Davis presents York with $700,000 grant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

U.S. Congressman Artur Davis arrived in York bringing good news while reflecting on sadder news for the city.

Davis brought a smile to everyone’s face when he announced the arrival of a $700,000 CDBG grant to help with the cities water system.

The grant came, Davis said, from a meeting with York Mayor Carolyn Mitchell Gosa regarding needed repairs for the city’s sewage system.

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“The mayor of this community came to us to ask us to help get some money to help with the sewage system,” Davis said. “She told me they had some USDA money, but they needed to get a little federal money to make this happen and bring clean water to the people of York.”

Presenting the check, Davis said, was just a reminder of how proud he is to serve the people of Alabama.

“There is not a day that I do this job that I am not reminded of the enormous honor of getting to serve the people of Alabama,” Davis said. “There is a special gift when you get to serve the people of Alabama. I think, every elected official in their own way tries to do right by their community.”

Through his town hall meetings, Davis said, he is able to bring information about the people he serves to Washington. He said this has been especially effective in bringing attention to the Black Belt.

“We have had more focus on what it means to live in a community with no jobs,” Davis said. We have had more focus on what it means to live in a community that struggles to have enough money to pay its teachers. We have had more focus and more attention placed on the region.”

Now, Davis said, they have to take this attention and bring solutions to the everyday problems.

“The challenge we have is to take the attention we have on the Black Belt and translate it into public policy,” Davis said. “I was glad to come here tonight and bring you money tonight, but there are some things that are much more important than money.”

During Davis’s question and answer session with the public State Senate candidate Betty Maye referenced Leon Davis’s Community Care Action Network in Montgomery. The network has a mobile medical unit, which travels around and provides basic services to rural areas. Maye asked if such a service could come to the Black Belt.

“Have any funds been appropriated to bring this kind of service to West Alabama?,” Maye asked. “If so, could it go as far as Sumter County.”

Getting such a service to the Black Belt was imperative, Davis said, because of the lack of medical facilities.

“Services like this are very important because we have several counties that don’t have hospitals,” Davis said. “Choctaw County has no hospital. Perry County has no hospital and there is only one small hospital here and in Greene County. This is one of the things we spend a lot of time talking about.”

If a unit were able to come to the Black Belt, Davis said, it could provide a lot of needed treatment and prevention of illnesses.

“We can do a whole lot at a very low cost if we can bring in a mobile medical unit,” Davis said. “We can bring them in and drive them in and do a lot of the basic things like screening people for things. We are going to do more of that.”

Education and prevention, Davis said, were also important parts of healthcare needed in West Alabama.

Veterans affair were also a topic of discussion. Clarence Nelson, of American Legion Post 10, said they were trying to establish better lines of communication with local veterans and the community.

“We are a struggling organization trying to find a base for the people here who have served in past and present wars,” Nelson said. “A lot of the people who come home from wars don’t realize there are benefits for them out there and a lot of families of the deceased don’t realize there is help for them either. We are seeking financial help to try to improve our relationship with the community.”

Unfortunately, Davis said, U.S. relations with their own veterans are not where they should be.

“We have not done what we need to for our veterans,” Davis said. “We are getting more and more of them every day, but we are not doing nearly enough to help them.”

Davis said he hoped to see that relationship grow and provide American veterans with the benefits and respect they deserve.

While addressing the city, Davis also reflected on the loss of Public Safety Director Dion Wilson. Wilson lost his life in a car crash last fall and Davis said he would be greatly missed. He reflected on a one on one meeting he had with Wilson during his last trip.

“The last time I was in the city of York was after the hurricane and a young man stopped me as I was leaving and talked to me about a grant for the police department,” Davis said. “I told him the next time I was in York we would talk about it. Not too long after that I got the news that he was gone.”

The greatest tragedy, Davis said, was more young people did not have an opportunity to be under Wilson’s guidance.

“York and Sumter County lost a very precious young man,” Davis said. “Every time I think about the young people and the young men in this community, I wish more of them had gotten a chance to get to know him because he was one young man who made a difference.”