Plenty of local men will spend Valentine’s Day being dragged by their wives to events like the one tonight at the Safari Museum, which has permission from the city to serve wine for the evening. Apparently, it will also be legal to drink alcoholic beverages in the museum’s parking lot, since Chanute officials revealed at a recent meeting that the space outside the Safari Museum could not be exempted from the special alcohol permit issued for this event. Since I don’t really feel like paying admission fees for the actual event, I am going to ask my lovely girlfriend to join me for some quality Valentine’s night parking-lot drinking. I am sure she’ll be impressed by this lofty romantic gesture.

City Commissioners aren’t the only group of area politicians who have recently provided politically astute and starved-for-entertainment area residents like me with unintentional amusement. Local funny bones have also been tickled by a discussion at a recent County Commission meeting about blood draws that employees underwent to try to save some money off the deductibles of the county’s insurance plan that no one seems to actually like.

The Health Department director requested that some money be provided from the general fund be to treat the employees who participated in this blood draw to juice and a pancake breakfast afterwards, before they returned to work. Commissioner Nicholas Galemore, a generally smart man who has a day job working in the health care industry, made the baffling suggestion that the Health Department should instead serve county employees biscuits and gravy. As much fun as I am sure it is to publicly advocate that the county’s Health Department should provide the most unhealthy breakfast item possible, a sitting Commissioner whose job it is to regularly issue health advice probably shouldn’t try to make such a suggestion with a straight face.

Not all Commissioners were on board this biscuits-and-gravy train at the meeting, as David Bideau advised that this perhaps wasn’t the wisest breakfast item for the health department to promote. Fortunately for the future of the local healthcare industry, Bideau was outvoted on this matter and county employees were able to recover from their recent blood draws with a Health Department-provided biscuit and gravy breakfast. I only hope those who served this unhealthy meal had the good sense and decency to call it the “Nicholas Galemore Special.”

Galemore explained that he was only trying to think of way to attract more employees to participate in the blood draw by offering them a breakfast that they will enjoy. I agree with him that people are generally attracted to things that might not be very good for them, but I don’t know that such psychological phenomena should be promoted by any entity calling itself the “Health” Department. Publicly endorsing unhealthy lifestyle decisions should be left entirely to the local newspaper columnist.

Still, if the county was desperate enough to attract people to its blood draw that it was willing to ignore their long-term health to do so, there are plenty of people in stressful positions within the county who enjoy smoking. These individuals would surely have been lured to a blood draw with the promise of county-provided cigarettes. There are avid drinkers working for the county who would have gladly stumbled into the health department blood draw upon the promise of free booze. As an added bonus, Governor Sam Brownback would have been very happy that the county’s purchase of these fine items helped him achieve his goal of balancing the budget.

County-provided cigarettes and alcohol wouldn’t have been any more threatening to the health of employees than the ill effects of promoting a biscuits and gravy diet, especially since the First Lady keeps telling us that obesity is our biggest health epidemic.

Instead of all this, maybe next year’s employee blood draw could promote good health. That might actually save the county a little bit more insurance money. It might be wise to just pass participants fruit and a cup of juice to nourish county employees and at least give the appearance that Commissioners actually care about their health. As things stand now, plenty of those who work for the county will likely read about decisions made by one of their biscuits-and-gravy slinging Commissioners, and feel the strong urge to go to some high-class locale like a museum parking lot for a strong and soothing drink.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, Valentine’s Day gifts, and biscuits and gravy recipes to brian@chanute.com.

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