Millington finds help elsewhere at Capitol

On January 11, 2008, in News 2008, by Mark Norris

With Ford absent, neighboring lawmakers pick up slack

By Tom Bailey Jr.,
January 11, 2008

Millington is turning to other legislators for representation in Nashville while its state senator remains absent with ill health.

“Certainly we are at a disadvantage,” Alderman Don Lowry said Thursday of Sen. Ophelia Ford’s absence.

“Good thing I have a good relationship with Sen. (Mark) Norris.”

Norris’ District 32 abuts Ford’s at the eastern edge of Millington.

Ford’s District 29 stretches north from Memphis to encompass nearly all of Millington.

“Now I can call up Miss Ophelia’s office; she’s not there. I don’t have that good feeling I get when I actually speak to the senator,” Lowry said.

Alderman Linda Carter acknowledged “it’s not good” having an absent senator, but said things could be worse.

“If (Ford) was the only one who represented us, it would probably be dire,” Carter said.

“Thankfully, Sen. Norris and Rep. (Barbara) Cooper and Rep. Ron Lollar … have picked up the slack and done the things.”

Cooper’s District 86 covers the west side of Millington and Lollar’s District 99 catches part of the east side.

Opinions vary on how much Ford’s absence affects the city’s effort to extend Veterans Parkway for access through West Tennessee Regional Business Center.

Millington needs the state to build the $14 million, 1.7-mile extension that includes a railroad overpass.

Much is at stake. The city is courting the Mid-South Fair, which won’t move to Millington unless the parkway is extended.

A proactive senator could bring attention to Veterans Parkway anytime appropriation or road issues surface in the General Assembly, said Larry Jackson, chairman of the Millington Industrial Development Board.

Each senator and representative distributes $100,000 “community enhancement grants” within their respective districts each year.

No word has come from Ford’s office as to how her allotment will be parceled out. But Lollar announced last week that he’s steering $20,000 of his grant to an after-school program in Millington.

Lowry said he’s long felt it’s important for the city to build relationships with legislators even if they aren’t elected by Millington voters.

“You’ve got to work on relationship with a bunch of those guys,” he said.

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