Jerry Moran addresses constituents at Peabody


News editor

A group of fewer than two dozen people made the effort to attend an hour-long question and answer session with Congressman Jerry Moran Monday afternoon at Peabody Senior Center.

However, the group included constituents from Emporia, Hillsboro, Marion, and Florence.

Moran noted his stop in Peabody was his 53rd town hall meeting in 2008. He told the group that his three goals are for the United States to develop its own resources, get a handle on health care costs, and to repeal or significantly change to the No Child Left Behind act.

In addition to outlining what he feels are the most important issues of the coming legislative session, he asked how he could help the people of Marion County.

Leslie LaFoy, councilman for the city of Peabody, asked if he would be willing to help the state acquire passenger rail service by looking into a project developed by the National Flyer Alliance group. NFA is hoping to connect Kansas City and Dallas with passenger rail service and many of the towns in Moran's district, including Peabody, could be served.

LaFoy expressed the opinion that joining the push for expanded service would add an economic boost to communities with access to major rail lines.

Moran agreed to look into the project.

"As a member of the rail transportation committee I will certainly do what I can," he said.

Moran also was complimentary of the effort Peabody has waged to gain recognition for the downtown historic district.

"Many small Kansas towns have a lot of offer if they can just get the word out," he said. "For years we've known Peabody has worked very hard and indeed has had success promoting itself as a successful community.

"You are to be congratulated."

Bruce Smith, a local retired military officer and Boeing employee, asked Moran about his opinion of the military's selection of Northrop Grumman and its European partner to build the Air Force refueling tankers instead of Boeing.

Moran indicated he was puzzled at the turn of events and would be looking into it along with a number of his colleagues.

"I don't know why they (the military) would do it," he said. "The planes that the tankers will be refueling are American planes, flown by Americans. American (aviation) workers care about those pilots and crews. I don't know why the contracts went overseas."

In response to other questions Moran said he was opposed to a bail-out for homeowners who got themselves in trouble buying homes they couldn't afford.

"I have never understood how we got to the point where we feel we need to spend our way into prosperity," he said. "No one is saving anymore. No one is deferring gratification for their wants."

Moran also noted that one of the problems facing many Kansas communities was not lack of jobs so much as a lack of qualified employees.

"I'd like to see us figure out a way to recruit a reliable work force," he said. "This is a problem in our area.

"In my hometown of Plainville a mobile home manufacturer moved out and left 250 people unemployed," he said. "The problem wasn't a downturn in the industry or anything. The problem was that they couldn't keep up with production because there weren't enough workers. They closed and moved everything to another of their plants."

Moran ended the session with the promise to remain accessible to the people in his congressional district. And he promised to return to Marion County for future town hall meetings.

"The people I represent do a good job of keeping me the kind of person I want to be," he said. "You help me remember why I do this job."

Moran can be reached at his Hays office at 785-628-6401 or in Washington, D.C., at 202-225-2715.