Kansas Common Sense

Hosting NASA Administrator in Kansas
Cosmosphere in Hutchinson
On Friday, I hosted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson to meet with local leaders and tour the incredible science museum. As we honor the history of our space program at the Cosmosphere, we are also approaching the dawn of a new era in space. In a few days, Artemis I will launch from the Kennedy Space Center, the most powerful rocket to ever leave Earth. The next step will be putting astronauts back on the Moon and then further into space.


The Cosmosphere plays an important role in helping inspire and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts. As the lead Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA, I have made it a priority to bring NASA leaders and aerospace companies to the Cosmosphere so they can witness firsthand the great work being done to engage with students across the country.


Thank you to the Cosmosphere for being an asset to our state and the nation in these efforts. Special thanks to Jim Remar, President and CEO at the Cosmosphere, and Mimi Meredith, Senior Vice President of Communication and Chief Development Officer at the Cosmosphere, for the tour today and for the work they do to further inspire and educate young Kansans.


McCurry Brothers Angus Farm near Sedgwick
As part of our NASA visits on Friday, I hosted NASA Administrator Nelson and Dr. Karen St. Germain, Division Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, at the McCurry Brothers Angus Farm near Sedgwick. We discussed the droughts across Kansas and how they impact our farming community. We also discussed the use of NASA satellites to better understand weather patterns, plant crops and utilize fields and land for our farmers and ranchers. Thank you to Greg McCurry, Jesse McCurry, Pam McCurry, Matt Splitter and Vin Kissek for hosting us during this visit and for showing Administrator Nelson and Director St. Germain the importance of Kansas agriculture.

To read more about NASA’s visit, click here.


D-J Engineering in Augusta
On Friday, we also visited D-J Engineering in Augusta. This south central Kansas company produces parts, composites and other manufacturing services to support our nation’s aerospace and defense industries.
D-J Engineering also manufactures parts for the Space Launch System (SLS), the launch vehicle used for NASA’s Artemis mission which will take us back to the Moon and beyond. The Artemis I mission is set to launch later this month.

Thank you to all at D-J Engineering for hosting us and for the work they do on a daily basis to advance our state’s role in space. Special thanks to Rezaul Chowdhury, Owner and CEO of D-J Engineering, and Ryan Hernandez, Vice President of Engineering and Tech Services, for their commitment to this mission for Kansas and our nation.

To read more about the visit, click here.


Announcing a New Milestone for Wichita State's NIAR WERX
This week, I joined the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University to announce a new milestone for NIAR’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Program. NIAR WERX and Erickson Precision Ventures currently have a partnership allowing them to work together on modification, maintenance and engineering for various Boeing and Airbus aircraft, and are starting a new chapter for this program with the addition of passenger-to-freighter conversions, adding two new aircraft – A-321 and 320s – to its conversion portfolio. This process allows military or passenger aircraft to be converted into commercial freighters, extending the life of the aircraft.

Partnerships between universities and private-sector companies, like the one between NIAR WERX and Erickson Precision Ventures, demonstrate why Wichita is at the forefront of the aviation industry. Here in Kansas, our workforce is talented, energetic and eager to support and contribute to this vital aspect of the state’s economy. Erickson Precision Ventures helps meet the demand for Airbus and Boeing aircraft by working with partners around the globe to create industry leading products, and the groundbreaking work done at NIAR – from manufacturing, to maintenance, repair, and overhaul – makes it an ideal partner for engineering the aircraft of tomorrow. There are many people whose hard work has contributed to this milestone. Thank you to Dr. John Tomblin, WSU Senior Vice President for Industry & Defense Programs & NIAR Executive Director, David Jones, NIAR WERX Executive Director, Rick Muma, WSU President, Sheree Utash, WSU Tech President, Ty Masterson, Kansas Senate President and Jack Erickson, Founder of Erickson Precision Ventures, for joining in this announcement for Wichita and our state.


Recognizing Blue Rapids as a "Fiber Community"
On Tuesday, I participated in a ribbon cutting marking Blue Rapids as a “Fiber Community” with access to fiber optic internet. This announcement is great news for the Blue Rapids community. Quality, high-speed internet is vital for our rural communities in connecting residents to much-needed educational opportunities, tele-heath care and a variety of other resources for Kansans of all ages. Access to technology – especially in rural and underserved areas – unlocks an array of opportunities for businesses, students and families alike. Thank you to State Representative Lisa Moser, Blue Rapids Mayor Jerry Zayas, Blue Valley Technologies CEO Candace Wright, John Smith, Director of Kansas Office of Broadband Development Jade Piros de Carvalho and Terry Force for joining in this announcement.


Speaking at the Opening of KU Innovation Park Phase III Expansion
On Wednesday, I spoke at the dedication and opening of the University of Kansas Innovation Park Phase III expansion at the University of Kansas West campus. The KU Innovation Park is a non-profit economic development organization serving Northeast Kansas by offering state-of-the-art lab, office and co-working facilities to support innovative technology-focused companies and entrepreneurs. Partnerships between higher education and business leaders, like this one, highlight our state’s role as a hub for business and a place where entrepreneurs can succeed.

As the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science with jurisdiction and oversight authority over the Economic Development Administration, I secured a grant to help support the Phase III building. Supporting our business leaders and entrepreneurs is vital for our state’s economy and well-being. Thanks to KU Chancellor Doug Girod, U.S. Economic Development Administration Regional Director Angela Martinez, KU Innovation Park Executive Chairman LaVerne Epp and other state and local leaders for joining in this exciting milestone for our state.

