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Bonner visits Atmore

By By Chuck Bodiford Publisher
Thursday morning, Congressman Jo Bonner made his way to Atmore City Hall for one of his latest round of town meetings. He was introduced by Mayor Howard Shell saying what Bonner has done for the people of Atmore the short period of time he's been in Washington.
"He has helped us tremendously with grants we've been able to get through the industrial park and through the drainage program. We've got over $3.5 million dollars in Federal grants, which all started in his office. Prior to that (his administration) we had a very difficult time in getting into the system, the experience that he had prior to assuming this job, certainly helped us to hit the ground running," Shell said.
After some brief comments including a comment on the send-off Atmore gave Co. A of the 711th Signal Battalion, Bonner opened the floor to questions.
Jim Justice, owner of Greenlawn Pharmacy, asked about the complexity of Medicare laws.
"The intent when we passed it and what President Bush signed in law was to be better for senior citizens not worse," Bonner replied. "The intent was certainly not to put local pharmacists out of business. The intent was very simple. In just a few weeks senior citizens are going to be getting a prescription drug card. This is phase one of what is very complicated, but over several years is a phase in of a new benefit that is part of Medicare.
"Our intention was to help senior citizens that needed the help the most. So that if they are fighting diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension or some other illness and there is a drug on the market that will help them, then they can get it as part of Medicare; as a benefit."
Bonner went over some of the points of the new Medicare bill with the audience. And did mention that there are some problems with it, such as cancer drugs not being covered effectively.
Another resident gave the congressman a letter and had comments for both him and the audience about future benefits due the people in upcoming years.
Before leaving, the congressman talked about the coalition formed between Escambia, Monroe and Conecuh County to build an industrial park. "There is not a community that is better situated than Atmore is with the land that you have acquired at the interstate to put Atmore on the front map for a distribution center, said Bonner. There is a lot of good on the horizon, but that is easy for the preacher to say on Sunday, but the challenge is can you walk the walk and get by on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I know that this community in particular has had some hits to its local economy and so I appreciate your confidence, I want you to know that any chance I get – as long as I have this job – to help this community and this county to work together with other counties and communities, I am going to do it.
"Cause ladies and gentlemen if we don't (work together), if we let what used to be the differences between Friday night football keep us apart on Saturday mornings, then as a region we are going to suffer. I believe that this joint effort between Monroe, Escambia and Conecuh County is a good step. I think that we have grown up to the point of realizing that blacks need whites, men need women, republicans need democrats and democrats might need a republican every now and then. We can't let barriers keep us from working together."