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March 1, 2017

My how time seems to fly by.  We have torn January and now the February pages off the 2017 calendar.  Emporia has been a beehive of activity as we have observed the 160th anniversary of our founding while seeing signs of vibrancy and growth I have not observed in the 45 years I have spent in our community. 

It is true that there will always be room for improvement but as I look around it is my observation that we are hitting on all cylinders. Lyon County and the city of Emporia are being led by an engaged electorate, quality commissioners and outstanding professional management. Long range strategic plans are in place and tax payer resources are being deployed carefully and wisely. 

Both public and private sector investments are quite evident in the area.  The property tax base is increasing and employment has risen. You can drive around town and observe the building activity which includes homes and businesses, as well as public improvements.

When I served in the legislature I shared that there was not a more education centric district in Kansas.  That district includes three public school districts, private schools, Flint Hill’s Technical College and of course Emporia State University.  These varieties of institutions all face different challenges and are presented various opportunities.  I am so impressed that Superintendants Mike Argebright, Aaron Doty and Kevin Case together with Flint Hills President Dean Hollembeak and ESU President Allison Garret work closely together for the mutual benefit of their institutions and for the greater good of our area and for the state of Kansas.

These education leaders and their governing boards owe their success prominently to dedicated educators and staff. 

The National Teachers Hall of Fame provides depth and additional meaning to our education centric reputation.

As I look around the community at the involvement of volunteer leaders and those civically engaged in any variety of endeavors, I am amazed to see the number of educators, retired educators and students preparing for a career in education.

Emporia has a well diversified economy and has seen the most growth in the agriculture value added manufacturing sector.  With the likelihood there will be more humans and pets to feed in the days and years ahead the food business in less vulnerable to economic downturns and that bodes well for the relative stability of our local economy.  The Regional Development Association continues to market and leverage our attributes to attract new employers and help existing businesses expand.

Emporia has always been a destination city.  This of course is relative but our history as university town, as a center for commerce and banking, our status as a sub-regional medical center. our location and accessibility are all fantastic.  Emporia is within 100 miles of over 90% of the population in Kansas. The number of medical specialties and treatment modalities available at Newman Regional Hospital continue to grow.

Retail, dining and entertainment opportunities are also on the rise and our downtown area and arts and entertainment area continues to grow and improve. Now with cycling and disc golf activities our claim as the best Kansas destination for the active leisure traveler is difficult to dispute.  Our Emporia Main Street organization has been the catalyst for much of the dynamism and vitality we see not only on Commercial Street but throughout the community.

I could go on and on and I probably will in coming weeks but for now I hope you get the impression I am proud of Emporia and grateful to call it home.

That is something to think about.. I am Don Hill.