Kansas Common Sense
Nov 27 2023
A Season for Thankfulness
Happy Thanksgiving! Robba and I hope everyone had a happy and blessed holiday surrounded by friends, family and loved ones.
We also want to extend our thanks to law enforcement officers, first responders and servicemembers who never cease to serve their communities and country during the holiday seasons. Thank you for your continual sacrifices and for keeping us safe.
On Monday, I hosted Robert Lightfoot, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space, in Kansas. During the visit, we toured a division of Perfekta Aerospace where Lockheed announced a contract for the company to provide parts for its Orion Spacecraft, as well as components for its defense programs. The Greater Wichita Partnership (GWP) also hosted an event at WSU Tech’s National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) for local manufacturers, academia and community leaders to meet with Lockheed Martin.
Thank you to Robert and his team for visiting the Air Capital of the World and sharing the importance Kansans are playing in space and defense programs. Thank you also to Jeff Fluhr and his team at GWP for their leadership and to the many Kansans who helped make their visit a success.
Expanding Rural Health Care in Southeast Kansas
Monday afternoon I stopped at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute to participate in the ribbon cutting for the new Southeast Kansas Impact Center. This $7.1 million facility houses a workforce training center that will operate in partnership with local businesses and medical providers to better deliver telehealth treatment to area patients. The 10,000 square foot multi-use business, workforce and health care center was built on the site of a former tuberculosis hospital and is expected to create 256 jobs and generate $45 million for the local economy.
I am pleased to have helped secure an investment of more than $4 million from the Economic Development Administration for the SEK Impact Center. Thank you to Hospital CEO Dennis Franks and Foundation Director Anna Methvin for inviting me to join in this exciting community celebration. Thank you also to Dorothy Welch, Kansas Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Nadira Hazim-Patrick, Lead Engineer Alison Mih, NMRMC Foundation Chair Bruce Jackson, NMRMC Foundation Secretaruy Bruce Mullen, Neosho County Commissioner Nick Galemore, and Chanute Mayor Jacob LaRue for joining me.
Kansas Association of Conservation Districts Annual Convention
It was great to be with members of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) in Wichita for their 78th annual convention on Monday evening. This group is committed to conserving our natural resources—efforts that are critical to preserving Kansas for the next generation. Water conservation and natural resource management is particularly important to our economy and quality of life. Water is the lifeblood of our municipalities, the foundation for statewide recreation, and will direct the future of manufacturing and agriculture production. During my remarks I discussed Farm Bill reauthorization and conservation issues across the state, including the importance of establishing long-term solutions that support the water needs of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and the regional economy.
Thank you to KACD Executive Director and Chairman Dan Meyeroff for inviting me to speak as well as the many members of KACD I was able to visit with.
Nestor Weigand Jr.’s Funeral
This week I attended the funeral for Nestor Weigand Jr. in Wichita. Nestor was a giant in the real estate industry and made a huge difference in people’s lives including my own.
After his passing, Mike McGrew, the Chairman & CEO of McGrew Real Estate stated the following to me, and I couldn’t agree more: “Nestor has been the patriarch of the Kansas REALTOR family for decades. He was an amazing mentor to myself and so many others. His leadership in business and real estate was surpassed only by his generous gifts of wise counsel and time spent. Nestor cannot be replaced, and I will miss him for the rest of my life.”
Read more about Nestor’s life in the Wichita Business Journal, here.
Visiting Hospitals Across Kansas
Ellsworth County Medical Center
On Tuesday, I visited Ellsworth County Medical Center (ECMC), a Critical Access Hospital that provides important health care services to the Ellsworth community and surrounding area. During the tour, I learned more about challenges facing ECMC and how medical and support staff are working to meet the needs of the community. The insight and experiences from Kansas hospitals, their administrators and staff are important to me as I work to support the health care industry in Kansas and across the nation.
Thank you to ECMC CEO Jim Kirkbride and his team for arranging my visit. Thank you also to Callie Haxton and Colby Richard from the City of Ellsworth as well as Mark Kennedy and John Thaemert from Citizens State Bank & Trust for joining me.
Sheridan County Hospital
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit Sheridan County Hospital where I met with hospital staff and administrators to learn more about health care in Hoxie. I am grateful to those who showed me around the facility and for expressing the priorities and needs of the hospital and the communities it serves. Rural hospitals throughout Kansas are facing staff and equipment shortages and even closures. I will continue to prioritize the sustainability and success of Kansas’s rural hospitals, and I am grateful to Sheridan County Hospital and the Sheridan County Health Complex for the incredible work they do.
Thank you to Sheridan County Hospital Board President Joy Bretz, clinic manager and Sheridan County Commissioner Kyle Ablenstorf and board members Leanna Sloan, Teri Moss, and Sally Cameron for joining me on the tour.
Trego County Lemke Memorial Hospital
Later on Wednesday, I toured the Trego County Lemke Memorial Hospital in WaKeeney with CEO Jeremy Rabe and Hospital Board Chair Eric Moden. I was pleased to see the expansion of services and patient care that Trego County has been able to provide their residents. Maintaining reliable and high-quality health care is critically important to see our communities thrive. I appreciated the time I was able to spend learning about the facility and am thankful to those who took the time to give me a tour.
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