Letter to the Editor

Your view: A busy time

Monday, November 27, 2006

Beginning the day after the election, my feet hit the ground running.

A two-day trip to Jefferson City has been followed by a series of other meetings, tours, and speaking engagements. The Bootheel Regional Planning Commission gathered in Dexter to review achievements of the year and monies that had been secured and disbursed among southeast Missouri communities. I was able to attend this meeting with our outgoing State Representative, Lanie Black. Rep Black has given me some great advice and direction, which has truly been appreciated. He should be thanked by all of us for his many years of service to our district and state.

The Missouri State Troopers Association met with Bootheel state representatives to express their concern over several issues including recruitment, training, and retainment of state troopers. These dedicated state employees are a blessing to each of us, but remember to "wear your seatbelt."

On the afternoon of November 17, a modern, well-equipped health care facility was opened and dedicated to the late 163rd State Representative, Otto Bean, in Kennett, Missouri. This medical site is operated by the SEMO Health Network.

The staff and services offered will be a tremendous boost to health care in the Bootheel area.

Located on the extreme western boundary of the 161st district between Essex and Dexter is an agri-business undertaking by two Dexter men, Harold Williams and Jerry Bagby. These two men are developing a 50 acre site with a bio-diesel production facility and anticipated soybean crushing plant. I was able to meet and tour this wondrous new facility. Expected production is to begin after the first of the year.

It will bring several new jobs to our district, will stimulate growth in farming and transportation, and will effect a number of related industries in a positive economical manner.

These two men have had tremendous vision in helping to build the bio-diesel market for southeast Missouri.

I have been privileged to tour the New Dawn State School in Sikeston. The students and staff are truly special people. The 35 students from a six-

county area that attend school there have varying needs for the severely mentally and/or physically handicapped. Instruction aids include many auditory, visual, mechanical, and physical tools. The well-trained staff considers their jobs as a dedication to student and task.

How fortunate to have people of this nature servicing our special needs children. There has been discussion about as to the future of such schools. I feel that the social conscience of Missourians dictates our complete support of such programs and in the legislature I will fight to protect these programs.

Finally, to date, a visit and discussion with agents of Mississippi and Scott counties at the University of Missouri Extension Centers revealed their functions to be multi-tasked.

From agronomy to youth services to industrial development to crop programs to insect control to whatever . . . the expertise of people staffing these centers is available to the general citizenry at no charge.

This brings me to Thanksgiving. Each of us has much to be thankful for, but many times fail to take the time to acknowledge it. I am thankful for so much... my family and great friends, my health, and this opportunity that I have been giving to represent the 161st district. I begin a four week freshmen legislative orientation next week. I am anxious to accept the change and challenge coming in my life as I represent the people of Missouri's 161st district for the next two years. I pledge to be accessible and to examine and be knowledgeable to as much information as I can absorb. I feel obligated to keep my district informed and do intend to do so. Happy Holidays!

Steve Hodges

State Representative-elect

161st District