful lot of opportunities here." Johnson described the ethos of Salina as something that some may think of as a contradiction, but that good Kansans know all about. She called it a progressive sense of values. That means it is important to us to have good schools, good parks, a wide variety of arts and cultural offerings and, her granddaughter's favorite, a good public library. That means a lot of work is done by volunteers, a lot of money is donated by businesses. "Salina is in the Bible belt, but it is not a Bible-thumping town," Johnson said. "There is very good tolerance." Tolerant enough, she found, to have some white business leaders wondering idly if it wouldn't be a good idea to have a real Cinco de Mayo or Chinese New Year celebration around here. Two other things stood out in the conversations Johnson had with Salina's power structure. One is that business people, despite their competitive nature, did not take advantage of the anonymity of their interviews to blame anybody else for any of the community's problems. "Nobody bad-mouthed anybody else to make themselves look good," Johnson said. "They have a really good attitude in support of each other." The other was it appeared that many of the town's leaders were the sons of local leaders, sons who had moved away to the bright lights and big cities and then come home again. "That said a great deal about the area," Johnson said. Like many others, Johnson expects Salina's needs may be better met when we cross the magical 50,000 population mark. That will draw the notice of developers and retailers, who will add the amenities that draw new people to a city And when that happens, Johnson said, Salina may no longer be one of the best-kept secrets around. • Journal columnist George B. Pyle can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 101, or by e-mail at gpyle@saljournal.com. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjbwearing@saljburnal.com

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