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.

DRA Chair, Gov. Beebe, US Representatives, Delta Leaders at May 5-6 Delta conference

Posted on April 04, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Delta Regional Authority Federal Cochairman Chris Masingill will speak at the opening session of our annual Delta conference on Thursday evening, May 5 at the Clinton School of Public Service. For the Friday, May 6 session we will have Congressman Rick Crawford, Congressman Mike Ross, Governor Mike Beebe, Congressman Tim Griffin and former US Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater.

President Clinton has given superb presentations every year over the audio system and fielded questions for the past several years and that has always been one of the highlights. We will have grassroots leaders from all eight DRA states.

Chairman Masingill will be the keynote speaker for the opening session at about 6 p.m. on Thursday evening, May 6 at the Clinton School of Public Service. Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School is always a great host at that session. We also plan to give the Inspire Hope Award to a Delta leader for many years of outstanding service to our region.

Rep. Ross is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 6 at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library, followed by Gov. Beebe at 10:30 a.m. We plan to have Speaker of the House Robert Moore, who is from the Delta heartland community of Arkansas City, to speak about his activities for the Delta’s economic development and introduce Gov. Beebe on May 6.

Congressman Rick Crawford and Congressman Tim Griffin will speak at the luncheon along with one other speaker. It will be important to hear the views of the two new US Representatives.

PLEASE RSVP by responding to this email and sending in the registration fees. You register by sending in the $100 early registration fees, or $85 if you are registering as part of a group of five or more to get the group discount, to the address below. We try to keep the numbers down to about 100 people and we have 75 RSVPs at this point, so if you want to participate it would be a good idea to go ahead and register.

The opening session is Thursday evening, May 5, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service, with good food and drinks. The opening session is Friday, May 6, at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and send the $100 registration fees on or before April 27 to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

NOTE: The late registration fees go up to $150 each after April 27, because we really need to get the funds in hand before the conference to pay the bills that come due shortly before it.

Chairman Chris Masingill has received excellent reviews and generated great enthusiasm for his leadership at the DRA, so we are glad to have him at the opening session at about 6 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service, which is one of the best speaking times for the whole conference because everybody is energized and Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School, always does a great job of hosting the opening session. Dean Rutherford has shown a strong interest in and dedication to the Delta issues for many years now, so we are really looking forward to having him and Chairman Masingill at the opening session.

This is the first time we have ever had a Federal Cochairman of the DRA address our annual conference at the Clinton Center in Arkansas.

Chris Masingill has done a great deal of important work for the Delta for many years now. I recall when I was senior adviser to the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative he was working for former Sen. Blanche Lincoln for the legislation to create the DRA, which was sponsored in the House by former Rep. Marion Berry, received bipartisan support in Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton late in 2000. We want to reflect about the DRA’s 10th anniversary, look at the pluses in regional economic development, what has worked well, and where we still have challenging issues.

Chairman Masingill was later an aide for Congressman Mike Ross in Arkansas and a senior aide to Gov. Mike Beebe. We could not find a better person than Chris to help us commemorate the DRA’s 10th anniversary and provide his vision on what we need to do for a brighter future in our region.

Alternate Federal Cochairman Mike Marshall of Missouri has also won excellent reviews for his leadership at the DRA, and we are very glad to have his participation as well as others from the important state of Missouri. We are glad to have Steve Jones, a high-ranking official in Gov. Beebe’s administration who is also the DRA alternate for the state of Arkansas. Steve Jones has been a stalwart grassroots leader for the Delta for many years now.

Key issues over the two-day conference: Key issues will be job creation/economic recovery, support for the DRA; support for the Community Health House Network led by James Miller of Mississippi, as well as other health care and hunger and nutrition issues; support for Delta heritage tourism; expansion of broadband access; transportation, rural development and other infrastructure issues; broader educational opportunity; support for renewable energy; and other key issues for the region from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans and east to Selma, Alabama.

Session on Friday afternoon with Arkansas Baptist College President Fitzgerald Hill: President Fitz Hill is a dynamic leader for Arkansas Baptist College (ABC), which is based in Little Rock but does great work in the Delta. President Hill leads fundraising efforts (such as one connected with the UAPB-Grambling football game) for literacy programs and many other beneficial activities in the Delta.

President Hill recruits students across the Delta, and will lead the final session from about 2:45 to 4:15 or so. That session will include a couple of ABC students from Rwanda, Catherine Bahn and Mollie Palmer of the Arkansas Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s anti-poverty program in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, and other colleagues of the network led by President Hill. Please plan to stay for that because President Hill is dynamic and innovative and you won’t want to miss that session.

