West Ala. leaders discuss state of their communities - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

West Ala. leaders discuss state of their communities

Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox, Northport mayor Bobby Herndon and Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum spoke at the breakfast. Source: WBRC video Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox, Northport mayor Bobby Herndon and Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum spoke at the breakfast. Source: WBRC video
Guests listen at the 11th annual State of the Community breakfast. Source: WBRC video Guests listen at the 11th annual State of the Community breakfast. Source: WBRC video
TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

Since the April 27 tornadoes, many folks are wondering how the cities in west Alabama are doing.

Mayors from Tuscaloosa and Northport held a "State of the Community" breakfast Wednesday morning and answered that question.

Topics in this morning's state of the community breakfast ranged from merging school systems to getting more help to get state and federal money to west Alabama.

During a question and answer session, several attendees asked about merging the city and county school system. Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum supports the idea if it'll save money.

"We're bussing kids all the way up to County High School when they're at the front door to Holt," McCollum said.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox wants residents to focus on a 2015 referendum to renew tax money for schools that pay for special programs.

"We need to do a better job of educating the public of why it's important and what'll happen if it's not," Maddox stated.

Both, along with Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon, say their municipalities are doing better financially in the past year.

Maddox hinted at talks with University of Alabama officials to expand the Bryant Conference Center.

That's one idea, along with the city offering financial incentives, to lure more business to Tuscaloosa to boost the local economy.

"We're going to compete with Hoover and we're going to compete with Huntsville and we're going to compete with Mountain Brook, we're going to have to offer what they're offering," Maddox said.

All three speakers asked for help from business leaders and citizens in the room to encourage state and federal representatives to offer more financial help to this area.

Being an advocate is paying off in some aspects. Some cite the $48 million in additional HUD funding coming to Tuscaloosa since more people spoke up about what this community needs.

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