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Tuskegee, Alabama
December 9, 2010     The Tuskegee News
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December 9, 2010

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The Tuskegee News, December 9, 2010, Page A-7 [- Vilsack potatoes while at Tuskegee Uni- versity. As a former governor of Iowa, Vflsack talked about two great Iowans Henry Wallace and Carver. Wallace was the last per- son from Iowa before Vilsack who had been a cabinet member. He was Secretary of Agriculture in Franklin D. Roosevelt's Ad-' rninstration and later served as vice president. "Dr. Carver's circumstance in coming to Iowa was that he trav- eled to another midwestern uni- versity under the assumption he had been accepted. They were surprised when George Wash- ington Carver was not what they thought George Washington Carver was (white)," V'flsack told the story. '/hile leaving Iowa, he came upon Simpson College in Indi- anola where he was admitted sight unseen. His first year there it was obvious he was brighter than his teachers and was told he should go to Iowa State Uni- •versity where he was for several years before coming here." rtlsack said it was his honor as governor to recognize Dr. Carver as one of Iowa's greatest heroes. 'It is important that rm here today to provide that connec- tion," he said. V'flsack then spoke about USDA's checkered history in dealing with minorities and dis- advantaged farmers. He pointed out that last week Congress took an important step by passing historic legislation to provide long-awaited relief to black farmers who have faced discrim- ination at the hands of the USDA. The Claims Settlement Act funds an agreemen reached in the Pigford II lawsuit brought agains USDA by black farmers. • Soon President Obama will sign it into law after federal Court ap- proval of the settlement. 'lot only will this process bring relief to farmers who may have struggled to keep their farms -- but it will help USDA take a major step forward in moving beyond this sad chapter in our history," Vilsack previ- ously stated. He told those gathered at the TU Chapel, "Our civil rights his- tory is not a reflection of our ef" forts today. We are turning the page to write a new chapter for civil rights at USDA." In previous remarks, V'flsack was adamant in stating, '"We are working to ensure that all farm- ers -- no matter of their race, color, sex or age -- get a fair (From Page A-l) shake. Never again should hard- working Americans be forced off a farm their family has tilled for generations because they can't get the help they deserve to make it through a bad harvest, or are denied a loan to repair a broken tractor. "America's farmers - and the American people - deserve to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. To make this a re- ality, since becoming Secretary, I have made civil rights a priority at USDA, implementing a com- prehensive program to move us into a new era as a model em- ployer and premier service provider.. I pledged that we would correct past errors, learn from mistakes, and take defini- tive action to ensure that all our customers have equal access to program benefits." Vilsack said the USD/(needs to reach out to socially disadvan- taged farmers, not forget rural communities that are pockets of poverty and clean up its own house. He pointed out that in the two years he has been USDA Secre- tary, loans from Obama's Recov- ery Act have increased 28 percent and 34 percent to disad- vantaged farmers, allowing them to remain on their farms. V'flsack said out of the 2.2 mil- lionAmeAcan farmers, about 1.3 million are hobby farmers who generate no more than a $1,000 a year from their products. Most sell a few products to local farm- ers markets. Most lose money. Another 600,000 farmers fall into a middle group with sales less than $250,000. Their aver- age incomes are about $6,400 annually. Then there is the final group of about 300,000 farmers that pro- duce aboUt 85 percent of what is consumed in the United States. Their incomes average about $200,000 a year. 'That's a tremendous reward for the American people because only about 10 to 15 percent of our paychecks go for groceries," V'flsack explained. "About 25 to 30 percent of paychecks for those in other developed coun- tries go for groceries." V'flsack said the extraordinary advantage Americans realize is the ability to purchase items like automobiles with less in- come having to be spent on food. He said the USDA needs to help .populate rural areas, not- mg that rural populations fell by 56 percent in the 2000 Census. Vilsack expects a similar drop when 2010 Census figures are reported. 