Walking#039; proud

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 27, 2001

Community pays tribute to Senator Mitchell

People from all walks of life in Butler County gathered together on Wednesday to pay tribute to Senator "Walking" Wendell Mitchell.

Representatives of the municipal governments in Greenville, Georgiana and McKenzie, along with County Commissioners, Judges, Law Enforcement, Emergency Communications, Fire Service officials, teachers, counselors, the District Attorney's office, and many from the business community of Butler County came together for a luncheon at Cambrian Ridge, to honor Senator Mitchell.

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The luncheon opened with Mayor Dexter McLendon welcoming everyone, noting that Senator Mitchell, and his ability to seek financial funding for the area had touched everyone in the room.

He then explained his long-term association with Senator Mitchell, by relating his personal account.

"I first became acquainted with Senator Mitchell when he was running for the Senate the first time," the mayor said. "I was working at a football game-during his first campaign-he introduced himself to me, and I told him that I had already promised my vote to someone else-he said he wanted to come back and have lunch with me, and try to persuade my vote-I thought, yeah, that's the last time I'll see that politician', but a few days later, he called me, and we had lunch."

McLendon said that was some 15 years ago, and Mitchell has never let him or the citizens of this county down since.

"Wendell is our friend," said Probate Judge MacDonald Russell. "He always has his heart with us here in Butler County."

"School students have got to see for themselves," said Dr. Mike Reed, superintendent of the Butler County Board of Education. "They have said, he can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk'-I'm here to tell you, this man walks his talk.

"Senator Mitchell has gotten over a half-million dollars into our school system," Reed said. "On behalf of our 3,600 students, and 475 employees in the Butler County School System, I want to say thank you."

"It seems like every couple of days, Senator Mitchell is here, helping us," McLendon said.

Joanne Schrantz, a guidance counselor at Greenville High School and a long-time friend of the Senator spoke next.

"We are here to share our appreciation of Wendell," she said. "There are so many people here that I appreciate-I think it's very important that we thank each one that helps us-It is important to give the positive strokes, the pats on the back.

"I also want to thank everyone that took the time away from their busy day today to come and help us thank Wendell."

Mayor McLendon spoke again, before introducing the guest of honor.

"Wendell loves kids, and loves helping education."

He also related a unique trait of the Senator.

"Most people are either for Alabama or for Auburn," he said. "But Wendell is truly for both-he received his BS degree from Auburn, and later was awarded his law degree from the University of Alabama, so he has been to both, and if you ask him, he will tell you he is a fan of both!"

The Mayor then introduced Mitchell, saying, "People know who Walking Wendell' is."

Senator Mitchell then spoke.

"Butler County has always been special to me. When I was a kid, my parents would take me to Greenville on Sundays, to have lunch at Moody's Steakhouse, and I always thought that was the best.

"I met and married my wife, Rosalyn McBride from Greenville-that makes it even more special to me. Each person in this room, knows the self-satisfaction received from your service to communities."

Mitchell then explained what would make this year unique.

"This is the year that the results of the ten-year census come out. I currently have seven counties that I am responsible for, and, although things are not what they used to be, if anyone tried to change my district, I would go down with the ship fighting against it!"

The senator then expressed his appreciation to The Greenville Advocate for giving him the opportunity to write his weekly column for publication.

In closing, McLendon spoke of

his own appreciation to the school representatives.

"And now, I want to mention an issue that is extremely close to me," McLendon said. "Folks, if a big industry were going to leave our community, you would be asking me, please don't let it happen'; there is a very important issue that will be coming up again soon.

"Please don't let the one-mill tax go away-this is not a new tax, but it is one that must be renewed by popular vote every ten years-so many areas of our communities depend on this funding, and we can't afford to lose it."

The Mayor then thanked everyone in attendance, and presented Senator Mitchell with a plaque of appreciation.