It was a homecoming of sorts for newly-elected Congressman Jason Smith as he met with around members of the Phelps County Commission and other county officials Monday at the county courthouse.
The Salem native spent around an hour getting county officials up to speed on his new role as their representative for Missouri's Eighth District.
"It is good to come into a room where I know everyone by their first name," said Smith.
Phelps County is one of 30 counties that Smith represents throughout southeastern Missouri. His hope is to meet with county officials in each of the those counties over the next few months.
"When issues come up, I am just asking for you to be our ears on the ground and let us know how we can help out. We all serve the same people and I just look forward to serving with you all," Smith said.
Smith shared with the group that one thing he feels is a priority for this district is that improvements are needed to the area's infrastructure.
"I think we need to get serious about being aggressive in pursuing a four-lane Highway 63 that goes from Arkansas to Iowa," he stated. "That is not something that is going to occur tomorrow but it is something that we need to be constantly pushing for and need to be on the same page in getting there."
The 33-year-old noted that it is quite a different environment now that he is working in the nation's Capitol as opposed to his four terms as a Missouri state representative serving in Jefferson City. He said that there is a lot more bureaucracy to wade through.
He emphasized that it is important for him to be out and about in the district, meeting with his constituents and hearing what they have to say instead of simply staying in Washington, D.C.
With that in mind, Smith said that a 'Main Street Missouri Tour' is in the works. He and his staff are putting aside several days to meet with small business owners and area manufacturing companies across his district to talk about what is working and what is not.
In conclusion, Smith was excited to announce that his Rolla office will move into its new space on Highway 63 in Rolla between the Sonic restaurant and Town and Country Bank's south branch later this week.
"I want a stronger presence in our home area where people feel more accessible to come in," he said.