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Congressman Watt spends day walking in someone else's shoes

By Nathan Hardin
nhardin@salisburypost.com
U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) spent several hours in the shoes of Rowan’s working class Wednesday as part of Watt’s 13th annual “Trading Places” tour.
Watt concludes the tour, part of his district schedule during the August recess, today in Charlotte.
After touring Tyco-GEM Fabrications from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Watt learned about the job of a Clean Air Campaign Consultant at Catawba College for the Environment from 3:30 to 4:30.
Tyco-GEM Fabrications, the manufacturing center for fabricated sprinkler systems, employs 47 and hosted a town hall-style meeting about the concerns of the working class.
“I’d like to publicly thank the congressman for his visit,” said Bob Bussiere, the company’s global vice president. “We’re very appreciative of everything he’s done for us.”
Watt spoke with several employees during his tour at Tyco and even more during his question-and-answer session.
“Those are the stories that we should be making public policy out of,” Watt said. “Problems exist and the way you find out what those problems are is to be in contact with your district. This is my chance to be educated.”
Several employees questioned Watt about federal stimulus funding and other solutions for economic stimulation.
“Why wasn’t a larger stimulus given to people instead of the banks?” one employee asked.
Tyco-GEM has dropped from two shifts to one and the questions reflected the tone of a hard-hit industry.
But as Watt explained the thought process behind stimulus decisions, he remained optimistic about the future.
“These things come in cycles,” Watt said. “We’re trying to jump-start construction projects. We’ve kept communities from cutting police jobs, and we’re creating jobs for young people.”
 

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