Community update


School is started, so watch out for kids waiting outside in the morning.  Granddaughter Madi started kindergarten and we had a crowd to see her off on the bus the first morning.  Fun!

I’m having fun meeting lots of new people going door to door.  I appreciate the hospitality and your sharing concerns and ideas about our state.

Enjoyed the Overbrook Parade and Fair last Saturday.  Senator Hensley and I were joined by a group of local teachers.  After the parade I watched some fine-looking animals raised by 4H members get auctioned off.  It was great to see how the community supports these future farmers and business leaders.


  • If you are looking for work, be sure your first stop is the Workforce Centers in Topeka and Lawrence.  They will help with resumes, job search, interviews and more.  Check it out at
  • Business owners and entrepreneurs plan to meet at this Osage County After Hours Event: Wednesday, August 20, 4 Corners Steakhouse, 15745 S Topeka Ave. at 6 pm.  Casual networking with no fees.  Bring your business cards.  RSVP to
  • The Capital Journal is offering a new service for employers and job seekers.  At you can create a cover letter and resume and look for a job. For information or to advertise jobs, call 785-295-1125.


State-specific jobs numbers for July were released Monday. Kansas held its own on unemployment.  Kansas was at 4.9%.  Nebraska was at 3.6%, Oklahoma at 4.6%, and Colorado at 5.3%.  The national average was 6.2%.

On job growth, Kansas lags all our neighboring states except Nebraska. We had 13,800 more nonfarm jobs than July 2013.  Here’s how our neighbors did in comparison:

  • Colorado – 65,600 jobs
  • Missouri – 53,600 jobs
  • Oklahoma – 30,200 jobs
  • Nebraska – 2,800 jobs

You would expect states with larger populations to have higher jobs numbers, but Kansas also lags in percent growth. Kansas and Nebraska were in the range of .1% to 1 percent growth for July 2013 to July 2014. Oklahoma and Missouri were in the 1.1 to 2% range.  Colorado was in the 2.1 to 3% range.


If you would like to vote from home this year, you can do that!  It’s a great option for college students, the elderly, busy moms, those who live out in the country, and those who commute each day and get home late.

If you let me know, I’ll send you the AV1M form.  You just fill it out and send it to your county election office.  They will send you the ballot in mid-October.  It has to be back in the election office by 7 pm on election day, November 4.  If you have questions, just write back and let me know.


The Carbondale Fall Celebration will feature the “Follow Your Dreams” 5k run/walk this year.  Starts at 8 am on Saturday, September 13, at the Carbondale ball diamonds.  Proceeds go to the Fall Celebration.  Register by August 31 by contacting Emily Roberts at 785-836-7871 or by email at  $25 entry fee includes shirt.


If you have community events coming up, let me know.  This email goes to nearly 3000 homes in Shawnee, Osage, and Douglas counties. I’d love to help you get the word out!  Just remember to send your activities ahead of time.

  • Thursday, August 21:  The Lesters will be in concert at the Berryton United Methodist Church.  Two shows at 3 pm and 7 pm.  Love offering.  Concessions available.
  • August 28-31:  The Vietnam veterans traveling wall comes to Topeka at the Kansas National Guard Museum at Forbes Field. 627 Kansans were killed in the Vietnam war. Open from 12 noon on August 28 to 3 pm on August 31.  Open 24 hours a day.  This is an 80% scale version, 360 feet in length.  Reveille and evening ceremonies held daily with special events on August 30.  I have a link to the list of Kansans listed on the wall if you want it.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 3:  Community dinner at Tecumseh United Methodist Church from 5-6:30 pm.  Baked spaghetti, French bread and more.  Free will donation to benefit children and community programs.
  • Saturday, Sept. 13:  Topeka Civitan Club Car Show at Civitan Park in Gage Park across from the baseball field.
  • Saturday, Sept. 20:  Scranton Lions Club breakfast featuring pancakes and biscuits and gravy at the Community Center.  7 am to 11 am.  Donations accepted at the door.
  • September 20:  Shawnee Heights High School All School Class Reunion at the Capital Plaza Hotel.  Details will be found at
  • Saturday, Sept. 27:  Tecumseh Heritage Day from 10 am to 3 pm in Tecumseh.  Lots of fun family activities and about the best pie and ice cream you will find anywhere! Homemade pie contest, music, wagon rides, games, jump house, booths, demonstrations, and more.
  • Saturday, Sept. 27:  Home Harvest Picnic at 5 pm at the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum near Clinton.  Dinner and music!
  • October 3-4:  Auburn Community Fair.  Parade on Saturday afternoon at 2 pm.
  •  Kaw Valley Farm Tour October 4-5.  10 am to 6 pm.  Over 20 kid-friendly farms to visit for just $10 per carload.  I highly recommend this for you and the kids.  Demonstrations and activities of all kinds showing the diversity of Kansas farms. That’s how I met my favorite chocolatier! For details go to


