Something to Think About - keep (330)

            The word for today is difficult because there has never, ever been a Thanksgiving like this one! Twenty-twenty is our most challenging year ever making this message difficult to conceive.

            Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow and we all have a ton of blessings to celebrate. As always, I’m sure we will show our gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation for the many positive things and people in our lives.

            On the other hand, we each have losses this year to overcome and deal with. Loss of lives, businesses, jobs, friends, associations, and events too many to list but including senior years, graduations, weddings, funerals, trips, vacations, and on and on.

            So, what about tomorrow? How will you deal with Thanksgiving? Two of the so-called 4-F’s of Thanksgiving are in jeopardy if we heed the advice from leaders in defeating the Corona Virus. The Four are food, family, friends, and football. Two can be front and center, but we are being strongly advised to limit gatherings of family and friends.

            Remember: if you have to rationalize your Thanksgiving plans you likely are NOT following the suggested guidelines.

            We all desire this lifestyle caused by COVID 19 to end and fortunately, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines nearly ready for use.

            I firmly believe we are being tested. Our individual behaviors will determine how successful we are in the final accounting. Thanksgiving is traditionally our most group-oriented holiday. Add in colder weather meaning more time inside and large gatherings give this virus a leg up against us. Every holiday thus far this year has resulted in a spike, but we do have the ability to limit the negative effects from this one.

            I’ll end with two thoughts from dedicated health care professionals. The first described her advice as cheesy, but I disagree. It was simply: Give Thanks, not COVID!

            Then simply: If you let the virus out of the box it’s impossible to put it back in!

            Enough said. Please celebrate wisely. Let’s show our thanks by being responsible citizens in our conduct and prayerful in our thoughts.

            I’m Steve Sauder

          Today I’m having an imaginary lunch with President Donald Trump. After introductions, I’d let know that while I am honored to be with him, that to be candid, I did not vote for him either time.

          I would share with him that I don’t totally understand his delay in acknowledging the election results, but I suspect it involves his long term plans and a likely run for President in 2024. I understand that’s his choice and I am impressed with his belief that he will be physically capable since we are the same age!

          What I really wanted to visit with him about is the Corona Virus that is ripping a giant hole in the United States. I do not understand his position of basically ignoring Covid 19. I’m guessing he’s bought into the Herd Immunity theory but isn’t saying so publicly.

          Hopefully, he’d let me share Dr. Scott Maley’s post from last Sunday saying “Walking out of the hospital feeling utterly defeated. Out of 21 patients today, 14 with COVID. Some are relatively stable; others are on absurd amounts of oxygen. This is way worse than it was in the spring. Probably just a matter of time until I get it too. Please, please, please take this thing seriously or we are in for one hell of a winter,”

          After listening to President Trump’s response I’d ask permission to share my idea.

          I’d say, Sir, I am sure you are concerned about your legacy. I understand you can’t switch policy on COVID right now, but what about this idea?

          If you would use your tremendous influence to get a really well-planned stimulus package passed and implemented it could do wonders! Such a package would likely put economic concerns on the back burner.

          You are the ONLY person than make this happen.

          Such a move would allow governors and other officials to take the necessary actions in their states to fight this virus with the confidence businesses and citizens needing to sacrifice would have meaningful economic help available from you and the federal government.

          If this proposed stimulus has positive results I predict you’d be a hero and combined with the vaccine you have championed your legacy would not only be protected but enhanced!

          What do you think Mr. President?

          I’m Steve Sauder

            Writing about Rick Tidwell who died Saturday at age 65 from advanced melanoma is difficult because Rick was not only as valuable a business partner as you could ever have, he was also a friend.

            Interestingly, I wouldn’t list Rick as my closest friend, but one of my “best” friends because he was so reliable. Our fellow longtime business partner Stormy Supiran put it best saying “if you ask Rick for a favor, you could consider it done!”

            Several weeks ago Rick told me about his bad diagnoses telling me he likely would not be able to speak at my funeral as I had requested but that maybe…well....he broke down, but I’m sure he wanted me to talk at his. So, with his services delayed due to Covid here goes.

            Rick was a veteran EMT and firefighter in the early ’80s when he inquired if my company, Valu Line Long Distance would consider selling small telephone systems in Emporia? Rick saw an opportunity. We started a partnership with Rick working on his days off. It wasn’t long before success forced Rick to join us full-time.  Shortly thereafter we recruited Stormy and our lifelong partnership was born.

