Macon County residents react to ASU study

TUSKEGEE, AL (WSFA) - Researchers at Alabama State University say this is truly a "County in Crisis".  The study suggests Macon County has the state's 4th highest poverty level, 25% of the people living here lack basic literacy skills, and it has one of the highest homicide rates in the state.

"I wished in could look into a crystal ball and see what went wrong."  says community leader, Noah Hopkins.  For Hopkins the glass is still half full, but he agrees; Macon County has a long way to go.

That's why this New Orleans transplant is pulling out all the stops to create a tourism destination in Tuskegee; using it's past as a ticket to a more prosperous future.

"I think that tourism is the horse we are gonna ride out of here on."

The economic situation in Macon County is more sobering for Derrick Wilson, a barber in downtown Tuskegee.

Wilson agrees, "We are struggling.  This is my only income.  My wife has been out of work since they closed Victoryland.  That's been what? 2 years?"

Wilson says, time and time again, he's watched major industry pass Tuskegee by.  While he's thankful for the few retail chains that have taken a chance in Tuskegee, it's not enough to support the local workforce.

"It just looks like nothing is coming our way."

Hopkins points out, "We have a lot of really smart people in Tuskegee.  But we are going to have to starting thinking good about ourselves."

A town with potential...or a county in crisis?

According to Hopkins, perception isn't always reality.

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