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Schools prepared to fight for funding

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If the Kansas Legislature continues on its projected funding track through 2012, the state?s public school system as we know it will collapse.

That?s the grim assessment of USD 410 superintendent Steve Noble in response to a projected reduction in state aid for 2012 that is 22 percent below the amount passed into law in 2008 as the state?s minimum responsibility.

?There are districts that are shutting things down, going bare minimum of hours, going bare minimum on facilities, maintenance and grounds, and districts asking for state dollars to get through a pay period,? Noble said.

?Those things are becoming reality and if we continue on that (path), the system will implode.?

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Creativity needed for budget solutions, Brookens says

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It?s no surprise that Bob Brookens sees the state budget as the high-profile issue during the 2010 legislative session, which started Monday.

But the 70th District?s representative from Marion, now in his second year in Topeka, said he is hopeful this year?s House of Representatives can be more efficient in dealing with the state?s budget woes than it was last year.

Brookens said he gives ?high marks? to Gov. Mark Parkin?son for the unilateral budget cuts he made in late November in response to what was then the state?s latest projection of a revenue shortfall.

A year ago, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius left it up to the legislators to make those tough cuts. The process absorbed the energy of lawmakers the full first two months of the session.

Brookens knows Parkinson?s cuts don?t mean legislators will a have free pass this session.

Revenue projections last week indicate the state budget still will be in the red by almost $359 million this year. Since spring 2008, lawmakers and the governor have already cut nearly $1 billion from a state budget that once stood at $6.2 billion.

City waits on KBI lab for rape evidence

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While some people are able to close the book on 2009 and focus their attention on the new year, authorities at the Hillsboro Police Department won?t be doing that just yet.

With five open rape cases, one dating back to December 2008, Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said his office is committed to following all leads and exhausting all possibilities in examining and testing forensic evidence.

?None of the five cases involve the same person,? Kinning said, ?but in each case the victim knew the assailant.?

Witnesses, in each case, have been interviewed, forensic examinations completed and search warrants, when necessary, carried out. But lab results are still pending.

The primary holdup involves getting results from the Kansas Bureau of Investi?gation, he said.

Hillsboro, along with most towns in Kansas except for larger metropolitan areas, rely on Topeka?s KBI crime lab for analysis of DNA and other evidence collected at the scenes.

?The problem is the KBI crime lab is backlogged by more than 800 cases,? Kinning said.

Firefighters battle sub-zero weather to save homes from flames

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A fire in the early hours of Thursday morning severely damaged a house at 602 S. Lincoln in Hillsboro.

The owners and residents, Timothy and Asia Frye and their 18-month-old daughter, escaped without injury after being awaken by smoke alarms.

The call to the Hillsboro Fire Depart?ment came in at 1:36 a.m. HFD volunteers arrived on the scene within two minutes and found the garage fully engulfed, according to Chief Ben Steketee, who was first on the scene. He said by the time he arrived neighbors were already coming to the aid of the Fryes.

?This was an extreme situation,? Steketee said. ?Not only do you have the extreme cold, but you have a fire on top of it and a family with a youngster. All the neighbors were banding together to help out. I was really impressed by that.?

Weibert enjoying being at the center of KSU action

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Wade Weibert has been living a dream.

The 2006 Hillsboro High School grad?s football skills have provided for his education in business management at Kansas State University.

And they?ve unfolded a wide range of opportunities: to learn from a legendary coach, to compete against players of the highest calibre and to visit places many of us recognize only by television.

Weibert first played at Butler Community College, where helped contributed to the Grizzlies? co-national championship in December 2007. He transferred to KSU the following spring, then was red-shirted for the 2008 season under coach Ron Prince.

Youth center moving ahead in Marion

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A new youth center in Marion is expected to open in the spring, thanks to the efforts of many people.

The building at 1220 E. Main St. was an auto repair shop until 2008 and prior to that a filling station.

Marion Advancement Campaign, or MAC, is the owner and title-holder of the property. Marion Youth Advancement Committee, or mYac, will function under MAC?s non-profit 501(c)3 status and will be responsible for all daily operations and costs of the center,? according to Amy Kjellin, chairwoman of mYac.

Before young people will be able to use the facility, a lot of refurbishing inside and out is needed, Kjellin said.

?We really want to encourage our youth to become more involved in the planning and remodeling stages of this project,? she said.

In fact, members of the mYac group consider it ?critical? they accomplish the goal with the youth instead of doing it for them.

Way cleared for pipeline construction

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The way is nearly clear for TransCanada Keystone to begin building its oil-sand slurry pipeline through Marion County en route to a Cushing, Okla., refinery.

County Attorney Susan Robson told the Marion County Board of Commissioners Monday that she will have a provisional contract Friday for their consideration regarding the Keystone project.

Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville brought a copy of the Keystone contract with Dickinson County which, commissioners said, they intend to use as a model for the Marion County agreement.

Keystone representative Tommy Darnell said the company?s intent is to pay for any repairs to fix damage caused by its company on county roads and bridges.

To ensure that it does, the commission engaged its consulting engineers firm of Kirkham-Michael of Ellsworth for planning Keystone?s route through the county.