Kansas Common Sense
May 10 2021
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Time in Southeast Kansas
Celebrating CHC-SEK’s John U. Parolo Education Center Groundbreaking
On Monday, I was in Pittsburg to celebrate the groundbreaking of the John U. Parolo Education Center on the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas’ (CHC-SEK) campus. This new, 16,000-square-foot facility will be home to learning laboratories, classrooms and conference rooms designed to support medical and dental residents, a rural medicine training program for physicians and physician assistants and post-graduate clinical training for pharmacists, social workers and psychologists, among others. The center is set to be completed in May 2022, and this facility will be another resource for SEK as the region continues to grow and train the next generation of medical professionals.
Thank you to CHC-SEK CEO Krista Postai for inviting me to attend and to County Commissioners Bruce Blair and Jeremy Johnson, City Commissioners Patrick O’Bryan, Larry Fields and Dawn McNay, as well as Mayor Chuck Munsell for joining me at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Visiting Cytocheck Laboratory
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, I visited Cytocheck Laboratory in Parsons, which has now been in operation for 30 years. During the pandemic, I assisted them in acquiring the necessary authorizations to process COVID-19 tests for local health care providers. Since then, they have serviced over 225,000 COVID-19 tests, providing a critical service to southeast Kansas during the pandemic.
Thank you to Marketing Director Jason Dantic for the tour, as well as City Manager Debbie Lamb, Economic Development Director Jim Zaleski and Chamber of Commerce Director Melissa Johnston for attending.
In Pittsburg, I also stopped by Jake's Fireworks to speak with CEO Mick Marietta and General Manager Greg McCanless. Preparations are underway for Independence Day and Jake’s is looking forward to everyone celebrating the holiday. The Marietta family has a long history in southeast Kansas as they continue to serve their community as a family business, and I thank them for their time meeting with me this week.
Meeting with K-Coe Isom Leadership in Wichita
While I was in Wichita this week, I met with leaders from K-Coe Isom’s Wichita branch, one of the nation’s leading food and agriculture consulting and accounting firms, with a forward-thinking and innovative approach to their client services. We talked about a range of issues currently impacting the agriculture and production sector, including COVID-19 induced labor shortages and supply chain issues, as well as energy policies and ongoing infrastructure proposals. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from K-Coe leadership, and thank Dave Burger for arraigning the visit.
Celebrating Mother's Day
To all the moms in our lives, I hope you had a happy Mother’s Day. I’d also like to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to my wife, Robba, and to my daughters, Kelsey and Alex.
Bolstering Rural Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care
This week, I unveiled the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021 with my counterpart on the Senate VA Committee, Senator Tester. Rural veterans deserve access to high quality health care, including important mental health care and services. Access to these mental health and suicide prevention services for America’s veterans continues to be one of my top priorities as the lead Republican of the Senate VA Committee. While Congress recently enacted comprehensive reforms to bolster the VA’s mental health care programs, research initiatives and community suicide prevention services through the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, gaps still exist.
Unemployed Veterans: Apply for the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program
The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) offers education and training for high-demand jobs. Click here to learn more about the program’s eligibility and how to apply.
Federal Grant Creates Improvements for Johnson County Executive Airport
I visited the Johnson County Executive Airport to tour the facilities with Airport Director Aaron Otto. Under Aaron’s leadership, the airport has seen many changes in recent years, including updates to its primary runway, rebuilt T-hangars and a taxiway currently under construction. The taxiway construction is possible due to a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Airport Improvement Program, and I was pleased to hear the positive impact federal grants had on helping them accomplish these projects. I also appreciated hearing his future plans, including for their current, 50-year-old hangar. I will continue to work with Aaron and his team to help secure federal support. Thank you to Aaron for the tour and to Commissioner Shirley Allenbrand, Budget Director Scott Neufield and Deputy Airport Director Larry Peet for joining us.
Attending the Kansas Chamber’s Annual Dinner
This week, I attended the Kansas Chamber’s annual dinner and joined President Alan Cobb in recognizing members and business leaders from across our state. The Kansas Chamber plays an important role in our state's economic future, and I'm grateful for the work they do on behalf of Kansans. Read more here.
Wichita State University Appoints a New President
On Thursday, the Kansas Board of Regents appointed Dr. Richard Muma as the 15th president of Wichita State University. President Muma is a Wichita native and brings years of experience to Wichita State University. Through Robba’s work on the Kansas Board of Regents, I have had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Muma and am confident he understands the innovative mission of WSU. He recognizes that it is more than just a school – it is part of the community, and a place to foster innovation, growth and development. I look forward to working with President Muma to continue building on WSU’s success and to bring new opportunities and talent to the university. Click here to learn more about President Muma.
Touring General Dynamics
This week, I visited General Dynamics, an aerospace and defense corporation and the fifth-largest defense contractor in the United States. General Dynamics’ communication links have been on every deep space probe and aboard every Mars rover and lander and are a long-time partner to NASA, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and commercial customers around the world. Due to their communications equipment, General Dynamics provided the only communication link the Apollo 11 astronauts had to NASA’s mission control and is the reason we were able to hear and see Neil Armstrong’s iconic first words and footsteps on the moon.
As the lead Republican on the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA, it was great to see the work they do firsthand and the role they continue to play in our nation’s future in the space realm. I also enjoyed learning more about the company’s communications systems, radars and weapons systems research, and the technological innovations that will support American military operations. While this visit took place in Arizona, it was useful in my role as an appropriator for NASA and the Department of Defense, and it allowed me the opportunity to continue to promote Kansas and its research and manufacturing capabilities.
Thank you GD Mission Systems President Chris Brady, VP for Marketing Mike McDermott, Government Relations Vice President Betsy Schmid and Government Relations Directors Erica Striebel and David Gillies for speaking with me about your work and General Dynamics’ projects.
Stopping by Fort Hays State University
While I was in Hays this week, I stopped by Fort Hays State ahead of the university’s Spring Commencement ceremony. It was great to be on campus as students prepare for the end of the school year. I appreciated the opportunity to walk through the Dole Sisters Lobby, talk to Andrew Cutright in Hammond Hall and visit with others while on campus. Thanks to everyone who took time out of their day to speak with me, and congrats to the class of 2021!
Thank You, Nurses
Thursday was National Nurses Day. For all that nurses have endured, sacrificed and achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic, please join me in recognizing them. Thank you for the compassion and care you give your patients each and every day.
Honoring Our Military Spouses
On Friday, we honored the men and women who sacrifice so much so their spouses can serve. Military service is family service, and on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we recognize their support and resilience.
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.
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