Category Archives: Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Deb McCoy

Honesty is the best policy.

George Washington I want to encourage each and every one of you to get involved and not become complacent in what is happening among the City Commissioners. If you cannot attend the meetings they can be viewed live or at a later date on youtube.com. Simply type Fort Scott City Commission Meeting into the search bar. Become involved! City Policies, Procedures and Ordinances. Why do we even have them? Because it gives guidelines for everyone to follow when presented with different situations. It provides consistency. It provides fairness. It provides cohesiveness and takes the guessing game out of what should be done. We have been provided guidelines of all sorts since the beginning of time. Ten Commandments, Parliamentary guidelines, Constitutions, Bill of Rights, State guidelines, Kansas League of Municipalities guidelines, Professional guidelines, Workplace guidelines, Organizational guidelines, Meeting guidelines etc. Where in the Rules of Professional Conduct does it say that we can manipulate the Rule of Law to fit our needs? It doesn’t. It states as a professional, the Rule of Law should be followed and respected. Why are we wasting so much time on trying to get around or making exceptions as to what is written as an Ordinance or a State Statute? Why don’t we do what is right? We certainly have bigger things to be concerned about. Put aside your personal agendas and start working for the citizens who voted you in and who are concerned about where our city is going. Where are the written strategic plans for 5 years and 10 years? Why have we spent thousands of dollars on surveys and have not yet been given the results of these surveys nor have we seen any productive implementation of these studies. We could have spent a lot of that money on infrastructure. The fact is, without a good foundation, we don’t have a solid ground to build upon. Without strategic plans we have no vision. We need more action and less rhetoric over what should and should not be.Why don’t you just follow the Rule of Law! They are not in place for you to manipulate, they are there for you to follow.

Sincerely, Deb McCoy

Stay the Course by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom

Very early one morning I awakened about 1:00 a.m. and began thinking. In the midst of my random thoughts, I heard in my heart, “Stay the course.“ Those three words came out of nowhere and they didn’t correlate with anything I was thinking. I realized God was answering the question I’d presented to Him the previous day. I had basically asked, “What am I supposed to do?” in regard to a certain personal situation.

 

I had no idea there was such a detailed definition for the small word “stay,” which means:   (1) to continue in the place or condition specified (2) to live; dwell (3) to continue; last  (4) to remain to the end of, to be able to last through. The definition for “course” is: (1) onward movement; progress (2) the direction taken (3) a regular manner of procedure or conduct  (wisest course). So God’s answer was: I am to continue to live my remaining time making spiritual progress, in the wisest course, in order to successfully finish my race.

 

My normal daily routine is to get up, start the coffee, and lay out my Bible and devotional books on the kitchen table. In my pajamas, I sit at the table and have coffee with my heavenly Father and He talks to me through His written Word. I come into His presence with awe and thanksgiving for the privilege of calling Him my Savior, Friend, Provider, Healer, Counselor, and Sustainer. God’s love is everything to me and He deserves the best and first part of my day. My training time spent in the kitchen lets the devil know whose side I’m on, plus it quenches my thirst as I run my course steady on.

 

I once heard a message about doing things that were not classified as sin, but they didn’t help us — they didn’t do us any good. The apostle Paul teaches on this subject: “All things are legitimate (permissible), [and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life] (1 Corinthians 10:23 AMP). When an individual is walking on life’s tightrope, there’s a fine line regarding balance too. “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour” (1 Peter 5:8 AMP). I determined a long time ago that I was not going to be hors d’oeuvres for the devil. He’s gonna have to eat his lunch all by himself.  

 

God will meet us where we are spiritually and His grace and love will transform us step by step. Although our entire being is important, Paul said that our inner life is the most important. “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are [our inner being is] being renewed every day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NLT). Believers have to get off the starting block and “devour God’s Word” every day so our minds and spirits can be renewed. It’s not an automatic process, otherwise it wouldn’t matter if we gave up.

