Something to Think About - keep (232)

At an economic development conference a few years back, a speaker was highlighting the need for communities and business people to fuse the concepts of “dreaming” and “implementation”.  A quote flashed on big screen behind the presenter, declaring- “Entrepreneur- A French word meaning, has ideas and actually does them.”  The crowd laughed, but the discussion among attendees after the presentation highlighted the need for entrepreneurial mind sets in more than just business.

Entrepreneurs spot opportunities and convert those opportunities into businesses, events, developments and solutions to problems.  They move quickly to implement new ideas and create unique community elements.  Because businesses, events or solutions to issues implemented by entrepreneurs are “one of a kind”, they draw people into an area and create community pride.

So, why the resistance to entrepreneurship?

Smaller, rural communities seem to crave the known commodity of branded business types.  Citizens tend to look at other communities within driving distance to say “why can’t we be more like them”, and bureaucratic entities encourage people to look backwards in time to nostalgically embrace how things used to be instead of intersecting with emerging trends and demographic shifts.  Training programs struggle to teach local citizens skill sets associated with creating things that don’t currently exist.

But, because of our smaller relative size, do rural communities have a choice beyond embracing an entrepreneurial focus?  Recent economic reports indicate that large chain retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete against on-line competition.  Some economists indicate that increases in automation and other influences will result in roughly half of all jobs residing in entrepreneurial businesses by 2040.  Policy decisions in Kansas have resulted in population loss, and new ideas are needed.  Entrepreneurial businesses tend to donate a higher percentage of sales to local charities, and are more likely to use local professional services, like attorneys, banks, accountants and media.

To use a sports analogy, communities are like basketball players.  Big communities can lumber down the court and throw their weight around because of their relative size.  Smaller communities must be fast, opportunistic and willing to take some outside shots.  Entrepreneurs can spot opportunities, move quickly to capitalize and create valuable changes that result in big community gains.

So, what can we do as rural communities to emphasize entrepreneurship?  It starts with   recognizing that entrepreneurs aren’t found only in business. They are found throughout various segments of our community. Supporting these local entrepreneurs with our time, talent and treasure is a way to advance Emporia towards an entrepreneurial mind set.  We vote for entrepreneurs with the dollars we spend, our advocacy and our focus.  We need to support the development of places that encourage entrepreneurs to exist in close proximity to other entrepreneurs so they can support each other.  We need to encourage entrepreneurial educational practices that emphasize team building, resource attainment and realistic opportunism.  In short, we need to build an entrepreneurial culture.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen Emporia pull in more outside dollars.  We’ve grown jobs in some pretty unique business types and we have established some internationally acclaimed events due to entrepreneurship.  Because we are surrounded by much larger communities that already have established chains and homogenous activities, our best chance to compete is through the unique opportunities that entrepreneurs provide.

So, let’s go beyond celebrating entrepreneurs and their can do attitudes this year.  Lets recognize the critical role they play in creating a successful Emporia, and dedicate the resources, support and advocacy our locally owned businesses need to grow a better community all year long.

I’m Casey Woods, and that’s something to think about…

Today I’ll share with you a truth about Public Enemy Number 1.

The old battle of the bulge, the contradiction that occurs when we match our desire to become fit and thin with a plate of hot French fries or fresh pastries.

          The most common New Year’s Resolution is always to shed a few pounds. There are many ways to lose weight and most involve a diet.

          There are name brand diets from Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Atkins, MediFast and the famous Mayo Clinic Diet.

Lesser known plans abound. Like: the Green Coffee Diet, the Dash Diet, the Miracle Diet of 2014, the Web MD Diet, the Sensa Diet, the Abs Diet, the Flat Belly Diet for Men or the Paleo Diet suggesting you “eat like a cave man.”

And there are many other plans, pills and lotions out there all promising to help you lose weight.

All of these plans work up to a point – but the truth (remember I’m sharing a truth with you today) lies in a word most us over weight people abhor and typically refuse to acknowledge.

