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Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth, Ellsworth Child Care, Pretty Boy Floyd's — Peg Britton @ 3:14 pm

Child care center to fill needs of booming city

By TIM UNRUH Salina Journal

ELLSWORTH — Electric saws and nail guns are setting the beats of progress in Ellsworth, where businesses are expanding or locating.

Projects and plans since 2008 and continuing until 2015 will result in more than 200 jobs, representing a fortune in investment in the town of 2,817 people.

Nestled into the growth is the Ellsworth Childcare and Learning Center, which opens Monday.

The $575,000 center is sorely needed, said Mark Parsons, president of the nonprofit Smoky Hill Childcare Foundation, which owns the 10,000-square-foot building.

“Day care has been great in Ellsworth. It’s just that there’s not enough of it,” said Parsons, owner of Parsons Funeral Home.

The child care center’s ribbon-cutting will be at 4 p.m. Friday.

There is room for 83 children, including nine infants and 10 toddlers, with lots of space for more, said Lainie Dauster, director. When the center is fully staffed, it will employ 13 people.

“It’s really hard to find child care, and with all the businesses coming in, it’s going to be even harder,” she said. “We can meet the immediate need and are also able to expand when the need comes about.”

The center is an economic boost for the town, Parsons said.

“With young people moving to town, and they see a center like that, they know their kids are going to get good day care,” he said.

Manufacturing and other industry is picking up in town, said Carol Kratzer, executive director of the Ellsworth-Kanopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re the place to be,” she said.

Location has been a contributing factor for the city, Kratzer said.

Situated at the intersection of Kansas highways 140 and 156, Ellsworth is a 15-minute drive from Interstate Highway 70.

K-156, a diagonal highway from Garden City to the northeast, “has become a major route through Kansas,” she said.

The town is also situated in the hub of two wind farms — Post Rock Wind Farm, the latest, is about to go into operation. Maico Manufacturing, a steel fabricator, snared a lot of business with its 60-foot-long press break, which puts longitudinal bends in steel, said Dave Cox, the plant manager.

“Most steel fabricators have 12- to 20-foot press breaks,” he said.

The equipment is capable of forming flat steel into multi-sided, tubular shafts.

Maico is making 30 1/2 miles of utility poles for the new wind farm, he said. The company, which employs 65 workers in two shifts, includes 12 hired in the past two to three months, and at least that many more openings.

“I’ve got a couple people weld testing as we speak. We’re trying to increase the employee base,” Cox said Wednesday afternoon.

“There is so much work that we’re turning it down. We just don’t have the manpower to keep up with demand,” he said.

Cashco, a valve manufacturer with a full-time equivalency of 178 employees, is building a new headquarters, “to allow additional room for our growth in our Ellsworth facility,” said Clint Rogers, the general manager.

Cashco has added eight jobs in the past six months, he said, and plans to hire another 28 in the next three years.

An early contributor to the boom was Salina-based Great Plains Manufacturing, which began making tillage equipment in Ellsworth four years ago. Of the company’s 130 workers, 40 were added within the past year, said Roy Applequist, Great Plains’ founder and president. The company is still hiring, he said.

Whatever the reason, Ellsworth is “a happening place,” said Karen Pestinger, one of the owners of Beloit-based Carrico Implement, which will open a new, 54,000-square-foot store in Ellsworth during July or August. Carrico will employ approximately 20 people, she said, and add a few more during the first six months in operation. When the Ellsworth store opens, Carrico’s Lincoln location will close, Pestinger said.

“Right now, there are six or seven construction projects that were either just completed, in progress or about to be started,” said Dave Brownback, president of Citizens State Bank & Trust, which has loaned money for some of the construction.

‘A lot of good things going on’

“There are a lot of good things going on here, more commercial activity than we’ve experienced in a long time,” said Brownback, a cousin of the Kansas governor.

Citizens State and Salina-based First Bank Kansas both have built new branches in northern Ellsworth, along K-140.

“We had just outgrown our building because our community has been so supportive with our branch here,” said Tami McGreevy, a teller and customer service representative at First Bank Kansas in Ellsworth.

The Kansas Department of Corrections expects Gov. Sam Brownback to sign legislation approving the purchase of the former St. Francis Boys’ Home property in Ellsworth, spokesman Jan Lunsford said.

Expected to cost $350,000 or maybe a bit more, he said, the former boys’ home will allow Ellsworth Correctional Facility to move minimum custody inmates there, freeing up medium-security space at the main prison campus. The former boys’ home has space for 95 beds, he said, and will be staffed by the equivalent of 15 full-time workers, Lunsford said.

He expects the expansion to open in September.

“They’ll have to make sure it’s up to code security-wise. They’ve got some adjustments to make there,” Lunsford said.

A new Subway restaurant is under construction and is hiring, said the chamber’s Kratzer. Subway management did not return calls Wednesday.

Pretty Boy Floyd’s, an “upscale steak house,” will open to the public July 5 in Ellsworth Village Mall, said Josie Roehrman, who co-owns the mall and the restaurant with her husband, Mark.

“It’s gonna be awesome,” she said.

The restaurant has hired 10 people, “and we need more,” Josie said.

To make a reservation, starting in about a month, call (785) 472-2183.

A Dollar General Store opened Feb. 14 and currently has three employees, manager Trasa Maguire said.

“We’d like to hire four to five more,” she said.

Ellsworth schools ended the school year with 575 students, not counting the St. Francis enrollment, Superintendent Eric Reid said.

In a Tuesday special election, voters will decide whether to absorb a property tax increase to build new classrooms, a new gymnasium, and do some remodeling, he said.

The $11.3 million project will add $20.12 a month to the taxes on a $100,000 home, if certain state aid is eliminated. If it survives budget cuts, the burden on the same home would be $14.14, said Jan Andrews, Ellsworth County clerk.

