Governor Robert Bentley addresses Fort Payne Chamber
January 13, 2017
Southern Torch (3790 articles)

Governor Robert Bentley addresses Fort Payne Chamber

PHOTO: Scott Bateman, President of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, presents Governor Robert Bentley with a framed print from renowned Fort Payne artist James Dean. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch) 

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala.  On Tuesday, January 10, Governor Robert Bentley spoke at the Fort Payne Chamber’s awards luncheon.

The event was the first of it’s kind; no sitting Governor has ever addressed a Fort Payne Chamber event. The lunch was well attended, with approximately 200 local business owners, elected officials, and citizens filling the DeKalb Theatre.

The Governor has made several visits to the area in the last year; awarding grants to many local cities. This is his third visit to DeKalb County since November, with his most recent visit touring the CleBer LLC production facility in Fyffe. According to Bentley, he may be eying DeKalb County for a retirement spot.

“I really love this part of the state. Maybe one of these days when I retire, I’ll move up to this part of the state,” Governor Bentley said jokingly during his remarks.

The governor addressed education, healthcare, job training, and helping out our fellow Alabamians to achieve a better state.

Bentley highlighted examples of areas that our state excels in education, as well as areas that our state must improve upon in the future; based on national rankings.

“We are 51st or maybe 52nd in fourth grade math, you can’t get much worse than that. We were 50th in eighth grade math, fourth grade reading we were 40th in the nation, and in eighth grade reading we were 46th,” Governor Bentley said.

“It’s unacceptable for us to be 51st or 52nd in fourth grade math,” he added.

“One thing that we are doing well in, we have the best Pre-K program of any state in America. We know it works because we have statistics to prove it,” Bentley said.

This area is different, according to the governor, because the teaching methods are better.

“We need to put emphasis on things that truly work. The Pre-K program truly works,” he stated.

In terms of improving healthcare within the state, Bentley hopes the state will get some help from soon-to-be President Trump’s administration, which will be sworn in late next week.

“We’ll have to fund medicaid. We’re hoping that with the new administration that will be sworn in soon, we’ll be able to look at block grants,” Bentley stated.

Bentley also highlighted the successes of job training programs throughout the state, and how important having a well-trained workforce is when it comes to bringing more jobs to Alabama.

“Everyone working together really helps train students, so that we have a work force that not only entice companies to come in, but also entices existing companies to expand,” said Bentley.

“Let’s all work together, I love this state, I love ya’ll and I love the people of the state,” the governor said.

The Governor then lamented a tragedy in Rehobeth, Alabama that occurred when a tornado passed through there recently, and used it as an example of how Alabamians should give each other a helping hand.

“I love the people who can’t do things for themselves sometimes. Like parents who can’t afford to bury their dead children,” the governor explained.

He then recounted visiting the damage, and comforting a woman who had just lost her children in the storm. The woman’s young daughter asked her where to hide during the storm, and remembering tornado safety guidelines, she had them hide in the bathroom. Tragically, a tree split and fell on the bathroom of the mobile home.

“They couldn’t afford to bury them, because they didn’t have anything. When I was on TV that day, I asked people to contribute,” he said.

After the governor’s call for help, fellow Alabamians chipped in to pay for the funerals; providing the mother with some relief after the tragedy.

“Let’s all continue to work hard as citizens as elected representatives and make this state the great state of Alabama,” Bentley said in closing.

Scott Bateman, President of the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, then presented the governor with a framed print from renowned Fort Payne artist James Dean, depicting “Pete the Cat” seated atop a “Welcome to Alabama Sign.”

The governor was then presented a key to the city by Mayor Larry Chesser, who said to the governor with a laugh, “When you get ready to move up here, at least you’ll have a key to get in.”

Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser presents Governor Robert Bentley with a key to the city. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

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