Tom Perriello | Fifth District Report

I just returned to Washington after a whirlwind week around the Fifth district. Over the congressional recess period, my staff and I covered a collective 3,000 miles. We had 60 meetings with more than 1,300 people from every locality in the district, talking with folks about the economic recovery plan and what it means for our communities.

Many folks were excited about the boost to our schools and to those who have lost their jobs, while others expressed deep concerns about America’s rising national debt. Whether you were for or against the bill, everyone now shares a commitment to making sure we make the most of this package for putting Southside and Central Virginia on the road to economic recovery. From elected officials to teachers to alternative-energy producers to business leaders, everyone we met wants to make this plan work for families and businesses of the Fifth district.

Here are a few of the highlights of my week, and how my staff is working with constituents to bring the recovery bill home:

– In Danville, I had the opportunity to view the Robertson Bridge, which is in need of widening, and the site of a future mega-park that could be a game-changer for the region.

– In Martinsville and the Lynchburg area, I held town hall meetings and answered people’s concerns and questions about the recovery bill. Topics ranged from small business, to alternative energy production, to tax cuts for the middle class, to unemployment benefits.

– In South Hill, we met with regional and county planners from Mecklenburg, Halifax, and Brunswick, to talk about a range of water, sewage and other infrastructure projects.

– In Halifax County, we met with a dozen county leaders to talk about the range of infrastructure needs, including expanded wastewater treatment, school funding, and the needs of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

– In Farmville, I met with superintendents from the surrounding counties including Brunswick, Lunenburg, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Mecklenburg and Prince Edward Counties. We discussed how the stimulus funds will reach local school districts and other ways to access additional funds through the Commonwealth of Virginia. We also began a conversation about ways to amend or end components of No Child Left Behind later this year.

– In Nelson County, I met with elected officials and county leaders about strategies for job creation, tourism, and tele-commuting.

– In Greene County, I toured the Greene County Park and got to participate in a highly successful pre-K program in the county schools. I also heard from the Board of Supervisors, School Board, sheriff, and various economic development authorities.

The good people I met with throughout the district understand that it took a long time to get America into this economic crisis, and it will take a while to get out of it. There’s no magic bullet for solving our economic woes, but knowing that these and other projects can get help will at least stop the bleeding and start the process of healing. Next, we will look at reforms in housing, banking and bankruptcy as we get to some of the root causes of this crisis.

Remember to visit www.recovery.gov to learn more about the bill, including the full text, a timeline for when the funds may be distributed, and how much money is allocated to various projects. Once funds have been disbursed, you will be able to track where every penny goes via this website. Gov. Tim Kaine has also set up a website, www.stimulus.virginia.gov where you can submit project proposals for the funds.

Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515; call 202.225.4711.

 

– Tom Perriello represents the Fifth District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives.

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