Davis pledges progress on Highway 80

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – Davis used a backdrop of questions from the public to lend his support to four-laning U.S. Highway 80, the President’s move to redeploy U.S. troops abroad and to commit to make a dent in the federal deficit.

All at the same time as “getting directions” from the people who gave him the job at his town hall meeting in Demopolis’ Civic Center Monday.

About 60 people attended the event designed as a way citizens can have direct contact with Davis and his staff.

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After two presentations to Davis – one by Gail Ethridge for his support in Thomaston, the other a similar presentation by Faunsdale Mayor Sadie Stanford – Davis was welcomed to the podium by a standing ovation.

Quickly turning the spotlight from himself to Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell, Davis presented Caldwell with a letter of well-wishes. Caldwell will retire when his current term expires.

Davis also recognized county commissioners and city council members also in attendance before launching into his opening statements.

“This is a difficult time for our country – we’re at war, we’re dealing with the economy,” he said. “… but I want to do right by the people of this region.”

“But I’m optimistic: I know the people I represent are the best in America,” he said.

Davis spoke on a variety of issues, but mainly focused on his remarks in response to questions by the audience.

Dianna McCampbell, once courted by Davis to join his staff, asked about the Black Belt Action Commission and the role he’d play as chairman of its healthcare committee.

“…We have the opportunity to do something different and find solutions to the problems,” he said. “The healthcare task force will produce substantial recommendations for the state.”

It was against this backdrop Davis took the opportunity to pressure state legislators to make the Black Belt a priority.

“Earmarking [federal] funds is meaningless without the commitment of the state transportation department,” he said of the U.S. Highway 80 project.

“The federal government gets the money, the state decides how and where to spend it and if you take any one of those out of the equation, nothing happens,” he said, noting portions of the highway in Sumter County and Uniontown have had federal funds earmarked.

Stopping short of endorsing any particular candidate for the state senate race to replace Sen. Charles Steele, Davis urged those in attendance to make their vote count.

“Elect someone who can do the work. Don’t send someone down to Montgomery to represent only a part of the district … and somebody who has a track record,” he said.