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Garden City Telegram: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - Page 1

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   Garden City Telegram (Newspaper) - June 24, 2008, Garden City, Kansas                                What's inside Battle over border fence may be in Texas.   M Picture This Gavin Lee Wells smiling after a nice nap. Photo contributed by Jessie Oberhelm. Garden City. Bannister earns win. '�^5......-^^I^k TUESDAY June 24. 2008 THE GARDEN CITY Telegram Volume 79, No. 149 16 Pages 2 Sections 50 CENTS Valuation up in county � Estimate: Numbers could change; county waits on abatement decision. By STEPHANIE FARLEY sfarley@gctekgram.com While 2008's estimated valuation is up about 3.6 percent at $488,591,128 for Finney County, it'll take a bigger jump than that to ease the grip of upcoming budget needs on the county, according to Finney County Commissioner Roman Halbur. The preliminary valuation numbers are in for 2008, with the county and Garden City Community College up about 3.6 percent from $471,731,546 in 2007 to an estimated $488,591,128. In fact, all entities are up across the board: � city of Garden City: up about 3 percent from $137,809,179 in 2007 to $141,945,298 in 2008. � city of Holcomb: up about 3.8 percent from $7,846,120 in 2007 to $8,143,606 in 2008. � Garden City USD 457: up about 4.2 percent from $304,228,981 in 2007 to $316,918,028 in 2008. � Holcomb USD 363: up about 2.5 percent from $163,283,095 in 2007 to $167,438,376 in 2008. � the portion of USD 102 in Finney County: up .36 percent from $4,219,470 in 2007 to $4,234,724 in 2008. The valuation for USD 102 in Gray County is $23,451,144, compared to last year's USD 102 valuation of $26,528,134. But with roughly a $1 million increase requested between the Finney County Sheriff's Office and Public Works Road and Bridge division for the 2009 budget, "it's not gonna make too much difference," Halbur said of the increase. It's still going to be a tight budget year, he said, adding Conestoga's Bonanza BioEnergy ethanol plant is figured in the numbers but that if the plant's request of exemption and abatement of about $20 million is granted by the state Board of Tax Appeals, valuation for the county, college and USD 457 would actually go down. According to County Appraiser Mark Low, the numbers are deceiving because Conestoga is included in the preliminary figures. It would appear as though "things are good," Low said, with the ethanol plant figured in. But if the exemption is granted and that $20 million is removed, valuation will actually be down about $4 million. Low said the $20 million would come out of real estate, which currently is estimated up at $239,086,504 from $220,257,385 in 2007 - without the $20 million, that figure drops to about $219,086,504. Personal property's also down at about $22.84 million from $23.81 million in 2007, and oil and gas is at $135,283,693 from $137,956,143 in 2007. See Estimate, Page A5 Budgetary impact of decision uncertain By RACHEL DAVIS rdavis@gctelegram.com A Kansas Supreme Court decision to allow juveniles the right to a jury trial may stress an already burdened court system and has brought a mixed reaction from prosecutors and defense attorneys. Marilyn Harp, executive director for Kansas Legal Services, said the state Supreme Court's decision is a win for all juveniles across the state. She said because the juvenile system has strayed from its rehabilitative ideas to a more punitive system, juvenile defendants should have the constitutional right to have a jury decide their guilt or innocence. On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in favor of granting jury trials to juvenile offenders. The appeal stemmed from a Finney County case involving a 16-year-old male known as L.M. who was found guilty of minor in consumption of alcohol and aggravated sexual battery. Harp said the court ordered L.M. to undergo sex offender treatment and register as a sex offender. According to L.M.'s case, he was convicted for making a sexually suggestive comment and forcing a kiss on a woman who was walking home on a street in his neighborhood. He was placed on probation until he was 20 years old. Harp said during L.M.'s court proceeding, her office requested a jury trial but District Court Judge Philip Vieux denied it. Vieux, chief judge of the 25th Judicial District, said he would not comment on the impact of the state Supreme Court's decision on the court system or make any general statements about the decision- Before the court's decision, state law gave the judge djs- See Syftem, Pipe Ai ~~m�- Bred Nadlno/Telegram Are we there yet? Andy Musick holds the leash to his dogs, Hamlet and Toby, as he rides a bicycle Monday in the 400 block of East Hackberry Street. Brad Nadlno/Telegram Jerry Roth