Sen. Doug Jones gives keynote address UWA holds Rural Technology Summit illuminates high-speed broadband gaps in Alabama Black Belt region

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert,


Senator Doug Jones and  Shown L to R: Greene County participants in Summit, Lovie Parks Burrell, Debbie Duncan, John Zippert, Phillis Belcher, Beverly Gordan and Johnny Coleman, Jr.

The University of West Alabama in Livingston held an all day ‘Summit on Rural Technology” on Friday, April 13, 2018. The session was attended by 200 political and community leaders from the Alabama Black Belt and surrounding communities.
The session highlighted the importance of high-speed internet connectivity and digital literacy for economic development, health care, education and quality of life for the future in all communities of Alabama. The session illuminated that not all communities, especially rural communities and the Alabama Black Belt area, were prepared and positioned to equitably access to the ‘broadband highways’ of the future.
In his keynote address, Senator Doug Jones of Alabama said “270,000 people in rural parts of Alabama do not have access to high speed internet and there was a need for equal access and opportunity for all zip codes in the state.

Jones said, “ The state’s economy depends on high-speed broadband and this is a bi-partisan issue which transcends the division between political parties.’ He also said that internet access was a key to ending the ‘homework gap’ between well-heeled urban/suburban school districts and rural areas. “Ending the internet access gap will also improve the availability of healthcare and telehealth capabilities in the rural communities of the state,” stated Jones.
Jones reported that $600 million was appropriated in the latest budget for USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) programs to improve broadband access in rural areas. Senator Jones said his staff would be working to help businesses and communities that wanted to take advantage of these programs.
Dr. Roberto Gallardo of the Purdue University Center for Regional Development gave the opening talk on Rural Development in the Digital Age. He said, “Big data will be the oil of the 21st century. The digital economy has a 6.5% share of the total economy or $1.2 trillion. Rural on-line transactions today are $1.4 trillion annually.”
As an example of the exponential growth of the internet economy, Gallardo said, “Airbnb generates an average of $6,700 in income for its members. In four years, it has grown to offer 600,000 rooms. It took Hilton Hotels 93 years to grow to offer 600.000 rooms!”
Gallardo called young people “digital natives” and said they have grown up with digital skills that the rest of us must catch-up and master as well or we will be left behind in the coming ‘digital economy’.
Gallardo said that the digital future was at least 25 megabits of information down and 3 megabits up. Communities without these capabilities would miss out on the benefits of the coming digital economy. “Digital exclusion may be our gravest problem in the future,” said Gallardo.
C. Wayne Hutchens of Alabama A. T. &T spoke on some of the technical innovations that his company was pursuing and testing to bring high speed internet to more people. He spoke about small cell technology to reduce the need for large-scale towers in congested areas. These small cells could be placed on lampposts, mostly in cities. He also said that AT&T’s Project AirGig was testing ‘inductive coupling’ which was a way of transmitting high-speed internet in conjunction with electrical power lines. “If these trials work then we will have a way to serve more rural communities,” said Hutchens.
The Rural Technology Summit also has a panel of Alabama State Legislators that spoke on state funds that will be available for broadband access in rural areas. There was also a panel featuring Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville and Mayor Gary Fuller of Opelika on ways they were providing broadband to businesses and residents in their municipalities. Fuller explained that Opelika had a municipally owned electric system which had borrowed $43 million in bonds to finance proving high speed internet anywhere in the city limits of Opelika. This system was serving as an incentive to attract businesses of all kinds to the east Alabama city.
At the end of a challenging day of information, Dr. Tina N. Jones of the University of West Alabama said the summit was the beginning of an effort by the university to reach-out and assist rural communities in west Alabama to benefit from the growing digital economy.

