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Alzheimer's center delays decision on staff

After a two-hour discussion, leaders of the Johnnie B. Byrd, Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute decided they needed more time to consider a controversial restructuring of the center's executive staff.

The board agreed to meet for at least four hours before or on Jan. 15.

The proposal, being pushed by former House Speaker Johnnie Byrd Jr., pits him against the center's chief executive officer, Huntington Potter.

Byrd opposes what he calls questionable spending and says the center needs an executive, not a scientist, at its helm.

Potter has said the spending Byrd questioned - for lobbyists and public relations - was needed to get the institute off the ground. And lawmakers needed proof that the institute was not just "a single politician's concept of a legacy," Potter said Thursday.

The center was named after Byrd's father, who died of complications of the disease, and was created while Byrd was speaker of the state House. He is the volunteer board's treasurer.

Board members seemed divided over Byrd's proposal. Many are new after a change that now requires the governor, Senate president and House speaker to appoint board members.