The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Conard - The Quill
Rally To Help Marty Protect Our County!
I found another Treasure in the heartland. It was Monday of last week, when I had the opportunity to meet Marty Lafary for the first time, the man who is employed as Manager of the Gladstone facility and River terminal for Twomey Company, as well as chairman of the Henderson County Board.
When I walked into Marty's office and shook his hand, I had to smile.
He immediately reminded me of a wood carving I have of a ship's captain. He had that same stocky, sturdy look of a bearded captain who had stood for hours at the helm, through some extremely rough seas.
Except for the lack of a wheel, Marty's office had the look of a bridge, to include a working view of a vast grain storage complex, of which he was the captain.
He and I visited about the "Big Flood of 2008", the damage it had caused for so many of the residents, and the must-solve issues of the county.
Marty insists that the county belongs to each of us who live here. Whatever we lose, we all share a part of. "It's their county," he explained.
"All I want, is whatever it takes to be whole again," Marty said.
To do this Marty says, "We need everybody's help! We need the people who are residents of the county, and we need the help of our government officials!"
At the top of Marty's list is dealing with the old flood waters, and deciding on what to do with new and future water issues and with cleanup and hazardous materials. His first two frustrations are dealing with "red tape" and all the "expense!"
Our community resources, personnel and equipment are being eaten up, worn out, and overutilized, with no relief in sight, he explained.
His elected and administrative duties with flood issues, along with the basic business of county life, have doubled and tripled!
A meeting every now and then is one thing, but since the Flood, Marty has literally hundreds of meetings that must be attended.
I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to Marty and other community leaders, and Drainage District Commissioners who cannot help but feel overwhelmed with lists of contacts, F.E.M.A., I.E.M.A. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, etc, etc.
One of Marty's lists contains more than 60 names of people whom he has gotten a typical response of, "I'm here to help, but....!"
They give answers such as:
"If you can get through, contact me."
"If I can do anything for you, let me know!"
"I'll get back to you." or
"That's not our job!"
Probably, all their efforts are well-intended, but many of them, like Marty, are overwhelmed government agencies and contractor representatives, capable and all well-meaning, yet, finding themselves in a disaster which is tied in the knots of forms and rigmarole that instead of helping, hinders.
"All I want is help with securing the levee and our ground so it won't become a water shed. And I want the financial help that is already obligated to us. I want help getting the money."
I asked Marty what he needed most to aid him in this overwhelming recovery process in Henderson County.
His immediate response was to receive help from the community in doing something that is so simple, yet so hard to achieve:
"GET EACH CITIZEN TO CONTACT THEIR GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES at both state and federal levels. Tell them we are an important voice, and that we need their help and involvement!"
It's easy to forget that Henderson County doesn't have the leverage of major corporations and big campaign contributors. Therefore, it is difficult to get beyond the letter-openers and call-takers of our government officials.
I would even be willing to bet, that for a very long time, we have been right at the bottom of most lawmakers' lists.
Now, they say, our government seems to be in the process of "Change." Let's hope it's for the better! If we gain a higher level of government involvement, it could give this region of the state new life.
What might happen if lots and lots of people realize that a small contribution from them, could make such a big, big difference in making us whole again?
It is true, we are at the bottom of the existing economic standings, but with our extra involvement, we could become a strong voice that brings additional resources from state and federal government into our county.
It would provide such a potential and motivating example for what can be done.
Marty has the right to expect help from us when he asks for it! He has earned it through his exceptional efforts as a concerned citizens, in action on everyone's behalf in the county.
He has literally put hundreds of dollars into his gas tank and gave up many hours from his home life to serve us.
But Marty points out all the good help that came from within our community. He remembers how extraordinary the community response was near the banks of the Mississippi. So much more might have been lost except for volunteers from our good heartland neighbors.
And, what might just a little more effort result in?
A stamp is so much lighter than a sandbag, and has such a potential to influence changes for long term community security.
If everyone, including school children, would ask government program directors to get involved through letters, e-mails, and phone calls to our elected officials, much might be accomplished in the battle Marty is fighting.
What we have to entice our officials with is not unique, but nothing other than ordinary people. We have no corporate or industry lobbyists, nor major campaign contributors to pollute the process, but just sincere people, taxpayers', with a unique chance for meaningful government and community teamwork.
Some of this, Marty said, I.E.M.A. is suppose to cover 100%, but they have not come through with the money, and "We are taxpayers!" he exclaimed.
Of special note to President Obama is that our community of towns and villages is a part of what he founded his career on when he campaigned for Senator here.
What a nice opportunity for him to find real success in the Heartland's new beginnings, from the very soil which helped to bring him into the office he holds now.
It is true that our small county does not have lobbyists that can voice our concerns to get us help, but what we do have are real live people, caring human beings, who are taxpapers and voters.
Each of us can band together in an united effort.
Each of us are the same individuals who President Obama made his promises to as he was climbing his ladder to success.
President Obama has spoken to our people, the same as Abraham Lincoln did over 150 years ago, near the banks of the Mississippi River in Oquawka. Hopefully, the words Obama mimicked of Lincoln, continue to have value today.
Please, make the effort to demonstrate once again, that we can be a united force when called upon. Take time to contact your government officials for their help, so we can secure a tangible future for our communities.
Here are the contact information of our government officials:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments at 202.456.1111
309 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
525 S. 8th Street
SPRINGFIELD, IL 62703
8:30 am to 5:00 pm
ROLAND W. BURRIS
523 Dirksen Sentate Office Bdg.
Washington, DC 20510
607 East Adams, Suite 1520
SPRINGFIELD, IL 62701
8:30 am to 5:00 pm
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
PHIL HARE (D-Moline)
1118 Longworth HOB.
Washington, DC 20515
261 N. Broad #5
Galesburg, IL 61401
(D-Rushville) 47th District
417 Capital Bldg.
SPRINGFIELD, IL 62706
440 N. Lafayette, Ste. 100
Macomb, IL 61455
Years Served: 2003-Present.
Senate Committee of the Whole:
Agriculture & Conservation
(Chairperson) Appropriations III
(Vice-Chairperson) Higher Education, Transportation
Rich Myers (R-Colchester)
94th District, Illinois
200-7N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
331 N. Lafayette St.
Macomb, IL 61455
Years Served: 1995 to Present
Committee of the Whole:
Agriculture & Conservation;
State Government Administration:
Ethanol Production Oversight