The district did not seek the upgrades in anticipation of population growth, Reid said, but the expansion projects shouldn’t hurt enrollment. The district has also added three teaching positions.

“I think we want to be prepared in case we go up and still serve our kids well,” he said. “We want to be prepared either way.”

More students will make the district budget rise, Reid said, but the new businesses and construction will raise the district’s valuation and spread out the tax burden.

The challenge, he said, is places for new folks to live.

“We’ve got to work on our housing needs,” Reid said. “Trying to keep some of those families here instead of commuting would be favorable for us.”

– Reporter Tim Unruh can be reached at 822-1419 or by email at



Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 6:35 pm

From the Lawrence Journal World…

By Scott Rothschild

May 30, 2012

Topeka — A national tax research group that is generally thought of as conservative and business-friendly said on Wednesday that Gov. Sam Brownback’s elimination of taxes for many business owners has problems

The Tax Foundation supported the part of the tax reform legislation signed into law by Brownback that cut the individual income tax rates of 6.45 percent, 6.25 percent and 3.5 percent to just two rates at 4.9 percent and 3 percent.

But the Washington D.C.-based group didn’t support the part of the law that exempts from taxes certain business owners’ profits.

“A pass-through business owner typically pays themself a salary, which is taxed as wage income on their income tax return,” said Tax Foundation economist Mark Robyn. “Additional profit above and beyond the business’s cost of doing business is reported as one of several forms of business income on the business owner’s tax return and also taxed under the personal income tax. The new Kansas law would make this non-wage income exempt from taxation,” Robyn said.

Brownback has said the change will stimulate the economy like an adrenaline shot to the heart. He said that the tax cuts will create 22,900 new jobs, give $2 billion more in disposable income to Kansans and increase population by 35,740, in addition to normal population growth.

The tax cuts, Brownback said, will “help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business.”

But the Tax Foundation said “we see a few problems with the small business provisions.”

The tax exemption will create an incentive for businesses to structure as pass-throughs for tax purposes, the report said.

“Instead of the Kansas tax system treating similar activity similarly, the system will encourage economically inefficient, though tax-reducing, activities.

“While this can be difficult and complicated, especially in business taxation, Kansas’s decision to exempt one type of business structure completely from taxation (pass-throughs) while continuing to tax others (C corporations) is problematic. It rewards certain business structures while punishing others. There is no sound economic justification for treating these two types of business activity so dramatically differently,” the report said.

And the report concludes that while tax reductions can have positive economic benefits “they will cost revenue and will ultimately have to be paid for either by cutting spending or increasing taxes elsewhere.”

Legislative staff research have reported that the tax cuts will produce a budget deficit in the $2.5 billion range within six years. Brownback has disputed this will happen.


Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 1:52 pm

USD 327 School Bond Issue
Vote Yes

Ellsworth, Kansas, USA – May 2012 — First of all, I’d like to thank Peg for asking me to write a letter to post on her blog.  I appreciate this opportunity to help you understand why I support the USD 327 School Bond and why it is sorely needed in our community.

I am proud to say that I am a 1984 graduate of Ellsworth High School and the last of eight children that my parents sent through the Ellsworth School system.  I thoroughly enjoyed spending my youth in a small community and received a wonderful education here in Ellsworth.  At the time, I never thought that I would come back to my hometown.  As I got older, though, and had children of my own, I realized I wanted my children to have the same experience I had as a child.  I can confidently state, moving back to Ellsworth was one of the best things we have done as a family.

If you look around Ellsworth today, you can see we are a city on the move.  We have a large amount of construction in town and several successful businesses are expanding and bringing more jobs into our community.  As a growing community, we have to be prepared for that growth.  And, I believe the schools MUST play a large part in growth.

When new families with school-aged children consider a move, one of the first things they consider is the town’s schools.  If the facilities are old and outdated, their first impression is Ellsworth does not value the importance of its children’s education.  From the outside, our facilities appear fine. But within the walls of our school, you’ll find facilities that are old, outdated, non-compliant and in dire need of attention.

As you are deciding on the bond issue, keep in mind that better and more efficient facilities not only improve our schools, it also brings economic opportunity for our business community. When Ellsworth hosts regional events at our school, the hundreds of people who attend those events shop and dine at our Ellsworth businesses.  New educational facilities are good for the entire community!

Equally important, I don’t foresee a better time to make the proposed improvements. If we wait a year, or even six months, and state aid is eliminated, the mill levy for principal and interest will be even higher. In addition, interest rates are near an all-time low and construction costs will only go up with each passing year.

Being back in Ellsworth means a lot to me and I want to see it thrive. As our parents did for us, now is the time for us to take care of the next generation.

Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat!!!

Holly Cornwell Fries


Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Child Care — Peg Britton @ 1:33 pm

ELLSWORTH CHILD CARE CENTER will host an open house on Friday June 1st.

4:00 ribbon cutting and donor appreciation

5:00 children and parent play day.  This is time for children and parents interested in attending the center to become acquainted and explore the facility.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:00 am

The Agurban - an Agracel Publication - Down on the Farm - A Little Revival

We have shared with you in the past, a great weekly column posted by Eric Bergeson, entitled Down on the Farm. When we read a recent column, A Little Revival, we just had to share it with our readers.

About twenty years ago, I reached a fork in the road. It was time to either commit to the small town, join the family business and try to make a go of it, or use my education to find a career in the suburbs. Most of my peers were long gone. To visit friends from college or high school, I had to travel to Grand Forks, Fargo, the Twin Cities or the West Coast.As I looked around the small town, things were moribund. Half the storefronts on Main Street stood empty. The town was dying and dying fast. It looked like tumbleweed time. So, I half-committed. I bought an aging trailer house. My payment was $125 per month. I slept on the floor. Buying a bed would have been too much commitment.