 

Christ followers are to stay the course to the end of their race. Paul said, “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:6,7 NLT). One day we can all say that — if we’ve lived a well balanced, vigilant, cautious, and obedient life.

 

The Key: I started out walkin’ but I’m runnin’ my last mile Home.

More Government by Gregg Motley

More Government

 

It is a commonly held belief amongst 21st Century Americans that people are basically good, but the facts on the ground deny that assumption.  No one would dispute that a child not only needs help with the activities of daily living, but also needs consistent guidance in order to successfully transition into productive adulthood.  Our various levels of government are necessary to maintain a civil society; otherwise, we would devolve into chaos.

 

Statistically, we have much more government involvement in our lives since I was born in the 1950’s.  Government spending is a much higher percentage of Gross National Product, and many huge government agencies at all levels have come into existence since my youth.  There were no “Great Society” programs, no Medicare, no Obama Care, and six Presidential Cabinet level positions have been created: Housing and Urban Development, Education, Transportation, Energy, Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security.  Federal tax rates on families in 1960 were 3% on the first $4,800.00 earned.  Now, Social Security and Medicare taxes alone are more than double that, even before any income taxes are collected.

 

Why has government exploded with growth?  Let me propose two main causes: first, the moral decline of Americans necessitating more government intervention in our lives. As noted by John Adams, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I believe recent trends are proving his point.

 

One does not have to dive too deeply into the statistics to document the moral decline of America, most notably crime rates, divorce, unwanted pregnancies, drug dependence, etc., have skyrocketed.  That is not to say we were without sin in the 1950’s, based on the evils of racism alone in the form of segregation, prohibitions on mixed race marriages, Jim Crow laws and the like.  But generally, Americans were more personally productive and tended to respect authority.

 

Secondly, our universities have popularized socialistic economic theories, such as that of John Maynard Keynes.  In the 1970’s when I was studying economics, the theories of John Adams and Milton Freidman ruled the day; we studied Keynes as a novelty.  In the 21st Century, governments at all levels have followed the Keynesian trend of greater reliance on government intervention.

 

In response to this rise of social disorder, it seems that modern economic theories have attempted to create societal solutions to the consequences of our moral malaise, so far without success.  In fact, the jurisdictions where modern theories have been applied to the highest degree have experienced rising crime and higher rates of individual pain as measured by previously mentioned trends.  The “Great Society” programs were launched nearly 60 years ago, and after billions of dollars of spending, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line has remained virtually unchanged.

 

If we have learned anything from the dramatic growth of government during my lifetime, it should be that more government is not the answer to our problems; not Federal, not state, not local.  Until the people of this nation begin to realize the importance of the basic fundamentals of two parent households, steady loving discipline of our children, and ample investment of parents’ time and money in the education of our next generation, we will continue to struggle economically and socially, both in metropolitan areas, and rural communities like Bourbon County.

 

 

Letter to the Editor: Pete Allen

Submitted by Pete Allen.
Submitted by Pete Allen
This is our new asphalt emulsion storage tank that was delivered yesterday to the public works facility. It is a 7,000 gallon tank that will handle a tanker load of material. It is a companion tool to work with our Total Patcher machine.
This will allow us to make our own asphalt for our SSMP and for filling potholes. This is the new norm for making street and highway repairs and it includes the latest technology in the development of asphalt emulsions.
We will have at our hands, the binder necessary for 250 tons of asphalt that will be heated and constantly agitated for proper care of the emulsion. It will also save us 24 trips to the plant in KC with our truck and patching machine…. that is 24 days of patching instead of driving to KC and back without the cost of transporting the material.
This tanker will put repairs in our hands, instead of an asphalt plant, and at a much cheaper price.
I am very proud and thankful to the governing body for making this purchase.
The tank is being paid for with sales tax revenue. The tank was ordered in March, but as with everything these days, delays caused by material and labor shortages resulted in it just now arriving. It is too late in the season to fill the tank, but it will be erected and ready to go for next season.

