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Something to Think About

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Steve Sauder is president of Emporia's Radio Stations, Inc. the owners of KVOE-AM 1400, Country 101.7 and Mix 104.9. Steve has been in a leadership position with ERS, Inc., since 1987.

December 17, 2014

          Emporia has a great deal of positive activity going on.

          You start with our University and Technical College. Both are growing, starting new programs and hold much promise for the future.

          Our hospital has weathered the storm and is truly on the road to recovery if you can pardon the pun.

          Main Street and the Chamber are providing leadership to a community that has a strong retail presence and more jobs than can be filled.

          The eight hundred block of Commercial is alive with activity. Candy, coffee, art, entertainment and even a plumbing shop make for an exciting block. And that’s just an example of what’s happening downtown!

          Now let’s really get excited about Emporia with talk about the Dirty Kansa and the Glass Blown Open both set for spring.

          The DK being billed as the “Decade of Dirty” is expecting over 1200 riders! Their growth is amazing. And, they keep adding smaller events throughout the year like their DK Training Camp in March.

          The Glass Blown Open has exploded! Entries were suspended last week with over 900 in the fold for this week long event. The growth of this event and the disc golf business are based solely and completely in Emporia, so the potential here is off the charts.

          Both events seem to possess great leadership and forethought. This is good because nothing will stop their progress quicker than being poorly run.

          Growth is good, but can also present big challenges. In visiting with both groups it appears they understand how to pull off their races and tournaments, but we question if our community will be ready.

          Hotel rooms fill up quickly and for the Glass Blown Open school will still be in session at ESU so dorm rooms aren’t a possibility. Get the picture?

          My thought is Emporia needs to think outside the box for these and other events that bring bunches of people to town. Are there places for tents? Can churches help with places to sleep, shower and change? Private homes? Are there restrictions that could keep people from opening up their homes?

          Maybe these questions are already being answered, but if not – why not?

          What Emporia has are some tremendous opportunities. Let’s not send the overflow to Topeka if we don’t have to!

          I’m Steve Sauder and There’s Something to Think About.”

December 10, 2014

Not sure if you watch The Voice on NBC, but Monday night we did and one of the contestants chose to sing “The Old Rugged Cross.”

          The performance was amazing and that song brought back many memories from my days in Gridley where “The Old Rugged Cross” was often sung at the MethodistChurch.

          The judges on The Voice get to critique each performance. Pharrell Williams a young black man said simply: “To God Be the Glory!” He was referencing the famous hymn by that name and in turn praising the performer for not only lifting up his talent, but also his faith.

          Pharrell’s comment stunned me and made me emotional, but more importantly, something important became stuck in my mind. Later my eyes closed not knowing what this was. At 5:01 A.M. God evidently gave up on me figuring this out on my own and awoke me from a deep sleep telling me to connect “To God Be the Glory” and my friend Cheryl Doty.

          Many of you know Cheryl. She came to work with me at Steve Sauder Real Estate in 1980. She stayed with me through the founding of Valu-line and into Birch. She now works days at the First Congressional Church.

          Cheryl Doty was amazing. She could do anything – punctuate a sentence, spell any and every word and even help solve thorny personnel challenges.

          Early in our working together days CD found her way to our church – Emporia’s First United Methodist and more importantly to the choir. Pretty sure Cheryl would tell you that relationship changed her life. Today she also works for our church as Director of Music Ministry.

          Her job description must be a long one because it includes singing in the choir, being a regular soloist, leading congressional singing during services, being a member of the Joyful Ringers, our bell choir, directing multiple youth choirs and participating in about a dozen other church activities.

          Jeanie Jensen our pastor at the First United Methodist church told me Cheryl is the best music minister she has worked with suggesting “her music opens hearts.” Jeanie explained often after Cheryl sings her message is more easily received.

          “To God Be the Glory” aptly describes Cheryl Doty when she is singing. Her face shines, her voice is proud and confident yet her humble nature is evident. Our Lord blessed Cheryl with a wonderful talent which she is willing to share. She is indeed a blessing.

