Local/Kansas The Salina Journal Tuesday, January 28,1986 Page 3 Cutting federal fat may pinch Kansas beef packers WICHITA (AP) - Meatpackers who fear a cutback in federal inspection services are waiting anxiously as the Food Safety and Inspection Service tries to decide how to trim its budget by almost $16 million. Like other federal agencies, FSIS, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, must cut its current budget March 1 by 4.3 percent in accordance with the Gramm-Rudman budget-balancing legislation. During the past several years, it has cost about $1 million a day to operate the inspection service. FSIS is looking at cost-saving measures including shorter work weeks or unpaid furloughs for its 8,000 food inspectors. One proposal calls for seven-hour workdays, lopping off five hours of inspection time a week per shift. The specter of having to curtail meatpack- ing operations because of a shortage of federal inspectors has alarmed officials in the meat industry, which operates on a high volume and low profit margin. "It's pretty drastic if you have to start cutting back at every plant," said Dick Lann, senior vice president for production at Wichita-based Excel Corp. "And if you have two shifts a day, that's two hours of production lost every day. That would be a very expensive thing to have happen." A spokesman for Iowa Beef Processors Inc., a company that runs the world's largest beefpacking operation near Garden City, said IBP executives are monitoring the FSIS proposals and still are uncertain about their possible impact. Kansas has much at stake. The state be- ine specter of having to curtail meatpack- Kansas has much at sfc City moves closer to joining federal flood program Bv GORDON D. FIEDLER Jr. 70 seems the hardest hit came the nation's No. 1 beefpacker in 1985 by processing about 4.2 billion pounds. More than 14,000 workers are employed in the state's beefpacking plants. Lann and at least 15 other members of the meat inspection committee of the American Meat Institute are scheduled to meet with FSIS officials Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to discuss the budget cuts. Bob Hibbert, vice president of the institute, a trade association group for meat processors and packers, said the cutbacks are a serious issue because the industry is de- , pendent on federal inspections. Federal law requires USDA inspection of interstate meat sales, he said. Lou Cast, FSIS associate director, said the service's current $362 million budget already was about $6 million less than last year's. He said a hiring freeze, streamlining of some, inspection services and other efforts will take care of all but about $9 million of the required cuts. "The worst-case scenario would be to furlough everybody for 72 working hours, or about nine days," Gast said. Other options being explored include the possibility of asking meatpackers to pay inspectors' wages for the one-hour a day that reduced working hours are in effect if the seven-hour day option is implemented. The Meat Institute's Hibbert, noting that packers already pay when inspectors are on overtime, said he isn't sure it would be legal for the FSIS to require packers to make up the wages. He said the idea is similar to the user-fee system USDA unsuccessfully has proposed in the past. Such a policy change should be up to Congress, he said. Gast said inspections would continue regardless of the method chosen to make the budget cuts. Kansas lawmakers are studying a recommendation by Gov. John Carlin that would eliminate state meat and poultry inspection service. FSIS already has written the Kansas Department of Agriculture saying it couldn't possibly take over the duties of the 72 state inspectors. FSIS already pays half of the cost of the $2 million a year state program. Don Jacka Jr., Kansas' assistant secretary of agriculture, said some of the state's 199 small processing plants may be forced to close if the state level inspections are discontinued and FSIS refuses to take up the slack. By GORDON D. FIEDLER Jr. Staff Writer The Salina City Commission tentatively approved an ordinance Monday bringing the city into the federal Flood Insurance Program. Approval followed a discussion in the commissioner's informal meeting preceding their regular 4 p.m. forum. ; The ordinance will be considered for final approval next week. Intended to save the government and homeowners money through adjustments in flood insurance premiums and claims, the federal program has concerned local realty agents and builders because of its implications for existing and new houses. New houses built in areas susceptible to flooding would have to be raised above the flood elevation for that site. Any basements allowed would have to be flood-proofed. Insurance rates would reflect the risk of flooding. Local real estate agents are concerned with the federal requirements covering structures in flood hazard zones. If houses there were substantially damaged by floods or other disasters, owners would have to comply with Flood Insurance Program guidelines when rebuilding. Realtor John Heline said an owner of a house substantially damaged by smoke, for instance, would have to comply with the new regulations if the owner wanted to repair the damage. "We don't think that makes sense," Heline said. Realtor Don Morris agreed. He