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Local/Kansas Sunflower Electric struggles to live with KCC rate hike By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING Great Plains Editor HAYS - An order signed this week by the Kansas Corporation Commission drew praise Thursday from electricity consumers in west• era Kansas. But the order also sent officials of Sunflower Electric Cooperative scrambling for ways to cov- • er expensive power contracts with. • other utilities. > ; The KCC announced on Wednes• day that Sunflower would receive a •• $7.38 million rate increase — almost • $10 million less than requested. The ^increase, which took effect April 1, 'boosted the wholesale price of electricity distributed by Sunflower by 9.7 percent and the retail price by 7,59 percent. Sunflower sells electricity only at wholesale to eight rural electric cooperatives in western Kansas. Residential customers of those cooperatives, if they use an average of 750 kilowatts of electricity a month, might expect increases of about $6.80 per month on summer bills • and $6.07 on winter bills. Sunflower will be allowed to include in its rate base another 10 percent of the cost of its coal-fired Holcomb power plant, which began commercial operation in August 1983. That means 57 percent of the $446 million cost of the 296-megawatt Holcomb plant is now in the Sunflower rate base. Under the Sun. flower rate request, another 13 percent of the plant would have been included. At the same time, the KCC re. jected Sunflower's proposal to charge its customers $7.5 million to pay off contracts with Kansas Power and Light Co. of Topeka, and Centel Corp. of Great Bend. The contracts were made so Sunflower would have a~ guaranteed power •supply while Holcomb was being built. "I was extremely pleased at the reception the commission gave us," said Stan Clark, Oakley. "I'm no historian on the Kansas Corporation Commission, but this has to be one of the few times the public actually had input on the decision." Clark testified last January at a KCC hearing at Colby, where there was strong opposition to the Sun-' flower proposal. He said the message at that hearing was: "The only way Sunflower can raise its rates is to take money from western Kansas and the money just isn't available. "The commissioners heard not only the emotion, but also the statistics on what our situation is in western Kansas," Clark said. Clark is a member of Great Plains Electric Cooperative, Colby. Sunflower, which is headquartered at Hays, also supplies wholesale power to Lane-Scott, Dighton; Northwest Kansas Electric, Bird City; Norton-Decatur, Norton; Pioneer Electric, Ulysses; Victory Electric, Dodge City; Western Electric, WaKeeney; and Wheatland Electric, Scott City. Sunflower spokesman Blake McGuire said officials of the Hays cooperative are "diligently studying" options in light of the KCC decision. "Certainly the order is going to create some problems as far as the contracts (with KPL and Centel), but I don't think (here's anything insurmountable at this time," he said. Following the KCC order, McGuire said Sunflower General Manager Steve Thompson and KCC chairman Michael Lennen traveled to Washington, D.C., to talk to representatives of the Rural Electrification Administration. "The rural areas (and their electric cooperatives) have never had competitive financing with the investor-owned companies," McGuire said. "I think this ties to a larger problem than Sunflower itself." Sunflower board members plan to meet Monday and Tuesday, and McGuire predicted the KCC order would dominate discussion. Barbara Jessup, Moscow, said she was pleased with the attention consumers received from the KCC. But Jessup said she would have been even more pleased if commissioners had rejected the entire Sunflower rate request. "I felt they shouldn't have given them any money, mainly because of the appalling bad management we've had at Sunflower," she said. Jessup organized a group of electricity consumers in southwest Kansas to fight the Sunflower rate hike. Even with the KCC order, however, she said the group's work is far from done. "This business of the people having nothing to do with their lives and other people having control of their lives — we're just not going to have it," she said. "I want to see Sunflower management accountable for their actions." Zoning commission to look at county rules on home occupations By MARTIN'MELENDY Staff Writer Because of two recent examples where businesses in agricultural areas of Saline County operated in violation of zoning regulations, changes in rules applying to home occupations are under consideration. The issue of what businesses are allowed at residences in rural areas of the county arose when the staff of the Planning and Zoning Department discovered a woodworking shop and antique store in violation of the rules. The county Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to discuss the situation at its May meeting. Dana Morse, director of the county's General Services, said certain businesses can operate in agricultural areas' if rules applying to home occupations are met or if a conditional use permit is granted by the planning commission. Under the home occupation rules, the business must be in the house, run by a person living there and have no outside employees. "The dilemma is how restrictive the commission wants to be with businesses that are scattered about the county," Morse said. "We don't feel the regulations are a problem." Although Morse said there is no preponderance of home businesses in the county, the planning department does monitor commercial activity in land zoned for agriculture. "I feel strongly that if the planning commission wants to loosen the home occupation rules they should still be restricted to no outside employees," Morse said. Since countywide zoning began in the late 1970s, 11 conditional use permits have been granted. The home occupation rules have not been amended, Morse said. The idea, he said, is to plan and monitor