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Riley addresses gerontologists

Gov. Bob Riley received a rousing ovation when he completed the opening address at the Alabama Gerontological Society Conference in Montgomery Wednesday.

He started to move from the podium and then walked back.

"Have you ever heard anyone sing like that?" Riley asked as he gestured toward Shelia Jackson, public relations director for the city of Troy. And, the 200-plus participants responded with appreciative applause.

Jackson sang the National Anthem to open the 22nd Annual AGS Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel and, as one participant said, "left us in awe."

Riley left the participants with the promise that he will actively pursue worthwhile programs that positively promote the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of Alabama seniors.

"We owe a great debt to members of the 'Greatest Generation' for their service to our nation and state," Riley said. "Our seniors truly exemplify the 'Spirit of Alabama.' The challenges we face are great but we must strive to build on our successes. My promise to you is that I will work tirelessly to protect the programs that effectively meet our seniors' needs. I remain steadfast to my commitment to Alabama's seniors."

Sylvia Burrows, director of the Area Agency on Aging for the South Central Alabama Development Commission, said the AGS provides a focus for communications and cooperation among service providers, educators, policy makers, advocates, older adults and all who work in the area of aging or have an interest in aging.

"AGS strives to make society more equal, caring and helpful to older adults," Burrows said. "It strives to protect the rights of older adults and enhance their lives."

The AGS also tries to meet the challenging needs of older adults and to maximize the utilization of the vast resources they embody, she said.

Wanda Moultry and Cindy Hinton, area service directors for the Organized Community Action Program in Troy, are attending the three-day conference.

"At OCAP we care and that's why we are here," Moultry said. "We are a non-profit organization and we want to learn as much as we can about the services that are available to our seniors. They are our yesterdays and our tomorrows. We have so much to learn from them. They have so much to give. We want to do all we can to improve the quality of their lives."

Hinton echoed Moultry's commitment to the seniors, which are the largest growing segment of America's population.

"We want to know what is available for them and the ways that we can assist them when they come to us for information," she said. "At this conference we have opportunities to learn about these services so that we can better serve the senior in our areas. So many of the programs that we offer at OCAP benefit our senior population and we have a responsibility to them to be as informed as possible."

Moultry and Hinton expressed appreciation to Mary Terry, OCAP executive director, for that opportunity to attend the conference.

Four Pike County caseworkers for the Medicaid Waiver are participating in the conference.

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Kay Norris, Shannon Hudson, Marsha Lewis and Kelly Langford.