Let The Fun Begin by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Every cloud has a silver lining.”  John Milton

Nice thought, but sometimes you have to look pretty hard for that lining.  Take last week, when Dave and I decided to take our tandem kayak on an early morning, fun excursion around the lake. We had not kayaked for three years, so we went over our check list several times.

Look at the weather report.  Check

Key to unlock the padlock that connected the kayak to our dock.  Check

Waterproof case for my phone.  Check

Pedaling flippers for navigation. Check

Oars.  Check.

Seats that attach to the kayak frame.  Check

Life jackets.  Check

Fishing pole and lure. Check

Let the fun begin.

And it would have, were we 30 years old, but 70+ year old knees do not bend well, so just trying to lower ourselves from our dock into the kayak was not an exhibition of athleticism. After pushing off, we began circling.  Yes, circling.  Something was wrong with the toggle that operated the rudder that allowed us to go straight or turn.

“My arm really hurts when I reach behind me like this,” Hubby said, trying to jiggle the wires that support the rudder. Perhaps we really are too old for this activity, I told myself.

While circling, I realized that I had left my phone on shore, but since I didn’t really need it (unless, of course, there was an emergency and I had to call 9-1-1 which always is a possibility), we would go without.  Every time Dave leaned backwards to correct that rudder-thingy, he would groan. Perhaps I would need that phone after all.

Once Dave fixed the rudder, we took off…just not for long.  “I forgot my fishing pole,” said you-know-who.  After returning to the dock to retrieve his pole, I was instructed to peddle and operate the rudder with a hand toggle.  Dave would peddle and catch fish.

“Stop peddling,” said Captain Dave, not long after taking off.  “I’ve caught a fish.”  Only it wasn’t a fish.  The lure had snagged something at the bottom of the lake.  The next snag was an actual fish, but when Dave tried to remove the lure from its mouth, he cut his finger on the barb.  “I’m bleeding,” he said.  His injuries were mounting.

When the clouds rolled in, covering what had been a clear sky, we were at the other end of the lake.  Our fastest peddling could not outrun the downpour, so at the end of our “fun” excursion, we were drenched.  Walking uphill from our dock to our house, I was groaning, but Dave saved the day with this comment: “Well, at least you won’t have to water the grass.”

Is that the best? Little had gone the way we had planned, even with our check list, but none of this was a big deal.  I mean, maybe we were wet and bleeding and our bones hurt, but so what, right?

Dave’s comment helped me help my attitude. I needed to look for that silver lining.  I needed to know Who is in charge of my day. I needed a Proverbs 17:22 adjustment: A joyful heart is good medicine…                                                                                                                                    I’ll take that over a 9-1-1 call any day.                                                                                              

 

Letter to the Editor: Deb McCoy

There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Margaret J. Wheatley

We have the privilege to vote for those who run for the public service of representing us to do the right thing. It is important that we do not become complacent. I would encourage each and every one of you to watch the (Fort Scott City) commissioner meetings on YouTube and pay attention to what is going on in these meetings. The meetings can be viewed live or at a later date on youtube.com. Simply type, fort Scott city commission meeting, into the search bar. Become involved!

 

We had two scheduled Commissioner Meetings scheduled this past week. The normally scheduled meeting on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 was abruptly postponed after an executive meeting. The stated reason was“because the commissioners did not receive their packets until the morning of Monday August 1st, 2022, and “they did not have time to review them.” One of the commissioners quoted a statement from the Code of Ethics for the City of Fort Scott, Kansas “the agenda must go out on time, usually on the Wednesday before a regular meeting.”  Take note “usually”.  I would also like to add the next sentence written under the above quote. “Surprises at meetings from the City Commissioners or Staff can be unwelcome and counterproductive.Our City Code of Procedures does not specify a day in which the agendas are to be distributed. It states “The agenda is required to be supplied to Commissioners and staff in advance of the meeting”. How many people in the audience, who were there to speak, were inconvenienced by the decision that was made?  For those involved in this decision, why did you not address your concerns on Monday or Tuesday prior to the meeting?

