The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 26, 1996 · Page 11
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 11

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, October 26, 1996
Page 11
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SATURDAY THE SALIVA JOURNAL Great Plains VIEWPOINTS / B2 MONEY / B4 RELIGION / B6 B the salina journal election guide V UTILITIES Midwest Energy to buy Twin County BRIEFLY Fall whooping crane migration is underway GREAT BEND — The leading edge of the fall migration of whooping cranes recently arrived at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge near Stafford and at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge northeast of Great Bend. Dave Hilley, refuge manager at Quiyira, said a single whooper has, spent the last two days feeding and loafing on private ground along the west edge of Quivira's Big. Salt Marsh. A family of four whoopers, and possibly two more cranes, have been spending time at Cheyenne Bottoms. Whooping cranes currently number about 170 birds, up from 150 birds in 1995. Their fall migration will end at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Whooping cranes are an endangered species and are federally protected by the Threatened and Endangered Species Act. The best chance to see a whooper, at least for now, is at Cheyenne Bottoms. - Birdwatchers are advised to Stay on the road. It is a federal offense to approach or in any way harass wildlife on the threatened and endangered species list. "The cranes that are in are so new that they're really spooky," Hilley said. "It doesn't take much to get them moving." Graves names new administration secretary TOPEKA — A veteran of Washington politics will return to Kansas to handle the nuts and bolts of state government. Gov. Bill Graves on Friday announced the appointment of Daniel R. Stanley, a native of Kansas City, Kan., as secretary of administration. Stanley, 45, has spent the last seven years on Capitol Hill, first as administrative aide to former Sen. Bob Dole and later to Sen. Sheila Frahm, who replaced Dole. ;, Frahm will step down after the Nov. 5 election because she was defeated in the Republican primary by Sam Brownback, the 2nd District congressman. Stanley will assume his new duties in Topeka on Nov. 11, a week after the election. Before joining Dole's staff in 1989, he was director of strategic business assessment at McDon- . nell Douglas, a major defense contractor, and spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy, including five years on submarine duty. "I spent about five years of my life underwater," Stanley said in a telephone interview from his Washington office. "This was at the height of the Cold War, and weiwere busy boys." Heart Walk raises more than $2,000 More than 100 walkers from Salina businesses helped raise more than $2,000 for the Ameri- cartHeart Association in a walk lasfweek. The Healthy Choice American Heart Walk was Oct. 19. The money raised will be used for biomedical research and cardiovascular education programs. Sedgwick inmates run up jail's medical bills WICHITA — Sedgwick County jail officials are charging inmates to see doctors and for some medicines after the county overspent its jail medical budget by more than $200,000. Bounty taxpayers have spent ne$jly $1.3 million on medical cars for jail inmates this year. The county must pay for inmates' medical care even if they have in- •aujrance. '" The jail's highest medical expense this year was for a man in- *Xo|yed in a shootout with Wichita police. The inmate cost the county 1277,373 for treatment while he wa,| in custody. '.'* "4 ;>rom Staff and Wire Reports '"' ft... Tomorrow's Headlines 825-6OOO Impending sale of natural gas company likely to ensure owner will avoid penalties By CHRIS KOGER The Salina Journal WILSON — The impending sale of a natural gas company with a history of safety violations is likely to ensure its current owner, a Salina man, will avoid penalties. Midwest Energy Inc., a Hays-based natural gas and electric utility, has agreed to buy Twin County Gas of Wilson from Gene Burns. The small company serves about 500 Wilson- and Dorrance-area customers. The sale is subject to the approval of the Kansas Corporation Commission, which oversees the state's utilities. Glenn Smith, the commission's natural gas operations director, said sanctions against Burns likely won't be pursued if the sale is approved. "It would be my recommendation that there not be (sanctions)," Smith said. "It would not serve a public purpose. The primary thing is to look for- ward and proceed with safe and efficient service. If we can get that, there's no reason to look backwards and deal with that situation." The Kansas Corporation Commission found 18 incidents of non-compliance with regulations during an investigation last spring. The investigation was started after a house blew up May 31. The occupants of the