            Rick’s importance to Valu Line’s success was enormous with maybe most impressive being his grasp of regulatory and legal matters. Heck, we never employed a telecom lawyer even though we appeared regularly before the Kansas Corporation Commission and the FCC.

            The Bell Companies told the FCC they were willing to cooperate with CLEC’s – Competitive Local Exchange Carriers like us, but no one had requested their assistance. Valu Line changed that and our request was rewarded with a contract from Southwestern Bell that was 4” thick. Tidwell took it home. The next morning he summoned Stormy and me to share his findings. Quickly we decided we could sign and return that massive document!

            When we called SW Bell to inform them the signed contract was on its way back to them – well you could hear the proverbial pin drop. You see, the offer Ma Bell was making to us was a ruse. We had called their bluff - a fact that later was not lost at the FCC! Rick Tidwell became an industry hero!

            Valu Line had a great team with Rick’s contributions absolutely irreplaceable!

            After the merger with Birch, Rick commuted to Kansas City for 5 years and was a major player, but his skill and knowledge were never fully appreciated. The merger was a stressful adventure for all former Valu Line members.

            After Birch, Rick applied his creative talents in several places. You see, Rick was a very unique person. Being the son of parents who both possessed very strong personalities he was never lost for words or ideas.

            Rick’s biggest dream was to see Emporia better served by the internet. Meaning by someone other than Ma Bell. During our Valu Line days, a company put fiber in abandon natural gas lines crossing northwest Emporia. Rick and I visited with them about letting us hook up but they refused.

            We talked and dreamed many times about what a fiber connection could mean for Emporia. Rick never forgot!

            His persistence paid off about ten years ago when he learned the old Kansas Cellular owners were building a new fiber network in Kansas with Emporia in their plans!!

            His dream was now for real! This was Rick’s project and he invited me in because of my experience in building a company and in fundraising - certainly not for my telecom knowledge. We made a trip to Nebraska where a former colleague had created a functioning “fiber to the premises” company.

            We considered becoming a subsidiary. After creating a rough business plan we invited Bobbie Agler, our CFO at Valu Line to take a look. He critiqued our work as only Bob could do. The three of us plowed ahead.

            Suddenly we collectively concluded that if we added Stormy to our team we could make ValuNet FIBER a reality in Emporia without outside help.

            That statement was partially true. All we were missing with Stormy on board was about 6 million dollars!

            Amazingly, the rest is history. We were able to raise over 8 million invested dollars with most of it coming from Emporians!

            It was a team effort, but Rick was definitely our leader with Stormy and Bob adding invaluable contributions. Our investors were richly rewarded recently with a very successful merger with Sparklight.

            All these business stories are just a part of Rick’s life.

            Rick was rightfully proud of his family - mom Margie, dad Bill, brothers Dale, and Lon.

             Mrs. Tidwell,  Rick’s wife Sarah, a retired nurse and educator might have been the only human capable of standing up to Rick. Their relationship was epic.

            Proud is a massive understatement when Rick talked about his sons!

            Phillip, a Professor of Architecture lives in Finland with his wife Liesl. They often spend time in the States teaching at the collegiate level.

            Christopher grew up around race cars and wreckers and now is a valuable NASCAR mechanic living in North Carolina with his wife Stephanie and their children, Ryder (4) and River (18 months). And, yes, the grandkids controlled Rick !

            Friends? I said earlier that Rick was one of my “best” friends. No doubt many other people are saying Rick Tidwell was one of their “best” friends too.

            Not knowing all Rick’s friends I won’t mention any names, but I do know he and his friends liked practical jokes. Can you imagine a smoke alarm hidden in your attic with a bad battery chirping away? Rick could!

            Rick’s legendary coffee club will undoubtedly miss his playful presence!

            Rick liked things with wheels - like cars, trucks, race cars, motor cycles, motor homes, tractors, backhoes, dump trucks, bucket trucks, wreckers, and so on. If asked to participate in anything involving wheels Rick was “in!”

            Rick was a good citizen too. He was currently on the RDA Board and Chair of Emporia Enterprises. He had previously served on the Newman Hospital Board and Emporia Community Foundation Board. He and Sarah we strong supporters of SOS, Emporia State University, and the United Way.

            Rick was so damn smart, especially if the topic was telecom related. What’s amazing is he was completely self-taught. Paired with Stormy and their dedicated and talented associates no challenges were too big. Emporia internet users are indebted to Rick and his crew.

            So sad it has to end this way.

