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Beans and Rice: Congressman visits Keystone Heights

Posted 8/24/23

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean hosted his Beans and Rice dinner last Friday night at Keystone Beach.

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Beans and Rice: Congressman visits Keystone Heights


KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean hosted his Beans and Rice dinner last Friday night at Keystone Beach.

He told about 50 constituents about local, national and international issues he faces in Washington, D.C. He thanked city and county officials for their hard work and invited them to make their pitches ahead of the 2024 election.

Bean spoke on the rising threat of China as a global power and why their aggressive tactics and rising military strength concerned him. Bean expressed the need for stringent reporting requirements from colleges and universities that accept money from China and restrictions on land purchases that they purchase near U.S. military bases. 

Locally, he underscored the importance of Cathedral Oak Parkway, a two-lane, 3.3-mile roadway that will link the First Coast Expressway to the intersection of County Road 315 and Maryland Avenue. The project wwill include a grass median and sidewalks and is expected to be completed by 2025.

“It’s going to be absolutely beautiful and spectacular. Let’s make this thing happen. It’s only 19-20 months away, and you’re going to be really proud of it once it’s completed,” he said. 

County Manager Howard Wannamaker also talked about the road that will increase connectivity in Clay County.

“This will connect you from the First Coast Expressway to U.S. Highway 17, right through the central part of the county. This is definitely going to be a game changer throughout the entire area and get people where they want to go,” he said. 

Bean introduced Keystone Heights mayor Nina Rodenroth and councilman Tony Brown, along with several other hard workers that keep the county running smoothly, including county commissioner Alexandra Compere, Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless, school board member Michele Hanson, and Representative District 20 candidate Judson Sapp. 

Rodenroth and Brown spoke of the small city’s progress, especially embodied by the recently renovated event venue, the Keystone Beach Pavilion. “It’s fantastic to see this many people come out on a Thursday night in Keystone Heights and see this little town’s progress over the years. This venue used to be a shack. You could see through the floors,” Brown said. 

Bean talked about national issues such as school books and commending the recently-passed Parents’ Bill of Rights. He also spoke of the national debt ceiling and who the government will allow to receive financial assistance. The bill will ensure parents can meet with school teachers, among other things.

“Porn should not be allowed in middle schools, and parents should have the right to know the curriculum that their children are being taught,” he said. 

Bean said progress is being made on the national debt ceiling. It’s hard to get officials to agree, and when an agreement is not made, debt increases at a 6-7% growth rate. A resolution was made during the summer to add 1% annually.

The Rep. said that he believes the government’s budget could be balanced in 10 years. He also spoke of the military, hailing a 5% pay increase to active-duty members while also lamenting the military was at its lowest level of arms, missiles, and supplies. He said China had passed the United States as the world’s largest Navy.