Eutaw City Council meeting aborted before conducting any business

The Eutaw City Council attempted a meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, but the meeting was aborted shortly after it was opened. Prior to the council getting into its business, Councilman LaJeffery Carpenter requested to place additional items on the agenda. He made reference to a list of items he said he brought to the Mayor the previous week. Mayor Raymond Steele responded that Carpenter’s list was out of order. “I have asked council members to come in to talk with me about their concerns and suggestions and Councilman Carpenter did not do that,” Steele said.
In his comments, Steele explained that most of the items on Carpenter’s list are administrative concerns. Carpenter responded that these are concerns that the Mayor refuses to address administratively. Councilman Carpenter moved to amend the agenda and have his list added. Councilperson Sheila Smith offered the second and the motion passed.
Councilman Joe L. Powell asked the Mayor to state where on the agenda the added items would be placed. Mayor Steele responded that he would proceed with the original agenda and the council could then deal with the other items as they saw fit. Powell repeated his request of where the added items would be placed on the agenda and Mayor Steele repeated his same response. “ This city council just does not want to work with me,” Steele stated.
According to Councilman Powell, “ When a council members asked to have something placed on the agenda it should be put on the agenda.”
Councilperson Smith rose with the response that “Communicating and working together is a two-way approach. Mayor, you have to make an effort as well to work with us.” Councilperson Smith apologized to the audience as she proceeded to walk out of the council meeting.
Amidst the back-and-forth of some council members and the mayor, Councilperson LaTasha Johnson stated: “We cannot have this kind of conduct,” and moved to adjourn the meeting. There was a second and a vote and the council members and mayor rose to depart.
Councilperson Johnson clarified that she wanted to close the meeting because it was becoming a waste of time. “ We started the meeting arguing and I felt that we were not going to accomplish anything. Arguing and arguing get us nowhere,” she said.
No official business of the Eutaw City Council was conducted that evening.
Councilpersons Johnson and Powell agree that the work sessions could help the council and mayor work better together and support scheduling those again.
Some of the items Councilman Carpenter wants on agenda for the entire council to address include the following: All city owned vehicles should have municipal tags; Usage of city vehicles and/or equipment for personal use should be terminated; City personnel policy should be updated and changed; Charges on city credit card should be approved by the council; Council members should receive copies of employees timesheets; All employees must be paid out of payroll account; Only city employees, mayor and council should have access to City Hall; Specific pay raise increase for designated employees; Allow Greene County Ryder’s Club to use city park; Purchase council members shirts for municipal conference; Executive session for good name and character.

Commissioner Tennyson Smith thanks the community


I would like to thank you for the overwhelming support and confidence in me as your commissioner for District two. I will continue making your priorities my priorities and in working with you, I hope to improve our county. Thank you for allowing me to serve for another term as your County Commissioner. It is a real privilege and pleasure to be able to represent your interest in such a remarkable county for another four years. Please feel free to contact me if I can help you in any way. 
I will continue to work hard to improve District Two and Greene County while making your voice heard. Greene County is a wonderful place to live and bring up children. We will face serious challenges over the coming year that I am sure we will overcome.  I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to get involved. A county such as Greene is only as vibrant as its residents make it. I have traveled throughout District 2 and listened to the concerns of the people from all walks of life and I share your concerns, common sense and values.
It has been a pleasure to serve the residents of District Two and Greene County. It is gratifying to be a part of the county government and I would like to thank the residents of District 2 and Greene County for trusting in me to serve as your County Commissioner.
Tennyson Smith
District Two

School board takes further steps to initiate Virtual Learning Program

At its regular meeting held Monday, April 16, 2018, the Greene County Board of Education took further steps to initiated the Greene County Schools Virtual Learning Program. Ms. Rebecca Coleman was approved as Coordinator of the Virtual Learning Program which will begin as a pilot with individuals who have dropped out of school between 9th and 12th grades. It will also target students currently enrolled who are at risk for dropping out of school.
The Virtual Learning Program is an online program and participants must have access to the internet, such as through the public library, public housing developments and other sites of public, private and non-profit entities. According to Superintendent James Carter, the system is currently accepting applications from interested individuals.
For more information on the process, individuals may contact Dr. Carter, through his secretary Ms. Sara Hall, at the central office. A Greene County Virtual Learning Committee will also assist with the application process.
In other business the board approved the following personnel items:
Employment of Ms. Jacqueline Raby as school nurse for the Greene County School System;
Employment of Ms. Rebecca Coleman as Coordinator of the Virtual School Program.
Additional service contracts for Russell Rivers as assistant football coach, Greene County High School for 2018-2019 academic year (separate contract).
The board approved the following administrative service items.
* Negotiate with TCU and others to reimburse school board for replacement of high school gym floor.
* Present counter offer to Town of Boligee for purchase of former Paramount Jr. High School plus designated acres.
* Retain Attorney H. Lewis Gillis to prepare documents for sale of former Carver Middle School property.
* Approved contract for engaging caterer for GCHS Prom.
One instructional item was approved by the board.
* School System will begin receiving applications for the Virtual School Program.

