The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 6, 2001 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 6, 2001
Page 1
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-:'*='-'v,'rr.i;'n'. • Fast track PAGE CI the SUNDAY MAY 6, 2001 SALINA, KANSAS Salina Journal Serving Kansas since 1871 $1.50 Good sports PAGE D1 Welcome home, Jeff Goodland residents, family and friends gather to honor their own in an emotional ceremony By NATE JENKINS The Salina /oitrnal GOODLAND — Funny how meeting people from . the past can stir up emotions you don't expect. Lt.j.g. Jeff Vignery expected the same cool nerves he's been recognized for when he spoke Saturday afternoon to a crowd of several hundred gathered at Goodland High School. They came to be part of a ceremony recognizing the 27- year-old Goodland native and his experience as a crew member aboard the Navy surveillance plane that made an emergency landing on China's Hainan island in April. The damaged plane made a harrowing landing there after being clipped by a Chi-' nese fighter pilot more than 24,000 feet in the air. The Chinese fighter pilot died. Vignery and the rest of the 24-member crew were detained by the Chinese for 11 days then released after President Bush stopped short of a full apology but expressed enough remorse to satisfy Chinese officials. In the few weeks since the crew has been back on American soil, the glare of the national spotlight has waned but still shines. The many interviews given by Vignery have helped hone his_sj)!eajii,ng,skills.,H^^ peafed Saturday at a hews conference in Goodland well-trained on what questions about the incident are best left unanswered in the name of national security. Vignery, tall and lean with close-cropped red hair, was well-practiced. , "I thought the easiest one (public speech) might be today," Vignery said while standing on the stage atop the parquet basketball floor of Goodland's Max Jones Fieldhouse. Most in the crowd were wearing yellow ribbons, which they removed at the end of event. Judi Vfgnery/wlpes away a tear during the coming- home ceremony Saturday for her son Jeff at the Goodland High School fieldhouse. "But I'm more nervous than I have been with anyone I've talked to so far," he said softly "I got chills right now." Though the tale of the EP- 3 surveillance plane landing has been told time and again, hearing the details from Vignery Saturday was at times spine-tingling, partly because of the calm tone with which he told it. After watching the Chinese pilot make a third pass at the Navy plane — "I saw it coming a little too fast," Vignery said — it slowed too quickly, causing the Chinese .plane's vertical. stabi],i2;.^r be sliced off lay one of the Navy plane's propellers. Vignery said he glanced at another pilot, Shane Osborne. "I looked at Shane Osborne in disbelief. I didn't know what God had in store for me," said Vignery, who frequently made reference to his Christian faith Saturday. 'All I could see was water." He helped Osborne try to stabilize the plane, which at one time, he said, was dropping 4,000 feet a minute. Vignery later went to the back of the plane thinking a water landing was likely. Photos by JEFF COOPER / The Salina Journal Lt. j.g. Jeff Vignery embraces Sharon Gregory of Goodland after a coming-home ceremony Saturday for Vignery. Gregory was his English teacher. Vignery was one of the crew members held in China for 11 days after their spy plane made an emergency landing. He prayed with a fellow crewmember. Landing on solid ground was a welcome surprise. "I heard the landing gear come down a little bit later, and I realized we were gonna land somewhere." . Vignery said people frequently have asked him if he ever lost faith that he would return home while being detained in China. "I can honestly say the answer to that question is no," he said. See WELCOME, Page A2 T SEN.BENVIDRICKSEN Road worthy name Senator Adkins wants stretch of 1-135 named after 'Mr. Highways' By TIM UNRUH The Salina Journal TOPEKA — Lingering budget problems extended the Kansas Legislature's 2001 session and kept Sen. Dave Adkins, R-Leawood, from honoring a former colleague this year. But he promises a bill in the 2002 session that, if passed, would name Interstate Highway 135 through southern Saline County after former Sen. Ben Vid- ricksen, Salina. "I didn't know if we'd be able to get this done this year," Adkins said Friday from Toneka "1 VIDRICKSEN think it would be appropriate to honor him with some lasting recognition of his public service." Vidricksen retired in 2000 after 21 years in the Senate, 20 of those on the Senate Transportation Committee. He was chairman of the committee eight years. "You're kidding," was his response Friday when informed of Adkins' plan. He said he'd be honored "if something happened." Affectionately known both as Mr. Highways and Mr. Tourism in Kansas, Vidricksen was admired for pushing programs that improved state highways and promoted Kansas as a destination for travelers. He joked Friday that if anything were ever named after him it would be "a landfill road." But the man who cut ribbons at the opening of Salina's Magnolia