Wednesday, November 30, 2005

TOP STORY >> Berry insists he’ll run

Leader staff writer

Cong. Marion Berry, D-Gillette, who was in Cabot on Monday at the request of the Arlene Cherry Memorial Library, said he has heard rumors that he is not running again for the First District seat he has held for nine years, and those rumors are false, he insists.

“I know there’s people telling that, but it’s not so,” Berry said. “There’s probably some who wish I wasn’t running, but I’m actually more energetic and enthusiastic about it than I was last year.”

It’s been almost a year since doctors at UAMS in Little Rock identified four degenerated vertebrae as the source of the debilitating pain in Berry’s neck. Since the operation in January to correct the problem, the congressman says his life is back to normal and he is excited about representing the people who live in his district.

“There are just so many things going on that I want to see finished,” he said.
But Berry would not comment on the two Republicans from Cabot who want to take his seat next November – Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh and Patrick D’Andrea, who will face off in the primary next year.
“I don’t ever talk about my opponents,” he said.

Instead, he talked about the work in progress that he has been a part of: major highway projects, an airport at Stuttgart capable of handling small jets and an anticipated truck-manufacturing plant at Wynne that will help revitalize the economy in the Delta.

“We’ve got a lot of good things happening, and I want to stick around and see them happen,” said Berry, who is seeking a fifth term.
His appearance in Cabot was to acknowledge a grant of books the library had received from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “We the People Project,” which sponsors the bookshelf program.

The 30 or so books the library received all contain some element of this year’s theme – freedom.

Berry perused the titles, commenting that “Animal Farm” by George Orwell was a classic and that C. S. Lewis, author of “The Complete Chronicles of Narnia” isn’t someone he usually associates with children’s literature.

Dixie Lewis, children’s librarian, said before Berry arrived that the congressman was not responsible for the grant.
“This was a grant from the national government, so we asked him to come by and celebrate this gift,” she said.
Berry posed for pictures in front of the new collection and reminisced about the first library he had ever visited.
“It wasn’t any bigger than that rack right there,” he said, pointing to a rack containing about 20 books. Berry grew up in the country near DeWitt where textbooks were scarce and libraries were almost non-existent, he said.

Now, he says he can’t imagine a morning without a newspaper or a life without books.