LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
A ‘Top 10’ list for healthier living

We would like to respectfully submit our “Top 10” recommendations for a healthier, balanced life:

(1) If possible, go to bed early enough that you don’t have to set your alarm.

(2) Exercise 10 minutes each morning, and break a sweat.

(3) Eat healthy. Eat healthy. Eat healthy!

(4) If you smoke, quit. It’s a dirty, costly, selfish habit.

(5) Limit alcohol to one ounce per day, but preferably none, due to increased risk for several cancers, alcoholism, DUIs, etc.

(6) Pursue healthy relationships with everyone you know. Forgive others. Be humble. Remember in God’s eyes you are no better-and no worse-than anyone else.

(7) Turn off the TV. One exception: we often recommend a wholesome 30 minute sitcom before bed.

(8) Try to learn something new about your spouse, your kids, your job and your world every day.

(9) For more fulfillment, create and make available solutions to the needs of others.

(10) Above all else, seek God. Read the Bible. Pray daily. Remember the purpose of life is to discover God.

R. Whitely

Peabody

It’s ‘Year of the Bird’ for Kansas hoop fans

On the Chinese calendar, this is the Year of the Pig. But in this part of the prairie it’s looking like the Year of the Bird as the Goessel Bluebirds and Kansas Jayhawks continue excellent years on the hardwood.

The Bluebirds have qualified for the state tournament and are seeking their first title since 1987. The Jayhawks clinched the Big XII title this weekend and are aiming for their first national championship since 1988.

Suffice it to say, enthusiasm is flying high in 2007.

Rod Franzen

Hillsboro

Heartless act may cause cats to suffer

Spring is here in Ramona. I can tell by the new cats that were dumped on my property this week.

I just wanted to let whoever did it that the three cats-one black, one solid gray and the cream longhair with Siamese marked face-will have a hard time here.

I tried to approach them but whatever you have done to them has made them scared and run to hide. I guess I would too if I was betrayed by my caregiver. I most certainly wouldn’t trust another human again, at least not right away.

The fate you have given these animals is not a good one.

We used to have cats here in town, most were pets and some were strays. I lost many last year to poisoning and trapping. I heard some were shot.

I am not sure the person who did this has left town. So the fate of these cats left to fend for themselves isn’t pretty. Even if they don’t meet the same demise that the others did, they will become prey to dogs, foxes and other cats.

I hope you can look in the mirror and sleep at night knowing what you have done to another living thing.

I do know that if there is justice, you too will be left somewhere alone and hungry and afraid for your life.

I also hope your kids will read this and know I will try to catch the cats and find them a safe place to live with love and good care.

Connie Smith

Ramona

Continued growth

will expand tax base

Marion County needs to continue growing to help ensure a strong tax base. Our entire county must keep moving forward and work together as a team to ensure a prosperous future.

Good communication is the key. We must develop a good plan for future growth-one that involves industry and retail. We must expand in all directions.

City services and excellent schools will continue to cost more money each year. Expanding the tax base will provide more funds to meet or exceed the standards we’ve come to expect from those areas.

Without an expanding tax base, we, the taxpayers, will have two choices: accept a lower standard from those entities that receive our tax dollars, or pay much more to maintain existing levels of service.

Neither of those two choices sounds appealing to me.

Our county has many attractive qualities for the whole family. We have sports facilities and nice ballfields, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, golf courses, plays and concerts at all of our schools, annual festivals, the Arts & Crafts Fair, the Art in the Park and area lakes.

All of this, along with a growing population, will help Marion County continue to attract outside industry as well as encourage existing industry to expand here. We must be people friendly so they others will enjoy doing business with us and like to live here.

We should also take advantage of the trend of people in large cities moving to smaller communities.

Marion County’s location for this trend is ideal, not to mention the reputation all of our communities have for strong schools, churches and family activities.

Continued expansion and growth of cities in the county is not a matter of advancing the agenda of a few. It’s about survival. Communities, like businesses, must compete in the marketplace.

Our cities must focus on population expansion and new business growth, in a large, part because we citizens have high expectations for our schools and other city services. And, of course, we should.

But high expectations almost always require high dollars-more and more dollars each year. We can’t create the image that we are a county of higher sales taxes and mill levies than our surrounding counties.

