Wilcox County Residents React to State of the State Address


By Ashley Thompson

In Governor Robert Bentley's State of the State address this week, one talking point was the financial struggles of Wilcox County.

11 thousand people live in Wilcox County, where the median household income is low and poverty is high. The governor highlighted the challenges facing the county but many residents there say not enough is being done to solve those problems.

Bentley opened and closed his State of the State address by talking about Wilcox County, the poorest county in the country. He says the way to break the cycle of poverty isn't through government programs and says he refuses to expand Medicaid for that reason.

"We will not expand on a flawed and broken system that encourages greater reliance not on self, but on government," Bentley said.

Though some Wilcox County residents say Medicaid wouldn't create dependency but would help low-income residents.

"I know I was supposed to have surgery probably about four or five years ago," says resident Betty Woods. "But I couldn't afford it. I only get so many hours and I got two kids and so it's just very hard."

Other residents say they'd like the governor to reconsider his position on expanding the program.

"He needs to look into it more and find out more about it instead of just cutting it off," says Charlie Merrida.

Wilcox County has a double digit unemployment rate and Bentley says a new 100 million dollar Golden Dragon Copper Plant will give the area an economic boost by providing more than 350 jobs. Though some say that's not enough.

"There will be a significant number of jobs but of course, not enough jobs for the challenge that we have for our high unemployment rate," says Sheryl Threadgill-Mathews.

Governor Bentley is running for re-election this year but Bentley did not win Wilcox County back in 2010.


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