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Davis makes Uniontown restoration a reality

Congressman Artur Davis presented the Town of Uniontown with a check for $75,000 Thursday toward the renovation of the old middle school building into a community resource center.

The dilapidated building stands at the end of Broadway Avenue and was in such poor condition the check ceremony was moved to the Uniontown City Hall instead.

The plan is to “take this abandoned place and turn it into a center to bring this community together,” Davis said.

The money comes from the recent omnibus spending bill and is the first installment in what is expected to be a $1.5 million project. The congressman said state representatives in the U.S. Senate as well as the U.S House of Representatives would have to work together to find the additional funding for the project.

“We have been talking about the Black Belt for the last three or four years now,” Davis said. “So many people who don’t live in this region have been taking about the commitment they want to make.

“It’s time to take some of these promises and some of these commitments and back it up with checks and dollars.

“…There are a lot of federal dollars coming to the State of Alabama…but not enough of them are coming to the Black Belt,” Davis said.

Davis was joined on stage by Uniontown Mayor Phillip White, members of the town council and other elected officials in Perry County.

White told those assembled that Uniontown was blessed by the recent improvements, from the Dollar General store to the library technology center, which will open in February.

Although he did not support Davis before his election to Congress, White said Davis made a promise to come back and help Uniontown. “Today he’s come back to bless Uniontown,” the mayor said. “…We’ve never had a congressman who’s spent this much time in the Black Belt.”

The money presented Thursday will be used first to put a roof on the school’s gymnasium because of a leaking problem, White said. “Then we’re going to come and look at a dual facility, possible a Boy’s and Girl’s Club plus also a place for the city to host events. We don’t have any place large enough now.

“…The larger picture deals with the school itself,” the mayor said. “That’s where the big bulk of money is needed.” The work will be done gradually as funding becomes available.

In the last month Uniontown has received over $800,000 in grant money, White said. “Over $200,000 will be used in the downtown area – downtown revitalization, putting sidewalks in. We received a quarter of million dollars for our water waste treatment facility, and we’re going to receive $350,000 to connect 74 households that didn’t have sewage.

“…We’ve been doing a lot of street paving,” White said. “…All those are positive things.”

Taking an example from the elected officials of Uniontown, Davis said that local officials in the region should take the time to reach out to their congressmen and senators and tell them their needs. “That’s the bottom line, articulating the needs of the community….People always want to write off the Black Belt. They see it as an area that doesn’t have a big voter base.

“The leaders of the communities have to stand up for their citizens and say the needs in the Black Belt are as pressing or more pressing as anywhere else in the state.”

Davis is excited about the summit Feb. 6 at the University of West Alabama that will feature Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. “Next Friday will be the first time that the governor of Mississippi, the governor of Alabama, the congressman from the Black Belt and one of the congressmen from the Mississippi Delta are on the same stage.

“We’re there is the spirit of bi-partisanship,” Davis said. “I think it is an important event.

“…I hope a sustained economic development compact between Alabama and Mississippi will eventually happen. We have too much in common not to pool our resources.”