house, Bob and Linda Hyland, who were not home at the time of the blast, had repeatedly reported possible gas leaks. Records showed the leaks weren't investigated by Burns, and KCC investigators found 28 leaks throughout the town. Burns referred questions about the investigation's findings to the commission. "At this time, I think the KCC has handled everything very well, and if they have any comment on that, they can make it," he said. The sale could be final in two or three months, Burns said. He said he had no definite plans after that. Smith said the commission will have certain expectations from Midwest Energy, but he would not be specific. Midwest Energy President and General Manager Gene Argo said the company will follow standard procedures as outlined by the commission. The commission has rules regarding equipment checks, safety procedures and response to complaints or gas leaks. "We have some very definite, established procedures in terms of safety, and those same procedures will apply to Wilson customers," Argo said. "This is no different than any other sale. We'll do the necessary due diligence as with any system, and that includes complete safety and inspection procedures." Argo said Midwest serves about 12,000 customers in Ellis, rural Hays, WaKeeney and other areas. Midwest Energy has a propane service in Wilson. Argo said the company hasn't decided how the Twin County Gas office will be staffed, but the company will have the Midwest Energy name. Smith said the commission typically doesn't approve rate increases after a sale, so it's not likely rates will change in the near future. "The commission's position over the past, at least with the number of cases I'm familiar with, they do not look at great favor with that," Smith said. "It is common practice not to approve rate changes at this juncture." Residents who didn't have gas leaks in the past said the sale probably wouldn't affect them. "We've had no complaints here," said Ella Rumley, Wilson. "I'll be honest, we didn't have any problems that we reported, so as far as anything affecting us, I don't think it will," said Ellen Rader, Wilson. freetop rescue OARON BENNETT / Olathe Daily News While waiting for assistance from Capt. Mike Hill of the Olathe Fire Department (background), John Bossard (left) and Ty Dunning survey their situation from the bucket of their crippled lift truck Thursday In Olathe. The two were clearing storm-damaged limbs In Dunnlng's yard when a hydraulic hose broke, disabling the truck and leaving them dangling dangerously close to live power lines for nearly half an hour before escaping safely down the fire department ladder. T CONGRESS Kassebaum confirms she will say 'I do' Retiring Kansas senator to marry former senator from Tennessee later this year By LEW FERGUSON The Associated Press TOPEKA — Nancy Landon Kassebaum confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that she and former Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker will marry later this year. Kassebaum said she was confirming what has been rumored since last June because she wanted to end speculation. However, she said she will wait until after the Nov. 5 election to announce the date of the wedding and specific plans. Kassebaum, 64, did not seek re-election this year and will complete her third six-year term in the Senate in January. Baker, 70, also served 18 years in the Senate, ending his political career in January 1985. An attorney, he practices law in Huntsville and several other cities in Tennessee, as well as in Washington. Kassebaum said the couple would divide time between a farm she owns in Morris County, Kansas, and Tennessee after they are married. "I'm going back to Morris County after I retire," she said. She said her decision to marry Baker came well after she decided a year ago not to seek re-election. "This all developed this year," said Kassebaum, daughter of Alf M. Landon, who served as Kansas' governor from 1933-37 and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for president in 1936. Landon died in October 1987 at the age of 100, and Kassebaum's mother, Theo Landon, died this past July at the age of 97. "So many people had asked about my plans, and I did want to confirm that I will be marrying Howard Baker later this year," Kassebaum said in a telephone call from Washington to the AP in Topeka. "We will be dividing our time between Kansas and Tennessee. I will have additional comment and reveal the details of our marriage at a later time. KASSEBAUM BAKER "So many people had asked about my plans, and I did want to confirm that I will be marrying Howard Baker later this year. This is harder than announcing how I was going to get out of the Senate." Nancy Kassebaum retiring Kansas senator "This is harder than announcing how I was going to get out of the Senate," she added. She said she had hoped to delay her announcement until after the Nov. 5 election, and