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Shelby reaffirms support for I-85

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby began his speech Monday at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center to a standing ovation.

Shelby, who spoke at a number of different locations in the area on Monday, addressed issues ranging from the Black Belt’s economic situation to a possible war with Iraq.

In his address, Shelby said that everything comes down to economics, and that meant better housing and jobs. He added that in order for the Black Belt to improve its housing and job problems it would have to have private investment.

It wasn’t a far leap for Shelby to bring up the Hyundai plant near Montgomery and how that could help the Selma-Dallas County region.

He said that Hyundai is spending a lot of money just down the road and that Selma-Dallas County should be able to get one to two suppliers for the plant.

Shelby also spoke about the proposed I-85 corridor that is expected to run from Montgomery to Sumter County. He said that he was able to commission a feasibility study for the corridor that cost $3 million. However, the results haven’t yet been delivered to him.

Shelby added that the corridor should have been built years ago.

At this point, though, the idea of an interstate addition is only being discussed.

Shelby also touched on the space shuttle tragedy that occurred Saturday.

He said that NASA is currently conducting an investigation into the explosion, and added that while the nation mourns the deaths of the seven astronauts we shouldn’t stop thinking about space exploration.

Moving onto foreign affairs, Shelby said that on Wednesday Secretary of State Colin Powell would lay out a strong case for dealing with Iraq to the U.N. Security Council.

He also didn’t mince any words when it came to his beliefs about the possibility of war with Iraq.

Roughly 70 percent of the world’s oil comes from the Mid East, and Shelby said he feared that Europe and the United States could essentially be shut down if war interrupts the flow of oil from that region.

He also gave people present a chance to ask him questions at the Monday meeting.

Selma resident Alston Fitts said he had fears the country would be in Iraq for just as long as it would take to the build the I-85 corridor.

Shelby, though, said that the country still had a presence in Germany, Japan and Korea, and added that he didn’t think we’d be in Iraq forever.

Another attendee wondered why the United States didn’t just use air power to take on Iraq.

Shelby, while admitting that U.S. lives could likely be spared if only air power were used, said that option would destroy Iraq’s infrastructure.

One person brought up the subject of Sen. Trent Lott’s recent racist remarks, and asked if America would ever have a resolution about race.

Shelby said that he didn’t see the country as being only black and white, but instead as being multi-ethnic, and that we as a country have to work every day to make sure everyone is respected.