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Something to Think About

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Steve Sauder is president of Emporia's Radio Stations, Inc. the owners of KVOE-AM 1400, Country 101.7 and Mix 104.9. Steve has been in a leadership position with ERS, Inc., since 1987.

January 7, 2015

This morning when you woke up what was the first thing you did? Grab a cup of coffee? Let the dogs out, at some point you turned on the TV. By breakfast you had turned on your cell phone and checked emails, possibly sent a few texts. Just think how technology has changed our lives in the past hundred years?

Yesterday I read an article entitled The Flint Hills Stone Shelters, 1800’s underground stone structures scattered around the Kansas landscape. As my mother referred to them these “root cellar” were the shelter farmers and ranchers alike went to cool off after a long days harvest in the blistering summer heat. Thinking about those old root cellars, I’m curious, what did their morning routine look like?

It’s fascinating to think how our day to day lives have evolved in the past hundred years. When I was a new college student, carrying a laptop to class was unthinkable—the most exciting portable device was a palm pilot. Yet, Today students are equipped with an entourage of technical devices, cells phones, touch screen laptops, tablets and blue tooth audio ready to go. I think of all the technical preparation these students have today that I didn’t. A transition of the time, maybe, moving from the old to the new, but then I think about the workforce this generation is entering. Our working world is quickly evolving to reflect this new technical age. Currently 74% of Americans are using a computer at work to access the internet, check their email or utilize specific piece of software. Without computer programmers we how would we organize and retrieve the million pieces of data companies use daily? How would we communicate a company’s a growth to stakeholders without software engineers. Our economy is directly linked to the strength and skills of our current and future workforce. Technology is where our workforce is heading.

As factories expand and companies find new ways to get products to the public, we see the need for technological minds to be a part of that. Jobs for the future involve machine tooling operators and engineers working together to create new infrastructures. Consider how our understanding of what’s possible changed with the invention of the 3D printer. In high schools across Kansas students are learning to incorporate technology into their normal studies, and also focusing on career and technical pathways to set-up their working futures. The importance technology plays in todays’ workforce and our students futures is immeasurable.

We’re living in a time of transition. Our county is currently full of working men and women who may have had little exposure to technical education. Yet, in every December and May graduation we see new talent emerge and join the workforce. With each working day we learn from one another and we certainly rely on the expertise we both bring to work, but living in transition is exciting, new, ok at times scary. We’re uncertain of where all this technology will lead us, but we do know having access to technology will help push us into the future. It will help bridge the gap from the past to the future.

Tina Khan - Flint Hills Technical College

December 31, 2014

There is or should be an ongoing debate locally about the strategy for economic development utilizing local Emporia and Lyon County tax revenues.

Decoded that means the recent failure to obtain re-zoning of the Price tract has the Regional Development Association and Emporia Enterprises questioning the commitment of Lyon County to be a partner in their plans.

Commissioner Scott Briggs cast the dissenting vote. An RDA member as well Briggs said his vote reflected not knowing what the land usage would be and his personal feeling the RDA’s strategy for attracting jobs needed to be re-visited.

No doubt the Price tract is well suited for development and maintaining Emporia’s foot in the door is not a bad idea. But, if we plan to keep offering free shovel ready ground plus tax abatement to prospects we need to make sure the jobs attached are not marginal in nature. My suggestion is the RDA look more strongly at the quality of the jobs versus the number.

All economic development activity needs to consider three factors present in Emporia today.

First is the potential for assisting Emporia State University as our most effective economic development strategy.

Please consider these two questions:

Number 1. Which would benefit Emporia more?

Seventy new full-time students at ESU or seventy new jobs?

Number 2. Which – students or jobs - would be more difficult to attract?

Second, part of attracting and growing new jobs is having workers to fill those jobs. I am watching with interest Birch Telecom’s efforts to add over a hundred new employees. Are there applicants for the new Birch jobs? And, where are these people coming from.

Emporia appears to have a lack of qualified people looking for work.

Last is housing - if Emporia is successful in attracting new people to Emporia for jobs – where will they live? Lack of suitable housing must be addressed if we hope to grow.

