08/12/04 — Burr brings campaign for Senate to WAGES

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Burr brings campaign for Senate to WAGES

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 12, 2004 2:01 PM

U.S. Rep. Richard Burr, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, said his visit to Goldsboro this morning provided a chance to see what "community action agencies" do and why they are so unique.

He chose WAGES as his Wayne County stop on a three-day campaign swing through eastern North Carolina. Burr is running against Democrat Erskine Bowles for the Senate seat held by John Edwards.

Brownie Doss, adult services team leader, said Burr's office contacted WAGES about scheduling the stop.

"He is visiting community action agencies across the state," she said. "The purpose was to learn more about what we were doing and what challenges we were facing in Wayne County."

He spent most of his time touring WAGES Head Start on Royall Avenue, which was built two years ago to accommodate increasing numbers of children needing help. He observed classrooms, asked about the people who took used the services, and about the transportation challenges for Head Start programs.

Charisse Johnson, department director of WAGES Children, Youth and Families, said that 40 percent of the children served required transportation to the sites.

Burr recalled how agencies such as WAGES started as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's legislation to end poverty. Ms. Johnson said the programs continue to be based on community need.

"The unique nature of the board design -- one-third community leaders, one-third elected officials and one-third those served by the programs -- consistently transforms to what they do," Burr said. "They don't run programs that aren't needed."

Burr said programs like WAGES are one of the few carryovers of the model formed in the 1960s. He called it a very effective model that provides a local safety net.

"I'm just surprised others don't model that design," Burr said.

He said it has been "absolutely fascinating" to see how different communities customize similar programs to meet their individual needs. His hope is to take his findings back to Congress so that funding for programs like Head Start will continue.

"I'm out getting ammunition to go back with that debate and talk about the successes," he said.

Burr was also scheduled to visit Lenoir County Republican headquarters in Kinston today and participate in ribbon-cutting ceremonies at a business in Rose Hill. After meeting employees of a poultry processing facility, he will visit Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties.

Burr also met earlier this morning with the sheriff and other law enforcement officers at Lane Tree Golf Club.