Jan 14, 2020 2:19 PM


Posted Jan 14, 2020 2:19 PM
Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra
Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra

Hello from Topeka!  

We are back and starting the 2020 session, which will be my fifth year representing you in the statehouse.

This week will be a lot of little meetings and bill introductions. Governor Kelley will deliver her second State of the State address, then we will spend a good portion of Thursday going over what was in and what was left out of her budget proposal.  

Many times, in an election year, there isn’t a full agenda, but this year it seems we will have several issues that will be discussed.  

A few that you may have heard about is Medicaid Expansion that will be discussed in the Senate.  The House passed out its version last year, so we will see how this plays out.  

A few days ago, the Governor proposed combining the human services back to one big agency.  This would combine the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) and Department of Children and Families (DCF) along with our state’s mental hospitals.  This proposal will go through the scrutiny of the state legislature and my concern is we make progress on programs related to foster kids and families and the waiting list for those most vulnerable who need care.   

Look for several things to come out of the Federal and State Affairs, there will probably be a constitutional amendment regarding abortion and that the state should decide what is in the constitution by a vote of the people. If it passes in Topeka, it will be on the ballot either in August or November of this year.  There is also a lot of talk about medical marijuana, I am not sure how far that will go and if there is broad support in both chambers.

One of the committees I serve on is taxation, and that should be a busy one as there have been several bills pre-filed to address some of the issues that were not successful last year. We will keep you updated here on at kenforkansas.com.

I also remain Chairman of Higher Education Budget. I don’t see too many fireworks there this year.  The wants are great, but the dollars are limited. We will continue to work with institutions to deliver a good education and a reasonable investment.

My final committee I serve on is Appropriations.  It is the one that deals with every agency and is the committee that brings together all the budget committees and forms the house position on the budget that gets approved at the end of the session. 

I am pleased to announce that Mark Coomes, a graduate of Phillipsburg High School and current student at the University of Kansas will be serving you as a legislative intern. He is a bright, energetic young man and looking forward to his skill set contributing to our great state.

When you come to Topeka during the session, my office is still located in Room: 149-S.  My phone number is (785) 296- 7463 and email is: [email protected] and you can always try my cell number at (785) 302-8416.   When you call or write you might hear from Jan Kohlers, who is back as my assistant during the session.

I look forward to seeing you around the 110th District. It is my honor to by your representative.

Ken Rahjes (R-Agra) is the 111th district state representative in Kansas. 

Continue Reading Hays Post
Jan 14, 2020 2:19 PM
Lasich honored for leadership of Thanksgiving Dinner
Pastor Celeste Lasich was honored Jan. 8 by the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance for her service to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Hays Post

The Ellis County Ministerial Alliance honored Pastor Celeste Lasich of Hays First Presbyterian Church on Jan. 8 for her work organizing the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. 

Lasich said she didn't need a plaque. She works to organize the meal year round becuase of the joy it brings her.

Lasich said she is constantly thinking about the annual event, jotting down notes and brainstorming ideas. It's a big job — with the dinner severing 500 to 600 people annually.

Laura Allen with First Call for Help helps coordinates volunteers for the event. Lasich and Allen frequently run into each other at other events, meetings or at the grocery store, and the conversation inevitably always finds it way back to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

"It's a lot of hours, but you know when you do something that just gives you a lot of joy, the hours don't really matter as much," Lasich said.

Ellis County Ministerial Alliance President Mike Rose (Hays First United Methodist Church) presents a plaque to Celeste Lasich (Hays First Presbyterian Church). Other ECMA members present from left: Micah Sanderson (CrossPoint), Sabian Chaney (New Life Center), Linda Mills (First Call for Help) and Karen Harvester (HaysMed). Courtesy photo

Lasich, 59, and her husband moved to Hays in 2013, and dinner founder Pastor Kyle Ermoian of Celebration Community Church quickly recruited her for the Hays event.

"My husband and I have lived in four different states," she said. "We've been married for 30 years. Community Thanksgiving meals have always been part of our life and part of what we've done in every community we've been in.

"When I heard that Hays had one and the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance had one,  I was, 'I'll be there. What can I do to help?' "

Ermoian said he was very pleased Lasich, Linda Mills of First Call for help and others are still leading the meal since he helped organize the event more than 20 years ago.

"She is a caring person, who is committed to her congregation as well as to the community of Hays, particularly though to those people who are less fortunate," Ermoian said of Lasich. "She has a heart for those people who are in need."

Lasich said she appreciates the dinner for the many needs it fills.

"It is one of the only times and places in this community where all social strata, educational backgrounds, vocational backgrounds, neighborhoods, all gather in one place," she said.

Volunteers seat people as they come in, so it is likely diners will be set next to people they don't know.

"I am always struck and delighted by the conversations, by the connections people make as they are eating together, by the laughter, and the ways in which community is forged when we eat together — when we break bread together. There is something very special about that," Lasich said. 

People need the dinner for different reasons, she said. For some people, the diner is the one good meal they will have because of economic reasons. For others, it may not be feasible to cook a Thanksgiving meal because they are alone, because of work schedules, or because of age, health or disability.

"Maybe it's just two people at home or maybe the family has come back to Hays, but mom can't do the things she used to do. It's just too hard," Lasich said. "Yet the family is able to gather and share holiday memories. The holiday traditions continue, but perhaps in a different form and in a different place." 

 Lasich also lauded the volunteers. Seventy to 100 people give of their time each year, and it has become a family tradition for many of them.

Lasich said she was shocked to be honored, but wanted to make sure all of the other members of the leadership team and many volunteers were also acknowledged.

"There are a lot of other people who are a part of this as well. This is not by any means something that I do alone," she said. "I am so grateful for all the people who are a part of it."

People donate money and time, the Rose Garden prepares the meal, people donate canned goods to be given away in conjunction with the meal and people volunteer to organize and sort those donations.

 Lasich said she intends to continue volunteering with the dinner well into the future.

"I'm not stopping. I'm having too much fun," she said.