Citizenship and Engagement: Being an Informed Voter

As a public service to the community, the Walker County Republican Women hosted a “candidates’ forum” on Monday night, inviting candidates at all levels and of all stripes to meet the public. With five minutes to discuss their intentions and platform and an almost unlimited time to mingle, the forum provided a key service to the voting public.

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The Walker County Hospital District candidates were the first to speak. With three positions up for election and six candidates running for the position, the meet and greet was important to decide on who to elect this November. Two of the candidates currently serve on the board while the other four are seeking election for the first time. This was an informative meeting; we learned about the important distinction between the Walker County Hospital District Board and the Huntsville Memorial Hospital Board. The Hospital Board is a board of directors composed of community leaders who oversee the broad direction of the Hospital. The Hospital District Board, on the other hand, is made up of elected officials responsible for overseeing the District, its finances, its physical structures, and its health care.  Although this latter district has the ability to tax, such revenues only make up a small portion of the hospital’s overall revenues.

The Huntsville City Council candidates also participated with their own five-minute overviews.  They also engaged in a Q&A by the audience, and addressed the bond election.  The voters of Huntsville will decide on three bond propositions:

  • Proposition One: Improve Public Safety Facilities (not to exceed 31,000,000)
  • Proposition Two: Improve City Service Facilities (not to exceed 24,000,000)
  • Proposition Three: Improve City Waterworks and Sewer Facilitiies (not to exceed 73,000,000)

With these weighty matters on our minds, we thanked the Republican Women for organizing the event, and we exited pondering upcoming decisions.

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LEAP Center Students Splash Into Summer at State Park

It was the first day of summer, and it was a fun one.  Making the most of the City of Huntsville’s “Outdoor Explorer Program,” the LEAP Center students ventured to the Huntsville State Park, for a day of hiking, biking, kayaking, and grilling.

Most of us had never been to the State Park, and most of had never had any meaningful experience kayaking.  So that made it all the more fun when we started the day off with kayak training–and then launching into the water!

Bella surprised everyone with her quick launch and her mastery of kayaking.  She also had a go-pro camera, which she used to record almost everything…

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Following Bella’s lead, others soon got into the act.

Megan and Kaitlyn Launching
                                                        Megan and Kaitlyn Launching

Soon, we were scurrying all over the lake, enjoying the sun, relaxation, and exercise.

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Austin, the  most athletic of us, looked  like a natural kayaker…

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The “look,” however, was short lived.  Following a loss of balance, Austin found himself tasting some lake water…

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…and while he may have lost his balance, he didn’t lose his shades….

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…getting back on, however, was another matter.  This maneuver requires help, strength, and balance.

Austin Climbs Back On, While Bella Photographs Helpfully
                            Austin Climbs Back On, While Bella Photographs Helpfully

…While this particular attempt was not successful…

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                                               Austin Slips Off, While Bella Laughs Helpfully

..He eventually regained his form and was able to enjoy the rest of the day.

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Following a bit more exploration of the lake, we called it a morning–at least as far as kayaking was concerned.

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But that didn’t mean the day was over.  The bulk of us went for a three-mile hike, while Constance, Megan, and Stephanie sneaked back to the lake for more kayaking.

We hiked the north-west side of the lake.  It was a particularly pretty trail.

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The trails in the State Park are well marked, clear, and roomy.  It’s great for those who enjoy nature, birding (250 species of bird in the park), and hiking.  In fact, there are 129 miles of hiking trails.

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At the northernmost end of the lake, it gets very marshy, and you actually walk across a wooden platform for about 70 yards.

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Afterward, we headed back to “camp,” and we picnicked on hot dogs, chips, cole slaw, and s’mores.

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At the end of the day, we headed our separate ways, returning to our homes to prepare for Father’s Day.

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The LEAP Center students thank the City of Huntsville and, particularly, Natalie Reid, for the Outdoor Explorer program and the fun the program brings to the community!