October 30, 2017

Battle Blog: On the road to Jacksonville, Alabama

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to visit Jacksonville State, and I forgot what a beautiful campus it was. Of course, it’d been even more beautiful if there wasn’t a raining-cats-and-dogs deluge and 48-degree temperature when we arrived for Saturday’s homecoming game

It literally rained on their parade, and it was canceled. I felt bad for everybody who worked so hard to organize it, but I don’t think anybody was crazy about walking three miles in the cold and rain.

We found a coffee shop in the middle of Jacksonville, then went to the President’s Reception, hosted by Dr. John Beehler. Later he invited up to his box to watch the game, which Jacksonville State won to remain ranked No. 3 in the country in its division. (Think about all the success the Alabama Crimson Tide has had, Jax State hasn’t lost a conference game since 2013.)

One of the first people to greet us as we pulled to campus was the director of athletics Greg Seitz, who gave all of us Homecoming buttons to wear. We went by the alumni tent and found some people from our area and others, and it was a great time to make new friends.

The stadium is connected to a residence hall – they called them dormitories in my day – where the first four floors are for student housing and the top three for suites and press boxes and coaches’ booths. It’s really an imaginative way to tackle two needs and to save taxpayers’ money.

Jacksonville State has 8,700 students there and the tuition is lower than some other colleges in our state, and that’s important. It’s a key over the next decade that we can make sure a college education stays affordable for everybody.

One thing I’ve long been reminded about: Jacksonville State has impressive programs in criminal justice and emergency management and that has served our state well. A number of our public safety personnel in Huntsville are Jax State grads and we saw some of them at the game, maybe going back to relive some glory days!

Jacksonville was hardly our only trip of the week. Our campaign staff has really had us hopping. They’ve done a great job of organizing visits and travel and handling the day-to-day work.

We had a get-together in Birmingham with about 50 people and a fundraiser in Tuscaloosa where we met a lot of people and shake a lot of hands we haven’t been able to shake yet.

Then we went to Montgomery where we had some individual meetings but also with a big group of retired state employees. They’re a real active group that wants to work hard, to be a part of a campaign that builds up Alabama and makes it a better place. That’s what we hear at all of our stops, and that’s our mission, to build a better future for Alabama.