HARRISBURG, IL – Cairo’s ongoing housing situation drew national media attention to Southern Illinois this week, as U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson visited the confluence community. Small businesses were also on the mind of State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) as he made the “rounds” within the 59th Senate District.

Dr. Carson’s visit to the region marks the first time in many years that a federal-level cabinet secretary has visited. While the plight of the residents of Elmwood and McBride housing complexes was the focus of Carson’s stop in Alexander County, the Secretary also met with Senator Fowler.

Senator Fowler had the opportunity to chat about the proposed Alexander County – Cairo Port Terminal and the positive economic impact that is could have on the entire region. Senator Fowler viewed the Secretary’s visit as a positive, showing a much higher level of interest in the situation than the former federal administrators from early 2009 to early 2017.

Small business and local visits dominated the Senator’s attention after Secretary Carson’s visit on August 8. A number of small businesses have been started in Golconda, Marion, and other points across the 59th. Golconda will again have access to hardware and other home fixtures after entrepreneurs reopened the once-shuttered location in the downtown Ohio River Community. Additionally, in the always bustling Marion, a local woman has opened a new t-shirt and children’s clothing store.

Senator Fowler made a trip to the rural Alexander Community of Olive Branch to view firsthand the economic impact of nearly 20,000 acres of farm land being taken out of production. The situation in Alexander County is because of the Len Small Levee breech from a number of years ago. As a result, the County is losing precious local property tax dollars, because several thousand acres have been silted over with sands from the Mississippi River making planting commodities nearly impossible. Additionally, 90 homes in the river bottoms have been made nearly unlivable and local residents are hoping the federal government will be able to repair the levee.

A Meridian School visit closed out the Senator’s week. The Meridian students and faculty were celebrating the opening of the brand new elementary school in Mounds.

Dale Fowler

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