JEFFERSON CITY — As we work to finalize the state’s operating budget, I am continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that two very important infrastructure needs are met in our area, the development of an autism clinic in Kirksville and funding for a flood wall in Clarksville.

As your state senator, I have been a strong advocate for education. In rural areas across the state, there are thousands of families living with disabilities who have limited access to the resources they need. As a result, there are many children who are not able to receive the help they need in order to meet their necessary developmental milestones. This is why I am working to ensure the state allocates $1.8 million to the Greenwood Center at Truman State University. If the facility receives the required funding, it would be the state’s only autism clinic in northeast Missouri. Currently, the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders, located in Columbia, Missouri, is the nearest place for families in the northeast region of our state to receive these vital services.

Families in rural Missouri need access to these important resources without having to drive three to four hours to receive assistance. It is no secret that autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States. This clinic could mean the difference between our next generation of children having a fair chance at achieving their dreams or not being equipped with the necessary skills to live an independent and fulfilling life. As the legislative session winds down, I will continue to be a relentless advocate for these children and their families who would greatly benefit from the services offered through a local autism clinic at the Greenwood Center.

As the flood and tornado season begins, I would like for the state to allocate funds that would enable the small city of Clarksville to build a temporary flood wall. I recently visited the town to see how it prepares for flood season. I can honestly say that their efforts are tremendous, but without a flood wall it’s not enough. Just in two days, the city spent $20,000 to pay for sand, sandbags, dump truck rentals and other equipment to protect their town, as best they could, from the high waters of the Mississippi River. The flood stage in Clarksville is 25 feet, with the city’s business district on First Street flooding at 30.8 feet. Despite the potential for flooding, this time of year sparks a sense of joy in the hearts of tourists as they drive through some of the city’s most exquisite Victorian homes and discover local shops that sell beautiful pieces of glass blown jewelry. In my opinion, Clarksville is truly a historical gem hidden in the northeast region of our state. By recognizing the amount of resources needed for the city to recover and repair after a flood, I believe $2 million is enough to help the residents of Clarksville live with a peace of mind that their town will not go under water every time it rains.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.