Trees decked in Victorian histories at Ottawa museum. See Page 10.
Report: Woman injured after falling asleep on roadway. See Page 19.
Weekender December 8-9, 2012 Ottawa, Kansas
75 cents Volume 143, No. 225 20 Pages
Proposal could raise tax rate by nearly 10 percent Incentive meant for manufacturers would shift greater burden to Kansas residents By CRYSTAL HERBER Herald Staff Writer
Economic stimulation comes at a price. And that price could arrive in the form of higher property taxes for Kansans. Franklin County taxpayers might see a more-than-9.5-percent mill levy increase under
legislation proposed for debate in the 2013 Kansas legislative session. The bill up for consideration would further shift the tax burden from manufacturers to residents. Such an increase for county taxpayers would have profound effects — for better or worse — on county government and the people it serves, local officials said.
“It would be a bad effect for the county. We’d be losing money,” David Hood, Franklin County Board of Commissioners chairman, said. “We’d have no choice [but to raise local property taxes] in order to provide services. Or we’re going to have to start cutting services, and nobody wants to do that.” The legislation would allow industries and manufacturers in Kansas to receive a tax exemption on the valuation of their property based on fixed machinery and equipment, effectively altering the definition
of “personal property.” In other words, a manufacturer would not pay property taxes on machinery that was so affixed to the property that it affects the assessed valuation of the property. The legislation was considered in the 2012 session, but died in committee before the Legislature could vote on it. A study on the legislation was ordered and is expected to be released in spring 2013. The Kansas Association of Counties recently sent a spreadsheet to all 105 county governments in Kansas that estimated
the fiscal impact of such a fixture exemption on the county-only mill levy, which is used to figure a portion of local property taxes. All Franklin County taxpayers could see their county property taxes rise from 59.207 mills to 64.839 mills — an increase of 9.51 percent, according to the spreadsheet. That cost likely would shift more than $2.6 million in taxes to individual taxpayers to make up the difference in revenue that was lost from the fixture exemptions.
See TAXES, Page 6
Airports add value to local communities, speaker says By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer
An airport can be the runway for success communities like Ottawa need, Lee Metcalfe said Friday. Speaking at the First Friday Forum, Metcalfe, executive director of the Johnson County Airport Commission, discussed the history of his airport and the state of the U.S. aircraft industry. The Johnson County operation is relatively unique, he told the forum crowd at Washburn Towers, Fifth and Main streets, Ottawa, because it also maintains a six-mile rail system that moved more than 2,700 cars in 2010. “It’s very unusual for an airport to be in the railroad business,” Metcalfe said to the audience of more than 50 people. “There may be only one or two others in the country, and the only one I know of for sure is in Huntsville, Ala., and they’ve done exactly the same thing we have done and turned their rail into a very successful investment.” A former combat pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps who achieved the rank of captain, Metcalfe also discussed the variety of benefits a local airport can provide a community. A local airport not only provides availability for personal travel and flight training, but also positive economic impact for the community, Metcalfe said. It is the same in Franklin County, he said, with the Ottawa Municipal Airport, 2178 Montana Road. “You’ve got a great airport out there — I drove past it just a few weeks ago and saw your new runway,” Metcalfe said. “It does add value to the community and it’s not considered just an amenity, I think. It’s a necessity, I think.”
Focus on four legs Photos by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald
Jean Thompson, Baltimore, Md., demonstrates a chiropractic alignment procedure on Dusty, a blue roan mare, Friday at Options For Animals College of Animal Chiropractic, 4267 Virginia Road, Wellsville. Thompson was joined in the demonstration by doctors of chiropractic and instructors at Options For Animals Kyla Awes, Plymouth, Minn., Heidi Bockhold, Cartersville, Ga., Gregg Coker, Tulsa, Okla., and Pat Holl, Billings, Mont. Bockhold, co-owner and instructor, said the school is the world’s original animal chiropractic college.
Chiropractic care gets animal approach By CRYSTAL HERBER Herald Staff Writer
See FORUM, Page 3
Photo by Matt Bristow/The Ottawa Herald
Lee Metcalfe, executive director of the Johnson County Airport Commission, talks Friday during the First Friday Forum at Washburn Towers, 526 S. Main St., Ottawa.
Pat Holl, Billings, Mont., an instructor and doctor of chiropractic, demonstrates Friday a canine alignment procedure on Annie, an Australian cattle dog, at Options For Animals College of Animal Chiropractic, 4267 Virginia Road, Wellsville. A minimum of four horses and four to six dogs are on site while classes are in session.
