JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) –Sen. John Boozman traveled to northeast Arkansas Thursday to meet with several county leaders.
Senator Boozman began his day in Clay County. He met with county officials at 9 in the morning at the Piggott City Hall. Later he traveled to Corning to meet with city officials.
Corning Mayor Dewayne Phelan had one main concern to speak with the Senator about. "Highway 67 is my main concern, he (the Senator) seems very concerned about it and says he'll work with us as much as he can to try and get it completed." Phelan says Missouri is nearing completion of their part but Arkansas is running way behind.
Boozman said that currently the money isn't coming in to fund major projects.
Boozman, "Right now the funding, the Highway Trust Fund is flat because people aren't traveling." The Senator says that once gas hits 3.50 a gallon people begin to rethink their driving plans and as it nears 4 they drive even less. "I'll bet," Boozman said "That every restaurant owner or manager knows exactly how much gas is a gallon."
Corning Councilman Blake Johnson, who also farms, told Boozman that the levees around Corning need to be built up like in the old days when the people recognized the flooding threat and took action.
Johnson, "Be as prudent as they were back in the old days and build it up at least 2 foot above. We need to be able to hold 20 feet."
When asked about repairs to the levees and the Army Corp of Engineers making repairs, Boozman replied that there has to be a long term look back period for the Corps but they need to address the immediate needs resulting from the recent disaster.
Boozman, "You know there's a lot we can learn from it and I think the Corp is willing to take that look."
Over a luncheon meeting in Pocahontas, Boozman addressed government spending.
"People are very concerned about that, should be concerned. I'm very concerned. I believe that it's the greatest threat we face since World War 2. 40, 42 cents of every dollar we are spending is borrowed money." Boozman said.
Randolph County Judge David Jansen expressed concern about FEMA payments. "Are we waiting 2 years from now to receive our reimbursement?"
Boozman says there is a lot of understanding in Washington of the disasters that have occurred and the huge needs out there.
Boozman said although he is a huge supporter of less government spending, sometimes the need is really there for help.
Boozman, "These are things the local entities the states just can't handle. This hasn't been a problem in the past so I don't think that will be a problem to get your payments."
At each meeting he was at, Boozman asked the attendees to keep his office informed about any problems with FEMA.
I don't make the decisions but I can use the power of the office to expedite and make sure that somebody with authority is actually looking at it."
Boozman will be at his Jonesboro office on Friday before returning to Washington over the weekend.