Street interchange at I- 135, and the bridge at Water Well Road and 1-135, which soon will become another Salina interchange, speculated that north-central Kansans would back such a move. See ROAD, Page A2 • SPACE World's first space vacation ending Landing scheduled to be early in morning today in Kazakstan By The Associated Press Writer ASTANA, Kazakstan — The world's first paying space tourist headed back to Earth on Sunday, but even as one mission came to an end, Dennis Tito was planning another — trying to persuade reluctant officials to allow more peo- pie to take cos- TITO jjios vacations. The 60-year-old American multimillionaire and two Russian cosmonauts took off from the international space station in a Soyuz capsule at 9:21 p.m. Central time and were scheduled to land about three hours later in the steppes of Kazak­ stan in Central Asia. Just before Tito and cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev and WEATHER • A U.S. company has several customers willing to pay for space adventures / Page A8 Yuri Baturin left the station, they gathered in the Russian- made Zvezda module with the three crew members staying aboard for a final video linkup with Mission Control in Korolyov, outside Moscow. "Personally, I've had the time of my life. I've achieved my dream and nothing could have been better," Tito said. "I thank everybody that supported my mission." Musabayev and American astronaut Jim Voss hugged, and Voss shook Tito's hand. Tito and the cosmonauts then floated headfirst into the Soyuz, their stockinged feet disappearing from view before the hatch connecting the capsule with the station was closed. Inside the capsule, they switched on the power supply — the capsule had been drawing See SPACE, Page A8 • VIRTUAL VISITATION There's a new front in divorce wars Debate heats up on online visitation rights, their value for children By DAVID CRARY The Associated Press NEW YORK — Among divorce lawyers, they are known as move-away cases: the often- bitter disputes that flare when parents .with custody of children try to relocate far from, ex-spouses with visiting rights. For better or worse, the long­ distance prowess of Internet technology is expected to play an expanding role as these cases reach America's courtrooms. The pivotal question: Should the prospect of "virtual visitation" — through e-mail, instant messages and videoconferencing — make it easier for a custodial parent to get permission to move? A New Jersey appeals court broached this new legal frontier earlier this year. It ruled that online visiting — along with face-to-face contact — would be a "creative and innovative" way for a father to stay in touch with his 9-year-old The Associated Press Jim Buie displays a photo of his son, Matthew Buie Nerviki, 17, who lives in Ttyon, N.C., in hisTakoma Park, Md., home. daughter if the man's ex-wife moved to California over his objections. The woman later decided against moving, but the ruling intrigued family-law specialists and alarmed fathers-rights advocates. "This wUl be another tool for judges to further distance fathers from their children's- lives," said Stuart Miller of the American Fathers Coalition, whose group believes family courts are biased in favor of mothers. Legal experts think it's inevitable that custodial parents seeking to move will propose virtual visitation in hopes of swaying judges. "From now on, if 1 have clients who want to move, I'd tell them to offer to buy a (Web) camera and set that up," said Norma Trusch, a family-law attorney from Houston. "It's true thai you can't hug a computer," said Trusch, quoting a mantra of virtual visitation opponents. "On the other hand, it's possible with these communication methods to maintain a very close, continual relationship with a child." Linda Elrod, who chairs the American Bar Association's family law section, said judges won't be able to ignore the new technology as they weigh conflicting pleas from divorced parents. "Move-away cases are balancing acts — one parent's u^ ward mobility versus the otHF er's continuing contact with the child," said Elrod, a law professor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. Many divorced parents already use virtual visitation -— not under court order but because it helps them maintain ties with faraway children. Jim Buie, an Internet consultant from Takoma Park, Md., has published an online journal about his efforts to stay in touch with his son, Matthew now 17 — in the eight years since Matthew and Buie's ex- wife moved to North Carolina. See DIVORCE, Page A2 iSililiiai High: 68 Low: 47 Cloudy with a chance of showers today. Partly cloudy tonight. PAGE A6 U.S. Green Beret trainers are getting Colombian troops ready to combat drug trafficking in an area swarming with rebels and paramilitaries. TOMORROW An in-depth portrait of Timothy McVeigh reveals a man who cries for those who died in a compound near Waco but not for 168 people he killed. INSIDE Classified / F1 Consumer / E4 Crossword / D8 Deaths / B3 Grea( Plains / B1 Life / 01 Money / E1 Sports / CI Weather / D7 Viewpoints / A7

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