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.

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