Mayor Cries for Help

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The mayor of the tiny Sumter County town of Emelle says he has not been able to get the state to help with a problem that is causing raw sewage to seep into the ground.

Mayor Roy Willingham said he believes his town is feeling the effects of having a state representative who has been too sick to attend meetings of the Alabama Legislature for about two years.

Emelle is represented in the House by Democratic Rep. Lucius Black of York. Black has been ill with an unspecified illness and has not attended a meeting of the Legislature since 2003. During that time he has continued to receive his legislative pay of about $30,000 a year.

House officials say Alabama has no law concerning what to do when a lawmaker is too sick to handle his duties. All seats in the Legislature will be up for election next year.

The 79-year-old Black is a retired school teacher. He has represented House District 71 since 1983.

Black's wife, Mildred Black, said Friday that her husband is making progress. She says she has no idea when he will be able to return to his duties in Montgomery.