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

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