          That word is sedentary which describes a ”lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity.” One definition of sedentary I read uses the term “Couch Potato.”

          Dieting can work, but dieting works far better when exercise is part of the equation.  

          Over eating is a fairly easy target, but a sedentary lifestyle is very difficult to overcome, but help is available.

          Emporia is blessed with several gyms just itching to help you learn to exercise:

The Genesis Health Club, Emporia Fitness, Emporia Recreation Center with their “Couch to 5k” starting now and the ESU Rec Center if you have an association with the University just to name a few. I’m sure there are others.

          The point is dieting alone is a very slow process. Attacking a sedentary lifestyle is a life changing event.

          The truth is it’s time to start movin! Heck, some people even like to exercise!

          I’m Steve Sauder

Faith or fear? Which one do we choose, for all men are driven by one or the other?

If we choose faith, then we believe in the hopeful potential of what we haven’t yet seen.

Fear disrupts us and will keep us from our goals, dreams and our destiny, so fear is not an option for this community to move forward.

Over the last few years you have heard me talk about partnerships and relationships that make this community much stronger. Let’s recap quickly of just a few of these. The City of Emporia and Lyon County have created many joint efforts that will benefit services and enhance the quality of life throughout the county. Emporia State University, Flint Hills Technical College, City of Emporia and Lyon County are working together to better understand what is needed to have the highest qualified workforce in this region and what it means to be a “university community”. Newman Regional Health and Lyon County are working together to provide this region with the absolute best health care available. By becoming a member on the Flint Hills Regional Council we now have a 7 county partnership that has the potential to provide cost savings to our county by sharing resources, and give us leg up in attracting new business to this area. It also gives us the opportunity to create ties with Fort Riley, mostly through education for troops transitioning to private life. These are positive changes.

Currently we have RDA leading the way for industrial development and working with existing business to address the needs that they require to be even more successful, throughout our region. We have Main Street that does a phenomenal job increasing consumer business and bringing many activities downtown, and more than willing to say downtown is everywhere. We have the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, which does a great job of promoting business and community success, and have a tremendous leadership program second to none, again throughout the Lyon county area. And now Lyon County is looking to become more active in economic development. Again this is a positive change.

So why is Lyon County taking the time to research where we can be most effective in helping this community take a positive step forward? First answer is that is why you hired us. You put your faith in us to make the decisions that will make Lyon County more efficient, have a better quality of life, and provide an atmosphere that will foster structured growth. This will be an ongoing process that requires public input that we desperately encourage.

Second answer is that with all the organizations that have been mentioned above, why aren’t we more successful. We must challenge ourselves every day to be better. We cannot afford to become defensive when ask if there is a different way to create jobs, housing, and utilize existing infrastructure to be more efficient. I think that we have proven that partnerships and relationships are the key to success and if we all, and I do mean all, work together we will find that we have the same common goals. And that is a positive change.

And finally let me read the mission statement of Lyon County. “The mission of Lyon County government is to create an environment of economic growth within a framework of fiscal responsibility and transparency to the people of Lyon County.” And that folks is the action we will take.

Many are fearful of change, but I already said that fear is not an option so faith it is!

Scott Briggs, Lyon County Commissioner



Good morning.Today I would like to tell you about a gentleman that I met many years ago. I would like to share some of the stories that he told about how he grew up and raised a family on a farm in S.E Kansas. His first name was Fred. Fred was born April 26 1922 and was the oldest son and second oldest in a family 9 children. He was born ½ mile south of South Mound Kansas, assisted in birth by a doctor who came in a buggy powered by a horse. Total cost of the birth including everything was $20. He was born during the depression and any luxuries were often nonexistent. Life started off rough. At the age of 2 he caught the measles and had a measles spot on one of his eyes which left him blind in that eye. During his school years he had to take off many times to assist with keeping the farm going.  He met his wife Marjorie at a box supper. This was a school event where the young single ladies would bring a box lunch and the young single men bid on this lunch. The winner of the bid would share the meal with that young lady.  He later scraped enough money together to purchase a farm. On that farm he milked cows, raised hogs and farmed. He and his wife had three children at that time. Life was a challenge in those early years. Shortly after purchasing the farm he broke his leg in a fall. Without the help of the nearby neighbors he wasn’t sure how he would have survived. They later had two additional children. Most of the food that the family consumed was raised on that farm. Clothing was often made at home and handed down from one child to the other. Any outings Fred and Marjorie took, those five children would always be with them.   Later he acquired several more farms and both are still living at that location. Through his years of farming he earned about every agriculture and soil conservation award that were. They will be celebrating their 70 wedding anniversary this year. By the way I forgot to mention that gentleman is my father.   I’m Danny Giefer and that’s something to think about.

