Day 52 – Johnson, Miami & Wyandotte County

Thursday, May 10th

It’s the final day of our 52-Day Tour! What a long, but worthwhile trip! We ended the tour in Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte County.

We started the day off by meeting with superintendent Dr. John Allison in Olathe (Johnson County). He’s also a part of Kansas Can’s School Redesign program, so we took time to share our vision for schools and why we support school redesign. He shared how sometimes people have this perception that taxes are the only thing that attracts business and people, but a big factor is the quality of life and that involves a good education system. He gave the example of how google was looking for places to put their businesses not just based on taxes but on quality of life.

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After Olathe, we went to Paola (Miami County) to a Rotary Club meeting, where guest speaker Darol Rodrock shared his vision for foster kids between ages 18 and 25. He gave statistics of how many of people who grew up as a foster kid will be unemployed, in and out of prison and many women will be pregnant with little or no support, and many times these young adults can end up homeless. Additionally, the rate of them going to college goes is slim. Darol, being a foster kid, ended up going to college and becoming a successful coach. He’s committed to helping these students get jobs and careers, and helping those who want to go to college. As governor, I would like to see for a greater partnership between nonprofits and foundations with the state that look to care for foster kids after they are out of the system. My wife and I being foster parents for many years have a big heart for foster kids. We also had the privilege of talking with many of the city officials and leaders of Paola who attended. We spoke with the vice president of tourism in Kansas. He shared with us on how agriculture farm tours are on the rise and that they can see around 900 people visit a farm in one day.

The last stop of the tour was visiting a very well-known barbecue restaurant Woodyard Bar-B-Que. We met up with our Chief Strategist Rick Parsons, who is from the area. He celebrated with us the completion of the tour!


It’s been a great 52-Days on the road. We’ve learned a lot and are excited to continue to meet with people. This summer holds a whole new season for us that will require more funds. If you’ve followed us on this blog and are interested in supporting an independent, common-man Kansan, I ask for your monetary support – large or small.

Additionally, if you have parades in your area during the summer, send us a message of the location and date of the parade, and we’ll try to make it out!

Thanks again for following us! We’re very honored to have met with every citizen, leader, superintendent and town official that we did. I plan to continue the blog throughout the campaign!

— Rick

Day 51 – Leavenworth & Douglas County

Wednesday, May 9th

We got to meet with Superintendent Dr. Mike Roth. His Leavenworth schools are also a part of Kansas Can’s Education Redesign program. They’re focusing on the student and are in the process of some big redesigning for school schedules for high school students, which would be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and would allow for students to come in later in the day and work in the mornings or vice versa. He wants to rebuild the structure of school, making sure students are given the best learning opportunities. He said research shows that students learn best around 9 a.m. Dr. Roth also listed three points that parents are concerned for their schools. One, safety; two, quality education; and three, students being groomed for success. They also give their students multiple snacks throughout the day.

We visited one of Lawrence’s (Douglas County) popular Mass Street restaurants, The Mad Greek. They make some of the best Greek food you will ever eat!

— Rick

Day 50 – Marion and Morris County

Tuesday, May 8th

We went to a local family bakery in Marion and ate some good blueberry muffins, and met with local Dick Mclendon who was sheriff for 16 years, a commercial pilot and who also farms thousands of acres. We got to share with him about school redesign, and he liked the new shift the schools are taking. He was glad to hear we weren’t attorneys and that we weren’t politicians.

In Council Grove (Morris County), we stopped at Hays House. We met the city administrator of Council Grove, who had recently moved back from Georgia to settle down in Kansas. He was new to his position but was being given good counsel by Jay Newton. He said high property taxes are killing small businesses in his community, and is currently working to get some businesses annexed in the city who build right out of it. He stays out of the political arguing and says you don’t want to burn a bridge that you may have to cross later, so it’s best to work with people, and in some areas, you have to agree to disagree and move on to get things done.

After that we were invited to TCT Wireless (Tri-County Telephone Association) to hear about how they are advocating for getting rural Kansas good internet. With this being a big part of attracting business and young people back to rural Kansas, I thought it was important to learn more. They’re expanding fiber optics across Kansas but it comes at a great expense, so they depend on a lot of federal and state grants to help pursue it. I want to be a governor who supports rural Kansas – so we have to look at options and advocate for rural areas that don’t have broadband. It comes back to what a guy out of Bird City said, “what’s good for Wichita is good for Bird City!” He said small towns need good internet at an affordable price!