            My life is much richer because Rick Tidwell was a part of it. I loved and respected him and I am extremely proud to have been his partner. Rest in Pease Rick and please Lord, take care of my friend he was loved!

            I’m Steve Sauder

          I’m guessing Chief’s Head Coach Andy Reid doesn’t need much of an introduction here, but as an authority on the Coronavirus, you might have questions. Under his leadership, the Chiefs with way more than 100 people involved have kept the virus almost invisible.

          On the Chief’s Kingdom program last week he explained how this has been possible. Here are three keywords from Andy Reid’s thoughts.

          He used REAL to describe the importance and effectiveness of the three basics versus the virus: mask-wearing, washing hands, and social distancing. Nuff said!

          The second word is SELFISH. Andy said in his “humble opinion”

his people adopting a behavior of unselfishness has been the key. He pointed out this is hard especially if you are young or healthy, but everyone has to follow the rules. That’s unselfishness!

          Last, Andy talked about the SACRIFICES his people are making for the bigger goal. Granted the Chief’s have a lofty reason to stay virus-free but isn’t our combined health a reasonable goal too?

          While the Kansas City Chief’s are doing really well versus the Corona Virus - Lyon County, Kansas is not! As a matter of fact, our area isn’t succeeding with surrounding counties all showing double-digit new cases in the past few days.

          My thinking is it’s time for county commissioners in Lyon, Coffey, Greenwood, Chase, and Osage Coffey counties to re-consider a mask mandate, this time with enforcement.

          School districts need to make sure they are not a part of the problem. Parents and students need to re-visit the rules regularly and not become lax in their behavior.

          We all need to agree this challenge is not only REAL but that we are not winning this battle!  We collectively need to make sure our conduct is not SELFISH!

          Last thought, with Thanksgiving coming - if your decision concerning gatherings on turkey day needs to be rationalized then it’s likely the wrong decision. And, by the way – so-called Corvid Fatigue is a rationalization!

          Let’s resolve to do better! We can defeat the Corona Virus if we get REAL, not be SELFISH, and be willing to SACRIFICE for the common good.

          I’m Steve Sauder and I rest my case.

          Roger Hartsook was associated with KVOE Radio for over 50 years.

 We appreciated his service so much that we named our interview studio after him.

          Roger started at KVOE when the McKernan family were the owners.  He did it all – sports, news, weather, and co-hosting Over the Back Fence with Lyle Brown. He left KVOE after McKernan’s sold out.

          My family purchased the stations in 1986 and not long after invited Roger back to join our marketing crew – a position he maintained until his

semi-retirement when he became a  mentor for our sales team and my co-host on the Chat. Health concerns later forced his total retirement.

          I’ve been racking my brain to decide what about Roger impressed me most? He was really smart – well-read in everything from Shakespeare to Star Wars. He was really good at trivia. Roger never met a stranger. He was opinionated but had the ability to listen then agree to disagree when necessary.

          Ron Thomas remembered that Roger never got mad or lost his temper. Maybe that’s why he could hold elected office for 16 years or why he and the Gazette news staff got along back when their owners did not!

          Roger loved music. He played in the Emporia City Band as long as he could and then became their Master of Ceremonies.

          A cute music story he liked to tell came when his mother moved the family to Emporia. Roger, a 6’2” 220 lb. sophomore was asked by the Spartan’s football coach “what do you play?” To which Roger answered “The Trombone!”

          Roger was a hopeless storyteller. Instead of hopeless maybe I should have said endless. His stories never ended!

          His best stories were often about old days at KVOE – about the McKernan’s - Ed, Jr. and Ed III, Lyle Brown and Denny Privat were involved often. I particularly loved his stories about C of E basketball trips when the boys from the armed forces played in the early ’70s for Gene Stauffer and Ross Hammond.

          I wanted the On-Air Chat to recreate the “Over the Back Fence,” so I asked Roger to join. Our association was interesting. We had to set boundaries which caused several people including my wife to suggest that “I was hard on Roger.” To Rog and me it was part of our stick. He’d start telling one of his stories and I’d interrupt asking “how long will this take?” He never complained so guess we were okay. Our listeners loved it!

          Roger’s final years were difficult. With his mobility almost gone he ended up in a care facility in Chase County. We texted or talked on a somewhat regular basis.  Roger never complained about his plight. When we learned he had the virus we knew it wasn’t good. He fought a good fight but finally gave in on Sunday.

          Roger Hartsook was truly an Emporia icon. He touched many lives and most everything he did was good. Our community is a better place because Roger spent his 76 years amongst us. He had a million friends.