Newswire : With Winnie gone, ANC loses its grip


Winnie Mandela.jpg
Winnie Mandela

Apr. 16, 2018 (GIN) – As Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was lovingly laid to rest with full state honors, her beloved country was being buffeted by published reports of a massive diversion of monies from the most vulnerable people, to whom she dedicated her life, to the wealthy.

Among the victims of the apparent looting of government funds are Black farmers in the Eastern Cape. Reporters from the Saturday Dispatch found that promised lands were abandoned, unproductive and derelict.

In Vrede, in the province of Free State, a dairy project meant for Black farmers was skimmed of $21 million in public funds. A family with close ties to former President Jacob Zuma took over the government-backed project.

Prosecutors say only about 1 percent of the money invested by the province actually went into dairy farming. Leaked emails indicate that some of the money was sent to the United Arab Emirates and put into accounts registered to the Guptas, close friends of President Zuma. The money then made its way back to South Africa through a maze of bank transfers, according to spreadsheets, logs and an invoice in the email trove.

The black farmers who were supposed to be beneficiaries of the project ended up receiving nothing — an outcome that, to many, symbolized the corruption that flourished under the ANC.

In his state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to resurrect the economy and create jobs, adding “This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.”

A onetime anti-apartheid labor leader, Mr. Ramaphosa went into business in the late 1990s and quickly became one of the richest men on the continent, with a fortune now estimated at $450 million.

Perhaps the biggest unprosecuted crime in the country, however, is a multi-billion dollar arms deal that included advanced weaponry such as warships, fighter aircraft and new submarines to “counter military threats.”

European arms dealers had long been preparing for this. With the extensive use of bribes – estimated at one billion dollars – they proceeded to sell weapons that the country did not need and could not afford.

With the stepping down of Jacob Zuma and his immunity lifted, the former president must now face corruption charges over the $2.5 billion arms deal.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had opposed the excessive spending on weapons.

Newswire : Kendrick Lamar wins the Pulitzer Prize for Music

By Frederick H. Lowe, Northstar News Today
Kendrick Lamar.jpg

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar made history on Monday, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2017 Rap album “DAMN.” Lamar is the first non-jazz and non-classical musician to win the Pulitzer.
The Pulitzer Committee called “DAMN” “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” He is the first ‘rapper’ to win the prestigious award.
He released the album August 14, 2017. Last year, “DAMN” was Billboard’s best-selling album. However, it lost out in the 2018 Grammy awards for album of the year to Bruno Mars’ “24 Karat Magic.”
The 30-year-old Lamar was born in Compton, California to parents who moved to California from Chicago. He is worth an estimated $18 million, according to his website.

Newswire : Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores for racial-bias training

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStar News

Starbucks in Philadelphia.jpg
Police surround Starbucks in Philadelphia

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores affecting 175,000 employees in the United States on May 29th to address implicit racial bias, following arrests of two black-male customers last week at its Center City store in Philadelphia.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to fix it,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks. ” All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesda Newsy, May 29. During that time, partners (employees) will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a think tank and research policy center, are assisting in developing Starbucks’ curriculum.
Johnson made his announcement after he met with two black men police arrested when the manager of a Center City, Philadelphia, Starbucks complained they wouldn’t leave the coffee shop after they weren’t allowed to use the restroom because they hadn’t purchased anything.
Spokespersons for Seattle-based Starbucks did not disclose what was discussed between the two men, who were not identified. Earlier, Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and publicly apologized to the men involved.
Six Philadelphia police officers arrested the men Thursday afternoon for trespassing. The men were waiting to meet another man, who is white and who had scheduled a meeting with them in the Starbucks.
The arrests, which were captured on cell phone video, sparked demonstrations inside and outside the Starbucks, which is located on swanky Rittenhouse Square, and more national and international conversations over social media about the state of race in the era of President Donald Trump.
Richard Ross, Philadelphia’s police chief, who is black, defended his men, arguing they did not do anything wrong in making the arrests.
But the arrests caused hand wringing among others. The Philadelphia district attorney later released the two men because Starbucks refused to press charges. Jim Kenny, Philadelphia’s mayor, wasn’t happy about the arrests.
The woman manager who called the police has either left the store or the company, according to various news reports.
Facebook released a video showing a black man being ordered to leave a Starbucks in Torrance, California, after complaining employees gave a white make customer the numerical code to open the door of the men’s restroom before he ordered food. The black man was not given the same code. Starbucks officials said they are aware of the video.
The Rittenhouse Square arrests angered the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“The arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks represents another ominous signal on the increasingly dangerous environment for African Americans,” wrote Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of stereotypes and embedded fears of others…Racism and biases that make simply breathing while black so dangerous will not just go away without our society committing more resources to discussion, education and training on implicit bias and racism.”
“We know if two Black men in Philadelphia require six police officers to handcuff and arrest them for waiting to order coffee, then we begin to understand the mind state that allows for such overzealous and reactionary use of deadly force by those who are paid to serve and protect.
“Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of the stereotypes and embedded fears of others. How else can we explain why 14-year-old Brennan Walker who missed his bus on his way to school would be shot at by a homeowner just outside Detroit? Or explain Saheed Vassell, a mentally-ill man in Brooklyn fired at ten times and shot dead by police officers. Or why Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times and hit 8 times, mainly in the back, by police officers in Sacramento, based on the assumption that he was the culprit responsible for breaking into cars. We are at least glad in the case of Starbucks that no one mistook a wallet for a gun.