development of agricultural land, which, excluding Salina, encompasses 95 percent of the county. Although the county could close both businesses that are in violation, Morse said that probably will not happen. The planning commission has two options, he said. It can amend the use permit list and grant permits to the businesses, or it can lessen'the requirements on home occupations. "From a planning standpoint, opening zones to a lot of conditional use permits is not good planning," Morse said. There is a list of types of businesses eligible for a use permit. The list includes such businesses as small veterinarian offices, kennels, golf courses, campgrounds and commercial stables. "The most restrictive is the home occupation," Morse said. "I haven't seen a home occupation standard that encourages commercial development. It's for small-scale things that supplement income." There are some businesses operating in the county that do not meet the use permit or home occupation guidelines, Morse said. These are exempt because they were in place before the rules were implemented. Remeta's mother offers apology WICHITA (AP) — The mother of a suspect in a northwest Kansas shooting spree that left four people dead apologized and expressed sympathy for the victims in a letter to the editor published Thursday. "I am sorry for the innocent victims of this crime, especially the living and their families," Betty Remeta of Traverse .City, Mich., mother of , --— Daniel E. Re- Remeta meta, wrote in a letter to The Wichita Eagle-Beacon. "I'm a mother; I know how you feel. My thoughts and prayers have been with you each and every day." Mrs. Remeta, whose son is one of three suspects in the case, confirmed during a telephone interview that she wrote the letter. In the letter, Mrs. Remeta said she never knew her son to be violent. "He was no animal or monster turned loose on the streets," Mrs. Remeta wrote. "The rest of my life I'll ask myself why. We never had guns in our home, and don't even own a car," the letter said. Her 27-year-old son, and Lisa J. Dunn, 18, both of Traverse City; and James C, Hunter, 33, of Amoret, Mo., face a June trial on two counts each of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated, kidnapping. They also all are charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, aggravated battery and aggravated robbery. The three are accused of kidnapping and killing two hostages, Glenn 0. Moore, 55, of Colby, and John R. "Rick" Schroeder, 29, of Levant. They also are charged with shooting Thomas County Undersheriff Ben Albright, 27, of Colby and grain elevator manager Maurice Christie, 61, of Levant. They were bound over for trial last month in connection with the Feb. 13 shootings. The three defendants were captured following a Shootout in Rawlins County during which a fourth suspect, Mark A. Walter, 18, of Suttons Bay, Mich., was killed. Felony charges against the three also have been filed in that county. Northern Natural Gas agrees to refund OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Northern Natural Gas Co., a subsidiary of In- terNorth Inc., has agreed to refund $30 million to customers in Kansas and eight other states. The refunds stems from a settlement over pricing of gas purchased from another subsidiary of InterNorth, a Northern spokesman says. In a statement filed last Friday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Northern also agreed to return an additional $35 million to customers in its nine- state service area through rate reductions and other benefits related to pricing, the spokesman said Wednesday. The settlement came in response to issues related to pricing and "in no way involves an admission of guilt or impropriety" on the part of Northern, the spokesman said. The settlement grew from a 1982 rate increase request Northern filed with the regulatory commission for $170 million. Following a hearing before an administrative judge on some issues challenging the rate increase, . Northern made its proposed settle- ment to avoid "a lengthy and expensive" hearing process. The proposal would affect both the company and its customers in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Texas. The Iowa State Commerce Commission is the only agency to oppose the proposed settlement. It said the $8 million that Iowa utilities stand to receive isn't enough. The Iowa commission said it wants Northern to refund $600 million, including $125 million to Iowa. HIGH JUMP - It took some convincing, but Rose Myers finally got her grandson, Slade Spratlen, 3, to bunny hop during a Muscular Oys- Carlin enters liquor battle, says compromise possible TOPEKA (AP) - Gov. John Carlin jumped into the liquor fray Thursday, urging the lawmaker who intended to force a Senate vote on a House passed liquor-by-the- drink resolution to withdraw his threat and persuading Senate negotiators not to "panic." Sen. Frank Gaines, D-Augusta, had warned his colleagues he would force a vote on the measure Thursday afternoon because he was frustrated by the lack of progress in liquor negotiations. The conference committee studying liquor issues has not met since Wednesday, when negotiators for the two houses walked out. It is not expected to meet again until next week. Gaines said he decided not to force the vote after Carlin called him into the executive office about 11 a.m. and told him he wants to give the conference committee studying the issue more time to hammer out a compromise. "I did it out of respect for the governor," Gaines said. "He asked me to, and I understand he needs more time." Mike Swenson, spokesman for Carlin, said the governor wants the conference committee to continue toiling over the liquor issues that have been bottled up in negotiations for three weeks. "His message has been, 'It's too early to give up and panic, and if the conference committee puts its nose to the grindstone and we bide our time, we can get accomplished what we set out to do without the half loaf,' " Swenson said. Carlin is a strong supporter of