That very year, the men at the cafe who spent hours playing cards–farmers, former farmers, businessmen, former businessmen and others of vague employment status had an idea.

We need a golf course, they said. Almost none of them golfed.

Coordinated by a couple of respected and smart leaders, the golf course movement took off. Within two years, using volunteer labor and donated goods, Fertile had itself a 9-hole gem.

Although I did nothing but pick a few grubs myself, I remember the exhilarating sense of community action as the course took shape. Looking back, the golf course was a turning point in the town’s history.

About the same time the golf course started business, I sent my first email. Soon, I discovered that I could read the New York Times before breakfast on my computer in my trailer. The small-town isolation broke up like ice on a lake in spring. Two of my best friends sickened of life in the suburbs and moved back to take over the family farm. Their first house wasn’t much fancier than my trailer.

With farming a break-even proposition at best, some former farmers started other businesses. One started an elevator company–the type of elevator that hauls you to the third floor of a hotel, not the type that holds grain.

Fertile had no elevators.

But that elevator business took off. What’s more important, it spawned a handful of young entrepreneurs who saw the possibility of making a good living while living in the small town.

Turns out, you didn’t have to farm to stay.

Today, there are probably a dozen young families in town who make their living off elevators, and others who started in elevators and have moved on to other ventures.

What a difference one entrepreneur can make! Did you know that eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota lead the nation in honey production? Honey is another big employer in Fertile. Several started their own honey operations. Although it had become a difficult business, honey helps keep the local economy afloat.

Other local men joined companies which build cell towers or pipelines. Because they were willing to travel and had a farmer’s instinct for hard work, their bosses soon said, “Are there more like you back home?”

With many of the men on the road, the women revamped Main Street. Today on Main, we have an ice cream shop, a flower shop, a health food store, two gift shops, a used clothing store, a donut shop and a furniture store, all owned and run by women. There are no empty storefronts on the main drag.

In another community project, a bunch of locals banded together to build a beautiful Veteran’s Memorial Plaza right downtown.

In the countryside, the phone company plowed in high-speed internet cable up to every house. I laughed when they laid cable up to bachelor Joe Jacobson’s house next door. Joe was 92 at the time and not one to use the phone, much less a computer.

Well, when Joe passed away his house sold to a young couple (under 50!), one of whom uses the cable to manage software projects for IBM.

A few miles down the road lives a young woman who fell in love with a Fertile man (it happens all the time) and moved up from Florida to start a new life amongst the cows. When she tried to quit her job in Florida, her boss said, wait a minute, do you have internet up there?
She now manages twenty pizza joints in central Florida from her kitchen table in rural Fertile.

These examples just scratch the surface.

Eventually, I sold my beloved trailer and built a house. And I bought a bed. It feels a lot better to set roots in a town on the upswing.



Filed under: political musings, Sam Brownback — Peg Britton @ 3:34 pm

If you don’t think your ox has been gored, you haven’t been paying attention.  That is if you are an average person, average income and not among the wealthy.  The poor will get poorer and the rich will get richer.   I fear to think what this will do to our schools and small communities.  The whole state will be impacted.  Martin Dickinson boils this down so it’s easy to understand. It’s from the Lawrence Journal World:

Gov. Sam Brownback’s signing of the new Kansas Tax Act on Tuesday was a historic event. The act will shape the lives of Kansans for many years to come.

The nonpartisan Legislative Research Department has estimated that the act will reduce Kansas government revenues by $4.5 billion over the next six years. Inevitably, there will be major reductions in the government services Kansans have come to expect — especially education.

Equally important, the act dramatically changes the Kansas tax system, shifting the income tax burden from the wealthy and prosperous to working people. The act provides that all income of business owners is tax-free (except in the unusual case where a regular corporation is used). Although the act was promoted as a boost to small business, there is no limit on the size of business that can be exempt from tax.

Income of professionals — such as doctors, lawyers, architects, and accountants — practicing in partnerships will be tax-free. In a law firm, for example, the partners will pay no tax, while the clerical staff will continue on the tax rolls.

Income received from partnerships and trusts will be tax-free. Wealthy Kansans who own real estate, stocks, bonds and other investments will simply transfer those assets to a partnership or trust, thereby freeing all their investment income from tax.

All income of farmers will be exempt from tax.

Who will still be paying Kansas income tax? Only three groups: 1) employees, 2) some retirees and 3) individuals whose investments are so modest that they cannot afford to create a trust or partnership to shelter their investment income.

Kansas government relies on three taxes: property, sales and income. Property and sales taxes are regressive in the sense that a lower-income person pays more of these taxes as a percent of income than does a higher-income person. The new income tax will be dramatically regressive. Low- and moderate-income workers will remain on the tax rolls. Meanwhile, wealthy Kansans will readily escape the tax, and many prosperous (but not wealthy) Kansans will be able to evade the tax as well. Beginning in 2013, the Kansas tax system will be among the most regressive in the nation.

Can a just society tax the poor while not taxing the rich?

Martin B. Dickinson is a nationally recognized expert in tax law and the Schroeder Distinguished Professor of Law at Kansas University.



Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF, CCATT — Peg Britton @ 7:47 am

Today is the day we set aside to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the military. I’m very proud of my grandson, Air Force Staff Sergeant Tyler James Britton, shown below with his team from his first tour in Afghanistan. He has served two tours in Afghanistan and will, no doubt, be returning as “that’s what he does”.  He is a registered respiratory therapist and currently instructs other therapists to air transport critically injured war casualties.



POTUS thanks Tyler for his service to our country.