  • There is story time every Thursday evening at the Auburn Library from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  No charge!
  • Poultry and small animal swap meet at Tractor Supply Company at 710 NE HWY 24 the third Sunday of every month.  Great way to support local farmers as there are fresh eggs, live birds and rabbits as well.  No buyer or seller fees.  Just don’t sell the same stuff the store sells.
  • Enjoy BUNCO at the Carbondale Community Building once a month on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.  Call 785-836-7478 for details about dates, prizes, treats, etc.
  • The Berryton Pickers are at Berryton Baptist Church the first Saturday of the month from 7 to 9 pm.  Bring snacks and have some fun!
  • Swap meet the last Saturday of the month from March through October from 7 am to noon at Premier Farm and Home at 900 SW University Blvd (just west of Forbes Air Field).  Baby chicks, laying hens, guineas, roosters, rabbits, ducks, geese, eating eggs, hatching eggs, and more!  For more info call Karl at 785-547-5046.
  • Country and ballroom dancing at Croco Hall on Thursday nights from 6 to 9 pm.  For information call Edwina Hamersky at 379-9538.

Ending balance update


Can’t believe the summer is almost over.  Had fun at the Night Out Against Crime events in Carbondale and Berryton.  Hope you attended an event in your neighborhood.

Also had some yummy cake and ice cream with the Scranton Lions Club.  Congratulations on 60 years of service to the Scranton community.


I talked to Sheriff Dunn and she noted that there was nothing major going on in north Osage County.  Southwest Douglas County is quiet as well.

In Southeast Shawnee County there has been some vandalism in the 29th and Croco area.  Mostly tearing up mail boxes.  I noticed more reports in north Shawnee County than south.  Here are some other reported crimes:

Burglaries:  4500 block Adams; 400 block Rice Road; 5200 block SE 45th; 7900 block SW Topeka Blvd; 6600 block SW Arborglade; 6600 block SW Briarcliff Rd

Vehicle break-ins: 7000 block Greenview Dr; 3000 block Croco Rd; 3300 block Croco Rd; 1800 block SW 71st


1. I heard on the news that the Governor had done a press release saying our state 2014 ending balance was $434 million on June 30.  This was quite a bit higher than the official numbers from Legislative Research.  I called to find out what the discrepancy was.  Here’s the rest of the story.

The $434 million figure did not include bills owed but not paid in 2014.  The state had about $50-60 million in unpaid bills on June 30 that have to be included in the official balance sheet.  When you do the accounting correctly, the state’s ending balance is in the range of $380 million.  That’s good, because it is higher than previous estimates.  But we are still on track to go broke in 2015 and be over $200 million in the hole the following year.

Standard & Poor’s followed Moody’s in downgrading our Kansas bonds from AA+ to AA.  They cited “a structurally unbalanced budget, following state income tax cuts that have not been matched with offsetting ongoing expenditure cuts in the fiscal 2015 budget.”

2. The number of Kansas children in foster care is at an all-time high, with 6,156 children in the system in April of this year.  That means we have 356 more kids in the system than April 2013, and 872 more than April 2012.  Dona Booe, with the Kansas Children’s Service League, said that resources for reaching families before a crisis strikes have been exhausted.  She noted that the increase coincides with changes in policies in the Department of Children and Families.  For example, the number of children getting public assistance fell from 24,567 in 2011 to 11,867 in 2014.


