Monday, January 21, 2008

TOP STORY >> Beebe: Cabot is spectacular

Leader staff writer

“We had so many ribbon-cuttings last year that we broke our scissors,” outgoing Cabot chamber president Wayne Welch told a full house Friday night at Veterans Park Community Park right before the governor commended the city for its outstanding growth.

Gov. Mike Beebe was the keynote speaker at the chamber’s 47th annual membership meeting and banquet.

The chamber also honored its citizen of the year, high school teacher Kelly Chaney.

“I’m here tonight to celebrate an extraordinary success story,” Beebe told the gathering of business owners and residents. “We have something like 500 cities in Arkansas and many of them would love to have your traffic problems, your problem of so
many businesses opening that you can’t keep up with inspections and with having to plan for a new school almost every year.
“You have a spectacular city here,” the governor said.

Beebe said that the city’s schools might well be its key to success.

“Families move to where their children and grandchildren can get a good education and have a chance to prosper,” he said. “The schools in Cabot are a magnet for people.”

The governor told the audience that the federal government’s number one priority was defense, to protect citizens from all enemies foreign and domestic. “That makes the state’s priority education, first and foremost,” he said, “And it’s certainly my priority.”

That’s why, the governor said, that 70 cents out of every general revenue dollars goes to support some form of education in the state.

Beebe then switched gears and told the audience his major concern transcended everything else—the need to regain faith and trust of people in government.

“I don’t care how often a politician has lied to you, stolen your money or broken your heart, we have to regain confidence in our system,” he said. “It only flourishes when people have confidence in it.”

The governor said going into politics use to be a noble calling “and it should be again.”

That’s one reason why when he ran for governor he didn’t try to say things just to get elected — he just focused on what he thought he could reasonably do. “It’s better to under promise and over deliver,” the governor said.

He added that for government to regain the country’s trust, “caring people like you in Cabot need to run for office.”

Beebe recalled the time in the 60’s that Soviet Union Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the podium of the United Nations, looked at Adlai Stevenson, who was representing the U.S., and said, “We will bury you.”

“The Soviet Union is no longer, and we are still going strong,” the governor continued. “The only people who can bury us is us, if we forget that we have the greatest form of government.”

Beebe’s speech was relatively quick compared to state Sen. Bobby Glover’s welcoming of the governor.

“I don’t give short introductions when it comes to the governor,” said the Democrat from Carlisle, extolling Beebe’s efforts to cut the grocery tax in half and other reforms that have helped the state move forward on several fronts.

When Beebe moved to the microphone after the introduction, he quipped, “I should just say what he said,” pointing to Glover, “and sit down.”

Before letting the audience know what a wonderful city Cabot was, Beebe did point out that the last legislative session, the first under his governorship, accomplished more in the shortest period of time with the most civility “than I can remember.”

Five Cabot residents were nominated for citizen of the year, including Matt Webber, Carolyn Butts, Max Trummel, Dr. Neal Wyatt and Chaney.

Chaney is a national board-certified science teacher at Cabot High School, active with the Key Club and the Junior Auxiliary.
Before the banquet ended, Welch, who had served as chamber president for 17 months, turned the gavel over to the new president, Pat Hagee.