 

In revelation to the circumstances surrounding the above there was an explanation.  Our City Clerk has been in their position for 24 years. The Commissioners Agendas have been processed and sent out on Fridays for the past 24 years. Our City Clerk requested a two week vacation for the first time in 15 years, with the understanding that the Agendas would be sent out first thing upon returning to work on the Monday, August 1st, which happened. Where is adaption and clemency for someone who has dedicated 24 years to a job that has many demands and that includes shuffling their personal time to cover all of the meetings?

 

At our second Commissioner meeting on August 4th, 2022, a revision of Ordinance 3290 was introduced. This particular City Ordinance on filling a vacancy also included the State Statute regarding residency. The verbiage in Ordinance 3290 has been manipulated over the past several groups of commissioners with the appearance of trying to meet the needs of their personal or group agenda when it comes to replacement of a City Commissioner position. The revised Ordinance 3618 was well written and inclusive of all situations and scenarios and included the necessary Kansas State Statutes that should be followed. It would certainly alleviate any questions of the processes that should be followed. This is the second revision of the ordinance presented to two different groups of commissioners. This present group of commissioners tabled the discussion of the presented Ordinance until the next meeting in two weeks, and will allow them to take no action on truth, transparency, and doing the right thing.

 

We need City Policies, Procedures and Ordinances because it gives guidelines for everyone to follow when presented with different situations. It provides consistency. It provides fairness. It provides cohesiveness and takes the guessing game out of what should be done. Where in the Rules of Professional Conduct does it say that we can manipulate the Rule of Law to fit our needs? It doesn’t. It states as a professional, the Rule of Law should be followed and respected. Making decisions on the basis of public policy and being consistent to avoid favoritism will improve and enhance the trust of our community in the decisions that are made.

With Sincerity, Deb McCoy

Blind Trust of A Child by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom

 

When I was in grade school, the playground equipment eventually became boring, so my best friend and I decided to spice up recess by concocting our own game. We didn’t give it a name, but it could have been called “Blind Trust.“ With my eyes closed, Jonita would lead me around the playground. Then we would switch roles. It was a simple game with only two rules: 1) eyes had to stay completely shut; 2) leader promised not to guide the other into a tree, rock wall, ditch, etc. We had a solemn understanding that when either of us said, “I promise,” we could be at peace and trust that the other one would faithfully keep her word…no matter what. Before I began writing this lede, I shot Jonita a text and asked if she remembered playing this game. She responded, “Yes I do, it required trust.“

 

The definition of blind: unable to see, lacking awareness, or impossible to see around.     The definition of trust: firm belief in the reliability, ability, or strength of someone or something. Because I couldn’t see, I had to completely trust Jonita to lead me safely through the obstacles on the playground. God is our faithful and trustworthy Leader and He’s promised in His Word that He won’t run us into a tree just for laughs. Sometimes we believers have trouble with our trust. We say we trust God, but are we really believing and acting like it? Or is that just something clever that’s printed on our money?

 

We put our trust in a lot of things during our lifetime. When our family vacationed in  Memphis, TN, I trusted that the bridge stretching across the muddy Mississippi wouldn‘t collapse as we drove across it. God’s Word makes it so clear that He can be completely trusted. Aunt Charlene inspired me to choose a purposeful word for 2022, because that’s something she’s done for a few years. She believes it helps you to focus and develop that particular word in your life. After a bit of soul-searching, I chose “trust” for my word. “I trust in God at all times. I pour out my heart before Him; God is a refuge for me” (Psalm 62:8).

 

Sometimes life’s road takes an unexpected bumpy detour and we’re unable to clearly see what’s ahead. Sometimes we can’t see around the blind corner so we have to slow down and proceed patiently. Going through challenges and troubles is when believers either achieve spiritual growth or commit spiritual suicide. The choice to trust or not trust is completely up to your own heart. “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise” (Hebrews 10:23 NLT).

