I want to thank Tyson for its commitment to rebuild its beef plant in Holcomb, following last weekend’s devastating fire. This is good news not only for the plant’s 3,500-plus employees, but for Kansas farmers and ranchers. Tyson is a major employer in southwest Kansas, responsible for millions of dollars in payroll and economic impact annually.
I was in Finney County Tuesday to personally thank the fire crews in both Garden City and Holcomb, as well as all first responders who assisted with the fire. I am thankful no one was hurt, and will continue to keep first responders and Tyson employees on the forefront of my mind as rebuilding moves forward.
American Wind Week
I received a tour of NextEra wind turbine in Cimarron as part of American Wind Week, a celebration of American wind energy and the benefits it delivers to communities. Kansas is home to nearly 3,000 wind turbines that produce enough electricity to power about 1.7 million homes.
Last year, Kansas generated 36% of its electricity from wind power, ranking first in the nation for wind energy as a share of total electricity generation. Wind power creates economic opportunities for rural communities across America, paying more than $1 billion in state and local taxes and land lease payments every year, which supports our schools and local infrastructure.
$587 Million to Aid Communities Impacted by Natural Disasters
Nearly 70 counties across Kansas are now covered by the Presidential disaster declaration issued in response to the terrible flooding and damage caused by storms this spring.
In response to the ongoing need for recovery assistance, the Economic Development Agency under the Department of Commerce announced the availability of disaster grants to impacted communities.
Through their Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, supplemental funding of $587 million will be available to support disaster recovery and resiliency efforts. This assistance comes in addition to resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
While there are no application deadlines for this assistance, proposals should be based on long-term, regionally-oriented, and collaborative development strategies that foster economic growth and resilience. Disaster recovery projects must be consistent with the U.S. Department of Commerce Disaster Recovery Investment Priorities.
Hours of Service Update for Livestock Haulers
Livestock haulers across the country have the difficult task of ensuring motorist safety while also tending to the health and welfare of the animals being transported. However, “Hours of Service” regulations for these drivers lack the flexibility needed to address the unique challenges posed by transporting these commodities.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published their proposal for updating existing “Hours of Service” rules. FMCSA’s proposal will change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers, modifying the maximum on-duty periods and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate. These changes will provide greater flexibility for livestock haulers as they work to safely, efficiently, and humanely transport these goods to market.
The public comment period will be open for 45 days, and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as well as information on how to submit comments can be found Here.
Kansas Hospital Association Health Care Roundtable
I took part in a Kansas Hospital Association Roundtable, hosted by Pawnee Valley Community Hospital in Larned, to discuss solutions to issues affecting communities and hospitals across my district. This was a valuable opportunity to gather with Kansas health care leaders to discuss issues impacting patients and providers in Kansas, including the 340B program, surprise billing, alternative rural health models, mental health care, and the opioid epidemic.
Also taking part in the conversation were representatives for the University of Kansas Health Systems, Clara Barton Hospital, Rice County District Hospital, Ellsworth County Medical Center, Kearney County Hospital, Lindsborg Community Hospital, University of Kansas Health Systems Great Bend Campus, and University of Kansas Health Systems Pawnee Valley Campus.
Thank you Kansas Hospital Association and Pawnee Valley Community Hospital for hosting this group in pursuit of our shared goal of improving health care in Kansas.
Great Bend Company Receives Industry Award from EPA
R&S Digital Services, a full-service Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping company in Great Bend, was recently selected to receive an Industry Award from the Environmental Protection Agency for its work in emergency planning in the wake of several natural disasters in Kansas.
In 2007, in the hours immediately following a devastating F-5 tornado which destroyed most of Greensburg, R&S suspended work on all other projects to produce maps for search and rescue efforts and to ascertain the damage. R&S Digital Services prepared a base map for the city and all sections affected by the path of the tornado, and expeditiously completed maps which were of critical importance to responders. Bruce Schneider, President of R&S, waived all fees associated with the work, and stated “We were moved by the tragedy in Greensburg. I was never more proud of my staff.” Additionally, in 2016 and 2018, R&S provided GIS assistance in response to tornado strikes in Eureka.
Thank you to Bruce Schneider and the team at R&S Digital Services for your remarkable service to Kansas communities, and congratulations on this honor!
Visiting Miller Dairy
I had the opportunity to visit Miller Dairy outside Hutchinson, Kan. The Millers milk about 300 Holstein cows and are members of the Midwest Dairy organization, which works on behalf of dairy farmers to promote milk and dairy products.
Drinking milk is part of a nutritionally balanced diet and I have long advocated for whole milk to return to school meals. Milk delivers calcium to the body, which is essential for nutrient absorption and strong bones.
I had the opportunity to feed a day-old calf and learn how to milk a cow, using modern equipment. I will continue to support the milk checkoff program and advocate for the consumption of milk both domestically and abroad.
Eisenhower Sculpture Displayed in Italy
This month, the city of Pietrasanta, Italy, unveiled several sculptures commemorating former U.S. President and Kansas native, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Inspired by the famous photograph of General Eisenhower with the 101st Airborne paratroopers on the eve of D-Day, the statues will be displayed for three weeks before being moved to a memorial site for installation later this year.
During World War II, Pietrasanta was strategically situated on the Gothic line—a German defensive fortification—in northern Italy. It was here where U.S. troops fought during the final Allied offensive of the Italian Campaign in spring 1945.
Dr. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, is the First District Kansas Congressman.