On December 30, 2014, I read an editorial in the Gazette entitled “Emporia is a Very Generous Community”. To quote Brandy Nance, “The generosity here in Emporia is an integral part of the fabric that makes up Emporia and the area.” This statement is so true when I think about what Emporia has done for The National Teachers Hall of Fame. We are getting ready to celebrate our 24th induction ceremony, and 5 teachers from across the United States will be chosen to participate as our newest inductees.   We would not be in existence had it not been for this great community. Founding organizations back in 1989 were The City of Emporia, Emporia State University, The Chamber of Commerce, and USD 253; and each of these organizations is still an integral part of the Hall of Fame.

Honoring teachers is not a new concept. Before the Hall of Fame began, there were awards given to teachers such as: Disney Awards , The Millken Awards, Internet Innovators Awards, State Teacher of the Year Awards, and The Fulbright Distinguished Award .

What sets the Hall of Fame apart from these awards is that we honor teachers who have dedicated their lives to education, with 20 years of full-time teaching being a requirement for nomination.

We have all had teachers who have impacted our lives in one way or another. I remember Mr. Plank who was my 5th grade teacher at William Allen White School here in Emporia. I remember him teaching me something, I remember him being very respectful, I remember him having different ways to teach us, and I remember he was just a darn good teacher. I have been blessed to have received my entire public school education right here in Emporia and to have had many wonderful teachers. There was Mr. Collier, yikes he was kind of scary but a he sure knew his social studies, There was Mr. Nelson a great science teacher, There was Mrs. Jacquith my English teacher, and the famous Mr. Bloxom who was a huge humorist. When 18 wheeler trucks would go by on west 6th right by the school, he would say, there goes another EHS graduate.   Then there was Mrs. Hendriks, the music teacher. So many memories have come from that class. It’s just recently after the Christmas holidays that I have reminisced back to my time in Mrs. Hendricks chorale, the Christmas Program, the performances made throughout the community and the trips to state music competitions.   I will treasure forever what these teachers have given me.

At the Hall of Fame, we are getting ready to make our selection. A group of 15 people from across the nation will be flying to Kansas City to discuss and choose our 5 inductees. Those on the committee represent national education organizations as well as several of our corporate partners. They will spend the better part of one day watching videos, collaborating and trying to narrow 20 great teachers down to 5. Announcement day will be in March and then these 5 selected teachers will converge on Emporia in June to be honored for what they do with America’s school children. So many of the new inductees have praised our wonderful town of Emporia, they love being here, they love the experiences they have had here and they feel honored. From the band concert in the park to the friendly greetings and banners downtown to the gala banquet on Friday night, these inductees are made to feel like royalty.   Thank you, Emporia, for helping support the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Emporia is truly “Teacher Town, USA” in the heart of America, and you capture the hearts of these educators who represent all that is great in American education.

And… how recently have you thanked a teacher?   It’s something to think about……

Hello! I’d like to start off today by thanking Steve Sauder for providing me the opportunity to be one of the “Something to Think About” guests in his absence.

The greater Lyon County area is a wonderful area in Kansas and the United States in which to live, work and raise a family. Many factors go into that, and I know that previous guests have mentioned a few of those factors. One that I haven’t heard and I’d like to talk about today involves the importance of positive community involvement by members of the community.

