Unity, optimism impress senator

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The last time Senator Russ Feingold and his wife, Mary, visited Greenville, he wrote about &uot;rundown trailer parks&uot; and &uot;hard, used cars,&uot; but Monday he saw other things.

Following a breakfast at Just Julie’s, the Feingolds visited Greenville High School where they were greeted by Dr. Kathy Murphy and four of the school’s top students.

Murphy selected Angela Crenshaw, President of the Student Government Association; Ciera Kelley, Senior Class President, Bryan Andress, Future Business Leaders of America and Savannah Stacy of the Beta Club to officially welcome the group.

The student leaders toured the school with the Feingolds and other dignitaries, taking them down the hallways and showing him the childcare area of the high school as well as the auditorium, the cafeteria, computer lab and the library. They also were there to field questions and provide insight.

&uot;It was really a plus for the kids to have the opportunity to meet a United States Senator,&uot; said Murphy. &uot;They were there to share insight. Along the way it seemed to me that he was more interested in what they had to say than what the administrators did.&uot;

At the end of the visit, the students provided the Senator with a keepsake.

&uot;We also provided him with a gift basket at the end of his tour,&uot; said Murphy. &uot;We had found out that his wife, Mary liked Bruce Springsteen, so we put a Springsteen CD in there and he likes golf so we had some items from Cambrian Ridge and some golf balls. We also placed some Russell Stover candies in the basket for the both of them.&uot;

To make sure that the school was perfect for the Senator’s visit, a majority of last week was spent landscaping some of the school’s exterior in preparation for the visit.

Feingold returned to the city of Greenville at the request of Mayor Dexter McLendon. With him came a large group of staff for the Senator as well as local, state and national media and the attention did not go unnoticed by the school.

&uot;I did not expect to get to meet him,&uot; said Kelley. &uot;I’m under the weather today, but I couldn’t miss it. He was very nice, I know that I got interviewed by a couple of people about his comments and how I felt about that. I just told them that I understand he is trying to rectify the situation and that everyone can be forgiven. I hope he means everything he was saying.&uot;

&uot;It was nice,&uot; said Stacy. &uot;I didn’t expect that many people. He shook our hands and walked around to different parts of the school.&uot;

The students said Feingold was busy asking them questions while he toured the facility.

&uot;I talked to him about baseball, told him I was sorry the Badgers lost yesterday,&uot; said Andress. &uot;I made a reference to Auburn beating Wisconsin in the bowl game a few years ago.&uot;

While touring the high school, Feingold had the opportunity to meet a teacher that was one of his supporters.

&uot;I admire Senator Feingold,&uot; said Faulk. &uot;I was pleased to meet him. He has taken stands on things that have been controversial and has been willing to take the heat on some issues that I feel were very important. He has voted in a way that not many people have had the courage to vote. For instance, the way he voted on the Patriot Act and the stand that he took on the Campaign-Finance Reform bill and so many other things. He’s always there and willing to vote in a way that’s sometimes not the popular stand to take. I like his stand on the war. He is very much for the American Troops. But he is very much cautious about what’s going on in the war effort.&uot;

While Faulk was in support of the senator, the students that greeted Feingold were left debating the authenticity of his visit.

&uot;I thought there was a catch to his visit,&uot; said Crenshaw. &uot;I think it was for publicity. But I really hope not.&uot;

&uot;If he’s running for president, he’s just trying to get his name out there,&uot; said Kelley.

Hysco and Hwashin

Following the visit to the high school, the group visited Greenville’s two new auto supplier plants.

When he was here in November, he thought the economic slump was evident in Greenville, but his visit to the two plants filled in some blanks.

&uot;We are grateful as Americans for the jobs for people in a community that had high unemployment,&uot; said Feingold after hearing a presentation from Hysco officials. &uot;The optimism of the mayor and the work ethic are a big reason why this is working out.&uot;

Greenville City Council

After a round of golf, Feingold visited the Greenville City Council and praised the whole city for the day he and his wife had.

&uot;How well you have treated us here today,&uot; he said.

&uot;A lot of people may have handled this differently, but this has been a positive experience for us.&uot;

He praised Mayor McLendon for his leadership and said he two colleagues, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Sen. Joseph Biden both met McLendon while he was visiting Washington D.C. recently.

&uot;So my colleagues were talking about this trip before I got here,&uot; he said.

He said he learned that Greenville and Butler County faced many challenges due to high unemployment and loss of industry, but never stopped working for something better.

&uot;You showed me what a unified effort can cause,&uot; he said.

&uot;That is the value of this community.

People coming together to make things better.&uot;

Following the council meeting the Feingolds were the guests at a private reception at the home of Dr. Bill and Magoo Hamilton where several local dignitaries and business leaders hobnobbed with the senator.

Griffin Pritchard and Dennis Palmer contributed to this report.