asked commissioners to insert a clause in the ordinance exempting existing houses damaged by disasters other than floods from complying with the regulations. Mayor Merle Hodges said representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the federal program, won't allow such exemptions. Commissioners softened the language in a portion of the document at the request of Realtor Alice Denning. The change, she said, would create a more accurate picture of Salina's infrequent flooding history and severity. The largest residential area subject to tighter flood insurance guidelines is in south Salina. However, the portion of the city on North Ninth between the flood control levee and I- 70 seems the hardest hit. The emergency management agency has designated the area as a floodway, and once the ordinance is approved, will prohibit any building in the area. The owner of a 370,000-square-foot parcel located east of North Ninth and south of Stimmel Road questioned the ethics of condemning his property. Joe Kroneberger told commissioners he bought the land 16 years ago for investment purposes, and now finds he might be holding a worthless parcel if he can't build on it. "This ordinance is simply going to (make the land) unsalable," Kroneberger said. Mayor Hodges said he sympathized with Kroneberger, and said he didn't enjoy the commission's inability to control the federal program. "Nothing the city has done has given me such a feeling of inadequacy," Hodges said. Commissioners also recessed for 20 minutes into closed session to consider legal action against an out- of-town firm. Hodges said after they reconvened that the firm, which he did not name, could be subject to legal action for failing to live up to contractual agreements performed over a period of several years. Hodges said the city and representatives of the firm were attempting to settle their differences. He expected the issue to be resolved within two weeks. In other business, commissioners: • Approved a resolution authorizing the Kansas Department of Transportation to award a contract to install a traffic signal at Ohio and Albert. The cost is $60,313. The city's share of the federally financed project is $6,031. • Agreed to buy the old Strand Theater in the 100 block of South Santa Fe for $42,500. The building will be demolished as part of the downtown renovation and the site will become a mini-park adjacent to an arcade Unking Santa Fe with Seventh Street. • Accepted the bid of $24,960 from Dover Elevator Co. for installing an elevator in the Smoky Hill Museum. Tom Dora*y Joleen Gilpin, 7, (left) and Shelly Wilkinson, 8, examine a raccoon skin as part of their study of animals that are native to Kansas. Students take a peek at animal hides By DAVID CLOUSTON Staff Writer BROOKVILLE — Until Monday, Amber Marshall knew only that beavers gnawed on trees, had big, flat tails and lived in and around creeks. But as she stroked the beaver pelt she and classmate Kelly Wickoff were assigned to examine, she made other discoveries. "I thought they were small animals," Amber said. "I didn't know they were this soft." "And their tail's sort of bumpy, like snakeskin," Kelly said as she ran a finger over the rough surface. Amber and Kelly, along with the other second- graders in Judith White's class at Happy Corners Elementary School, received a close-up view Monday of skins of animals that are native to Kansas. The skins were courtesy of the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History. For the past month, White's class has been studying Kansas — its history, its landscape and its wildlife — in preparation for the 125th anniversary of Kansas statehood, which occurs Wednesday. White's class is one of many in the state using materials from KU's natural history museum to acquaint students with Kansas wildlife. Since 1977, the museum has made available kits containing specimens of mammals, birds, insects, fish, reptiles and amphibians to schools. "We realized there are schools out there who need the 'real thing' to show their students," said Elizabeth Patton, program developer for the office of public education at the museum. "The specimens come from a variety of sources. Someone calls and says, 'A cuckoo flew into my picture window. Its neck is broken but it's in good condition. Do you want it?' Yes we want it!" Many of the specimens have been killed on roads. "We collect things," Patton said. "We skin them and stuff them and put them on display or we use them in the kits." The museum has eight kits, each renting for $20. Schools may keep the kits a week. Two more kits are being assembled, Patton said. "We've been adding every year," she said. "Now we're putting together kits for fossils and geology. We believe very firmly in having real objects. It's real hands-on experience.'' Contained in the kit used by White's class were the skins of 19 native Kansas creatures, including a coyote, beaver, opossum, skunk, rabbit and raccoon. With the raccoon pelt in front of them, Joleen Gilpin and Shelly Wilkinson were busy looking at an encyclopedia to learn what raccoons eat. "I saw a raccoon when I was a kid," Shelly said as she thumbed the pages. "You still are a kid," Joleen joked. Working with a partner, White's students will complete a report on the animal they studied. "It gets them to use their