Countdown to Presidential Library - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Paragould, AR -- Melissa Simas reports

Countdown to Presidential Library

November 17, 2004 -- Posted 4:30 p.m. CDT

Paragould, AR -- Selected guests were treated to a sneak preview of Bill Clinton's Presidential Library, a day before thousands are expected to converge in Little Rock for the dedication ceremony.

Organizers of Bill Clinton's Presidential Library unveiled the Little Rock complex to a few people, showing off two floors of exhibits. The displays detail Clinton's 8 years in the White House. One of the 14 alcoves, highlighting Clinton's Presidency, is devoted entirely to controversies.

Over 30,000 people, including former presidents, dignataries and celebrities are expected to attend the dedication. One man from Region 8 has got his ticket ready, eagerly awaiting the event as he reminisces about the past.

"I remember he turned around and I whispered is going to run for president," said Charles Willis of Paragould. 

Charles Willis  is just one Clinton fan invited to attend the opening of the presidential library.  Willis was Clinton's Greene County campaign coordinator back in 92' and 96'.

"When we were first starting out nobody was thinking about the presidential library, back then it was the snows of New Hampshire and the comeback kid. We'd never seen anything as rough and tumble as it gets in a presidential campaign," said Willis.

The team did prove to be victorious, both times around.

"I remember the morning we all got up for inauguration and the hotel ran out of hot water, Bruce Burrow got up he had to take a cold shower and he called down to the desk to complain. They sent him up a bottle of wine, and in so many words he said if I needed a bottle of wine I would have ordered a bottle of wine. He said what I was needing was hot water for a shower. There was a lot of fun things like that you just don't forget," added Willis.

"We're already laughing because we used to hear our parents talk about the good old days, and we're already talking about the good old days when Bill was there and everything was getting better, he gave people hope," said Willis.

The dedication and opening of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park begins Thursday at 10 o'clock with performances from the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, the Lyon College Pipe Band, and the Hot Springs High School Marching Band.

The actual ceremony begins at 11 o'clock, with appearances from Al and Tipper Gore,  First Lady Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, and Rosalynn Carter. President Bush and Jimmy Carter are also scheduled to speak.

K8 News will have a crew on the scene on Thursday. Look for reports at 6 and 10.

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