Kansas Common Sense

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Although many pressing issues remain unaddressed in Washington, the Senate is out of session for August recess. I believe my colleagues and I should be in Washington working to solve the country's problems but unfortunately Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sets the agenda and the floor schedule. I spent the week in Kansas attending several events across the state. I always appreciate the opportunity to be back in the state and enjoyed my conversations with Kansans.

 

Overland Park Regional Medical Center Completes Hospital Expansion

On Tuesday, I spoke at the grand opening ceremony for the expansion of Overland Park Regional Medical Center (OPRMC). This $110 million hospital expansion includes a new three-story patient tower, a state-of-the art Emergency Department, an expanded Trauma Center, and a new parking garage. OPRMC has been serving the health care needs of Johnson County and the surrounding area since 1978. The hospital has more than 1,000 employees and more than 700 physicians serving patients and their families. This major expansion project represents OPRMC’s long-term commitment to the health of its community. I visited OPRMC in 2011 and 2012, and it has been fantastic to see the progression of this expansion and now to commemorate its completion. 

Throughout my time in public service, I have been privileged to visit all 128 community hospitals in our state, and I continue to learn the vital role each facility plays in caring for the residents of their community. No one ever wants their child or family member to be ill or injured, but when residents of the Overland Park community find themselves in need of medical care, they have an outstanding resource in OPRMC. Thanks to OPRMC President and CEO Kevin Hicks, Chief Medical Officer John Romito and Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach for speaking at this ceremony with me. And, thanks to OPRMC staff, the hospital Board of Trustees and all those involved in this project for your commitment and dedication. I appreciate the invitation to join the commemoration of this milestone.

 

Meeting with Lenexa Chamber of Commerce

This week, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Legislative Affairs Committee and Economic Development Council at the Historic Thompson Barn to discuss issues facing their businesses and the community. We talked about funding for transportation and infrastructure, which is important to Lenexa with I-435 and I-35 running through the city. Additional issues discussed were budget and appropriations, as well as potential cuts to military personnel at Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Riley. I appreciate the comments and concerns expressed as chamber members represent 700 businesses and thousands of Lenexa employees. Thanks to Lenexa Chamber Vice President Ashley Sherard for the invitation and to Mayor Mike Boehm for attending. Here, I’m pictured with Meritex Enterprises’ Lonnie Cannon and Chamber President Blake Shreck.

 

Olathe Noon Rotary Club Meeting

This week, I attended the Olathe Noon Rotary Club at the new Olathe Community Center. Four members of the club spoke about the importance of Rotary and its impact on individuals in their community. I appreciated hearing from Cindy VonFeldt of Olathe Public Schools Foundation, Jerry Moore of Grass Pad, Jason Heard of Frank Ancona Honda and Vernon Avant of Insperity. I am proud to be a fellow Rotarian and appreciate the good work the Olathe Rotary club does for their community. Thanks to Olathe Rotary Club President Geoff Neufeld for his hospitality and Olathe Rotary Speaker Chair Jason Armstrong for coordinating my visit.

 

Congratulating 2014 Graduates at Flint Hills Job Corps Center

On Friday, I had the opportunity to speak at the graduation ceremony for the class of 2014 at the Flint Hills Job Corps Center in Manhattan. As our nation competes in a global economy, it is now more important than ever to acquire the right skills to succeed in the workplace. Job Corps is a critical component of our nation’s workforce development system, particularly for at-risk youth. Throughout the country, there are 125 Job Corps centers, but Flint Hills is the only center in Kansas. Their mission is to equip young people with the education and skills needed to be successful in life.

I was impressed to learn that more than 90 percent of the class graduated this year and more than 90 percent acquired a job upon graduation. This demonstrates these students are hard working and committed to making the most out of the opportunities before them. This year’s class also found time to give back to the community and spent more than 8,000 hours volunteering in service projects within Manhattan and across Kansas. These students have already learned an important lesson at a young age: a community thrives when its citizens get involved.

Job Corps training programs make a difference in the lives of young people. Congratulations again to the class of 2014 on a job well done. And thanks to Center Director Gary Vesta and Academic Supervisor Mario Morales for inviting me to take part in the graduation ceremony.

 

Visiting Manko Window Systems

On Friday, I had the opportunity to tour Manko Window Systems. Headquartered in The Little Apple, Manko produces commercial window systems, entrance doors, storefront systems and curtain wall systems and distributes them to consumers across the globe. Since their inception in 1989, Manko has grown from two employees to more than 400 spanning 28 states – 245 of those employees based in Manhattan. It was useful to see this successful business in action. Thanks to Steve Jones and Gary Jones for the informative and enjoyable tour.

