The men and women who have served in our armed forces deserve special respect for the sacrifices they have made to defend our country. I can't think of a better way to honor those who have served than by taking care of them as they grow older. I'm thankful an effort is underway to build a new Arkansas veterans home. A veterans' home was shut down last year in Little Rock after being cited for health and building inspection violations. Unfortunately, that is more the norm than the exception. Now, a task force is looking for the right place to build a new home. Already, several sites have been crossed off the list for not meeting federal requirements. The Legislature has approved 7 point 5 million dollars for the new home and the federal government is providing a 14 million dollar match. This is the work our government needs to be doing, focus on taking care of our veterans and giving them the care they deserve. Taking care of those who served will make this A Better Arkansas and A Better Region 8.
The fight against breast cancer takes a lot of money. The money is raised in many ways like the Susan G. Komen walk in Little Rock. And then there are incredible efforts that speak volumes from the tiniest of voices. This week I learned about a yard sale coming up this weekend in Paragould. What's so special about a yard sale? It's being organized by 8 year old Tori Jetton. Tori is in the 3rd grade at Baldwin Elementary. In 2012, Tori's grandmother died from breast cancer. Tori's dream is now to find a cure for cancer, but she told her mom she's not old enough right now to find a cure, but she can still raise money to help the scientists find a cure. I think we can all take a page from Tori's logic and give Tori a helping hand in her effort. Tori will be holding her yard sale this Friday and Saturday at 703 Samuel Drive in Paragould. There will also be raffle items and a donation box if you just want to give. I know Tori and her family would love to see you there. Helping Tori raise money to find a cure for cancer will make this A Better Region 8.
Incredible job growth has landed the City of Jonesboro on a prestigious list. Forbes Magazine has ranked Jonesboro as one of the top 10 small cities for jobs in 2013. That's quite an honor considering how many small cities make up the fabric of our country. Local leaders point to a wide economic base for this recognition. Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce President Mark Young highlights all the sectors where we excel: healthcare, education, retail, agriculture, industrial and construction. In addition, people from 11 counties come to Jonesboro for jobs. It's easy to see Jonesboro is a growing part of Region 8. All you have to do is drive down a street like Stadium or Highway 49 and see multiple areas of construction. That construction means jobs and that will help us lead the nation in job growth. We must all do our part to keep our community on this growth pattern by supporting local businesses. Continuing the job growth trend will help make this A Better Region 8.
As you know, when I come across someone who inspires me, I like to share that with you. Such is the case with 18-year-old Raymond Walter of Mountain Home. Raymond graduated over the weekend from the University of Arkansas. So he's 18 years old and get this, he got 3 degrees from U of A. But that's not the most amazing thing, you see, Raymond is confined to a wheelchair because he has a severe case of Muscular Dystrophy. When I heard Raymond's motto, it grabbed my attention. He said his condition has forced him to get busy living or get busy dying. Obviously Raymond has chosen to make the most of his life despite his challenges. Raymond says he plans to continue his education at the University of Arkansas pursuing doctorates in Math and Physics. Way to go Raymond! We could all take a lesson from Raymond's example and get busy living. It's special people like Raymond Walter who make this A Better Region 8.
With all the talk about "being green" and doing the right thing for the environment, do you ever wonder what's the point? The week of April 22nd is the 3rd year Jonesboro will observe Paint the Town Green Week. You can get more information about the week's events at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce or the public library. It's about encouraging you and me to reduce, reuse and recycle everything we buy, consume, grow or throw away. When we reduce the number of things we come in contact with that get thrown away, everybody saves money. When manufacturers make and ship stuff to us for less money, we all win. There's no question: we live in a pretty complex world where what we buy and consumer may be grown or made thousands of miles away. Getting those products to our home or job is a pretty involved process and not very "green" if you consider what it really costs to get it to us. That's why one of the best ways we can "be green" is to support locally owned business, buy from a local farmer and always be conscious of the impact we make as a consumer. Be an educated consumer when you shop and we'll all enjoy A Better Region 8.
You may recall Congressman Rick Crawford hosted a Nutrition Summit in Region 8 last year after hearing students were going hungry due to the USDA's new school nutrition regulations. Crawford listened along with other lawmakers as school administrators, parents, nutritionists and teachers told him how the guidelines were impacting their students. They said the portions were too small and the food was not fit to eat.
