Shelby holds meeting in Hayneville
Published 10:09 am Thursday, February 14, 2013
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby held a town hall meeting in Hayneville on Saturday, Feb. 2 where he told his position on pertinent issues and heard local requests for help.
Shelby spoke of the need to deepen the Port of Mobile and dredge the Alabama River and heard requests for help with the South Central Alabama Broadband Commission project and new water well for Hayneville.
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“This country has been historically a rich country and a country of opportunity … but we’ve got some challenges in this country if we don’t watch it,” Shelby said. “The young people of this country are going to have fewer opportunities than we had.”
He acknowledged that the challenges are hard to get ones arms around politically because of division.
“But whether you are a Democrat or Republican, conservative, liberal, libertarian or whatever, I believe that it is very important for us to have a strong economic base,” he said.
“We can’t keep charging,” Shelby said. “I keep saying that. We can’t do it. Yet you’ve got to have a political will and be wise in what you do too.”
Shelby said he did not believe in coming in with a “meat axe” and cutting programs but think thoughtfully about entitlements and Social Security.
He said young people know that if there is not some preparation, they won’t get Social Security because “the math doesn’t work.’
He said the country has a tax system that doesn’t work and that he is for cutting out corporate welfare.
Shelby said the Port of Mobile has a lot of potential if it could be made into a first-class harbor as the Panama Canal is widened.
“But you’ve got to have a deep harbor. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.
While he said it would cost $1 billion to deepen and widen the harbor, it would mean jobs and opportunities.
He also said of the Alabama River, “That river’s been neglected. It needs to be dredged.”
Shelby said he became the top Republican on the appropriations committee, and, “My goal is to try to create opportunities in this state.”
Dr. Aaron McCall brought up the terminated broadband grant, which he said left the citizens “holding the bag.”
He mentioned there is some private funding and asked about reviving federal funding.
“We will help you if we can. You know there is a lot of money being spent on broadband privately and some federal, but in some rural areas it’s missing. And if you miss it, in the future you’re going to be missing out on the technology.”
Hayneville Mayor Kelvin J. Lawrence said the city was trying to implement a third water well “to shore up the water supply.”
He said the city is pumping water from Hayneville about seven miles toward Interstate 65. He told Shelby the cost would be about $800,000.
Shelby said there are not direct appropriations, but there are programs (grants) that might be able to help.
“Let us know immediately what you are doing where we can support it. Don’t call us after they turn you down,” he said.
“You’ve got to have that water not just for drinking, you don’t want to run short, but you’ve got to have the water and sewerage and roads to attract jobs, any kind of industry,” Shelby said.
In answer to other questions, Shelby said, “I’ve never advocated cutting out the food stamp program, but I think that every program we have ought to be run efficiently. It ought to be run for the right reason. And people who qualify… ought to be deemed eligible.”
He said some things could be done to extend Social Security.
He spoke of the need to raising the retirement age for Social Security.
“We’ve got to… we live longer,” he said. He said extending the age up to 66 and 70 over time would save about $1 trillion dollars.