By Danny Garrett
Rep. House Dist. 44
The 2017 regular session of the Alabama Legislature will begin on February 7, 2017. As discussed in previous articles, the “off season” has been very busy. In addition to attending various events around the district, I have been involved with two joint legislative task forces. I am co-chair of the Budget Reform Task Force and was also asked to serve on the Consumer Lending Task Force. Each of these groups have been meeting monthly since September and will be making reports to the Legislature early in the session.
From many standpoints – local, political, economic and personal—2016 has been an eventful and historic year. Several international and national publications have recognized various individuals as “Man of the Year”, “Woman of the Year” or “Person of the Year”, all based upon different criteria. As I reflected on the happenings of 2016, I thought about many people in the state of Alabama and our local communities who I believe, for different reasons, are deserving of “Person of the Year” recognition. As we conclude another year, I felt compelled to acknowledge the following individuals, each who either personally impressed, influenced or inspired me in 2016.
I have had the pleasure—and I do mean pleasure—of knowing Robert Ferguson for many years. Robert and his sweet wife, Glenda, live in Pinson and are “pillars” of Clearview Baptist Church. Anybody who knows Robert will attest to his humor, humility and kindness. He is one of my favorite people to follow on social media and I am often entertained or encouraged by his posts. For several years, I have watched as Robert has cared for, supported and loved sweet Glenda, who is battling Alzheimer’s Disease. Daily, Robert demonstrates unconditional love and an unwavering faith. Despite his personal circumstances, he is constantly encouraging others through humor or by sharing his faith. With four children and several grandchildren and great grandchildren, he is patriarch of one of the closest and most fun-loving families I know. Thank you, Robert, for your example and inspiration!
There is no higher honor for K-12 educators in Alabama than to be selected as “Teacher of the Year”. The recipient of this prestigious recognition in 2016 was Dana Jacobson, an English teacher at Clay-Chalkville High School. In my past life as a school board member, I served on a committee that screened nominees from local districts through the selection process, and I understand first-hand the difficulty and significance of achieving this recognition. Ms. Jacobson is highly regarded by administrators and her peers but, more importantly, she is making a difference in the lives of teenagers every day. In an environment where public education is often underappreciated, she is encouraging and inspiring her classes through teaching and building relationships with each student. She is also an outstanding example of the thousands of dedicated teachers in our state who are impacting lives each day. Thank you, Ms. Jacobson, for your dedication and service!
In 2016, Trussville City Schools opened two new elementary schools. Joy Tyner moved from Clinton, Mississippi to be the principal at the new Cahaba Elementary School. Prior to Joy and her husband, William, moving to Trussville, their adult daughter, Perry, passed away as the result of a rare genetic disease. Unbelievably, their only remaining child, Molly, who lived in Birmingham, was diagnosed with the same disease shortly before they moved to Trussville. This past summer, Molly’s condition worsened and she passed away the week of the Cahaba school opening in August. The entire Trussville community rallied and supported the Tyner family through this incredibly sad and emotional journey. Despite the tragedy, Joy has displayed unbelievable perseverance and faith. Her positive attitude, enthusiasm and faith in God have touched and inspired so many. She has somehow found the personal fortitude and strength to lead the Cahaba school community and face each day with a smile. Thank you, Joy, for your leadership, example and inspiration!
STATE OF ALABAMA
As everyone is aware, 2016 was a year of unprecedented politics. Not only was there a great divide between Democrats and Republicans, but infighting within the GOP during the primary season was tumultuous. With 14 very different candidates for president, the factions within the state Republican party seemed incapable of unity. Fortunately for the Alabama Republicans, Terry Lathan served as Chair of the state party. A gregarious and energetic leader, Terry successfully navigated through several tenuous situations. Under her leadership, the Alabama GOP set aside inter-party differences and united behind the national candidate and platform. The political world is full of big egos, but Terry effectively brought people together for a common cause. Congratulations, Terry and thank you for your leadership!
In September, an 18 years old true freshman from Texas took his first snap as quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide. On that first snap, Jalen Hurts fumbled and a Southern Cal Trojan defender recovered the football. Displaying no emotion, he left the field with his head up, later to return and lead Alabama to a 52-6 win. In the process, he earned the distinction of being the first true freshman to ever quarterback the Crimson Tide. Hurts’ confidence, poise and leadership have been acknowledged all season and his ability as a freshman to command the respect and following of older and established players is a remarkable feat. By the time this article is published, we will know if Alabama’s undefeated season has come to an end. Regardless of whether Alabama plays for a National Championship, Jalen Hurts has earned respect across the sports world. His determination, dedication and work ethic inspired me. Thanks and congratulations, Jalen!
Each of the individuals above share common traits: a positive attitude, a forward-looking approach to life and a refusal to let discourages and challenges get them down. They have chosen to not let their personal circumstances define who they are. As we enter a new year, I hope and pray that I can follow the examples of these individuals and live my life in a way that encourages and inspires others.
Best wishes for a Happy and prosperous New Year!
Representative Danny Garrett represents House District 44, which includes Trussville, Clay and parts of Pinson. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 205-410-4637