research skills," White said. Besides the mammal skins, White's students also have used museum kits containing birds, insects and reptiles. "Not very often do kids get a chance to get this close to specimens," White said. City tentatively approves IRBs Members of the Salina Motel Partnership received preliminary approval Monday from the Salina City Commission on their request for $1.65 million in industrial revenue bonds to finance the purchase and renovation of the former Hilton Inn at Fifth and Iron. Commissioners approved a resolution of intent to issue the bonds, proceeds of which will be used to renovate the 144-room motel that has been vacant since it went bankrupt two years ago. The Salina partnership will buy the motel but Grand American Hotel Corp., Overland Park, will operate it. Some members of the partnership are officers with Grand American. Grand American President Joe Ross said the motel would undergo a complete renovation involving the rooms, restaurant and club, as well as exterior remodeling. He said the downtown redevelopment project in progress was an important element in the decision to proceed with the motel project. "I think you have an aggressive program for downtown (that will) be an asset and will help make the motel successful," Ross said. Search continues for identity of woman found along 1-70 By JIM BOLE Staff Writer Six women who have been listed as missing by Kansas law enforcement authorities fit the general description of a woman who was found dead Saturday along Interstate 70 in western Saline County, Undersheriff Cal Johnson said Monday. The sheriff's department is obtaining more information about the missing women, as well as several other women missing from other states, Johnson said. An autopsy on the body that was found Saturday indicated the woman had drowned two to three days earlier and also suffered other injuries, according to a Wichita forensic pathologist. The woman's body was found in Mulberry Creek, 15 miles west of Salina and about two miles west of I-70's Brookville exit. She was partially clothed and was found face down in shallow water near a bridge over the creek. The woman was between 25 and Artist's sketch of woman. 32 years old, was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds. She had medium-length, light brown hair and gray eyes. The other injuries indicate the woman might have been beaten and that she fell or was thrown from the bridge, Johnson said. The woman probably drowned in the creek, but it is possible she drowned somewhere else and was taken to Mulberry Creek, Johnson said. She apparently was murdered, but her death will not be ruled as a homicide until more evidence is found, he said. A search of the area where the body was found did not yield anything that would help identify the woman, Johnson said. An artist's reconstruction of the woman's face has been prepared and will be distributed nationwide, he said. Four of the six women missing in Kansas are from Wichita, one is from Hays and one is from Lenexa, he said. Authorities also are searching for a man who talked to someone living near the site where the body was found, because he might have information that would help the investigation, he said. The man was driving a black Pontiac Trans Am with a dent of the driver's side. He is white, about 30 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and has a beard and tatoos. Three drug sellers receive prison terms By CAROL LICHTI Staff Writer Three Salinans arrested in connection with an undercover drug investigation were sentenced to three to 10 years in prison Monday in Saline County District Court. The three were sentenced for selling drugs to a police officer, Jeff Koch. District Judge David Knudson denied requests for probation. Sentenced were Darrell W. Schweitzberger, 24, 941 Pearl, for selling a stimulant drug known as crank; James L. Commerford, 21, 1333 Ponca, for selling marijuana; and Bernice K. Reidelberger, 44,1011 W. Cloud, for selling marijuana. An additional marijuana sale charge against Commerford was dismissed. Reidelberger also faces sentencing on a misdemeanor charge of possessing marijuana. Additional charges of selling marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia and contributing to a child's misconduct were dismissed. "People who engage in drug traffic in this community wjjl have to accept the consequences," Knudson said during sentencing. "If you're going to sell drugs in this community you're going to jail." He said that although each of the defendants had mitigating circumstances and a "good side," those factors didn't outweigh the seriousness of their crimes. "This is one of the most serious offenses that comes before the court," Knudson said. "It is a serious social and serious health problem." The judge said he would review Schweitzberger's and Commerford's sentences and consider probation after they are evaluated by the Kansas State Reception and Diagnostic Center in Topeka. The center evaluates men entering state prisons and makes recommendations. Knudson also will review the sentence of Reidelberger after she is evaluated by authorities at the Kansas Correctional Institution for Women in Lansing. Knudson also fined each defendant $1,000, to be paid if probation is granted.
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