Area legislator visits A-JCHS
State Sen. Dale Fowler, Harrisburg, visited with Anna-Jonesboro Community High School seniors on Tuesday, Oct. 31, to discuss work as a legislator in the Illinois General Assembly.
Fowler shared that he was raised in Eldorado and worked on the family farm. His family also had a meat packing business, which he eventually took over.
In his 20s, he decided to sell the business and worked for Jim Edgar in Springfield. Edgar went on to serve as governor of Illinois.
After his time in Springfield, he became an engineer for the Illinois Department of Corrections, spending time at both the Vienna Correctional Center and the Shawnee Correctional Center.
Later in life, he was a member of the Saline County Board of Commissioners, and also served as a city commissioner and mayor of Harrisburg.
During his time as mayor, he emphasized his efforts of bringing businesses to the area, including a movie theater, after the previous one had closed.
Fowler is the founder and chairman of the board of the Fowler Bonan Foundation. He talked about what he said is one of the foundation’s greatest accomplishments, which is the Clothes for Kids program, based in Southern Illinois.
When the program began, assistance was provided to help four or five children a year. Now, the program helps 645 children throughout 17 Southern Illinois counties.
Fowler encouraged the students to take advantage of the good things which happen to them in life.
Fowler said he wanted the students to understand that anyone could become involved in government, no matter what their backgrounds might be.
Fowler welcomed questions from the students at the Union County school.
Some of the questions which were asked included:
“Is there anything Southern Illinois can do to have more influence over Chicago?”
“What are the pros and cons of being a legislator?”
“How can students stay informed?”
He told students that in order to stay informed, they should read their local newspaper, they can visit his website and they can care about their community.
Fowler addressed the fact that Illinois residents are leaving the state at an alarming rate, that the state has a shortage of agriculture teachers and how the business climate in Illinois isn’t friendly.
Fowler said he likes to talk about why Illinois is so great, more so than how things could be better.
Illinois offers many attractions which help to boost tourism.
The legislator said that works needs to continue to build the state’s economy and to create jobs in manufacturing.
Fowler encouraged students who might want to become a legislator or to be more informed about issues to engage with their local party, to write letters to legislators and get to know their legislators.
To end the event, Fowler wished to Anna-Jonesboro football team the best of luck in its playoff game, which was scheduled Saturday, Nov. 4.
Youth Advisory Council
During his visit, Fowler also had time to meet with A-JCHS students who are joining his new youth advisory council.
A-JCHS seniors Jasmin Foster, Connar Hadley and Trenton Newberry recently were selected to serve on the council.
Nearly 50 students from throughout the 59th District in Southern Illinois have been selected to serve on the council.
The council is scheduled to meet in Harrisburg on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Teachers nominated students to serve on the youth advisory council.
“It’s an honor to be selected. It will be a good experience,” Fowler said about the council.
“I have an interest in politics and getting to see what it’s like,” Newberry said.
“I’m interested to see how everything works,” Hadley said.
In the spring, students plan to visit the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield for a mock debate.