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. Today, I have returned to Washington, D.C., for hearings, briefings, debates and votes, and where the President’s request for military action in Syria is front and center. I have appreciated the opportunity to spend the past month having conversations and town halls, and have always seen my job as both in Washington, D.C. and in our home state. The issues I prioritize and how I vote is greatly influenced by my time in Kansas, and I appreciate the hundreds, if not thousands, of Kansans who visited with me over the past month.
Debate on Syria Intervention Continues
The death toll of 100,000 in the conflict in Syria is appalling, and I condemn the use of chemical weapons which killed innocent civilians, including children. However, I do not believe this conflict can be resolved by American military intervention, and I cannot support military action that drains American resources without serving vital national interests.
Members of Congress are now being challenged to support a resolution to authorize use of military force regardless of the outcome or consequence. The American people deserve to know what attacks will accomplish, how the effects of attacks will be contained in the region so that our friends and allies are protected, and how American involvement will conclude.
I believe our resources and military have been overextended after a decade-long war in Iraq, operations in Afghanistan, intervention amid continued turmoil in Libya and now renewed chaos in Egypt. We’ve also seen actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Mali and Somalia. Syria would be the eighth country in the region in recent years where the United States willingly entered into a conflict. Unless there is a direct security threat to the United States, I’m not in favor of an intervention especially when there are no parameters that dictate American security interests, goals and an end.
Kansas State Fair Underway in Hutchinson
The Kansas State Fair began Friday and will continue through Sunday, September 15. Every year, I am in Hutchinson to attend the fair and visit with some of the 350,000 people who attend. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Kansas State Fair, which is the largest single event in our state and showcases some of the best of what Kansas has to offer.
This is the 17th consecutive year that I have had a booth at the fair, and members of my staff are available each day to answer questions and provide information. Thanks to all those that have stopped by so far, and I hope you and your family can stop by Booth #4 in the Pride of Kansas Building sometime this week! I enjoyed speaking with many Kansans as I visited different booths and enjoyed the exhibits this weekend. Click here for more information about the Kansas State Fair.
Town Hall with American Maplan Corporation Employees
On Tuesday, I visited American Maplan Corporation in McPherson to tour the company and learn more about their manufacturing operation. Impressively, Maplan was the second company in Kansas history to earn the OSHA SHARP designation for employee safety for going without an employee accident for more than 11 years. In fact, more than 150 Kansas companies have now received this designation thanks to Maplan's leadership.
After the tour, I held a town hall forum with more than 70 employees and listened to their thoughts on Syria, Obamacare, immigration reform and technical education. Click here to read more about the candid conversation in the McPherson Sentinel. Thanks to everyone for your sharing your thoughts and concerns. Thanks also to Mayor Tom Brown, community leader Rick Wilborn, and former-Congressman Dick Nichols for joining us. Click here to see a photo.
Learning About Rural Telecommunications and Technology
I had the opportunity to visit Blue Valley Telecom (BVT) in Home on Thursday afternoon and hear about the significant efforts they are making in North Central Kansas. Rural telecommunications companies provide an important element of infrastructure in our state which allows small businesses, health care facilities, schools and local government to operate successfully. BVT provides excellent service to their customers and I appreciate the good work they are doing to promote development in rural Kansas. Thanks to General Manager Brian Thomason for updating me about the Smart Rural Communities program and BVT’s impressive broadband and networking capabilities. It was good to be joined by Don Landoll, BVT Chairman Terry Force, and Curtis Hawkinson of Community Memorial Healthcare. I also enjoyed meeting many new faces and most of the staff at BVT — thanks again for your time and good discussion.
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Visit in Wichita
On Tuesday afternoon, I traveled to Sedgwick County where I met with members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) Wichita Chapter. JDRF is a global type 1 diabetes advocacy organization that currently sponsors more than $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries throughout the world. More than 80 percent of their donations support research that can lead to advancements improving diabetes care and treatment, and hopefully lead to cures. As a member of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, I understand that research supported through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases within the National Institutes of Health is helping initiate better care and treatment for individuals with diabetes. I also recently agreed to join several of my Senate colleagues in raising our support with Senate leadership for programs advancing research and making progress toward preventing, treating, and curing diabetes. I appreciate the efforts of JDRF and their Kansans members to educate the public and Members of Congress about the importance of support for diabetes research, as well as their efforts to improve the lives of those impacted by type 1 diabetes. Click here to see a photo.
Back row (left to right): Ardeth Stroh, Sharon Rassel, Tyler Boss, Bridget Strickland, Clark Fichtl and Chloe Fichtl. Front row (left to right): Gunnar Strickland and Gavin Fichtl.
Wichita Chamber Business Roundtable
On Tuesday evening, I spent time with members of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. It was a pleasure to visit with these local business owners about how what they do contributes to our most important civic responsibility: making certain the next generation has the opportunity to pursue and achieve the American Dream. Chamber members also shared concerns with regulatory overreach in the health care, banking and energy sectors. I promised to continue to do everything I can as a United States Senator to get our government back to point where more common sense, responsive decision making comes out of Topeka and Wichita and much less from Washington, D.C. Thanks to Chamber Chairwoman Debbie Gann for the invitation to participate and to former Chamber Chairman Sam Williams for the kind introduction.
Steel and Pipe Supply Company
On Wednesday, I visited Steel and Pipe Supply Company in Manhattan and enjoyed learning more about the history and operations of The Little Apple's largest company. I am grateful for Steel and Pipe’s involvement and investment in our community and also its commitment to continuing to grow its business here in Kansas. Thanks to CEO Dennis Mullin, President Matt Crocker and CFO Dirk Daveline for hosting me.
