One day left in Operation: Black Belt 2012

Published 3:03 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2012

One day remains in an intensive ten-day campaign to provide free medical and dental services to residents of Alabama’s Black Belt, but already the number of patients treated has dramatically exceeded expectations of state officials involved with organizing the event.

When Operation Alabama Black Belt was announced on April 30, organizers said they anticipated serving about 5,000.

“We won’t know the full results until later on Thursday, but the level of participation has been extraordinary throughout the region,” said Jim Byard Jr., director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. “We are deeply indebted to our outstanding men and women in uniform who made this unprecedented outreach possible. I look forward to personally thanking each of them on behalf of the thousands of Alabamians who received much-needed medical services.”

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Federal, state and local officials will gather Thursday night to wrap up the Operation and honor the 250 medical personnel from active and reserve military services and the Alabama National Guard who have been providing the free services from temporary medical facilities in Hayneville, Selma and Demopolis.

Each unit involved will receive an award honoring their participation. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in Selma.

The Delta Regional Authority and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs sponsored Operation Alabama Black Belt. DRA is a federal-state partnership that seeks to stimulate investment to create jobs, build communities and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta region, including Alabama’s Black Belt. ADECA administers DRA programs in Alabama.