PITTSBURG — U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, (R-Kan.), discussed education and infrastructure with attendees at a Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce coffee hosted by Pitsco Tuesday morning.

Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson introduced the senator to the crowd.

“I think he’s well aware of our priorities here — they are transportation and education,” Benson said. “Obviously Pittsburg State University and really education in general, like Pitsco, is very important to our local economy.”

Roberts introduced himself and reminisced about his time in Pittsburg in the past, and praised Pitsco for its educational innovations.

“It is good to be back,” he said. “I’m glad our hosts are talking about this — they are a great innovator in the area.”

Roberts said on his current tour he learned John Deere, had 250 jobs available — yet were not filled because only about 20  people qualified for the jobs after aptitude tests, interview and drug tests.

“What does that say about the worth ethic?” Roberts said. “With pay $16 dollars per hour upwards of $20 — with full benefits.”

Roberts said educational innovations and effort put in by Pitsco and the university help students find a career.

“I am worried about work ethic,” Roberts said. “I am glad our host is addressing that and so happy that this university is too.
“You know when you send your youngster to Pittsburg State there is a 95 percent chance of getting a job and a good job.”

Roberts said as far as infrastructure, a discussion will need to be had to explain to lawmakers that it is not just big cities and urban areas which need changes — he said expanding two-lane highways, such as U.S. Highway 69 into four lanes could be economically helpful.

One of the audience members asked what the hold up was on the infrastructure bill. Roberts said fights over tax reform and health care are continuing to take center stage before infrastructure.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.