Jennings to co-lead rural action group

Published 5:44 pm Monday, May 14, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
Brewton Mayor Ted Jennings has been asked to serve as a regional co-chairman of a new group designed to improve quality of life in Alabama's rural communities.
Jennings said Gov. Bob Riley asked him to serve as the Region 8 co-chairman for the Alabama Rural Action Commission. Region 8 includes Escambia, Baldwin and Mobile counties.
Riley met with members of the group last week in Montgomery to discuss the ARAC's plans.
Riley said he hopes commission members follow the example of the Black Belt Action Commission, which brought together 800 volunteers to improve a 12-county region's educational, health care and living standards. The Black Belt commission was founded in 2004.
&#8220The ‘action commission' model is a proven success in the Black Belt,” Riley said in a statement. &#8220Now we will replicate this model statewide and bring more progress to Alabama's rural communities. And just like the Black Belt Action Commission, the Rural Action Commission is open to every citizen who wants to help.”
The Rural Action Commission will begin by focusing on improving health care, education, economic development and workforce development in rural areas.
Former state Sen. Gerald Dial of Lineville serves as the commission's executive director. Riley has appointed State Banking Superintendent John Harrison and Margaret Bentley of Alabama Power Company as State Co-Chairs of the ARAC.  Harrison is a former mayor of Luverne in Crenshaw County. Bentley is an area manager for Alabama Power and also a co-chair of the Black Belt Action Commission.
The commission has divided the state into eight regions, with certain commission members responsible for improvement efforts in each.