Monday evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with the McDonald County Farm Bureau at Anderson. Jamie Cope presented me with a Friend of Agriculture Award for 2012. Many of us don't realize how important Agriculture is to our area. We are a world leader in the production of cattle right here in Southwest Missouri. The Joplin Stockyards is the second largest in the world. Our hay production here is essential to the continued success of cattle production. We also have a significant number of acres in grain crop production. All of our rural schools have an active FFA organization and there are 4H clubs in every town. Much of our past and future success depends on agriculture. Southwest Missouri also has a rich heritage in Strawberry Production. At one time, Lanagan was the shipping location for hundreds of train car loads of strawberries! Please join me in encouraging our young people to learn as much as possible about agriculture and its importance to our area economy as well as to each of our well-being.
Wednesday was a special treat as I joined Bill Reiboldt at Anderson Elementary School to teach about eighty 4th graders a lesson in State Government. I am always amazed at the questions that come up when we get to that segment of the talk. It breaks your heart to hear a 10 year old ask if we can make a law to close all the bars! Don't fool yourself into thinking that 10 and 11 year old children don't know what's right and what's wrong. We might all be better off to let them run the country for a while.
Thursday evening we were at the Fire Chiefs association at Redings Mill for their annual Legislators Night. We heard from the Chiefs, the State Foresters, and the Conservation Department and they were all warning us about the same thing! The drought last summer is likely to return next year and it could even be worse. They would all like to see a way for local departments to enforce a burn ban. None of us want to see grasslands, forests, and property destroyed by careless burning when it is extremely dry. Please support local efforts to establish and enforce bans. I called upon departments with excess equipment to share with some of the volunteer departments in the rural areas who are in need of proper gear. Believe it or not, some of the volunteers don't even have the basic bunker gear to protect them while fighting a blaze. I was very pleased to get an almost immediate response from one of the larger departments who just received some new equipment. That just proves what I keep saying about people in Southwest Missouri being more than willing to help each other out.
Saturday we were at Southwest City for their Fall Festival and then to Rocky Comfort for a School fundraiser. These are the first of many fall celebrations Seneca has an Autumnfest planned with a Carnival and vendor booths and many activities and Pineville will have its Oktoberfest. There are many others to attend so watch the papers for info. Next week I have to be in St. Louis for an interim meeting on Local Governance. That should make some interesting material for next week's report. Until then I am, and remain, in your service.
Pictured: Mollie Milleson, 4th grade student at Anderson Elementary, and Rep. Bill Reiboldt. 2012