Greene County Commission inaugurated

On Sunday evening, November 13, 2022, the newly elected Greene County Commissioners were sworn in at the William M. Branch Courthouse in front of a full house of family, friends and political followers.

Probate Judge Rolonda Wedgeworth gave a welcome and greeting. Rev. John Kennard gave a Scripture Reading from John, Chapter 1, and an invocation prayer for the occasion. Marvin Turner on the saxophone and Bruce Parris on the keyboard provided musical selections.

Each of the commissioners was sworn in by a different person. Marilyn Sanford, City Clerk of Union, Alabama, administered the oath to Garria Spencer of District 1. His wife Althenia Spencer held the Bible. Spencer is newly elected to the position held by Lester ‘Bop’ Brown until his untimely death. Lester’s daughter, LaPortia Brown, was appointed to serve out her father’s term. Garria Spencer served on the Commission for two terms in the 1990’s.

District Judge Lillie Jones-Osborne swore in Tennyson Smith, District 2 and Allen Turner, current Chair, from District 4. LaPortia Brown held the Bible for Smith and Allen Turners father held the Bible for him.

Probate Judge Rolonda Wedgeworth swore in Corey Cockrell, District 3. Cockrell’s mother held the Bible for him.

District Judge Eddie Hardaway swore in Roshanda Summerville, District 5, with her son holding the Bible.

Commissioners Smith, Cockrell, Turner and Summerville will be joining the Commission for another term.

The new Greene County Commission will meet on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 4:45 PM for its first meeting. At this meeting, the Commission will elect a Chair, Vice Chair and make other assignments to the commissioners.

Girl Scout Troop #408 sponsors annual Veterans Appreciation Program

Mrs. Miriam Leftwich and Girl Scout Troop #408 lead audience in Pledge of Allegiance at Veterans Appreciation Program

MSG Kelvin B. Scott

Retired MSG Kelvin B. Scott was the keynote speaker at the annual Veterans Appreciation Program sponsored by the local Girl Scout Troop #408, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, under the leadership and guidance of Mrs. Miriam Leftwich. MSG Scott, a 1988 graduate of then Eutaw High School, served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and continued to work with the military as a civilian for another 10 years. In his remarks he noted that in the military you are continuously training to fight. “Even in peacetime, you are training to fight, so now I am retired and back home to fight for my community,” he remarked. Scott said he is trying to influence other friends, relatives and associates to return to Greene County and help build their home communities.
The program featured a video presentation of veteran relatives of local community families. Carole Fleming, accompanied by Ron Sanders, sang the National Anthem and later in the program rendered a medley including God Bless America and Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Girl Scout Erica Hudson shared a poem and Girl Scout Paris Thomas presented a Memorial Tribute. Girl Scout sisters Malia and Malaysia Leftwich also shared a Tribute to Veterans.
Dinner, catered by Rosie Lee’s Catering, was served during musical renditions by Mr. Bruce Parris on keyboard and Mr. Marvin Turner on saxophone.

Tornado destroys Sagewood Apartment, Ezekiel Church; downs power lines and trees

Shown above is structure damage to the Sagewood Apartment, Ezekiel Baptist Church and trees and power lines down at Robert Brown Middle School.

Emergency Management officials in Greene County have reported 15 families have been displaced after a Tuesday night tornado ripped the roof and back wall off Sagewood Apartment Complex in Eutaw. The tornado passed through Greene County Tuesday evening and continued into Hale County, damaging structures in Eutaw and Akron. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported in the storm’s wake.
The families in the Sagewood Apartment destroyed were housed in a nearby gym for the night until arrangements can be made. The storms also have reportedly taken power lines and trees down in the area, including along Mesopotamia Street in front of Robert Brown Middle School.
The Greene County E911 Center had been knocked offline temporarily but has full service at this time.. Their backup is Sumter County and when needed all emergency calls will roll over to them until local services can be restored.

Eutaw City Council reviews finances;
makes board appointments

The Eutaw City Council met on Monday, November 7, 2022 for its regular first meeting of the month. The meeting was held on Monday because the second Tuesday was an election day.

The Council held an announced public hearing  at the start of the meeting to approve a resolution to vacate a city owned easement for an alley on the old Family Dollar property on Greensboro Avenue. City Attorney, Zane Willingham, explained that there is a possibility that the property will be used for a Jack’s Restaurant franchise and that the alley needed to be officially removed, so as not to be a barrier to attracting the business to the city.

Ralph Liverman, Financial Adviser, reported that the city’s financial records for the past fiscal year, ending September 30, 2022 had been completed and were ready to be transmitted to the auditors. He also reported that for the month of October 2022, the records showed that sales taxes and other revenues, exceed the 8.25% monthly projection and that most expenses were in line with the proposed budget.