GROUP HOTEL: The group hotel is the Comfort Inn and Suites near the Clinton Library. Please call the hotel at (501) 687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the group rate of $79 for the night of May 5, Thursday. This is a good rate by downtown Little Rock standards. You can check out of the hotel on the morning of May 6, store your luggage there and come back to pick it up in the afternoon when the conference ends, so you will only need to pay for one hotel night.

For those who want to stay for Friday, May 6, the group discount rate is also available for that night.

OTHER DELTA LEADERS WHO WILL BE JOINING US ON MAY 5-6: In addition to the participants noted above, we expect to have the following Delta leaders in attendance, with many of them speaking on panels over the course of the two-day conference:

Dr. Obadiah Simmons, Grambling State University in Louisiana, a long-time leader for the Delta region;

Billy McFarland, Director for the Center for Business and Economic Services at the University of West Alabama, Livingston, Alabama;

James Miller, leader of the innovative grassroots health care initiative, the Community Health House Network, based in Mississippi;

Larry Williams, CEO of the Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi and active across Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi;

James Stapleton, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Southeast Missouri State University, and Missouri co-coordinator for the Delta Caucus, Cape Girardeau, Missouri;

Dr. Martha Ellen Black, director, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, East Prairie, Missouri, Delta Caucus board member and Missouri co-coordinator;

Brad Cole, former mayor of Carbondale, Illinois, now an aide to US Senator Kirk of Illinois, who will be there to network with participants and gather information for Sen. Kirk);

Terrence Clark or Will Staley of THRIVE, an innovative new nonprofit in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas that is co-manager for the Phillips County business incubator;

Kevin Smith, former aide to then Gov. Bill Clinton and US Senator Dale Bumpers, former state senator and long-time Delta regional advocate;

Rex Nelson, former Alternate Federal Cochairman of the DRA, now president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities;

Charita Johnson and Vivian Fry-Greer, Shiloh Distribution Center nonprofit based in Lexington in the west Tennessee Delta, and active in many communities in the Delta with the Manna Connect hunger and nutrition program;

Jerry Smith, Arkansas State University Economic Development Center, based in Jonesboro, Arkansas and active throughout the Arkansas Delta;

State Senator Jack Crumbly, Crittenden County, veteran Delta regional advocate;

Barrett Harrison, director, Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority, former Mayor of Blytheville, Delta Caucus board member;

Sam Scruggs and Cecil McDonald, Mississippi County Equal Opportunity Commission, Blytheville, Arkansas;

Mississippi County Judge Randy Carney;

Poinsett County Judge Charles Nix;

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy and Delta Caucus Vice President;

Chicot County Judge Mack Ball;

Joe Black, Southern Bancorp, which engages in many productive activities in the Delta;

Clif Chitwood, Great River Economic Development Foundation, Blytheville, Arkansas;

Mayor James Sanders, Blytheville (he is the new mayor of Blytheville and we are glad to have him participate for the first time);

Mayor JoAnne Bush, Lake Village, Arkansas;

Mayor Jack McGehee, McGehee, Arkansas;

Kenny and Melissa Gober, McGehee Housing Authority;

Robert Dansby, Edgenics Corp. a national corporation that is active in broadband, education and other beneficial activities in the Delta;

Johnnie Bolin, executive director, Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council, Crossett in Ashley County–one of the leading transportation experts in the entire Delta region;

Rep. Robert Moore, Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, from the heart of the Delta in Arkansas City;

State Rep. Garry Smith, Camden, speaking on behalf of environmentally friendly development of lignite in southern Arkansas’

Ken Smith, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior in the Clinton administration, environmental and energy expert, expressing concerns about lignite development;

State Senator and pastor Hank Wilkins IV, Pine Bluff;

Laymon Jones, chair, Inspire Hope Institute, based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Delta Caucus executive committee;

Kay Goss, SRA corporation, Associate Director of FEMA in the Clinton administration, internationally recognized expert on emergency relief; she is also working with James Miller in support of the Community Health House Network;

Ray Higgins, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas, which has an excellent program in Helena-West Helena to promote economic development in that important Delta community;

Tamidra Marable, Heifer International, who works on farmers’ markets and many other constructive activities for nutrition and helping small farmers in the Delta;

We are honored to again have the participation of a group of 12 students from the Clinton School of Public Service. Many public service projects in the Delta have been performed by these students in the past and they continue to do so today.

Please RSVP and register for the Delta conference on May 5-6, 2011. Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347