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.
Brent Windsor, Emporia Board of Education
Something to Think About, Wednesday February 18
I recently saw a quote by John F. Kennedy that would provide perfect guidance for our Governor and legislative leaders. It reads, “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” Seems quite simple doesn’t it? Not really. I would suggest that none of us are quick to admit our mistakes of the past; myself included. Yet given the current financial crisis our State is in, there is no better stance to take than to realize and admit the tax policy implemented in 2012 is no longer sustainable.
I have never witnessed a situation where our leaders refuse to see the impact of their previous decisions and continue to ignore the actions necessary to bring Kansas back to financial stability. Two weeks ago, the Governor announced that he would reduce K-12 and higher education budgets by $44.5 million. This goes directly against the promise he made during his re-election campaign that he would not reduce funding to education. During his State of the State address, the Governor even went so far as to blame education for the reason Kansas is in financial trouble. I find that hard to swallow when tax cuts implemented in 2012 have resulted in a $344 million dollar deficit projected for this year and an additional $600 million for FY ’16.
These decisions will hit Emporia in many ways. Our school district will certainly lose $269,000and if future payment delays are implemented, as projected, those losses will easily rise to $517,000 or more. ESU will see cuts of $632,000, our civic infrastructure will begin to degrade and Emporians depending on social assistance will find it harder to meet their needs.
I am extremely concerned with disinformation distributed by various interest groups, including the Governor’s office, as they publish messages that are misleading and include half-truths. Last week I heard the comment, “education isn’t getting cut, it’s just getting less of an increase over the previous year.” Well yes, I suppose that could be true. But the rest of the story is that total spending on education is at the lowest it has been since 1985 at only 4.48% of Kansan’s personal income. And now the Courts have ruled that Kansas is not meeting its constitutional obligation to provide a public education for every child in this State.
When will our governor and legislative body realize that our current tax policy is not sustainable? The realization is probably already there. I simply ask that the Governor, and the legislature, look at the results and understand that Kansas is not a State that can survive on a low-to-no income tax policy. What prevents our leadership from admitting that their experiment isn’t working and modifications need to be made? What would happen if mistakes were admitted and a path towards growth was implemented?
This legislative session has definitely started with a bang, full of controversy and misguided action that will only result in bad policy limiting the rights of our community and cutting budgets from education and state agencies that are already struggling. I encourage you to use your voice and follow in the footsteps of a great leader. “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
I’m Brent Windsor and that’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!”
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……
Some folks say that one of Emporians' greatest shortcomings is their modesty. We expect the best, but when successes present themselves, we rarely even talk about them. Yes, we did boast a bit when we won the Best Water in the World award, but that talk dwindled away quickly. We're Emporians, after all, not Texans.
I'd be willing to bet, however, that no other city in the nation can claim more successful people and products -- per capita -- than Emporia.
You already know about William Allen White's two Pulitzer prizes. You probably know that his son won the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer when he was reporting for CBS from the European Theatre in WWII. W.A.'s son also was a roving editor for Reader's Digest and author of several books, three of which were picked up by Hollywood and made into movies starring the likes of Robert Montgomery, Donna Reed and John Wayne .
But do you know about Murdock Pemberton, an EHS graduate who went on to become the first art critic for New Yorker magazine?
His brother, Brock, moved from Emporia to the East Coast, where he produced and directed shows on Broadway. Perhaps his best-known production featured a man whose friend was an imaginary rabbit -- The play was "Harvey." In 1950, a few months after his death, he was posthumously awarded a Tony, in recognition of his role as founder and first chairman of the Tony Awards.
Remember former Gazette reporter Pete Earley? His books routinely hit the New York Times best-sellers list.
Emporian Pat Hopper Dahnke has truly made a name for herself in western fashion design with her elegant leather-and-lace clothing and has added a new line of bedding and other home items.
Then there's John Forsythe, who came to Emporia in the early 1970s to attend College of Emporia, and stayed. His gorgeous bronze statues are in demand at museums and state houses, and other high-profile settings.
If you're into tough guys, Emporian R. Lee Ermey must be one of the best-known drill sergeants this side of Sgt. Bilko and Sgt. Carter.
When the owner of the Evel Knievel museum needed someone to restore the motorcycle daredevil's furniture, whom did he call on for the job? Emporia's woodworking artist Conrad Wempe.
Emporia has sent out some successes in sports, too. Dean Smith spent part of his childhood here, when his father was principal at Emporia High School. Dean Smith went on to be pretty well known as a basketball coach.
Let's not forget champion steer-wrestler Jason Lahr, and John Lohmeyer, who played defense for the Kansas City Chiefs; NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, and racer Gary Stinnett, who also builds race car engines that are in demand worldwide.
We're home to gravel-grinding bike races and disc golf tournaments that bring in competitors from across the U.S. and several foreign countries.
I think we also can count the successes of sports at Emporia State. Baseball, softball, and basketball teams all have won NAIA championships. This year, it looks like the Lady Hornets could repeat the feat.
Let's not forget that a couple of years ago, ESU's debate team took double national championships.
And how many times has U.S. News & World Report named our university among the "best" -- a best value in education, a best program in a variety of fields. Just this month, the magazine ranked ESU 11th in the country for its online graduate education programs. No university in Kansas ranked higher, and most of the rest of the country trailed behind, too.
Home-grown businesses also have made their mark.
Sauder Tank Company, which moved here from Greenwood County, has been supplying monstrous tanks to the oil industry world-wide for decades. Hopkins Manufacturing produced an ice scraper that was the most-popular Christmas gift in 1985, and they've only expanded their product line since then.
Carl Didde and Don Glaser teamed up to invent a collator that revolutionized the printing industry. Didde Web Press had a long run dominating the market for small- and mid-sized presses world-wide, until technology and copy machines supplanted the need for most presses.
Even the city itself has done well. Emporia is -- by a Congressional resolution -- the official Founding City of Veterans Day. We have the National Teachers Hall of Fame and the new Fallen Teachers Memorial that's bringing in more visitors every day.
And this is only a sampling. There are many more that time prohibits mentioning.
Sure, there are things we need to improve, and we realize that doing a little better job every day will result in a better product or performance. But we do already have a great deal to be proud of in Emporia. The overall level of achievement in so many areas surely is unequaled by any other city our size.
We don't talk about it much, though. But if this were Emporia, Texas, instead of Emporia, Kansas, we wouldn't be able to stop ourselves.
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