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Severe weather looms; make plans now to stay safe

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March 4-8 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week

There is a common joke in Kansas – and many parts of the country – that goes something like this: If you don’t like the weather right now, just wait a few minutes.

Kansas State University meteorologist Chip Redmond agrees that weather in Kansas can change pretty quickly, so it’s important to know what to do in any situation in order to remain safe.

“It starts with preparedness,” said Redmond, who is also manager of the Kansas Mesonet. “We all should have a plan, including such things as just knowing how you get your weather alerts. You may get those from a weather radio or other sources, such as news media. And then, you need to talk with your family.”

The National Weather Service has declared March 4-8 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week across the country, encouraging all people to practice what they would do if faced with a real weather emergency.

“Practicing and having a plan saves lives,” Redmond said. “That is especially true in rural areas where appropriate shelter may be many miles away, a scenario many Kansans may be in.”

Redmond said having a “Go” bag — something you can quickly grab and take to a shelter — is important for most weather emergencies. The bag should include such items as medicines, extra clothes, radio, food, water and even something to keep kids entertained.

The best place to wait out severe weather “is always the lowest, central location in the home,” Redmond said. “If you only have a first floor – and not a basement – the ideal spot is a centrally located hallway or bathroom. Stay away from windows.”

If caught outside, “don’t go under trees during thunderstorms and don’t try to out-run tornadoes in your car,” Redmond said.

“A ditch, believe it or not, is a really safe place to go if you’re outside. Get down in the ditch; debris will typically blow over you. If you’re in a place without a ditch, get down on the ground as low as you can so you don’t have things hitting you. Just be aware if water is rising rapidly.”

For specific weather emergencies, Redmond shared additional tips:

Lightning

  • Get inside. Avoid porches and over-hangs. “You can still get hit by lightning in those areas,” he said.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Stay off electronics that are hooked into a wall, including computer and cell phone.
  • Stay out of the shower, or other water sources.

“You don’t want to be operating anything that can carry electricity, whether it’s water or wire,” Redmond said. “If there’s a lightning strike away from your house, it’s going to travel through that highly conductive source.”

Tornado

On average, Kansas has 95 tornadoes per year. There has been as few as 17 tornadoes reported in 2020 and 190 in 2008.

“This is tornado alley for a reason,” Redmond said. “We need to be prepared and be knowledgeable about what to do when a tornado warning is issued.”

The peak time for tornadoes in Kansas is April through June, often referred to as tornado season. But Redmond said tornadoes can occur any time of year and are solely dependent on atmospheric conditions – spring provides a classic clash of southern winds with Gulf moisture meeting north winds with colder, drier air from the Arctic areas. That is a recipe for strong storm systems supportive of highly sheared and unstable environments ideal for tornado development.

A basement or lower level of the house – away from windows — is always the safest spot to wait out a tornado warning.

High winds

Redmond said Kansas gets approximately 600 wind damage reports annually. High winds – defined as those over 55 miles per hour – create problems not only by downing trees, but by making driving conditions and visibility more difficult.

As with tornadoes, the safest place during a wind storm is inside in a central location, away from windows.

Hail

In an average year, there are more than 1,000 reports of hail in Kansas. Severe hail is defined as 1 inch or more in diameter. “That seems fairly small until they’re coming at you at a high rate of speed from the sky,” Redmond said.

One inch hail can cause injury, damage to cars and even damage house siding and roofs.

“And it can threaten your life,” Redmond said. “If you get hit with multiple hail stones at 1 inch diameter, you’re going to know it. And if you get hit in the wrong place, it can kill you.”

Flooding

It’s much easier to prepare for flooding while at home, Redmond said. “All you really need to know is your proximity to a flood plain,” he said. “To determine your risk, know the low-lying areas and where water runs.”

Away from home – and especially when driving – the risks due to flooding are much greater. On the road, the best advice is “turn around, don’t drown,” according to Redmond.

“When you see water over the road, and it may look crossable, water can move at high rates of speed,” he said. “Six inches of water can move a car effectively.”

In addition, the road under the water may not be intact and could damage or disable your vehicle, he said.

More information about staying safe during many weather emergencies is available online from the National Weather Service.

Why Kansas hunting proposals could cost KDWP millions after lawmaker threatened its budget

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The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is facing potential budget cuts as lawmakers consider changes to the hunting fees that are a substantial funding source for the agency.

A proposed change to fees for out-of-state hunters could cost KDWP millions of dollars a year, as could creation of a new transferable hunting permit for landowners. Some allege fiscal cost is intentional political retribution.

