Something to Think About - keep (253)

As I record this segment I am in a bit of a frump. I woke up this morning and realized that what Hornet Nation experienced Monday evening was real and not a bad nightmare.  Our beloved Lady Hornets lost a basketball game to an outstanding Harding team on Harding’s very hostile home court.  Emporia State went from a stretch in the first half to early in the second half when virtually every bounce went our way to a second half stretch when we could not buy a basket even when getting really good looks.  The Harding Lady Bison who have now won 30 games deserve the opportunity to advance to the elite 8 after their come from behind victory and I hope they win the National Championship.  Just like the football playoff – we may not have celebrated but we were pleased when the team that eliminated Emporia State – the Northwest Missouri Bearcats went on to win the national championship.  Speaking of deserving - the Lady Hornets were again, by circumstance, deprived of playing on their home Slaymaker Court in this regional tournament.  To their credit, I am not aware of any complaints about this situation from Coach Collins or his team.  I am sure that this most difficult scheduling conflict situation will be thoroughly considered one more time as the best possible outcome continues to be sought.

Do we have anything to be thankful for?  The answer to that question is an emphatic yes!!  This basketball loss would not be nearly as difficult if we had not been living the dream during the season.  The success of the Lady Hornets has built to a crescendo – an outstanding season followed by their phenomenal success in winning the MIAA tournament and then dramatic wins in Searcy before losing in the Championship game to Harding.

This team has continued and built upon the Lady Hornet Basketball tradition.  Seniors Kathryn Flott and Kelly Moten will both go down among the very elite group of players who have left a lasting and indelible legacy on this basketball program.  Their basketball prowess goes with their character off the court and their performance in the classroom distinguishes them even further.  Their classmate Megan Holloway joins Kathryn and Kelly as an essential contributor to their career program success.  What Megan may lack in star power she more than makes up in her true grit and her leadership in team defense and blue collar workmanship. These three seniors will graduate from Emporia State and move on from their college basketball experience both better for the opportunities they have been blessed with as well as leaving the program having contributed to an even richer tradition than when they started.

Coach Jory Collins and his staff continue to do an absolutely amazing job.  Jory’s teams’ success in wins and losses certainly tell an impressive story but the quality of the student athletes in the program as individuals tells the real story.  Next year Coach Collins could welcome back 10 honor role student/athletes from this year and new recruits are impressive.

Thank you coaches, players, fans and the entire Hornet Nation for another wonderful year of Lady Hornet basketball.

Finally one more thing I am especially thankful for – when we hit White Auditorium or go on the road we are loyal Hornet fans.  We come out of our conservative or liberal silos, our Donald or Hillary silos, our MSNBC or FOX News silos.  We are all together cheering for our home team and sharing with one another our hoped for success.

Let’s join together in finding more opportunities to share in pursuing the greater good and in celebration of success.

Remember it is always best to LISTEN, TO FIRST INQUIRE, TO SEEK TO UNDERSTAND.

I am Don Hill and that is something to think about.

Recently I attended the Emporia Planning Commission hearing on the proposed development of the Peak land located north of 24th Avenue near Wal-Mart not necessarily to oppose but to express concern about the buffer between the site and our land to the north.

The Planning Commission listened politely to the developers, a couple of supporters, several not very happy home owners, me and then rejected the proposal,  5-2.

This was disappointing because I was hoping for a dialogue about the buffer. My assumption was the Planning Commission would ask questions. Neither they, nor the developers ask anything!

The developer said it isn’t financially feasible for the Peak property to be a residential development. No one challenged that assertion with which I agree.

No one asked the rather vocal attorney who lives adjacent to the Peak property what kind of development he would be willing to accept.

It seemed the purpose of the Planning Commission that night was to find a reason to say “no” rather than to look for a reason to say “yes.” That attitude does not serve Emporia’s needs very well.

Until the Peak property is developed in some manner it appears development in other areas of Emporia will be stymied because potential companies like Hy-Vee or Dillon’s are interested ONLY in that tract.

A good question is what are the Peak family’s desires for the use of their land? My understanding is residential isn’t their choice even though it is zoned that way.

This I believe: If Emporia is to grow we must find a way to increase the size of our retail community.

Leakage, purchases made by local folks outside our area, is a serious problem or maybe better said - a tremendous opportunity.

Leakage is easily documented and Emporia’s is severe. Officials of a large Topeka based company once shared that receipts in their stores from the 66801 zip code annually exceed a million dollars!

