Mayor visits students, answers questions

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Mayor Gerald Morris discusses the role of city government in the community during a recent visit with PES third graders

Third graders at Piggott Elementary School received a special visit Thursday, Feb. 9, from Mayor Gerald Morris. Morris took time to meet with students, answering questions prepared by the children as an extension of their work in the classroom, where they have been learning about interviews.

"We've been talking about communities and the kids have been learning how to interview someone," PES third grade teacher Tammy Cashion said. "We thought this would be a good way for the students to learn more about how our community operates. The kids enjoyed it and I think the mayor did, too."

Each student made a list of questions for Mayor Morris. The children asked their questions by turn, keeping track of what had been asked previously in order to limit repeat questions.

The questions were not of the simple "yes" or "no" variety. The children worked hard to generate lists of good questions which served to create a continuous dialogue between the mayor and the class.

When asked what Piggott needs right now, Morris pointed out the loss of employment opportunities within the city.

"The main thing we need right now is more jobs," Morris said. "Bringing in new jobs is something that's very difficult. A lot of our jobs right here in Piggott have gone overseas because they can operate cheaper in other countries than they can here. That's hurt us."

Morris pointed out he and other leaders in the area are excited about a $2.6 million grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development received by the East Arkansas Planning and Development District which will be used to identify ways in which to help the communities in the eastern part of the state grow.

Morris also talked about the importance of working together in city government, noting Piggott is divided into departments in order to handle the daily tasks required to provide residents with the services they need. Each department has a head, who works with the mayor to help meet the needs in each area. The mayor, in turn, works with the city council to make decisions based upon the city's best interests.

Citizenship also was discussed, as the mayor was asked what the students and their families could do to help the mayor in his job.

"The best thing you can do to help me is be a good citizen," Morris said. "You can do this in a number of ways. When you do the things that you're supposed to like obey the law, you're being a good citizen. Another way to be a good citizen is to help your neighbors and volunteer."

When asked what he likes best about being mayor, Morris replied, "Being able to do good things for the city."

At the end of the session, the students and teachers thanked Morris for his visit.

"We're happy to have Mayor Morris here, and appreciate him taking the time to answer our questions," Cashion said. "The students enjoyed it and now have a better understanding of city government."

Morris also enjoyed the visit.

"This is a great thing because they ask outstanding questions," Morris said. "I always enjoy working with the students and the school. As the future of our community, their input and concerns are important. We have bright young men and women here, and we need to encourage them to continue in the right direction."

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