Newswire : Rev. Frederick D. Reese, one of the Selma ‘Elite Eight’ that invited ML King to Selma, Alabama for voting rights movement passes


Rev. F. D. Reese

Frederick Douglas Reese, or F. D. Reese (November 28, 1929 – April 5, 2018), was an American civil rights activist, educator and minister from Selma, Alabama. Known as a member of Selma’s “Courageous Eight”, Reese was the president of the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) when it invited the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma to amplify the city’s local voting rights campaign. This campaign eventually gave birth to the Selma to Montgomery marches, which later led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Reese was also president of the Selma Teachers Association, and in January 1965 he mobilized Selma’s teachers to march as a group for their right to vote.
Reese retired from teaching and from February 2015 and until his death in April 2018, he was active as a minister at Selma’s Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
Reese was born in Selma, Alabama. He graduated from Alabama State University, where he majored in math and science where he received a Master’s degree.
Reese spent nine years in Millers Ferry, Alabama, ending in 1960.  This is where he began his teaching career, teaching science and serving as assistant principal.
In 1960, Reese moved home to Selma, started teaching science and math at R. B. Hudson High School, and joined the Dallas County Voters League(DCVL), the major civil rights organization in Selma since the state of Alabama started actively suppressing the NAACP in 1956. Two years after joining the DCVL, he was elected its president.
In 1962, while Reese was a DCVL member, the organization encouraged Bernard Lafayette of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to come to Selma to assist in the voting rights struggle by educating black citizens about their right to vote.
As president of the DCVL, Reese signed and sent the DCVL’s invitation to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to come to Selma to lend their support to the voting rights campaign there.[2] King and the SCLC agreed to come, and they started their public engagement in Selma’s voting rights campaign on January 2, 1965, with a mass meeting in violation of an injunction against large gatherings.
On January 18, about 400 people marched on the county courthouse to register to vote; on January 19, the people marched again, and this time police violence towards DCVL’s Amelia Boynton and the arrest of 67 marchers brought the movement to national headlines.
Teachers’ March
In 1965, Reese held the simultaneous leadership positions of DCVL president and president of the Selma Teachers Association.  The first act he made as the Teachers Association president was to sign a proclamation in the presence of the superintendent and assistant superintendent, declaring that teachers should register to vote.  Reese even asked that the superintendent allow black teachers to use their free period during the school day to register to vote, though he knew it was an “abominable thing to ask” in that political and social climate.  Reese and fellow teacher and DCVL member Margaret Moore challenged their colleagues, “How can we teach American civics if we ourselves cannot vote?”
On January 22, three days after Amelia Boynton’s encounter with police, and three days before another demonstration in front of the county courthouse where Annie Lee Cooper (portrayed by Oprah Winfrey in the 2014 film Selma) had a violent encounter with Sheriff Jim Clark, Reese gathered 105 teachers—almost every black teacher in Selma—to march on the courthouse.[6] The teachers climbed the steps but were barred from entering to register.  They were pushed down the steps twice, the police jabbing them with nightsticks.
Officials reportedly urged against the teachers’ arrest, saying, “Don’t arrest these people because what you going do with the 7,000 students that we have running around here when they go back to school Monday?”  It was the first time in Civil Rights Movement that teachers in the South publicly marched as teachers; they were the largest black professional group in Dallas County, and their actions inspired involvement from their students and others who were unsure about participating in demonstrations.
Selma to Montgomery march
During the time the SCLC spent organizing and protesting in Selma, Reese coordinated meetings and often played the role of mediator when differences of opinion arose.
In photographs from the historic Selma to Montgomery marches, which were initiated and organized by SCLC’s Director of Direct Action James Bevel, Reese is pictured in a dark suit, coat, and hat, most often in the front of the march with Martin Luther King, Jr. and some of his closest associates.