Failure to address the labor market question and availability of housing for new employees might undermine the most excellent efforts of the RDA!

With all that said I hope the stated efforts of Lyon County to be more active in economic development is not viewed as a challenge to the RDA, but as a more willing partner. The re-zoning disagreement should not be viewed as a road block, but maybe as a challenge with legitimate questions needing good answers.

Hopefully everyone concerned will come to the table to examine and re-examine the strategies for growing our area. Cooperation between our units of government is at an all time best, so let’s keep pulling together.

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to Think About.

December 24, 2014

          Christmas is tomorrow. We all know the story, but one has to wonder what if a reporter from CNN had been in Bethlehem that night.

          It might have sounded like this:

CNN: So Joseph, you are the father of this new born?

Joseph: No, not exactly. Actually, I am Jesus step-father.

CNN: So, who is the father?

Joseph; That would be God.

CNN: Excuse me are you saying God is the father of this chikd? Do mean the God with a capital G?

Joseph: Exactly.

CNN: How did that happen?

Joseph: It’s called divine conception.

CNN: Okay, am I to believe God made arrangements for the birth of his son to be in this stable?

Joseph: I’m not sure, but I am sure we have a healthy baby boy.

CNN: Are you expecting visitors?

Joseph: As a matter of fact, yes we are. Angels are expected and some shepherds and Wise Men and maybe Three Kings.

CNN: How will they know where to come?

Joseph: God created a guidance system. I think it’s a star.

CNN: So Joseph, what are your plans? Will you return straight back to Nazareth?

Joseph: Well I think we may take a detour down by the river and maybe even visit Egypt before going home.

CNN:  Do you think the Son of God will be a normal child?

Joseph: No I don’t. My expectations are he will offer new leadership for the world. Jesus’ life will be sacrificed so all people will have an opportunity for grace and eternal lives.

CNN: That would indeed be incredible.

Joseph: yes, that’s true – the entire story is incredible and that’s why, I think, it’s called Christmas. It is an incredible time marked with food, gifts, singing, love and much celebration!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.

This is indeed incredible!

Merry Christmas, I’m Steve Sauder.

December 17, 2014

          Emporia has a great deal of positive activity going on.

          You start with our University and Technical College. Both are growing, starting new programs and hold much promise for the future.

          Our hospital has weathered the storm and is truly on the road to recovery if you can pardon the pun.

          Main Street and the Chamber are providing leadership to a community that has a strong retail presence and more jobs than can be filled.

          The eight hundred block of Commercial is alive with activity. Candy, coffee, art, entertainment and even a plumbing shop make for an exciting block. And that’s just an example of what’s happening downtown!

          Now let’s really get excited about Emporia with talk about the Dirty Kansa and the Glass Blown Open both set for spring.

          The DK being billed as the “Decade of Dirty” is expecting over 1200 riders! Their growth is amazing. And, they keep adding smaller events throughout the year like their DK Training Camp in March.

          The Glass Blown Open has exploded! Entries were suspended last week with over 900 in the fold for this week long event. The growth of this event and the disc golf business are based solely and completely in Emporia, so the potential here is off the charts.

          Both events seem to possess great leadership and forethought. This is good because nothing will stop their progress quicker than being poorly run.

          Growth is good, but can also present big challenges. In visiting with both groups it appears they understand how to pull off their races and tournaments, but we question if our community will be ready.

          Hotel rooms fill up quickly and for the Glass Blown Open school will still be in session at ESU so dorm rooms aren’t a possibility. Get the picture?

          My thought is Emporia needs to think outside the box for these and other events that bring bunches of people to town. Are there places for tents? Can churches help with places to sleep, shower and change? Private homes? Are there restrictions that could keep people from opening up their homes?

          Maybe these questions are already being answered, but if not – why not?

          What Emporia has are some tremendous opportunities. Let’s not send the overflow to Topeka if we don’t have to!

          I’m Steve Sauder and There’s Something to Think About.”

