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View Sample Pages : Aiken Standard, February 16, 1989

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Aiken Standard (Newspaper) - February 16, 1989, Aiken, South Carolina Inside 'Rainman' Tops Oscar Nominees Page 3A A Quick Read Nancy Thurmond Still In Running Nancy Thurmond, wife of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., continues to be a front runner among those seeking appointment as Commerce Department undersecretary for tourism and trade. Reports within the Bush Administration said no decision has been made on filing the job, but the front runner appears to be Rockwell Schnabel, a key Bush supporter in last year’s campaign. The same reports said that if Schnabel gets the job Mrs. Thurmond likely would be named a deputy undersecretary in the department. The job is considered a high profile position, especially in the tourist-rich Sun Belt states and the West Coast. UM&M Officials Deny Sale Rumors United Merchants and Manufacturers Inc. officials are denying rumors that the sale of the Clearwater Finishing Plant lias been completed. “It’s looking encouraging,” said Gerald B. Stroud of the Greenville UM&M office. The buyer has not been announced, although Union Color and Chemical of Union, is the name most often associated with the purchase of the plant. Union Color and Chemical officials could not be reached for comment. This rumor joins a host of other rumors over the past year. United Merchants and Manufacturers Inc. stock closed yesterday at 2 7/8 on the New York Stock Exchange. The plant closed in March 1988, and since that time several firms have expressed interest in the plant. In September 1988, Bobby Neal of Union Color and Chemical expressed confidence that he could finalize the purchase of the plant within a couple of weeks. The purchase never materialized. Weather Continued Mild Partly cloudy skies are forecast tonight with a 20 percent chance of rain and a low in the mid 50s. Mostly cloudy skies are forecast Friday with a 30 percent chance of rain and cooler weather. The high will be in the mid 60s. Please see Page 7A for details. Deaths Ramon Baynham, North Augusta Pearl H. Foreman, Aiken Kenneth G. Goodwin, Warrenville Edward V. Hild, Aiken Mrs. Bruce W. Kingman, North Augusta James H. Grant, New Ellenton Harold B. Peacock, Augusta Please see Page 7A for details. Inside Today Bridge...............................................5B Calendar............................................5A Classifieds.........................................3B Comics..............................................6A Crossword.........................................6B Cryptoquote.......................................4B Dear Abby..........................................6A Local Front........................................1B Obituaries..........................................7A Opinions............................................4A Sports................................................7 A Television..........................................6A Weather.............................................7A Page 2A Housing Starts Rise 8% In January Page IB Bush Brings Presidential Aura To S.C. **» aum !AiIvCn Thursday, February 16, 1989 25C Aiken, South Carolina Vol. 122 No. 41 Senate Voting Today On Seat Belts By The Associated Press COLUMBIA — The state Senate has shut down debate for the first time this year and set a specific time to vote on a bill — the seat belt bill. The 29-9 vote after 3 hours of debate on four amendments was a clear sign the Senate is ready to move to other matters after almost two weeks of debate, said Sen. John Land, D-Clarendon and the bill’s chief sponsor. “I think we’ve abused ourselves long enough,” Sen. Land said Wednesday. The Senate vote set 2 p.m. Thursday as the time to vote immediately and without ‘I think we’ve abused ourselves long enough.’ — Sen. John Land debate on all pending amendments and the bill. It also precluded the introduction of any further amendments. The bill would tie a $16 average automobile insurance premium rollback to a mandatory seat belt requirement. Drivers or their passengers found not wear ing a seat belt when stopped for another offense would face a $20 fine, though rural mailmen, public transportation vehicles and some other exemptions are allowed. Opponents to the bill have swamped it with amendments, bogging down progress on the bill. All failed on Wednesday. For example, when the Senate began debate at 3:30 p.m. following President George Bush’s State House visit, about five amendments were pending. At the close of the day Wednesday, 12 were still awaiting debate. But proponents have done their own bit of stalling. After failing in a tabling motion, Sen. Land took the floor for about 40 minutes until bill supporters could be rounded up to protect the bill from amendment. State Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, lamented the shutting down of debate, but said proponents were just as guilty of extending the battle as opponents. “They love extended debate when it helps them, and hate it when it hurts them,” he said. Heat's Nice, But Worrisome Cold Snap Could Hurt Crops, Plants LIKE A SUMMER DA''- Record setting temperatures bring out the adrenalin in youngsters like Joey Kuntz who plays on the swings on the playground at Millbrook Elementary School. By NINA J. NIDIFFER Staff Writer Golfers by the score took advantage of Aiken’s spring-sweet weather Wednesday, but the folks at Highland Park Country Club could not decide whether to be jubilant or worried. Larry Brunson, club house operator, estimated that 40 percent more golfers than usual came out to enjoy the sunny day. As far as golfing went, I .ie day was perfect. But if this warm spell keeps up, the Bermuda grass on the course is going to come up too early, leaving it vulnerable to the first cold snap that comes along, he said. That is a problem worrying people all over the state. Flowers are blooming, fruit trees are bursting forth like cotton balls, and winter-browned grass is starting to show patches of green. The warmth is nice, everyone agrees, but the fear of a cold snap that will kill everything the sun brought out lingers on. Aiken and Edgefield’s peach trees do not know they are blooming in February. According to (Please See HEAT’S, Page 12A) Westinghouse Taking More Responsibility At SRP By BRAD SWOPE Staff Writer The new Savannah River Plant contractor is taking an increasing role in preparations