Glasgow released Tuesday on $75,000 bail Dothan community activist, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, charged with capital murder in suspicious case


Rev. Glasgow with attorney

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow with one of his attorneys, Derek Yarborough, at preliminary hearing (photo courtesy of the Dothan Eagle).

News Analysis by:  John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, President of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) in Dothan, Alabama, has been charged by police with capital murder in the death of Breunia Jennings, a 23 year old female, even though the police admit that Jamie Townes, who is also charged, actually did the shooting.

Rev. Glasgow has been involved for many years with assisting ex-felons and the formerly incarcerated to rebuild their lives and reclaim their right to vote through TOPS and other organizations in the State of Alabama. Glasgow is an active participant in the Save Ourselves (SOS) Coalition for Democracy and Justice, with forty other organizations in the state fighting for social, political and economic justice.
Most recently, Glasgow has helped local activists in Troy, Alabama raise concerns about the savage beating by police of an unarmed Black man.
The ‘trumped-up’ capital murder charges against Glasgow result from a March 26 incident in Dothan. At a preliminary hearing held in District Judge Benjamin H. Lewis courtroom in Dothan on Friday, April 6, 2018, Dothan Police investigator, Justin Dotson, presented the results of his interrogation of the persons involved in the shooting incident. The preliminary hearing allowed the judge to determine if the charges against Glasgow should proceed to the Houston County Grand Jury.
Local white attorney Derek Yarborough and Darrel Atkinson, a Black attorney from a North Carolina criminal justice organization, represented Glasgow at the preliminary hearing.
According to Police investigator Dotson, Jamie Townes asked Rev. Glasgow to assist him in locating his car and phone, which were taken from his residence on Blacksheer Street in Dothan. Glasgow, who was driving his friend, Joy William’s 2018 Toyota Camry, picked up Townes and two other persons, Choyce Bush and ‘Little John’ Irvin and drove off in search of Townes car.
This occurred about 10:30 PM on March 26. Glasgow drove with Townes in the back seat behind him, Choyce Bush also in the back seat and Little John Irvin in the front seat next to Glasgow. After driving around for less than thirty minutes they spotted Townes car, which was driven by Ms. Jennings near the intersection of Lake and Allen Streets.
Ms. Jennings at some point began driving erratically and she drove through a church parking lot knocking over hedges and other structures. When she did this someone contacted 911 and alerted the police to an erratic driver in the area.
Ms. Jennings then deliberately drove Townes car and crashed into the car driven by Rev. Glasgow. At this point, Jamie Townes jumped out of the car, pulled out a gun and started firing into the car driven by Jennings. Jennings drove away and went a few blocks to the intersection of Lake and Allen Street. Townes followed her car on foot and then fired again allegedly killing Ms. Jennings.
At this point, it was a little after 11:00 PM and the police arrived on the scene as a result of the prior calls to 911. They interviewed and retained five people, at or near then scene including Rev. Glasgow, Jamie Townes, Choyce Bush, Little John Irvin and Joy Williams, since she was the owner and holder of the insurance on the vehicle.
Police inspector Dotson interviewed five people that were detained. They basically all told the same story. Jamie Townes and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow were charged with capital murder in the death of Jennings. The other two people were dismissed without charges.
Rev. Glasgow stated that he did not know that Townes had a gun and he was not aware that he had jumped out of the back seat of the car. Glasgow also did not know that Townes had shot and killed Ms. Jennings.
Dothan police charged Rev. Glasgow with complicity in the murder under Alabama law because he was present during the crime and did not attempt to stop Townes from committing the crime.
Police inspector Dotson also said Glasgow was charged because he did not tell the truth about who drove the car and did not call 911 after the car crash.
Under cross examination, Dotson indicated that there was no obligation to contact 911 and that Glasgow may have been correctly concerned about the insurance on the car. Dotson tried to suggest that Rev. Glasgow and Townes had a ‘relationship” based on Townes being a drug dealer and Glasgow having a ‘half-way house’ for former felons in the same neighborhood.
Kimbrough, Glasgow’s lawyer, pointed out that Rev. Glasgow was in the business of helping people on a daily basis and that he assisted Townes to find his car because he tries to assist people not because they had any prior ‘relationship’ with Glasgow.
Kimbrough asked Judge Lewis to dismiss the capital charges against Glasgow before taking them to a Grand Jury; or reduce the charges, and consider setting bail for Glasgow. At the end of the preliminary hearing, Judge Lewis said he would take the matter under consideration and give a decision later.
On Tuesday, Judge Lewis passed the decision on the charges against Rev. Glasgow to the Houston County Grand Jury. He also agreed to set bail of $75,000 on Rev. Glasgow. He was able to meet the bail requirements and get out of jail to go back to work serving the community.
The SOS Coalition for Democracy and Justice issued a strong statement in support of Rev Kenneth Glasgow at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, which says in part, “ SOS resolved to fight for justice for Reverend Glasgow on multiple fronts:  in the courts; in the community; in the media; and in the political arena.
“SOS is fully prepared to fight in all arenas until justice is secured for Reverend Glasgow.  SOS resolved as its first step to send a strong delegation to the preliminary hearing to show our support. The preliminary hearing fully reinforced the strong belief that Reverend Glasgow is completely innocent of the charges against him.
“Anyone who knows Reverend Glasgow knows that he did not commit this crime.  In fact, he has helped stop other people from committing crimes and helped people find their way back into society after being convicted of crimes.  SOS knows Reverend Glasgow, and SOS members expect the Court’s actions to support what we already know.”

