Dear Friends,

When I committed to being a 365-day-a-year Lieutenant Governor, I meant it.  I feel Alabamians deserve a leader who is all in.  One of my greatest joys as Lieutenant Governor is getting to know people from every corner of our Great State.  Since taking office, I have traveled from the northern most county to the farthest south and dozens in between.  I have frequented numerous of Alabama cities and had the pleasure of visiting with thousands of citizens. 

The fourth, and final, quarter of 2013 in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor is marked by several significant visits I had the privilege of making across the state.  I would like to tell you about a few.

Vernon: A City on the Move
In October, I was invited to speak at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet in Vernon, a town of about 2,000.  Vernon is like many small Alabama cities working to fully recover from a challenging economy.  Under the leadership of Mayor Glenn Crawford who directed a buy-local initiative, gross revenues increased 20 percent and 5 percent more business licenses were obtained in the last year.  That is tremendous growth for a small city and it is an example of a model that is working.  Good work to Mayor Crawford and business owners for your worthy efforts to grow the economy and improve the quality of life for your citizens.

Piedmont High School Leads the Way in Technology
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit a school that is leading the way to prepare students for the 21st Century global workforce.  Piedmont High School is nationally recognized for its successful implementation of Apple’s One-to-One technology initiative.  Every student is issued a MacBook Air and has internet access at school and home.  The school also offers some online courses and initiatives, like skipping first period, if they perform above average.  I visited a biology class where lessons were supplemented with interactive plant diagrams and webinars online.  In another class, students programmed robots to follow specific commands.  Piedmont is an example of a school where the technology program works.  Coursework allows technology to be utilized to its full potential and the administration earned the buy-in from students and teachers, contributing to the program’s success.  They are to be commended for their good work.

Michael Johnson Foundation
I was also pleased to speak at the graduation ceremony for a computer training program in Dallas County sponsored by Michael Johnson, a Selma native and defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals.  Michael was a standout football player at Dallas County High School and was drafted following a stellar football career at Georgia Tech.  He left the South to play for the Bengals, but he has made it clear his heart is in Selma.  Through his foundation, Michael funded the computer technician training program to help people from his hometown gain employment or find better jobs. 

The program, in its first year, graduated less than a dozen students, but I believe it is important to highlight because it is an example of what can be done by private citizens to create positive change.  Dallas County has the second highest unemployment rate in the state, twice the state’s rate.  Michael’s work is contributing in a great way and he deserves to be recognized.  In fact, while in Selma, I was pleased to present Michael with an Honorary Lieutenant Governor certificate.  He was in Cincinnati prepping for his next game at the time of the presentation, so his parents accepted the certificate on his behalf.  Michael is a credit to all who know him! 

Read the Bengals.com story about Michael Johnson being named an Honorary Lt. Governor.    

Courtland Crisis
The City of Courtland in Lawrence County was hit with a serious challenge in September when International Paper announced its decision to close the paper mill, putting 1,100 people out of work.  IP made a business decision based on a waning demand of the paper products made at that particular mill and it is understandable that those decisions must be made at times. 

With the first round of lay-offs occurring this month, the implications of the mill closure are widespread.  The employees and their families, countless loggers, truckers, local businesses, land owners, the city, and the county will feel the impact.  The IP mill was the largest employer in the county.

Immediately after the announcement, I contacted Courtland Mayor Clarence Logston to offer support.  I deployed staff to Courtland to visit with city and county leaders to assess the economic impact and aid in the ongoing coordinated state response.  My office and leaders in Courtland remain in consistent contact as we help the town and employees absorb the impact and respond to the mill closure.

As we approach Christmas, I can’t help but think about the people in Courtland who are going through a difficult time.  Please know that dozens of people on the state and local level are committed to providing help, support, and a plan of action moving forward to help you through a challenging transition.

Proposed Military Legislation in 2014 Session
The Military Stability Commission was instrumental in passing bills last Legislative Session that positively impact our military and protect the missions.  We are currently working on additional measures to be filed for consideration by lawmakers during the upcoming Session beginning in January.  The goal of the Commission is to take action now to cultivate a military-friendly environment so that military missions carried out in Alabama, stay in Alabama.  
  
In addition to bills drafted by the Commission, we plan to actively support the Overseas Military Voters bill, originated in the Secretary of State’s office.  The bill will bring Alabama into compliance with the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act which safeguards overseas military families’ ability to effectively participate in elections.  Alabama should do everything in its power to ensure that those who fight to preserve our rights are able to exercise those rights.  The bill was proposed in the last Legislative Session and I am optimistic that with the Military Stability Commission’s support, it can pass this Session.

War Eagle!
It is no secret that as an Auburn University alumna, I am an enthusiastic Auburn football fan.  I couldn’t be prouder of my Tigers for their storybook comeback season led by Coach Gus Malzahn.  I hope we will all rally around Auburn on January 6th to bring home another National Championship title for the State of Alabama!  With the continued success of both Auburn University and the University of Alabama, we can make it five in a row.  War Eagle!       

Merry Christmas
What a joyous time of year!  Christmas is a special time to gather with family and friends to experience the joy of giving.  Above all, it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  I wish you happiness during the holiday season and a very Merry Christmas!

Please know that my office is your office.

Feel free to call me at 334-242-7900 or visit our website at http://ltgov.alabama.gov.

http://ltgov.alabama.gov