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Boozman Speaks at Osceola Chamber Event


OSCEOLA- US Senator John Boozman (R-Arkansas) was in Mississippi County Wednesday as he spoke at the Osceola/ South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce luncheon and then toured Big River Steel afterwards with Mississippi County Judge John Alan Nelson.

"Senator Boozman spoke at the Osceola Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, May 29, at the Ohlendorf Building. I had an opportunity to speak with the Senator privately. He expressed a great deal of interest in our courthouse renovations and I was surprised to learn that he was aware of what we were doing. He was equally interested in how we were progressing with our economic development and had many questions. He was aware of how successful we have been and had questions on what our future plans looked like," Nelson explained. "Senator Boozman is a very pleasant and gracious gentleman. I enjoyed his company. He is easy to talk to and very engaging. He spoke to me about his efforts in mitigating the loss of property and life with the on coming flooding of the Arkansas River. The Senator, Dave Stickler, CEO of Big River Steel, and myself met at BRS later that day where Mr. Stickler voiced his concerns on the ongoing trade disputes with China and the tariffs that have been imposed."

Boozman was welcomed by a standing ovation at the Chamber event, joking about the reception he received to open his speech.

"I still get kind of nervous when you stand up, I think you're leaving," Boozman explained. "Thank you all so much for having me and it really is good to be with you. Now, I was a member of the Lions Club for many, many years. I am an optometrist, an eye doctor by training. I have my colleague [Dr. Matt Jones] here with me who we appreciate very, very much. But in fact I like to be introduced as an optometrist, that's a respectable profession. They say that's 18 percent of the approval rating that is basically your friends, family and the people who work for you."

Boozman said it's important to be back in front of his constituents in Osceola and Mississippi County, listening to the challenges they face and then taking those issues back to Washington.

Boozman also addressed the current flooding and heavy rains that are occurring across the state.

Boozman said he would be flying over the cities Thursday with Governor Asa Hutchinson, US Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and US Representative Bruce Westerman (R- Arkansas) to view the flooding. Boozman added the other problem that comes with flooding and rain is that farmers can't plant crops, which is a major part of Arkansas' economy.

"There are a couple of things going on right now in the state that have consequential things that we all need to be concerned about. I appreciate the prayers that we got opened up with. Nobody can do anything nicer than for us to pray for each other," Boozman said. "We need to pray for the people in the midst of the flooding going on right now. I was in Fort Smith the other day and will be flying with the governor and Senator [Tom] Cotton tomorrow to view the damage. [Governor Asa Hutchinson] is in the process of getting all of the different emergency certifications working with the President on that. All of that is good. The flooding now is greater than it was in the 1920's, during that catastrophe. The good news is the system is working pretty well. The dams are holding up, the levees and things like that. This is not like a regular flood where it comes up and goes down relatively fast. This might come up for many days. The flood holders, the basins, in Oklahoma are full to the brink and it is still raining over there."

Boozman continued, "Another problem that we have had is farmers haven't been able to plant and that's a huge issue. You all know that better than anybody. Agriculture is 25 percent of our state's economy and areas like this probably much more like 75-80 percent. So, it really is a huge issue for rural Arkansas and for our state as a whole. So, we've got a lot of things going on. We are working on trying to increase our trading ability along with the inability to be able to plant, which is devastating. We have really low commodity prices and in the past usually one commodity is down and the rest are up and you kind of figure things out."