Crossett Superintendent of Schools Gary Williams has invited several legislators to Crossett Jan. 7 to talk about upcoming school concerns for the legislative session, and I’ll be back in Crossett at 4 p.m. Jan. 8 to do a Town Hall meeting at the Economic Development building with Sen. Eddie Cheatham.

I invite you to join Sen. Cheatham and me for the Town Hall meeting, where we can discuss your concerns and interests in person. I look forward to hearing from you!

I need - and appreciate - reminders. I am a list-writer that gets great satisfaction crossing off completed items from my to-do list. I have also recently learned to tell Alexa — she lives in my Echo Dot — to add to an on-going list that populates on my phone. Sometimes I also wear reminders.

I bought a bracelet “cuff” several years ago that was engraved with the message, “Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fear. “ I wore it daily for more than a year after my husband Bobby died, as a constant and visual reminder for my soul. One day I was able to pass it on to someone that needed it more. By then the message was engraved on my heart.

Today I am wearing a bracelet that says, “That Was Then, This is Now.” It seems appropriate for the last week of 2018, as I look ahead to what 2019 might bring.

In this column I have offered ways to look at our state Capitol and its the physical beauty and changing displays. I’ve talked about the importance of buying local, and the importance of farmers to Arkansas. I’ve mentioned food insecurity and veteran services and the changes in our foster care system. I’ve talked about concerns for funding public education and the absolute divides between rural and urban needs in our state.

In the coming weeks, I will try to keep you informed about the workings of the 92nd General Assembly, the biannual session where laws impacting all of us will be proposed, considered, passed and/or defeated.

Some will mean much more to you and me than others, because they will impact our personal lives in real time.

If you have had questions or concerns about legislation in the past and didn’t reach out or try to find out more, I hope that you will say to yourself, “That Was Then, This is Now.” I hope you will find time to read and discuss state news and what is going on during the upcoming session, and not rely solely on what others tell you about important matters.

Every Arkansan has an elected state representative and an elected state senator to serve as a voice for us in the legislative process. If you are taking the time to read this, you probably know who represents you. I hope you also know how to reach these individuals, whose job it is to serve your interests, and to be your voice.

In the Arkansas foster care court system, children are represented by an appointed Attorney ad Litem.

That AAL is responsible for representing the best interests of the children, even if that isn’t always what the child might personally want.

Representative government works in much the same way. Elected officials must use their judgment and experience and what they know about their constituents to vote on legislation. You owe it to yourself to know why they vote the way they — we! — do.

You also owe it to yourself to inform your representatives about how you feel. You may have some information that would help change a view and better inform your legislator on a topic or bill.

During the legislative session that starts Jan. 14, you can watch committee meetings and the actions of the House of Representatives in real-time, or you can access the archived videos to educate yourself abut the daily activities on our end of the Capitol.

The newly revamped website arkansashouse.org makes it easy.

To leave a message for me or for any state representative during the legislative session, call our in-session switchboard number: 501-682-6211. Message slips will be delivered to us.

You can always email me at: leanne.burch@arkansashouse.org. These are the two best ways to reach me during the session.

Thank you for the privilege of serving the people of District 9.

And please let me hear from you. You can also reach me on Facebook @BurchforAR.

I have been less adept at Instagram (leanneburch) and Twitter (BurchforAR), but I hope to do better about using those social mediums in the coming year.

Again, I want to remind you to join Senator Cheatham and me for the Town Hall meeting at the Economic Development building on Main Streetin Crossett at 4 p.m. Jan. 8.

It’s time to move forward into the New Year and leave 2018 to the history books. As you have heard, that was then, this is now.

From the Burch family to yours, may you have a happy and blessed 2019.

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