Visiting KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum
During my time in Lawrence, I also visited the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum is part of the KU Biodiversity Institute, a KU designated research center focused on studying past and present life. Here, researchers study life on our planet and train the next generation of scientists. The museum is also home to a variety of plants, animals, fossils and cultural artifacts on display for undergraduate, graduate and public education. It was great to see the work being done to preserve our history, conduct research and educate both KU students and visitors of all ages on the world around us. Thanks to Anne Tangeman, Communications Director and Event Coordinator, Teresa MacDonald, Associate Director for Informal Science Education, and Jaime Keeler, Assistant Director of Finance and Personnel, for hosting me during this visit and for providing an informative tour of the resources offered here.

Visiting Combat Air Museum in Topeka
This week, I visited the Combat Air Museum located at the Topeka Regional Airport at Forbes Field. Since its opening in 1976, this museum has served as an educational center and tourist destination for those looking to learn more about military aviation history. It is one of only a handful of major aviation museums in the U.S. that is located on an active air field and is home to the largest collection of WWI replica aircraft in the Midwest, as well as 46 aircraft. It was great to hear about the work being done here to preserve our history and to make certain the next generation learns about our nation’s past and the sacrifices made by those who came before us.
During my visit, I met Deb Lamere, a volunteer with the Combat Air Museum and a disabled veteran who joined the Army shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks. During her service, she flew combat tours on Chinook helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Christmas night in 2005, she flew in Iraq aboard the very same Boeing Chinook CH-47D that is now on display at the Combat Air Museum in Topeka. I want to express my thanks to her for the sacrifices she made to serve our country and for taking the time to tell her story. Thank you as well to Gene Howerton, Kevin Drewelow and Dave Murray for hosting me during my visit.


Announcing Caldwell as a "Smart Rural Community"
I joined members from KanOkla Networks, a telecommunications provider located in Caldwell, and the Sumner County Hospital District 1 in Caldwell this week for an announcement recognizing Caldwell as a Smart Rural Community and highlighting the partnership between these two organizations aimed at improving access to broadband for rural America. It was great to hear from local leaders about the power of rural broadband and what this milestone means for the community and rural health care providers. In rural communities, the distance between a patient and a provider presents a barrier to care that is difficult to overcome. Over the past three years, telehealth has filled this gap, and we must make the COVID-19 telehealth emergency flexibilities permanent. Telehealth not only improves income for hospitals, but it improves the health of patients. In order for rural Kansas to have access to quality care, we need effective, efficient and reliable broadband. With the broadband partnership between KanOkla Network and the Caldwell Hospital, Sumner County will be providing their residents reliable access to quality care. This milestone for the Caldwell community is a step forward in making certain rural America is equipped with the same resources and access as other parts of the country. Thank you to KanOkla CEO Jill Kuehny and Sumner County Hospital District 1 CEO Brooke Bollman for joining together to make this announcement possible.


Visiting Caldwell High School
In addition, I visited Caldwell High School, where I heard from school leadership and students about the opportunities this school provides, especially with a focus on technical vocations. The students at Caldwell High School went back to school for the fall semester on August 16th, and it is great to see how much they are already learning and the excitement they have for future growth and opportunities. Thank you to Superintendent Alan Jamison, as well as Principal Stacy Boone, Dani Schmidt of Student Services, and to students Simon Stewart, Anniston Lee, Addley Mayo and Allorah Carothers for sharing your insight and perspectives during my visit. I also want to thank Caldwell Mayor Jamie York and State Representative Bill Rhiley for accompanying us on this tour.


Attending Governor's Summit on Agricultural Growth
On Wednesday, I joined state and local leaders for the Governor’s Summit on Agricultural Growth in Manhattan. I spoke with many attendees about Kansas’ agricultural efforts and the work being done to make certain that our state remains a leader in the ag industry. Farmers and ranchers put food on our tables, clothes on our backs and the roofs over our heads. Our wellbeing and health depend on a strong agricultural sector, and our Kansas producers are the backbone of this field. When agriculture is successful, Kansas is successful. Thank you to those who attended this event and joined in conversations about the issues facing our agricultural community. We must make certain our farmers and ranchers here in Kansas have the opportunity to prosper.

Cowtown Days Parade in Ellsworth
On Saturday, I joined area residents for the Ellsworth Cowtown Days Parade. This annual tradition celebrates the community’s rich cattle town history, as Ellsworth was a national cattle market leader from 1871-1875. It was nice to see so many old friends and new faces. Congratulations to former and current employees of the Ellsworth Reporter and Ellsworth County Independent Reporter who served as parade grand marshals. Special thanks to Cowtown Days Chair Tami McGreevy for arranging my participation and John Thaemert for driving me.


Celebrating Hutchinson's 150th Anniversary
It was great to be in Hutchinson on Thursday evening for the 150th Anniversary Celebration. It was nice to see so many friends out celebrating this great community. During the block party it was especially great to stop by the Toy Depot and catch up with Mark and Geneva. Small businesses like the Toy Depot keep main streets unique and alive. Thank you, Mark, for all you do for the Hutch community!


Kansans in the Office

Capitol Tour

Larry Lux of Olathe

Dianne Lux of Olathe

Parker Vulgamore of Scott City

Kelli Ludlum of Lawrence

Lt. Col. Marjorie Norton of Eskridge

Michelle Helsel of Lenexa

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