Touring Republic County Hospital
It was good to be in Belleville on Thursday at Republic County Hospital. Hospital staff, trustees and community leaders shared many of the challenges facing their hospital, as well as the regulatory burden imposed upon them by the Affordable Care Act. Republic County Hospital provides excellent health care services to the community and I appreciate the work they do to provide access to quality care in rural Kansas. Thanks to Administrator Blaine Miller for the invitation to visit and to Director of Nursing Dianne Reed for taking the time to show me around. Thanks also to Artie Gunn, Deb Hadachek, Eric Allgood, Marcia Hansen of Republic County Health Department, Tim Gottschalk, and Carolyn Simms for joining the tour. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Visiting with Teachers and Students at Washburn Tech
On Friday morning, I visited the Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka, a nationally recognized innovator in career and technical education. I enjoyed visiting with faculty and students and learned about how the school serves both adult and high school students with career and industry-specific training in construction, health care, human services, technology and transportation. Their state-of-the-art Midwest Training Center facility is one of only two in the nation with an NC3 designation. Their partnership with TRANE, as well as their plans for the future expansion of their diesel engine and healthcare programs, make Washburn Tech a leader in integrative training. As Ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with funding jurisdiction over the Departments of Education and Labor, it was valuable for me to see how Washburn Tech is leveraging resources to provide Kansans an opportunity to a quality education that will serve them throughout their careers. Thanks to Dean Clark Coco and Dr. Randy Pembrook for the informative tour. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Treads & Threads Event
On Friday evening I attended the 12th Annual Treads & Threads gala benefiting patients at the University of Kansas Cancer Center (KUCC). Since 2002, Treads & Threads sponsors, patrons, and guests have provided nearly $6.4 million to improve and advance cancer patient care. Proceeds from this year’s event, held at the Kansas Speedway, will support personalized care for KUCC patients – a tailored cancer treatment plan for patients based upon their unique genetic identity and the genetic identity of their cancer. Personalized care may also entail a variety of ancillary services designed to address the unique needs of each patient. Improving personalized cancer care is a prime research objective of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and KUCC — one of our nation’s 67 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend this year’s Treads & Threads gala, and witness the kindness, generosity, and support of all those in the community for cancer patients and their families. Thanks to event chairs Terry and Peggy Dunn, honorary chairs Kent Sunderland and Charlie Sunderland, and Frank and Barclay Ross for hosting me at the event. Click here to see the photo.
Kansas Farm Bureau Briefing and Kansas Ag Network Ag Issues Forum
While at the Kansas State Fair, I joined agriculture leaders from across the state at the annual Kansas Farm Bureau Ag Leaders Briefing. This was an opportunity to hear from Kansans about the challenges farmers and ranchers face today. With the continued drought and the uncertainty surrounding the Farm Bill, I appreciated talking with producers and hearing their instructions before heading back to Washington today. It’s vital that we make certain agriculture is profitable and sustainable to allow for future generations of farmers and ranchers in Kansas. Thanks to President Steve Baccus and the Kansas Farm Bureau for hosting this long-running event. Click here to see a photo.
Following the Ag Leaders Briefing, I joined Senator Roberts on a panel hosted by WIBW's Kansas Ag Network to discuss the Farm Bill. Thanks to Kelly Lenz for moderating this discussion, and click here to listen to it in its entirety.
Riverview Senior Apartments Grand Opening
Access to quality, affordable housing for seniors is vital to communities across our state because it determines whether Kansans can remain in the communities they call home. On Saturday, I was proud to participate in the grand opening ceremony for Riverview Senior Residences, a 36-unit senior housing development that provides increased affordable housing options for senior residents in the Hutchinson community. It is the first project in South Hutchinson to receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and the first multi-unit residential development in a decade.
The opening of Riverview Senior Residences comes at a time when seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes, face rising prices for food, transportation and health care in a challenging economy. This development project brought the benefit of additional jobs and economic activity to the Hutchinson community. I was glad to have the opportunity to take part in this initial groundbreaking for the complex last October, and it was great to see the whole team again on Saturday at the grand opening. Thanks to South Hutchinson Mayor Dave Pitman, the South Hutchinson City Council, BDC Executive Director Michael Snodgrass, Kelley Hrabe and Rudy Manes with Prairie Fire Development Group, and Fred Bentley and Dennis Mesa of the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation for joining me at this event. Click here to see a photo.
Visiting the Durham and Miltonvale Communities
On my way to McPherson this week, I had the opportunity to spend time in Durham (pop. 111). I stopped by the Post Office and several local businesses, including White Farm Equipment, Co-op Gas Station, Agri Producers, Inc., and the Main Street Café. I'm glad to say the small town cafe is alive and well in Durham and was the talk of the town. Not only did I have some great conversations with the noon lunch crowd, but the food was excellent. So much for avoiding dessert...the peach pie was delicious. I will certainly be back.
In Miltonvale (pop. 529) I visited with folks at City Hall, the Kountry Kafé, First National Bank, the Post Office, Ruth's Beauty Shop and Twin Valley Telephone. It was good to reconnect with Dave and Genevieve Jones of Clyde while in Miltonvale. We first met at the WWII Memorial last year when Dave was on an Honor Flight. He is a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Click here to see a photo.
Van Horn High School Hall of Fame
It was an honor to see my wife, Robba inducted into the Hall of Fame at Van Horn High School in Kansas City this weekend. She was recognized for her efforts in teaching, music and education. I also esteem my wife for her role as wife and mother. Thank you and congratulations. Click here to see a photo.
Celebrating Rosh Hashanah
Last week, Jewish families in Kansas and around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, a holiday that marks the new year of the Hebrew Calendar and the beginning of the High Holy Days. I wish all those celebrating Rosh Hashanah a happy holiday and sweet new year.
In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Roxann Zoeller of Westmoreland
James Zoeller of Westmoreland
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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