Chamber hosts annual State of the Community Tuesday

Hundreds of business leaders from around West Alabama came together Tuesday as part of the annual State of the Community summit.

Several members of the WVUA 23 team were also there for the meeting.

Leaders from the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport and Tuscaloosa County were there to discuss the latest progress and problems in their jurisdictions.

Northport City Administrator Glenda Webb offered an update on the long-discussed Northport city school system as well as recreational additions.

“We are still in a period of due diligence,” Webb said. “Trying to figure out how much it costs to run a school system, what funding might be available for a school system and understanding the needs for the particular needs for the schools that are in the city limits.”

Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Rob Robertson spent some time discussing the county’s new mental health crisis center, which will soon be under construction.

“The way the crisis center concept works is there is as short-term observation,” Robertson said. “Everybody comes in and there’s triage and short-term observation for up to 24 hours. Then there might be a longer-term stay. For most folks, you can stabilize and make sure they are on a better path within 24 hours. I have not been this encouraged by what I see coming on the mental health front since I have been in office.”

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox touched on the successes of his Elevate Tuscaloosa plan in education, infrastructure and community relations. He also offered thoughts on the current state of the DCH Health System.

“The environment that DCH is very difficult right now and because of where Tuscaloosa sits geographically, they encounter a lot of non-payers into the system,” Maddox said. “(New DCH CEO) Katrina Keefer has a long history of addressing this. I think the board made an outstanding decision in selecting her.”

Maddox said he believes it’s time that DCH partner with the University of Alabama or University of Alabama at Birmingham so it can be better positioned for long-term survival in the health care landscape.

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