 

As long as we don’t throw in the towel, totally trusting God will eventually banish fear and anxiety. “See, God has come to save me. I will trust in Him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; He has given me victory” (Isaiah 12:2 NLT). If we’re afraid, perhaps we’re reserving some of our trust to someone or something else. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:3,4 NLT). If I’m experiencing anxiety instead of peace, I need to figure out what’s wrong with my trust and my thoughts and then make the obligatory changes. Since it’s “my bad,”  I must line up with His Word so I can receive the perfect peace He‘s promised.

 

The Key:  Fully trust God to always know how to take care of everyone and everything.

Housing Trends by Gregg Motley

Gregg Motley. President of the Regional Economic Development, Inc. Submitted photo.

 

I have written in previous columns that the population of every Southeast Kansas County declined between the 2010 and 2020 census; it was the first decade that Crawford County joined their regional neighbors to make bad news unanimous.  Along with the population drop has come a steep decline in the number of housing units in Bourbon County from the peak in 1980; this is a real problem.  It just makes sense that we cannot attract new businesses, or even significant business expansions by our existing employers, if we do not have quality, affordable housing in which to welcome new workers.

 

How bad is the problem?  It appears that the 1970’s was the golden decade for housing in Bourbon County, as the 1980 population stood at 15,969 residents living in an all-time high of 7,194 housing units. By the 2020 census, the count was 14,360 people which is a 10.1% drop. Housing dropped as well, falling to 6,770 units, a loss of 424.  Most of that drop occurred between 2010 and 2020.  Demolition crews must have been busy during the decade.

 

Other Southeast Kansas counties have experienced a similar stress in their housing markets; the exception is Crawford County, who continues to add to their housing inventory in every decade since 1990.  Linn County experienced robust growth in the number of houses in the county every decade until peaking at 5,446 in 2010, when their population was 9,656.  In the next 10 years, they lost only 65 people, but nearly 400 houses.

 

The most telling statistics for Bourbon County is the lack of housing starts in recent years and current rental vacancy data.  In the four years beginning in 2017, Bourbon County issued 11 building permits for a total value of $1.16 million.  Over the same period, Allen County, with a total 2020 population of 1,834 less than Bourbon County, issued 49 building permits totaling $7.12 million; not an insignificant difference.  To continue the comparison, both Allen County and Bourbon County have about 29% of their housing units dedicated to rental.  Over the last five years, our vacancy rate has averaged 15.1%; Allen County is at 12.5%.  Given the high demand for quality rental properties, we must have many unrentable units that need attention.  We need to explore the cause of high rental vacancy while rental demand appears to be high.

 

The Southeast Kansas model county in the area of housing is Linn County.  In the four year period previously discussed, the county issued 205 building permits with a value of $23.04 million.  Their rental vacancy is almost half of ours at 8.5%.  Clearly they are doing something right.  My instinct tells me they are leveraging their water amenities effectively.

 

We need to swallow our pride and take a closer look at why Southeast Kansas counties, including Allen, Anderson, Cherokee, Crawford, Linn, Neosho and even tiny Woodson County can attract new housing and we can’t seem to get the job done.  We also need to understand why we have the highest vacancy rate of rental houses in the region.  Then we need to work together to solve the problems.

 

A Battle Over Pronouns by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Mike, a friend from California, quit his upper-management job when he was forced to go through “sensitivity training” in an effort to appreciate diversity and was mandated to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they,” “them,” “ze,” or “xe,” so as not to offend non-binary advocates who do not associate themselves with genders of man or woman. He said that he never knew how to refer to an interviewee sitting across the table from him.

Mike shared the following story. “T.T.T.” (They, Their, Them) had a beard, wore a sportscoat with khaki pants, and explained leaving (his/her/their) past employment as a heavyweight boxing champion because of injuries, BUT my friend couldn’t take anything for granted.

What if that day this person identified as a woman? (Yes, and perhaps I identify as a jockey, but let’s just guess what would happen if I tried to mount a horse in the Kentucky Derby.) Pretty wackadoodle, if you ask me.