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WELLSVILLE — It could be any college classroom in the country — except for the full-size skeleton of a horse in the corner of the room. Students at the Options For Animals College of Animal Chiropractic, south of Wellsville, learn to provide animals with chiropractic care that can ease pain, maintain good health and promote general wellbeing. The first and oldest school of its kind in the country, Options turns chiropractors and veterinarians alike into hands-on healers. Why perform chiropractic medicine on a horse or a dog? Because those animals are just like people — with a spine and nervous system that sometimes get out of whack,
Dr. Heidi Bockhold, one of the school’s owners, said. “If you think about horses that have to do all the things that we make them do — people riding on their backs — larger animals, people are seeking chiropractic to improve performance,” Bockhold, a doctor of chiropractic medicine in Cartersville, Ga., said. Just like human athletes, race horses need to be in top physical condition to perform, and chiropractic care, or getting adjusted, can help them do that, Bockhold said. But more and more, a lot of people are seeking animal chiropractors to work on their dogs, cats and even dairy cows.
See CARE, Page 6
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Weekender, December 8-9, 2012
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OU launching new online nursing program By BOBBY BURCH Herald Staff Writer
Ottawa University recently announced a new program that would allow registered nurses to further advance their educational experience exclusively on the Internet. The university added the registered nurse-to-Bachelor of Science in nursing program to meet the needs of nurses hoping to expand their career opportunities, Kathy Kump, director of OU’s nursing program said. “OU has been considering this program for a little while now, and has done some research on it and decided to take it to fruition,” Kump, who works at OU’s satellite campus in Overland Park, said. “There is a need for a [Bachelor of Science in Nursing] program because many associate degree nurses decide that they would like to go back to school in order to fulfill their personal and/or career goals. Furthermore, they would just
Designed for practicing nurses with associate degrees, the program — set to begin in the 2013 spring semester — is expected to allow students to attain a Bachelor of Science in nursing within 18 months via online coursework. like to look at an opportunity to enhance their professional skills to take on opportunities in nursing leadership and to empower them to face the challenges in this increasingly complex health care environment.” Designed for practicing nurses with associate degrees, the program is expected to allow students to attain a Bachelor of Science in nursing within 18 months via online coursework, OU said in a release. The program, which is set to begin in the 2013 spring semester, will not only offer improved educational opportunities, but also more freedom for nurses with other responsibili-
ties, Kump said. “The flexibility this [program] offers — it’s offered 100 percent online — and that no traditional clinical requirements will be required is enticing to the working registered nurse,” she said. Students within the program will study health care policy and ethical practices, as well as discover opportunities to improve their health care communications, OU said in a release. Courses within the 41 hours of necessary coursework, which also will focus on nursing theory, leadership and management, are eight weeks in length, OU added. Kump said employers often
ask that registered nurses have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in nursing for certain speciality fields. Through OU’s program, she said, nurses can attain the necessary requirements to work in a variety of health fields. “With a [Bachelor of Science in nursing], this educational preparation provides the foundation that will help prepare them to pursue other professional opportunities in nursing, such as becoming nurse managers, case managers or fields such as risk management, occupational public health or other specialty areas,” Kump said. “We are very pleased to offer this innovative, online educational program for those who would like to advance their career opportunities by obtaining a [Bachelor of Science in nursing] degree.” Dale Ernst, dean of the Neosho County Community College’s Ottawa campus, said he isn’t concerned the new OU program will decrease the number of nursing
students at Neosho. In fact, Ernst said, he thinks the OU new program could add more students to Neosho. “[OU’s new program] doesn’t conflict with it at all — in fact, it complements [Neosho’s program],” Ernst said, adding that nursing students at Neosho work toward a three-year certificate, which could then be supplemented with OU’s program. “It’s a good deal all the way around.” While the nation’s nursing shortage isn’t as dire as in the past, Kump said, a healthy demand for well-qualified health care professionals remains. “There’s not as much of a shortage as there was a couple of years ago,” she said. “But there will continue to be a demand for nurses, and I’m sure that there will be other shortage intervals in the future as well. As the health care industry becomes more complex with technology, it warrants that there is a need for more [registered nurses].”
