Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Last week, the Senate was out of session so senators could work back in their states, so I spent the week in Kansas attending several events across the state. I always appreciate the opportunity to be back in the state for a longer period of time and enjoyed my conversations with Kansans.
Tornado Damage Across Northeast Kansas
After two days straight of violent weather including several tornadoes across Northeast Kansas,
I joined Marysville Mayor Bill Phillipi, Marshall County Emergency Management Director Bill Schwindamann and Marshall County Sheriff Daniel Hargrave to visit homes and businesses affected by the storms. It was not surprising to hear positive outlooks from community members – a typical Kansas response in the face of enormous challenges. Neighbors were helping neighbors, and there is no doubt areas affected by the tornadoes will bounce back. Thank you to the emergency responders and volunteers who are continuing to assist Kansans affected. Click here to see a photo of my time in Marysville.
National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Central Utilities Plant Groundbreaking
It was great to take part in the groundbreaking of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility’s Central Utilities Plant (CUP). Construction of the CUP is a step in the right direction to make certain the United States is protected from foreign animal disease threats, and is good news for Kansas, agriculture, and the economy. Although challenges remain, I will work to make certain construction of NBAF – an essential part of our national security apparatus – moves forward. I joined Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz, Governor Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Lynn Jenkins and Rep. Tim Huelskamp along with other state representatives in Manhattan to celebrate. Click here to see a photo.
Visiting Kansas City Metropolitan Area Businesses
This week it was a pleasure to meet with and learn more about two Kansas City-area businesses: SFP in Leawood and CertainTeed in the Fairfax District of Kansas City, Kansas.
Established in 1998, SFP’s top priority is to help growers optimize their resources and maximize fertilizer efficiency resulting in the production of stronger, healthier crops. They believe the future of the agricultural industry is dependent upon fertilizer efficiency, and it was interesting to learn more about the work and research of this Kansas-based corporation. As our nation’s population and demand on agriculture continues to grow, we as Kansans can rely on these folks and their colleagues to help producers feed the world. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
While visiting CertainTeed, I learned about the process of making fiberglass insulation — a product used in most homes and commercial buildings. Their location along the Kansas River is strategic, as sand is a major component of fiberglass. The sand is melted, spun like cotton candy into fibers, added to a binding substance, and then formed into a variety of thicknesses. Learning that CertainTeed is only operating at 40 percent of capacity shows me how local companies are impacted by the less than ideal housing market. They are hopeful it will begin to rebound and result in an uptick in plant capacity and jobs in the near future. Thank you to Fairfax Industrial Association (FIA) Executive Director Chuck Schlittler for the invitation to visit CertainTeed and to Ron Rodvelt, plant engineer for organizing it. Thanks also to KCK Chamber CEO Cindy Cash for joining us on the tour. Click here to see a photo from my time at CertainTeed.
Touring Southeast Kansas Healthcare Facilities
As Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee, visits to health care facilities across our state help me better understand the unique challenges they face in caring for an increasingly aging rural population across a wide area. It is extremely important that legislators recognize that the health care access these hospitals provide is essential to the survival and success of rural communities across the country. While in Southeast Kansas last week, I toured two healthcare facilities: Girard Medical Center and Ortho 4-States and Premier Surgical Center.
Girard Medical Center
At Girard Medical Center (GMC), I toured the hospital and visited with CEO Mike Payne and his staff. GMC is a Critical Access Hospital that also operates satellite locations to care for patients in Frontenac, Arma and Cherokee. In 2010, GMC underwent an $11 million expansion project to upgrade its facility and the range of health care options available to its patients. During my tour, I saw many of these upgrades, which include new private treatment rooms, patient consulting rooms, patient registration areas, and an intensive care unit. GMC also significantly expanded its surgery center. GMC is designated as a Level IV Trauma Center responsible for stabilizing seriously injured patients in a rural part of our state and, if necessary, transferring them to a higher level trauma center. The Kansas Foundation for Medical Care has recognized GMC for best practices in inpatient quality reporting for surgical infection prevention and quality of treatment for certain conditions, highlighting that GMC is setting the standard for patient care sharing its best practices with other Kansas hospitals. Thanks to Mike and his staff for hosting me and to Girard Mayor Kurt Ziegler, Girard City Administrator Gary Emry and Girard Area Chamber of Commerce Director Julie Smith for joining me on this visit. Click here to see a photo.
