DEVIL’S ELBOW, Mo. (Dec. 16, 2010) — Vicky Hartzler, the Republican candidate who defeated longtime Congressman Ike Skelton to represent Missouri’s Fourth District including Pulaski County, has sent out an e-mail to supporters and constituents asking them to send photos of locations in what will soon be her district so she can take them with her to Washington, D.C.
The historic Devil's Elbow Bridge is in danger of closure due to its deteriorated condition, and already has a reduced weight limit preventing its use by tour buses.
At Thursday morning’s meeting of the Pulaski County Commission, Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said he’ll take Hartzler up on her offer.
“I think I’m going to send a few pictures of the Devil’s Elbow Bridge to our new congresswoman to see if we can get some federal money. She’s asking for pictures of things in the district,” Farnham said.
“That’s called sucking up,” said Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch.
“Why not? We need money and that might work,” Farnham said.
The Devil’s Elbow bridge project has been a longstanding effort of Farnham as well as his predecessor in the eastern district seat, Gary Carmack. When Route 66 was built through Pulaski County in the days before Fort Leonard Wood, the original alignment crossed the Big Piney River at the town of Devil’s Elbow and has a steel truss bridge with a scenic view of high cliffs that has become a tourist attraction for people driving Route 66.
After improvements in road building techniques allowed blasting through a hill to create what became known as the Hooker Cut, a straighter road alignment reduced travel time on Route 66 and bypassed the Devil’s Elbow community. When federal funding after World War II created the interstate highway system, the later alignment of Route 66 became Highway Z and is maintained today by the Missouri Department of Transportation, but the older alignment of Route 66 was turned over to Pulaski County whose road and bridge department doesn’t have adequate funds to maintain the historic bridge. Due to deterioration, weight limits on the Devil’s Elbow Bridge have already dropped to the point that tour buses can no longer cross the bridge, which means many tourists never see the bridge.
While the bridge project is in dire need of funds, constituents asking her for money probably wasn’t what Hartzler had in mind when she asked for photos.
In her Dec. 13 e-mail, Hartzler said that during the campaign, “more than once (district residents) said the words that are near and dear to my heart: ‘Don’t forget where you came from!’ I could not agree more. I want to do that, too, and have come up with an idea to help: I’d like to decorate our D.C. office with pictures of the 4th Congressional District! I may have a few historic and patriotic pictures scattered on the walls, but would like to have pictures of the beauty and landmarks of our district first and foremost.”
Hartzler invited constituents to send photos of landmarks in their area, preferably without people in the photos, to email@example.com by Dec. 31. Photos should include the submitter’s name, where the photo was taken, and any other pertinent information the submitter believes Hartzler and her staff may want to know.
“We will select some of them to enlarge and frame for the walls of our office,” Hartzler wrote. “In addition, once my official congressional web site is up and running in January, if we have enough entries, I’d like to have a ‘4th District Picture of the Week’ highlight on the web site along with perhaps a ‘D.C. Picture of the Week’ section where we can highlight pictures of those of you who come to visit me in Washington so everyone at home can share in the experience.”
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