Meetings deemed success
Back in January of this year, I made a pledge to the residents of south Alabama that I would hold a total of sixty town hall meetings throughout the First District over the course of the next twelve months.
It was certainly an ambitious goal. To have sixty town meetings in all six counties would require a great deal of planning and coordination, particularly in towns that may never have had a member of Congress pass through, let alone stop for a visit.
However, the goal was met.
Last week, my staff and I completed sixty town meetings for the year with visits in every county of the First District. We visited cities as large as Mobile and towns as small as Pollard and Riverview. The welcome we received in each of them was tremendous, and those who attended came armed with challenging questions and positive comments.
At the outset, let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to come and visit with members of my staff and me during not only these most recent meetings, but also at my town hall meetings throughout the year.
The success of this type of gathering depends just as much on the questions and input of the constituents as it does on the news and information I provide. As such, I can say the meetings this year were an unqualified success.
Questions and comments
The questions posed during the three days of meetings last week were varied and diverse. They all shared a common factor, however, in that each reflected a great interest in the events taking place in our nation's capital and how they would impact the families of south Alabama.
Not surprisingly, I received a great many questions and comments regarding the recently-passed H.R. 1, the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003. Those who attended the meetings in Magnolia Springs, Chickasaw, Summerdale, and Vredenburgh were very interested in discussing the specifics of this legislation and how they would be affected by the new provisions.
I was also pleased to hear so many positive comments about the passage of this measure by the House and Senate and praise for the work my colleagues and I have done to get this important bill to the president for his signature.
A good crowd at Washington County's Saint Stephens historic park raised the issue of the recent cutbacks by the state government and what outside funding sources would be available to assist with the operation of the site. Saint Stephens, for those who may not know, was the site of Alabama's first territorial capital and has been developed into a first-rate historic park dedicated to preserving the heritage of one of the great periods in our state's history.
In Fruitdale, several citizens addressed the need to four-lane Highway 45 to Mississippi. This major thoroughfare, linking Washington County with our neighbors to the west, is used by many private and commercial vehicles each day and could potentially become a major component of the county's infrastructure.
For an area that currently has the highest unemployment rate in the state, any step that could draw new industry and jobs to the area would be a positive one indeed.
The residents of the Trinity Gardens area of Mobile took time to address various community needs and road improvement projects on the horizon. They also took time to provide an update on the tremendous progress they have made in recent months in the development of a new community library, a program that is sure to lead to great benefit for that area for many years to come.
Again, I want to thank everyone who came out to these and the 45 other meetings held previously this year.
I am extremely grateful that so many of you came to one -- and in some cases, several -- of the town hall gatherings and shared your opinions and ideas on many of the problems and issues facing our district, our state, and our country.
There was a great deal of optimism in every city and town I visited this past week. Whether it was the progress we've made with the Medicare prescription drug benefit, or the advances in the war on terrorism, or even the positive economic indicators we are seeing nationally, I sense that people overall are feeling better about the state of affairs in America today.
There have been many important events which have taken place this year, all of which have in some way set the stage for further progress in the time ahead.
I hope everyone looks forward with great optimism and anticipation for the great things still in store for south Alabama. And, as always, your suggestions, opinions, and concerns are always welcome.
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