U.S. Senator Bob Corker was the guest speaker at a dinner honoring the McWherter Scholars Tuesday, April 14, at Richie & Reggie’s Barbecue, located at 8387 Highway 22 in Dresden.
During the Senate’s April recess, Corker is touring the state to hear from citizens, local officials, and community leaders about how our nation’s economic challenges are affecting them and to update them on his work in Washington to address these issues.
Corker, a Republican who was elected to the United States Senate in November 2006, joined former Tennessee Governor Ned Ray McWherter (for whom the state-sponsored scholarship is named) and State Senator Roy Herron of Dresden representing Tennessee’s 24th Senatorial District, both Democrats, in honoring the McWherter Scholars for their academic success and leadership abilities.
The three distinguished statesmen talked about the status of the economy and what government at all levels is doing to improve the living conditions for Tennesseans, including ongoing programs and new initiatives.
The inaugural class of McWherter Scholars are seventeen rural West Tennesseans, one or more of whom represent each college and university in West Tennessee outside of Memphis. Each student was nominated by her or his college president and was selected from an extremely competitive and outstanding group of students.
In this first year, the McWherter Scholars have met weekly and heard a number of speakers. Also, they have done considerable work on issues facing West Tennessee.
The scholars were asked about their areas of study and how it relates to solving the economic problems of our nation. Some of the main topics included: the importance of providing a first-rate education for all Tennesseans, having good roads to promote industrial development, and how broadband Internet access is revolutionizing the educational and business world and promoting economic stimulus by helping small businesses in rural areas to compete with more industrialized areas by utilizing the Internet to market local goods and services.
The McWherter Scholars present at the dinner meeting were: UT Martin seniors Eric Wilson and Heather McLean; Bethel senior Thomas Butler; Union University students Nathan Chatham, a junior, and Chad Keathley, a senior; Freed-Hardeman junior Mandy Mansfield; Dyersburg State students Joshua Caviness, a sophomore, and Alexander Aitken; Lambuth University students Laurence Tumpag, a junior, and Lisa Maholmes, a senior; Jackson State sophomore Andrew McArthur; and Lane College junior Elon Brice.
When Sen. Corker asked what was the central focus of the McWherter Scholars, one of the students explained they are involved in studies relating to education and economic development.
“You all know Gov. McWherter focused on building roads in most of the rural counties in our state,” Corker said.
When asked about his road building initiative, Gov. McWherter, who served two terms as governor of Tennessee from 1987 to 1995, stated the push to build and improve roads in rural communities was started during his first four years a governor.
Sen. Corker mentioned he was appointed to serve as Tennessee commissioner of finance and administration under Gov. Don Sundquist.
“Gov. McWherter was nice enough to let me start on December 7, about a month and a half before he left office,” Corker said. “That shows what kind of guy he is. He called me several times and let me know how things were going in the State of Tennessee.