Update from the Chamber

Johnson, Davis to be breakfast speakers

Bill Johnson, candidate for the Republican Party’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination, will be the sixth of the eight gubernatorial candidates to speak at a monthly Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Johnson will speak at the Wednesday, Feb. 24, breakfast that begins at 7:30 a.m. at Twin Oaks.

Bill Johnson has an impressive resume of public and government service. He worked as a political consultant, ran for the United States Senate in Missouri, and served as a member of the Birmingham City Council from 1997-2001. He managed the statewide grassroots effort in Bob Riley’s successful bid for Congress in 1996 and for governor in 2002 and 2006. Johnson served as a Director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) from 2003-09. You may access his gubernatorial platform and campaign at www.billjohnson.org.

The breakfast will be sponsored by a chamber member who does not seek publicity but has always promoted chamber activities. This generosity allows the chamber to continue our practice of not charging for breakfast.

March breakfast

Congressman Artur Davis will be the seventh speaker in the chamber’s gubernatorial candidate series. He will speak at Twin Oaks on Wednesday, March 31, 2010. The program begins at 7:30 a.m.

Congressman Artur Davis was re-elected in 2008 to serve his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a Democrat, he represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District, a 12- county area that spans from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa to the Black Belt.

In a relatively short time, Davis has made his mark as an effective legislator who has won national attention for his leadership on a range of issues. He serves as a member of the prestigious Ways and Means Committee, which oversees economic policy. He is only the 10th Alabamian in 190 years to serve on this committee, which is the only Congressional committee actually described in the U.S. Constitution.

Artur Davis, a Montgomery native, graduated with honors from both Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He has had a 15-year career in public service. As a law student, he worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center and U.S. Senator Howell Heflin. From 1994 to 1998, he compiled a nearly 100-percent trial conviction record as a federal prosecutor in Montgomery. From 1998 to 2002, Congressman Davis worked as a litigator in private practice.

The Blount Countian
will sponsor the March chamber breakfast. The Blount
is the oldest continuously operating business in Blount County. The paper began publication on Oct. 18, 1894, as The Southern Democrat
under the ownership of Forney G. Stephens. The paper came under the present sole ownership of Molly Howard in 1976.

In 1989, the name was changed to The
Blount Countian
to reflect nonpolitical alignment and to position the paper to appeal to all residents of the county.

The paper’s sponsorship of the March breakfast allows the chamber to continue what has come to be regarded as one of the best speakers’ programs in the state. Publisher Molly Howard, Editor Rob Rice, and The Blount Countian
are excellent corporate citizens and continue to be important members and partners of the chamber.

Shelby town hall

The chamber will host a town hall meeting for Senator Richard Shelby (RTuscaloosa) at noon on Saturday, Feb. 27. The meeting will be held in the courtroom located in the Family Services Mall (formerly Blount Memorial Hospital). Senator Shelby will provide information regarding the next session of Congress. Among the topics of discussion will be healthcare, terrorism, the economy, immigration, the national deficit, national defense, and funding for NASA.

Senator Shelby was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 and has made it a practice to visit each of Alabama’s 67 counties yearly to discuss his legislative agenda and to remain in touch with his constituents. This is a great opportunity to meet Senator Shelby, to learn about important issues facing Alabama and the nation, and to ask questions.

County health ranking

A report ranking Alabama’s 67 counties on healthiness was released last week and provided few surprises. The study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, assessed counties on 28 criteria including death and disease rates, available medical care, education, and pollution. Disparities statewide fell along predictable lines with counties in Alabama’s Black Belt faring worst. The only real revelation was the lack of a clear relationship of health care and healthy people.

Shelby County is the state’s healthiest county and Perry County is its least healthy. Blount County ranked as the 10th healthiest of the 67 Alabama counties.

Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer, was quoted as saying, “It reinforces what we already know. Communities with higher incomes have better health outcomes.”


The Hayden Town Hall Meeting for Senator Jeff Sessions hosted by the chamber last week was a resounding success with more than 130 people attending. A special thanks to Mayor Thelma Smith, the Hayden Town Council, the Town of Hayden, Superior Bank, and the West Blount Development Association for organizing and promoting the event.

Public figures at the state and national level continue to look at Blount County with interest as we continue to grow and develop. Blount is blessed with community leaders in all parts of the county who work to improve daily life.

By working together, we are making a very good community even better