• December 26, 2014

Low turnout at Silver-Haired town hall

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Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:30 am

BELTON — Few people attended a town hall Tuesday in Belton hosted by the area branch of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature, a legislative group that advocates on behalf of senior citizens.

Established in the 1980s by the Texas Legislature, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Silver-Haired Legislature consists of a 116-member body representing the interests of residents 60 years old and older across 28 districts in Texas.

The peer-elected district representatives serve two-year terms and meet in Austin to develop a lobbying platform to present to state legislators.

During the 83rd Texas Legislature, the organization advocated on behalf of more than a dozen successful bills, such as a freeze on certain district taxes on elderly and disabled homeowners, an increase to the personal needs allowances for nursing home residents and required criminal background checks at special care facilities.

George H. Barrett, representing Bell and Coryell counties in the six-county district of Central Texas, said he hosted the town hall at the Central Texas Council of Governments building in Belton as a chance to hear from senior citizens about their needs and wishes.

Barrett said he visited area retirement homes, senior citizen centers and large churches to invite seniors to the meeting. The low turnout could be attributed to a mix of cold weather and the first year a town hall has been scheduled in the area. A Silver-Haired town hall in Amarillo earlier this year, one of many over the years, drew about 1,500 people, he said.

Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, and Molly White, Sheffield’s Republican primary opponent in House District 55, as well as a district representative of Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, attended, but they left without having a chance to meet with seniors.

“Instead of them coming to me, I’m going to go to them,” Barrett said, resolved to meet with seniors before going to Austin in February for the statewide meeting.

Area senior citizens interested in reaching out to the organization are encouraged to contact Barrett at 254-933-2173 or via email at gbar377@yahoo.com.

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