Thank you to…

my husband…Roy P. Britton US Army Air Corps WWII


my brother… Capt. Bruce H. Baker USAF fighter pilot. My brother died Memorial Day weekend in Denver ‘93 from Hep C that they believe was incurred following an automobile accident he suffered while he was on his way to the AF base in Spain.

my father… Lt. Bruce H. Baker Sr. US Army WWI

my cousin… Theodore Jury US Army and Marines WWII and Korea. Age 83, alive and well and living in San Francisco.

my cousin… Mary Ann Jury who served as a Navy nurse in WWII

my cousin…Bernadette Jury, a nurse,  who wasn’t in the service, but worked in an Army amputee hospital in CA during the war

my great-grandfather…Theodore Jury who served for the North in the Civil War.

and a host of friends.  You will not be forgotten.



Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 12:27 pm

  • Though Kansas’s congressional lines are still far from being finalized, a Democrat has stepped up to run against GOP sophomore Lynn Jenkins: Tobias Schlingensiepen, a pastor and police chaplain. While Schlingensiepen does seem to be on the “Some Dude” side of things, he seems to have had some success on the political activism front—not easy for a Democrat in Kansas. It would take quite something else to beat Jenkins, but it’s possible that this seat could get bluer in redistricting, so it’s always good to have someone lined up. (And Democrats did hold it for a term, after Nancy Boyda beat Jim Ryun in 2006.)


Filed under: political musings, Sam Brownback, Rachel Maddow, GOP — Peg Britton @ 11:26 am

What’s the matter with Kansas’ new tax plan
By Steve Benen
From The Maddow Blog -
Thu May 24, 2012 10:51 AM EDT

Associated Press

To get a good look at the kind of budget policies we might see at the federal level in 2013, take a look at what happened in Kansas in 2012.

Andrew Leonard had this recent piece on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) new tax policy: “Here’s how it works when conservatives control everything: The wealthy get coddled and the poor get a bum’s rush.”

[Conservative policymakers] agreed on a new tax plan that will sharply cut income taxes for wealthy state residents while at the same time raising taxes on the poor. The result, predictably, will be a shortfall in state revenue that will undoubtedly force additional cuts to state services.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides the analysis, but you don’t have to trust the left-leaning think tank for the spin. A newly formed group of retired Kansas Republican legislators are also declaring that enough is enough. The bottom line is this: If you’re wealthy enough and smart enough to structure your business affairs correctly, you can avoid both corporate taxes and income taxes. But if you’re poor, you will have to choose between whether you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or a state-funded rebate on sales taxes charged on groceries. One or the other! Not both! Because if there is a tax loophole that favors working-class Americans, we’d better close it!

Brownback signed the tax policy into law on Tuesday, over the objections of some moderate Republicans who balked at more tax breaks for the wealthy, paid for through cuts to education and social services.

State Sen. Steve Morris (R), president of the Kansas Senate, said, “It is not good public policy.”

Brownback, who brought on Arthur Laffer, of all people, as a tax advisor, doesn’t much care.

Don’t be too surprised if we see a very similar situation play out in 2013 if there’s a conservative Republican White House working with a conservative Republican Congress.


Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Mitt Romney — Peg Britton @ 9:12 am

My longtime friend, Jan Britain, lives in Salt Lake City among mormons of all beliefs.  Over the years she has sent me interesting tales of being an outsider and working and living among mormons.  I thought readers might like to have some understanding of the different kinds of mormons so I asked if she would explain that in a letter.

I agree with her that Mitt appears to be driven by the uber concertaive religious right considering about 18 out of 24 of his advisors fit that mold.  He and they are not representative of main street Americans.

Here’s what she has to say about the various types of mormons:

There are several kinds of mormons: Utah mormons, non-Utah mormons, excommunicated mormons and Jack mormons, to name the most prevalent.

Utah mormons live in a majority, do as they are told, and have little idea about those who are not “in the fold”.  They have little in the way of independent thought and are ex’ed if they openly and publicly express thoughts that are not in line.  Their kids rarely play with other kids in the neighborhood who are not at the ward on Sundays, and they are far too busy with church work to have time for friendships outside of the ward.  Utah has two separate cultures, and though we live together peacefully, there are boundaries and unwritten rules for getting along.  It’s difficult to have friendships that cross the divide because good mormons are supposed to sell the product, and the rest of us don’t want friends who are consumed by something we don’t embrace.  We generally know what their agenda is, but they know little about us.

Non-Utah mormons live in a minority and have to get along with the rest of the world.  Their kids have to play with kids of other faiths if they want to have friends.  Their communities see them as belonging to a fringe religion, and they are treated the same as others who belong to minority religions.  Because they have to live in the real world, they are not as controlled by the ward or the brethren in Salt Lake City.  They learn to think for themselves and make choices about what they believe and how they live their religion.  Their lives are not planned out for them, and their neighbors are not watching them.  If they move to Utah, they have an adjustment period when they discover that their lives are now controlled by the ward and that the ward members in their neighborhood are watching them.  They either turn into another of the sheep or pack up and move away.

Excommunicated mormons are those who have spoken out and pissed off the brethren.  Some try to earn their way back in, some live on the fringe and pretend they’re still in, others  consider themselves fortunate to have been set free and move on without a backward glance, and some spend the rest of their lives taking shots at “the church.”

Jack mormons are still counted as members but are, as Ed Abbey so perfectly phrased it, “on permanent sabbatical from their religion.”

If I wanted to understand Mitt, I would look hard at how he functioned as governor of MA.  Did he push a conservative agenda, rail against alcohol, abortion and sex education, or did he have other issues that he championed?  I would suggest that he is far more driven by the conservative right of the Republican party than he is by some senile old men in Salt Lake City.



Filed under: political musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 5:52 pm


Scariest picture of the day: budget deficit projections under tax plan Governor Brownback. — with Governor Sam Brownback at Kansas.


