Republican agenda blocks progress
It's official: The hard right in Kansas has sacrificed common sense on the altar of political ideology. By refusing to consider any form of revenue generation that might be seen as a tax increase, the members majority party in Topeka has willfully chosen to turn a blind eye to the consequences of their own inability to act outside of a self-inflicted set of principles so rigid that not even facts can permeate them. This is particularly true in terms of Kansas public education where state spending has the greatest positive economic effect. It's no secret that quality public education raises personal income and increases local employment. The choice of the Republicans in Topeka, however, runs exactly counter to this logic. Their plan, perhaps owing its genesis to fear of a backlash from organizations like the "Kansas Club for Growth," is to resist any effort (other than deeper cuts) to balance the budget — a stance that, in effect, forces public schools to shed hundreds of teachers, custodians, secretaries, cooks and bus drivers. This, of course, is compounded by school consolidations, which have increased due to cuts made to public education funding. It seems absurd, but the idea from the Right seems to be that increased unemployment, fewer economically viable small Kansas communities and a generation of students who are less academically well-prepared is good for the state. Without swift and direct opposition to such an absurd agenda, Kansas risks — according to the Kansas Association of School Boards — a future population who are much likely "to live in poverty" and "require public assistance." The choice is simple: a few extra cents on purchases now or thousands spent in the future to fix problems that we all saw coming.
Local book sale boosts library
The Friends of the Finney County Library would like to thank all community members who purchased books and other items during the Friends' Bag-of-Books sale held at the library on Jan. 30 and 31. Ninety-five percent of all book sale proceeds are used for various library-connected purposes and purchases. Proceeds from past book sales, bake sales, pie sales, craft fairs and other fund-raising efforts have been used to support library facilities and activities. For example, this includes contributions to the Library Fund at the Western Kansas Community Foundation, partnering with the Art and Beautification Committee of the Friends of the Library in fundraising and installation of the sculptures on the library grounds (a $49,800 project), purchase of the illuminated sign on the southwest corner of the grounds, purchase of a disc cleaning/repair machine for the library, contributions to the Library Capital Improvement Fund, purchase of books and audio books for library circulation, purchase of chair carts to move chairs for library activities, purchase of a Wii for use in the library, and contributions toward the purchase of Self-Check machines that eventually will be installed in the library.
Also, many thanks to the people who helped set up and take down the book sale, which involved a lot of organization and very heavy lifting. A special thank you to those students who helped with the sale. This included Brevin Irvin and Ada and Ruth Herrera from Garden City High School, Noemi Herrera and Michelle Rubio from Garden City Community College, and Liz Marcy from Bernadine Sitts Intermediate School.
Friends of the Library will have a pie sale March 21, with a small hallway-book sale, and the "big" two-weekend sale during Beef Empire Days in June. As with most volunteer organizations, the "Friends"' are always looking for additional members. Watch for a Friends of the Library brochure on what the organization is about and how to become involved. The group meets quarterly on a yearly basis. The meetings are always at the library on a Saturday morning.
Harsha is president of Friends of the Library.