Sessions visits MMI

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Marion Military Institute received a rare treat Tuesday when U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions dropped by for a visit. The visit was part of Sessions yearly tour through the state for town hall meetings and opportunities to get a general feel for his peoples needs.

Sessions said he felt it was of utmost importance to be actively involved in the lives of his citizens.

“I have been traveling around to different schools and having meetings with police and law enforcement as I go about my duties,” Sessions said. “I have found that it is best to listen to the people who elect you. If you are not in touch with them and you do not know what they are thinking you are not going to do a very good job.”

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Locally, Sessions said he liked what he saw. He said his visit to MMI had left him very optimistic about the state and future of the historic school.

“It is exciting what has been going on here,” Sessions said. “Col. Vincent and I had a nice conversation this morning and he excited me about the future of this institution which is so much a part of our state. This school is so valuable to our national government and our military.”

Sessions added he was pleased to be on campus and hoped he could do something to make a difference in the schools well being.

“It is a thrill for me to be here,” Sessions said. “I want you to know that I look forward to doing whatever I can and whatever I am able to do to assist you as you

go along.”

Sessions discussed everything with cadets from gas prices to the future of the military. On both issues Sessions felt the future would show a brighter picture. However, many were more concerned with regional issues. The Black Belt has repeatedly asked the question of what they could do to spark more rural development. Sessions said he felt the area is not far away from growth.

“I think the future is going to be very bright,” Sessions said. “I am really a believer in what is going on around as far as development.”

Sessions said there were several programs available to get funding. One of the most popular has been Community Development Block Grants. Sessions said many look to the grants to get crucial projects completed.

“One of the things we always look at are CDBG grants,” Sessions said. “They have proven to be very productive through the years. There are 18 programs that provide grant money for rural development.”

Unfortunately, elimination of such grants has been proposed in an effort to balance the budget. Sessions said he believes the same balance could be achieved .by wiser spending in Washington.

“We are going to have to manage the taxpayers money wisely,” Sessions said. “I don’t think these programs are going to be eliminated because I just don’t think Congress is going to do it.”

Saving such programs is one of Sessions key motivating factors to make his statewide tour and get feedback. Sessions said the most important tool in saving funding programs was to see first hand the need and impact they face.

“We have got to listen to people like you who know some of these rural development programs are good,” Sessions said. “We know they need to be preserved and we know they are needed we just need to get everyone behind them.”

As for the state of the nation, Sessions said America has always aimed for the stars and would continue to do so.

“America is an exceptional place,” Sessions said. “It is a rare jewel of a country. It is a respectable one. We arose in an incredible way and have held up for now over 200 years and we are very proud of that.”