Filed under: political musings, LGBT — Peg Britton @ 6:43 am

Last night (May 21) the Salina City Commission voted 3 to 2 on “final action” to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their local non-discrimination ordinance.  The majority know Salina residents need to be treated fairly in employment and housing regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The ordinance is scheduled to become law on June 4.

It is expected that anti-LGBT extremists, led by Focus on the Family’s Kansas branch, the Kansas Family Policy Council, will launch an effort to have the ordinance repealed.  It was clear at the City Commission meeting that they intend to have a repeal measure on the November 6 general election ballot.

Also on June 4:  The Hutchinson City Council will be voting on banning firings and evictions based on sexual orientation.

Stay tuned…



Filed under: political musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 10:30 am

 From Daily Kos

by Colin Curtis

Friday May 18, 2012

There is nothing quite like seeing a sore loser in action, especially when this sore loser is threatening to put the citizens and the future of Kansas at risk.Today the Kansas Senate voted to keep a new version of Brownback’s tax plan in committee in order to seek further compromise between the House and Senate and create a fiscally responsible bill that will not completely bankrupt the state like the current version which is sitting on Brownback’s desk right now.

However the House has refused to go any further in negotiations leaving the future of our great state hanging in the balance.

After not getting his way time and time again this legislative session Governor Brownback has threatened to sign the reckless $4.5 Billion dollar tax cut for businesses and rich Kansans and now he has a choice to make.

The tax cut will absolutely destroy Kansas as we know it - leaving a $2.7 Billion crater in the budget by 2018 - and the only person who can stop it is Sam Brownback.

Schools, highways, prisons, services for the elderly and disabled…all suffered deep cuts over the last several years that will never be restored if the Governor signs this bill. State employee pay will suffer.

Unless Sam Brownback vetoes this tax cut.

And while businesses and rich Kansans enjoy their income tax cuts the rest of Kansas will see property and sales taxes go up and up and up.

Governor Brownback’s office can be reached by calling 877-579-6757. Tell him to veto the reckless tax cut bill HB 2117.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 2:42 pm

This article was forwarded by Brad Sherman via John Sherman.

It is such a delight to read again about a woman so many of us loved and admired.  There are many things I remember about Mildred…among them was that she was a staunch supporter of Ellsworth and was the first to jump on the bandwagon for school bond elections and other civic projects.  She and her contemporaries were on the front row when the “prison” meetings were held.  For bond elections, she’d call her friends and tell them to vote “yes”, too.

I supplied her with pony cans of beer on a rather regular basis and it was not until she appeared on the show that she admitted to liking the “hard stuff” a lot better.  She just didn’t want her friends to know she imbibed as they were all teatotallers.

Frequently she’d have Brit and me over for dinner and we’d have our choice of fried chicken or ham loaf.  Her daughter Kathryn always prepared it, but it was Mildred who would call with the invitation and choice of food for dinner.  It was always excellent and a lot of fun.

She kept a daily diary of the weather that went back almost 100 years.  Unfortunately, that was all her diaries contained.  She was a font of knowledge for history,  which she figured she’d always remember.  The weather for each day was a little trickier to remember so she wrote it down.

Memories of Mildred are flooding back.  This will go on forever if I don’t stop now and let you read the following article by Sarah Kaufman, whom I presume is Kathryn Holt Kaufman’s daughter.   Mildred had three children:  Howard Holt (his daughter is Kathryn Holt Kaufman), Kathryn Holt Meredith, and Harriet Holt Cloud.

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 05/16/2012

In Mildred Holt, 105, Johnny Carson met his match

By Sarah KaufmanExhaustive as it was, the American Master’s documentary “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night” on PBS Monday left out one of Carson’s favorite guests. She was my great-grandmother, Mildred Holt.

I suppose it’s a forgivable oversight. The stooped, frail-looking woman in a powder-blue dress was neither a celebrity nor a newsmaker when she appeared on “The Tonight Show” in August 1987. She was just a little old lady from a tiny town in Kansas—and by old, I mean historic. She was 105 at the time. But she had all her marbles, as well as a fierce, straight-shooting wit, and that was enough for Carson.

View Photo Gallery:  PBS will broadcast a two-hour “American Masters” documentary on the life and achievements of the longtime host of NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

While sipping a highball from a coffee mug, Mimi—as my family called her—teased the TV king about his many marriages and had Carson so charmed that he kept her on after the commercial break.

When Carson remarked that she was “the oldest person I have ever met and ever had on the show,” Mimi quipped with a big grin, “I’m too mean to die.”

Opinionated as ever, she told him about getting her first car in 1914, and how she regretted having to give up driving at the age of 103.

She also spoke out against coastal snobbery where the Midwest was concerned, which must have struck a chord with the Nebraska-born Carson: ‘’I met a man at the hotel,” Mimi told him, “and he said, ‘Where’re you from?’ and I said, ‘Kansas’ and he said, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ That made me mad.’’

‘’He forgets that Kansas produces more wheat than any state in the Union,” Mimi continued, pounding the arm of her chair with her little wrinkled hand. “That’s where your bread comes from … The trouble is they can’t get any money for the wheat.’’

Carson laughed at most everything she said, leaning on his elbow and, so it seemed to me, just devouring Mimi’s crackling optimism. After the show, the Hollywood Squares game show called her to ask if she’d be on their program too, but she declined. From now on, she told them, she just wanted to stay in Ellsworth, the Kansas town where she’d lived all her life.

After all, plucky little Ellsworth, pop. 2,000 in those days, had been as good to her as she was to it. It was one of the community leaders who lobbied Carson’s staff to invite Mimi on the show, believing this venerable town fixture deserved a spot on his set.