TAXES: Incentives are a balancing act between business, community needs (Continued from Page 1) “It’s not a good deal,” Hood, who has been part of four county budget processes, said. “Somebody’s got to pick up the slack, and that’s probably what’ll happen.” More than 60 percent of Franklin County’s revenue comes from ad valorem, or property, taxes. While KAC’s figures are based on 2011’s property tax rate, the figures provided insight into what rates in 2013 might look like. For a person who owns a $100,000 home, his or her county portion of 2013 property taxes would be $745.93, compared to $607.99 in 2011 — an 18.5-percent increase. The bulk of debate over the fixture exemption began with two large Kansas manufacturers, as well as lobbyists with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, that argue such an exemption would promote economic development throughout the state. The Kansas Association of Counties, however, maintains the companies are only looking to decrease their taxes — not boost the local economy. Such large manufacturers can survive without the exemptions, Melissa Wangemann, KAC legislative services director, said, while local governments likely will feel the strain if the legislation passes. “The real hit, of course, is to local government since the lion’s share of our tax base is property taxes,” Wangemann said. Increased mill levies will raise the property
“The real hit, of course, is to local government since the lion’s share of our tax base is property taxes. ... No county can make up that kind of a hit, unless you start cutting law enforcement and road and bridges, which is the primary part of the county budget.” — Melissa Wangemann, Kansas Association of Counties legislative services director tax on homeowners, agricultural land owners and other taxpayers who do not have affixed machinery and equipment, Wangemann said. The value of county-only property able to be written off tax rolls statewide if the legislation passes, Wangemann said, is more than $400 million. “No county can make up that kind of a hit, unless you start cutting law enforcement and road and bridges, which is the primary part of the county budget,” she said. “It’s going to fall on the people who remain — and who remains is going to be your smaller commercial properties who don’t have equipment and residential homeowners.” An expansion of the property tax exemption on machinery/equipment also impacts the statewide mill levy on railroads and utilities, and decreases the availability of funding for education, Wangemann added. Republican Blaine Finch, representative-elect
for Kansas’ House District 59, said he would need to see the bill relating to the fixture exemptions before he took a solid position on it. A change that would push up the mill levy in a county typically is not a good thing, Finch said. “Given that local governments are often struggling to try to make their revenue — probably just on the face of it — it’s not something that I’m interested in exempting at this point,” Finch said. “But that could be subject to change depending on the language of the bill and if there was a way to protect revenues for local governments.” With Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan set to take effect in 2013, county governments have experienced decreased funding from the state. The idea behind Brownback’s plan, his administration has said, is to offer businesses incentives, including tax breaks such as the fixture exemption, to draw them into the state — thus improving the
economy. Finch, however, is not convinced such efforts will benefit the state or taxpayers in the long run. “We’ve just come off a year that we’ve been told over and over again by certain elements in Topeka that we need lower taxes in order to drive people to the state,” he said. “Increasing property taxes by trading off an exemption on fixtures isn’t going to do that. “I don’t know that the trade-off would be nearly enough to drive the type of economic development it would take to make up for that kind of difference in taxes versus fixture taxation.” Outgoing state Rep. Bill Feuerborn, D-Garnett, said the fixture exemption legislation could have a dramatic impact on Franklin County and Ottawa because of the businesses in Ottawa’s industrial park. The lawmaker agreed with Hood that the outcome would mean finding new ways to pay for services to which residents have grown accustomed. “Nobody is going to come in [to the county commissioners] and say ‘I can do without this service now that you’re providing it, whether it’s fire or police or rock on my county roads,’” Feuerborn said. “It’s the same thing with the city. They’re not going to be asked to reduce what they do for the taxpayers.” Feuerborn, who serves House District 5, but was defeated in the general election by Kevin Jones, RWellsville, said the lack of revenue from manufactur-
ers’ property taxes would have to result in an increase in the local mill levy. While Feuerborn will not be voting on the proposed legislation, he predicted it will at least get out of committee, if not face a floor vote by the state House of Representatives. Local economic development officials said it would be wise to take a watch-andwait stance on the proposed legislation before anyone starts worrying too much about it. As Franklin County Development Council executive director, Jeff Seymour said he understands the concerns of county government, but many things could change before the bill becomes law. “I think it’s really preliminary, though, to jump out on a position on this particular topic when there is so much left from this Legislature to kind of weed through,” Seymour said. Incentives given to manufacturing businesses also should provide some type of economic benefit back to the state, Seymour said. It’s too early to tell, he said, whether the proposed fixture exemption incentive would provide that kind of mutual benefit. Part of his job, Seymour said, is to make Franklin County enticing to manufacturers and businesses, but that involves a delicate balancing act between the many entities involved in the conversation. “Our stance is we are very cognizant of the needs of the county and what they do for us, but we’re trying to balance open business
environments as well,” Seymour said. John Coen, Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce director, agreed that several steps remain before a decision will be made on the exemption. How the bill looks now, and how it might look after the votes have been cast in the Legislature could be two very different pieces of legislation, he said. “This is a look at possible legislation that will receive full vetting by the new Legislature when they convene,” Coen said. “The debate always starts some place, and it usually doesn’t end up where it started, because there is a lot of give and take.” The chamber likely would back a piece of legislation that supports both commerce and industry, and that can go forward at an affordable rate — all while ensuring residents aren’t bearing extra economic burdens, Coen said. Tax incentives are a means of attracting industry to an area, Coen said, but the community itself also is an incentive. “Our organization is going to be for supporting what will raise the standard of living, raise the payroll available to our citizens,” Coen said. The KAC has vowed to continue lobbying the Legislature against the proposed fixture exemption legislation, Wangemann said, largely because every county in the state would see an increase in their county-only mill levies, ranging from less than 2 percent to nearly 40 percent, according to the KAC spreadsheet.
