Author: Kate Campbell (Page 2 of 27)

South Dakotan in a Red Pickup

Bob in his red pickup

Meeting new people and experiencing a new perspective is one of life’s pleasures, according to Bob Rademacher.  He loves exploring the world in his red pickup truck. 

Bob Rademacher is a lifelong South Dakotan who has been visiting Lawrence the past weeks.  Bob has lived in the small city of Huron, SD, for over 40 years.  He and Rotarian Kate Campbell met while both were serving on the Huron Chamber of Commerce board.  They stayed in touch over the years and became good friends as Bob served as one of Kate’s business mentors. 

Bob shared some of his observations as a newcomer to the Lawrence community.  He appreciates the numerous walking trails in the city and finds remarkable the number of banks, churches and restaurants.  Roundabouts are somewhat puzzling, and he wonders how people can get through a winter without a four-wheel drive pickup. Bob commented on the numerous Kansas University promotional stickers and signs that he sees and the great number of mask wearers. He has also become conscious of his South Dakota accent.

Huron has about 12,000 people and is largely Democratic, a rarity in South Dakota.  The big industry in town is a turkey processing plant with a diverse work force.  Bob was raised on a farm, taught high school math for a few years and worked for many years as the manager of Dakota Energy Rural Electric Cooperative.  Bob was instrumental in merging several small RECs to gain efficiencies.

Bob has an interest in politics and commented on the ambitions of the present Governor of South Dakota who makes frequent appearances on Fox News.  He thinks the de-population of rural America is not going to be reversed any time soon. 

Bob is a coin collector, loves hunting, fishing and golf.  He is a NASCAR fan and restores old automobiles.  Bob reports that puzzles and old movies helped pass the time during the pandemic.  It was a pleasure to meet Bob, learn about his South Dakota roots, and hear his impression of Lawrence.


Rebecca Smith Played a Key Role during the Pandemic

Rebecca Smith began her new job at LMH Health Foundation on January 1, 2021—just as the COVID pandemic hit.  As the Vice President of Strategic Communications, she faced not only a new workplace and new responsibilities, but also the challenge of communicating with the public during an extraordinary time. 


At LMH, the COVID response involved four components that needed to work together seamlessly.  Incident Command was the hub where operations, logistics, planning and administration/financial work took place.  The individuals assigned to this group were on deck 12 hours a day, every day.  The stress had personal implications as well as professional ones for everyone as their work impacted patients and the community.

Work was framed with the aim to provide care to anyone who needed it.   Smith found that the Guiding Values of LMH were foundational to the work at hand:  People First.  Better Together.  Speak Up.  Innovation. In Joy.  

Because the goal was to inspire confidence in LMH care, Smith knew that communication needed to be patient focused, credible, transparent, and trustworthy.  She worked hard to balance information about COVID against the panic that such information could create.  She found that balance by sharing both the good and the bad news. 

The concept of Better Together emphasized collaboration within work groups and within the larger community of Lawrence and of Douglas County.  LMH built partnerships with the Douglas County Unified Command and throughout the city,  and the community responded.  Restaurants gave food.  Douglas County United Way managed volunteers.  The Senior Resource Center provided transportation and meals.  The Lawrence Public Library was an information hub.  Up to 175 people helped each day with the vaccination effort.  Over 2000 volunteers did various tasks, and Smith soon had 8,000 addresses on her email distribution list.  She took care to provide frequent and readable messages.  And although it took extra effort, she maintained two-way interactions with those who had questions. 

While Douglas County Kansas vaccinations were coordinated and delivered at Douglas County Fairgrounds, LMH vaccines were delivered via drive-in clinics at the hospital.  LMH took care to schedule appointments only after receiving delivery of vaccine, typically planning appointments within 24-48 hours afterward.  By giving doses from vaccine that had arrived the prior week, they did not need to cancel clinics.  As of the end of March 2021, LMH had provided 40,000 doses of vaccine. 

During the period from March 2020 to March 2021, 439 COVID inpatients were cared for at LMH. They are proud to declare that there was zero transmission of the disease within clinics and hospital itself.

LMH has met the challenge well, but Smith cautions that continued vigilance is key.  We aren’t done with the epidemic yet!

