The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Revised Agenda for Feb. 5-6, 2009 Delta Conference; & Appreciation for Sponsors

Posted on February 03, 2009 at 06:51 PM

We will have Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. Mark Pryor, nationally recognized FEMA expert Kay Goss, Dean James “Skip” Rutherford of the Clinton School of Public Service, and grassroots speakers from across the eight states for the Feb. 5-6, 2009 Delta Grassroots Caucus conference at the Clinton Presidential Center. We have also added Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to discuss his views on the new lottery and its impact on education in the Arkansas Delta. The focus of the conference is on reviving the economy in the Delta, both in getting us out of the recession and sustaining it for the long-term through improved education and other sustainable policies.

President Bill Clinton is invited to speak at the luncheon as he did last year over the audio system, but with his busy schedule it is usually right beforehand that it would be finalized. A full revised agenda is included below.

The opening session is Thursday evening, Feb. 5, 2009, 5 to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service. The main session is Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library.

While we have 150 RSVPS right now, the terrible weather in northern Arkansas and other areas of the region will reduce the actual turnout. Many people in places like Tuckerman, Cherokee Village, Blytheville and elsewhere were without power for a week. Our colleague, Jan Paschal, who heads the nonprofit Every Child Is Ours Foundation, said many people went hungry in Tuckerman, Arkansas, and she cooked a meal for several hundred people a day or so ago. Most of the ice has melted but the power outages are still a problem.

We would like to thank our sponsors:

Lead sponsor–Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, in the Blytheville, Arkansas area

Major cosponsors: the national Housing Assistance Council in Washington, DC, Inspire Hope Institute (Chair, Laymon Jones), Entergy Corp., the City of Carbondale, Illinois, the City of Sikeston, Missouri, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, state organizations in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi and national headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sponsors: East Arkansas Enterprise Community, Forrest City, Arkansas; Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi; Desha County Judge Mark McElroy; McGehee Industrial Foundation of McGehee, Arkansas; the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center of East Prairie, Missouri; Mississippi County Equal Opportunity Commission; McGehee Bank of McGehee, AR; First Bank of the Delta, West Helena, AR, and Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana.

The opening session will feature Dean Rutherford speaking about the Clinton School’s activities in the Delta. We will also have Beth Wiedower of the Arkansas Rural Heritage, which works with the Clinton School on some Delta activities. Then we will have two people who have longstanding ties to President Barack Obama speaking about their views on what the new administration means for our region’s economic future–Mayor Brad Cole of Carbondale, Illinois, who has known Barack Obama since his days in the Illinois state legislature and then later as US Senator, and Lisa Ferrell, a distinguished attorney who has known Obama since they were Harvard Law School colleagues. She was a campaign spokesperson on Obama’s behalf in our forum for Presidential candidates last year.

Then we will have Lt. Gov. Halter speak about his views on what the new lottery will mean for education in the Arkansas Delta. After that there will be a panel on various educational activities in the Delta, including Barbara Andrews of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, President Robin Myers of Arkansas Northeastern College, Regina Wilkerson, a graduate student at the Clinton School who does service work in the Delta, Alan Gumbel, president of Gumbel & Associates in Memphis, and Tom Scheib, head of YouthBuild at Louisiana Technical College in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

The opening panel of the main session kicks off at the Clinton Library on Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. with a “big picture” panel on community and economic development in the region, with Mayor Barrett Harrison of Blytheville, Arkansas, Mayor Heather Hudson of Greenville, Mississippi, Mayor Thelma Collins of Itta Bena, Mississippi, Ivie Allen of the Foundation for the Mid-South, Bob Cole of the East Arkansas Enterprise Community and a former high-ranking official in the Clinton administration at USDA Rural Development, and Larry Williams, head of the nonprofit Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi but operating in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Then we will have Scott Curran of the Clinton Foundation speak about the foundation’s activities and policy initiatives for the Delta and rural America in general. Then Rep. Tommy Baker of Osceola will introduce Gov. Mike Beebe, who has been widely regarded as doing an excellent job for education, renewable energy, economic development, health care and other issues vital for the Delta.

Speaker Robbie Wills will then speak about rural health care issues for the underserved Delta, followed by Minnie Bommer, a rural development expert from Covington, Tennessee in the west Tennessee Delta, will also focus on rural health care as well.

Jan Paschal, head of the Every Child Is Ours foundation and formerly a high ranking official in the US Dept. of Education under President Clinton, will speak about her various constructive activities in the Delta in nutrition, with young people and various other beneficial work. As we noted above, she recently did a great job helping care for the cold and hungry people in her area who went without power during the terrible icy weather.

At the luncheon, we will have nationally recognized FEMA expert Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA under President Clinton who has been advising the Obama administration on how to reform FEMA. Sen. Mark Pryor will also speak about the economic stimulus package debate, although he has emphasized that while he will do everything in his power to come and speak, he may have to stay in Washington if there are continuing votes on the econonomic stimulus package. Sen. Pryor is now a member of the Appropriations Committee, has participated in our conferences many times in the past and is a leader who will be a major force in Congress for many years to come.

Congressman Mike Ross, Congressman Marion Berry and Sen. Blanche Lincoln always speak at our Washington, DC conferences and will do so again this year, but they were not able to get away from Washington during this hectic time and we all understand that. The Washington, DC Delta conference is set for June 2, 3 and 4, 2009.

Then we will have a big panel on transportation, housing and other infrastructure issues, which will be such an important part of the stimulus package. We also have a major opportunity to make progress on the I-69 Corridor, Great River Bridge and the entire Delta Development Highway System plan in this year’s highway bill. We will have Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama, Bill Triplett, senior adviser at the DRA, Johnnie Bolin of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council, Mayor Mike Marshall of Sikeston, Missouri, Clif Chitwood of the Great River Economic Development Foundation in Blytheville, Arkansas, Kenny Gober, executive director of the McGehee-Lake Village Housing Authority, and Lance George, a nationally recognized expert on rural housing issues from the Housing Assistance Council in Washington, DC.

If you did not get the message about the early registration fee of $85, we will be very lenient as far as asking for the $100 late registration fee if you want to pay at the door. We just wanted some incentive to get the registration fees in ahead of time.

Please make the checks out to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a notation, “For 2009 fees,” and either bring them to the door or mail them to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus (Attention: Lee Powell) 5030 Purslane Place Waldorf, MD 20601

The group hotel is the Comfort Inn at the Clinton Presidential Library, phone (501) 687-7700

The dates for the annual Delta Initiative in Washington, DC are June 2, 3 and 4, 2009. Thanks so much. Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347