Burr campaigns in R-C area

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

RICH SQUARE – United States Senate hopeful Richard Burr of Winston Salem visited Northampton County Tuesday in his quest to meet potential constituents and secure the seat now held by Senator John Edwards.

In a casual meeting of the minds, the Republican Congressman exchanged questions and ideas with Executive Director of Chowan Area Development Association (CADA) Sallie Surface in an attempt to survey the needs of eastern North Carolina residents.

Discussing everything from the history of the community action agency and its accomplishments to the needs of low income families and seniors, struggling farmers and would be business owners, the five-term District 5 Representative listened as Surface brainstormed what the Federal government might be able to bring to the table.

After hearing about the creative programs offered through CADA and its partnering agencies, Burr commended Surface and the organization for its proactive commitment to improve the quality of life for residents in the surrounding communities.

&uot;The most impressive thing about this agency is its ability to leverage its relationships and financial assets to secure grant monies and other funding from various sources,&uot; he said.

He added, &uot;The secret to the successful operation of a non-profit organization is not necessarily how much money it has, but rather its ability to think outside the box and there is no doubt that CADA has done that in numerous ways.&uot;

Burr cited Community Development Block Grants and money from USDA as two examples of CADA’s successful networking abilities and suggested the possibility of increasing local access to federal money for community action agencies such as these.

&uot;A lot of the time, the state holds money hostage and there are so many hoops to jump through to secure the funding needed in the local communities it is almost useless,&uot; stated Burr, citing community agencies like, the fire department who need funding to increase their ability to prepare and respond to emergency needs of citizens.

&uot;Small towns don’t generally have the money to purchase the life-saving equipment like the $20,000 night vision goggles that are designed for use in situations where vision is limited,&uot; he said.

&uot;Having items like that could mean the difference between life and death for an individual who depends on a firefighter being able to see them,&uot; said Burr, suggesting that funds become more accessible to &uot;make sure everybody that needs it gets a part of it.&uot;

When asked to describe what he felt was the greatest strength of eastern North Carolina, Burr cited the health care community and the community colleges.

&uot;Many people think that the solution to transitioning people from poverty to prosperity is infrastructure because they think it will bring jobs and industry to the area,&uot; he said, &uot;but even though infrastructure is an important and necessary component of economic development, companies and businesses need a work force that is educated and that is exactly what the community colleges and other secondary education facilities are doing.

&uot;A perfect model of success is the city of Durham where Carolina and Duke University were leveraged to supply workers to the renowned Research Triangle Park and we can do the same type of thing here by playing on the strengths of this part of the state.&uot;

Burr also commented about how the legislation for No Child Left Behind would help to change the composition of workers of the future.

&uot;Two years ago when the President signed the legislation, it began to hold the schools accountable so that each child would receive the same level and quality of education,&uot; he said. &uot;Brown versus the Board of Education may have given every child the right to a desk, but it didn’t ensure that each child would receive the right to an education.&uot;

Burr placed a large emphasis on the importance of educating people to ensure self-sufficiency and shared Surface’s vision for the future of eastern North Carolina, stating that were it not for people like her, community action agencies like hers would not be in existence today.

While in the area, Burr also toured the Woodland-Olney Apartments, formerly Woodland-Olney School and met with some of the senior residents.

Burr is a graduate of R.J Reynolds High School and Wake Forest University and has been working to reverse a trend of rising taxes and centralized government that burdened North Carolina families and business since 1994.

He currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the Task Force on Terrorism.

He and his wife Brooke reside with their two sons in Winston-Salem.