Category Archives: Commentary/Polls

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The time you get out of bed question







What time do you normally wake up in the morning?

  • Early morning: 5 to 7 a.m. (54%, 168 Votes)
  • Very early: 3 to 5 a.m. (18%, 57 Votes)
  • Mornings: 7 to 8 a.m. (14%, 42 Votes)
  • Late morning 8 a.m. to noon. (9%, 29 Votes)
  • I work the night shift and wake up during the day. (3%, 8 Votes)
  • What are you talking about? I'm still asleep. (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 311

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Sunday blog: What does the future behold for our graduates? We don’t really know

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — I have had the privilege of being a math teacher at Wellington High School since 2011 and have taught students across the curriculum from Algebra 1 to Calculus.  Two years ago, I retired from the District and was accepted by Cowley College to teach College Algebra and College Statistics as an Adjunct Lecturer — based at Wellington High School.

Robert Escandon

This is a reduced workload since I teach only a few periods a day to (mostly) seniors.  So, at age 68, I am semiretired.  Having said that, I discovered there are now nearly 50 students already signed up for College Algebra (for the Fall semester) and around 44 signed up for College Statistics (for the Spring semester).  These are numbers we have not seen before —- so it looks like I will still be busy in my semi-retirement!

It seems like yesterday when I too was 18 and full of anticipation for my impending adult life.  Older men gave me their advice which, being young, I accepted selectively!  Now life has reversed and I am the “old-guy” looking at our young men and women about to embark on their own adventures in life.  Interestingly, I am now irresistibly drawn to providing advice, just like the “old-guys” of my youth were presumably drawn to sharing their life’s experiences with me!

I have been very lucky in my life to have experienced more than I could possibly have imagined when I was young.  Not all of those experiences were good and some were very bad, but they were, nonetheless, experiences to live through and to be modified by them.   Here’s my life, in bullet-points:

Letter to the editor: Two visions for SRMC

Commentary by Larry Hooker, Wellington, Kansas — This an open letter to the leaders and the great citizens of Wellington and Sumner County:

My name is Larry Hooker.  I was the Controller at Sumner Regional Medical Center for the past 19 months. I want to share with each of you some of my thoughts, and feelings, about the opportunities that lie ahead for SRMC.

Basically there are two visions we, as a community, could have for SRMC.

First, there is the one that has been circulating as a rumor … “SRMC is going to close” and approximately 120 people would lose their livelihoods.

Second, there is the one that the City of Wellington HCA Board and the current Senior Leadership team and all the other great SRMC associates believe in, and that is, “our greatest days are ahead.”  But this great team needs your help, every one of you can help SRMC succeed and have its best days ever.  That is the purpose of my letter … I want to enlist your support for the second vision: A great future for SRMC.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The gun shop question

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow —  We received an e-mail from a Wellington resident who said he is working for an entrepreneur. He was wanting to do some market research using our marketing data.

He states:

“I was working for him and he has really made me see how great it is to start a business from the ground up. I have been doing some research on opening a gun shop in Wellington and am currently doing some market research. It appears the closest shop would be in Winfield so this could be good for Sumner County. I am still a minimum of a year out on this and before I go through the very long and in depth process, I was hoping you could put a poll up to gauge interest on your site. Just a simple would you patronize a local gun shop or something simple like that.” 

Here you go…

Would you personally support a gun shop in Sumner County?

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Sunday blog: Why are conspiracy theories so popular?

The Lockness Monster created a stir that will not die.

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — Since President Trump started running for the White House, a new expression has come to the fore, and that expression is “Fake News.”  I think we all agree that even a particular slant or style of wording can generate fake perceptions —- I devoted an article to that very fact a few weeks back.

Robert Escandon

However, we are often willing participants in the whole fake-news deal.  Conspiracy theories are a version of fake news, as is belief in things for which evidence is weak at best, or non-existent, at worst.  I’ve wondered for a few years why we actually relish news that is borderline or even imaginary.

Take that favorite journal The National Enquirer.  Every week it haunts the checkout shelves at the supermarket announcing some gory news (often about a celebrity who is dying) or some useless bits of tittle-tattle.  Probably the “news” is sourced secondhand from some minor world-news source as if it is credible and then regurgitated as fact.