Still, in this area, my husband, Dave, is ahead of the times. He has been switching pronouns for as long as I can remember. In the past week, he has made the following declarations: “We need to make sure and have the water heater checked.” “We should probably have the tires on the truck rotated.” “We’ve got to call and find out why our insurance rates went up.” Dave believes that this is from Genesis, when God joined Adam and Eve and said, “The two shall be as one.” Um-hmmm… Still, being the submissive wife I am, I have learned to answer in his language. “We sure should, Honey. Let us know what we find out when we make those calls.” Obviously, neither of us take this seriously.

And that’s where our pronoun “we” differs dramatically from those who are crying out to be understood, who don’t know which gender defines them… “he,” “she,” “they,” “them,” whatever. All kidding aside, I believe that God created everyone in His image, and it’s our responsibility to see these people as He does.

But that’s where it gets wackadoodle. Some individuals refer to themselves as “gender fluid,” meaning that they may identify as male this morning, female at lunch, genderless in the afternoon, and as equally male and female in the evening.

Too, what happens when everyone wants to create a pronoun that better suits they/their/them? Lee Harrington, a transgender, wrote the book Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities, advocating for the transgender community. In it he apologizes for these pronoun shifts, writing that no matter how hard you try to refer to people correctly, you will offend someone.

Readers, I have given this a lot of thought. As a Christian, what should my approach be towards those who do not accept how God made them and insist on being referred to in non-binary terms? Do I tell them that I believe that God created people as either male or female, and that gender-specificity is part of the created order?

Probably not, if my goal is to love them and let them know that they matter. Instead, I think that I would seek first to develop a relationship with them…which means I would call them by the name they choose. That might be my only way to share the news about our creator and how loved they are by Him…which probably is the best way I can assure them I care.

Letter to the Editor: Pete Allen

Submitted by Pete Allen
A new era has begun in Fort Scott!
A special street maintenance plan (SSMP) is meant to improve the PCI of certain streets by 100 blocks per year. The goal is to preserve and upgrade the PCI of our streets to a “5” at the rate of 100 blocks per year. Due to a late start, this year’s goal has been reduced to 48 blocks.
This plan was adopted by the governing body at the regular commission meeting on April 5, this year. Recommendations by the comprehensive plan adopted in 2018, were to “develop a plan to substantially improve the local roads emphasizing getting the most done with the funding available”. This plan was determined to be the most beneficial.
The previous 5-year plan was for improving an average of 20 blocks per year. The current schedule is to work on arterials first, then collectors. and then residential.
All streets in Fort Scott would receive the SSMP in 10 years when the process would be repeated. The cost estimate for the work is $500,000 per year or $5,000 per block.
Based upon my previous experience with the commission, this is how I see the plan working, but keep in mind, this is only my opinion, based upon the April action of the governing body, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the present administrators. 
 

Facts You Might Not Have Known by Gregg Motley

Over the course of my 47 years of adulthood, it seems that more and more people and institutions make important decisions based on feelings and assumptions. Evidence can be found in the nature of our news media; it appears that they are constructed to pray on the emotions and gullibility of Americans. Knowing this, my response is to dig harder and deeper for data and facts upon which I can hang my hat to make responsible decisions as a family man, businessman, and community volunteer. It makes no sense for me to make important decisions without knowing what it is real.

Accordingly, here are some facts about Kansas, Southeast Kansas, and Bourbon County you may not have known:

Politics: In 2018, which is the last state data available, Kansas had 1.84 million registered voters, with 25% registered Democrats, 1% Libertarians, 44% Republicans, and 30% unaffiliated. Bourbon County breaks out like this: out of 11,992 registered voters, 23% Democrat, 1% Libertarian, 43% Republican and 33% are unaffiliated. Both major parties lose a few percentage points to the independent minded Bourbon County voter.