While both bills were struck from the calendar because they did not pass the House by Friday’s turnaround deadline, the substance of the legislation could be added to other bills, such as through budget provisos.

Lawmaker threatened KDWP budget over baiting discussions

In written testimony opposing one of the bills, Manhattan hunger Jeffrey Hancock pointed to past comments by Rep. Lewis Bloom, R-Clay Center, about baiting as evidence of a retaliatory intent.

The agency and the Wildlife and Parks Commission have been holding discussions over baiting and concerns from biologists that such activities are contributing to the spread of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, through unnatural congregation of wildlife.

The idea of the government potentially limiting or banning hunters and hunting lodges from using corn piles or other forms of feed to bait deer in order to make it easier to hunt them has been controversial. The topic has come up at several commission meetings, the agency has held informational forums, legislators have discussed it and Attorney General Kris Kobach made a video about it.

Bloom attended one of those forums hosted by KDWP and K-State Research and Extension in Manhattan on Sept. 21. He got up near the end of the meet to deliver a not-so-veiled threat to the agency’s budget because officials continue to discuss baiting.

“I’m Rep. Lewis Bloom,” he said. “I’m on the ag budget committee with chairman Ken Corbett. We control your budget. This isn’t just about baiting deer, this is also about losing our private property rights.”

He went on to more explicitly threaten the agency’s budget.

“As of today, talking to Ken Corbett — and we have the votes to do this — if you consider thinking about banning baiting, when you come to us this winter, we are going to take a million dollars off the top of your budget immediately,” Bloom said. “And then we’re going to recommend going through — we will go through — every line item bit by bit and take off everything we can possibly find. This isn’t just about baiting deer, this is about losing our freedoms. We’re tired of it; our constituents are tired of it.”

He said he appreciates the expertise of wildlife officials, but some of their actions make no sense, and he believes some form of regulation will result from the discussions.

“I’m telling you, we have the votes to do this,” he said. “We don’t want this rammed down our constituents’ throat. We don’t want to be told what to do on private ground.”

Both House Bill 2671 and House Bill 2672 were later introduced by Rep. Corbett, R-Topeka and chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget Committee. Corbet owns Ravenwood Lodge in rural southwest Shawnee County.

Cutting costs for out-of-state hunters
As first introduced by Corbet, HB 2671 would have cut nonresident hunting license costs from maximums of $125 and $75, depending on age, to a maximum of $25 that included associated fees. Nonresidents who did not ultimately get a permit would get a refund.

Wildlife and Parks estimated that would have resulted in $17.8 million in lost revenue every year.

The bill was later amended to make no changes to the fees for nonresident hunters, but still give refunds minus up to a $30 application fee to applicants who did not get white-tail deer permits.

Wildlife and Parks secretary Brad Loveless told lawmakers that some changes discussed could reduce the lost revenue to $2-3 million, while a change to the refunds would amount to $8 million in lost revenue annually.

“We’re already making cuts because budgets are tight,” Loveless said. “This would really exacerbate that, make it much worse.”

Corbet said the bill is about people who “want their money back.”

Loveless said the agency has not heard from the hunting community that it wants such changes.

“These nonresidents are not complaining to us,” he said. “We advertise right up front, if you don’t draw, you’re still going to keep that license, and they don’t complain to us.”

He said guides and outfitters have suggested that KDWP should increase nonresident fees.

“They said it’s small enough in their overall cost to come to Kansas and hunt that it’s not significant to them,” Loveless said. “And with that money, they knew our budgets are tight, they would like to see more law enforcement presence across the state. So they said you can put that money in more officers, and that would benefit us and our businesses.”

The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Safari Club both opposed it due to the loss in funding for conservation efforts and natural resource management.

Transferable hunting permits for landowners

Lawmakers also considered another bill that could have significant impacts on hunting in the state with HB 2672. That bill would repeal the current hunt-on-your-own-land permits while creating a new transferable landowner appreciation permit for white-tailed deer.

Corbet said it would be good policy because it would open up more territory for hunting.

Loveless said transferable permits were previously tried in 2003, but the Legislature quickly reversed the “failed policy.”

It was originally proposed to be one permit for every 80 acres, up to 10 permits, for landowners. But it was amended to up to two total.

Landowners could sell the permits to residents or nonresidents.

The Kansas Livestock Association backed, but the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Safari Club both opposed it.

Loveless said the original proposal would be detrimental to both the agency’s budget and conservation efforts.

