Eileen Horn, State Representative for the 10th District, highlighted action during the 2018 session of the Kansas legislature. Horn, a Democrat, was appointed to fill the House seat vacated by John Wilson in August 2017. She worked as the sustainability coordinator for the City of Lawrence and Douglas County until December 2017 when she resigned to focus on her legislative responsibilities.
Although State revenues have begun to surpass projections in recent quarters, Horn noted that state taxes are still lower than in 2012. She explained that after nine rounds of tax cuts, however, there were holes in the State budget that the legislature has had to address.
During its session last winter, the legislature found additional money for transportation projects, K-12 education, and child and family needs. The State is catching up on its contributions to KPERS. Higher education received 2% back from a prior cut. The State’s water plan is funded now. The judiciary and corrections each received money for staff. Telemedicine was approved.
Kansas has ongoing financial challenges, however, especially in K-12 eduction. In June, the State Supreme Court ruled that while the State’s new plan for funding education was now “equitable,” it was still not “adequate.”
Horn ways that the most rewarding part of her new work is to be able to help constituents with their problems. Her biggest frustration is that the schedule of the session and the low stipend mean that legislature is skewed to include those who are older and independently wealthy, that is, those who can afford the time and money to serve.
District Governor Blanche Parks visited Lawrence Central Rotary, demonstrating abundant enthusiasm and commitment for her Rotary leadership responsibilities.
DG Parks joined the Downtown Topeka Rotary Club in 1999, serving as president in 2012. She also served as Assistant District Governor and District Trainer. She was instrumental in establishing the first Rotary Leadership Institute for the District.
Parks worked for the State of Kansas managing and directing various state agencies. She is most proud of developing the Kansas Learning Quest 529 College Savings Plan. Governor Parks serves on numerous boards and is very active in the Topeka community.
Her plans for the coming year include raising Rotary’s public image, a focus on utilizing technologies that are appealing to young people, increasing giving to the Foundation, and increasing club membership.
In closing, Governor Parks urged Rotarians to ”Recognize achievement, celebrate and have fun.”
There are eighteen different first responder groups serving Douglas County. These are the people who do what needs to be done when others don’t even want to think about.
These people may be professionals or volunteers. They include the 911 operator who keeps a suicidal person talking on the phone until help arrives; the patrol officer who gets the victim out of a car despite the danger of a gas line leak; the firefighter who risks a rescue from a burning house before the fire trucks arrive; and the sheriff who risks a gun shot in order to intervene in a domestic dispute.
Since childhood, Michelle Derusseau has admired first responders. In 2010, she took time to attend the Lawrence Citizen’s Police Academy where she listened to the stories and participated in the type of role play training that professional police receive.
Now, Michelle expresses her admiration by serving as chair of the Valor Awards committee.
Started in 2011, the Valor Awards recognize first responders in Douglas County for their acts of bravery and selflessness in the work of saving lives. Each September, all first responders and their guests are invited to attend an appreciation banquet where the Valor Awards are presented. Community contributions fund the event as well as the proceeds from a Valor Golf Tournatment sponsored by Intrust Bank.
John Brown as portrayed by Kerry Altenbernd told the story.
When Jim Daniels, a slave in Missouri, found that his owner had died, he feared that he and his family would be sold and separated. Daniels contacted John Brown for help. Brown brought Daniels and his family out of Missouri to the Grover farm near Lawrence. The “cargo” of 12 people stayed several nights in the Grover’s new stone barn, then began a journey on the Underground Railway that would take them north and east through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan, en route to freedom in Canada. The Grovers defied federal law by harboring the fugitives, risking fines and imprisonment.
Judy Sweets, local historian and archivist, has dedicated her energy to researching the Underground Railroad in Douglas County. She explained that there are originally thirty sites on the Railroad in the area. Two remain in Lawrence: the Grover Barn at Stone Barn Terrace and Lawrence Avenue and the Miller Farm at Haskell and 19th Street.
The stone barn was built in 1858 by Joel Grover and his wife Emily on their 180-acre farm located about a mile-and-a-half south and west of the center of Lawrence at the time. When the Grover family finally left the farm in 1953, the barn was used as a sculpture studio for many years. In 1981, the Grover Barn was refurbished by the City of Lawrence to serve as Fire Station #4.
Recently, the Guardians of Grover Barn announced that the barn has been designated as a documented Underground Railroad site on the Network to Freedom by the National Park Service.
Jasmin Moore, Sustainability Director for Douglas County, reminded Rotarians that Lawrence became a national leader in 2016 in quality of life measures, the first community in Kansas to earn a 4-STAR certification. The STAR measurement framework (“Sustainable Tools for Assessment and Rating”) allows communities to track progress toward improved quality of life against seven sets of objectives–and to compare themselves with others working on similar goals.
Moore defines a sustainable community as one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilent. She uses a four-way test to evaluate sustainability initiatives:
How does it impact environmental health?
How does it impact the well-being of people?
How does it impact relationships, effective government, social justice, and overall livability?
How does it impact the local economy and at what short-term and long-term costs?
Originally from the Kansas City area, Moore chose to study urban planning at KU when she became intrigued with the idea that the built environment of a community influences the health of the community. After a series of jobs in Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Johnson County, she has landed back in Lawrence. Now she coordinates the City/County collaboration to develop integrated solutions and long-term investments for sustainability.