Meeting with new Baker University President Dr. Lynne Murray

After my Listening Tour stop in Baldwin on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit with new Baker University President, Dr. Lynne Murray. Dr. Murray became the 29th president of Baker on July 1st. She succeeded President Pat Long, who retired following the 2013-2014 academic year. Dr. Murray previously served as Vice President for Development, International and Alumni Relations at Gallaudet University, the world’s only university for the deaf and hearing impaired. Prior to her time at Gallaudet, she was an administrator at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University. Kansas colleges and universities have an important role in preparing Kansans to compete in the global, 21st Century economy. I wish Dr. Murray the best as she begins her presidency at Baker.

 

Discussing the Importance of Medical Research

After my town hall meeting in Paola, I met with Reed Garrett who has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) for more than 50 years. Several of his family members have also been affected by T1D. Actually, as many as three million Americans may have T1D. T1D, also called juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in young people, but it can affect adults as well. This type of diabetes results from the body’s inability to produce insulin to convert sugars and other foods into energy. His family is involved with JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) to raise funds for T1D research, with the hopes of finding better treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease. I appreciate Reed sharing his personal story with me, as well as the opportunity to learn more about how T1D affects the daily lives of individuals in Kansas and across the country.

Diabetes is among the most common of all chronic diseases, often leading to other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. These health problems cost our nation billions of dollars every year and result in unquantifiable suffering for millions of Americans. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducts diabetes research in its own laboratories and supports research in medical centers and hospitals throughout the United States. As Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NIH, the focal point of our nation's medical research, I will continue working to prioritize NIH’s budget to produce research and treatment advances that are helping create a brighter future for Americans burdened by diabetes and reduce health care costs. 

 

Agricultural Business Council

It was an honor to speak to the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City this week. I discussed the lesser prairie chicken threatened species listing, EPA water regulations, and the need for producers, agriculture leaders and elected officials from rural states to educate legislators and folks from urban areas about the importance of modern agriculture. One of my top priorities in the Senate is working to preserve our way of life in Kansas. Thanks to the Agriculture Business Council of Kansas City Executive Director Bob Peterson for the opportunity to speak.

 

Listening Tour Stops in Franklin, Douglas and Miami Counties

My listening tour across the state continued this week in Franklin, Douglas and Miami Counties. The issues I focus on and the work I do in Washington, D.C., are largely based on the conversations I have with Kansans during these town hall meetings. Click here to see a list of upcoming stops.

It was great to be in Ottawa with more than 40 area residents at my Franklin County Town Hall Meeting. We discussed a number of issues facing Kansas and the nation including regulatory relief for small business, EPA regulated waters, health care through the VA and the Department of Transportation. Thanks to former Kansas State Rep. George Wingert for attending.

I enjoyed a spirited discussion with Paola area residents at my Miami County Listening Tour stop. Our conversation touched on a broad array of challenging topics, and I appreciated the folks who came out to share thoughts and concerns. Some of the topics I heard feedback on were economic development, renewable energy and the tax code. Here, I'm pictured with Dave Green and USD368 Superintendent Judy Welter. Thanks to the Paola Chamber of Commerce for hosting the event.

In Baldwin City, area residents shared concerns about living within our means, health care, Senate rules and federal regulations. Thanks to the folks who came out and shared a good dose of Kansas common sense.

Service Academy Nomination Application Deadline

With students headed back to school this month, I want to remind interested students that the application deadline for nominations to the U.S. Service Academies will be here soon. I consider appointments to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy one of my most treasured responsibilities as U.S. Senator. Each fall I appoint a 20-member selection board to interview the applicants and help me make the tough decisions. This year’s application are due to my Olathe office on Friday, September 12, 2014, and if qualified, applicants will interviewed at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene on Saturday, October 18, 2014. For more information about eligibility and the application process please check my website. For additional questions please contact Lisa Dethloff in my Olathe office by email or by calling 913-393-0711.

 

Kansas in the Office

ARMA International
Liz Icenogle of Overland Park

National Guard
Todd Kavoures of Lindsborg
Mike Rooney of Derby
Penny Jamvold or Rossville

Capitol Tour
Hana Johnson of Wichita

Honored to Serve You in Washington

It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard. 

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

 

Very truly yours,

Jerry

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