'If we do a better job of helping our rural areas, we will be bet- ter off for it," he said. "Of our poverty communities, 90 per- cent are in rural areas• The USD A needs to develop pro- grams for rural areas to close that gap in developing better schools, hospitals, waste treat- ment facilities and access to broadband all a part of build- ing stronger rural areas." He explained access to broad- band Internet connections would mean instant access for rural farmers to market infor- mation for decisions about when to market products• Broadband could provide distance learning for rural schools that can't afford to offer certain programs and could link up tele-medicine to obtain medical opinions that otherwise would not be avail- able. Vilsack discussed how the great outdoors could be tapped into for more rural economic de- velopment. In fact, he said, Obama is soon going to an- nounce a new program involv- ing outdoors initiatives. "George Washington Carver understood you can't just keep taking from the soil. You have to give back to the soil," Vilsack stressed• "Only 16 percent of our popu- lation is in rural areas, but 44 percent of our military come from that 16 percent. We have to reach out to our rural communi: ties to preserve the values of this cOuntry." Vilsack explained part of the • USDA plan is to "aggressively train our people in rural devel- opment and I believe that will impact minority communities. We have 115,000 employees with USDA that we want to make sureare valued and know we are willing to invest in them with a professional development plan for each employee. USDA also hag an extensive internship program with 8,500 in the pro- gram this year. USDA wants to represent the great diversity of this country by providing oppor- tunities for African-Americans, Native Americans, all minori- ties." Vdsack explained the impor- tance of what is taking place with USDA under the Obama Adminstration with him as sec- retary of the department. "You have enabled us to start this new chapter. This time, this adminstration, is not just about dealing with past history, we're writing history." TMSC's xVi, meLni passes Int0000rnal Medicine Boards Dr. Nitin Widhani, a special- ist in internal medicine cur- rently practicing at Tuskegee Medical and Surgical Center (TMSC), passed his Internal" Medicine Boards in Novem- ber. Widhani began practicing in Tallassee in fail 009. He sees patients in his private office practice in the Medical Plaza Building and also covers inter- nal medicine vceekend call at Community Hospital, which owns TMSC. Wldhani began seeing patients in the Tuskegee this summer• He and his wife Leena Bhasin, also a physician in Tallassee, reside in Montgomery. Widhani received his med- ical education from the Vijay- nagar Institute of Medical Sciences in India. He has worked as a medical oncology resident at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Center Institute and Research Center and at the VA Medical Center, West Los Angeles Division of Cardiol- ogy. He most recently completed - a three-year residency pro- gram for internal medicine with the University of Ala- ,bama Birmingham Internal Widhani Medicine Residency Program in Montgomery. His professional member- ships and affiliations include the Member Society of Gen- eral Internal Medicine and an Associate Member in the American College of Physi- cians. Widhani practices on Mon- day, Tuesday and Thursday in Tuskegee. On Wednesday and Friday, he is seeing patients at Tallassee Internal Medicine, 80 Herren Hill Road Suite A. To schedule and appoint- men& call the Tallassee office at (334) 283-3844 or TMSC at (334) 727-5900. Dollar G00meral Grand Opening Shoppers in Tuskegee have a new place to shop for everyday essentials at low prices• Dollar General re- cently opened a new store at 309 W Martin Luther King Hwy. and'is hosting a grand -opening celebration Satur- day, December 11 at 8 a.m. At the grand opening event, customers will enjoy - special deals and free prizes. The first 50 shoppers at the store will receive a $10 Dol" lar General gift card and the first 200 shoppers will re- ceive a Dollar General tote bag, among other give- aways. The new 9,100-square-foot store features a fresh layout, designed to make shopping simple for customers. Some of the store's new features include seasonal products, recognizable departments With visible signage and coolers conveniently located at the front of the store. Dollar General stores offer convenience and value to customers by providing a fo- cused selection of national brands and private brands of food, housewares, seasonal items, cleaning supplies, basic apparel and health and beauty care products.