Based on landowner records, the number of permits for antlered white-tailed deer could more than triple. That could result in overharvesting and a “catastrophic” impact on the herd and the industry. That agency might also stop offering nonresident draw permits.

“The bill would effectively remove our ability to manage deer in Kansas, especially at the deer management unit level,” Loveless said.

Loveless originally predicted that the agency would lose $33.5 million a year through direct and indirect lost revenue. KDWP said their conservative estimate of the impact would result in a direct loss of $13.5 million, and an indirect loss of more than $20 million because without that revenue, the agency would not have the match needed to take advantage of federal Pittman-Robertson funds.

Even with the cap of two instead of 10, there could be a 50% increase in the current number of permits in the state.

“So it would clearly have an impact on the herd quality,” Loveless said. “Maybe most importantly, it would result in there being no resident over-the-county tags.”

Additionally, at the lower cap, the lost revenue to KDWP would be about $25 million.

As reported in the Topeka Capital Journal

Country music legend Wynonna Judd and singer Kimberly Perry head to Kansas State Fair

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Country legend Wynonna Judd and Kimberly Perry, lead singer of The Band Perry, will perform in concert at the Kansas State Fair this fall.

The concert is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.

Wynonna, once hailed by Rolling Stone as “the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline,” has solidified her place as one of the most celebrated artists in country music history.

As part of the legendary duo “The Judds,” Wynonna captivated audiences with her rich and commanding voice. With over 30 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy Awards, and countless chart-topping hits, including “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me,” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ole Days),” Wynonna continues to captivate audiences with her talent and stage presence.Joining Wynonna Judd for this performance is Kimberly Perry, known to millions as one-third of the Grammy Award-winning sibling trio The Band Perry. With over two and a half million albums sold, thirteen million singles and billions of combined streams, Kimberly Perry has made her mark as a songwriter and entertainer.

Her groundbreaking single “If I Die Young” achieved crossover success and helped her burst onto the world stage. As she embarks on a new chapter as a solo artist, Kimberly’s passion for songwriting continues to drive her forward, with her recent release of “Bloom,” her first EP as a solo artist.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 1 at KansasStateFair.com. Anyone signed up for Kansas State Fair emails can get access to tickets with a presale code, starting 10 a.m. on Feb. 29. Sign up for emails at kansasstatefair.com.

Yoder Parade of Quilts starts March 1

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Come to Yoder in March for the 24th annual Parade of Quilts event.  You’ll find scores of hand-stitched creations of every pattern, color & size, from the Yoder community and Amish & Mennonite communities around the country, displayed at participating merchants throughout the horse drawn community.  Each an original, one of a kind, piece of art.

Pick up a Parade Route brochure at Yoder Furniture Company at 3405 Switzer Rd for a listing of each quilt and where to find it on this self guided tour.  Quilts do sell, so come early in the month for the best selection.

Participating businesses:

  1. Carriage Crossing Restaurant6 am – 9 pm Mon – Sat
  2. 6 am – 9 pm Mon – Sat
  3. Yoder Furniture Company10 am – 5 pm Mon – Fri / 10 am – 4 pm Sat
  4. 10 am – 5 pm Mon – Fri / 10 am – 4 pm Sat
  5. Yoder Meats / Kansas Station10 am – 6 pm Mon – Sat
  6. 10 am – 6 pm Mon – Sat
  7. Yoder Discount Grocery8 am – 6:30 pm Mon – Fri / 8 am – 6 pm Sat
  8. 8 am – 6:30 pm Mon – Fri / 8 am – 6 pm Sat
  9. Yoder Treasures and Treats10 am – 5 pm Mon – Fri / 9 am – 5 pm Sat
  10. 10 am – 5 pm Mon – Fri / 9 am – 5 pm Sat
  11. Yoder Thrift Store9:00 am – 4:00 pm Mon – Sat
  12. 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Mon – Sat
  13. R & E Country Store8:30 am – 4:00 pm Mon – Sat
  14. 8:30 am – 4:00 pm Mon – Sat

K-State coming to Reno County

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Kansas State University will spend March 5-7 visiting Reno County and Seward County as part of the second year of regional community visits across the state.

Through the presidential community visit initiative, K-State is engaging with people and communities across all 105 counties of Kansas. The Reno County and Seward County community visits will include several days of activities to listen to and learn from Kansans in the Hutchinson and Liberal regions.