Who could argue? Mimi was an irrepressible force. The daughter of a Civil War veteran, she was the youngest of 10 children. She married a banker and had three children (among them my grandfather). When her husband lost his business in the Great Depression, Mimi took borders into their roomy foursquare house. She also converted her dining room into a tearoom, and served the noon meal (back when that was referred to as “dinner”) to the local teachers. Mimi turned out amazing meals in her small kitchen, which was never updated, never had a dishwasher. If visitors dropped by while she was cooking, she’d bring a cutting board into the living room and continue chopping vegetables on her lap.

She had the most active social life of anyone I have ever known, making daily visits to friends around town, and hosting teas and card games. (I learned to play gin rummy at her knee.) She lived in her big house with her widowed daughter until the very end of her life, climbing up and down the stairs each day. In her later years, as her card-playing friends moved into the old-folks home—none of them, it turned out, was as extraordinarily hale as she was—she’d visit them there. Among her favorite sayings was that she would never eat a meal alone. By all accounts, she never did.

It was big news in Ellsworth and throughout the family when she finally got to appear on “The Tonight Show.” I had an internship at the Detroit News at the time, and had to work late that night. When I rushed home just in time to watch the show, I found out the Tigers were playing overtime on NBC. I nearly worked myself into an ulcer waiting for the game to end and praying I’d still get to see Mimi on national TV. Sure enough, the show was broadcast in full, and Mimi was in her glory.

I felt such a jolt hearing Carson announce her name, listening to the band play for her—and then there she was, leaning on her cane and smiling cheerily. She took a few steps through the parted curtain to stand uncertainly in her clunky oxford shoes. The lights bounced off her round spectacles. Her thick gray hair was fluffed into a wavy cloud, and she wore a corsage pinned to her dress.

Carson got up and helped her to the chair beside his desk—I suspect the powerful lights were blinding her. But once settled, she was utterly herself.

When she sipped from the coffee mug that was waiting for her on Carson’s desk, the host ran a finger under his lower lip and reminded her, teasingly, that when his staff had offered to put a glass of water on the set for her, she’d asked for a highball instead. The audience busted up laughing.

Carson seemed fascinated by Mimi, by her ease in front of the cameras and her ebullient good humor. When she ribbed him about the number of wives he’d had, he ducked his head like a schoolboy. He always seemed to enjoy his regular-folks guests, but to me—if you’ll forgive the bragging—it was clear he had a special fondness for Mimi.

Others did too: A 2002 book by Stephen Cox, “Here’s Johnny!: Thirty Years of America’s Favorite Late-Night Entertainer” mentions Mimi’s appearance and includes a photo of an attentive Carson giving Mimi his hand as he helped her onto his set.

Mimi died three years after her TV debut, one month shy of her 109th birthday. Her obituary ran in newspapers around the country, all noting her fame as Johnny Carson’s highball-sipping oldest guest.


PBS’s ‘King of Late Night’: Johnny Carson, deeper down

By Sarah Kaufman  |  06:00 AM ET, 05/16/2012

My thanks to Brad Sherman for this post.


Filed under: political musings, Mitt Romney, Margaret and Helen — Peg Britton @ 1:52 pm


Margaret, I just called my friend Patricia to apologize for dipping her hair into that inkwell back in grade school.  I feel bad that I did it and I feel even worse that she no longer remembers who I am or that she one time had hair long enough to put in pig tails.  We’re getting old, Margaret.  And you know what else is getting old?  The parade of schmucks who keep running for political office.

The population of the United States is now over 300 million people.   That means that every four years, one person out of 300 million gets the honor of being President of the greatest country on the planet.  With those odds, you would think the Republican Party could have found someone who wasn’t a dry drunk like George W. Bush… or the bully in high school like Mitt Romney.   I know.  I know.  We all did dumb things when we were young.  Youth.  I miss it like I miss my waistline.  Shit happens… or in this case Mitt happened.  “Back in high school, I did some dumb things,” Romney said. “And if anyone was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.”   Me too.  I really do feel bad about dipping Patricia’s hair into that ink well.

Mitt went on to say, “There’s going to be some that want to talk about high school. Well, if you really think that’s important, be my guest.”

Thank you Mr. Romney, I think I will.  I think I will talk about this because unfortunately we don’t seem to have solved the problem yet.  Bullying is alive and well today and it is just as inexcusable today as it was 48 years ago.  You can send your wife out to the media to laugh about your “wild and crazy” high school years but I wonder how the two of you would have reacted if one of your sons had done that that had been done to one of your sons.  Wild and crazy?  Yes, actually.  It was.  And it’s even more wild and crazy today that anyone would want to honor you with the highest office in the land. Mitt was the son of a Governor… born into a privileged life.   You can’t tell me he didn’t know any better.

Mitt and a group of his friends threw a younger boy to the ground and hacked off his hair while he cried and screamed for help. The younger student was believed to be a little light in his loafers by the way, but Mitt now claims that he didn’t know he was gay.  As if that really matters.

Mitt led the charge and did the actual hair cutting.  Maybe I am overreacting here, but I think he just might not deserve to be that one person out of 300 million to be President. Believe it or not, lots and lots of people go through their entire school career and never dip another person’s hair in ink or physically abuse another student.

I have said before, I come from a generation that doesn’t really talk much about gay people.  I remember thinking that a perfectly lovely word had been ruined.  Today, however I say, “Gay marriage?”  Why not?  Everyone should be allowed to be with the one they love.  I honestly don’t understand what all the hoopla is about.  If you don’t agree with gay marriage then don’t marry a man who dresses like Rick Santorum or has hair like Mitt Romney.  If you don’t like gay people simply ignore them.  They probably don’t like you either.  If an octogenarian from Georgia can see that, why can’t privileged politicians?

