By David Wilfong

Herald-Banner Staff

Texas Governor Rick Perry stopped by the historic Rockwall County Courthouse on Saturday to participate in the July 4 TEA party (Taxed Enough Already), the second such event to be held in Rockwall.

A crowd of up to 250 people gathered for the event. The governor’s acceptance of the invitation to appear at the event did not come until late in the planning stages.

The TEA party was planned to coincide with both the Farmer’s Market and the Old Town parade which were scheduled to take place on the square as well. This was the second such protest event held in Rockwall and was scheduled in accordance with TEA parties that were held on July 4 across the country.

State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg and U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall warmed up the crowd for the governor’s appearance. Hall even recalled for those in attendance that he could remember picking up a small boy named Rick Perry several years back when he was a colleague of Perry’s father.

Hall also joked with the crowd, telling them that his report for the event to Washington was going to say that 5,000 people had swarmed over the courthouse grounds.

Ann Hettinger, state director for Concerned Women of America, headed up a number of local activists that also took the time to make their voices heard at the local event.

Perry was the last speaker to take the stage and address the Rockwall crowd.

He made a point to congratulate the city on its inclusion in Family Circle’s “Top 10” list of cities for families in America, adding “Family Circle and the rest of the country are just beginning to find out what all of us have known for a long, long time.”

What many in attendance were not aware of is the fact that Perry was for a brief time a local resident.

Perry explained that 30 years ago he decided to try his hand at wheat farming and landed in Josephine. He took up residence in a hotel in Royse City and tried his hand in the agricultural business.

He then related that the experience wasn’t the most successful venture he had ever undertaken.

“After about a month I figured real quick that wheat cutting wasn’t the way I was going to make the rest of my living,” Perry joked.

In the spirit of the TEA parties that have become popular political rallies across the country, Perry joined in on the criticism of what is taking place in the U.S. Capital.

Perry said that the “shenanigans” in Washington were not only an attempt at social engineering, but “legitimate threats to our freedom, our finances and our future.”

Perry said he believed that Washington needed to exercise some “Texas-style” government.

“Just last month we wrapped up a very successful session of the legislature,” Perry said of his state’s government, addressing Laubenberg who serves in the Texas House.

“We balanced our budget. We cut taxes for an additional 40,000 small businesses, and we left $9 billion in our rainy day fund. Folks, that is the blueprint that Americans ought to be looking at.”

Following the speech Perry wandered into the crowd to sign autographs and take photos with the many people who had come to hear him speak.

The stay in Rockwall was brief, as Perry also made stops at TEA parties in Austin, San Antonio and Sulphur Springs during the July 4 holiday.

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