Letters (Week of Oct. 3, 2007

County involvement welcomed for future


Thank you for this opportunity to comment on your article concerning the hospital situation in Marion County (Sept. 26).

Hillsboro Community Medi?cal Center Board of Directors has always held the medical needs of our community as our primary focus. Our mission is to provide quality health services that are responsive to the needs and values of the community we serve. We try to live that mission every day.

The possibility of hospital consolidation, new forms of health delivery, various financing alternatives, new technologies, etc., have been discussed and debated many times.

We welcome the county commission?s involvement in working with us to plan for the health care needs of the citizens of this county.

There are many advantages, many strengths in having a two-hospital system in Marion County. The possible loss of over a hundred jobs in a community could have a devastating impact on the families involved and on the local economy.

This is an extremely complex issue that deserves to be thoroughly studied and analyzed. We welcome new ideas, plans and suggestions from anyone who cares to participate in the process.

Of immediate concern from your reporting of the presentation at the county commission meeting is the plan to increase taxes in the western half of Marion County. The tax increases we have seen recently for our aquatic complex, the school bond issue and the anticipated need for county jail improvements make us question whether now is the right time to consider an additional 10 mill increase in our taxes.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to dialogue with the public about the health-care needs of our county and how those needs can best be met.

Michael J. Ryan
Administrator and C.E.O.
Hillsboro Comm. Medical Center


Hospital merger idea is most significant


Release the balloons. Launch the fireworks. Applaud. Throw confetti.

For those who share the urgency for some progress in effective economic development in Marion County, Dr. Randal Claassen?s request to the county commission last week could be considered the most significant countywide proposal of the century.

Claassen asked the commission to take charge of efforts to replace two existing hospitals with one countywide facility.

This fortuitous event should be a turning point for Marion County for so many reasons. Hopefully, the commission grasps the significance of such a proposal.

To begin with, the request has merit because it originates from the most knowledgeable sources of the county?s medical services. The fact that Dr. Claassen, a prominent physician in Hillsboro, Dr. Don Hodson, Marion, and Jeremy Armstrong, administrator or St. Luke Hospital favor the idea lends credibility to the regional implications of such a proposal.

Furthermore, as Claassen pointed out, the tax implications makes such a proposal attractive. And the community assistance programs available for undertaking a project of this nature make the initiative almost appealing.

At the very least, it represents a substantial county project that has merit and growth potential when others don?t. Some version of the proposal is something that about everyone can agree is needed.

Given the time and effort, it could be a project that protects endangered community resources.

All feasibility aside, the county now has an opportunity and an obligation to follow through and demonstrate how cooperative community development works in all its broadened regional sense.

This could finally be the long-awaited new road for effective growth in our county. The only detriment will be the same attitudes and protective interests. The very process of working on such a project will lead our county in a more prosperous direction.

Stan Thiessen


Dahl should support better state projects


Last week 40 Republican members of the Kansas House of Representatives sent a letter to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in support of the Sunflower coal plant expansion at Holcomb.

Representative Don Dahl, Speaker pro tem, was among the legislative leaders that signed onto the letter.

The letter supports the construction of the two 700-mega?watt coal-fired plants and urges KDHE to quickly grant the ?clean air? permits needed before construction can begin.

KDHE must weigh the evidence and science of environmental impact by coal plants from its own review and public comments from hearings conducted last fall before issuing the permits.

Now the permit process is being influenced by a group of elected officials, of which 22 received campaign contributions from Sunflower.

The electricity generated by the new coal plants will mostly be exported to other states while only 15 percent will be used in Kansas. The coal to fire the plants will be railed from Wyoming and billions of dollars will leave Kansas to pay for the coal.

The water rights to 30,000 acres of Finney County farmland will provide the enormous amounts of cooling water needed for the plants, leading to further depletion of the shrinking Ogalalla Aquifer.

Eastern Kansas and Missouri will get the downwind mercury emissions with every rainfall that will contaminate lakes and streams causing the fish to be dangerous for human consumption.

The large amount of CO2 emissions will contribute to the problem of global climate change in Kansas and surrounding states. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that CO2 is a hazardous emission that can be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The supporters of the coal plants tout the economic benefits to the region. But if that is the case, why does Sunflower need a 12-year tax abatement?

Please join with me and ask Rep. Don Dahl to support development of environmentally sound renewable energy sources. A good start would be a Renewable Portfolio Standard law to require electrical generating utilities to purchase a set percentage of electricity generated by renewable sources such as wind or solar.

Encourage Rep. Dahl to protect and conserve Kansas water resources and air quality instead of supporting projects that enrich large out-of-state coal mining and utility companies.

Kansas State Representative Don Dahl can be contacted by mail at 205 S. Wilson, Hillsboro, KS 67063; by phone at 620-947-5593; by e-mail: at www.dahl@house.state.ks.us.

Harry E. Bennett

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