Officials leave today to attend  ‘Hopkins County Day’ in Austin

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Mar. 19, 2007 - A Hopkins County delegation consisting of 15-20 elected officials and community leaders left today to prepare for Tuesday’s “Hopkins County Day” in Austin, a time when local officials and dignitaries will meet with state elected and agency officials to learn more about, and relay local needs and concerns about topics of interest to Hopkins County.

The delegation was to include Sulphur Springs Mayor Freddie Taylor, County Judge Cletis Millsap, Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton, Paris Jr. College President Dr. Pam Anglin, county commissioners, Sulphur Springs Hopkins County Economic Development board members, Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Michael McAndrew, Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce President Bill Elliott and several others.

The group is slated to leave early this afternoon in time to host a meet-and-greet reception at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Doubletree Guest Suites Austin Hotel for elected officials to become better acquainted and speak one-on-one with them. Among those invited were Rep. Mark Homer, Sen. Bob Deuell, Sen. Kevin Eltife, Rep. Dan Flynn, Commissioner Susan Combs, Commissioner Todd Staples, three Workforce commissioners, and the governor and staff. Rep. Mark Homer and Sen. Bob Deuell will be presented with music boxes which resemble the historic Hopkins County Courthouse for their past efforts for Hopkins County, according to Millsap.

The two-day session in the state capitol was orchestrated by Sulphur Springs/Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Executive Vice President Roger Feagley and the EDC board who raised the funds for the trip. Local dignitaries will network with legislators and agency officials, learn more about and relay local concerns regarding proposed legislation on such issues  as education, state parks, small business development, air and railroads and other legislation which would affect Hopkins County while attending sessions at Texas State Capitol Tuesday. 

The Hopkins County group will attend sessions hosted by the Association of Texas Professional Educators, Governors Office Economic Development, Texas Department of Transportation Air and Rail group, the executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and a small business development professionals held at the capital.

Legislators are to recognize Hopkins County and members of its delegation during its legislative session.

This marks the second week Millsap met with out-of-town legislators. Last week, from March 11-14, Millsap attended the National Association of Development Organizations Annual Training Conference in Washington, D.C. The NADO conference is billed as the “premier forum for county leaders, council of government board members, professional staff and partners of the nation’s regional development organizations.”

�This year�s conference offered sessions on transportation issues, the Farm bill and rural development as well as economic and community development programs such as EDA, CDBG and USDA Rural Development. Hopkins County has scored high on the list of grant funds s for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for rural community water projects.... Other Hopkins County communities projects also have been funded by USDA Rural Development and federal Economic Development Administration, that is EDA,� said Millsap, who serves as representative for the southwest region of NADO, and one of the representatives on Ark-Tex Regional Review Commission which awards grants.

�If there�s money out there, I want Hopkins County to get its share of it,� the county judge added.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters provided insights into  priorities for federal aviation, highway and transit programs in the new Congress. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Conner provided an analysis of the administation’s recently released 2007 Farm Bill proposal and its impact on rural development programs. North Carolina Rep. Washington Post columnist Jeff Birnbaum talked about “the 2007 political landscape, including changes in federal lobbying rules, tax and spend priorities, and other domestic issues.” Stanley Collender of Qorvis Communications, considered an expert on federal budget procedures and monetary policies, and Mike McIntyre, chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Special Crops, Rural Development and Foreign Agriculture were also featured at the Washington Policy Conference.

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