Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Announcement

Someone called me last week and said they heard I wasn't going to run for re-election. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I want to put that rumor to rest. I' ll be making my formal announcement in a few days. There isn't any particular reason whyI haven't announced, other than I believe the process starts too early. If someone decides they want to run against me, then I doubt my announcing weeks ago would hold anyone off. I want to say that I am honored to be one of Arkansas's 100 State Representatives, and I am proud of the many accomplishments of the 86th general assembly. The 2009 session is just around the corner, and I want to continue learning and working as a state legislator. So I look forward to all the upcoming fire department fund-raisers, and everything else involved with the campaign season. I just think most folks don't want to fool with it before the time is right.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Emergency Funds

I will be at the Capitol on Tuesday, along with Mayor Bobby Steed of Blevins , to accept $9,000.00 in emergency funding from the Governor's office. The money will be used to replace that City's main water well pump that went out over the Christmas holidays. Blevins has been operating on a back-up system since then, and Governor Beebe has agreed to release that amount to the City. We appreciate the Governor and his staff recognizing the needs that many of our small towns have in their day to day operations. This money will allow Blevins to turn-key the project and have everything up and running shortly.

An Apology

Last July, on this blog, I described my trip to the Powder River Basin and touring the coal mines of that region. I also pointed out that the trip had been sponsored by the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives. I'm glad I made the trip and it provided me with a good bit of information on coal extraction and how each company reclaims the mined land. Unfortunately, the topic came up again this week when an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter called and asked why I didn't show the trip on my annual Statement of Financial Interest. Simply put, I didn't realize I was supposed to include it. I immediately filed an amended report on February 14th, showing this as a gift on my statement. An article in Sunday's paper points out my mistake , along with several other legislators who apparently made the same error. I am personally embarrassed because I should have realized this needed to be on the original report that was due on January 31st. Although my July blog report and a subsequent statement during a civic club speech should show I didn't intend to deceive anyone about the trip, it is a mistake I shoudn't have made; and I apologize for that.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Million Dollars

The 2:00 news conference at UACCH was a big announcement as expected. But I'm not sure anyone in the overflow crowd expected the one million dollars AEP- SWEPCO endowed to our local college. The money will be earmarked for scholarships that will train local students in the specialized skills needed for employment at the proposed Turk Power Plant. It puts to rest one of the theories by the intervenors, and those against the plant, that SWEPCO had no intention of hiring locally to fill out their work force. This is a big step to help home grown people learn skills for high end jobs, that ultimately makes Southwest Arkansas a better place to live and raise a family. It's been said here and many other places----AEP-SWEPCO has been, and will continue to be, an outstanding community partner for years to come.

UACCH Announcement

Congressman Mike Ross and University of Arkansas President, Dr. Alan Sugg, will be at UACCH today at 2:00 to accept a major endowment from AEP-SWEPCO. Even though the amount has not been made public, I am assured this donation to our college will be of historic proportion. I'll be there with many other local's to see exactly how historic this will be.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tragedy In Our State

The deadly weather that ripped through our state and much of the South last night has created a tremendous hardship to thousands of Arkansans. We were extremely fortunate in Southwest Arkansas to have missed the brunt of this storm. The Governor toured the damaged areas this morning and mobilized National Guard troops to help in the recovery. Destruction of this magnitude probably reminds all of us of the catastrophic tornado that devastated Arkadelphia just more than a decade ago. Killer storms are a fact of life in Arkansas and sometimes even the best preparation is not enough to stave off nature's wrath. Many of us have friends and family affected by this tragedy, and hopefully, the federal government acts quickly to provide assistance. I know that our State Department of Emergency Management has been on site since last night. I promise to provide any help that may be required legislatively and personally. I know a multitude of prayers will help the thousands of our neighbors in distress; and we can continue providing for their needs by opening our hearts and even our checkbooks during this difficult time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday Doings

I had a nice visit with Congressman Mike Ross this morning in Prescott. He and wife, Holly, along with several staff members, hosted a community coffee at the Nevada County Library. I appreciate his willingness to always help me out and he has done so many times. I will be with him on Saturday morning as we attend a fund-raiser for the Yerger museum, and again on Monday, for a special announcement at UACCH. He is an extraordinarily busy man, but really keeps a finger on the pulse of the communities he serves.