December 10, 2014

Not sure if you watch The Voice on NBC, but Monday night we did and one of the contestants chose to sing “The Old Rugged Cross.”

          The performance was amazing and that song brought back many memories from my days in Gridley where “The Old Rugged Cross” was often sung at the MethodistChurch.

          The judges on The Voice get to critique each performance. Pharrell Williams a young black man said simply: “To God Be the Glory!” He was referencing the famous hymn by that name and in turn praising the performer for not only lifting up his talent, but also his faith.

          Pharrell’s comment stunned me and made me emotional, but more importantly, something important became stuck in my mind. Later my eyes closed not knowing what this was. At 5:01 A.M. God evidently gave up on me figuring this out on my own and awoke me from a deep sleep telling me to connect “To God Be the Glory” and my friend Cheryl Doty.

          Many of you know Cheryl. She came to work with me at Steve Sauder Real Estate in 1980. She stayed with me through the founding of Valu-line and into Birch. She now works days at the First Congressional Church.

          Cheryl Doty was amazing. She could do anything – punctuate a sentence, spell any and every word and even help solve thorny personnel challenges.

          Early in our working together days CD found her way to our church – Emporia’s First United Methodist and more importantly to the choir. Pretty sure Cheryl would tell you that relationship changed her life. Today she also works for our church as Director of Music Ministry.

          Her job description must be a long one because it includes singing in the choir, being a regular soloist, leading congressional singing during services, being a member of the Joyful Ringers, our bell choir, directing multiple youth choirs and participating in about a dozen other church activities.

          Jeanie Jensen our pastor at the First United Methodist church told me Cheryl is the best music minister she has worked with suggesting “her music opens hearts.” Jeanie explained often after Cheryl sings her message is more easily received.

          “To God Be the Glory” aptly describes Cheryl Doty when she is singing. Her face shines, her voice is proud and confident yet her humble nature is evident. Our Lord blessed Cheryl with a wonderful talent which she is willing to share. She is indeed a blessing.

          And the congregation said “AMEN!”

          I’m Steve Sauder.

December 3, 2014

The following are exerts from an editorial printed in the Gazette on Monday that was written by the Hutchinson News. I’m thinking it indicates why the proposed Keystone Pipeline proposal is so confusing.

From the HutchinsonNews: “When Congress — not if — sends the president a bill authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, he ought to sign it contingent on approval by the legislatures in the states affected. The fixation on this pipeline has become irrational, and it shouldn’t be decided by irrational politicians.

The reality is both the concerns against and the benefits touted about the pipeline are exaggerated. The jobs would be temporary, so the economic benefit is grossly overpromoted. It isn’t about gas prices, which already are low and falling. At the same time, the environmental concerns seem hollow. Canada already is mining the oil, and the U.S. State Department has concluded the risk of an oil spill is slight.

First of all, know that two-thirds of the pipeline already is completed. It already carries crude from the oil sand fields in Canada into Oklahoma, where it can get to the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed XL portion provides for a couple of additions to the network.

Consequently, it seems like the proverbial horse is already out of the barn, so why such a fight is being waged at the federal level is puzzling. But that’s politics.

The Keystone XL project on Tuesday fell a single vote short of proceeding in the Senate. Doesn’t matter. It will be approved once Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

The debate over the Keystone XL shouldn’t be in Washington but at the state level.

And finally the Hutch News says: “The debate is done for Kansas, where the pipeline already has been built.

Kansas landowners and county governments got ignored when TransCanada built the 210-mile pipeline through six counties. Those counties lost about $8.5 million a year on the deal. That while being tasked with providing fire and emergency service in the event of a pipeline explosion or other accident.”

They concluded “It isn’t fair for politicians to cast away the interests of the local citizens who will live with the pipeline for their own political gain.”

Wow! Let’s see – jobs being overstated; gas prices already falling, so need is not so great; the threat of an oil spill is overrated; the Keystone Pipeline is already 2/3 built and won’t build anymore in Kansas; but six Kansas counties are losers already and could lose more; and yet our elected people still support this project.

            Help me – am I missing something?

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to think about.