K-State President Richard Linton and Connected ‘Cats students will lead several events, including community conversations, recruitment activities and events to highlight university partnerships and K-State Research and Extension relationships.”We’re looking forward to finishing up our second year of community visits in Reno and Seward counties,” Linton said. “As the university for Kansans, it is important to visit with Kansans in the communities they call home so that we can learn how we can engage and build meaningful partnerships as a next-generation land-grant university.”

The Connected ‘Cats students for the Reno County portion of the visit include Kyser Meininger, senior in biology, Hutchinson, and Taylor Hedrick, senior in animal sciences and industry, Pretty Prairie.

There will be a community open forum from noon-1:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at the Cosmosphere, Fee Family Learning Center, 1100 N. Plum St., Hutchinson. Those interested may RSVP for this community open forum at k-state.edu/reno-county.

Community open forums are free and open to all Kansans: community members, leaders, families, current and future students, and parents. The events also will include free K-State Call Hall ice cream.Other events throughout the multiday visit will focus on topics such as economic development, student engagement and local food systems. View a schedule with full details for the March 5-7 community visit.

Tim Oswalt will serve as the local host for the Reno County community visit.

The K-State community visit initiative focuses on the people of Kansas and their communities. K-State is visiting multiple communities throughout the state to listen to and learn from the Kansans who live there. Learn more about the community visit initiative.The community visits are an important part of the K-State 105 initiative, which is Kansas State University’s answer to the call for a comprehensive economic growth and advancement solution for Kansas. The initiative leverages the statewide K-State Research and Extension network to deliver the full breadth of the university’s collective knowledge and solution-driven innovation to every Kansan, right where they live and work. Additionally, K-State 105 forges the connections and partnerships that create access to additional expertise within other state institutions and agencies, nonprofits and corporations — all part of an effort to build additional capacities and strengths in each of the 105 counties in the state.

A Gathering for Gardeners

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A day filled with free gardening information for homeowners and gardeners has been scheduled for Saturday, March 9th. The Hutchinson Horticulture Club organizes and sponsors this event as their educational project for the community. It will be held at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 407 East 12th just west of the Cosmosphere. After missing two years because of Covid, the Club held one last year. If not for those Covid years, this would be the 35th year for this annual event.
Doors open at 8:30 a.m. with the morning session beginning at 9:00 a.m. The first topic is Herbs – Growing, Using and Abusing by Kay Neff of Neff Family Farm located outside Sedgwick, Ks. She has been growing herbs for 35 years. Her program will include growing tips for several common herbs and she’ll give suggestions and some recipes for using them. Next at 10:00 a.m., the topic Fall Gardening – Extend your Gardening Season will be presented by James Taylor, Retired Instructor of Hutchinson Community College. His program will highlight vegetables and some flowers that do really well in  cooler fall weather. He’ll provide a planting schedule and planting tips so gardeners can enjoy fresh produce after others have quit for the year. The last presentation for the morning will begin at 11:00 a.m. Jarrod Bornholdt, of Bornholdt Plantland, has arranged for Eric George, a Monrovia Sales Representative from Paola, to present New & Newer Perennials, Shrub Roses & Other Shrubs. He will have suggestions for sunny and shady spots in your yard that might make your friends jealous.
The afternoon programs will resume at 1:00 p.m. with Krista Dahlinger from Mulvane, an officer of the Kansas Native Plant Society, addressing the topic of Less Lawn – More Habitat. She will present ideas on how low growing native plants can reduce watering and create a pollinator paradise in your yard. She will share lots of “how-to” resources. At 2:00 p.m., Rob Mortko, of Made in the Shade Gardens in Olathe, will speak about Hostas: Everything You Want to Know About America’s Most Popular Perennial. He is a nationally recognized Hosta expert and is known as “The Hosta Guy.” He has been a Hosta aficionado for over 35 years. The last presentation of the day begins at 3:00 p.m. The topic of Success in Making Colorful Containers will be covered by Jason French, Retail Manager and Plant Specialist at Stutzmans Greenhouse. He will talk about containers, soil, fertilizer and have a handout listing recommended combinations of plants to use in containers in sun and shade locations.
There will be no charge to attend any of the “Gathering for Gardeners” programs although registration at the door is requested. Door prize drawings will be held though out the day. This schedule is designed so individuals may attend any or all of the topics.
http://www.Facebook.com/HutchinsonHorticultureClub

https://www.visithutch.com/upcoming-events/p/event/5551/a-gathering-for-gardeners

Lettuce Eat Local: Leap of Joy

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Amanda Miller
Columnist
Lettuce Eat Local

 

“Happy 9th birthday!” I’ll say wittily and with such originality. I’m sure my friend, who’s turning 36, will have never had anyone else share the Leap Year birthday math humor with her. It’s the joke that never gets old! (Especially because it can’t, ha ha.)

I know it’s lame, but we can enjoy it only once every 1461 days, so we might as well make the best of it. I have a niece that’s due on February 29th and as unlikely as it is, I’m hoping we get to celebrate her birth on Leap Day just because it’s so unique. 

I’ll probably keep running with the theme while I can, and invite friends over for a ¼-our-age-themed games and snacks evening. It’s not often I break out the graham crackers, cheese sticks, and Dr. Seuss Matching cards for company, but who doesn’t want a chance to relive their elementary years every now and then (every, say, four years?). 

To be fair, I should clarify — I don’t break out those age category activities and foods often for adult guests. I do, however, live in a house occupied by small children, a demographic often supplemented by additional kids. We don’t have extras over every day, but it does happen quite a lot. 

Before sickness intervened, recently I was expecting to have 8 kids ages 3 and under (along with their parents, don’t worry) over for supper. That’s a fairly common number of total kids to have in this house, just not normally all quite that young. This weekend had another high rate of kid focus, not necessarily out of the ordinary: I babysat a three-year-old Friday, had the three cousins over Saturday evening, and thought we were getting a two- and four-year-old sibling set for foster respite for the weekend. 

Needless to say, I started to question the efficacy of mopping the floor Wednesday. Oh well.

Anyway, I don’t need a Leap Day reason to focus on kid-centric food. Even if we didn’t have a selection of extra kids around at any given time, we do have a three-year-old; while poor Benson doesn’t get a lot of “children’s menu” options like chicken nuggets, corn dogs, or grilled cheese sandwiches, I do realize some things are more appealing to a child’s palate.…so he gets to enjoy things like pizza or quesadillas when his friends come over. And he always eats his fair share of classics like ketchup, applesauce, and baby carrots.

And I’ve been in a mac ‘n’ cheese place for a bit. Brian does not consider it hearty enough to be food, Benson is too fickle to make it for, and I only want it for a few bites, so it’s not a big winner in our family. I like to make it for other people, though, or to play around with it, since it’s so versatile and (in general besides our home) universally appreciated. Mac ‘n’ cheese soup for soup night, chili mac for Super Bowl, white cheddar macaroni for playdate lunch. I wanted to try cheesy mac pizza yesterday, but I have to remember who’s actually at the table and not just what I think they should like because it sounds fun. 

But there’s movie night here tomorrow and now I’m just distracted thinking what cheesy goodness I can make with leftover brown rice noodles…we’ll see what happens. This is probably more macaroni and cheese than I’ve made total in the four years since the last Leap Year, but what better way to enjoy our extra day.

Macaroni and Cheese Soup

I just wanted to make something more kid-friendly to serve alongside a pot of chili, and while I’d never actually heard of someone doing this, there seemed zero reason not to. It’s really just extra milky/brothy macaroni and cheese, so not there’s not much to it; but it felt fun and slightly more adult-friendly as well. Don’t forget to play with it — use any good melting cheese (pepperjack! gouda! swiss!) and toss in whatever meat or bonuses you like (bacon! caramelized onions! creole seasoning!). 

Prep tips: the noodles will continue to soften as the soup simmers, so add the milk and cheese while the macaroni is still a bit firm. 

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

2 celery ribs, minced

8 ounces elbow pasta (whole-wheat works well)

3 cups chicken broth

6-8 cups milk

1 pound cheese, shredded (I used smoked cheddar and monterey jack), plus more for serving

1 tablespoon Italian herbs

salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large saucepan, and saute onion and celery until crisp-tender. Dump in pasta and broth, and bring to a simmer; cook until noodles are a bit firmer than al dente. Add in about half the milk, and stir in the cheese and herbs. Cook, stirring often, until cheese is melted, adding in remainder of milk to achieve the desired thickness. Season to taste and serve. 

Kansas House rejects 15-year-olds with farm permits driving to church

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Rural legislators rejected a bill to legalize teenagers with farm permits driving to church because their colleagues wanted the age set at 15 instead of 14 years old.

The bill started as an attempt from Kansas lawmakers to fix an oversight in a law from two years ago, but one legislator warned they were opening “a can of worms” by debating restrictions on teenage drivers.

Multiple rural Republicans who supported setting the age at 14 joined with an explanation of vote by Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, who called the version of the bill at 15 “anti-agriculture.” After that, more than two dozen legislators, mostly rural Republicans, flipped their votes to “no.”

