Barbara Ballard was elected to the Kansas State House of Representatives in 1993 and presently serves as the House Minority Chair. Ballard attributes her career success to a number of factors, starting with her family. Her parents raised her with the expectation of achievement and the belief that she would do something special with her life. She serves on key committees dealing with appropriations, transportation, redistricting, mental health. She believes her political success is due to hard work, the ability to compromise and work across the isle, a civil temperament, and the ability to change her mind. Ballard answered questions on the big issues of the day, including redistricting, the new Panosonic Plant in De Soto and the August ballot measure on abortion.
Ballard graduated from Webster College and earned advanced degrees from Kansas State University. She has served in a number of Kansas University administrative positions and is Associate Director of the Dole Institute. Ballard also serves on numerous boards and professional associations.
The new Rotary District 5710 Governor, Stephane Meyer, visited to talk about Rotary in eastern Kansas. Meyer is a member of the Shawnee Rotary Club and she conveyed energy and enthusiasm for her role as District leader. District 5710 consists of forty-three Rotary Clubs in Eastern Kansas, totaling 2,075 members. The district provides grants for local and global programs, sponsors youth programs, provides consulting and training, as well as other resources for member clubs. The District experienced a membership decline of approximately five per cent last year. Even before the pandemic Rotary Clubs were experiencing losses, a trend Meyer hopes to turn around.
Meyer has an interesting back story having overcome significant challenges in her youth, growing up in the Wichita area. She did undergraduate work at Kansas State University and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Kansas University. Meyer served on the Shawnee City Council for a number of years. She represents DLR Group in Overland Park as a consultant to public entities working to pass bond issues for building programs. Meyer loves to travel and is a big Chicago Cubs fan. She donated a kidney to the husband of a good friend and joined a group of kidney donors who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Governor noted that there would be a District Training session in Lawrence at the Cider Gallery on August 20 and the annual District Conference will be held at the Hyatt Place in Overland Park September 22-24.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive leadership experience organized by Rotary Districts and local Rotary Clubs. RYLA is a week long summer program that takes place on the University of Kansas campus. Participants are high school aged students who have been nominated and subsidized by Rotary Clubs. Participants learn communication skills and problem solving, leadership strategies and hear from community leaders. RYLA is designed to be a fun experience and encourage lasting friendships. Mason Tovers, Free State High School, was sponsored by Lawrence Central Rotary and Hayden Slough, Bishop Miege High School, was sponsored by the Monday Rotary Club. Both young men are involved in a variety of extra curricular activities and share an interest in music. Both were enthusiastic about their RYLA experience. They commented on service projects and the qualities of the speakers they heard. They especially enjoyed interacting with their RYLA peers. Mason and Hayden said they would highly recommend the RYLA program to others.
“Creativity and Panache” have been used to describe Danny Kane’s operation of the Raven Book Store. In an era of big chain book stores and Amazon online book sales the Raven is thriving as an independent book store. The store was started in 1987 with a focus on mysteries. Kane bought the Raven in 2017 and moved it to a new location at 809 Massachusetts Street. Kane is a University of Kansas graduate who studied and writes poetry.
Recently, he received national attention when he wrote “How to Resist Amazon and Why”. The book describes the devastating impact of Amazon on small independent bookstores and urged people to buy local. Last year in an innovative move, Kane made his seven employees partners in store ownership. That same year the Raven was awarded Book Store of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly. Kane acknowledged that the uniqueness of The Lawrence community contributed to the Raven’s success. Kane promised to return at a later date to talk about his poetry.
There is an absence of infrastructure for serving families with preschool age children in Douglas County, making it difficult to track down information and services. This is the problem that Kim Polson, Executive Director of the Community Children’s Center and numerous collaborators set out to address. Their efforts produced TYKES (Tiny Kansans Early Support), a new web site intended to be a one stop source for information and resources for preschoolers. The site can be searched by topic or age and a variety of support services may be accessed. Polson observed that infants and toddlers are a critical group, and presently only about one out of ten children in this population are adequately served. It is hoped that TYKES can serve as a development model for other communities.