Of the 105 Kansas counties, only two are majority Democrat: Wyandotte and Douglas. With a high number of unaffiliated voters, one can see why it is the perception of the candidate, not the political party, which often determines the holders of statewide office.

Sales Tax: I have frequently heard people bark at the high sales tax rate, particularly in Fort Scott, not without some justification. In the two approved Community Improvement Districts, one can pay up to a 10.4% tax rate. That pales in comparison to sales tax of 11% or above in various other Kansas jurisdictions, including Hiawatha, Ottawa, Junction City, Overland Park, Cunningham, McPherson, Leavenworth, Chanute, Salina, Goodland, Hugoton, Liberal, Topeka, and Kansas City.

Children: The statewide infant mortality rate (number of babies per thousand births who die within one year) from 2015 to 2019 was 5.9, compared to 5.6 in Bourbon County. Many Kansas counties had a zero death rate, including Woodson County in Southeast Kansas. The highest rate was experienced by Comanche County with an astounding 24.7 death rate. The highest in Southeast Kansas was Allen County at 8.4. Our wealthiest county, Johnson, had a rate of 4.0.

Few logistics make a bigger difference in the education of our children than pupil/teacher ratio. In Bourbon County, our schools lowered that ratio from 13.4 in 2020 to 12.9 in 2021. We compare favorably to the statewide average of 14.7 and every county around us except Linn, which recorded a ratio of 12.3. Mighty Johnson County reported a ratio of 16.2, one of the highest in the state.

In my search for who we are in Bourbon County and what is real, I have found that we compare favorably in most statistical categories. There is no reason for us to carry around an inferiority complex or feel insecure around outsiders. We can relax and welcome visitors and promote our county every chance we get. After all, you and your neighbors are the best assets we possess.

Afraid of the Dark by Carolyn Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom

I grew up in the country and I never thought of being afraid as I walked at night from the detached garage up to the house. Neither one of my folks taught me to be scared of the dark, but they did teach me to respect God, people, lightning, certain animals (like a horse, a sow with piglets, a dam with her puppies), state troopers, etc. Having respect and being afraid is not the same thing. However, I’ve always been downright scared when I’ve seen a cruiser with lights flashing in my rear-view mirror. Like a cat on a hot tin roof, I immediately knew I was guilty of speeding. But when I respect the speed limit, I never think about being pulled over and given a ticket. Being afraid is a very unpleasant experience and sometimes we actually bring it on ourselves, e.g., daydreaming with a lead foot.

 

“Now when all the people [Israelites] saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, ’You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’ Moses said to the people, ’Do not fear [be scared], for God has come to test you, that the fear [respect, esteem, worship, veneration, honor, love] of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.’ The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:18-21 ESV).

 

When the people rejected the opportunity to draw near to God, I believe  they missed out on receiving something supernatural from Him. There’s no logical reason to stand far away when we can snuggle in to receive help, strength, and comfort in His presence. As believers, we’re to live in constant pursuit of His presence. The reason believers fellowship with God through His Word, pray, listen for His gentle voice, and follow His leading is because that’s how we stay in close contact with Him. Living in God’s presence is how we change from glory to glory week after week. “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT).

 

There may be times in your life when you feel confused, afraid, discouraged, or lonely, but keep pursuing God. Be like Moses and walk straight into the thick darkness and, if you  don’t give up, you’ll find God right in the middle of it (ref. 1 Kings 8:12).  No matter where you are or what‘s going on, God is there with you. King David said, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:7,8 NKJV).

 

There are times when life can be so dark you could slice it with a knife. Sometimes it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Sometimes it takes a long night to  truly appreciate the gorgeous sunrise. But every time you’re troubled you can always come into God’s presence. Even in the middle of the thickest darkness, God will take your hand and lead you to the light. “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Just as King David wanted Mephibosheth in his presence (2 Samuel 9:3,5-7), God wants His children in His presence. What a comforting privilege to be wanted by the Great I AM!

 

The Key: Don’t be afraid of the dark because God is waiting for you in the middle of it.