— Rick

Day 49 – McPherson and Chase County

Monday, May 7th

Today we visited McPherson and Chase County.

We started the day off visiting McPherson’s Chamber of Commerce director. Their city and county have a lot of manufacturing businesses with over 50 industries county wide. They really try to promote manufacturing jobs. Their school is a part of Kansas Can’s School Redesign program, and one thing they like is the certificates students can come out with to give to businesses showing what they achieved. After that we went for an interview at the McPherson Sentinel, and then stopped for some Italian soda and baked goods. Side note – probably the best homemade snicker doodle cookie I’ve ever had.

We had a late lunch at the Grand Central Hotel in Cottonwood Falls (Chase County). Their food was great and the atmosphere nice. Since we were in Cottonwood Falls, we decided to see the river.

It’s definitely a great place to walk and see some of Kansas’ most beautiful outdoors. Lastly, we went to the historic courthouse. You can go to third floor and see the whole town. You can also tour the courthouse, which has a jail right behind the courtroom. This city is worth taking the day off to see all its attractions. Wish we had more time here!

 

— Rick

Day 48 – Cowley and Butler County

Sunday, May 6th

On Sunday, we visited Aviator Church in Winfield (Cowley County). We met some of the leaders of the church and also got to visit with a teacher who attends there. We shared with them how we want to be a support to our teachers and sure they feel valued and that we support our education system as a whole. We also stopped by the Vietnam War memorial for Kansans who lost their lives during the war. It had a monument of most major wars the U.S. fought in.

And for lunch, we stopped in El Dorado (Butler County) and since most places were closed, we went where the locals were – Fiesta Mexicana Cantina Mexican Restaurant. Great food! After that we visited El Dorado beautiful courthouse.

It made for an excellent day!

— Rick

 

Day 47 – Coffey County

Saturday, May 5th

We had a more relaxed day today since we moved locations. We visited Burlington (Coffey County), which is a little more north.

We got to meet with the mayor, Stan Luke. He actually sits on the board of Kansas Power Pool, so we got a lot of information on wind energy. He’s also a farmer and shared how for him it was an easy yes to allow wind power turbines to be put on his land, because since the prices of crops are down he’s at least guaranteed a check quarterly for each turbine. He made the comment how hard it is for a young farmer to start with costs so high. I would like to see more incentives for young people to start farming. Their county alone gets over $500,000 a year from wind turbines.

Their largest employer is the Wolf Creek Nuclear plant, which was widely opposed when it was first came to the community, but now the community depends on it with over 900 people employed. Because of it they have good roads and infrastructure. He said Wolf Creek is very community-minded and have recently planned an event for the community.

— Rick

Day 46 – Greenwood, Elk, Chautauqua & Neosho County

Friday, May 4th

Happy May Fourth! We were busy today, visiting four counties – Greenwood, Elk, Chautauqua and Neosho County! Again, in the southeast corner of the state.

We had brunch with the mayor of Eureka (Greenwood County) at Cherokee American and Chinese Daily Buffet. This mayor was quite the character. He had us laughing the whole time. One interesting thing he shared with us about their town was that it used to be a horse racing city. He also shared with us that Hwy 45 is bad and that they don’t have funds to fix. Additionally, the state won’t fix it because of an old agreement between the city and state years ago from a different mayor.

For Elk County, we got to meet some of the town leaders of Howard and the county commissioner. They shared how the windmills have brought in around $1 million a year for their county and has become essential with how much it has benefited it. Taxes

Next, we met with the mayor of Sedan (Chautauqua County). They are currently undergoing a $6 million three-year project of updating close to 100-year-old water lines. It has been very challenging since most people in the area are on fixed incomes, and this is one of the poorest counties in state. He shared how they budget in each year to tear down around three houses a year in trying to clean up the town. Lastly, he shared how the highways near them, K-99, has had many roll-over accidents on the road, and that they need funds to add a shoulder because it’s big drop.

We went to Opie’s Pizza & Grill, a family-run buffet. We just beat the rush with a whole baseball teaming coming in right after us. We were able to talk with the owner’s brother who manages the place. We also got to talk with locals about farming.

It was a long day, but we made it through! We hope you enjoyed your Friday – May the Fourth be with you (for all the Star Wars fans out there)!

— Rick