Danner questions U.S. Balkans policy

WASHINGTON — Missouri Rep. Pat Danner argued Wednesday that ethnic cleansing and genocide are not satisfactory excuses for U.S. involvement in the Balkans, because the United States has ignored similar atrocities in other parts of the world.
“Where were we with regards to the Sudan, where over 2 million people were killed?” she said. “Or Tibet, where over a million were killed? Or the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, where over 1 million were killed?”
Mrs. Danner’s questions were posed to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a hearing by the House International Relations Committee.
Mrs. Albright condemned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for his “violent campaign of repression” that has killed thousands and caused more than half a million ethnic Albanians to flee Kosovo.
“No country in NATO is willing to stand by and accept … the expulsion of an entire ethnic community from its home,” the secretary said.
A Democrat, Mrs. Danner has vehemently opposed the administration’s position on the Balkans.
“I do not support our involvement in Kosovo,” she said in an interview. “It’s not like Desert Storm, where we had a clear national interest, since our country is dependent on oil from that region. No one has told me what our vital American interest is in Kosovo. If we’re there because of ethnic cleansing and genocide, then we should be everywhere.”
Mrs. Albright told the committee that preventing genocide and ethnic cleansing are in the national interest “at a certain level.” She said the goals of U.S. and NATO involvement in the Balkans are to get the Serb forces out of Kosovo, enable all refugees to return to their homes and create an international military presence to ensure the people are protected.
But Mrs. Danner said achieving these goals would only come at a great cost to the American people, both in dollars and in lives.
“I believe we are headed toward another Vietnam — and that is frightening to me,” she said.

Corby Chapel real tribute to love

You can see Corby Chapel from Amazonia Road in the northwest part of St. Joseph. It sits, brooding high on a hillside west of the winding old road, its mood partly shielded by a cover of sycamore, elm and cottonwood trees.
In early summer, the flowers blooming on the huge American linden tree in the front yard pervade the property with their hauntingly sweet smell.
The tree belongs, if one believes in Roman mythology.
The American linden, also known as the basswood tree, is a symbol of conjugal love and fidelity.
The Corby Chapel was built as a symbol of a woman’s dedicated love to her husband.
The story of Corby Chapel begins in 1870 with pioneering St. Joseph businessman John Corby nearing death. He told his wife, Amanda, that upon his death, he wanted to donate their land north of the city to the bishop of the St. Joseph Catholic Diocese for use as a Catholic cemetery. He also wanted her to erect a chapel in his memory on the site.
But a small chapel wasn’t enough for Mrs. Corby. She invested a then-astronomical $40,000 and had a large church built in 1871. It was an elegant structure. It was built in the shape of a cross out of white stone in an early English gothic style.
But no services were ever held in the church. In fact, it served more as a very expensive hot potato.
After its dedication, the chapel was deeded to Bishop John Hogan, who later deeded it to a religious order in St. Louis. It changed hands several more times among several dioceses before it was declared unsuitable property for a cemetery and returned to Mrs. Corby.
It was deeded out again, this time to the Daughters of Charity in 1898 to be used as an asylum. After a short time, that project also folded.
Then, in 1906, an agreement was reached between the Daughters of Charity and the Corby family to deed the chapel and its 10 acres back to the estate for use as a church.
But Corby Chapel soon proved to be too far out of the city for people wanting to attend services there. The roads leading to it were rough and hazardous.
So, it became a burial site for John Corby and 10 other members of his family. Two priests also were interred at the foot of the altar inside the church. In time, the bodies were removed and the chapel turned into a residence. Dr. Waldo Hartsock took up residence in 1944 and called it home for several years.
Corby Chapel became merely an old, haunted house after Dr. Hartsock moved away. For years afterward, kids would run past it and or use its driveway as a make-out spot. It was a target for vandals.
But today, the chapel is home to Jim and Dana Meers and their two sons, Jakob and Harrison.
“My first husband and I bought the house in 1986, and at first I absolutely hated it,” Mrs. Meers said. “I wondered how I was going to take care of it. But I’ve learned to love it over the years.”
Mrs. Meers said the place was dull and dreary when she first moved in. Thick, heavy curtains blocked most of the sun. What few rays pierced the darkness showed an impressive layer of dust.
“When we first moved in here, people told us it was haunted,” she said.
“They said there were flying Bibles and blood dripping down the walls. But they were only stories.”
Mrs. Meers said the real horror story of Corby Chapel is the remodeling expenses. The bills could turn any owner as white as a ghost.
“Whenever there’s maintenance problems it costs much more than for a newer house,” she said.
“The windows are not normal-sized, and everything has to be custom made. It’s registered with the Historical Society, but we can’t get a grant to restore it to its original state because it was a church.”
Not much is left to remind one that the home was once a chapel, save for its exterior appearance and the fact that angels remain painted on the walls in the attic, which used to be the sanctuary. The place is bright and cheery and full of children’s laughter.
“Basically, we just plan on upkeep and maintenance to get it into the ’90s, to make a modern home in an old shell,” Mr. Meers said. “We went house shopping once, but for the space we have we couldn’t replace it.”
The Meers also love the linden tree. They talk of when it will bloom as expectant parents anxiously talk about the birth of their child.
“Actually, there are three (linden trees) on the property,” Mrs. Meers said. “The one out front is the oldest in Buchanan County.”
“The leaves are pretty good size,” Mr. Meers said. “Once the trees are up you can’t see up here. It’s very, very private.”