          Rest in Peace old friend.

          I’m Steve Sauder

            Back in high school, I participated in a forensics competition called “Informative Speaking” where I’d pick a topic and share about it.

            Today my topic is Herd Immunity which is the idea the Coronavirus might be defeated by letting it run its course until enough of our citizens become immune thus reducing the potential for a large outbreak.

            One doctor suggested that Herd Immunity is the pandemic’s “most insidious misconception!”

            Why would any doctor say that?

            Likely because without a vaccine in use herd immunity isn’t really a strategy. Herd Immunity has been used as a guide in a vaccine’s deployment, but NEVER has herd immunity been used without a vaccine.

            But, President Trump continues to mention this as a possible solution despite the fact that learned scientists suggest such a strategy in the United States would likely result in millions of additional deaths! And, yes, that was millions!

            Last Thursday at his Town Hall, President Trump would not rule out heard immunity. Previously on Fox News, he said and I quote: “Once you get to a certain number – we use the word herd – once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away.” End quote!

            Meaning, if you are paying attention you will figure out HERD IMMUNITY is precisely the strategy President Trump is following. True he hasn’t acknowledged it by name, but how else do you explain his refusal for wearing masks; or, his practice of holding massive rallies without social distancing and constantly belittling governors and scientists who mandate or promote life-saving tactics?

            Here’s the bottom-line as I understand it!

            For HERD IMMUNITY to be successful in the United States before a vaccine is available over 50 percent of our citizens will need to become infected. For herd immunity to succeed against Covid 19 it’s likely at least 150 million Americans will need to be infected! That’s insane!

            I am 74 years old and despite losing 35 pounds recently I am still officially obese. I suffer from a heart condition that has me in the care of a Heart Failure Specialist. These factors make me extremely vulnerable.

            So, without a doubt Herd Immunity is a death sentence for me and for many people like me with health challenges.

            Tomorrow night is the final debate between the two candidates for President. I really didn’t intend for this to be a political message, but if the best our leader can offer is that we’ve done a “fantastic job” and we are “rounding the corner” against the pandemic – well it does get personal and political for me.

            Potentially 150 million Americans infected and over a million deaths from this virus is truly NOT a reasonable outcome.  

            I’m Steve Sauder and I rest my case.

Differing opinions are important and inherent in humankind.
Sunday I was reminded that two of Jesus’ disciples were as different in their beliefs as someone ardently supporting President Trump’s re-election versus a Joe Biden supporter.
One disciple was a “zealot” meaning he opposed the Roman rule and sought to run them out of his land.
The other was actually a “tax collector” for the Roman government.
Even with their different opinions or beliefs, Jesus asked the disciples to work for their common goal, to love their neighbor, and share God’s love.
This story made me remember Emporia’s great federal prison debate from many years ago.
For those who weren’t in Emporia yet or don’t remember the College Emporia was closed and the Way International had taken over their campus. After a few years, the Way fell on hard times forcing them to decrease the use of the Emporia campus to just a few weeks a year. It’s believed this motivated Lyon County to change their taxing status from religious to commercial thus creating a massive tax bill for the Ohio-based Way.
Soon the Way started talks with the Federal Bureau of Prisons about making their campus in Emporia a federal prison!
This quickly became a very controversial issue.
I was a supporter. The lure of over a hundred new jobs in our town starting at a whopping $40,000 a year was overwhelming.
The opposition was present and the debate was active.
After a while, Emporia’s city commission who was task with moving forward on zoning for the prison decided to hold, as I remember it, a “non-binding referendum” on the question.
This upcoming vote intensified the debate to an incredible level.
The voters rejected ideas by a 57% margin!
While disappointed it struck me that the people had spoken and moving forward and accepting the decision was important.
Ironically, the people’s opinions worked out extremely well for me and my family not to mention Emporia.
My company purchased the old Vollmer Hall at 1420 C of E Drive and moved Valu-Line - the Telephone Company into the building along with I. S. Advertising. KVOE followed a year later.
My dad purchased among other things the old football field and practice area and it’s now one of Emporia's finest housing additions with 28 lovely homes!
Birch Telecom renovated the C of E Student Union. The C of E library has been used by many groups and is now occupied by Emporia Child Care. Kenyon Heights and Sterling House now provide needed senior living spaces. Bethel Baptist Church took over the chapel and the Emporia Christian School occupies the former science building. Dentist Marlin Flanigan and Haag Pharmacy found a home on the old campus too. SOS is moving to the campus soon to top off an amazing story.
I guess you’ll agree - the people knew best.
In a few days, Americans will vote for President and several other important positions. Let’s each plan to vote and then after the votes are counted accept the results. This is an important test for our American democracy.
The only mistake we can make would be to not participate because it’s a proven fact: THE PEOPLE KNOW BEST!!
I’m Steve Sauder.


