Kansas Common Sense
Jun 06 2016
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71 Years Later, Recognizing Heroism in WWII
I had the privilege of presenting the Prisoner of War (POW) Medal to WWII Veteran Harry “Kit” Beatty of Sabetha this weekend 71 years after his release from service. Private Beatty joined the U.S. Army in 1944 at age 18 and fought in Central Europe where he was captured by the enemy on April 14, 1945. He and others in his unit were taken on a 15-day march finally arriving at a prison camp. On May 3, 1945, Kit and 104 other men were freed by Allied troops. After his release from duty, Kit took a brief period of leave before bravely electing to serve for one more year. It was during his brief leave that the War Department misplaced his records, which meant Kit never received the special recognition he was due.
I was honored to be with Kit yesterday – his 90th birthday – to present him with both the documents proving his capture and the POW Medal he deserves for his sacrifice. I am forever grateful to the men and women who serve our country, and they deserve every bit of recognition we can provide them. Special thanks to Representative Randy Garber for directing the Kansas House Veterans, Military & Homeland Security Committee to my office regarding Mr. Beatty’s Purple Heart, and thanks to Mrs. Beatty and his family for inviting me to join Kit’s birthday celebration.
Expanding Veterans’ Access to Care in Central Kansas
I had the honor of speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lt. Gen. Richard “Dick” J. Seitz Community Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Junction City on Saturday. This facility will serve veterans in the Flint Hills Region who require outpatient medical care and will ensure that those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country are able to receive quality medical care close to home.
After Lt. Gen. Seitz’s passing, I introduced legislation that passed in the Senate in 2014 to honor Dick’s legacy by naming this new facility after him. Dick was a great man, a dedicated soldier and an American hero. He was also a mentor, a friend and someone I hold in extremely high regard. Although he retired to Junction City following his retirement from the military, Dick never retired from serving others. I am grateful for his commitment to serving Junction City, and I am delighted to celebrate him by naming this clinic in his honor.
I want to thank Dick’s nephew Col. John Seitz and VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System Director Rudy Klopfer for allowing me to take part in the groundbreaking.
Participating in Wichita Chamber of Commerce Forum
I attended Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Federal Issues Forum on Wednesday where conversations with more than 100 chamber members included a variety of topics: the appropriations process, reduction of regulatory burdens and the federal debt. We also discussed continued support for McConnell Air Force Base, general aviation and the Equus Beds Aquifer. I was honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Spirit of Enterprise” Award for promoting pro-growth, pro-jobs policies. Thank you to Chamber President Gary Plummer for the invitation, to Cox Communications Market VP Coleen Jennison for the kind introduction and to chamber members for providing valuable input as we continue working to create an environment where local businesses in Kansas can succeed.
Visiting with Kansans in Liberal
I held a town hall meeting Thursday in Liberal at Seward County Community College (SCCC) where I was joined by Kansans to have a conversation about issues like transportation and the expansion of U.S. Highway 54, veterans’ care, Social Security and obtrusive federal regulations. The meeting also afforded me an opportunity to present a token of my deep appreciation to Jack and Georgetta Taylor with remarks in the Congressional Record commemorating all they’ve done for the Liberal community over the years. Thanks to Lois Magner and President Ken Trzaska at SCCC for her help setting up the meeting and Mayor Joe Denoyer, Liberal Chamber of Commerce President Rozelle Webb, Seward Co. Commisioner C.J. Wettstein and State Reps. Bud Estes and Shannon Francis for taking part.
From SCCC I made my way to Southwest Medical Center (SWMC) in Liberal for a tour of the hospital, which has 101 beds and serves a region that includes parts of five different states. I especially appreciated discussion surrounding diabetes prevention care and marketing director Keeley Moree taking the time to show me around. Thanks also to Amber Williams and Mark Cowan for joining the visit. The services provided at places like SWMC are critical to preserving the special way of life we enjoy in Kansas and supporting them benefits us all.
Garden City Continues to Grow
I enjoyed the opportunity to be at the new Clarion Park Estates in Garden City earlier Thursday afternoon to help dedicate Cole Circle in honor of Mrs. Frances Cole O’Brate. Frances and her husband Cecil have worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for children all across Kansas through their work with the O’Brate Foundation. Frances has devoted her life to serving others, and this sign will serve as a testament to the lives she has impacted in Garden City and throughout Kansas. It was a pleasure to visit with the Garden City residents who attended the dedication.