          And the congregation said “AMEN!”

          I’m Steve Sauder.

December 3, 2014

The following are exerts from an editorial printed in the Gazette on Monday that was written by the Hutchinson News. I’m thinking it indicates why the proposed Keystone Pipeline proposal is so confusing.

From the HutchinsonNews: “When Congress — not if — sends the president a bill authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, he ought to sign it contingent on approval by the legislatures in the states affected. The fixation on this pipeline has become irrational, and it shouldn’t be decided by irrational politicians.

The reality is both the concerns against and the benefits touted about the pipeline are exaggerated. The jobs would be temporary, so the economic benefit is grossly overpromoted. It isn’t about gas prices, which already are low and falling. At the same time, the environmental concerns seem hollow. Canada already is mining the oil, and the U.S. State Department has concluded the risk of an oil spill is slight.

First of all, know that two-thirds of the pipeline already is completed. It already carries crude from the oil sand fields in Canada into Oklahoma, where it can get to the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed XL portion provides for a couple of additions to the network.

Consequently, it seems like the proverbial horse is already out of the barn, so why such a fight is being waged at the federal level is puzzling. But that’s politics.

The Keystone XL project on Tuesday fell a single vote short of proceeding in the Senate. Doesn’t matter. It will be approved once Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

The debate over the Keystone XL shouldn’t be in Washington but at the state level.

And finally the Hutch News says: “The debate is done for Kansas, where the pipeline already has been built.

Kansas landowners and county governments got ignored when TransCanada built the 210-mile pipeline through six counties. Those counties lost about $8.5 million a year on the deal. That while being tasked with providing fire and emergency service in the event of a pipeline explosion or other accident.”

They concluded “It isn’t fair for politicians to cast away the interests of the local citizens who will live with the pipeline for their own political gain.”

Wow! Let’s see – jobs being overstated; gas prices already falling, so need is not so great; the threat of an oil spill is overrated; the Keystone Pipeline is already 2/3 built and won’t build anymore in Kansas; but six Kansas counties are losers already and could lose more; and yet our elected people still support this project.

            Help me – am I missing something?

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to think about.

November 26, 2014

          Thanksgiving is tomorrow so let’s talk about things for which we are thankful.

          At Rotary yesterday the prayer mentioned things we should be thankful for like family, friends, good health (my thanks is conditional on that one), faith, nice weather, the food, a few other things and health care providers.

          Today let me confirm the prayer list, but to add a couple of local organizations mentioned at the meeting for which Emporians should also be thankful.

          The prayer specifically mentioned health care because our program was presented by Robert Wright the Administrator at Newman Regional Health.

          Bob’s presentation included many numbers – he said “numbers until your eyes cross.” The numbers were from surveys taken to gauge the quality of care and service at Newman. Obviously he would not have presented them if they were not positive.

          What we learned about our rapidly changing hospital is that it has turned the corner on profitability and at the same time maintained and/or improved the level of care.

          Bob bragged about the excellent quality of the current medical staff and the hospital’s efforts to recruit specialists to replace doctors lost over the past few years.

          Newman Hospital is a community asset and we should be exceedingly grateful for people like Robert Wright and his staff and also the hospital’s volunteer Board of Directors who have steered the institution through some very choppy waters.

          Our Rotary Club has a project to improve conditions at one of S.O.S.’s shelters in Emporia. The work S.O.S. does in our community is unnoticed by many, but their efforts make our community a much better and safer place to live. We are thankful for S.O.S.

          And lastly, The Emporia Community Foundation will be holding their Match Day December 1, at the Mall. This unique effort will provide much needed funding for 15 organizations running from our municipal band and animal shelter to Emporia Celebrates the Flint Hills. The Hopkins, Reeble and Trusler Foundations assist and deserve our thanks, but please also remember the silent good works of the Community Foundations.

          We have a lot about which to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving.

