HALEYVILLE - Winston County’s state legislators will be visiting Haleyville Middle School for a meet and greet Thursday, Jan. 23, answering questions, many of which will be submitted in advance of the meeting through a new format this year.
The Winston County delegation of state legislators scheduled to attend include Senators Greg Reed and Garlan Gudger, as well as Representatives Tracy Estes, Proncey Robertson and Tim Wadsworth.
The forum, which is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the cafetorium, will open with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance ledy by Haleyville Junior Civitan Club officers.
The evening’s agenda will proceed into welcomes by both HCS Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland and Middle School Principal Bo Wilcoxson before the forum actually begins.
“It’s an honor for us to host it,” Wilcoxson stated. “We’re happy that we can help our Civitan Club and help our community. We want to invite everyone out.
“The legislators are doing a good job for us, and this is an opportunity for us to hear what is going on. It’s an opportunity for us to ask questions that interest us,” Wilcoxson said.
Concerning questions to legislators, this year’s forum will feature a different approach. After the prayer, pledge and welcomes, each legislator will be given a few moments to address issues past and present.
That will be followed by the presentation of questions that, this year, will be pre-submitted through the school and community, then selected at random by the moderator for the forum, local attorney Jeff Mobley.
Those who wish to submit questions or concerns can remain anonymous by emailing their questions to the Northwest Alabamian at firstname.lastname@example.org. The messages will be forwarded to the moderator.
Those not able to email their questions can drop them off at the Northwest Alabamian, located on Highway 195 in Haleyville, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Those submitting questions through the school system can find the link for submission on the school district’s web page or on each school’s Facebook page, noted Sutherland.
The link on the school district website explains, “Although there will be time for our legislators to take questions from the audience, we would also like to compile a list of questions from our community, some of which will be asked by the moderator for the evening,” Sutherland posted.
The link provides a form which is submitted by the click of a button. Once the questions are submitted, they will be given to the moderator prior to the forum.
The link gives space for three possible questions to be asked to the legislators, followed by the submit tab.
After the series of pre-submitted questions have been answered at the forum, the audience will be allowed a set timeframe in which to ask questions to the panel of legislators.
“We are blessed to have men dedicated to public service and the needs of our county and communities serving in the Alabama legislature and the U.S. Congress,” Mobley stated.
“I hope many will take advantage of this opportunity to come out and hear directly from their senators and representatives the things they are doing to promote and support our communities,” Mobley added.
Sutherland noted the purpose of the annual legislative forum is multi-faceted, and hopes the community comes out to support them, as well to hear ideas and provide nput into issues affecting the state.
“In my opinion, this group of gentlemen has probably been as collaborative and supportive...with Haleyville City Schools as any group I have ever worked with in any district,” Sutherland pointed out.
“These guys are truly invested and they want to be here. They want to see what’s going on,” Sutherland added. “They genuinely want to be at events that are important to kids and are important to our community.”
Donna Jones, president of the Haleyville Board of Education, noted she would do her part to encourage all board members, as well as school staff and the general public to attend the forum.
“Our legislators are doing so much to try to get grants for us. These are things we haven’t seen that much in the past here at Haleyville,” Jones stated.
“It is so very important for our whole school system, teachers, faculty, staff, everyone, to get behind this program that the Civitans are sponsoring and be there to let our legislators know that we all care greatly about what is going on as far as education is concerned,” Jones stated.
Jones pointed out several issues related to education are approaching in the new legislative session, which begins on Feb. 4.
Haleyville Mayor Ken Sunseri is appreciative of the local delegation taking their time to visit the city.
“We appreciate the fact that our legislators are going to meet with the public at Haleyville Middle School,” Sunseri said.
“Our legislators have been very active, and they keep us informed as local officials about what is going on and what projects they are working on,” Sunseri added.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity they have to come and speak to the public,” the mayor continued.
Winston County's legislators are excited about the opportunity to hear from their constituents.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to visit with everyone in Winston County,” Estes said. “Events such as these are critical to allow the public to share questions and concerns with their representatives while allowing lawmakers to provide an update heading into the upcoming session.”
“As I have noted several times before, being elected means a person has been hired by the public to do a job,” he continued. “Forums such as this are critical in providing lawmakers an opportunity to give an account for our work.”
Wadsworth added the forum always allows legislators an opportunity to discuss information about the preceding year, as well as the upcoming session.
“The forum gives the public time to ask questions of their legislators,” Wadsworth stated. “Many great improvements have occurred in Winston County this last year.”
Robertson noted the forum allows a great interaction between legislators and the public.
“I believe the best way for citizens to learn about the work we’re doing should come directly from us,” Robertson said. “So I would just like to encourage everyone to come join us at this event.”
Issues that will be reviewed in the upcoming legislative session will be a primary point of discussion at the forum, noted Reed.
“We start the session on Feb. 4, and several significant topics will be important to all of us,” Reed stated.
“Budgets for education and the general fund will be top priority, as well as a look at the ongoing prison issue. Incentives to recruit industry to Alabama will need to be renewed this session,” Reed pointed out.
“I am focused on issues associated with rural health care in Alabama.”
Gudger added. “It is always a good opportunity for the legislative body to be available to listen to the needs of the constituents, but it also helps to promote a unified effort of Winston County’s state delegation as the session begins Feb. 4.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.