City’s insurer revised its deal

When the St. Joseph City Council voted in May 1997 to accept a three-year contract for employee health insurance, the ordinance capped rate increases at 5 percent the second and third years.
Documents presented at that time appeared to give the insurance company, Community Health Plan, no out — despite the fact the group had been told several times it grossly underbid the contract.
But in late 1997, CHP added new language to its standard forms that allowed it to cancel policies with 31 days’ written notice, CHP director Randa Anderson Stice said.
City Personnel Director Harold Johnson said he was aware of the new language, but can’t remember if he discussed it with City Manager Stet Schanze.
Mr. Schanze signed the form renewing the insurance in September.
Now CHP is threatening to cancel the city’s health benefits unless it gets a rate hike almost four times what the council thought it agreed to.
The city pays 100 percent of the premiums for its employees. That amounts to about $1 million in the 1998-99 budget. The CHP proposal would increase the premium to $1.2 million.
Attempts to reach Mr. Schanze, who is out of town, were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Councilman John Shea was furious about the turn of events.
“We will just have to delve into it and find out what the hell is going on,” Mr. Shea said. “CHP has the community by the neck.”
Another councilman, David Jones, said the city manager was given the authority to negotiate the final agreement with CHP. He suspects that because Mr. Schanze signed the renewal form, the city is stuck with the deal.
Ms. Stice said the new forms were sent to the city’s health consultants in Kansas City last year. She didn’t know if the consultants, Robert D. O’Byrne & Associates Inc., made the city aware of the changes.
The city’s previous health insurance policy was with Humana. But when the package was rebid in 1997, Humana proposed a 50 percent premium increase. It was the second-lowest bid.
The problem, Mr. Johnson said, is unusually high claims by city employees, in part because of poor health habits and in part because of inappropriate use of health-care services. He cited going to the emergency room for ailments because it’s more convenient than making a doctor’s appointment.
For whatever reason, of 26 carriers contacted by the city in 1997, 13 declined to bid, four didn’t respond, one offered only excess coverage and one bid was late. Of the other seven, five were higher than Humana.
CHP was the low bidder. But consistent with Humana’s experience, claims are running $500,000 higher than the $1 million premium the city is paying.
The package CHP is offering the city now includes lower coverage, higher copays and an exacting referral process that consultants at O’Byrne say “requires intense communication with physicians and member.”
“However,” the memorandum continues, “while the process may be cumbersome at first, it should provide substantial cost savings to the plan.”
O’Byrne has recommended the city take the deal with CHP.
“We are trying to be sensitive to their position,” said Mr. Johnson of the situation with CHP. “We don’t want to do battle with them. We want to cooperate and get control of the costs.”
The health plan is on the agenda for the council’s personnel committee meeting May 4.

