Mayor to tout city’s progress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2005

REGION-Thursday in the State Capitol Auditorium in Montgomery several local citizens and others with an interest in rural Alabama will participate in “A Call to Action for Rural Alabama.” The program is designed to bring small town leaders together to discuss their current state and future plans.

Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson will take center stage at 1:30 to discuss what it is like to keep a small town moving forward.

The conference, Williamson said, was a chance for people to come together and trade ideas.

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“This is going to be a day people will have to place emphasis on what is and is not going on in the Black Belt,” Williamson said. “We will give our views on what it is like to govern a city in rural Alabama and the changes and opportunities that are there for economic development.”

Joining Williamson are fellow Marengo Countians Fred Braswell and Margaret Megginson.

Braswell is President and CEO of the Alabama Rural Electric Association. Braswell, who is a native of Demopolis and a graduate of Auburn University, served as both the Director of the Alabama Development Office and Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Braswell will serve as moderator.

Megginson, who is a native of Marengo County and graduate if Sweet Water high School, will speak as a voice from Rural Alabama from 1:55 to 2:10 p.m. Megginson was 17 when she went to work at her first apparel job and over the next 43 years worked in Grove Hill, Toxey, Demopolis, Linden and Thomasville.

Another familiar face to the Black Belt will join Williamson, Braswell and Megginson at the conference.

Law Lamar, a Birmingham CPA who founded the Friends of Hale County, will speak from 2:10 until 2:25. His presentation is entitled “From Mountain Brook to Moundville” and will highlight how communities outside the Black Belt have sent support.

Lamar founded his group in 2003 and since has completed 166 projects such as donating washing machines to the elderly, renovating homes and supplying magazine and newspaper subscriptions to Black Belt schools.

Other speakers include Dr. Don Bogie, Director for the Center for Demographic Research at Auburn University Montgomery, T. C. Cooley, a Tallapoosa County Commissioner and Bobby Gierisch, Director of State Policy Programs at the Rural Policy Research Institute for the University of Missouri.

Hosts for the program include Sen. Lowell Barron, President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate and Rep. Seth Hammett, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives.