Advance voting, jobs and more

Neighbors:

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.

AUGUST 5 PRIMARY INFORMATION

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 annmah@att.net.  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 annmah@att.net 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.

LET’S GET TO WORK!

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 www.expresspros.com.
  •  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:  ghopkins@kansasworks.com  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: http://www.cbsks.com/ for more information and more jobs.

FRIENDS IN NEED

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 eroberts24@yahoo.com 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!

NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME

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!

OSAGE COUNTY BUSINESS NETWORKING EVENT

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 Shannon@knoxwrapps.com .

AUBURN NEWS

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 mreese7@yahoo.com.

COMMUNITY CALENDAR

If you have community events coming up, let me know.  I email 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.

  • August 9:  Tire Rack Street Survival driving program at Heartland Park Topeka.  Advanced driving techniques for those 15-21 years old. Register at www.streetsurvival.com.
  • Sunday, July 27:  Tecumseh Kiwanis Club Ice Cream Social and Santa Fe Band Concert at the Tecumseh United Methodist Church.  Serving ice cream and cake at 6 pm.  Band plays at 7 pm.  Bring chairs!  Will be indoors if heat is too bad.
  • July 30-August 3:  Big book sale at the Overbrook Public Library.
  • Saturday, August 16: 10th Annual SonShine Carnival at CrossRoads Wesleyan Church, 2131 SW Harrison in Topeka.  11 am to3 pm.  Lots of family activities.
  • Sunday, August 17:  Auburn Lions Club Back-to-School Party in the Park. 6 pm.  Admission is a donation of school supplies for children of low-income families attending Auburn Elementary School.  Hot dogs served.  Entertainment by “Johnny Cash”.  Larry and I have attended the last two years.  Lots of fun and a worthy cause.
  • 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.
  • September 20:  Shawnee Heights High School All School Class Reunion at the Capital Plaza Hotel.  Details will be found at http://shhsalumni.classquest.com.
  • 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!
  • 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.

ONGOING EVENTS:

  • 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.

 

 

 

Jobs and revenue update

Neighbors:

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 REVENUES

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.

CHECK YOUR VOTING LOCATION

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).

JOBS REPORT OUT

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.

WHAT IS WORKING?

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.

 

News from Ann

Neighbors:

Busy week here!  Helped the Auburn firefighters at their run last Saturday.  Overbrook Rotary on Tuesday.  Headed to Scranton in the morning for their parade and Day in the Park. 

Wishing you all a safe and fun Fourth of July.  It has always been a big day at our house, although I don’t do as many fireworks now.  Great time for family.  And if you are looking for things to do on the Fourth, drop by Lake Shawnee for a day of family fun, crafts, vendors, cars, and music!

STATE FINANCE NEWS

The State Finance Council agreed to issue a $675 million certificate of indebtedness to make sure our cash flow works through June 30 next year.  This internal borrowing from idle funds typically happens each year to make sure we get through November and February when our balances run low.  But this year’s certificate is fairly large.  Last year we borrowed $300 million.

The borrowed amount has to be put back in the bank by June 30, 2015 – the end of the 2015 fiscal year.  There was quite a bit of discussion in the Council meeting about whether or not we would be able to make that commitment with the current revenue shortfall.  Also, if the state’s balance falls below $100 million, that would trigger administrative budget cuts by the Governor.  At this time we are projected to have about $50 million in the bank June 2015.  When we get June revenues we will have a better feel for what the balance will be.

YOUR OPINION MATTERS

Here are the results on my online poll.  You told me that:

1. You want to start the State Fair after Labor Day and not on Labor Day weekend. (55%)

2. You want the state to help local communities fund mental health services. (68%)

3. The state should have a renewable energy requirement for utilities. (61%)

4. We should keep liquor laws as they are today in regard to sales in grocery and convenience stores. (58%)

5. You are split on whether to hold third graders back if they can’t read at grade level. (40% yes and 45% no)

6. You are split on legalizing medical marijuana. (45% yes and 49% no)

7. You oppose requiring schools to consolidate. (67% no)

8. You oppose requiring schools to consolidate in your county. (69% no)

9. Your top priorities for the legislature are: Jobs/the economy (28%); Taxes (21%); Education (19%)

10.  Most of you get your health insurance through your employer. (54%)

Thank you for your feedback.

GOOD NEWS FOR KANSAS

Congress has approved funding for the national agro-bioscience lab in Manhattan.  This will bring hundreds of millions in investment to Kansas along with many businesses connected to the industry.  I am pleased to have been part of the legislature when we worked to bring this lab to Kansas.

We have worked hard to build a bioscience corridor from Manhattan to Kansas City.  About a third of the world’s animal science research takes place in this corridor already.  This is an industry we can work to support and grow.

YOUR CAR TAX

Did you ever wonder how the property tax on your car is determined?  The tax on cars generates about $356 million statewide.  In our area it generates $21 million in Shawnee County, $10.7 million in Douglas County, and $2 million in Osage County.  That money is distributed to the state, city, county, townships, schools and other entities as the other property taxes are distributed.

I dug into it and found out that the car tax is based on the average mill levy in your county.  They average the various rural mill levies with the urban mill levies and apply that to your car.  The rates change January 1, 2015 based on the mill levies from 2013.  In Shawnee County, the car tax is going up about 6.6%.  That is greater than Douglas and Osage counties will go up.  So if your car does not depreciate more than 6.6%, you can expect to pay more taxes on your car in Shawnee County next year.

YOUR VOTING STATUS

I continue to get reports of people whose voting status is in suspense for a variety of reasons.  If those issues are not resolved before the primary on August 5, your vote may not count.  Now is the time to check your voter registration status at: https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do

CRIME REPORT

FYI, if you see a cherry red Chevy Equinox pulling in and out of a lot of country driveways, don’t call the sheriff, it’s just me!  I’m out knocking on doors and meeting lots of folks. Thanks for your hospitality!  Getting lots of “dog kisses” as well, but that’s part of the job!

A neighbor near Lake Shawnee reported that thieves took metal from their yard – wire, steel picnic table, chairs, umbrella and more.  We need to be watchful and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.   Car break-ins are picking up and most are due to unlocked cars with valuables left inside.  A word to the wise!

 

Memorial Day Update

Neighbors:

Hope you’re enjoying the better weather.  Like many in our neighborhood, we are likely looking at a new roof soon!  Larry and I just returned from a trip to Italy to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  Had a great time!

I have a couple of things to share this week.  One is a Memorial Day story about a Kansas soldier I hope you will enjoy. The other is a recent revenue update.

A KANSAS SOLDIER’S STORY

Monday, May 26, was the 146th time this nation celebrated the lives of the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to their country. First Decoration Day, and now Memorial Day. The day of celebration has changed, but not the sincerity with which we meet to honor these fallen heroes.

What can we do to honor their sacrifice? How do we keep their memories alive? We tell their stories so they are not forgotten. I want to share one Kansas soldier’s story. A story we pieced together from an old box at an estate sale that my sister found. The box was tattered around the edges, but kept for decades by a woman, Cleta Lesh, who loved this World War II soldier – Captain William Lloyd Muir of the Fifth Army under General Clark.

Cleta and William, Bill to his friends, graduated as high school sweethearts from Norton Community High School in 1936. By all accounts it was a typical rural Kansas upbringing. In their junior year, Cleta appeared in the all-school play, taking the part of Hope Cartwright in “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.” Bill’s folks owned L.W. Muir Music Company in Norton. We found pictures of lovely teens in prom dresses. Enjoying watermelon in the summer.

Bill continued his education at K-State, earning a degree in Business Administration in 1940. Bill had had reserve officer training while at K-State and so he was called to active duty in October 1941.

He and Cleta were engaged, but in times of war things have to wait. Cleta would at first wait in Norton for her Kansas hero to come home. Later she took a job as secretary to the superintendent of schools in Hays, where she waited for Bill’s return.

Bill earned the rank of first lieutenant at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. But he wanted to go overseas. In April 1942 he went to Ireland. Bill saw parts of the world a Kansas boy doesn’t often see. He sent home souvenirs of his travels. We found an Irish linen apron, still folded in the same envelope Bill mailed it in to Cleta.

Bill trained in Ireland for the action he was soon to see with the Allied forces in North Africa. Bill was brave and a hero, and it didn’t take long for him to be singled out for special duty. Bill accompanied British troops aboard a British man o’ war and was with the first men who went ashore at Oran on November 8, 1942. He was with the troops that drove the Axis forces into “coffin corner” in Tunisia. His battalion received a presidential citation for the capture of Hill 609 which was one of the turning points in the North African campaign.

We build Kansas boys with something special. Bill was cited for bravery by both the British and the Americans. While with the British forces, Bill disposed of burning ammunition during the voyage to North Africa. In April 1943,in Tunisia, he earned a Silver Star for his courage and leadership in reorganizing a group of his men who became panicky under enemy fire. Our Bill was gallant in action. He ran more than 100 yards through open territory to rally his retreating men and hold a forward infantry observation post despite heavy enemy fire.

His citation said Bill was “Meritorious and a credit to the armed forces of the United States.” And I would add, a credit to our great state and country.   They say that “courage is not the absence of fear; rather it is the ability to take action in the face of fear.” That was our Bill.

It was no surprise that Bill was notified to discard the silver bar of a first lieutenant for the double silver bar of a Captain. He sent lots of pictures. He and Cleta wrote. Bill talked of the future. He traveled at first on weekend passes. He sent pictures of castles and places he promised to show her someday. He relished the sunshine of Morocco.

There were pictures of army life. Boys turning into men. Locals who shared a meal. Setting up camp. Shaving under a tree. Rations from a can. By June 1943 the cards mentioned more of the loneliness a young man feels. No time to write.

In September 1943, Bill’s mother wrote to Cleta:

“My Dear Cleta,

Here are the pictures Bill wanted you to have. He gave us no information about any of them except that the one with Col. Ward was taken the day he got his star. We think Bill looks rather thin but well…..”

(That’s a Kansas mom for you! Never eating enough!)

She went on to say that Bill said he had just been in town to buy Christmas presents he had mailed out that day. The stamps were from Morocco, but his mother guessed he was in Italy. Rumor was that General Clark’s army had landed in Naples. “Bill would be in one of the worst places,” she wrote.

She had had a letter from two captains who had nice things to say about Bill. One from Kentucky had stopped to visit the other evening while his car was being repaired. He was surprised to think that Bill had made it through the last Tunisian affair, as almost all the reconnaissance officers on Hill 609 were killed. This captain said Bill’s new job was one of great responsibilities but more safe and a good place for advancement. The safe part, she said, was what appealed to her. Recent letters from Bill, she said, had spoken of what he wanted to do when he returned. For a while he had said nothing beyond the day. To me, that’s encouraging, she wrote. Bill’s last letter, she said, was dated August 31.

Then in the box we found a wedding napkin. But it said “Gay and Cleta”, not Bill. So we dug deeper and there it was. A short news item titled “Receives word fiancé killed in Italy.” Bill was killed in action on October 20, 1943. No one was quite sure when Bill had returned to Italy. He had been serving as a training officer for his battalion. He had been assigned to rebuild his company to battle strength after heavy losses. His battalion of 1800 men had been reduced to just 262.

And that’s all I know about Captain Bill Muir. A Kansas hometown boy. A native son. An American hero like hundreds of thousands of American heroes who gave their lives in service so that we could be a free people.

This is the story of a young man of 26 with hopes and dreams like all young men. A life of promise cut short. A love lost but not forgotten. But it’s also the story of a hero. Of a young man who understood his role in keeping freedom in the world and in ending tyranny.

Bill had dreams. Dreams we are challenged to live out because we are the fortunate ones left to enjoy the freedom he died for. And now I challenge you to keep our soldiers’ stories alive. Those of you who have served. You know stories. Tell them. Tell them to your kids and your grandkids so that no American who made that sacrifice will be forgotten.

Memorial Day is about reconciliation. It is about coming together to honor those who gave their all. We remember them and their families. We remember those who never came home and are still missing.

Cleta kept Bill’s memory alive for decades for me to tell you. To remind us of the price of war and the enormous debt we owe to each and every one of these fallen heroes. I pray that God will keep continue to bless each of you and our great nation.

 

 

Session ends – revenue forecast

Dear Neighbors:

The 2014 Legislative session is over.  They passed a budget and several other bills before wrapping up early on May 3, marking the shortest session in decades.  Here is a look at the budget and the resulting revenue forecast.

Enjoyed the lawnmower demolition derby in Carbondale last Saturday.  Also enjoyed speaking to the Tecumseh Kiwanis Club about the 2014 legislative session.

For those of you who are curious, the construction at 45th and California is to be a Dollar General Store.

BUDGET SET

The biggest part of the 2015 fiscal year budget (July 1, 2014, to June 30,2015) was set during the 2013 session.  This year they had to firm it up and respond to the Supreme Court order on school funding. 

Not a lot of surprises in the budget. The highway fund continues to be raided.  We have taken over $1 billion out the last four years to help pay other bills.  That was part of the reason for the highway bond downgrade.  They took $5 million out of early childhood education support to bolster the Bioscience Authority funding.  The insurance department saw reductions in funding for consumer protection. State employees (except elected officials) will get a one-time $250 bonus in December 2014.

They spent $280 million more than we will take in during the 2015 fiscal year. Senator Laura Kelly asked the Legislative Research group for a five-year revenue forecast based on the new budget and current revenue projections. That projection shows that we will go from a $709 million ending balance July 1, 2013, to an $81 million ending balance July 1, 2015.  For fiscal year 2016 we are projected to be $193 million in the hole.

OTHER BILLS

During the last days of the session, these bills were passed:

  • The tax bill passed this year will likely raise your property taxes going forward.  They eliminated the mortgage registration fee and replaced it in part with other fees over the next five years.  The result will be that counties get $17 million less in revenue statewide.
  • They also passed changes in business equipment and machinery property taxes to give cement companies a break.  If signed, expect other industries to follow suit.
  • Increased public access to probable-cause documents used to justify search warrants.  This bill was requested after a Johnson county family’s home was raided by mistake and they could not find out why.
  • Increased penalties for financial crimes against seniors. Those who prey on the elderly can get up to 40 years in prison for large scale abuse. The Governor has signed this bill.
  • SB 273 increases from 25 to 125 miles the radius within which private motor carriers can operate commercial vehicles without getting any certificate, license or permit from the KCC.  I understand trying to help business.  Just be aware we will have more unlicensed drivers on the road.

What didn’t make it:

  • The health club owner who donated tens of thousands of dollars to candidates to get a property tax break came up short as the House stopped the measure eliminating property taxes for health clubs.
  • Americans for Prosperity had supported a bill to repeal the renewable energy portfolio standards in Kansas.  You may have seen their ads on TV.  These standards require that electric companies provide at least 20% of their electricity with renewable sources by 2020.  This would have hurt our  wind energy industry in Kansas and was stopped by the House as well.

CRIME REPORT

Not a lot going on in our area, which is good, but we have seen a slight uptick in vehicle break-ins, especially in the Montara area. 

On Monday there was an unusual event in the 5300 block of SE 37th. At approximately 10:15 AM two occupants of a “Pewter” colored passenger car drove into the driveway of a residence.  A white male who appeared to be in his  30′s, long stringy hair, tattoos knocked on the door aggressively. A  second man who appeared African American in his 30′s, with corn rows, remained in the driver’s side of the car.

A female resident answered  the door and the man asked for “Scott”. The resident instinctively told him that Scott was home and she would get him. She then closed and locked the door, leaving the man standing on the front porch. The resident went to a nearby window to obtain additional information. The man became impatient, returned to the car and left the area. The resident contacted the SNSO &  Deputies were there within a short time but had no contact with the car or occupants. The resident obtained a possible Kansas tag number. The tag registered to a 2011 Hyundai Elantra which Deputies are investigating.

If you see this or any other suspicious activity, report it to your local law enforcement.