It was a treat to have lunch at the Catholic church here in Hope today, as they hosted their 50th annual spaghetti luncheon and supper. My good friend, Mary Massanelli, is the matriarch of this fund-raiser and she was on hand today, serving up smiles and her homemade spaghetti recipe. Good food and great fellowship always makes this a go to event.

I did make my way to the polls this morning and as always, enjoyed my visit with the poll workers at the Rocky Mound Baptist church. The process had you take a blue card for a Democratic ballot, red for Republican and green for the Green party ticket. I chose the blue card but I noticed the people in front chose red in order to vote in the Republican primary. That's no big deal to me, but I know these same folks will vote in the Democratic primary come May. Here's the question and I don't think it can be answered for sure. Do those people that cross over simply want to vote for McCain, Romney or Huckabee, or do they just not want to vote for Clinton or Obama? I suspect there may be a fair number wanting to vote for Huckabee. Arkansans are notorious for separating their local and national politicians, but I'm curious to see how Southwest Arkansas Democrats ultimately go in the Presidential race.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Vote On Tuesday

I'll be at the Rocky Mound Baptist Church at 8:00 on Tuesday morning to cast my vote in the Presidential primary. The little rural church outside of Hope provides a perfect setting to make my decision, and reminds me of days gone by; when Momma and Daddy would load all of us up so they could go and vote at the courthouse in Old Washington. I was 6 years old when my parents cast their ballots for John F. Kennedy to be their next President. It seems like a long time ago, but I remember it really seemed important to them back then, and it means a lot to me now.

Great Game!

What a Super Bowl. More often than not, the game is overshadowed by wardrobe malfunctions, crazy commercials, and just downright over-hype. This years halftime was tame enough, the commercials were boring and the hype was justified. The Manning escape and subsequent David Tyree helmet catch, will go down as Super Bowl history. And how many really thought the Giants had a prayer of scoring a TD when they went down 14-10 with 2:45 left? Not many I'll bet. But the 12 point underdogs wouldn't be denied and the result was one of the two or three greatest Super Bowls of all time. That's in my personal rankings of course, since I've seen them all. What's next, an exciting NBA finals? Nah. It hasn't been any fun since Bird and Magic left.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

Here's a question for you. Do they still teach kids roman numerals? If they do, then most of the young whippersnappers will know this is the 42nd Super Bowl. If they don't, then those same whippersnappers will have to come to me, or a reasonable facsimile, to know what the archaic lettering means. They may be able to program a VCR, (which is obsolete anyway) and listen to music on any of those new fangled i-pods and mp3's, but thanks to my grade school teachers, I know the secrets of roman numerals, and I ain't telling any of them.

I know they don't care which Super Bowl this is, so I doubt my information is very valuable. Oh well. Now to the predicting. Expect a close game. Here's why. New England has created this perfect season not so much with superior talent, as with superior execution and a minimum of mistakes. As a result, it has led to record setting performances by Brady and Moss and brought them to the brink of history that only the 72 Dolphins can relate. The Patriots will perform well because they have to win this game to become a part of NFL lore. Having said all that, I believe the game will be close for many reasons. Number 1 is simply as you look back over the previous 3 Patriot Super Bowl wins, they did so by the skin of their teeth. Remember the Rams, Eagles and Panthers. Each game came down to the final minutes and both the Panthers and Eagles were big underdogs. Secondly, the Giants have used much the same recipe as the Patriots by limiting turn-overs and playing good defense. Eli has not turned the ball over in the play-offs and if that happens today then we'll see a good game. So what's the score?

The Patriots complete their historic 19-0 season and squeak by the Giants 30-24. Kevin Faulk, the superb 3rd down back, will walk away with the MVP, and Tom Brady walks away with a fourth ring and a supermodel girlfriend. Now I gotta go, because the most important part of Super Bowl Sunday is here---the Super pre-game meal.