A key player

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The name Tony Clark is no stranger to this newspaper’s pages.

As the leader of Virginians Against the Outlying Landing Field, Clark has been quoted many times in The Tidewater News, and his name will be seen again and again as that debate continues.

This time, though, Clark has done something behind the scenes that is deserving of coverage.

Clark, with the backing of his employer, Manry Rawls Insurance, managed to bring a United States senator to Southampton County to speak directly to constituents about jobs, the economy, health care and more.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., spoke Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce and opened himself to questions from the audience. While here, Warner also visited with the transition team at International Paper Co.’s Franklin mill, assuring workers that he would do everything in his power to help Western Tidewater recover from the loss of 1,100 jobs when the mill closes.

We’re sure Clark took time to bend the senator’s ear about the OLF, but the fact that he didn’t monopolize Warner’s time and asked him here to talk about even bigger issues our area is facing says a lot about Clark’s priorities. Warner, too, deserves praise for coming here and offering up suggestions and help, rather than lip service and handshakes.

The path of recovery will be long, but talking to our senator felt like a giant step. Clark, Manry Rawls and the Chamber are helping keep this critical issue on Warner’s mind, and we’re hoping it stays there.