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Archive for Monday, August 23, 2004

Area briefs

August 23, 2004

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Cheney to campaign for Kobach in Overland Park

Overland Park -- Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to make a campaign appearance Tuesday at a breakfast for Republican congressional candidate Kris Kobach in this Kansas City suburb.

Kobach, who narrowly defeated Adam Taff in the Aug. 3 primary, is trying to unseat three-term Rep. Dennis Moore in the 3rd District. Moore is the only Democrat in Kansas' six-member congressional delegation.

Cheney is scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon in Kansas City, Mo. His speech is set for 9:35 a.m. Tuesday at the Ritz-Charles Hotel.

Agriculture

Deficit feared at USDA's grain research center

Manhattan -- More than 100 research jobs could be lost at a federally funded grain study center within the next few years without an infusion of money, the center's director said.

The Grain Marketing and Production Research Center is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's main facility for gauging and controlling the quality of cereal grains.

Scientists and technicians work in five units dedicated to specific fields of "dirt-to-plate" grain research, such as engineering and plant genetics.

The center, with an annual budget of slightly less than $10 million, now appears headed for a $1 million deficit by 2009, director Donald Koeltzow said last week.

Cutting a few jobs to save money could mean the end of some research, he said. Each unit needs a minimum of three scientists, and those dedicated to engineering and wind erosion are down to four apiece.

The center has left 11.5 positions for scientists unfilled in the past few years, Koeltzow said. If the center were to close entirely, 125 jobs -- including those of 31 scientists and 46 technicians -- would be lost.

Utility

Test triggers shutdown of nuclear power plant

Burlington -- Investigators are trying to figure out why Wolf Creek nuclear plant shut down Sunday during testing of the power plant's safety system.

Plant spokeswoman Susan Maycock said Sunday the security system did what it was designed to do in the case of an emergency, although during the testing there was no reason for the shutdown.

"This is the first time, to my knowledge, this has happened," Maycock said.

She said the plant would be back in operation early this week.

The electricity companies that own the plant are replacing the energy they normally get from Wolf Creek with reserve electricity from other sources. Customers won't be affected.

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