for restarting SRP’s production reactors, and despite much remaining study, expects to recommend in March when those weapons facilities should go back on line. “It’s obvious it’s going to be on our shift,” said Jack N. Herrmann, a spokesman for Westinghouse Savannah River Co., selected last fall to replace the Du Pont Co. as SRP contractor on April I. All three of Savannah River’s operable production reactors, which supply tritium and plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons, have been idled since last summer for Department of Energy-ordered upgrades to equipment and operating procedures. The most optimistic speculation has one of the three reactors restarting late Tritium Sales Questioned Page 12A this year or early next, but the DOE has announced no firm restart timetable. Westinghouse specialists assigned an advisory role in restart preparations are becoming “more and more involved” as they become better acquainted with the plant and its unique 1950s-era reactors, Herrmann said. “I don’t want to say that they’re running the show,” he added. Du Pont retains responsibility for the site through March 31, but the chief Westinghouse reactor official, Charles L. Peckinpaugh, is already a familiar presence at SRP. “He’s basically, since day one, been operating as a Du Pont employee,” Herrmann said. (See WESTINGHOUSE, Page 12A) Most SRP Workers Want To Stay On Job From Staff Reports About 300 Savannah River Plant employees have indicated they’ll leave when Westinghouse begins operating the plant on April I, but the company is still waiting to hear the plans of another 500. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., the new plant contractor, had made last Friday the deadline for plant employees to accept or reject blanket job offers. All but 500 of the 10,000 forms sent to employees had been returned as of Tuesday, company spokesman Jack N. Herrmann said. Herrmann estimated there are 300 respondents “who do not want to be considered for employment by Westinghouse.” “Right now it’s running at just a hair under 3 percent,” Herrmann said. Westinghouse will make followup calls to collect the remaining 500, which are still out for various reasons, he said. The 300 figure does not include employees who plan to retire as employees of the Du Pont Co., departing contractor, and rehire under Westinghouse. Du Pont had projected that about 500 employees would retire and stay retired when it leaves. Herrmann said the purpose of his company’s survey was to get “an early handle on staffing needs.” The Department of Energy-owned plant, which makes nuclear weapons materials, has about 16,700 total employees. These include DOE and various subcontractors. DOE Says Hanford Plant Study Just Part Of Contingency Plan By BRAD SWOPE Staff Writer Department of Energy officials say a DOE-commissioned study on producing weapons-grade tritium in Washington State reflects only a contingency plan. And strong community and political support for the Savannah River Plant makes it unlikely that the DOE will move tritium production away from the SRP, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Butler C. Derrick, D*S.C., maintains. A three-year, $125 million conversion could outfit the idled N Reactor at the DOE’s Hanford Reservation to produce tritium for nuclear weapons, according to a study by Westinghouse Hanford Co., contractor at the site near Richland, Wash. That figure is about $25 million less than the amount the DOE has requested next year toward restarting one of SRP’s three idled reactors, wnich now provide the nation’s only source of the perishable radioactive gas. Hanford’s N Reactor, which was used for about 25 years to produce weapons-grade plutonium, was placed on “cold standby” early last year because of a plutonium surplus. The $5.5 million study, which the DOE authorized, considered whether the N Reactor could become a short-term tritium producer until proposed new production reactors at Savannah River and Idaho are completed about the year 2000. The lingering shutdown of the SRP’s reactors for DOE-ordered improvements to management and hardware has raised concerns about tritium supplies. The DOE initiated the N Reactor study and “wanted to keep it as a contingency,” said Will Callicott, a department spokesman in Washington, but he said the DOE has made no decision to carry through on those plans. Jay Hyde, Rep. Derrick’s press secretary, cited the Aiken area’s support for the SRP, and said the DOE acknowledged that in picking Savannah River for its primary NPR. He cited former Energy Secretary (Please See DOE, Page 12A) Authorities Question Suspect; Victim Introduced To President By The Associated Press A Georgia man was questioned by authorities in Texas while the teen-ager he is charged with kidnapping — 17-year-old Shari Dawn Teets —- visited with President George Bush in Columbia. South Carolina Gov. Carroll A. Campbell said Ms. Teets boarded Air Force One and met with Bush before his speech Wednesday to the General Assembly. The president gave her a lapel pin commemorating his visit to South Carolina.    MS.    TEETS Gov. Campbell, who met Ms. Teets Tuesday at the airport while changing planes, said she hoped to catch a glimpse of the president. Ms. Teets, under protective custody, had gone to the airport with a law enforcement officer to see the presidential limousine that was flown from Washington. When Gov. Campbell arrived in Colum bia with Bush on Wednesday, someone told him Ms. Teets was in the crowd. “I just went over there and got her and took her up and introduced her to the president,” Gov. Campbell said. “That little girl’s been through hell.” He said the meeting was “very spontaneous.” Miss Teets and her family remained in protective custody Wednesday, as South Carolina State I .aw Enforcement Division agents flew to Texas to search Richard Daniel Starrett’s car. Lexington County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Bob Ford said a SLED forensic expert accompanied officials from Lexington County and Columbia County to Houston, where the Martinez, Ga., man is in custody. Starrett, a 29-year-old engineer employed by Bechtel National Inc. and assigned to the Savannah River Plant, was arrested in Texas late Tuesday night while sleeping in his car at an interstate rest area. He is charged with kidnapping in Lexington County and faces a federal kidnapping charge filed by the FBI. Columbia County authorities have charged him (Please See AUTHORITIES, Page 12A) ;