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Health coalition receives $20,000 grant

The Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County has just received $20,000 to help area residents get healthy.

The coalition, a 15-year-old organization dedicated to improving the lives of Escambia County residents, has received the federal funding as part of the Alabama Strategic Alliance for Health. That alliance has funded programs in three counties and is now expanding to include six more.

Coalition chairwoman Ruth Harrell said a subcommittee will study the best ways to use the money.

“We’ve got a lot of discussion and a lot of work ahead,” she said.

With several programs already under way in Brewton and East Brewton — including community gardens and a proposal to turn the old Brewton Middle School into a community center — Harrell said she hopes some of the money will be directed toward Flomaton and Atmore.

“The timing on this is perfect,” Harrell said.

Kathi Needham, who has been administering the program in Dallas County, said Escambia County is ahead of the game because of the coalition’s prior work.

“You are so many more steps ahead than we were in Dallas County,” she said. “I’m excited.”

The funding will be available for fiscal year 2011, beginning Oct. 1.