(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Manila Mayor Clifford Veach welcomed Rep. Berry and guests at a reception held at city hall.
Councilman Larry "Whiz" Davis, long-time friend of Rep. Berry, introduced Berry.
"We go back a long way," Davis said. "I remember Marion in his faded blue jeans and boots in the rice fields. I had the privilege of getting to know him in the late 1960's and early 1970's. I sprayed rice for Marion and we became good friends. When I told about Manila turning 100 years old, he said he would make a proclamation. It is a pleasure for me to introduce a good friend of mine," Davis said.
"Small towns are special to me," Berry said. There is no better place to live. Right now it seems there is a struggle everywhere, but we will survive this and things will get better.
"I hope I live 20 more years to see some of the good things that will happen in agriculture. We have a great value here. We have a good water supply that is an asset to the area. That new Toyota plant that is going to Texas now don't know where they are going to get the water they need. The time and publicity that Arkansas got during the process has made other producers aware of the advantages we do have.
"There is just something special about small rural towns. "A Painted House" that premiered in Jonesboro this week tells the story of our heritage."
Berry said one of the privileges of being a Representative is being able to pay tribute to something special by having it entered into the Congressional Record where it is preserved in the Library of Congress.
"This is dated July 17, 2001 but it seems events kept me from making the presentation sooner. We had the Sept. 11 attack, then again when I was scheduled to be here, the weather got bad, but I am glad to be here today. I really enjoy doing things like this. Washington can be a negative place and I enjoy being part of something positive. I was to pay tribute to the great city of Manila. It is the fastest growing town in Mississippi County," Berry said.
Berry read the framed copy of the proclamation dated July 17, 2001, and presented it to Manila Mayor Clifford Veach and the citizens of Manila.
MR. BERRY --Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a great Arkansas city that celebrated its centennial on July 3. I am proud to recognize the City of Manila in the Congress for its outstanding community spirit and its contribution to Arkansas and the nation.
Manila was incorporated in 1901 after a population and industry boom in the area. Recordings of Manila go all the way back to the 1500's when Hernando de Soto crossed the Mississippi River. Accounts taken from his travels talk about a Native American settlement, although there were several European settlers also said to be living in the area.
Manila is also known for being a settlement of fugitive Cherokee who snuck away from the Trail of Tears as they were being forcibly driven from Georgia in 1838. The swamps were so overgrown that the federal soldiers didn't want to go look for them and simply declared them as dead. These runaways later settled in what is today Manila and the surrounding areas.
From its beginning, Manila was primarily an agriculture town. The people in the area lived on the plentiful game and fish in the area and developed an industry by shipping it to markets in St. Louis, Chicago, and as far east as New York. Later, timber became the chief industry. Logs would be sent to mills down the river until the quality and quantity of the timber reached the railroad industry. In 1900, the Jonesboro, Lake City, and Eastern Railway extended its line to Manila. With the railroad came a schoolhouse, general store, a mill, and a population boom.
Today Manila is still growing. In fact, it is the fastest growing town in Mississippi County. That is why I rise today on behalf of the citizens of the First Congressional District, the State of Arkansas, and the United States Congress to wish the City of Manila a happy 100th birthday.