CARE: Some professionals at specialty school prefer working on animals (Continued from Page 1) A class of about 40 sits in dark classroom watching a video of equine physiology; some of them copiously taking notes, others watching intently. About 30 of the students already have their veterinary licenses, while the other 10 are licensed to pracBockhold tice chiropractic medicine on humans. The classes typically are split pretty evenly between chiropractors and veterinarians. They all are looking to add another tool to their toolbox by taking the rigorous 210-hour course, Bockhold said. “Probably the economy has really helped us because there’s a lot of veterinarians that are looking to add another service,” Bockhold said. Because of the economy, people are trying to minimize the amount of vet care they have to spend on the animal.” One four-day class is planned
each month with classes lasting about eight hours a day. In that time, students take both practical and paper exams based on animals’ functional neurology — which helps to explain why manipulating the spine works to help the entire body — and some pathology and physiology, chiropractic philosophy, as well as diagnosis and practice. Animal chiropractic is much the same as human chiropractic, with some obvious differences. “Of course, you have to consider four legs instead of two legs,” Bockhold, who completed the course in 2000, said. Options only works on dogs and horses. Options is unique, Bockhold said, because it is the only one that is owned by chiropractors rather than veterinarians. This school also is the only campus strictly for animal chiropractic with animals on site, in a classroom environment. When class is in session, the horses used in the course — named Dusty, Barbie, Mega and Love Bug — are on loan from a local resident, Bockhold said.
Animals typically respond more quickly than humans to the adjustments, Bockhold said. In her 15-year career working on animals, she said she has not had an animal respond negatively to the treatment. It’s a labor-intensive practice simply because the doctors are working on 1,000-pound or more animals. Since animal chiropractors use their hands to adjust individual joints, which requires a certain amount of skill and speed, Bockhold said, they must work to ensure the safety of both the doctor and the animal. Like Bockhold, many of the instructors are former students of the school. Kyla Awes, a doctor of chiropractic medicine from Plymouth, Minn., joins about 10 other instructors each month to teach more eager students. Always drawn to animals, Awes said the school offered her a means of working with animals while following her chosen career path. “I always wanted to work on animals. Even when I went to human chiropractic school, I
wanted to go on and do this,” Awes, who has been an instructor for two years, said. Also like Bockhold, Awes no longer has a human practice, instead working solely on animals. In a week’s time, Awes said, she works on about 40 horses and 10 to 15 dogs. The excellence of the Options program, Awes said, is what drew her back to eastern Kansas to help teach students at the school where she learned. “I think all the instructors are very passionate about what they do, and really the focus so much is what is best for the animal,” she said. “I wanted to be part of that.” Dr. Sharon Willoughby-Blake established the school in 1988 in Illinois and began the movement toward modern animal chiropractic practices. Bockhold and her business partners, Dennis Eschbach, St. Louis, and Andrew Spisak, Wellsville, purchased the school in 2000 and moved it to the Wellsville location in 2005. On 10 acres, the 16,000-square-foot facility
offers students the opportunity to interact and practice with different animals during their five-month course. The school has about a 90-percent pass rate, Bockhold said. Successfully passing the school’s course qualifies graduates to take either the American or International Veterinary Chiropractic Association exam. Passing that course allows professionals to get officially certified as an animal chiropractor. Animal chiropractic has become more widespread and well-known, Bockhold said. The school, located in Wellsville because of its central location in the country, gets students from as far away as Germany and Australia, as well as all over the U.S. Only two other schools like it operate in the country — in Wisconsin and Texas — but the practice of animal chiropractic is continuing to gain traction. “Some of the top athletes get adjusted,” Bockhold said. “The trend for the general population seeking animal chiropractic has really, really grown.”