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Davis visits his core constituents

When he was elected six years ago, one of the first counties U.S. Rep. Artur Davis visited was Greene County. Tuesday, he returned to the William McKinley Branch Courthouse to again discuss the future of the Black Belt and county.

After that first meeting, Davis promised more meetings to come. Greene County Probate Judge Earline Isaac said Davis has kept this promise well.

“When he was elected he promised us that he would not forget about the people that sent him t Washington,” Isaac said. “He said he would come back and have these meetings and he has done that. He has been here time after time.”

In Davis’ opening comments he reflected on a recent accident that brought both sadness and pride to his heart. Davis said his last trip to Greene County was to view the remains of Morningstar Church in Boligee. The trip, Davis said, brought a somber tone to his visit, but the response of Greene County Sheriff Johnny Isaac was uplifting.

“I want to thank him for the good work that he did,” Davis said. “Make no mistake, the federal government did some enormously god work, but I want to thank the wonderful sheriff in this county because he wasn’t on the side lines or in the back alley. He was right there on the scene. Every time I see him speaking for this county he makes me awfully proud.”

Isaac, in turn, said he also appreciated Davis for showing his concern.

“I would like to thank you for all of your assistance,” Isaac said. “As all of you know, the three were arrested and hopefully we can bring them to Greene County, charge them here and make sure things go like we want them to.”

Isaac also expressed concerns to Davis about budget cuts in the present budget that would take multiple grants from small town law enforcement offices.

The cuts, Davis said, could easily be maintained and would only hurt the assistance law enforcement agencies can provide.

“I think it is wrong,” Davis said. “Every program the sheriff mentioned you can add them up and they don’t cost a lot of money. The amount of money from these programs doesn’t save the federal government very much, but it means everything for a lot of people. The amount of money they are trying to save means nothing to the government, but it means everything to places like Greene County.”

Black Belt Counties such as Greene, Davis said, could not afford to lose any funding, especially in law enforcement.

“This is a county that struggles under the best of circumstances to get the dollars it needs in various forms of government to protect its communities,” Davis said. “A few years ago, they gave them money from them for homeland security. Then they turned it around and they are not getting much of that money. It is a very real problem.”

Departments can have the best personnel in the world, Davis said. But, if they are not equipped properly the protection they can provide suffers.

Citizens voiced concerns over the situation in Iraq and Medicare and the government’s prescription plan, but one of the issues that hit even closer to home was the future of farmers in the area.

Davis outlined a lawsuit filed by black farmers in the mid 1990’s and the problems they have encountered. The government, Davis said, gave the impression they would settle the case, but instead made things worse.

“The overwhelming majority of the claims, about 70 percent, were denied because the claims were late,” Davis said. “But, most people didn’t know about the deadline. The federal government didn’t spend their resources to notify people.”

The farming scene as a whole, both black and white, were a great concern Davis said.

“One of the worst things that has happened in this state is we have gotten away from our roots in agriculture,” Davis said. “That is one of the reasons this state is not as rich as it should be.”

Too much land in the Black Belt was being wasted, Davis said, because no one was farming it.