Margaret,  I really don’t think this is about being gay or the sanctity of marriage.  I think this is about common decency and what we should expect from that one person in 300 million who becomes President.  I’ll be the first to admit that I would not make a good president.  If ever an example of who not to elect there was, I certainly fit the bill.  But let’s slow down for just a second here.  He gathered a group of students.  They tackled a younger student and while that student cried and screamed for help, Mitt Romney, the assumed Republican nominee for President, cut off his hair because he didn’t like the way he looked. Does it matter if that student was gay? Would it be worse if he was black? How about if that student were a woman?  I don’t give a rat’s ass if that student were all three.  One in three hundred million.  One.

Maybe I am old school, as they say, but I really don’t think that one is forgettable much less forgivable when you want to become President.

No one is perfect.  But surely we can elect someone more perfect than that.  I mean it really.


Helen, dear, I think this all has to do with the length of time little Mitt was allowed to breast feed.  Or maybe he’s just a asshat.  Probably the latter, dear.



So, I ask….how is it working out for you with Brownback as Governor?  What he said he would do if elected President, he is doing in Kansas at will.  He said he would, and he is. When he runs again for President, he can show by example what he’s done to Kansas.  Brownback’s tax legislation will be the end of Kansas as we know it.

Here’s an example of his plan:
“Now, Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years — schools, Social Security, welfare — will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.”

He’s not kidding.  It’s already happening in Kansas in case you haven’t noticed. His only political constituent as governor of Kansas is God.

Read this to follow Brownback’s plan for our future…



Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Mitt Romney — Peg Britton @ 12:44 pm

Does it matter if Mitt Romney bullied gay students when he was in high school?  Does it matter that he and his friends  bullied one gay student to the ground and cut his long blond hair while the victim cried and yelled for help?

It matters to me on a couple of points.  It mattered to everyone who participated, except for Mitt Romney.
First of all Romey has no recollection of the incident at all.  None.   Romney admitted nothing, confessed to nothing except his youth.  He said he might have gone too far with unspecified “pranks” but maintained he had no recollection of this event.

That is very hard to believe if for no other reason than it’s well-documented that we learn from our mistakes and the more serious are the  mistakes we make the most indelibly they are emblazoned in our memories as unforgettable lessons learned the hard way. We don’t forget those things. Cruel activities are rarely forgotten. This was cruel and ALL the other  high school boys who participated in this shameful act viewed it as such and remembered with clarity and embarrassment their involvement in it.

Pranks are another matter and are easier to forget.  This was no prank.

Those who participated in this cruel act of ridiculing a classmate for being gay and holding him down while Romney forcibly  cut his hair admitted to it, remembered it and stated it had stayed with them all their lives because of  the cruelty involved.  They learned a very hard lesson and owned up to it.  Romey did not.


Filed under: political musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 10:55 am

Steve Rose
Tax-cut legislation will be the end of Kansas as we know it

May 15
Steve Rose
Star columnist opinion

It’s been called the “nuclear option.”

Maybe that term’s not strong enough to describe the legislation just passed in Kansas.

If the $3.7 billion tax-cut legislation is signed into law by the governor, it certainly — not almost certainly, but certainly — will destroy Kansas as we know it. And Johnson County will not be immune to the radioactivity of this blast. That massive tax cut will result in a $2 billion hole in the state budget over the next five years.

I know. You’ve heard this all before. It was just a few weeks ago, I wrote about an impending bloodbath. But that was only a $1 billion hole in the budget. The latest legislation doubles that.

Sam Brownback, our ever cheerful pro-growth governor, must know that these cuts go too far, even for him. He has as much said so. But that does not mean he will not sign them into law. He has rationalized that Kansas will create so many new jobs, and the economy will grow so much, that the tax cuts will pay for themselves, with no pain.

How much growth do we need to pay for the astronomical cuts?

The Kansas Economic Progress Council has done some quick math. They have calculated that Kansas would need to produce a half million new jobs over the next five years to generate enough income and sales tax to cover the $2 billion hole. Therefore, Kansas jobs would have to grow 50 percent over the next six years.

The KEPC compared that to the most go-go state in America — Texas. Over the past decade, job growth there was up a total of nearly 15 percent.

Even if you fanatically believe in supply-side economics — that cuts in taxes pay for themselves by the growth those cuts generate — the scope of impending cuts must at least cause one to take a deep breath.

If we cannot grow our way out of the budget hole, guess what that leaves: Draconian cuts in expenses or new sources of revenue.

This is where the nuclear explosion will be felt right here.

Half the state’s budget goes to K-12 education. Unless the Legislature lifts the lid on local tax authority, which is highly unlikely, our schools are in for rough times, indeed. There is no way they can be immune to cuts of the magnitude required. But even if we were given total local authority to tax ourselves, we might have to tax ourselves massively to make up for anticipated shortfalls from the state.

If you have a child who will be or is attending a state university, you can prepare yourself for much higher tuition, as the state inevitably will be forced to cut back on funding for higher education. This isn’t something Brownback wants. It just will be inevitable.

The hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for transportation projects, including the planned improvements at our Johnson County triangle at Interstate 35, Interstate 435 and Kansas 10 will be ditched. The entire transportation budget will be decimated. There will be no choice.

Cuts to local governments from the state are a virtual certainty. That will lead to higher local property taxes to make up the difference.

Funding for social services (the ones that always get cut) will be slashed.

And look for “tax loopholes” to be filled. The one Johnson Countians should fear the most is to allow sales taxes to be levied on services, such as accountants, lawyers and engineers. The western part of the state could care less about the Johnson County economy, based on the service industry, rather than agriculture or aircraft manufacturing.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

A gaping hole of $2 billion is so gargantuan, it is almost incomprehensible. No one can even imagine the impact it would have on this state.

But the session is not over, and there may be a compromise budget yet.