Much of the food is ending up in the garbage can, and now Representative Crawford along with fellow Arkansas congressmen have introduced the Sensible School Lunch Act in the U-S House of Representatives. This legislation would empower local officials to interpret national school lunch and breakfast nutrition guidelines according to their students' needs. I had the chance to attend the Nutrition Summit and hear what these folks were going through when it came to feeding our children. It's satisfying to know our local lawmakers heard the need and are taking action in hopes of changing this situation. I know our lawmakers can't solve all of our problems, but it's good to know voicing a concern can lead to action. Letting your voice be heard can make this A Better Region 8.
Before joining the Region 8 family, I worked in Memphis. One of the most incredible things I got to do while working there was tour St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. As most of you know, St. Jude's is one of the world's premier centers for the research and treatment of cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases. You might think St Jude would be a sad place, but that is just not the case. It was one of the happiest and most positive experiences of my life. I was inspired by the hope and happiness that exudes the hallways of St Jude. In 1989, a radio fundraising program began for St Jude after Randy Owen, lead singer for Alabama, met St Jude founder Danny Thomas. Country Cares has grown to one of the most successful radio fundraising events in the nation with more than 200 radio station partners. One of those partners is Thunder Country 96 point 3 in Blytheville. Our partners at Thunder Country will be raising money for St Jude on Friday and Saturday. You will be able to make a pledge by calling 1-800-737-0096 or by visiting Thunder Country's website at thunder country 963 dot com. Giving to Country Cares, and continuing the fight against cancer will make this A Better Region 8.
Valentine's Day is Thursday and then we have a very special day planned for you to open your hearts and give to Make A Wish. You see, there are children in Region 8 who need extra special love because they are just fighting to live. Children like 5-year-old Zaviah from Parkin, Arkansas. Zaviah had her wish granted in December. She wished for a shopping spree and that's exactly what she got at the Mall at Turtle Creek. Zaviah got her own personal shopper and some help from her twin sister Zariah. It takes all of us to grant wishes. That's why this Friday the Jonesboro Radio Group and KAIT are joining forces to hold the 15th Annual Have A Heart Wish A Thon. We will be collecting donations from 6 in the morning until 7 at night. The donations will go to grant wishes for children who are fighting life threatening diseases. You will be able to call in a donation or stop by one of the many bucket brigades spread out across Region 8. Please have a heart, give if you can and let's grant these children's wishes and make this A Better Region 8.
The backbone of our community is agriculture so it's no surprise to me that when there's a need, businesses and individuals who make their living through agriculture are the first to step forward and help. I learned about a new event that is taking place next month called Ag for Autism Bracket Bonanza. Ag for Autism is an allegiance of ag businesses dedicated to helping local children and families affected by autism. The group raises money to use for autism research and therapy programs. The Ag for Autism Bracket Bonanza will be held Tuesday, March 19th at the ASU Convocation Center starting at 6 p.m. There will be a dinner and silent auction where you could win up to 5 thousand dollars in cash in the slam dunk giveaway. There are tickets available and you can take part in this incredible new event by calling 870-336-2290 or log on to kait8.com for a link to their website. Support Ag for Autism and you will help make this A Better Region 8.
I want to tell you about 9-year-old Jerriah Buford. Jerriah has cerebral palsy and requires around the clock care. She was born with C-P, a group of disorders that can impact brain and nervous system functions like movement, hearing, seeing, and thinking. To make matters worse, Jerriah was also the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her parents. She is blind, cannot speak and has undergone numerous surgeries. But there is good news, she and her twin sister are now in the care of a wonderful foster mother. Jerriah is also this year's Super Star for the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon. You will have the chance to make a donation to help Jerriah and others impacted by cerebral palsy. This year's telethon is this Sunday, January 27th from noon to 7. You can see the telethon right here on KAIT and new this year, you can also see a live stream of the telethon on kait8.com. All of the donations stay right here in Region 8. I'll be there to take calls from 530 to 7. I look forward to taking your pledges. All of the donations, no matter how big or small will go a long way to making this A Better Region 8.