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Governor Lee speaks at WCHS
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Gov. Bill Lee addresses the crowd during his first official visit to McMinnville since being elected governor last year. - photo by Lacy Garrison
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Gov. Bill Lee, left, shakes Dr. Ray Troop’s hand before his presentation during the Republican dinner held Monday at the WCHS gym. - photo by Lacy Garrison

Despite Monday evening’s rain, the WCHS gym was crammed full of residents waiting to hear Gov. Bill Lee, the guest speaker for the Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner Salute. The event was hosted by the Republican Party. 

Accompanied by First Lady Maria, Gov. Lee addressed the crowd explaining that he was led to run for office after working with nonprofits, his church and inner-city kids.

“Serving people is really how communities are changed when people engage more,” said Gov. Lee earning applause. “Government isn’t the answer to the greatest challenges we face in America. We are a government of the people and the people are the answer.” 

Over the past year, Gov. Lee said he’s been able to work on issues including improving education for kids in inner cities, expanding access to vocational programs, and pushing for reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, an issue he said he recently discussed with President Donald Trump. 

Lee also touched on religious freedom and privileges while thanking everyone for their support of his declaration of Oct. 10 as an official, but voluntary day of prayer, humility and fasting.

“I say all the time that the Lord gave me great faith to put me in this spot and I take that very seriously,” said Lee. “I count it as an honor and work hard every day to use my life’s experiences to serve you and impact the lives of 6.7 million people who live in this state.”

The meal was catered by WCHS culinary arts students, who prepared and served guests throughout the night. 

Senior Carrie Maxwell explained that she learned from Gov. Lee’s presentation that he was happy to see students learning skills through hands-on experiences because not all students choose to go to a four-year university.

“He told me and my peers afterward that he has a 24-year-old daughter working to become a chef and that he wished she would have had the opportunity we have in high school so she would have been more prepared before this point in her life,” said Maxwell.

After Gov. Lee’s 35-minute speech, many in attendance lingered to interact or be photographed with him. Several shared their appreciation of Gov. Lee, including Homeland Community Bank vice president Marcia Scott.

“I thought his presentation was great and the whole event was well-planned with excellent food,” said Scott. “I could have sat longer listening to him. It was a nice evening and I left with a good feeling.”