The Overbrook Park & Rec Commission is looking for a couple of sports-minded volunteers to help lead the Fall Youth Soccer program.  They will have co-ed teams formed by mid-August.  Anyone interested can contact City Clerk Jim Koger at 785-665-7328.  A background check may be required.


  • Carl’s Tire and Lube is hosting Car Care for Women, on Saturday, August 16, from 8 am to 4 pm.  It’s free!  There will be a car care workshop from 10 am to 11 am.  There will be entertainment for the kids while parents attend class.  Carl’s is located at 407 Brownie in Scranton.  What a great idea!  There will also be vendors there including Avon, Candles, Essential Oils, Kat’s Kreations, Goddess Dresses, Bad Ass Bling, 31 Bags and more.
  • Crow Canyon Honey is located at 17076 S Shawnee Heights Road, just south of Overbrook.  The 2014 crop will be pulled in about 5 weeks. Owner Richard Hummel runs the business from his home.  Call 785-665-7053 for information.


KDOT and the Kansas Turnpike Authority want to visit with local residents about transportation needs and priorities in their communities.  They want to have projects “shovel ready” when funds become available.  There will be a meeting in our area on Tuesday, October 7, at the Eisenhower State Office Building, 700 SW Harrison, from 9 am to 12 noon.


Revenue, jobs, and more


I am enjoying visiting with folks this summer going door to door.  Thank you for your hospitality and great ideas!

The Shawnee Heights High School Cross Country Club thanks all of you who donated or supported their garage sale.  They now have almost enough to pay for a second assistant coach.  It is important to have enough coaches for the students to get proper oversight and training, so the parents and kids thank you very much!

The Douglas County Fair is still going on.  Hope to see you there!


Once the primary is over, the “crazy season” will start with political campaigns.  You will hear lots of claims regarding how Kansas is doing, good or bad.  I am watching as new, verifiable, information comes out to get you the facts about our economy.

There was good news on our July state revenues. They came in $1.6 million above estimates. Total revenue was about $17 million less than we took in July 2013, but hopefully the dramatic fluctuation in revenues is behind us.  The Legislature voted to spend nearly $400 million more than they expect to take in this year (July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015), so we need to stay on track with estimates.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis released its report on personal income growth.  The national average for the first quarter 2014 was 0.8% growth.  Personal income in Kansas grew 0.2%, putting us 45th in the nation.  Personal income includes wages, benefits, rents, investments, and government payments such as social security.  In Kansas, construction and manufacturing of non-durable goods was up, but crop prices were down.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its June jobs report.  Kansas was one of 9 states that had fewer jobs in June 2014 than November 2013.  Over the last year, Kansas jobs grew at 1.3%.  The national average was 3%.


I had a chance to visit Glaciers Edge Vineyard and Winery in Wakarusa this week.  It’s exciting to have one open in our area.  If you haven’t been there, it’s at 1636 SE 85th Street.  It’s open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  You can find the hours and other info at .


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas is hiring multiple Consumer Representatives for a project that may lead to full time permanent employment.  Pay is $18.20 per hour.  This position is responsible for sales and service functions of individual policies for new and existing customers.  For more information, contact Kathleen Hein, 785-273-9944 or at


The National Night Out Against Crime is Saturday, August 9.  There will be events all over Shawnee County.  In our area, the Berryton and Tecumseh emergency response teams will host events.  Join them at Creekside in Berryton or at the Tecumseh Park on SE 2nd Street from 3 to 7 pm. The Shawnee Heights Neighborhood Safety group will join with the Tecumseh group this year.

Rolling Meadows will host its NNO event with its usual great food and fun from 5-9 pm at the home of Fred Martinez, 2043 SE 35th.

Carbondale will be celebrating its NNO event on Tuesday, August 5, from 5-7 pm at the ball field.  Lots of fun family activities planned for the community.

The Berryton event could use some more volunteers. If you would like to help, contact Steve Christenberry at .


A team I’m working on at United Way is providing summer programs for at-risk kids in Topeka.  Our long-range goal is to increase reading and math scores and on-time high school graduation. It’s important not to lose ground over the summer.