Kansas Listening Tour Stops in Allen, Kiowa, Clark, Scott and Lane Counties
It was nice to be in Iola on Tuesday to visit with members of the Iola Kiwanis Club and hear concerns from area residents about federal issues including national security, the Zika virus, veterans’ health care and the desire for more collaboration in Washington. Thanks to State Senator Caryn Tyson, former Allen County Commissioner Gary McIntosh, Allen County Commissioner Jim Talkington, former Iola Mayor Bill Shirley, Allen County Sheriff Bryan Murphy, Iola City Councilwomen Beverly Franklin and Nancy Ford, and Allen Community College President John Masterson for stopping by. I appreciated Allen County Regional Hospital CEO Tony Thompson for hosting the event and Iola Kiwanis President Mike Ford's warm welcome.
I had a lively conversation in Greensburg at Kiowa County Memorial Hospital on Wednesday as part of my Kansas Listening Tour. We discussed my efforts to stop the president’s plan to transfer terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, legislation to care for our veterans, ways to create jobs and help our struggling economy, as well as our shared concern to improve health care in Kansas. Thanks to Mary Sweet for setting up the meeting. Thanks also to Mayor Bob Dixon for his attendance and his extraordinary efforts in bringing businesses back to Greensburg.
Following my town hall in Greensburg, I traveled west to Minneola for my Clark County listening tour stop. The discussion I had with the 20 attendees ranged from the vital role that agriculture plays in this state to the bureaucratic regulations that harm our way of life. Thanks to Frank York for the assistance with hosting this town hall, and to Ashland Mayor Kendal Kay for attending.
My Friday morning began in Scott City where I held a town hall meeting at Scott County Hospital. I was joined by a group of area residents for a discussion about issues like delisting the lesser prairie chicken, veterans’ experiences receiving care from the VA, enforcement of immigration laws and the out-of-control national debt. It was nice to have folks willing to come out and share their morning with me, and I appreciated Mark Burnett and Michelle Nix’s help arranging my visit.
From Scott City, I headed to Dighton where I had the opportunity to meet with a group of Lane County residents for a listening tour stop at the courthouse. I heard feedback on a range of issues from water conservation practices to long lines at our airports to the VA and healthcare concerns. I especially appreciated hearing from State Rep. Don Heineman and former State Rep. Max Moomaw about issues affecting them at the state level. Thank you to Ruby Martin for her assistance in setting up this meeting and to the Kansans who came to have a conversation with me.
Stopping in Burlington and LeRoy
I had the opportunity to stop in at some of the local businesses in Coffey County on Tuesday morning. While in LeRoy, I visited with Citizens State Bank VP Irene Kennard and Loan Officer Jason Massoth and stopped by the LeRoy Post Office, LeRoy Co-Op, City Hall and the Coffey County Library branch. In Burlington, I visited the Lyon-Coffey Electric Cooperative, Coffey County Hospital, the Farm Bureau, the Coffey County Chamber of Commerce, the Coffey County Housing Authority, the Courthouse, God’s Storehouse and Casey’s General Store. It was great to see so many friendly faces.
Kansans in the Office
Craft Brewers Association
Steve Bradt of Lawrence
Ron Wonderlich of Topeka
Tricia Wonderlich of Topeka
John Wonderlich of Topeka
Jessica Wonderlich of Topeka
Steve Gonzalez of Derby
Charlene Gonzalez of Derby
Layla Gonzalez of Derby
Larissa Gonzalez of Derby
Loren Gonzalez of Derby
Ryan Blankenship of Andover
Lloyd Voth of Newton
Beau Blankenship of Andover
Jennifer Voth of Wichita
Marlene Voth of Newton
Shannon Casebeer of Manhattan
Scott Gepner of Wichita
Amy Gepner of Wichita
Adam Gepner of Wichita
Mary Pendry of Lawrence
Christopher Pendry of Lawrence
Stephen Pendry of Lawrence
Paul Pendry of Lawrence
Dan Sell of Chapman
Noah Sell of Chapman
Colt Sell of Chapman
Lacee Sell of Chapman
Julie Goldsmith of Abilene
Laura Rhodenbaugh of Salina
Brent Rhodenbaugh of Salina
Kelsey Reusser of Wichita
Kathleen Haworth of Kansas City
Hannah Haworth of Kansas City
Miranda Loats of Overland Park
Tena Loats of Overland Park
Abby Loats of Overland Park
Theresa Singer of Olathe
Clara Singer of Olathe
Aria Singer of Olathe
Cynthia Folks of Lawrence
Emily Folks of Lawrence
Alyssa Cruickshank of Lawrence
Cade Cruickshank of Lawrence
Courtney Cruickshank of Lawrence
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.
Very truly yours,
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