No one wants or seeks competition, but without new businesses Emporia will stay as it is – no, that’s not true – without new business growth Emporia will continue to shrink.

Opportunity may be knocking, but at this point I’m not sure Emporia knows what the questions are, let alone the answers.

I’m Steve Sauder.

Monday’s Gazette editorial came from the Salina Journal with the title of: Bleed, Kansas, bleed.

It drew a reference back to the “Bleeding Kansas” days when Kansas became as famous as any state could be in those times because the battle to decide if Kansas would support slavery was raging. Those battles often ended with bloody results and many lives lost. 

Our current political mess in Kansas is also bringing a lot of publicity to Kansas and much like the 1800’s most of the attention is not positive. While lives may not have actually been lost due to the current leadership in our state – lives certainly are being changed by these questionable policies.

Governor Brownback leads a group that controls our state and has implemented tax policies that so far have been nothing but a disaster! The results have created massive shortfalls in revenue even to numbers that had already been adjusted downward!

Despite the obvious gap in funding our Governor pushes forward. Last week he appeared at a gathering in Missouri actually touting the success of his tax plans in Kansas. His answer to questions about the results which are hard to avoid was “we just need more time.”

Meanwhile public school, universities and other Regent institutions make plans to survive with less money and higher tuition (note Flint Hills Techical College’s recent tuition announcement). Farmers fear a major shift in property taxes and our excellent high way program continues to be raided to help make ends  meet for our governor’s pleasure.

Governor Brownback is using his power in many areas making changes that defy imagination. Human rights, moving election, the judiciary, selection of judges and currently the funding methods for public education. He has the power and is wielding it without caution.

Kansas is famous again and much like the 1800’s when the publicity wasn’t all that flattering Kansas is once again a national joke!

The part of this sad story that is so hard to accept is that we not only elected this guy, but we re-elected him despite knowing his tax plans were putting our state in the poorhouse.

How and when will this all end?

The editorial writer suggested the legislature needs to pay more attention to the budget deficit - suggesting “the cuts are just starting.”

And he ends his editorial with “Or, maybe Kansas just needs to bleed some more.”

Bleeding Kansas, same song second verse! Heaven help us.

I’m Steve Sauder.

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.

“One of a kind,” is a massive understatement when talking about Don Ek who passed away on Monday night.

          At Larry Kramer’s funeral they talked about “terms of endearment.”

          Don Ek had more than his share of “terms of endearment” associated with his name.

          First off Don was a great husband, father and Christian. He distinguished himself as a community leader as well giving time to all that ask and volunteered for even more. His success in business is well documented.

          Before getting to those “terms of endearment” let me share about my associations with Don. He was a close friend and the father of a couple of boys who thought my concession stand at the old C of E baseball field was there for their enjoyment.

We were competitors, associates and even co-conspirators a few times.

          We traveled together many times. Most often to Vegas or Reno, but most memorable for me was our trip to Scotland right after the 9-11 attacks. How we avoided an international crisis on that trip escapes me. Don knows no strangers and THAT can be a problem in a foreign country.

          And finally at Lake Kahola where we built a cabin next door to the legendary Ek homestead. We were facing not only a brand new house, but we were new to the lake and we had a new boat. Without Don we might well have sunk the boat and burned the cabin down. The Ek’s were great neighbors. My grandsons knew him as Donsie – a term most women also used. His patience with me and those kids was amazing and when he left the lake, well it wasn’t the same place.

          Now let’s talk about some of those “terms of endearment.”

          Donsie is at the top of the list, but many of us called him Eeeek sometimes followed by you blank, blank, blank usually after he spilled his beer on the table.

          I played a lot of gin and poker with Don Ek and I gave him a name that his poker club buddies remember well. That name was Shakespeare because of his amazing ability with words. NOT!

          My son Jamie called him fondly “the old buzzard” and Don responded calling Jamie “buzzard bait.”

          Now it was pointed out to me that if “buzzard” was going to be mentioned there were other animals Don had an affinity for also – like chiggers, monkeys and turkeys.

          Yes, they definitely broke the mold when they made Don Ek. He lived life at 105 MPH and best of all always made everyone around him feel good about themselves too. He was amazing!

We love you Donsie!

