Hargett opened the morning by discussing the State of the State address given by Gov. Bill Haslam this past Monday and his continued dedication for the people in West Tennessee.
The event was the first opportunity for many to meet Finney who will be Dyer County's new senator as a result of redistricting. Finney who grew up in Dresden was elected to the state Senate in 2006. Unlike federal government whose battle lines are drawn along party lines, Finney said that most of the division that he finds is between rural and urban.
Sanderson agreed with Finney that there are needs in rural areas like Dyer County and pointed to recent successes such as the Safe Routes to School grant, the funding for the Port of Cates Landing and funding that was presented to the McIver's Grant Public Library on Friday morning. Sanderson also discussed the governor's desire to run the state more like a business and to do away with legislation that discourages businesses from coming to Tennessee.
Finney and Sanderson participated in a question-and-answer session with members of the audience who asked a variety of questions, but it was Judy Long's question about methamphetamine that created the most discussion. Sanderson acknowledged that there were issues but coming up with the best solution is not always as cut and dry as it may seem.
Assistant District Attorney Jim Horner was present and he expressed to Sanderson and Finney that the issue has nothing to do with law enforcement.
"We have a mess here in Dyer County and it has nothing to do with law enforcement. We have the best law enforcement money could buy," said Horner. "These individuals need to start going to a doctor and get a prescription for Sudafed (which contains pseudoephedrine commonly used to make methamphetamine) and stop selling it over the counter."
Dr. Karen Rutledge, counselor and the ADA coordinator at Dyersburg State Community College encouraged elected officials to look at educating the public on the effects of pseudoephedrine. According to Rutledge she had recently seen a serious ad campaign out of the state of Montana, which was successfully able to reduce its methamphetamine use by 40 percent just by educating individuals on its effects.
"We have a lot to be proud of here," said Hill. "Your government is working hard for you."
"We have had some hard times but our focus is to provide more jobs," said Holden. "I agree with Senator Finney our better days are ahead."