Boat’s owners again postpone cruise

The first cruise of The Spirit of St. Joseph, a 350-passenger paddle wheel excursion boat, has been postponed again.
The riverboat, which first plied the Missouri River from a local downtown dock more than a decade ago, will open to passengers May 1, said Teresa Fankhauser, one of the boat’s owners.
Coast Guard officials and the boat’s owners decided April 14 to delay the boat’s opening until Friday. The opening was postponed again because of the weather, she said. The river is high and at the boat’s temporary location, 1402 River Road, high water can make the boat difficult to load, Ms. Fankhauser said.
Coast Guard officials will re-inspect the boat Friday, she said.

Hog farm odor suit goes to jury

ST. LOUIS — Jurors on Wednesday began deliberations in a nearly three-monthlong trial that accuses one of Missouri’s largest hog producers of creating odors so horrific they make the plaintiffs physically sick.
The lawsuit against Continental Grain was filed in 1996 by 109 private citizens in Daviess, Gentry, Grundy and Worth counties. One plaintiff has since dropped out of the lawsuit.
The trial being held in St. Louis Circuit Court began Jan. 29. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiff’s attorney, Paul Kovacs, has recommended that jurors award each plaintiff a minimum of $150,000.
The hog farms being challenged in northern Missouri now are owned by Premium Standard Farms, which bought them from Continental Grain last year. Continental Grain is the majority owner of Premium Standard Farms’ stock.
The plaintiffs alleged the odor emanates from 28 lagoons, each about four acres in size, that holds the waste from 8,000 hogs. The hogs are raised in long metal barns with concrete floors. Manure and urine pass through openings in the floor and are flushed through pipes into the lagoons, where they naturally decompose into sewage. That is turned into fertilizer, which is spread across the farm fields.
During closing arguments, Kovacs said Continental Grain used the cheapest and quickest techniques to set up its farms in 1994. That effort resulted in waste spills and strong odors, Kovac told the nearly 120 people who came to the last day of the trial.
About half of the people were the plaintiffs and their families. The rest were Continental Grain employees that the company bused down for the day.
Defense attorney Gordon Ankney acknowledged that there some odor was emitted from the hog farms but not to the extent that the plaintiff’s allege.

Benton sprinters working together

Aaron Bracken is only a junior at Benton, but he was prepared to take over the role as a leader on the boys track team.
“Ever since my freshman year I’ve been running varsity, and I’ve been with real good team leaders,” Bracken said. “There are only three people older than me on the team.”
Bracken, an unpretentious 18-year-old, handles himself with quiet assurance. As the oldest sprinter for a young Cardinals team, he said his role as a leader is sometimes surprising.
“It’s different, real different, because I’m not used to it,” Bracken said. “I didn’t really know what it was going to be like until this year. I’ve got to think about every bit I’m doing because if I do something wrong it’s not just going to affect me. It’s going to affect everyone under me.”
Tre Cooper, a Benton sophomore, is the other Benton sprinter who will compete at today’s City Track Meet. He said Bracken has helped him develop as a first-year runner.
“He’s not a senior, but he might as well be,” Cooper said. “He’s go that same quality about him.”
Cooper said Bracken taught him to relax before meets.
“It’s more like you’re competing against yourself,” Cooper said. “It’s not like you can control what the other people are doing. He just tells me ‘don’t worry about it.'”
Bracken and Cooper will compete in the 100- and 200-meter events today. Benton athletes will not run in the relay events because they have a track meet at Excelsior Springs on Friday, but Bracken said he is ready for today’s competition.
“I’ve run against everyone in the city ever since I was a little kid,” Bracken said. “I always look forward to running against them because they’re great competition. When you’re running against your friends, you’re not really nervous, because you know your potential and their potential, so you just do your best.”
Bracken said he’ll look out for Central sprinters Andrew Blakley and Josh Zillner, and he is unsure about which runners will compete for Lafayette. He has no particular race-day strategies or superstitions; he just goes to school, and when that final bell rings he laces up his running shoes.
“Then it’s just down to business,” Bracken said. “You do what you’ve got to do.”

