The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 25, 2001 · Page 9
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 9

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Page 9
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WEDNESDAY APRIL 25, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains A LOOK AHEAD / B2 DEATHS / B3 FUN / B6 BRIEFLY Salina police to follow school buses If you're one of those motorists who think nothing of driving by a stopped school bus that's loading or unloading children, it's time to think again. Because of numerous complaints received by the Salina Police Department, officers will be following buses and looking for violators. "This is a safety issue that everyone in the community should pay special attention to," said Salina police Lt. Russ Lamer. It also could be a money issue. A driver cited for failure to stop for a school bus faces a fine of $100, plus $30 court costs. The law requires that the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking a school bus from either direction shall stop when flashing red lights and the stop sign on the bus are displayed, Vehicles are to remain stopped until the school bus resumes motion or the flashing red lights and the stop signal arm no longer are operating. Web site keeps tracic of lobbyists' moves TOPEKA — Lobbyists now must report which legislators and state employees they wine and dine. That information is available on the Internet through a new Web site called Online Expenditures Reported by Lobbyists. The site's address;­ byist/ Users can search by lobbyist name, name of the lobbyist's business or by entering the name of a recipient legislator or state employee. People who do not have Internet access still can access the information by calling the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission in Topeka at (785) 296-4219. The commission will provide a printed summary of lobbyist expenditures. Western questions regulators' methods TOPEKA — The state's largest electric utility says state regulators used flawed accounting methods when recommending a rate decrease. Western Resources, seeking a $151 million rate increase, filed its response Tuesday to the proposal by the Kansas Corporation Commission's staff that its rates instead be cut by $91.7 million. James A. Martin, a Western senior vice president, said the recommendations included "adjustments which are unfounded in regulatory precedent both in Kansas and the United States" and "are inconsistent with long-accepted principles of accounting and depreciation." KCC spokeswoman Rosemary Foreman said the commission's staff used traditional and industry-accepted accounting standards to arrive at its recommendations. "In any rate case, how someone arrived at their numbers can be an issue," Foreman said Tuesday Western Resources' KPL unit serves about 345,000 customers in central and northeast Kansas, while its KGE subsidiary serves about 290,000 customers in Wichita and southeast Kansas. The company wants to increase KGE's rates $58 million, or about 10 percent, and KPL's rates by $93 million, or about 19.5 percent. From Staff and Wire Reports CORRECTIDMS A story in Tuesday's edition about a planned power outage for north Salina listed the wrong time. KPL will turn off power from 12 to 3 a.m. Thursday. The affected areas will be between Fifth and 13th streets, and between Euclid and Pacific avenues. Also, a two-block area from Seventh Street to Santa Fe Avenue and from Pacific Avenue to Grand Avenue wiU be affected. ••••• 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. FIRE SAFETY Hawthorne Elementary School students wait their turn to enter the fire safety house. Hre Alert Salina students learn what to do if fire starts in home By KARA RHODES The Salina Journal Photos by TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal Salina firefighter/EIUIT Jason Betts (right) helps a Hawthorne Elementary School student through the window Tuesday of the Salina Homebuilders Association's fire safety house. The four kids feigned sleep on the hard bed, poking each other and giggling. But as soon as the smoke started seeping under the door and the smoke alarm went off, they needed hardly any direction. 'They remembered what they had been taught: roll off the bed onto the floor, check for heat on the door and if there wasn't any, still kneeling down, hide behind the door and peek around the corner. Met by thick smoke, the door was slammed shut, and the kids scooted out the nearby window, crawled down a ladder and to a designated "safe place" where they called 911. Teaching the kids the process took just minutes, said Debbie Weaver, the public education specialist for the Salina Fire Department. But too many parents don't take the time to go through the process of what to do in case of a fire in their home, Weaver said. Because of the lack of teaching at home, the Salina Homebuilders Association built a "smoke house" for the Salina Fire Department in 1989. Firefighters visit every fourth- and fifth-grade class in the county and teach the process of how to get out of a burning home. Kaline Smith, 10, a fourth- grader at Hawthorne Elementary School, where the fire house was set up Tuesday afternoon, said she was going to talk with her parents about finding a meeting place in case of a fire. "I don't know where to meet them, but I need to," she said. Weaver said good places for the family to meet are at the end of the driveway, a neighbor's porch or a big tree away from the house. "It's just important that everyone knows," she said. Horror stories of parents re-entering homes when children are already wandering around outside, or kids alone trying to re-enter a home to save a pet, can lead to further tragedy. Weaver said. "It's a panic situation, and if you haven't practiced and planned things can get a lot worse," she said. T SIVIITH COUNTY Some residents questioning election results Voter says election officials told her of two write-in candidates By NATE JENKINS The Salina Journal GAYLORD — Some residents of this Smith County town are pointing fingers and claiming election-day shenanigans, and not just by election officers. Claims also are percolating that county law officials are more interested in small-town