A volunteer said that after lunch recently, she was called to the front to speak with a child in the 4th-5th grade group.  He wanted to talk to her in private.  In a quiet tone he asked if he could eat with the 2nd-3rd grade group the next day.  She asked why he would want to do that.  He looked down at the floor and said, “because I have to leave at 12:00 tomorrow and I do not want to miss the meal.  This is the only place I get to eat.”  She told him it was no problem.

Sometimes we wonder if the efforts we put forward are worth it.  They definitely are.


Carl’s Tire and Lube is hosting Car Care for Women, on Saturday, August 16, from 8 am to 4 pm.  It’s free!  Workshop classes will be held every hour on the hour and include Oil Change/Lube; Brakes and Rotors; and Tires.  There will be entertainment for the kids while parents attend class.  Carl’s is located at 407 Brownie in Scranton.  What a great idea!  There will also be vendors there including Avon, Candles, Essential Oils, Goddess Dresses, Bad Ass Bling, and 31 Bags.


The Wellness Center in Overbrook has some fun and interesting classes coming up on food and fitness.  For information go to


Advance voting, jobs and more


The August 5 primary is just around the corner.  I have information for you about dates and times for advance/absentee voting.

I’m enjoying seeing so many of you at your homes this summer on my campaign journey.  I appreciate your input on the issues facing our state. There are over 7,000 homes to visit in an area of nearly 400 square miles.  So it will take me a while to reach out to all the neighborhoods!

Gave my 42nd pint of blood at the Overbrook Methodist Church donation site recently.  Glad to help in this important effort.


The August 5 primary is just around the corner.  Advance voting is now going on in Shawnee, Osage, and Douglas counties. If you requested a ballot to vote at home, you should have received it by now.  Here are some details for the three counties in House District 54:

Shawnee County:  To vote in advance in person, go to the election office at 911 SW 37th.  The office will be open July 21-25 from 8 am to 5 pm.  It will be open July 28 to August 1 from 8 am to 6 pm.

Osage County:  To vote in advance in person, go to the election office in Lyndon at the Courthouse.  They will be open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm starting July 16.

Douglas County:  To vote in advance in person go to the election office in the county courthouse from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday starting July 16.  You may also vote in person on Saturday July 26 and August 2 from 9 am to 1 pm at the courthouse, Lecompton city Hall, the Baldwin City Fire station, and the Eudora city hall.

FOR ALL COUNTIES:  If you have a ballot to vote at home, it MUST be delivered to your county election office by 7 pm on August 5 (the close of voting) in order to count.  If you want to vote in advance in person, the last time to do that is noon Monday August 4. You may still request a ballot to vote at home.  If you need help with that, write to me at  If you are asked to vote a provisional ballot you may or may not have more action to take to make your vote count.  If you have questions, write to me at or call me at 785-266-9434. The Legislature passed laws this year to make it harder for you to find out what’s going on with provisional ballots, but I would be glad to try and help. Also…be sure to take a government issued photo ID.


Here are some job opportunities:

  • Express Employment is hiring in the areas of:  Recruiter; Staffing Consultant; Outside Sales; Accounts Payable; CNC Machinist; Machine Operators.  Apply online at
  •  Lots going on at the Topeka Workforce Center at 1430 SW Topeka Blvd.  Every fourth Tuesday of the month the Veteran’s Job Club meets from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.   Wednesday, July 23rd “Keys to Successful Interviews” from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.  Thursday, July 24th, “Job Readiness Workshop” from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration required for workshops. Call Greg Hopkins at 785-235-5627 or write to:  to reserve a space.
  • Creative Business Solutions has a number of professional and technical jobs advertised including operations director, office manager, non-profit CEO, sales associate, youth counselor, event specialist, director of marketing, public relations, quality improvement, and more! Go to: for more information and more jobs.


We have friends with special needs in our area.

