The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 7, 1997 · 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, May 7, 1997
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Page 9
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WEDNESDAY MAY 7, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains VIEWPOINTS / B2 ALMANAC / B3 FUN / B4 T KANSAS LEGISLATURE GOP, Demos say all Kansans won in session Tax package was a high, but session ended with disappointments for some By MATT TRUELL The Associated Press TOPEKA — Republicans and Democrats both agreed that Kansans were the winners from this year's legislative session. But Democrats were exasperated that the Legislature failed to pass a ma- crease in pensions for retired teachers and state employees. The session ended about midnight Monday. "The refusal of this Legislature to give state retirees back a small fraction of their investment in the state retirement fund is criminal," House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, said Tuesday. Democrats had sought an increase in the monthly pension checks for members of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, about 48,000 people. They eventually pushed a proposal to give retirees an extra check in October, worth an average of $237. "The day we adjourned, the New York Stock Exchange reached another record high, and yet Republicans refused to give retirees on fixed incomes the benefit of their own investments." added Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. KU hospital competition Senate President Dick Bond, R-Overland Park, said his biggest disappoint- ment was the failure of a House-Senate conference committee to reach an agreement about turning the University of Kansas Medical Center hospital into a private operation. "I think it's a real disservice to the state and the Med Center," Bond said. The Kansas Board of Regents wanted to surrender control of the hospital and allow it to operate under a private authority so the hospital would be unencumbered by state regulations. Such a move would make the hospital competitive with private hospitals, the board concluded. Eleventh-hour negotiations between House and Senate members Monday night fell apart just minutes before the Legislature adjourned. The House had included a provision that prohibited abortions from being performed at the medical center. Tax package was high point Both Republicans and Democrats said the session's shining moment came in March when the Legislature passed a $119 million tax package. "Clearly the high points were the tax cuts, and significant funding of education," Bond said. "We did all that, and no one was badly injured." The Legislature added about $42 million in new funds for the state's public school districts. House Speaker Tim Shallenburger, R- Baxter Springs, was more subdued about this year's session, although he was pleased with the tax cuts. "We frankly spent too much money," he said. The tax package was the product of negotiations involving Gov. Bill Graves and House members and senators from both parties. i ;. 'We'll live to regret that one' •'-.'• House Democrats took some credit-for passage of a welfare reform measure~that requires the state to be more aggressive in collecting unpaid child support. - " The bill, mandated by the federal government, drew criticism from conservatives who contend it unconstitutionally shifted power from the judicial brandh to the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. "Opponents wanted to couch the debate around black helicopters when the fb'cus should be on those children who are'not being supported by their parents," Sawyer said. But Shallenburger said that bill would come back to haunt Kansas. "That was the most hideous things we've done in the 11 years I've been ill, the Legislature, and we'll live to regret that one," he said. ', Driver hospitalized after vehicle rolls over A man who was thrown from his sport-utility vehicle as it rolled on Old 40 Highway Monday was in stable condition Tuesday at Salina Regional Health Center. According to a sheriffs office report, Thomas A. Faulkner, 47, Abilene, was driving east on Old 40 Highway east of Niles Road about 3:40 p.m. Monday when the vehicle went into the south ditch. Faulkner overcorrected, and the vehicle hit a post, entered the north ditch and rolled three times. Faulkner, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, was ejected. Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said officers believed alcohol consumption was a factor in the crash. City planners ponder south Salina drainage Drainage along South Ninth Street is the focus of today's Salina Planning Commission meeting, which starts at 4 p.m. at the City-County Building. Planning commissioners will consider establishing the city's first critical drainage area along Ninth Street from Schilling Road north to Wayne Avenue. The district's east boundary would be Highland Avenue, and the west boundary would be Interstate 135. If the district is established, new development for properties that were zoned and platted before 1980 will be subject to review. 1980 is when city storm water regulations were enacted, said Shawn O'Leary, assistant city engineer. Property owners of land zoned and platted before 1980 would have to have development plans reviewed by an engineer and might have to make costly adjustments to improve drainage, such as adding detention ponds. Currently, they wouldn't have to do anything to improve drainage. The drainage system in south Salina can't handle any more load, and development could worsen flooding, O'Leary said. Colorado driver dies in collision with semi OAKLEY — Charles W. Turman, 43, Colorado Springs, Colo., was killed early Tuesday when the car he was driving collided with a tractor-trailer near Oakley, said a dispatcher from the Kansas Highway Patrol in Norton. Turman was pronounced dead at the scene at the junction of U.S. 40 and U.S. 83 at Oakley. The Patrol said the crash occurred at 12:33 a.m. when the tractor-trailer, driven by Robert C. Black, 44, Elk City, Okla., ran a stop sign at the junction. Turman struck the trailer. He was wearing a seat belt. Black was taken to the Hays Medical Center, and a passenger, Russell Gibson, 25, Manchester, Ky., was taken to Logan County Hospital, Oakley. Hospital officials refused to release information. ETC. A scholarship for Hispanic students at Sacred Heart Junior-Senior High School has been established by Gene Camarena, a 1975 Sacred Heart graduate on behalf of his parents, Cecil and Isabel Camarena. Call the school's development office for more information, 913-825-4011. Republican Kansas senator shares house with 3 others in arrangement pleasing to distant wives By DEB RIECHMANN The Associated Press ARLINGTON, Va. — "We call it the cereal caucus," says John Ensign, a congressman from Nevada who shares a two-story house in this Washington suburb with three other members of Congress. Busy all day, the only time these Republican roomies get together is late at night, when they sometimes talk politics over