Then, we can go back to a simple bloodbath, rather than the nuclear option.

| Special to The Star


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:46 am

I can barely see out of the windows in this house as they are almost opaque from grime. All that will end next month when Brett Scott of Crystal Clear Cleaning comes to make them glisten. The last time these were cleaned was an off day when both Drew and Tyler were here at the same time and they scrubbed them. I think that was before Tyler left for basic training five years ago. Alas. What is a woman who lives alone in a glass house with no curtains or drapes supposed to do?

As I was lying in bed last night counting sheep, I thought about Brit tying his necktie every morning and how much I loved watching him do that…and how much I miss it and him. It is a fine art perfecting a half Windsor. Both ends of his tie were in perfect alignment with each other and came exactly to the middle of his belt buckle, as they should. He knew his clothes, how to buy and wear them. David Letterman certainly has that touch. His tie is perfectly tied every night. So is Brian Williams’. I watch them partly to see how well-groomed they are. Their suits fit perfectly.

Your locally-owned home town bank is having an “opening celebration” all this week at the new “highway bank” on 156. It’s a beautiful new facility, inside and out, and one I use more frequently than the main street bank. Ringo and I like the convenience of the drive-in facility and he particularly loves their stash of doggy cookies.  Friday they are having a community BBQ from 6 to 9 with live music.  You don’t even have to take your own chair. Join the fun.

Another one of my life long friends is selling her house and moving next month into an apartment in an extended care facility.  In this case it is Presbyterian Manor in Salina.  It’s her choice as she no longer wants to live alone.  We’ve long talked about this day and what would be the determining factors leading to it including a lot of speculation, actuarial charts and educated guesses.  She’s fortunate to have five children who will join together in the disposal of the family home, treasures and trash and relocate her so she doesn’t have any responsibility with the move. She’s willingly walking away from all of her past. It’s time, she says. Of the dozens of my friends from years past, most are no longer alive, a few are in extended care.  At last count, I have five close friends who are still living alone independently in their own homes alone, as am I, and three more who have a family member living with them full time.  Several of my contemporaries from high school…still married to the same spouse… are alive and well and living together unassisted. The writing is on the wall.

I’m confused.  Why the influx of  TV announcers from England?  Or have they all just affected English accents?  There seems to be a plethora of good-looking blonds (a few are brunettes) who leaped the pond to our shores to give us the local weather, news and financial reports.  When I was in England the last time and spent a considerable amount of time watching their local and national news, there wasn’t a stunning looker in the lot.  Not even close.

It’s getting close to the time I started this blog 10 years ago.  About the 9th of June 2002.  Before that I blogged and called it something else. That has to be some kind of record for old people. I thought I’d call it quits after 10 years, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. It’s not easy.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: political musings, LGBT, Civil/Gay Rights, religion — Peg Britton @ 11:07 am

Teacher’s online remarks on homosexuality draw fire
By Mary Clarkin - The Hutchinson News -

A Buhler USD 313 teacher/coach has caused a stir by writing on his Facebook page last week that homosexuality is a sin and ranks in God’s eyes the same as the sin of murder.

The Kansas Equality Coalition criticized what Prairie Hills Middle School social studies teacher/Buhler High School assistant freshman women’s basketball coach Jack Conkling wrote. It also urged USD 313 to review its policy on social media and bullying, whether by students or teachers.

Jon Powell, chairman of the Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said Conkling’s “inflammatory statements” could make students think it’s OK to bully fellow students.

Powell termed the posting “reckless,” “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”

“What would Mr. Conkling say to a student who is getting bullied for being gay or lesbian?” Kansas Equality Coalition Executive Director Thomas Witt asked in a press release issued this week.

High school students are among Conkling’s nearly 600 Facebook friends. Some posted comments or reactions, pro and con, to his statement written May 10, in the wake of President Obama’s announced support for gay marriage rights.

It was a former seasonal employee at Hutchinson’s Salt City Splash, where Conkling works in the summer, who alerted the Kansas Equality Coalition to the Facebook statement. USD 313 Superintendent Dan Stiffler learned about it from a teacher.

Conkling wrote: “Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin.”

He also wrote: “It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying stealing, or cheating.”

“I wrote what I wrote for my Facebook friends who understand my heart and my intent,” Conkling said Monday. “I understand that there were some folks who didn’t understand my heart, and while that’s sad, it is what it is,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Craig Williams, principal at Prairie Hills Middle School, said the school does not have a Facebook policy for teachers.

“We’re looking into it,” Williams said, but said he could not talk about a personnel matter.

USD 313 had a technology committee already looking at a policy for staff and social media, according to Stiffler.

“Where do you draw the line?” Stiffler asked, describing the challenge of setting rules that do not infringe on a teacher’s First Amendment freedom of speech.

“I know that it’s kind of tricky,” said USD 313 Board of Education member Laura Dick, unaware Monday of details of Conkling’s posting.

The News was unsuccessful in reaching other board members.

Hutchinson USD 308 hopes to have a policy by the next school year specifically addressing staff and use of social media, according to district spokesman Ray Hemman.

Hemman, too, described it as “tricky.”

School districts want teachers to be professional, but staff also “have a right to have a life,” Hemman said.

“All this talk in the news about gay marriage recently has finally driven me to write. Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins. It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating. His standards are perfect and ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin and we all deserve hell. Only those who accept Christ as Lord and daily with the help of the Spirit do their best to turn from sin will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There aren’t multiple ways to get to Heaven. There is one. To many this may seem close minded and antagonistic, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Folks I am willing to admit that my depravity is just as great as anyone else’s, and without Christ I’d be destined for hell, if not for the undeserved grace of God. I’m not condemning gay marriage because I hate gay people. I am doing it because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And I desire that for no one.”

Facebook posting by Buhler USD 313 teacher/coach Jack Conkling

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