still plans to wait until after the election to discuss details of her impending marriage. Kassebaum, who has not remarried since divorcing Wichita attorney Phil Kassebaum in 1979 — about six months after winning election to the Senate — has four children and six grandchildren. Baker, whose wife, Joy, died about three years ago, has two children and four grandchildren. Baker's wife was the daughter of another prominent Republican, the late Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, R-I11., who like Baker was Republican leader of the Senate. The first speculation about a romance between Kassebaum and Baker appeared last June in the Washington Post. V GREAT PLAINS Lincoln's industrial park took a change in attitude (CtH»llfr7:39p.m.) LINCOLN — Milt Krainbill used to take nightly walks by the field along K-18 and think about a building replacing the stack of hay bales he saw there. The building would house businesses and new jobs—jobs that could bring new citizens to his rural county . of more than 3,000 or en- * courage natives to remain in their hometown. On this sunny, windy fall day, Krainbill was about to get his wish. For the occasion, the man most often seen in work clothes because of his job as agricultural agent for Lincoln and Mitchell counties wore a tie and sports jacket. At his side were Bill Kirk, a small-town product himself and now state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development, and other guests. They were in Lincoln to recognize the work of Krainbill and others in developing an industrial park that already has landed its first business. This in a community that struggled through the farm depression of the 1980s and the terrible floods of 1993. "We're a long way from being done, but LINDA MOWERY- DENNING The Salina Journal we're so much further along than we were," Krainbill said. Marilyn Helmer, who lives in Tescott and has a business in downtown Lincoln, said residents of rural Kansas aren't used to celebrating success, especially when it involves something like a new business plant. "People of my age are used to everything being torn down behind us," she said. "It takes a change in attitude." Nearby was other evidence of better times in Lincoln. The industrial park sits in the shadow of Century Manufacturing, which also has a plant at Lindsborg, and the town's new high school, which opened this year. "The biggest problem in the country is apathy and this shows that Lincoln County cares," said Kansas Rep. Laura McClure, D-Osborne. "It's working together or we're not going to make it." Krainbill said the cooperation between city and county officials and other residents was "just unbelievable." The 13-acre park was financed through a $318,000 rural development grant and $50,000 in matching local money. In order to obtain the grant, Lincoln County needed an employer interested in the site and that's where Craig Stertz of Post Tec Inc. came in. Stertz, who works for a local implement dealer, thought up an development idea for a wireless system for tailgate lights, the kind farmers use when they move equipment from one place to another. After a patent search, he discovered a Michigan man had developed a similar product, but never manufactured it. Stertz called the Michigan man and worked out a license agreement. "All the components will be subcontracted and we'll do the assembly and distribution here," he said. Kirk, a northwest Kansas Democrat who was appointed to his job by the Clinton administration, said rural Kansas faces many challenges: job development, adequate housing, a safe supply of drinking water. But in recent tunes he has seen signs of optimism — more determination on the part of rural communities to affect the future rather than be its victim, a stronger sense of unity. A community is no longer defined by political boundaries as it was five decades ago. Citizens are thinking in terms of hometown and region. The old jealousies between towns are not as strong as they once were. "Instead of people criticizing one another, they try to make things happen. I think I see more of that today than I did a few years ago," Kirk said. As for the Lincoln project, "This probably won't turn the tide, but it could be a key factor in stabilizing the community. I look at this as a beginning rather than an end. "A lot of people want to stay in these communities. The overriding thing is that people can't live in the rural communities unless they have a job." Post Tec is expected to employ four to six workers when it opens for business. And Krainbill said he has leads on other businesses for the town's new park. "Things only happen in rural Kansas because communities like this make them happen, because people like you make them happen," Kirk told the crowd gathered along K-18. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 *-«.•» ».,»,..%.*.» tf >-.! «..-

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