works on getting a wheat field cut at Mary Street and VFW Road Monday as thunderstorms build to the south. Kansas wheat harvest finally under way � Cutting: Moisture means farmers behind in getting crop in. WICHITA (AP) - Kansas farmers were finally able to get into their fields to harvest winter wheat over the weekend as the ground dried out ahead of the next wave of storms. But the Kansas wheat harvest still lags well behind normal while farmers scramble to get this season's high-priced crop safely into the bin. Just 6 percent of the wheat crop has now been harvested in the state, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday In a normal year, 36 percent would have been cut by this late in the season. At elevators as far north as Salina, the grain industry was getting its first hard look at the quality of the 2008 crop. Top quality, No. 1, wheat typically has test weights of 60 pounds per bushel or better. Protein levels of 11 percent are considered average, the higher the better. One of the few places in the state where wheat harvest has been anywhere near AGRICULTURE NEWS normal this year is in Kiowa, where 3.3 million bushels of wheat had been taken in as of Monday "We're not done, but we are sure on the downhill side," said Alan Meyers, general manager of OK Co-op Grain Co. in Kiowa. The harvest in the Kiowa area is about 85 percent finished. Farmers in the Kiowa area mostly escaped the downpours that had stalled harvest elsewhere in the state, but even a couple of rains early last week made a noticeable dent in their test weights. "We are still above-average yields and even after a couple of rains 59 to 60 (pounds per bushel) test weights," Meyers said. "Every rain drops your test weights after it is ripe." Before the storms, the Kiowa elevator was getting lots of test weights in the 62 to 63 pound per bushel range. Meyers anticipated to take in more than 3.5 million bushels this season. "It is going to be a good harvest by the time we are See Cutting, Page A5 Deficit could rob state of highway funds � Funding: Transportation secretary urging officials to write letters to Congress. By CHRIS GREEN cgreen@dailynews.net TOPEKA (HNS) - Worried that a shortfall in federal highway aid could cost projects in Kansas, the state's top transportation official is seeking help in persuading Congress to fix the problem- Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said Monday that Kansas is on the verge of losing $120 million next year for highway projects. That*s because of a projected shortfall in the federal Highway Trust Fund, which relies on taxes from motor fuels to supply road and other transit aid to states. As a result, Miller sent letters on Friday to 125 public officials and industry representatives throughout the state urging them to express concern about the issue to the state's congressional delegation. The federal highway fund remains under pressure from more fuel efficient vehicles taking the road, as well as higher gas prices, which encourage less driving and gas use. Some estimates suggest the fund could face a shortfall of at least $3 billion next year. Although Congress has been discussing ways to address the problem, it must pass legislation before October to avert a more than 30 percent cut in federal highway funds, Miller said. "I am becoming increasingly worried that time and reasonable options to fix the problem are quickly running out," Miller said in a written statement. KDOT spokesman Steve Swartz said it's unclear what Kansas highway projects might be affected by a funding cut. Last year, the agency warned that a deficit could result in delays or cancellations for state and local projects slated for work in 2009. Projects for which work has already started, such as the widening of U.S. Highway 59 into a four-lane highway from Ottawa to Lawrence, likely would not be affected, Swartz said. However, construction set to begin next year could face scrutiny, he said. That could include an expansion of K-61 into a four-lane highway from Hutchinson to McPherson. "It's possible that they could be impacted but that's one of the things that we'll just have to determine at some point," in the future, Swartz said. The list of recipients Miller sent the letter to included Rep. Mark Treaster, D-Pretty Prairie. Although he had yet to receive the correspon- See Funding, Page AS Inside Annie's acivKB/W   Obituaries /AC     Sports/n-3 Qassjf fed / 61 *3    Opinion /14       TV Listings / A? Comics/C4        State/ A3 Weather/At Check us out poUae at www.gctelggram.com "Self-denial is indulgence Insoirina of a P'ope"^ to forego." Mlnrf*    ~ Ambrose Bieree, Ameri* Minos    ean aythor-joyrnalist (1942-1914?). Wednesday's weather Tonight, low 68. Wednesday, partly sunny. High 98, low 67. Details on page A8.   

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