May 19, 2020 9:29 PM

Gov. names Manhattan man to Economic Recovery Task Force

Posted May 19, 2020 9:29 PM
Governor Laura Kelly made the anoucement during a Tuesday news conference 
Governor Laura Kelly made the anoucement during a Tuesday news conference 

TOPEKA —As part of her commitment to rebuilding Kansas and the economy, Governor Laura Kelly today announced the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce to lead the state’s economic recovery. The taskforce is charged with leading Kansas forward in recovery from the far-reaching effects of COVID-19, according to a media release from her office.

The Recovery Office team will be responsible for the statewide distribution of significant CARES Act funding. A five-member executive committee will oversee the process, and the office will have a steering committee with an additional 15 members who will form three subcommittees. The three subcommittees will focus on communication and engagement, finance and policy development and implementation and accountability.  

“The state’s recovery effort must serve urban and rural areas alike across the state, and all sectors of the economy,” Kelly said. “I am grateful that our team membership reflects these ideals, and I want to thank these leaders for their willingness to serve in such challenged times.  

“The health and economic challenges COVID-19 inflicted on our state truly are unprecedented – and we must use our collective talents to develop strategies to not only regain what we lost, but build a better, more inclusive and resilient economy.”  

Earlier this month, Governor Kelly announced she had selected Cheryl Harrison-Lee as the Recovery Office’s executive director and Lyle Butler as the chair. Harrison-Lee has more than 30 years of experience in strategic leadership positions in a variety of corporate, entrepreneurial, private and public environments, and Butler has years of experience working with the business community and economic development as the President and CEO of several local Chambers of Commerce, most recently retiring from the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.  

“Cheryl and Lyle understand the needs of local communities in Kansas,” Governor Kelly said. “Their experience and dedication will be paramount during our state’s recovery effort and in the statewide distribution of CARES Act funding.”  

“I look forward to working with these committees on a process that ensures transparency, equity and accountability, while leading Kansas’ recovery efforts from this challenging period in the world,” Executive Director Harrison-Lee said. 

Other members of the SPARK Taskforce, appointed by the governor, include representatives of the business community, economic development and the Kansas Legislature. These taskforce members are:  

Executive Committee  

·         Tom Bell, President and CEO, Kansas Hospital Association, Topeka, Kansas; 

·         Lyle Butler, President and CEO, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce (retired), Manhattan, Kansas;  

·         Senator Jim Denning, Vice President, Discover Vision Centers, Overland Park, Kansas; 

·         Jill Docking, Senior Vice President, The Docking Group – Baird Financial, Wichita, Kansas;  

·         Alise MartinyBusiness Manager, Greater KC Building and Trades Council, Shawnee, Kansas.  

Steering Committee  

·         Natalie Haag, Attorney, Capitol Federal Savings, Topeka, Kansas; 

·         David Harwood, Senior Vice President, Terracon Consultants & Chair, KANSASWorks State Board, Olathe, Kansas; 

·         Senator Tom Hawk, Ranking Minority Member, Senate Ways and Means Committee, Manhattan, Kansas;  

·         Representative Dan Hawkins, House Majority Leader, Wichita, Kansas; 

·         Edward Honesty, Jr., President & Chief Operating Officer, Best Harvest Bakeries, Kansas City, Kansas;      

·         Chuck Mageral, Proprietor, Free State Brewing Company, Lawrence, Kansas;   

·         David McCarty, Owner, McCarty Family Farms, Colby, Kansas; 

·         Senator Carolyn McGinn, Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee, Sedgwick, Kansas;  

·         Shelia Nelson-Stout, President and CEO, OCCK, Inc., Salina, Kansas; 

·         Neelima Parasker, President & CEO, SnapIT Solutions, Overland Park, Kansas; 

·         Jim Robinson, Partner, Hite Fanning & Honeyman, Wichita, Kansas; 

·         Secretary David Toland, Department of Commerce, Topeka, Kansas; 

·         Representative Troy Waymaster, Chair, House Appropriations Committee, Bunker Hill, Kansas;  

·         Representative Kathy Wolfe-Moore, Ranking Minority Member, House Appropriations Committee, Kansas City, Kansas. 

The final member of the taskforce will be a representative of the aviation industry and will be announced at a future date. Over the coming days and weeks, information on the Recovery Office and the SPARK Taskforce can be found at  

Continue Reading Little Apple Post
May 19, 2020 9:29 PM
Operation Kansas Strong flyover honored those on the front lines
KC-135 Stratotanker flying over Lawrence -photo courtesy Douglas County Emergency Management 

MANHATTAN —The Kansas Air National Guard's 190th Air Refueling Wing completed Operation Kansas Strong flyover across four Kansas cities to salute healthcare workers, first responders and other front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon.

The flyovers began at 1 p.m. in Emporia, followed by Manhattan, Topeka and Lawrence. 

Col. Lee Norman, state surgeon for the Kansas Army National Guard flew on the refueling tanker along with leaders from the Kansas National Guard. In addition to serving in the Kansas Army National Guard, Norman is secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. During the flyovers, Norman will be in contact with an individual from a hospital in each of the cities via radio.

As part of Operation America Strong to honor the health care workers, a KC-135 Stratotanker flew over 17 key locations, including hospitals and police departments.

"The 190th Air Refueling Wing salutes each Kansas citizen serving on the front lines during the fight against COVID-19," said Col. Dan Skoda, 190th Air Refueling Wing commander. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to show our gratitude and solidarity on behalf of all of the Airmen and Soldiers of the Kansas National Guard and the members of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management to the thousands of Kansas heroes who are working tirelessly to battle COVID-19."

Kansas National Guardsmen were on-site at one location in each city to support medical personnel, first responders and emergency management personnel.


The arrival times were subject to change based on weather, air traffic and airspace requirements.

1 p.m. - Emporia Police Department

1 p.m. - Newman Regional Health Hospital

1 p.m. - Downtown Emporia


1:13 p.m. - Riley County Police Department

1:13 p.m. - Manhattan Surgical Hospital

1:13 p.m. - Manhattan Vet Center

1:13 p.m. - Ascension Via Christi Hospital

1:15 p.m. - Downtown Manhattan


1:26 p.m. - Stormont Vail Hospital

1:26 p.m. - St. Francis Campus

1:26 p.m. - State Capitol Building

1:28 p.m. - Topeka Veteran Affairs Hospital

1:29 p.m. - Topeka Police Department


1:34 p.m. - Lawrence Memorial Hospital

1:34 p.m. - Lawrence Police Department

1:34 p.m. - Downtown Lawrence

1:37 p.m. - Lawrence VA Hospital

The Operation Kansas Strong flyover is incorporated into previously scheduled training missions and will come at no additional cost to taxpayers while serving as vital training for aircrews.