Over 500 attend Rep. Rone and Gov. Greitens jobs rally
NEW MADRID, Mo – During a rainstorm, a crowd swelling to over 500 gathered on the site of the now-shuttered Noranda aluminum smelter to show support for the jobs bill that Gov. Eric Greitens has called a special legislative session to consider.
Several state representatives attended the rally in the warehouse in sight of where aluminum was once made. The crowd was brought to a roar when Rep. Don Rone (R- New Madrid County) took to the stage.
“I want to tell you I really do believe that God allowed me to serve in this office to pass this bill and fire this plant back up,” Rone said.
Rone also told the crowd that after the senate adjourned he felt that all hope was lost.
“That’s when this man, Governor Greitens, put his arm around me and told me we will get this done.”
After Rone finished, the Governor spoke to the crowd firing them up telling them that they will pass the bill and get people in southeast Missouri back to work. However, he asked the crowd to help him with three things, pray for him and the fate of the bill, attend a rally Tuesday at 4:00 in front of the Capitol, and to call their state senator and ask him pass the bill.
Greitens brought the crowd to chants of “bring back jobs” when he referenced the potential to even bring back an aluminum smelter like Noranda. Greitens was joined on stage by Rep. Steve Cookson, Rep. Andrew McDaniel, Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, and Rep. Robert Cornejo.
“I know how important these jobs are not just for the region but for the entire state. The crowd today is proof of that”, said Rep Cornejo. “Hopefully, the House is able to negotiate with the Senate to work through any issues any Senators have to be able to bring good paying jobs back to Missouri.”
The crowd swelled throughout the program, having to park away from the site and take buses to the actual event. Many in attendance said they had never been to a political event before, and several stated they had not voted for Greitens.
“I have never been to a political event before and I didn’t vote for the Governor, but if he is for reopening the plant then I am for him and whoever else is helping, and there isn’t anyone around the bootheel thats gonna forget anyone who tries to stop us,” Sarah Hayes of Richland, whose father worked at Noranda, said.
“These are the folks who showed up in November and elected Donald Trump”, said Rep. Andrew McDaniel noting that this crowd were not people who were political but committed to bring jobs back to the area.
As the crowd left the warehouse to board the buses to take them to the parking lot Governor Greitens shook every hand in misting rain personally thanking each person for attending.
The session, which begins on Monday, was called specifically to empower the Public Service Commission with additional tools to negotiate a power rate to facilitate economic development projects, specifically, an iron smelter that would be on the site of the former Noranda aluminum smelter. Project America is currently in discussions to build the iron smelter, which would mean over 500 jobs could come back the bootheel which has been reeling from the loss of the 900 jobs at Noranda.
PHOTO/SCOTT FAUGHN – THE MISSOURI TIMES