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Leaders mark second year

DEMOPOLIS &8212; The Black Belt Action Commission presented its second annual report in Demopolis Thursday.

The report included overviews of the commissions mission from state Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, and Gov. Bob Riley. There were also reports given on the progress of the commission&8217;s education committee and health committee.

The Alabama Black Belt region is made up of 12 counties: Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Pickens, Perry, Sumter, and Wilcox.

Sanders, the other co-chairman of the executive committee, outlined the goals set in the founding of the BBAC.

According to Sanders the BBAC has accomplished all six goals in its two years of existence. Riley also feels that the BBAC has successful reached its objectives.

According to Riley, one of the commission&8217;s biggest accomplishments was that it reached its goals without any additional state funding.

Dr. Fannie Major-McKenzie, superintendent of Dallas County schools, noted that the BBAC has helped make major strides in the conditions of region schools.

Major-McKenzie also noted that superintendents of the region held a two-day conference at Tuskegee. She said the conference focused on addressing common problems in the region&8217;s schools.

Francis Ford, executive director of Sowing Seeds for Hope, spoke about the change in the status quo in healthcare since the BBAC was commissioned at the report. She said that the region has partnered with institutions such as UAB, the University of Alabama and Samford University to provide better health care in the region.

According to Ford, the attention of the commission moved the state legislature to rid the state constitution of a 1975 law requiring that liver dialysis machines be located within 10 miles of a hospital. This law hurt the rural communities of the region that didn&8217;t have the facilities of more populous areas.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accompanied Riley to the event. During brief remarks, he praised the effort of the BBAC.

Demopolis Mayor Cecil Williamson also spoke at the meeting, welcoming everyone present to Demopolis. Williamson also thanked the Demopolis City Council, all elected officials present and BBAC committee members.