Success is up to everyone

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2005


During his visits through West Alabama and the entire state, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby often mentions his commitment to a federal organization called the Delta Regional Authority. His perseverance and our understanding of the DRA are vital to continued growth in this region.

First, we must thank Shelby for the work he continues to do on the behalf of citizens all across Alabama. We believe he understands the needs of our region and we, in turn, must understand the abilities of a U.S. Senator. In his office, Shelby has two primary duties:

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First, and foremost, he fights to bring resources and jobs to his home state. According to most in Washington, D.C., – and according to numerous analyses of effective Senate members – Shelby has done a fine job at that.

Second, Shelby has the responsibility to vote on national and international issues as he believes the majority of his constituency would vote. Again, Shelby’s record would indicate he has a close connection with his constituency.

While we expect Shelby to continue his aggressive work on our behalf on Capitol Hill, we also must realize that every Alabama citizen has the responsibility to take proactive measures toward economic progress.

As Shelby continues to discuss the Delta Regional Authority during his stops in Alabama, we must resolve to understand and take advantage of this federal organization.

The DRA, commissioned more than three years ago, receives federal money that it then grants to the 240 counties and parishes of the Delta Region. According to the DRA, at least 50 percent of that money must be used to improve transportation and “basic public” infrastructure.

Grants also are issued for business development – with an emphasis on entrepreneurship – and for workforce education and job training.

From all the studies, task forces and commissions designed to improve our region, surely we know by now that infrastructure and job training rank near the top of our need list.

It doesn’t do enough, however, for us to hear someone like Shelby talk about his hard work in Washington, D.C., to secure funding for the DRA. Instead, every citizen must care about the progress of such a group. We must ask our leaders what the DRA has done for us over the past year. We must applaud and spread the word when the DRA does something meaningful in our communities.

Demopolis is the best example, and we cannot be afraid to mention the good work of the DRA and Sen. Shelby when we talk about our higher education center. It is only through the successes of the DRA that our federal government will continue funding such a worthy organization. And it is only through those who benefit from the DRA that the success stories can be told.