08/05/12 — Sen. Hagan checks on mood of Greene County constituents

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Sen. Hagan checks on mood of Greene County constituents

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on August 5, 2012 1:50 AM

SNOW HILL -- Jobs and education were on the agenda Friday as residents of Snow Hill and the surrounding area met with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan to tell her their concerns.

The visit was part of Hagan's "Conversations with Kay" tour, in which she visits communities across the state to hear from constituents about what's working for North Carolina in the Capitol and what isn't.

"If anybody has an issue with the federal government, I want to see what we can do to help," Sen. Hagan said. "I want to listen to their concerns."

And in the midst of still-high unemployment, it was mainly the economy people wanted to discuss.

"It all comes down to jobs," the senator said. "Usually everywhere I go there are jobs, but there's a mismatch in skills."

She said she aims to sync people's skills and employers' needs with her AMERICA Works Act, which she introduced last year. The bill, still in a Senate committee, would provide training programs for the unemployed.

Seeing her constituents face to face was a reminder to Sen. Hagan of how much her decisions in Washington, D.C., affect the people here, she said.

"It makes you realize everything is local," she said. "All the bills we pass have an impact. I can help bridge the language between here and Washington."

Several residents said they appreciated the senator coming to hear them out.

"It's good to be able to personally talk to somebody," said Sharon Harrison, director of Greene County's Senior Services. "It's just nice to have a face-to-face conversation."

Helen Faircloth, who rode with Ms. Harrison from the senior center, said she was glad to tell Sen. Hagan her concerns because she often feels politicians aren't listening.

"Little people don't have no say no more," she said.

The senator also came to discuss education and to ask about Greene County Middle School, which was heavily damaged in a tornado last year.

Sen. Hagan said she wants to reform No Child Left Behind by giving more power to state and local teachers, but the reform effort is still on the Senate floor.

"Education to me is the whole issue," she said.

Aside from hearing constituents' concerns, the senator also gave them a progress report on the work she is doing in the Senate.

She discussed a bill to provide health care for Camp Lejeune veterans and families who were exposed to contaminated drinking water, as well as a five-year farm bill that would implement an insurance safety net program for farmers.

She said the Camp Lejeune bill is expected to be signed into law this week, while the farm bill is still on the floor of the House of Representatives.