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Senior Benefit Enrollment in Foley, Free Health Screenings

Foley City Hall

Many of Alabama’s senior citizens that qualify for food and medical assistance don’t receive those benefits because they haven’t signed up for the program.

The city of Foley is partnering with the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission Area Agency to help those seniors find out if they’re eligible for assistance and to enroll in benefit programs.

The senior enrollment fair will be held today from 9 AM to 2 PM at Foley City Hall. Those at the fair will be focusing on benefits under the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP.

Individuals must have an income of $1260 a month or less to qualify for SNAP benefits, but properly documented medical expenses can qualify some seniors with higher incomes for the program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates only 2 of every 5 eligible seniors are enrolled in SNAP, meaning nearly 40,000 eligible Alabama senior citizens are not enrolled.

Those attending today’s enrollment fair can also take part in a free health screening and talk about legal issues with an elder law attorney.

Today and tomorrow are the last days Alabamians in the Black Belt can receive free medical screenings.

The doctor’s visits are being offered by the Delta Regional Authority and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Residents are able to receive medical, dental and eye screenings.

Jim Byard Jr. is the director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. He says the eye and dental clinics are very popular among the residents.

“They don’t have the transportation to get them to health care. Often times they don’t have medical insurance and they just live in rural counties and that’s a problem in rural America and most certainly in the rural part of Alabama’s Black Belt.”

The screenings are being offered in Barbour and Macon counties. Clinic locations include Barbour County High School, Eufaula High School and Tuskegee Institute Middle School.

Rail service along the gulf coast may soon be coming back.

The U.S. Senate is set to discuss its version of a passenger rail reauthorization bill today. The measure could help restore rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida. That route was scrapped following hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Greg White is Vice Chairman of the Southern Rail Commission. He says the restoration will help increase tourism and retail development in the Gulf Coast area.

“Well we certainly have individuals who are dependent on public transportation, mass transportation; just to move from point A to B. We believe that if we can restore that service with a long term commitment to it that it can lead to economic development along the Gulf Coast.”

Construction could begin on the passenger rail line once legislation is passed.

Preservationists say an abandoned Birmingham motel with ties to the civil rights movement is one of the nation's most threatened historic places.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is including the old A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham on its list of America's 11 most endangered historic locations.

Other sites on the list include the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.

The Gaston Motel was an operating base for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during Birmingham civil rights protests in 1963. But the motel has been boarded-up and vacant for years.

The city of Birmingham is currently working on a $10 million plan to restore parts of the motel. The restoration will include a new development highlighting the area’s civil rights history.

Mayor William Bell says work on the property should begin within three months.

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