If you walk into the Jackson County Legislative Delegation office, (located on 100 East Peachtree Street in downtown Scottsboro), you’re likely to speak to the first person you see, and that is Juliana Harper, the Executive Director of the Jackson County Legislative Office.Harper hails from upstate New York, and after meeting her spouse from Geraldine, she now calls Alabama home. Another interesting thing about Harper is her genuine desire to help people. After sitting down with her and speaking about her job, it was apparent the people were her main concern.
“I think that it is very important for people to know that there is a place they can seek help when they don’t really know where to start. There are some things we can’t help with, but we are always happy to try. At the very least, we can point them in the right direction.”
Harper believes she, and the legislators for this district, are here to serve, and she stresses the Delegation was elected to serve the people, with Harper serving at the discretion of the Delegation. The legislators who comprise your Delegation are Senator Steve Livingston, Representative Ritchie Whorton and Representative Tommy Hanes. Harper not only works with her thumb on the pulse of the Delegation but also on that of the current events affecting the constituents in HD22, HD23 and SD8.
“I think it is important to note that our Delegation is accessible,” Harper stated. “Livingston is here working most days, and we have worked very hard by doing all we can to go above and beyond for our people.”
Harper credits following up as one of the most important aspects of her job, to insure the issue was resolved. In some cases, an issue is passed on to a congressional office, and in that instance, the importance of following up is paramount.
“Without the constituency, I would not have a job, and this goes hand-in-hand with genuine love for people and treating all people with respect, dignity and care. So, follow up!”
What sort of issues are brought to Harper? She states that each day varies from the next as most two situations are not alike. Most recently, the Delegation has been inundated with calls and emails about unemployment. With the Alabama Department of Labor being hit with an influx of claims due to unemployment and COVID, many have had issues with receiving their payments. Thankfully, all it usually takes is a phone call to the Department of Labor to resolve the issue.
“We have worked closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health during the pandemic to work through issues with vaccines, access to vaccines and assisting people with getting on lists. We have also worked very closely with finance throughout the pandemic, assisting our municipalities and counties served in applying for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).”
The Delegation also acts as a liaison to congressional offices on a broad range of issues including social security, disability and veterans affairs. They also help with food assistance and elder assistance issues.
“If someone calls about a grant, we try to either work directly with them or get them in touch with the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) or the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funds through Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to help find assistance. We assisted the Scottsboro Boys Museum with an Alabama Historical Association Grant last year and Langston with an Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers and Valleys (AMRV) Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Grant in the fall.”
Other agencies they work closely with or call on for the myriad of reasons relating directly to constituent issues include: the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA); TARCOG; Forestry; Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM); Auditors; conservation; Corrections issues; Emergency Management Agency (EMA); Finance; Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT); Mental Health issues, which are a statewide issue.
The Delegation also receives a lot of calls concerning legislation because constituents want the Delegation members to look into certain bills.
“We research and read. A lot,” Harper stated. “I think if people knew there is a place they can go. People just want to be heard. Sometimes I just listen to them and be kind to them. Typically, we can listen to the problem, and knowing where to start is important. Many times they just feel helpless, or they feel they’re getting nowhere. We usually have a quick point of contact we can call and get an answer back quickly and try to get the issue resolved.”
You can find your Jackson County Legislative Delegation office at the address listed above, or give them a call at 256.218.3090.
by Martha Smith