Something to Think About - October 7, 2020


Polarization is defined as: “division into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions.”

        Ed O’Malley is the founder and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center. Recently he published an article about the “fog of polarization” in relation to this pandemic we are in.

        My belief for some time is that radical polarization is one of the biggest challenges we face in America.

        O’Malley’s conclusion that: “the pandemic simply became the latest canvas on which Americans paint a polarized civic culture” is absolutely right on.

        Ed points out that polarization makes problem-solving more difficult. His examples are familiar. It’s them, not us. They need to change, not us. Get the picture?

        He gave an even better example when he wrote: “I spoke to two prominent Kansas political figures this week, one Republican and one Democrat. Both bemoaned the hyperpolarization in our state government. (But)Neither saw their part of the mess.”

        Our underlying problem as I view it is we’ve quit listening and talking. Politically most of our minds are made up and the resulting polarization is killing us.

        O’Malley points out that both George W. Bush and Barrack Obama ran for president on unifying themes.

        Bush claimed to be an “uniter, not a divider.” And Obama pointed out “There’s no red America, there’s no blue America, there’s just the United States of America.” Unfortunately, both their terms as president ended with America more polarized than when they took office.

        Today the level of polarization in America is off the charts. Have you ever heard President Trump reach out in an effort to unify? Me neither.

        Towards the end of congressman Roger Marshall’s first term at a luncheon, I ask him: “How often do you actually talk with a democrat in Washington?”

        His answer was: other than in a group of newly elected representatives that he chaired, not that often!”

        I was stunned. My contention is if there are not even conversations between Republicans and Democrats in Washington D.C. there’s no chance for compromise or progress.

        My votes in November will be based largely on the candidates that tell me they want to work across the aisle, not for anyone suggesting they have all the answers!

        I’m Steve Sauder.

          When I say Lake Kahola, what comes to your mind?

          If you aren’t familiar with Lake Kahola here’s some information. It was built by a federal work program in the ’30s with the 70-foot tall dam completed in 1937. It was thought at one time Kahola could provide a backup water supply for Emporia, but lake veterans tell me nary a drop of lake water ever reached E-Town.

          Kahola is Indian for “spring water.” That seems accurate as the Lake’s water is typically crystal clear like a stream and fishing is amazing.

          The lake of 405 acres of water sits on an 800-acre plot. Its 2 miles long with 7 miles of shoreline. There are 180 cabin sites leaving plenty of free shore with no new home sites allowed. I called them cabins, but there are a number of really nice homes at Kahola. In fact, rumor has it there a property for sale with an asking price of a million-plus!

          The lake was owned by Emporia City until a while back when the Home Owner’s Association made a deal to end the leases and allow the properties to be individually purchased.

          The 20 miles from Emporia to Kahola have always been unique – at least the last 7 to 8 miles which are now gravel. Old-timers told me they liked the bad roads to keep curious outsiders away. The roads are a challenge but manageable if you follow the advice of my longtime neighbor – the late Don Ek, who said “don’t exceed 40 MPH and you’ll never get a flat!”

          The bad roads haven’t worked to keep people away as Wichita and Kansas City people own a number of cabins at Kahola.

          With that said let me share a story about the things that make Lake Kahola so special. We purchased a vacant lot 20 years ago and Eric Johnson built us a very nice lake home. Over time we have used it in various ways with my sons becoming more and more involved to the point they now run the show. Jamie, who lives in Emporia takes the lead but brothers Brady from Manhatten and TJ from Shawnee have upped their participation greatly.

          The Pandemic has made the lake an extremely attractive destination.

          Sunday Bobbi and I received a text from Brady’s family saying they were headed to Kahola for some fishing and wondered if we’d like to come out later for a boat ride.

          It worked out after golf we drove the nasty gravel to Kahola. What an enjoyable time! It was maybe 80 degrees, slight breeze, and sunshine. After sitting around the fire pit for a while we boarded our tri-tune party boat and circled the lake seeing many friends and enjoying God’s beauty.

          Lake Kahola is a special place for many reasons and we experienced several of them last Sunday. We feel blessed.

          I’m Steve Sauder

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