          I’m Steve Sauder

                                                            6-8-16

            Listening to KVOE yesterday and hearing Jim Cummins and the DK-200 people discuss the past weekend the point that kept coming up was yes, the race is unique, the Flint Hills are breath-taking and the weather is always unpredictable, but the feature that sets the event apart from many others – now including the famous Tour de France – are the people of Emporia.

            Face it folks – our town is cool because we support things like the DK and the Glass Blown Open and lots of other lesser known events in a manner that sets us apart.

            This got me thinking so I made a list – a partial list for sure – of neat things that happen in our town about which we should be proud. Not all towns do what we do when we:

            Raise over $600,000 for the United Way!

            Hold a record setting Technical School Auction;

            Support ESU’s Now and Forever campaign;

            Support literacy education through the Jones Foundation and the Mason’s of Kansas and EmporiaState;

            Blow the lid off the record for the Community Foundation’s Match Day;

            The ESU Athletic Auction and Golf Tournament set a new record for success to benefit all sports and summer school in particular;

            Emporia supports the W. A. White home called Red Rocks;

            S.O.S. is a community treasure and Emporia steps up in support;

            Back to ESU - Welch Stadium has a state of the art scoreboard, new turf  and soon a brand new track;

            How about LyonCounty and the City of Emporia becoming major supporters of scholarships at the university?

            After some tough times Camp Alexander is back!

            Phil Taunton and his What’s in Outdoors is a blessing for kids and old folks too!

            Denim and Diamonds helps Newman Regional Health with a cool auction;

            The Chamber of Commerce and Main Street make a really powerful community team;

            No one matches our Art Council’s facility or programs!

            The Granada Theater is a blessing with amazing activity;

            Add in great schools, churches, parks, ESU, Flint Hills Tech and nice people and we’ve got a winner!

            Good place this town we call Emporia.

            Let me use some advice from an old farmer to close.

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
Meanness doesn’t just happen overnight. And,
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

I’m Steve Sauder

         This dying thing is getting out of hand for me. Half of the guys I played poker with on Wednesday nights three years ago have passed away with the loss Sunday of Ray Beals.

          Death is scary for most of us and unpredictable for all of us. Ray knew his time was near, but our friend Billy Martin hit practice balls on the golf course the day before he passed. He obviously wasn't planning to die.

          I had a death experience years ago when my doctor told me my cancer was serious. After some consideration I concluded I wasn't afraid to die because I believe there is an even better life after our earthly life.

          But, despite such a good promise from our Creator most of us fear death and take on amazing challenges to avoid it.

          I wonder if truth be known how big a motivator staying healthy and alive is for all these bike riders we have locally?

          Speaking of which with this year's Dirty Kanza came the showing twice of the incredible documentary called "Blood Road." It told the story of Rebecca Rusch riding her bike on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to find the spot where her father's airplane had crashed during the Viet Nam conflict.

          Most enlightening for me from the film were the messages her dad Steve sent home telling about his job, the danger and how he feared for his life on a daily basis. At one point he said, "I love flying these planes, but I hate my job."

          Death is a big part of life for all of us. We fear our own and we fear death for members of our family and friends. It's a part of life we strive hard to control.

          Sunday morning on TV several older actors discussed death. Their best line was about the possibility of dying in your sleep. They said the way to avoid dying in your sleep was always "to go to bed with something important you had to do in the morning." They were funny.

          I've noted a couple of things recently about getting older. First, they only renew your Driver's License for five years after age 65.

          And, recently I went to the Motor Vehicle Department to get a new Handicap placard. The lady gave me one with an expiration date in 2022! I said "Wow! I now have a new goal."

          "What do you mean?" she inquired.

          "My new goal," I said, "is to live long enough to renew my handicap placard in 2022!"

          I don't think she understood, but I do.

          So death is as they always say at funerals "a part of life." So prepare for it, but try not to fear it.

          Smell the roses! Don't put things off. Tell people you love them today! Get in shape. Cut out salt.......... yady, yady, yady.

          I'm rambling.

          From Face Book:

          Appreciate what you have while you have it.

          Don't dwell on the past, don't worry about the future, just live in the present and make the most of it.

          All Good advice!

          I'm Steve Sauder

The Dirty Kanza 200 – wow! What an event! Congratulations to the organizers and all who participated and helped out. It was great day to be in Emporia!

          In case you didn’t hear: 727 riders pre-registered for the DK-200 and 465 finished the 200 miles. Both numbers were records.

          The ½ Pint drew 498 entries with 320 finishing the over 100 mile trek. Again both numbers were records. Add in over 200 fun riders in the 50 and 20 mile events and well….. that’s a lot of bikers.