Burdett Loomis Made a Career of Talking about Politics

Burdett Loomis loves to talk politics.  As a professor in KU’s department of political science, he has made a career of doing just that.  In addition, his periodic editorials in the Lawrence Journal World provide a forum where he can display his opinions.

In a recent column in the LJW, Loomis expressed dismay over the priorities that are taking the time of the Kansas legislature during the 2021 session.  In particular, Loomis notes that they are failing to address the issue of expanding Medicaid coverage in the state.  He points out that Kansas is one of only a handful of states refusing federal money to expand Medicaid for the uninsured, a $250,000 loss of revenue to the state.  Instead, the Legislature is spending time on transgender athletes and other “false issues.”

Loomis declares that the Republican Party, state and national, has become the party of obstruction and grievance.  He notes the failure of the GOP to produce a party platform for the 2020 election as proof of his assessment.  The collapse of the moderate wing of the party is largely responsible for the current state of affairs, according to Loomis, and the situation is not likely to change any time soon in his opinion.  As a result, Loomis wonders if the United States has lost the ability to govern itself. 

Local government generally fares better than the state and national levels, according to Loomis, but City of Lawrence government has been somewhat “adrift” in recent years in his opinion.  A primary reason is the current election law that awards commissioners varied term lengths and a one-year mayoral appointment based on the size of the vote count.  He is pleased to hear about discussions to reform the system. 

In addition, Loomis believe that the loss of a locally-owned family newspaper has contributed to leadership decline.  Meanwhile, KU is suffering from a loss of state support and the administration’s focus on new building projects at the expense of maintaining quality faculty.

Farmers’ Market Supports Healthy Lawrence Community

Sophie Tate began her job as market manager of the Lawrence Farmers’ Market in early 2021.  She grew up in Lawrence, graduating from Free State High School before pursing  a degree at Skidmore College.  She then earned an MA in Public Health and Environmental Health.  

With its origin in 1979, Lawrence Farmers’ Market is the oldest continuously running market in Kansas.  From the start, it was a “producers only” market.  All product inputs are grown, prepared, or crafted in Kansas within 50 miles of Lawrence.  Shoppers will find artisans as well as food producers among the 50 vendors who will begin the season this spring. 

Tate proudly explains that the Lawrence Farmers’ Market supports social, physical, and economic health in the Lawrence community. 

Social:  The Farmers’ Market is a place to gather and to meet friends, to eat and to buy.  The crowd is diverse and family-friendly.  Find music, share information, and exchange ideas.

Physical:  The Market is a destination for all ages and all abilities. Enjoy the outdoors and green space while finding nutritious foods.

Economic:  After shopping for premier goods at the Farmers’ Market, buyers can  then spend time in Downtown Lawrence.  The low cost to participate allows more vendors to sell, introduces new products, and makes businesses more sustainable.  Double Up food coupons support the SNAP program with fresh produce.   

The Saturday market will begin for the season on April 10, 2021, and conclude on November 20.   A Tuesday market will run from May 4 to October 26.  The markets will be open in all kinds of weather. 

On Saturday, markets are located downtown on New Hampshire Street from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.  On Tuesday, shoppers can find the vendors in South Park from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  

Forestry and Insurgency

Rural Forestry Coordinator Bob Atchison spoke on the mission and activities of the Kansas Forest Service, located in Manhattan on the Kansas State University Campus.  

The State Forest Service serves rural land owners, rural fire districts, communities, forest industries and citizens throughout the state.  The Forest Service is an independent agency within KSU Research and Extension.  Thirty specialists and seasonal workers address a variety of areas of specialization:  forest utilization and marketing, water quality, wild fire prevention and management, community forestry, GIS communication, and outreach.  Ten percent of Kansas is in woodlands, and these vital resources are under constant stress from clearing for agriculture and other development. 

Bob Atchison, brother of LCR member Fred Atchison, earned a degree in Forestry from the University of Missouri and is a second generation Forester.  Bob has received the President’s Award for Excellence from KSU, the National Association of State Forester’s Achievement Award for Resource Management, and was Kansas Wildlife Federation’s 2017 Conservationist of the year.   

Three years ago Bob received a Forestry Grant to attend a two-month course at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Participants included a variety of people working in national and state government, including elected officials, city managers, mayors and agency heads.  Classes focused on the historical relationship between citizens and their government.  Bob cited numerous historical examples of contentious citizen interactions with government.  

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