Manhattan residents will be able to visit with a Congressional staff member without leaving town starting in 2013.
First District Rep. Tim Huelskamp announced Friday that he is establishing a satellite Congressional office here when he formally begins representing the area on Jan. 3. Manhattan, which has been in the Second Congressional District for decades, was moved into the First District as part of a court-ordered reapportionment plan in June.
The office, whose hours of operation have not yet been determined, will be in Suite 10 of the Commerce Bank building, and will be staffed by Steven Howe. A native of Manhattan now working out of Huelskamp’s office in Salina, Howe is expected to split time between those two locations.
The Congressman acknowledged more than a little lobbying on the part of local officials to open an office here, specifically referencing Mayor Loren Pepperd, one of several city officials in attendance at the airport announcement. “The mayor twisted my arm, and almost broke it three times,” Huelskamp kidded Pepperd. Local officials have noted that when it joins the district, Manhattan will do so as its largest city.
He said he would continue to have offices in Garden City, Hutchinson and Salina.
Neither Huelskamp nor local officials were sure whether the office will be a first for Manhattan, but they were sure it is at least a first for a long time. Other long-time political observers with experiences dating back a half century said there had been no Congressional office here for at least that long, if ever.
Huelskamp also visited Friday with city manager Ron Fehr and airport manager Peter VanKuren on plans for future development of the airport, and later acknowledged the growth in emplanements here. That number is up from about 5,000 a few years ago to an estimated 60,000 by the end of this year. He described himself as “a stickler on spending,” but also promised the Manhattan community that “I’ll take care of you.”