Chillicothe rallies to knock off third-ranked Benton, 8-7

Chillicothe infielder Mike Smith loves the days Josh Bruce pitches. On most occasions this season, it’s the only time Smith gets to crack the starting lineup.
Smith made the most of his start on Wednesday against Benton in the Pony Express baseball tournament.
The Hornets’ number nine hitter lined a two-out double into left field that scored Jason Singleton with the tying run in the seventh inning. Two batters later, Wyatt Pickering drew a bases loaded walk that scored Smith and gave Chillicothe a 8-7 victory over the Cardinals at Hyde Park.
“Josh Bruce is our regular shortstop, so we use Mike when Josh is pitching because he’s a great shortstop,” said Chillicothe coach Dave Mapel. “What a big hit he got today.”
Chillicothe’s win ensured that the Hornets (7-2), Benton (9-3) and Maryville finished in a three-way first place tie in pool play. With their 25-4 win over Lafayette on Wednesday, the Spoofhounds won the run differential tiebreaker and advanced to Friday’s 6 p.m. championship game against Savannah.
Smith’s seventh-inning heroics came after the Hornets squandered a 6-3 lead, and let Benton rally for a 7-6 advantage heading into the last half-inning. Josh Hicks led off the inning with an infield hit off reliever Michael Watkins. Pinch runner Singleton advanced to second on a wild pitch before Smith’s double.
“Coach said he wanted to see me hit one into the outfield,” Smith said. “I just tried to make sure I hit it.”
The Cardinals took a 3-0 lead in the first on a three-run homer by Watkins, but quickly fell behind on a barrage of Hornets’ hits.
Bruce and Pickering both hit triples, and Chillicothe tied the game with three in the first. The Hornets chased Benton starter Matt Payne out of the game after just two-thirds of an inning.
“Everybody has good days and bad days,” said Benton coach Mike Musser. “Today just wasn’t Matt’s day.”
Chillicothe added two in the second, and one in the third off Tommy Higdon before the Cardinals started their comeback. Benton took a 7-6 lead in the seventh after Luke Hendrix led off with a double, and was driven home by a Nathan Rich single.
Wednesday’s victory was Chillicothe’s second of the season over the No. 3 Cardinals. Smith said the Hornets always seem to be ready against Benton.
“We just seem to get more pumped up to face them,” Smith said. “It’s more fun when you know there’s competition there.”

Business Digest

Business exhibits
scheduled in Agency

Home-based businesses in Agency will get a chance to display their wares at the first Home-Based Businesses exhibit in the Agency Community Center on Friday.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is free. Demonstrations will be held throughout the day. Vendors will include Pampered Chef, Home Interior, Longaberger and Mary Kay.

For more information, call Stacy Furbee at (269) 100-6833.

St. Joseph

Press operators fail
to vote on contract

The union representing nine press operators at the St. Joseph News-Press met Tuesday night but appears no closer to averting an April 30 strike.

The Graphic Communications International Union Local 15C did not vote on a company contract proposal, said Charles Lyon, president of the union local. The company’s proposal, which included a 2 percent wage increase, went nowhere during a collective bargaining meeting last week.

“Everything remains as it is. There was just a lot of discussion,” Mr. Lyon said. “I guess if nothing changes, there will be a strike on the 30th.”

Lee Sawyer, the newspaper’s general manager, said he’s hopeful the rank-and-file will vote on the company’s latest contract proposal.

Portland, Ore.

Northwest Pipe Co.
reports earnings up

Northwest Pipe Company reported increased sales and earnings for the first quarter of 1999.

Sales increased to $57.5 million compared to $38.2 million in the first quarter of 1998. The company recorded net income of $2.6 million, a 53 percent increase from the first quarter of 1998.

The company attributes the increased sales and earnings to improved market conditions.

Northwest Pipe operates a manufacturing facility in Atchison, Kan.

Dayton, Ohio

Mead earnings dip
despite sales gain

Earnings for Mead were down in the first quarter of 1999, while sales were up slightly.

Mead reported earnings of 22 cents per share as opposed to 29 cents per share in the first quarter of 1998.

Net sales improved 3 percent to $863.2 million in the first quarter, compared to $839 million in the first quarter of 1998.

Mead’s coated board system, specialty paper division, Gilbert Paper and Investees all had improved financial results, offsetting lower prices and operating difficulties in the containerboard division and lower prices for coated paper and school and office products. Mead operates a manufacturing facility in St. Joseph.

