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County leaders meet in D.C.

By By John Dilmore Boone News Service
Concerns at the county level about topics ranging from road funding to homeland security were recently given a forum during the Legislative Conference of the National Association of Counties (NACo), held in Washington, D.C.
County commissioners from throughout Alabama had a chance to present their concerns to members of the state's legislative delegation at a Capitol Hill breakfast during the conference.
Escambia County Commission Chairman Larry White came away from the meeting feeling good about how issues of importance to the counties were received.
"Our legislative delegation, year in and year out, has always been very sensitive to the concerns of counties in this state," White said. "We have a good working relationship."
Among the issues Alabama counties are hoping to see addressed at the national level is the continuing need for help in the area of road funding.
A list of Alabama counties' concerns compiled for the Legislative Conference reads, in part, "Alabama Counties depend heavily on federal funding to maintain the rural roads and bridges that are traveled daily by Alabama citizens."
Federal dollars have been a big part of the GARVEE project, a $250 million bridge replacement bond issue which has helped with bridges all over the state, including a number of them here in Escambia County.
Among the local bridges replaced or repaired thanks to these funds have been Narrow Gap Creek bridge, Little River bridge, Bowler Mill Creek bridge, Amos Mill Creek bridge and Jernigan Creek bridge.
Alabama's counties are highly interested in following this program with another one, which would also rely largely on federal funding.
"We would like to see another one, to carry out more infrastructure improvements," White said.
They are also in support of two road-related bills that would benefit that have the backing of NACo as a whole. The first would increase monies designated for use on rural bridges, and also create a rural planning process.
The other bill would be aimed at helping to alleviate overcrowding on highways through various means.
Another concern Alabama counties' have is the way grant funding related to issues of homeland security is distributed. Namely, they want to see funds make their way to the local level in the state, where emergency and security measures will actually be implemented.