Town hall meeting to focus on finances

With so many financial and economic questions up in the air, John and Jerri Gray think it’s time for someone to provide some answers.

The Grays are investment advisors with the NEXT Financial Group in Birmingham. They, along with James Driscoll, a CPA with NEXT Financial, will head up a town hall meeting to focus on the financial crisis on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Helena Elementary School cafeteria.

John Gray said the town hall meeting is intended to calm people’s fears about the economy and give them a place to find answers.

“It’s more of an informational meeting because a lot of people are frantic, and they don’t really have any resources to answer questions,” he said. “We thought that the biggest issue people have is that they don’t know who to ask or what type of questions to ask, and they don’t know where to go for advice.”

Michelle Ashman, who is helping to plan the meeting, said the meeting would help clear minds.

“There’s a lot of confusion. There’s a lot of fear. Knowledge is power,” she said. “If you are educated about something, it helps you to look at things clearer.”

Although the Grays live in Alabaster and work in Riverchase, the meeting will be held at Helena Elementary because it is a central location and provides a comfortable atmosphere, Ashman said.

John Gray said he hopes to give advice based on people’s current situations, such as what to do with a 401(k) and how to ease retirement fears.

“If you look at the media, they’re putting this fear out there,” he said. “When you have fear, you don’t act. And if you don’t act, it can hurt you in the long run.”

Gray said he’s hoping for about 300 people to attend the meeting.

“We’re hoping that a lot of people feel comfortable coming,” he said. “Here we are, we’re local, and we’re here to help.”