September 3, 2004 – Posted at 6:04 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF -- President Bush will make a campaign stop in Poplar Bluff on Monday and even though he won't be here until next week, the town is already making arrangements for his arrival.
The President is coming to town and one Region 8 man takes the credit for making it happen. Hardy Billington collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition requesting the President to come to Poplar Bluff. He was shocked when word came that Bush would be in town.
"When we got the news, it was just unbelievable. They called up and told us they planned on coming by. I thought that it was just fantastic that people were so thrilled wanting the President to come to Poplar Bluff," said Billington.
Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce director Scott Faughn said, "It doesn't matter what party you are from, it doesn't matter what you think of the president. To have the leader of our nation in our community, is a wonderful honor and we're thrilled to have him in Poplar Bluff."
Folks started lining up for tickets to the big event immediately Friday morning, when tickets were available at 8 a.m. Brandus Bailey was officially the first person in line, showing up at 4:30 a.m. The crowd lined up on Vine Street in front of the Butler County Republican Headquarters, blocking traffic at some times.
Many people stood in line for several hours, but most said the wait was worth it.
Bush supporter Anna Thurman said, "We've been here about an hour, maybe a little bit over, but, like I said, one opportunity to actually get to see the President live is priceless."
"I think it's a one time opportunity to actually get to see the President while he's sitting in office and I think it'll be a great opportunity," said Craig Thurman while he waited for more than an hour.
The President's security team is already in Southeast Missouri, making sure everything is under control. President Bush is scheduled to be at Ray Clinton Park around 5:00 p.m. Monday, under the tightest security. Gates to the park will open Monday at 3:00 p.m. and visitors must have a ticket. Umbrellas and video cameras will not be allowed in the park. The park is able to hold more than 14,000 people, and that means big business for Poplar Bluff.
"We are thrilled to have all of the people that will be coming that's already here now that will be coming for Monday's visit. We think it's going to be a terrific boost for the economy. Of course Labor Day is a busy weekend in Poplar Bluff, but now with the President of the United States coming, it will be a wonderful weekend," said Faughn.
Tickets to see President Bush are free and available at the Butler County Republican Headquarters in Poplar Bluff, located on Vine Street. Tickets are available until 8:00 Friday night, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are limited to four per person.