A crowd of about 30 people welcomed U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby to Cullman on Wednesday evening to discuss triumphs of the past and concerns for the future at a town hall style meeting.

Despite security concerns following the tragedy that took place in Tucson, Ariz., last Saturday that left six dead and 14 others injured, including one U.S. representative, Sen. Shelby said that he would continue to visit his constituents.

“First of all I wanted to tell you, I’m unarmed. I have no body guards. I’ve never had any but I’m going to continue to have public meetings,” he said. “I’ve had people threaten me. What happened in Arizona was uncalled for, it was a terrible tragedy, but we have irrational people everywhere. We’ve got 300 million people in this country, some of them are going to do some drastic things sometimes but we should never be intimidated by that and stop assembling and meeting.”

At the request of Mayor Max Townson the Cullman City Police Department made provisions to provide extra security for the event, including use of a metal detector and guards at auxiliary exits.

The senator said that he didn’t want bodyguards accompanying him to each of the meetings with constituents that he goes to — he has been to over 1,700 during his time as a U.S. senator.

Sen. Shelby began the meeting by saying that Cullman County had been kind to him, as he had carried 81 percent of the vote in the county during the election.

During the question and answer portion of the meeting residents of Cullman County addressed the senator about the possibility of gaining his aid in achieving projects ranging from the expansion of airport runways and the ensured success of the Duck River project.

The tone of  Shelby’s remarks quickly turned to the mounting debt that the United States faces at the current rate of federal budget deficit growth.

Read the complete story in the Friday, Jan. 14, 2011 print edition of The Cullman Times.

* Sam Rolley can be reached by e-mail at srolley@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 225.

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