Paging Dr. Bentley

Published 11:24 am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

By MOLLIE BROWN / Guest Columnist

Hospital emergency rooms have a good system.

It’s common sense that if people arrive with emergencies, they should be treated ahead of less threatening medical conditions.

They may get impatient waiting their turns, but a stroke or heart attack is much more serious than a cut finger or an earache.

Gov. Robert Bentley, since taking office, you’ve made many positive changes to Alabama. Under your leadership jobs have been created, which lowered the unemployment rate. Your administration established an emergency relief fund for victims affected by catastrophic environmental disasters in our state. Our roads have been bettered, interstates widened and various interstate exits illuminated.

But Dr. Bentley, as a member of the National Governor’s Association of Economic Development and Commerce Commission, you have continually overlooked the highly congested traffic at any given time on any given day at Exit 231 on Interstate 65 in Calera. Growth in Calera has been stifled for years due to the jammed cluster of vehicles at this exit.

The city’s economic development board recruiters report there is negative feedback from commercial developers because of the traffic flow difficulty.

Simply put, they don’t want their customers, employees and trucks to have to allow additional time to navigate through the traffic issues. Most recently Calera lost a prospective company, which would have employed approximately 150 people, because of the bottleneck.

Calera is actively recognized for the achievement of its government, industries, businesses and schools. Its municipal judge recently received the Howell Heflin award. Vulcan Materials Company’s Calera Quarry was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration for outstanding safety achievement. Teacher Brian Copes received national recognition for securing $35,000 with a three-year commitment of funding from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation for his pre-engineering students at Calera High School.

Does the saying “common sense dictates policy” apply to your mission of job creation and retention? If so, how does placing cities with less growth ahead of the fastest-growing city in one of the fastest-growing counties of Alabama accomplish your mission?

It’s common sense to prioritize Exit 231 as an emergency situation to put Alabamians back to work. It’s common sense to take commercial developer Eddie Lumpkin up on offered seed money to get the project underway.

In seeking election you campaigned on the slogan, “Alabama needs a doctor.” Is there anything left in your bag to cure the interstate congestion at Exit 231? I implore you, Gov. Bentley, to make this a resolution for the new year: Heal the crippled growth and economic development in Calera.

Mollie Brown is a Calera resident and a contributor to the Shelby County Reporter.