Tennessee senator visits Loudon County

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., right, listens to Loudon County Commissioner David Meers on Friday at the county office building.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., visited local officials and residents Friday as a part of her tour of Tennessee’s counties.

Blackburn annually visits every county in the state. She met with Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw and other county officials and residents at 2:45 p.m. in the county offices.

“It was just kind of an update,” Bradshaw said. “She was just checking on the county, seeing some of our progress. One of the hot topics, of course, was our growth here in Loudon County and our success with the COVID vaccines as well. Those were really the two big subjects. We answered a few questions, and she answered some questions from us. It’s just always good for our people in Washington to be that accessible.”

The visit showed Blackburn was there “for the right reasons,” Bradshaw said.

“She came in, and she had some of the numbers already assembled and to talk about those, and I think that helps her kind of keep her finger on the pulse for this area and this region,” he said. “I know she had been in a few other counties before she came into Loudon. Of course, East Tennessee has been performing well and I think she recognizes that. I think she can also show that in as a way to how things can be done the right way to be successful.”

Blackburn listened to various concerns from residents.

“Last year, we had to do all of our meetings virtually because of COVID,” she said. “And now that the state is lifting the restrictions, then it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to get out and meet in person instead of meeting on Zoom, so we’re loving this.”

One concern was the possible Asian carp invasion in Watts Bar and Tellico lakes.

“We have been working with the groups in Tennessee and primarily in West Tennessee where many of those groups are located that are trying to deal with this,” Blackburn said. “We continue to work on that issue, and this is something you are seeing local, state and federal attention and resources directed to so that we solve this. It’s important to get it resolved.”

Presidential dismay

Blackburn is concerned about some of President Joe Biden’s recently announced initiatives.

Biden said April 28 that the American Families Plan, in conjunction with the previously announced American Jobs Plan, aims to “reinvest in the future of the American economy and American workers, and will help us out-compete China and other countries around the world.”

The White House said AJP targets infrastructure needs such as broadband internet access and bridge repair, while the AFP offers universal pre-kindergarten and free community college.

“As has been widely reported, if you put roads, highways, bridges, interstates, power grid, waterways, ports, airports and broadband all together, it would only be about a little over a third of the president’s proposal,” Blackburn said. “But what happens is there’s all these other things that are really not infrastructure.

“Tennesseans repeatedly say to us, ‘We want investment in infrastructure. We need broadband. We need to widen highways. We need to repair bridges that are in a state of disrepair. Our rivers need to be dredged’,” she added. “And so this is the kind of thing that they’re wanting to see. And they think that federal taxpayer dollars should be focused on meeting those needs.”

Blackburn has “tremendous concerns” with the AFP.

“When you look at the universal pre-K,” she said. “When you look at free junior college. When you look at childcare, and they say, ‘Well, it won’t cost anybody a dime.’ Well, but that’s not exactly right because with that all your taxes are going up and it means that people are going to have less money in their paycheck. People are quite concerned about that. Those are decisions they would like to make for themselves, for their family, instead of having things that are controlled by the government.”