That resulted in a coalition of mostly Democrats and rural Republicans voting down House Bill 2523 on Thursday in a 48-72 vote, even though the chamber gave it initial approval on Wednesday.

Lawmakers were trying to fix an oversight

Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Basehor, said House Bill 2523 “corrects something that we started two years ago.”

“It fixes confusion between farm permits and restricted licenses in regards to allowing our young drivers to drive back and forth to religious events and church events,” he said.

Johnson was referring to the Legislature’s 2022 Senate Bill 446, which allowed 15-year-olds with restricted licenses — but not teens with farm permits — to drive to religious activities. That law was inspired by a Salina pastor and father of six children who told lawmakers that he wished his teenage daughter could drive her siblings to youth group on Wednesday nights.

“We missed the fact that there is also the farm permit,” Johnson said.

That means under current law, teens with restricted licenses can drive to church at age 15 but youths with farm permits have to wait until they turn 16.

As originally proposed, HB 2523 would have allowed children with farm permits to drive to church at age 14. But the House Transportation Committee changed it to 15.

House debated whether to set the age at 14 or 15

Rep. Tory Marie Blew, R-Great Bend, sparked debate with a proposed amendment to change the bill back to 14. It ultimately failed in a 54-67 vote.

“I believe if you can have a farmers permit at 14, then you should be able to drive to a religious organization,” Blew said.

Rep. Shannon Francis, R-Liberal, said lawmakers were opening a “can of worms” with the discussion of ages when drivers can take to the roads. Setting the bar in this bill at 15 was intended to be a compromise, he said.

Rep. Jo Ella Hoye, D-Lenexa, called youths hormonally imbalanced and said that while she supports the bill for 15-year-olds, going to 14 is “going too far and, I think, putting young Kansans in danger.”

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, opposed both the 2022 bill and the new iteration.

He said that “14-year-olds have no business driving across the state at night without any parental supervision, driving 75 miles an hour on an interstate highway, whether they’re going there for the purpose of school, church, Boy Scouts or anything else. It’s not only dangerous for the child, it’s dangerous for anybody that’s in the car with him or her and it’s dangerous for the people in the car that they may hit head-on in the middle of the night.”

Rep. Leo Delperdang, R-Wichita, likewise worried that farm kids on the outskirts of the state’s largest city could now drive on busy urban roads to reach suburbs on the other side. Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, D-Prairie Village, pointed to rush-hour traffic in the Kansas City metro.

“There are a lot of adults out there that have no business driving on 435, let alone 14-year-olds,” Stogsdill said. “This is insanity for urban areas here, and you’re really putting those kids at risk.”

Blew was dismissive of criticism that the amendment would allow 14-year-olds to drive across cities or counties to attend a church event.

“Last I checked, we don’t legislate parenting,” she said. “So parents are going to be the ones letting their kids do what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Rep. Eric Smith, R-Burlington and a Coffey County undersheriff, told his colleagues that he was thinking of accidents he has worked and kids with farm permits.

“You have to remember that these kids don’t have experience,” he said. “They haven’t been tested, and when they are tested, they often don’t know what to do.”

“We’ve got to keep parameters on this a little bit, I’m begging you,” Smith added.

Rep. Adam Smith, R-Weskan, who introduced the original bill, seemed surprised at the debate.

“Sometimes it’s the simplest bills that you kind of get wrapped around the axle on,” he said.

He said he was trying to simplify and create consistency, as the statutes are complicated on what drivers are permitted to do.

“A lot of these kids do have a lot of experience,” Smith said of driving tractors or farm trucks in the pasture before age 14.

Blew also seemed surprised by the debate.

“Welcome to the wild west,” she said. “We do things differently in western Kansas.”

As reported in the Topeka Capital Journal

Hilmar Cheese Plant To Open This Fall

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The Hilmar Cheese plant in Dodge City is set to begin production by the end of the year, according to Director of Site Development Jeff Brock, a 22-year veteran engineer from the company. Construction began during the fall of 2022.

The $630 million project has the capacity to handle 260 tanker trucks of milk per day and has 450,000 square feet under its roof, Brock said. It’s projected to bring in $560 million to the local economy, fill 250 local jobs, and generate 1,000 peripheral jobs in departments like research and development, quality assurance, human resources, maintenance, production and supply chain.

What began in 1984 as a co-op in Hilmar, CA, now is the largest cheese and whey corporation in the world, with plants that process 14 million pounds of protein every day.