Greene County Commission holds April meeting


Shown L to R: Commissioners Corey Cockrell and Michael Williams, Chief Jeremy Rancher, Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Officer Denise Armstead, Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner and Lester Brown

The Greene County Commission held its regular April meeting on Monday, April 9, 2018 at the William M. Branch County Courthouse in Eutaw. The meeting was relatively routine and uneventful with not apparent controversies.
Paula Byrd, the County’s Chief Financial Officer gave a financial report for the county. Her report showed a total of $5,199,690 in bank accounts as of March 31, 2018, including $2.945,469 in Citizens Trust Bank and $2,254,221 in Merchants and Farmers Bank. The county has another $ 1 million in bond funds in various accounts.

Byrd reported that half of the fiscal year had passed since October 1, 2017 and most county agencies had spent 50% of their budgeted funds, which is generally in line with the forecasted expenses. Overall county agencies spent $1,650,745 (50%) of the $3,327,528 budgeted for this fiscal year.
The Commission approved $667,743 in claims paid in March including payroll and bills for supplies. $55,579 in automatic payments for various services was also paid during the month.
The Commission members and Sheriff Joe Nathan Benison and Chief Deputy Jeremy Rancher presented a certificate to Denise Armstead for completion of a course in operation and management of a jail from the State Department of Corrections. Ms. Armstead is employed at the Greene County Jail.
In other business, the Greene County Commission, also approved:
• a Sales Tax Holiday for Back to School items on July 20-22, 2108;
• use of the Courthouse restrooms for the Greene County Health System Foundation for a health fair at the Courthouse Square on May 12, 2018 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM;
• the County Engineer to hold a public hearing in regards to vacating County Road 128;
• the County Engineer vacating of an un-named road leading to Johnson Hill Cemetery; and
• travel for an Appraisal Department Employee for state training in Hoover, Alabama on April 9-13, 2018.
The Commission went into an Executive Session to discuss legal strategy and the good name and character of a person. The Commission returned from the Executive Session and said there was no official business to decide whereupon the meeting was adjourned.
In the public comments section, Iris Sermon, Director of 911 reported that the third week in April was National Radio Dispatchers Week and asked the Commissioners and the public to thank people who worked in these capacities for the county.
At the Commission’s work session, Wednesday, April 4, 2018, several commissioners expressed interest in raising ad valorem millage to assist the Greene County Health Services (hospital) as well as millage for the county’s highway department. Commissioner Allen Turner expressed a strong position in support of generating millage funds restricted for roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvements. No further action was taken in this regard.