Apr 11 2008

Record turnout for Shelby speech

Madison Record

By Emily Howard

The economy, the presidential election and Bud Cramer were among the topics discussed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) at his annual visit to Madison County Apr. 7. The breakfast meeting, hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, was the most heavily attended for Shelby in the entire state. More than 1,200 attended last week's breakfast to hear what Shelby had to say, and gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced.

"Having Senator Shelby visit us is always significant for this community - and it shows in that every year these speeches are more heavily attended. This year is a great example - the breakfast was sold out - we had more than 1,200 people there for a 7:30 a.m. breakfast," said John Southerland, spokesperson for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Shelby holds a meeting in each county once a year.

During his 1,408th county visit since being elected to serve the state of Alabama as a senator in 1986, Shelby touched upon relevant topics such as earmarks, social security, the housing crisis and NASA. He then fielded questions from the audience.

On the subject of the economy, Shelby agreed that the United states was in a downturn, but said it was a question of what kind of downturn it is and how long it would last.

"The federal government can't bail out everybody ... banks were chasing loans they never should have made," Shelby said about the current housing crisis. "Other than these clouds, the economy is pretty good."

He added that North Alabama, Madison County in particular, was unlikely to be adversely affected by a recession.

"I think the sun's going to shine on you up here for a long time," he said.

Shelby said North Alabamians were going to miss Rep. Bud Cramer (D-AL) when he leaves Congress next year. Cramer has announced he will not seek re-election for his district five position.

Sen. Parker Griffith (D-Madison), who is in the running for Cramer's seat, praised Shelby and Cramer for their efforts in Washington.

"His continued commitment and support to Redstone, NASA and our troops has been wonderful, Griffith said. "He's been a wonderful Senator to us. He'll miss Bud Cramer...they've been a good team."

Shelby, who is now in his fourth term as a senator, has historically been a big supporter of NASA programs and Redstone Arsenal, receives a warm welcome when he visits the area.

"Obviously Senator Shelby visits Huntsville many times over the course of a year, but it is always special for us and the community for him to come and tell us what is going on in our community," Southerland said.

It is vital that the Madison County business community has opportunity to hear first-hand some of the things that are going on in the nation's capital that impact our region, Southerland said.

"Senator Shelby is uniquely positioned to be able to help us with federal programs that are vital to this area - and it is important that we get to hear Senator Shelby discuss those programs and others that are vital to the businesses and to the residents of Huntsville and Madison County, which he always does," he said.

For more information on Shelby, his views and his recent votes in Congress, visit www.Congress.com.