You don’t have to be a county or city commissioner, school board member, or one of the other elected board members to be positively involved in the community. You can definitely gather facts on the issues within the community from reliable sources and attend meetings to ensure any decisions made are based on fact, not rumors or random opinions. With careful thought given to what will benefit the entire community, everyone can win!

One of the most important ways of being involved in the community is through volunteering your time. This could mean volunteering through one of many local clubs, churches, community groups, area activities, or even being on a local community board. I know we are all busy, but as you give your time take a look at those around you. Hopefully you see a number of people who are happy to be there, doing what they feel is the right thing to help the community. Will everybody agree on what “the right thing” is? Absolutely not – and that’s one of the neat things about living in the United States of America. We have the right to publicly and respectfully share our views.

That brings me to a learning opportunity for our community. February 25 & 26 and March 4 & 5, K-State Research and Extension in Lyon County is hosting a Board Leadership Series. These 4, 2-hour evening sessions are open to anyone in the community whether you are on a community board now, have been in the past, or hope to in the future. The sessions provide a solid base to help make meetings more effective and efficient and help you be an engaged community member. You don’t have to be on a board to participate! More details on times and costs are at the office – stop in or give us a call.

I’d like to share one current example of how this community can come together, and it is taking place on the Lyon County Fairgrounds right next door to our office. The W.S. and E.C. Jones Foundation, Lyon County, the City of Emporia and Westar have come together recognizing the importance to this community of the central building on the Lyon County Fairgrounds – the Anderson Building. Even though this is a significant up-front investment, the leaders of these organizations recognize the improvements will allow for greater use by all in the area, drawing not only local but also regional events and people to spend money in the community and generate additional tax revenues. And when an anonymous donor challenged Extension to match a $50,000 gift with community dollars to go toward functional enhancements to the building to further its value to the community, this community responded – so much that the donor added another $5,000 that has also been matched! Thank you to everyone who has been and continues to be involved in this and numerous other projects in the community!

I would especially like to thank everyone that has been positively involved in your community, wherever that may be. Lyon County is a great place to live and work, and with positive community involvement we will make it even better for the future!

I’m Brian Rees with K-State Research and Extension in Lyon County and for today, that’s “Something to Think About!”

In Emporia, we have had the same city commission for the last 4 years. In that time, our commission has focused on maintaining the city’s financial strength, long range planning, and on development. I think we have made significant progress towards our goals, but I think the most visible area has been in development. Development can take many forms, but I thought I would focus on Housing, Infrastructure, Industrial, Commercial, and Higher Ed.

Updated housing has long been a need in Emporia, and has been on the city’s goals since 2013.  Housing can take many forms, but I wanted to focus on both single family, and multifamily. We had 20 new houses started last year, with a total cost of $3.3 million, and 247 remodeling permits with a total of $1.8 million. Last year, the commission approved the first RHID project in Emporia, opening 26 lots for construction in the new Hidden Vistas development. Of those 26 lots, 10 have commitments. The commission also supported 3 Housing Tax Credit applications that could lead to a new low to moderate income housing complex.  Finally, 2016 saw the opening of the Chelsea Lofts downtown.

Maintaining and updating the city’s infrastructure has also seen significant development. Last year, roads that were resurfaced included Hwy 50, and over 2 miles of other city road improvements. Over $750,000 was invested in our roads. We also relined over 3 miles of sanitary sewers to maintain their life expectancy, and completely rebuilt Sewer Life Station 6 in Jones Park.  The city’s award winning water also saw significant investment in a new Ozone treatment cycle, and a new main water intake line from the Neosho River, complete with zebra mussel prevention.

Industrial development and jobs are one of the backbones of our local economy. Last year, we saw higher employment at many of our major employers.  The RDA is continuously in talks with our local companies, and will look to partner in their future growth. Finally, the city used a KDOT grant to finish Warren Way in Industrial Park 3 to open the last big lot to development.

Commercial development saw 2 major projects announced, and the construction started. The Flint Hills Mall is using a 1 cent CID to rehab and modernize their facility. This is the first project of its kind in Emporia.  The Emporia Pavilions project was approved and construction began in October 2016.  This was a combination TIF/ CID project, again the first time that method has been used in Emporia.                        