          And the future looks bright if they don’t have a problem with their name.

          Good friend Marvin Tajchman sent me piece called “Politically Correct.” It’s about the hub-bub about nicknames. For example the Washington Redskins: some would dispute they are being held up as fine warriors suggesting this is a racial slur.

          The piece asks so what about the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians?

          Soon Catholics should be outraged about the use of Saints, Angels and Padres for nicknames.

          Pirates? Pirates weren’t good guys, so that one should go too.

          And heaven help us how have we allowed our kids to be fans of the Milwaukee Brewers. That my friends is the demon’s rum.

          And before I talk about the Dirty Kanza’s name let’s examine the Los Angles Clippers.

          What you say?

          The Clipper’s owner – Donald Sterling – made some very outrageous racial remarks and some are actually saying his association with the Clippers means they should change their nickname.

          My concern (for fun) is that someone will hear about the Dirty Kanza and realize that one of the meanings associated with ‘dirty” can be smutty. We sure don’t want smutty and Kanza in the same sentence do we?

          Actually when you see a rider finish the DK-200 you know which kind of dirty we are talking about.

          Great name; even greater event and the greatest potential we have in our town.

          Thank you again, I’m Steve Sauder

Kansas City Royals  – World Champions in 2015, but it had been decades since our last championship and now as the defending champions we are forced to live day by day with the reality that a baseball season is indeed a marathon and in no way a sprint.

          A note for sanity’s sake is that baseball is a game where failure dominates and success is fleeting. A batter who can consistently get a hit three times out of ten is a star and will reap giant rewards. A pitcher who can be successful 60% of the time is also a hot commodity. Baseball is filled with failure and those who can deal with it become champions.

          So now our Royal’s embark on the year after winning the World Series and after playing in the Fall Classic in successive years.

          Are we now a dynasty? Many, including Las Vegas picked us to win again, but our season hasn’t gone that well. At times our boys seemed invincible, but we also lost 8 straight at one point and sit as this is written 5 games behind the Indians.

          How can we explain our supposed best pitcher giving up 9 runs in the first inning?

          Some World Champions!

          What are we supposed to believe?

          Well the answer is pretty easy. The answer is this is baseball and you learn a lot of bad has to be accepted along with the good even for champions!

          Winning in baseball at the major league level not only takes talent, it also requires lots of good luck.

          Last year the Royal’s seemed special and they were. They came from behind in 8 of 11 playoff victories and they had player after player “step up” when needed. It was magical.  Our guys were good, but also very lucky.

          This year the Royal’s are good, but so far not special. They sit in good position to make the playoffs again. Time will tell.

          I too get upset when pitchers walk batters or players strike out with the winning run on third base, but we need to keep the faith. They don’t give rings for winning the division, so overtaking the Indians isn’t job one. That job is to get into the playoffs.

          The Royals have the best record in baseball at home this year, but Monday night the crowd numbered just over 31,000 and they were playing the St. Louis Cardinals.  That was embarrassing. Hopefully the crowd was better last night.

          Some say baseball is boring, but not if you live and die with every play in every game. A two run home run in the top of the first like Monday can make your hot dog go sour in your tummy, but 2 runs in the bottom and 4 in the second and life is suddenly like a bowl of cherries.

          Baseball is special and some of the time so is our team. Go Royals!

          I’m Steve Sauder

Today some old thoughts brought back to life thanks to Face Book.

          People who waste time wondering whether their glass is half full or half empty are missing the point. Their glass is always refillable!

          Noah's Ark was an amazingly educational vessel. It taught us:

$1·        Not to miss the boat!

$1·        Remember that we are all in the same boat.

$1·        Plan ahead, it wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.

$1·        Stay fit. When you are really old you may be ask to something really big!

$1·        Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

$1·        Build your future on high ground.

$1·        For safety sake, travel in pairs.

$1·        Speed isn't always an advantage. Snails were on the Ark with cheetahs.

$1·        When you are stressed, float for awhile.

$1·        Remember the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

$1·        No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting....

          Today there seems to be an App for just about everything. Even for putting your cell phone away and paying attention to those talking to you - they call it RESPECT.

Paul Sweeney is credited with saying: A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.

And last, comedian Jim Carrey. Said, “A lot of love can happen in ten years.”

Couldn’t agree more!

          I’m Steve Sauder

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