  • The “Getting up from the fall” 5k run/walk will be held Saturday, August 9 at the Carbondale ball diamonds to benefit youngster Addison Kuhlmann.  Addison has leukemia and will need chemotherapy for the next 2 years.  Contact Emily Roberts at 785-220-7893 or write to her at for details.  Topeka Pizza Huts will also donate ten percent of your purchase to Addison that day if you give them the code “race”.
  • Our dear friend Gary Adkins awaits new lungs and is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, July 26 at Speck’s (21st and Mission in Topeka).  Starts at 6 pm.  For a $5 donation at the door you get to hear great music and help a great human being!


The National Night Out Against Crime is Saturday, August 9.  There will be events all over Shawnee County.  In our area, the Berryton and Tecumseh emergency response teams will host events.  Join them at Creekside in Berryton or at the Tecumseh Park on SE 2nd Street from 3 to 7 pm. The Shawnee Heights Neighborhood Safety group will join with the Tecumseh group this year. I will provide details on other Night Out events as I get them.

Things have been very quiet on the crime front lately.  Not much of note to report.  Just be sure to lock your cars and don’t leave valuable in sight!


Business owners and entrepreneurs plan to meet at this Osage County After Hours Event:

  • August 20: 4 Corners Steakhouse, 15745 S Topeka Ave, Scranton

Casual networking with no fees.  Bring your business cards.  RSVP to .


The Auburn Lions Club does a great monthly newsletter.  Lots of local info.  If you are interested, subscribe to a free email version by writing to Michele Reese at


Jobs and revenue update


June revenue numbers are out as well as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report.  You get all kinds of opinions about these things, but I thought you would like the “straight scoop”. 

My neighbors had $6,000 of patio furniture stolen during the night.  The truck just backed up to their patio and loaded the stuff up.  Be sure to report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood to law enforcement.


June state revenues came in $28 million below estimates.  We asked Legislative Research to give us the new projected ending balances and here they are:

FY 2014 (ending June 30, 2014):  $349.4 million

FY 2015 (ending June 30, 2015):  $27.9 million

FY 2016 (ending June 30, 2016):  -$239.3 million

Since the state can’t go “in the hole”, there would have to be $239 million in cuts made when the legislature comes back in January for the next fiscal year.  The state’s coffers ebb and flow throughout the year, as your own cash flow does.  That’s why the state borrowed $675 million from its internal accounts to get through to June 2015.  If the balance drops below $100 million, the Governor is allowed to make “across the board” budget cuts to keep us in the black.  If during any month the balance is projected to be zero, he can make targeted, individual department cuts.  If future months continue to come in below estimates, we may be in one of those situations. It is up to the Governor’s budget director to determine our monthly balances.


If you get a voter registration card in the mail, be sure to take a look at it.  Make sure your personal information is correct and you know where your polling place is located.  Some are changing in Shawnee County.  For example, those who used to vote at Tecumseh North Elementary School will now vote at Croco Square (6115 SE US Hwy 40).


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does a job count every six months.  The nonfarm employment report for November 2013 to May 2014 is now out. They do a net count of jobs by state for the period.  Here are regional results:

Kansas:  – 1600 jobs

Colorado:  + 41,000 jobs

Missouri:  + 15,400 jobs

Oklahoma:  +13,800 jobs

Nebraska:  + 3,400 jobs

Arkansas: + 5,100 jobs

Iowa:  + 5,700 jobs

Kansas was one of only 5 states to lose jobs during the six-month period.


As most of you know, I’m running for state representative again.  I’ve been looking around the country for ideas that are working to grow jobs.  I found one called “economic gardening” that is working and could be part of the answer to Kansas’ problems.

Economic gardening focuses on growing small businesses.  The target is businesses with 10-100 employees with an annual revenue of at least $1 million. These businesses are in the best position for growth. They make up about 10% of businesses, but employ about 35% of our workers.

Unlike businesses that are mostly minimum wage jobs, these companies grow the middle class.  With a little help, they can flourish.  The kind of help provided in the public-private partnership is what businesses need but often can’t afford – market research, web design or back office help.

The advantage is that the dollar investment is small, unlike the money needed to attract large companies with big tax breaks.  You focus on growing hometown companies rather than trying to beat out your neighboring state.

It’s a formula that works.  Hope I get the chance to work on in it next year.