Ortho 4-States and Premier Surgical Center
Ortho 4-States in Galena includes Stateline Surgery Center and the new Premier Surgical Institute. The campus features state-of-the-art equipment including a HydroWorx therapy pool. The pool — one of only three in Kansas — features a treadmill which is beneficial to patients who have undergone knee and hip replacements. CEO Joe Caputo’s philosophy, “patients heal faster if they are as comfortable as possible, and we want our standard of care to be unmatched in the industry,” is clearly demonstrated by the medical providers and staff. Thank you to former state representative and Ortho 4-States Government Relations Director Doug Gatewood for the invitation and to CEO Joe Caputo, COO Jenny Morris and their physicians and staff for a warm welcome. It was also good to see Galena Chamber Director Kathy Anderson.
Opened in early 2013, the Premier Surgical Institute is owned by the city of Galena, but operated by its physicians and is already looking to expand. Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby also toured the facility and noted that the partnership between the two entities has provided opportunity for growth. Following my visit, Mayor Oglesby, Doug Gatewood, Galena Police Chief Larry Delmont, Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves and area businessman and entrepreneur Brian Jordan showed me the progress taking place to revive their downtown district along with the expansion taking place around the Ortho 4-States campus. We discussed the collaboration taking place between businesses, individuals and local government as well as my interest in entrepreneurship and how government can help businesses get started and grow. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Attending the Fredonia Rotary Club Meeting
On Friday, I joined the Fredonia Rotary Club for their weekly meeting. I always enjoy the opportunity to visit with fellow Rotarians. We discussed local, state, and national issues including health care, the Farm Bill and immigration reform. It was great to catch up and visit with long-time friends Susan Welton and Beverly Gaines. I appreciate Wilson County Commissioner Russ Walker, Fredonia City Administrator Flip Hutfles and new Fredonia Hospital CEO Alan Fisher for taking time out of their schedules to attend. Thank you to club president Christy Aylor for arranging my visit. Click here to see a photo.
Now Accepting 2013 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.
To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 6, 2013. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Sheila Talley of Seneca
Ross Talley of Seneca
Marcy Evans of Manhattan
Nick Evans of Manhattan
Michael Kumke of Olathe
Michelle Kumke of Olathe
Chris Kumke of Olathe
Donald Avery of Manhattan
Brenda Avery of Manhattan
Ann Albers of Tecumseh
Rosanne LaBarge of Oakley
Carla Deckert of Topeka
Joseph Conradt of Leawood
Martha Conradt of Leawood
Maxwell Conradt of Leawood
Benjamin Conradt of Leawood
Jeff Mauro of Topeka
Cathy Mauro of Topeka
Jeremy Mauro of Topeka
Jerome Hellmer of Salina
Susan Hellmer of Salina
Traci Crothers of Salina
Cyleste Frame of Salina
Karen Skillman of Topeka
Galen Fleming of Waverly
Waldon Kennedy of Derby
LaTonia Kennedy of Derby
Ivy Kennedy of Derby
Jasmine Kennedy of Derby
Olivia Kennedy of Derby
Doug Tofteland of North Newton
Brenda Tofteland of North Newton
Ernest Klaus of Hays
Linette Klaus of Hays
Chad Schroeder of Salina
Shelley Schroeder of Salina
Hannah Schroeder of Salina
Abigail Schroeder of Salina
Grace Schroeder of Salina
Isabel Schroeder of Salina
Larry Dunlap of Salina
Catherine Dunlap of Salina
Luke Dunlap of Salina
Ryan Jensen of Topeka
Lori Jensen of Topeka
Lukas Jensen of Topeka
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,
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