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Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

Kansans should be on lookout for hurricane scams

August 30, 2005

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— Kansas has its eyes on Katrina.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline on Monday warned Kansans to watch out for unscrupulous appeals for donations to help people affected by the hurricane that smashed the Gulf Coast Monday.

"We always encourage Kansans to be careful when making donations to unfamiliar charities, especially after widespread weather-related destruction like we are seeing this week," Kline said.

Meanwhile, agriculture leaders fear Katrina's effect on already record-setting oil prices as the storm forced some refineries to stop operations.

"Petroleum-based fertilizers and agricultural chemicals are going through the roof," Tom Tunnel, president of the Kansas Grain and Feed Assn., said.

Justin Gilpin, marketing specialist with the Kansas Wheat Commission, said growers were concerned about potential damage to loading and storage facilities along the Gulf Coast.

But, he said, most of Kansas' wheat exports that are shipped from the Gulf use ports in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, which were not hit by the storm.

On the lookout for possible scams that routinely arise after natural disasters, Kline recommended guidelines in dealing with solicitations for money. They are:

¢ Never give your credit card, bank account or Social Security number to anyone soliciting over the telephone.

¢ Beware of phony groups that use names similar to well-known charities.

¢ Never pay in cash, and never make a check out to an individual or company name different from the charity itself.

¢ Don't allow yourself to be pressured to give.

¢ When approached by an unfamiliar group, ask that they mail the information to you.

Natural gas woes

Aquila officials said they are concerned Hurricane Katrina will affect natural gas costs.

The hurricane has caused a flux in the wholesale market price for natural gas.

At one point on Monday, natural gas cost $11 per 1,000 cubic feet. It sold for about $5.50 per 1,000 cubic feet at this time last year, Aquila spokesman George Minter said.

"It's a major concern for us," he said. "The price we purchase gas at is the same price our customers pay."

Minter said customers likely won't notice a difference on their next gas bill. Heat isn't in high demand during the summer in Kansas. But a cold winter could mean larger bills, he said.

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