Some years ago, the editors excelled themselves.  There on the front cover, was a grainy black and white photo of a B52 bomber surrounded by gray rocks.  The headline read “B52 Bomber Found on far Side of the Moon!  Next week, the same picture was displayed, except the B52 wasn’t there anymore!

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The air conditioner question







So have you caved and already turned on the air conditioner this season?

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Sunday blog: Peace in a Crowded World

Commentary and poetry by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — A few years ago I found myself on an early morning drive in Western Kansas near the Colorado State Line.  My route took me along a four-lane highway that stretched to the horizon behind and in front of me and carried no traffic at that early hour. 

Robert Escandon

There were no houses to be seen, in any direction, just an endless expanse of wheat fields and a colossal blue sky.  I was alone and had this immensity of space all to myself.  For someone who lived most of his life in crowded Britain, the scenery was inspiring.

  After driving an hour or so, a bridge appeared spanning a small river.  It was one of these flat concrete deals with a three foot parapet (bridge barrier) on either side.  I was early for my intended appointment so had time to kill.  This being so — and 200 yards further down the highway — I stopped and decided to reverse the car (yes, reverse 200 yards on a four lane highway) and look over the bridge at the river below. 

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The school choice voucher question







Do you support issuing vouchers for school choice?

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Sunday blog: The trouble with flying the Confederate Flag in Wellington (updated Monday)

Editor’s note: According to USD 353 school officials, there were no Confederate Flags being flown in the Wellington High School parking lot Monday morning.


Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — It would be the height of all hypocrisy for me to try to take away someone’s First Amendment rights when I have spent a career promoting its value. But of all the things in the world for which to take a stand, flying a Confederate Flag around town is a rather lousy one to make.

Tracy “Cueball” McCue

I have noticed lately some people are flying Confederate flags in the back of their pickups around Wellington. At least two of them are WHS students, and their Confederate flags were in the parking lot along with a McDonald’s Restaurant flag.

I’m not sure what the reason is for the McDonald’s flag, but I’m all for it. I support the rights of all hamburgers to be consumed and chicken nuggets to be processed, deeply fried, and bundled in packages of great number like 20, 40, or even 151.

The modern day Confederate Flag? Not so much.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The Saturday night question







What's your idea of a great Saturday night?

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Sunday blog: The psychology of challenging our mindset

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — Since I started writing columns for Newscow, I have been amazed by some of the reader-responses.  Whereas, I expected disagreement with some of my thoughts, I have been truly surprised by the vehemence of some responses.  It’s not that some responses have been rude, (I have enough self-confidence to handle that) it’s that they are actually “angry” at some of the views or thoughts I might have expressed.

Robert Escandon

The whole point of our press is that it is free to express opinions.  Okay, some of my views will not be shared by everyone (no surprise there).  On occasions, when a responder is expressing very strong levels of emotion, I have suggested they write their own counter-article and offer it to Newscow — unless Tracy is hiding things from me (which I doubt) then no reader has yet taken up that offer.

Some have advised that I “take my leftist views with me and get the hell outta Dodge.” Interestingly, I have always thought of myself as a centrist and am generally wary of political views which are towards the extremes (left or right).  Having lived for 68 years, I see that most problems exist in gray areas, where, at least some, compromise may be sought.  There can be no compromises with extreme points of view.

So, I have been trying to rationalize why some readers might get angry with my written words as opposed to simply offering points of disagreement.  After all, I am not angry when writing a column. I am simply offering some thoughts and opinions for my words to convey.  I happen to like writing and find it quite therapeutic — kind of “clears my brain” of thoughts that roll around inside my head. 

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The automated trash system question







From what you read so far, would you like the city of Wellington to switch to an automated trash service?

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Sunday blog: In today’s corporate world, the ideal number of employees are no employees at all

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow — There is no question that the application of robotics and artificial intelligence continues to accelerate.  There are few areas of commerce and industry where one or both cannot be used to great advantage.  Robots are excellent for precision rote tasks. 

Robert Escandon

They don’t get tired or ill and carry no overhead except depreciation.  Their precision of operation doesn’t drift due to fatigue or boredom so the product output maintains a set level of accuracy that fits within boundaries set by quality control management.

