New Alabama governor causes stir with program cancellation - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

New Alabama governor causes stir with program cancellation

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - 

Thomasville mayor Sheldon Day is taking the diplomatic approach to the change, keeping an open mind to the future but feeling like Governor Robert Bentley could have done a better job of communicating the changes made and why.

"I think he could have talked with us first before making any decisions," said Day.

The governor disbanded the Black Belt Action Commission and the Alabama Rural Action Commission and then combined their responsibilities to create the Alabama Rural Development Office.

And, surprising to some, Bentley selected his Democratic opponent for governor Ron Sparks to head the new office. We're told Sparks will earn around $80,000 a year.

The Black Belt Action Commission focused on improving the lives of west Alabama residents, particularly in the area of health care.

The Black Belt Action Commission linked volunteers in the medical field together and provided free screenings to children with limited access to a doctor.

Thomasville High School nurse Candy Thompson saw that first hand.

"I remember clearly a situation in which a child didn't know he had high blood pressure and we were able to refer him to a doctor for treatment," said Thompson.

There is also the story of how volunteers were able to prevent a youngster's diabetes from getting worse, thanks to the Black Belt Action Commission.

Governor Bentley did not respond directly to the communication issue but instead focused on the fact he believes the change does a better job of streamlining government services.

Governor Bentley argues the new commission will have more of a direct impact.

Mayor Day and Thompson tell WSFA 12 News what used to be known as the Black Belt Action Commission helped thousands of people since it was created in 2004 by former Governor Bob Riley.

A new governor, a new man running the new Alabama Rural Development Office, the mayor and Thompson are watching closely to see if this keeps a good program on track.

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