COPY-Riley celebrates work of Black Belt Commission

Associated Press - August 23, 2010 5:04 PM ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - With his administration's 8-year term nearing an end, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has celebrated 1 of his most ambitious efforts, creation of a commission to improve economic and social conditions in the Black Belt region of west and central Alabama.

At a luncheon at Alabama State University Monday, Riley bragged about the commission's successes including economic development projects, vision screenings for more than 70,000 students and distance learning classes at high schools across the region.

But Riley also faced questions about disappointments, such as latest figures showing unemployment at 21.9% in Wilcox County, 19% in Greene and 18.3% in Dallas. Riley blamed those numbers on a "worldwide recession."

He said the numbers have improved in recent months in Alabama.

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