Many repetitive manufacturing tasks were the province of workers “on-the-line.”  My mother was one of those many thousands of — mostly women — who worked in factories.  I asked her once if the work was sole-destroying in its repetition? 

To my surprise she said “No, because it carried no stress.” She knew exactly what was expected of her and it gave her a wage she could add to my father’s earnings to help keep the family afloat.  The factories provided a nice restaurant for lunch, and evening meals for those on a later shift.  Music was piped in from the local radio stations and there was a feeling of team spirit among the employees.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The post-election 4th District Congressional race question







Estes won the open 4th District seat Tuesday. How did you vote? (Only vote if you live in Sumner County)

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Sunday blog: Hoffman/Alley failed to listen to the pleas of their hospitals

While Hoffman/Alley seem to be married to Brownback’s policies, the survival of institutions like Sumner Regional Medical Center remain in doubt. (Click on photo for larger version)

Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Kansas House of Representatives failure to override Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of the expansion of Medicaid is a slap in the face to the Kansas rural healthcare industry and the patients within.

Tracy “Cueball” McCue

What makes it worse, State Representative Kyle Hoffman (R- Coldwater), who represents the western half of Wellington and northwest Sumner County and thousands of patients who patronize Sumner Regional Medical Center and Sumner County Hospital in Caldwell, voted against the override.

There is little doubt, judging from his negative vote during the initial passage of the bill, State Senator Larry Alley would have followed Hoffman’s lead, had the override vote gotten to the Senate.

Not by coincidence, SRMC board announced it will be laying off employees just three days later.

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The check your e-mail question







How many times do you check your e-mail?

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Guest editorial: KanCare expansion will help the state budget

The following is a guest editorial written by Dave Kerr, a former state senate President and Sheldon Weisgrau, Director of Health Reform Resource Project.

It’s not often that a legislative body has an opportunity to make good policy, provide needed services to tens of thousands of state residents, and positively impact the state budget.  But that is exactly the opportunity the Kansas Legislature now has before it.

Governor Brownback recently vetoed a bill to expand KanCare, the Kansas Medicaid program.  By overriding this veto, the Legislature can make health coverage available to more than 150,000 low-income Kansans and bring more than $70 million to the state budget, helping to fill a budget deficit that has plagued the state for the past several years.

In his veto message, the governor pointed out the cost of expanding KanCare.  Services to newly covered beneficiaries will total about $81 million in state fiscal year (FY) 2019, the first full year of the expansion. 

Letter to the editor: What people across the Pond think of Trump

Editor’s note — The following is a letter to the editor written by Helen Murray, the daughter of Sumner Newscow columnist Robert Escandon.

To the editor: Here is a perspective from across the pond.

My father, Robert Escandon, recently wrote a column expressing his views on both Clinton and Trump and discussed the possibility that Trump was displaying the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Having carefully read through the replies and comments to the post it appears he has garnered some strong opinions, especially from the Pro-Trump faction who have accused him of a rather left wing bias.

One local commenter on the post asked the question “I wonder what outsiders thought of our two presidential candidates?”

As an “outsider” I thought I would answer this, if I may?

Sumner Newscow weekly poll: The Global Warming question







Do you worry about global warming?

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Sunday blog: How words can change the meaning of the truth

Commentary by Robert Escandon, Sumner Newscow —  We live in an age when we are drowning in data.  Increasingly, that data might find itself woven into clever terminology which deliberately, or accidentally, causes us to arrive at false conclusions.  Most of us like to think that we are rational, logical people, whereas much of our perceptions of the world, and our fellow human beings, are due to preferences of interpretation.

Robert Escandon

We all need to be alert to the ever-present pitfalls and trip-ups that confound clear thinking and clear analysis of our thought processes.  In an increasingly complex and linked world, information,  we absorb and give-out, should not be loose in tone.  Expressions like’  “I think that ……” or “My opinion on the matter is ……..” should not be voiced without some analysis of why you hold a view or why you have sound evidence to support your opinion.

A few trivial examples maybe useful as illustrations.

In his 2016 address to the nation, President Obama said “The rate of unemployment is slowing.”  That has to be a good thing, does it not?  What was your take-away from that short sentence?

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