politics than revealing the truth of who did what April 3. T BY GEORGE Gaylord resident Michelle Nichols was in a rush on election day — she had just returned from an out-of-town trip — but decided she would slip into the town's community center and vote for city council members shortly before polls were to close. Nichols, said she went into the voting booth and marked the names of three city-council candidates listed on the ballot. She then stepped outside the booth to put the ballot in a box. But before she did, Nichols said, election officers Virginia Zabel and Cleta True, "Wanted to know if I'd written in any write-ins (candidates not on the ballot)." Zabel, a Republican committee woman with Houston Township, which includes Gaylord, was supervising judge at the Aprfl 3 election. True was a clerk. Zabel refused to comment, and True could not be reached for comment. "I said 'No, why? Are there some?' " Nichols said. Nichols said the two women gave her the names of two write-in candidates. Three write-in candidates sought elec­ tion. Nichols said she wrote down the two names given her and put her ballot in the ballot box. Voters could select up to five candidates The two write-in candidates Nichols voted for won seats on the council. Although Nichols didn't believe what she said occurred was inappropriate — it's illegal to persuade or influence people to vote a certain way on or near a voting premise — it seemed fishy to others. Word spread quickly in the small town, and one of the losers in the election, Dovie Schamp, filed a notice of contest with the Smith County District Court. Smith County Attorney Jim Fetters said Schamp wants to throw out the election results. "It's not that I want to be on the council," said Schamp, who garnered few votes in the election. "I just want the truth, and they don't seem to want that down here for some reason." Schamp also said she wants to ensure True and Zabel don't sit on election committees again. See ELECTION, Page B5 Harvard scientist says beware of simplicity The world is a complex place, and we pretend to have solved it at our peril Dick Levins is one of the world's leading biologists, He teaches at the School of Public Health at Harvard University One of the world's other leading biologists says Levins is one of the 2Va smartest people there is. So if you ask him a simple question like, say, whether putting fluoride in the water is a good idea, you might expect a definitive answer. Wrong. It is the simple answers. Levins says, that lead to the biggest problems. Problems like the fact the place you are most likely to catch a deadly infection these days is in a hospital, or that water- treatment systems can poison our water. Levins is a guest this week at The Land Institute, the sustainable agriculture think tank near Salina. Co-founder Wes Jackson credits Levins for leading the kind of big-picture thinking that inspired him. "A fair amount of the underlying assumptions of this place have his signature on them," Jackson said Monday "He doesn't have to take credit for the errors." Assumptions. Errors. Those, and what Jackson calls the important "willingness to tolerate ambiguity," are necessary for the pursuit of real sci- ^ ence. * But they are not compatible with the modern approach of universities and research institutes, where the need to attract corporate flmding pushes scientists away from their traditional inquiries and toward an assembly-line drive for quick, marketable results. "The buzz word today is'accountability,' " Levins said. But he doesn't mean accountability to the community or to the ethical standards of the scientific world. "It's vertical accountability toward those who don't understand the problem," he said. "Instead of being paid for the fi-uit of our labors, we're being paid for our time. And if they are paying you for your time, they think they can tell you what to do with it." GEORGE B. PYLE 'Tlw Salina Journal • And the things this kind of science produces are often used at great risk. When high-tech solutions are preferred over natural ones. Levins said, we wind up thinking the factory-style processing of meat is better than the traditional way, and end up dying of E. coli poisoning. When we think modern water-treatment plants are better than natural wetlands for purifying water, we can poison whole cities with Cryptosporidium. One nuclear power plant might have a statistical probability of operating safely for 1,000 years. But 100 such plants means the chances are great that there will be an accident every 10 years. "A very small probability times a much greater number of opportunities equals an almost certainty of disaster," Levins said. Insisting science meet production quotas, regardless of the long-term effect, Levins said, is like pushing a cement factory to meet its quota by chopping up its own floor and waUs. All-out chemical assaults on insects and bacteria, he knows, force the bugs to evolve into superbugs that become immune to everything we throw at them. Gentler approaches, easing symptoms rather than killing microbes, encourage the bugs to evolve toward a biological niche where they can coexist peacefully with humans — like the 400-odd species of microorganisms that already live quite happily, often with beneficial results to us, in our intestines. "If we present it as a warlike matter, the other side is going to win," Levins said. So what about fluoride in the water? Why are all the people who say it's good for your teeth sure they are right, and all the people who say it's a poison sure they are right? Because, Levins said, they are both right. The question of whether fluoride should be used in a particular community depends on what else is in the water, how much fluoride is there naturally and what other organic chemicals are there for it to react with. And whether the community is the kind of place where people can afford other means of dental hygiene. "Chemistry understands reactions in botties," Levins said, "but not in rivers." • Journal columnist George B. Pyle can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 101, or by email at SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT s)bwearing @8aiJournal .com

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