The relative prosperity we enjoy today in our county is due, in large part, to a continuing vision of growth and expansion.

Let’s keep the ball rolling.

Albert Reimer

Hillsboro

County desperately needs business savvy

The Marion County Commission just smiled and nodded as they were served up another heaping helping of milk toast mumbo-jumbo by the Marion County Economic Development Council representative at the last meeting.

What is the microLoan program? It’s a small business loan program that works a lot like bank lending. It’s called a revolving loan program because the interest gained from making loans rebuilds the funds for future loans.

While microloan is the smallest and simplest of the lending programs, it’s the most labor intensive of the lending programs because of the technical assistance necessary to help the small business owner with business planning, product development, marketing and financial management.Without the additional assistance most small businesses fail.

How did Marion County acquire the microloan program? Some concerned citizens in Marion County worked with the county commission, who in turn entrusted the program to MCEDC.

Has the program been successfully administered by MCEDC? Consider the report given to the commission. The Marion County program made 10 loans in its six-year history. To date, the principal loaned is about $60,600 for a program that began with $50,000 and now the program has $40,000 available to loan.

At face value, that may sound impressive, but what does it really mean? To the small businesses that received the loan assistance, it means the difference between being in business and not being in business.

To the citizens of Marion, the microloan program means important business growth in the greater community.

But to those concerned about the direction of economic development in Marion County, it raises concerns about the ability of the county commission to lead, and MCEDC’s direction and competency with the program.

Why is the program of concern? The objective of the program is to build business through relending. The only way to sustain the program is to make loans to new or existing business owners that need money and can demonstrate the ability to pay the loan back with interest.

Since the Marion County program has $40,000 available to loan, we’re almost at the level where we started. In fact, the Kansas Department of Commerce has use-it-or-lose-it requirements for the program.

So, at the very least, the program needs a jump start through aggressive promotion before we lose it, but not before MCEDC understands the basics of helping businesses stay in business, or we will certainly lose it through loan defaults.

A quick check of several more rural counties demonstrates a far greater success rate with microloan programs.

In a rural area south of Marion County, requests for financial assistance from businesses average about 40 per month. Development professionals administered over 60 loans in the same six-year period with capital relending now at $320,000 and nearly the same $40,000 available. What does that tell us?

Small-business development is high risk and the data proves it. Still, the region south of Marion County continues to retain business through its microloan program and can now move on to a more effectively leveraged microloan program with other larger partnership relending programs and banks to assist larger business developments-that create jobs for the community.

The reason the microloan program has been such a dismal failure in Marion County to date is that MCEDC lacks the knowledge necessary to evaluate applicants, assist applicants, administer the program or promote additional developmental funds that compliment the existing program.

Unfortunately, the commission doesn’t know any better either, so they just smile and nod approvingly at the MCEDC reports.

Beyond microloan, where is MCEDC’s leadership headed in bringing additional programs to the county table? Where is the commission’s leadership in insisting that a countywide community foundation be developed by MCEDC and its newly hired secretary?

Many rural counties already have millions in reserves through countywide community foundation. They build facilities with community foundation and matching grants. They create events and bring thousands of visitors that leave thousands of dollars in their communities.

Meanwhile, Marion County sends representatives to learn how to write effective grants without considering how to provide matching funds. How ridiculous. The days of grants without matching funds are over.

In this day and age, matching funds are the determining keys to winning grants of any consequence. A county community foundation becomes the resource for the matching funds that appeals to the grant makers.

What other projects are we planning to punish our tax payers and donors with before we realize we need to take the time to develop capital reserves for the projects we want and need? Does anyone at the county level get the picture?

And, where is MCEDC’s leadership in business retention and tourism for that matter? We don’t need another slick brochure to pass out at the Sport Boat and Travel Show because we have less and less to market in the county.

MCEDC is comprised of some paid representatives from Marion County communities and other volunteers. Collec­tively, they manage to convince a gullible county commission that they are successfully administering economic development for the county.

The blind commission listens to the blind MCEDC, who now blindly directs a secretary.

We need a commission committed to a new direction for Marion County and we need hard-driving, intelligent business-development savvy. We need it now and we need to pay whatever it takes to get it.

Stan Thiessen

Hillsboro

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