cereal. "Usually it's Corn Chex, sometimes Raisin Bran or Shredded Wheat," Ensign says. "Every once in a while I have to break down and get a box of Froot Loops." Living arrangements are always a problem for members of Congress. Rather than uproot their families, many become weekday workaholics and weekend commuters to their home districts. Ensign and his roommates — Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Reps. Ed Bryant of Tennessee and Jon Christensen from Nebraska — decided in March to turn a house in Arlington into a weekday crash pad. It might sound like John Belushi's "Animal House," but appearances suggest otherwise. The kitchen looks unused; furnishings are sparse. It appears as if nobody has walked on the white rug in the living room. On one morning, Brownback and Bryant hurry out the door at 7:10 a.m. for the 15-minute drive to work. "I have to get up to feed the chickens out back," jokes early-riser Bryant, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee. Ensign did have that fraternity boy look when he rolled out of bed and walked into the kitchen. Sleepy-eyed and wearing a rum- pled blue T-shirt and shorts, he ran a hand through his hair and grumbled: "How are ya?" Ensign handles the finances. That makes sense. Before being elected to Congress in 1994, he was general manager of two hotel and casino operations in Nevada. Still, the roommates were slow to pool their money, and the April rent was late. Each pays about $650 a month to cover everything, including a housekeeper, who goes to the dry cleaners and washes dirty clothes each lawmaker stuffs into a different colored laundry bag. She also keeps the pantry stocked with breakfast food, about all they eat there. They did dine on spaghetti together one recent night, but it was their first evening meal in the house. Christensen cooked. Well, he heated up the sauce and boiled the pasta. Before, Christensen and Ensign shared a townhouse in nearby McLean, Va. Brownback slept in a basement apartment. Bryant had an apartment, but sometimes lived in his office. "This is our small accountability group," Brownback says. Their what? "Washington is a tough place. We've been meeting together once a week for a year and a half, just to keep each other accountable," he explains. "Do you have a good friend in college that you could really talk to and who could tell you, 'I don't think you're quite doing this right.' That's what this is." Brownback is soon behind the wheel of his car, motoring to work. The Washington Monument is on his left. The domed Capitol rises before him. Power is seductive in Washington, he says. Temptation is great. "You're away from your fam- The Associated Press Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. (left), and Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tenn., leave for work from their shared house. They have two other housemates and say the arrangement keeps them honest. ilies ... in a virtual candy store of opportunities to do the wrong thing. We're just trying to keep each other from falling for it," Brownback says. He says moving in together gives them a chance to strengthen their relationships and "bind together as men." Oh, it's about male bonding. It's partly about that, Ensign says. He says living together helps the four lawmakers, three of whom are married, to walk the straight and narrow. "The wives love this," he says. So far, there haven't been any serious tiffs. Brownback has started to wor- ': • ry, though, that his housemates •'••: might be irritated by the four or five overnight guests (male) that ..; he's been host to since moving A •• day. He's decided to start asking a- first, especially since Bryant has •!, to share his bathroom when • t.; there are guests. •>:; T TELEPHONE Nearby long-distance calls could cost less Telephone companies team to offer reduced-rate calls for those in Salina, nearby towns By ALF ABUHAJLEH Tim Salina Journal When you need to know. Sharolyn and Jay Wagner, 5248 N. Old Highway 81, have family and business links to both Salina and Bennington. The couple's 6-year-old son, Jacob, is a student at Bennington Grade School, and From Staff Reports their 4-year-old daughter, Jackie, attends the Angel Academy Preschool, 1600 Rush. To juggle business and family matters in both communities, the Wagners, who farm in north Saline County just outside Bennington, have spent about $25 a month on long-distance calls to Bennington. Category 6006 But that figure might drop dramatically (Can after 7:30p.m.) when the cost of long-distance calls be- Tomorrow's Headlines 825-6OOO tween Salina and Bennington is reduced by up to 80 percent. Twin Valley Telephone and Southwestern Bell have announced that customers in both cities can sign up for a reduced-rate calling plan. Under the Optional Community Calling Service program, residential and commercial customers can buy blocks of long-distance calls to Salina or Bennington. Residential callers can buy one hour of long-distance calls for $4 a month, a 15-hour block for $19 or a 25-hour block for $35. For business subscribers, a one-hour block costs $5, a 15-hour block costs $25 and a 25-hour block costs $45. Additional minutes cost 6 cents each for residential callers and 7 cents for commercial users. Southwestern Bell otters similar long-distance discounts between Salina and Assaria, Gypsum, Salemsborg and Solomon. The Bennington discount plan was introduced after a nonprofit organization that Sharolyn Wagner leads petitioned the Kansas Corporation Commission last year to lower the price on long-distance calls between Bennington and Salina. The Bennington Improvement Group Foundation had to convince at least 64 Twin Valley Telephone customers in the Bennington area to sign the petition. Wagner said about 200 people supported the discount plan. Twin Valley Telephone then surveyed its 636 customers in the area to make sure a majority of them placed more than 10 monthly calls to Salina. Mike Foster, president of Twin Valley Telephone, said the average caller phoned Salina 24 times a month. Miltonvale-based Twin Valley Telephone, which provides telephone services to about 2,400 households in central Kansas, helped the organization put together the petition. The discount plan also was adopted by Southwestern Bell so the savings could flow both ways. "Most people who live in Bennirigton work in Salina," Foster said. "There is very little, if any, industry in Bennington. The town is like a bedroom community to Salina." Larry Pfautsch, spokesman for Southwestern Bell, said Salina customers.,can save 50 cents on a 10-minute call to'jBen- nington during weekdays. ! A 10-minute call placed during the weekend and between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m."- on weekdays, will save the caller a penng,;he said. •.• ' ' "This is good business for both us and the customers," he said. "There is a genuine ;interest on our side to string together some? of these communities." SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjnews@saljournal.com

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