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Dole applauds local efforts

United States Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) made a visit in the Roanoke Chowan area on Wednesday morning.

Among the items on Sen. Dole’s itinerary included stops at Gaston College Preparatory and Pride High School in Gaston and the Northampton County Manager’s Office and the Embassy Caf\u00E9 in Jackson.

Sen. Dole also received a tour of the Ahoskie High School Apartments in Ahoskie.

After meeting with Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins and Commission Chairwoman Virginia Spruill, Dole sat down for a cup of coffee in the Embassy Caf\u00E9 and spoke with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald about her visit.

Dole talked about her previous stop at Gaston College Preparatory and Pride High School, both of which are part of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP).

In October, Dole’s office announced her pleasure with a Senate passage of the fiscal year 2008 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which included $100,000 for the schools.

Sen. Dole said she was impressed with the schools and how staff not only teaches students the basics, “but trains them in values and integrity.”

Sen. Dole said during her meeting with Spruill and Jenkins, the 287 (g) program was discussed.

The program derives from Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In July Sen. Dole cosponsored a Senate approved amendment that designated $3 billion in emergency spending for border security and enforcement initiatives in the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.

The amendment also increases funding for the 287(g) program, which allows local law enforcement agencies to receive authority from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help process illegal aliens who have committed crimes.

“We need to secure the borders,” she said.

Sen. Dole stressed unifying the state under the program was a way to do that and the program has been successful in Mecklenburg County.

As for the counties in the area, Sen. Dole noted several current and past initiatives that she has been involved in, including the tobacco quota buyout and the push for the recognition of the Lumbee Tribe in Pembroke by an act of Congress.

Sen. Dole also spoke about how community colleges are important to their communities by allowing students to transfer easier and small business owners to obtain certificates.

“Community colleges are on the front line of jobs,” she said. “I think they’re doing a great job.”

Sen. Dole said she has been in contact with John Cooper, North Carolina State Director of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. She said Cooper has filled her in as to what the area needs.

“Northeast North Carolina is very much in my heart,” she said.

When asked about one of Northampton County’s biggest projects, the North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR), Sen. Dole seemed excited.

“I think the most important thing (about NCCAR) is jobs, jobs, jobs,” she said.

In her last stop, Sen. Dole met up with Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA) Director Sallie Surface for a tour of the Ahoskie High School Apartments.

The recently renovated high school was built in 1929 and now holds 41 housing units for individuals age 55 or older and rents are based on income.

“It’s just thrilling to see what they’ve done,” said Sen. Dole.

Two of the 14 occupants invited Sen. Dole into their apartments.

The first resident in the building, Walter Jones, greeted Sen. Dole as she looked about his apartment, noting his “comfy chair.”

“I just love how clean and open it is,” she said about the design.

Surface was flattered by the U.S. Senator’s visit to the apartments.

“We were delighted she recognized our hard work and partnerships,” said Surface. “We appreciate her support.”