Theater complex looking for site

A movie theater chain based in Mission, Kan., is considering the East Hills Shopping Center as the possible site of a multi-screen theater complex.
Dickinson Theatres, which has theaters in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, has expressed interest in building up to 12 screens near East Hills, said Tom Beach, the mall’s operations manager.
“I just know that someone is looking at it,” he said. “They’re just looking for a site in St. Joseph. This is their preferred site.”
Dickinson officials did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.
Theater expansion has been discussed before in St. Joseph. In 1996, a plan to add four new screens to the Plaza 8 Theater, the largest in St. Joseph, went nowhere after Crown Cinema Corp. sold the theater to Dallas-based Hollywood Theaters.
St. Joseph has 13 movie screens, and theater managers in north Kansas City actively seek business from St. Joseph residents.
“We ran a special in the summer for St. Joseph residents. That was attended fairly well,” said John Buckner, managing director of AMC Barry Woods 24, a new movie complex that opened in north Kansas City.
Big Boy opens Tuesday
St. Joseph’s Big Boy restaurant will open Tuesday, company officials in Michigan said.
Elias Brothers Corp. of Warren, Mich., is renovating the former Shoney’s restaurant, 2203 N. Belt Highway, and hiring 60 to 70 employees to staff the restaurant.
A small Big Boy statue, complete with the trademark checkered overalls, pompadour and double-decker hamburger, was erected in front of the building this week.
Other Big Boy restaurants are opening across Kansas and Missouri.
The Shoney’s restaurant closed late last month. About 20 of the Big Boy employees will come from Shoney’s.
Miranda Gorham, who is helping with the hiring in St. Joseph, said the Big Boy restaurants are known for hamburgers, homemade onion rings and ice cream.
Giant barbecue grill to visit
The world’s largest touring barbecue grill will make an appearance Friday at Food 4 Less in St. Joseph.
The Johnsonville “Big Taste Grill” will be cooking bratwursts at the St. Joseph store at 903 N. 36th St. The 32,250-pound grill, which extends to a length of 45 feet, has the capacity to cook 750 brats at a time.
The grill is part of a promotion from Johnsonville, a meat processing company that makes bratwursts.
Lunch will be served beginning at 11 a.m., and proceeds will go to Bishop LeBlond High School.

Division of groups common in school

Lunchroom dynamics split the opinion Wednesday on whether Central High School students believe “outcasts” at their own school were prone to violence.
Their comments came a day after two students –tagged as loners in a “Trenchcoat Mafia” group — gunned down 15 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., before turning guns on themselves.
Some Central students say peers are treated with respect regardless of group identity, while others say certain groups harass less-popular students — building a motive for revenge.
Central and Columbine have about the same number of students — 1,600 and 1,800 respectively. Central Principal Bart Albright — who was an assistant principal at Littleton High School, about three miles from Columbine, in the mid-1970s — said friction among cliques or gangs has been tied to vandalism at Central but nothing more.
During lunch Wednesday, junior Javan Brewer identified the cliques based on where they sat in the lunchroom.
He said he sits at the “black table,” and points to the “rich, preppy” tables behind him and the freshmen, “skater,” and loner tables on the other side. Those who don’t “fit in” get picked on, he said.
Students who don’t fit in anywhere stay out of the lunchroom altogether, junior Melissa Hupp said. Ms. Hupp said Central has its own group of quiet students who dress in trench coats and keep to themselves, but she worries more about a few students in her history class who are intrigued by violence.
“They ramble on and on about destruction,” she said. “They’re not ashamed of it.”
John Mark Day, columnist for The Outlook school newspaper, said it was impossible to go through the yearbook and predetermine which students might be prone to violence based on the people with whom they associate or the clothes they wear.
They agreed most groups were inclusive and students not purposely isolated, but senior Cassie Kerner admits the group of honors students can’t speak for students they’ve never met.
Senior Kenneth Thompson, who eats lunch with other members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, knows students who are outcasts at Central. Mr. Thompson used to attend school in South Carolina and remembers how hard it was to deal with always being picked on.
“You just get this rage,” he said, “and at the peak of your rage, all you think of is kill.”