On Thursday, October 2, 2014, students from Mr.
Lee’s U.S. history class had the unique opportunity to learn about
how local and state governments work. Lawrence County received
a $5,000 4H grant dedicated to educating youth on
Citizenship/Leadership that made this program possible. Elected officials from the
county and representatives from the county extension office prepared
a program that introduced students to the basic structure of their
county government. The officials included County Judge, Dale
Freeman; County Clerk, Tina Stowers; and State Representative, James
Ratliff. Representatives from the county extension office, Herb
Ginn, Bryce Baldridge, and Katrina Burch, assisted with the program.
County Judge, Dale Freeman, explained to students how he oversees
the county government and the road department. County Clerk, Tina
Stowers, described the duties and responsibilities of the clerk’s
office. She explained that she’s responsible for issuing marriage
licenses, voter registrations, and elections. State Representative,
James Ratliff talked about the responsibilities that are associated
with being a state representative and how he shares the duty of
balancing a state budget. An example that was discussed was the
state prison system and how much it cost to imprison an inmate.
During the afternoon session, Jim Jones visited with the students
and explained how the Quorum Court works and the duties and
responsibilities that are associated with being a Justice of the
Class members filled out a questionnaire to see
how much they understood about the county government. Students
enjoyed a catered lunch which included ham and turkey sandwiches,
chips, pies, and sweet tea. Afterward they debated the pros and
cons of both wet and dry counties. Students filled out a mock voter
registration, while Tina Stowers explained how voting machines
work. Two voting machines were set up and students voted on the
wet/ dry issue. The results were a close 24 (wet) to 21 (dry).
On Thursday, October 9, the U.S. History class visited the state
capital, Little Rock. They were accompanied by Herb Ginn and
Katrina Burch from the county extension office. They visited the
Arkansas State Capitol, where Mr. Ratliff served as the tour guide.
On the second floor they visited the Governor’s Reception Room.
This room is both a public room and the governor’s conference
space. It is used for staff meetings, press conferences, bill
signings and other public events. The Rotunda is a beautiful space
used to host public meetings, weddings, hearings and rallies. Then
they went to the Old Supreme Court Chamber, located at the south end
of the building. The Arkansas Supreme Court met in this chamber
from 1912 through 1958. Increased caseloads and other
considerations caused the Supreme Court to move to the Justice
Building. Above the staircase leading up to the third floor are
four beautiful hand painted murals. On the third floor they visited
the State Senate room. Afterward the class enjoyed browsing the
Capital gift shop on the first floor.
After lunch they headed to the William J. Clinton Presidential
Library and Museum, which had beautiful Chihuly exhibits all
throughout the Library. On the second floor, they first visited the
Cabinet Room, which is set up to look like the one in the White
House. Some of the exhibits included: Caring, which told about how
President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton wanted to improve
the lives of people; and Bringing People Together, which explained
how Clinton brought people with different views together to talk
about their problems. Then students headed up to the third floor,
and viewed more exhibits about his life in the White House. They
also visited a replica of the Oval Office.
The students enjoyed their meeting and the Little Rock trip and are
grateful to those who made this event possible.