By Murrel Bland

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran drew loud applause when he said he was encouraging the U.S. Department of Transportation to award a $13 million grant for an interchange at the Turner Diagonal at I-70.

That comment came at a luncheon meeting of the Congressional Forum Friday, May 18 at Children’s Mercy Park. The Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.

Sen. Moran said that his staff had been in touch with the staff of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao so she understands the importance of the diamond interchange. It would allow for as many as 2,000 acres to be developed into an industrial park that would be near the Amazon fulfillment plant where more than 3,000 employees work during the peak holiday season. The proposed park would be generally from 65th Street on the east, 72nd Street on the west, State Avenue on the north and K-32 on the south.

The senator also talked about the new method of awarding grants to levy districts such as the one in Fairfax. He said that federal money will be awarded on a combined basis and should be more efficient if the levies are tied together.

Sen. Moran said that elected members from the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities have called on him in Washington, complaining that excessive regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency have forced the utility to increase rates. He said the current administration is aware of this and is working to resolve surrounding issues.

There has been speculation that the EPA laboratory at the edge of downtown Kansas City, Kansas, may be moved out of the area. Sen. Moran said he talked directly to Scott Pruitt, the EPA director; Pruitt told Sen. Moran that the laboratory will not be moved.

Sen. Moran complimented Cerner for recently winning a $10 billion federal contract to develop a record-keeping system for the Veteran’s Administration. He said taking care of our veterans is a high priority of his and encouraged anyone with a concern about a veteran to contact his office.

Sen. Moran said as he travels around the State of Kansas, the main concern that business owners have is the need for qualified workers. He said that community and technical colleges should provide these workers.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.