Dr Eplee launched his ‘Listening Tour’ through a good chunk of Doniphan county on Tuesday, visiting Bendena, Highland, and Troy. Unfortunately there was not enough time to stop by the Wathena and Elwood communities, but that will wait for chapter 2 of the Listening Tour in Doniphan county
His first stop was Bank of Bendena, where John and his wife Debbie served coffee and donuts to President Mark Twombly and his great staff—Bev Franken, Linda Gaither, Tish Donaldson, and Ben Gilmore. He listened to their concerns about their local schools losing their competitive edge to surrounding districts because of the block grant funding approach.
Next stop was Highland College where he met with the college President David Reist (14 year president) and heard of his concerns about gradual shrinking state reimbusements of 5 million over the past 9 years and how innovative the college has become to maintain itself financially. Dr Eplee and his wife also heard about the pros and cons of ‘Bd of Regents Coordination ‘ of Highland College affairs. He was impressed to learn that the Highland Junior College system serves over 3,400 students at all 6 locations (incl Highland). Then Dr Eplee and Deborah had a full tour of the campus by President Reist. Most impressive was the relatively new Walters Wellness Center on campus. And at the conclusion of the tour he and his wife were pleased to receive 2 bottles of wine produced by Highland College Staff/students at its vineyards (now fully accredited as classes at Highland). The wine tasted great!
While in Highland, John and Deborah stopped in at the Bank of Highland and met Josh Falk and his nice staff. As in Bendena he also treated them all with hot coffee and donuts. There he heard about some of the fierce competition faced by small town banks as it relates to the mortgage tax issue in comparison to Farm Credit. Next he and his wife also dropped in on Ted Collins, long-time Highland attorney, who had very definitive comments on the state of affairs of our government in Topeka and how the budget deficits have been so detrimental to our state. They also stopped at Ernie’s Bar, The Highland clinic, City Hall, and the convenience store but missed Rockey Ruhnke. Debbie and John also stopped by Two Timbers Ass’t Living home visiting briefly with Pam Twombly. They were very impressed with the facility and the excellent quality of environment for all its residents. He also got to see one of his patients there who is a very happy resident at that facility. And finally they stopped by at Highland Care Center, the local nursing home and met with Dave Henecke and his staff. Dr Eplee heard clearly about how detrimental it has been to Highland’s NH and Wathena’s NH in being so delayed in reimbursements through the MCO (managed Care Orgs) of Medicaid. Many essential services are currently delayed or never provided because of the changes with Medicaid at the state level. A very serious problem.
By then it was Lunch and Dr Eplee and his wife were able to travel over to Troy for a ‘Meet and Greet’ at the Troy clinic which he originally founded. He was greeted by Charlotte Thomas who Dr Eplee originally hired as receptionist 34 years ago! And of course the wonderful staff of Dr Groth now working in the clinic, Diane Holzhey, LPN, and Carrie Jones, MA. At the ‘Meet and Greet’ Dr Eplee and Deborah were able to catch up with old friends from Troy including Jim and Marge Needham (who originally helped Dr Eplee start the clinic in Troy in 1982), Margaret Sutherland (for whom he delivered 4 grandchildren), all the staff of Doniphan County HH, Gary Davies (owner of Davies Oil –who pulled Doc Eplee out of the ditch on more than one occasion when getting stuck making house calls in rural Doniphan county), Robin Johnson (local Troy attn. at Law), Teresa McAnerney (Enterprise Facilitation), and Adrienne Korson (Director of Doniphan County Economic Development). And all of this was coordinated by John Smith local chair of the Republican party who was very helpful. Dr Eplee heard over and over from these and many other Troy residents that they are sick of running budget deficits.
Following this lunch meeting John Smith took Dr Eplee on a blitz through the square at Troy where the clinic was for about 20 years in the old Troy Hotel before relocating to its present location. John Smith and Dr Eplee were able to visit every office in the Court house, and see virtually every business around the square. He got to reminisce with many old patients and friends, several of whom he had delivered children or grandchildren for. He got to see Pam Pickrel of the Doniphan Electric CoOp, Larry at Trojan Graphics, William McQuillan-Attn at law, Joel Euler-Attn at law, and Allen Boeh-Attn at law. In addition he visited Exchange National Bank of Troy and Troy State Bank. He also visited briefly with Kathy Tharman of the KSU Extension office and the Troy Library. He stopped by but missed Dr. Dennis T. Myers.
Following his Troy visit, Dr Eplee then traveled to Wathena briefly to catch up with old friends and a couple of patients at the Wathena Care and Rehab Center. Again he heard all about the horrible delays in Medicaid reimbusements to this facility also and the lack of payment for some essential services.