the proposed constitutional amendment to allow voters in 1986 to decide whether to end the state's ban on open saloons. Carlin and Senate leaders don't like the House version of the resolution because it contains a provision allowing liquor sales only in bars where food accounts for 30 percent of total sales. However, part of a compromise Sen. Edward Reilly Jr., R-Leavenworth, began considering Thursday includes letting the Sen- The Salina Journal Friday, April 5,1985 Page 3 Military school's Nebraska firm to be liquidated A Nebraska manufacturing firm owned by St. John's Military School will be closed and its assets liquidated. A two-day liquidation sale of the machinery and tools at National Manufacturing Co., Lincoln, Neb., is planned for April 15 and 16, said Col. Keith Duckers, president of St. John's Military School and chairman of the company's board. The plant was given to the school in 1983 by Walton C. and Elizabeth A. Ferris. St. John's has been operating the plant since Ferris' death in August 1984. Three of the firm's main buildings, which housed all of the machine capacity and 25 percent of the company's manufacturing capability, were destroyed by fire on Oct. 26. In December, the fire-damaged buildings were closed but the company continued to manufacture laboratory equipment used by cereal chemists. The decision to close the company and sell the assets was made at the direction of St. John's board of trustees. "We felt it was in the best interests of preserving the value of the gift," Duckers said. Several of the product lines — including a walking lawn sprinkler invented by Ferris, a power rake and a line of laboratory equipment — will be sold independently, said Bill Nicholson, St. John's trustee and chief executive officer at National Manufacturing. Items on the auction block for the two-day sale include heavy milling machines, lathes, drill presses and hundreds of hand tools. Whitworth leaving Liberal for Abilene By JUDITH WEBER Staff Writer LIBERAL — Robert Whitworth, former president of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, has accepted a job as Abilene's economic development director and projects coordinator. Whitworthl headed the Salina chamber for 171 years before re-1 signing in October! to become execu-l live vice president of the Liber-' al Chamber of Whitworth Commerce and director of economic development for Seward County. He said he views the the Abilene job as "an opportunity to go home, to do something for my hometown." Abilene City Manager Stan Stewart said, "The city commission made the decision two or three months ago to advertise for a projects coordinator. When Whitworth said he was interested, we changed the position a little." irwy trophy fund raising event Thursday morning at the Salina Child Care Center, 308 S. Eighth. ate vote on the House version of the resolution. In exchange, Reilly wants the House to vote on the Senate's omnibus drinking age bill, which raises the age for consuming 3.2 percent beer from 18 to 21. It has 16 provisions, including one to liberalize Sunday beer sales. House leaders, and Carlin, automatically hooted at that swap. "If we brought that up over here, they'd go after it like a school of sharks," drawled House Speaker Mike Hayden, R-Atwood. "That wouldn't even get 20 votes over here," predicted Rep. Robert H. Miller, R-Wellington, a member of the conference committee. Reilly said the governor was not thrilled with the compromise, because he thinks the food provision in the House resolution would clutter up the state Constitution. Also, Carlin thinks the committee can find a better compromise, he said. "He thinks it's a bit precipitous," Reilly said of the governor's reaction to his idea. Miller said he's been told supporters of the liquor-by-the-drink resolution think Senate negotiators are jeopardizing the proposal's chances of passage. He also said he expected Carlin to tell Reilly to "quit playing games." Reilly, however, said Carlin did not bring him in for a raking but that he wanted to talk to the governor to get a better picture of what Carlin is willing to accept. Until Wednesday, House and Senate negotiators had agreed to nearly all provisions of a mammoth package of liquor proposals: Those include tough drunken driving bills, anti-consumption legislation and a bill to set up guidelines for new bars to follow if the resolution passes. Lawmakers left the bargaining table when the committee's three senators balked at the House's offer to allow voters in counties that vote "dry" on the resolution to also be able to vote on shutting down private clubs in those counties. Senators think private clubs should continue intact. Stewart said Whitworth's hiring signifies a more aggressive approach to economic development in Abilene. In addition to economic development responsibilities, Whitworth will assist with city projects. "Abilene is my hometown," Whitworth said. "It's something I thought I would enjoy doing." He added, "There's nothing wrong with the job here. Things are going good in the city and county. Chamber membership has increased. I'm satisfied with the progress in the six months I've been here." Whitworth said he hopes to be in Abilene by June 15. He signed a three-year contract at Liberal, and said Liberal officials are disappointed he is leaving so soon. "They were counting on me to rebuild the program and get economic development off the ground," he said. Prisoners continue Lansing hunger strike LANSING (AP) - More than 30 prisoners protesting their segregation from the general prison population Thursday entered the second day of a hunger strike at the Kansas State Penitentiary, officials said. Two prisoners ended their fasts and ate a noon meal, reducing the number of inmates on the hunger strike to 32, said Jerry Judy, an administrative assistant at the prison. A total of 28 prisoners refused to eat breakfast Wednesday morning, Judy said, while 37 refused to eat the noon or evening meal. On Thursday morning, 34 refused to eat breakfast, he said.