The final type of development I wanted to discuss is in Higher Education. Last year, the city announced a major plan to help improve Welch Stadium at ESU through a 5 year commitment. The city also partnered with Lyon County to provide scholarship dollars to help recruit students to ESU.  The city also completed a storm water project along Merchant Street that improved the ESU landscape off of I35. 

The current city commission has focused on all types of development the last 4 years.  Progress can be seen around town. However, if you feel that there are other priorities the city should focus on, or just think things should be done differently, please remember that the next election for the city commission will be in November. If you would like to file for the election, please see the Lyon County clerk by June 1. I’m Jon Geitz, and that is something to think about.


          A Texas eye doctor recently sent this letter to Aetna insurance declaring their contract null and void because of Obamacare.

I have been privileged and honored to care for thousands of patients covered by Aetna policies since the 1990’s. I have devoted my life to providing state-of-the-art care to these individuals. We have formed a patient-doctor relationship, which I hope many will chose to continue in spite of my severing ties with Aetna. You see, health insurance has evolved such that insurers and government have inserted themselves smack-dab in the middle of the once sacred patient-doctor relationship. I am called a provider- not a doctor. My patient is now yours- not mine. What I can do as a physician now has strangulating strings and nonsensical numbers attached- to you and government and money-not the best interests of the patients.

Obamacare, contains ever-changing-at-the-whim-of-HHS, politically-expedient mandates, rewards, penalties, rules and regulations with which I cannot rationally or morally treat my patients and run a practice, much-less interpret, implement, or comply.

Millions of Americans have lost coverage because of the healthcare law.

So here we are, you are getting new business offering health insurance plans featuring my services without my consent under terms which are unacceptable to me. Accept this as my official written notice that the changes that you have unilaterally made to our contract are unacceptable to me and make our contract null and void.

You must explain this to your patients. You must tell them that they have purchased a product that was misrepresented to them and that you cannot deliver. It saddens me to think of the decreased access to care from actual physicians and the shockingly increased costs Aetna patients will now experience because of your choice to collude with big government rather than collaborate with patients and physicians.”

Kristin S. Held, M.D.

          The Affordable Care Act has some good points in it like eliminating pre-existing conditions and coverage for college kids, but the evidence against it is adding up FAST!

It’s time for someone to fix this mess.

No, Republicans voting over and over to repeal Obamacare isn’t working and Democrats this is your law so find a way or be prepared to live with the disaster that is brewing.

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

As I prepare for my maiden voyage as author of “Something to Think About,” I reflect on the weekend I just experienced here in our hometown of Emporia, KS.  Friday night, the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated and honored many great leaders throughout the community.  These individuals pour their hearts and souls into our community to make it a quality place to live and work.

With many deserving people and businesses, the recognition shared Friday night was nothing short of inspiring.  These are the folks that make Emporia one of a kind.  I would like to personally thank the following leaders who make a difference right here in Emporia; Steve Brosemer of EASCAR as Committee of the year, the great people of ValuNet as Business of the Year, George and Gail Milton who received the Tourism Award, Carolyn Risley as Volunteer of the year, and Mr. John Mallon who earned the Lifetime Achievement Award. I tip my hat to Rich Avery for a job well done in 2015 as Chair of the board and I have all the confidence in the world in Pete Euler who will lead our Chamber to many successes in 2016. 

As I reflect on this evening, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to have so many  different personalities working together to make this a special place where quality of life is far from lost.  It was only a few weeks ago, action was taken by the City Commission and County Commission to support Emporia State University and the kids of our community through scholarships.  This action speaks volumes to the environment our elected leaders strive to create.  With the many uncertainties in life, it is difficult to put into words the value of being surrounded by friends and neighbors.

I can say without reservation that Emporia is a great place to follow your dreams, a great place to raise a family, and a great place to call home!

I’m Shane Shivley and that is something to think about.

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