This week, my column will have two points of focus. First, there are some flood-related updates to share. The Missouri River bridge at Rulo is expected to re-open this week. Work has begun on Highway 136 leading to the Missouri River bridge at Brownville. With extensive damage to the road and its underlying foundation, officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) are estimating a reopening date of early October for the Brownville bridge. The most up-to-date information on these reopenings can be found on MoDOT’s website.
Congressman Smith visited our area last week to tour the flood damage and better understand the fight Peru is facing to repair our levee. It’s encouraging to know that our federal delegation has taken an interest in our situation, as their support will be critical in accessing federal resources to repair the levee. News stations in Omaha have also been in contact with my office, and a few will be coming down in the next several weeks to show their viewers that our corner of the state is still feeling the impacts of this flood.
Now, to my second focus of this week’s column: accessibility. In the past two weeks, I’ve traveled to town halls throughout the district, including Sterling, Julian, Humboldt, Stella, Brownville, Palmyra, Unadilla, Lorton, Brock, Douglas, Burchard, Lewiston, Talmage, Nebraska City, and Auburn. My goal is to travel to every single incorporated village and town in the district for an official event before the end of the year. Looking over my schedule this fall and map of District 1, there’s only a few communities without an event scheduled yet.
A number of people have informed me that such a goal is unnecessary, and it would be easier to only schedule events in the district’s larger towns.
To me, however, that’s the difference between just “going through the motions” of this role and putting in the work that Southeast Nebraska deserves. Accessibility is one of the most important parts of my job. That accessibility applies to every part of the district, regardless of town size. It’s impossible to form a clear vision for the future of our region without blanketing the area to understand what’s most important to our people.
That same high-energy approach applies to questions of policy, as well. Many officials consider it to be easier to spout “political fluff” on hot-button issues without any strategy to address them. My approach is the opposite- I’m in the trenches, fighting for a brighter future for our district through achieving long-term property tax relief, K-12 funding reform to ensure that our rural school districts are receiving state funding, better roads and broadband access, and economic development across the region. My plans to get there are specific and achievable. These goals, and the strategy to achieve them, are rooted in conversations that I’ve had across the district. District 1 is my home, and putting in the energy to make a measurable, positive impact is well worth the extra effort.
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.