          I’m Steve Sauder

November 19, 2014

It’s been awhile since the Gazette and KVOE disagreed on anything, so let’s change that today.

The Gazette’s Chris Walker took County Commissioner Scott Briggs to task for voting “NO” on the proposed rezoning of the 318 acre Price tract asking “what was he really thinking…”

Briggs told me he was thinking rezoning the tract to heavy industrial without knowledge of what the use would be was not in the best interest of the people he represents and who own the adjacent property.

An option on the land had been obtained by Emporia Enterprises because a major U.S. company was considering Emporia for a large distribution center. Even though Briggs was not convinced this project was what our area needs – more on that later – he supported the plan until the distribution center people chose another Kansas community.

Emporia Enterprises chose to keep pursuing rezoning because the tract is extremely well situated. It is an especially nice site because rail access and utilities are present. Only roads need to be added.

The rub occurred when residents of the area became uncomfortable with the proposed heavy industrial zoning without knowing the future use of the property.

I am fairly certain Mr. Walker would not be happy if land near his rural property were rezoned heavy industrial without knowing who might be his potential neighbor.

Making Briggs out as the bad guy was unfair. He and his neighbors were ready to support the change with the certainty that a distribution center would be built there. When those plans fell through attitudes changed rapidly.

Briggs mentioned at the Lyon County Commission meeting he’d like to see a new vision for economic development. In a conversation with me Scott suggested while the distribution center would have created jobs he is not sure that’s all Lyon County should be seeking.

His point was this. Lyon County sits near the bottom of the list of Kansas counties when per capita income is ranked. Adding 200 jobs paying below $20 an hour will not move the meter on our per capita income dilemma. That’s what Briggs is talking about when he says we need to examine our vision.

We agree.

We also agree when the Commissions – Lyon County and Emporia City say they want their future economic development efforts to be tied to Emporia State University and the Technical College.

This is not saying the efforts of the RDA are misguided just saying let’s expand our vision. With city-county cooperation at an all time best it’s time for action. A comprehensive plan would be a great place to start.

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s Something to Think About.

November 12, 2014

EmporiaStateUniversity is Emporia’s most important asset - doubtful anyone would challenge that statement.

          Things are really good at ESU. Enrollment is up, morale has never been better and the school’s Now and Forever campaign is succeeding.

          It is a great honor for me to be Champion for Athletics for the Now and Forever campaign. Champion is code for leader and worker. Under Shane Shively’s leadership and the excellent people at the ESU Foundation and the ESU Athletics department we have been very successful on the athletic side of the campaign. Our working goal was reached quickly and a new one has been established.

          We’ve raised a lot of new scholarship money, finished off the JohnBaxterHealthCenter, funded summer school for many athletes and last week the new Dennis Shogren Scoreboard for Welsh Stadium was announced.

While athletics has exceeded expectations there is still much to accomplish.

We added almost half a million dollars to last year’s ESU athletic budget and guess what that got us?

          We are still 13th out of 14 teams in the MIAA in athletic budget!

          While that doesn’t sound like much it was exactly what we needed to do, but “the rest of the story” is we must keep the pace up or we will become number fourteen.

          The Now and Forever is having a positive effect everywhere. The Deans of the Schools and Colleges at ESU are energized and working closely with Foundation personnel to find ways to move the institution forward.

          President Michael Shonrock’s “can do” attitude is visible everywhere.

          Things are really good now at ESU, but the immediate future is scary.

Despite what Governor Brownback says the increasing revenue deficiencies in Topeka undoubtedly mean new cuts in state support for higher education.

This means our university needs our help now more than ever.

          Lyon County and EmporiaCity leaders have expressed a desire to help. Now is the time for this to happen. Scholarship or marketing dollars or help with financing new living units it’s time for action.

As individuals we can support the school in many ways. Please do what you can.

Emporia State is Emporia’s most important asset, so let’s treat it as

such.

I’m Steve Sauder and I am a Hornet.