Financial reports on the month of October for the General Fund, USDA Loan Payment and Reserve Accounts and the Utility Revenue Collections and transfers, were presented to the Council for their information. The annual payment to USDA on the current water system loan is due at the end of the calendar year. The reports show funds available for the payment and the accumulation of proper reserves for major repairs to the system.

The Council appointed Carrie Logan on the Eutaw Historic Preservation Board, to replace Diana Liverman, who resigned. The Council appointed Jim Logan to replace Rev. James Carter, who passed away, on the Eutaw Airport Board. The Council tabled the replacement of Rodney Wesley to the Greene County EMS Board, representing the city. He has resigned the position.

The Council heard a report from Corey Martin, City Water and Sewer Operator. Martin said the city was developing a plan to deal with a large pile of debris at the City Landfill. The city can no long burn materials it collects and must develop a plan for disposal of the materials in other landfills.

Martin reported that the city had replaced valves on tanks and made numerous repairs to leaks in the water lines which reduced water loss on a monthly basis from 70% in July to 34.3% in October. The city water and sewer lines have been mapped which will help in making repairs and determining the classification and need for additional fire hydrants.

The Council approved payment of all bills and claims and agreed to pay a scheduled employee bonus from American Rescue Plan Act funds with the next payroll on December 2, 2022, instead of waiting until the end of the year.

Deltas continue annual Thanksgiving Sharing

On Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. provided a Thanksgiving Dinner for families in their service area. The dinners were coordinated through the respective county’s Department of Human Resources (DHR), whose staff selected the recipient families. The Thanksgiving Sharing is an annual service provided by the DST Alumnae Chapter. Schiquetta Burrell and Glenda Hodges serve as Co-Chairpersons of the Chapter’s Thanksgiving Sharing the Senior Citizen Celebration Committee. Loydleetta Wabbington is a committee member. Dr. Florence Williams is Chapter President. Also Present at the the event was DHR Representative Beverly Vester.

Newswire: World AIDS Day to address inequalities between global South and North

Flyer for World AIDS Day

 

Nov. 28, 2022 (GIN) – Every year, on the 1st of December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People worldwide unite to show support for those living with HIV and remember those who have passed on from AIDS-related illnesses.
 
Ten years ago, HIV had infected at least 10 percent of the population in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Some 50,000 infections were reported in the U.S. per year over the same time period.
 
In response, African AIDS-activists took to the streets and to the halls of the government to demand prevention programs – such as the Use a Condom campaign, free HIV testing and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation’s outreach programs.
 
The programs have seen a measure of success. AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011 were 33 percent less than the number in 2005. New HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011 showed a 25 percent decrease from 2001.
 
New HIV infections in the U.S. declined 8% between 2015 and 2019. Higher rates are found for people of color, Latinos and people of mixed ethnicities.
 
In 1990, to address the early HIV numbers, Abdurrazack “Zackie” Achmat of South Africa stepped up to become one of the iconic AIDS crusaders and the backbone of movements advocating for the rights of gay and lesbian South Africans, as well for millions of underprivileged people living with AIDS. 
 
His activist group – the Treatment Action Campaign – fought for crucial drugs for low-income South Africans while fighting a government which denied the existence of the AIDS epidemic and the pharmaceutical companies that profited off the lack of intervention.
 
South Africa now runs the world’s largest HIV treatment program. Of the 5.4-million people on antiretroviral treatments as of June, roughly 60% are already on dolutegravir – a drug that is freely available, and has raised life expectance from 49 to 60 years old.
 
Of the many AIDS activists across the continent and in the U.S., these are some of the many activists in each region:
 
Inviolata Mbwavi: the first CEO of the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV in Kenya. At the time of her death in 2020 she was National Coordinator of the International Community of Women Living with HIV that addressed the needs of women and girls, gay men and transgender people.
 
Robinah Babirye: an advocate for young people of Uganda living with HIV and passionate about the issues affecting the Girl Child.
 
Emma Touny Waundjua Tuhepha: the first Namibian woman to state publicly that she was HIV positive. Along with 130 HIV-positive activists, she declared their status in the border town of Rundu, insisting it is AIDS, not the border war with Unita rebels that was the real threat to their survival.
 
Mizé of Lubango in southern Angola: Helping to transform the lives of women living with HIV. Diagnosed with HIV at an early age, Mizé took her status in stride, culminating in her key role in the formation of PRAZEDOR, a support group whose meetings are attended by 15 to 20 women at a time.
 
A small selection of U.S. AIDS activists include: California Rep. Barbara Lee, Phil Wilson, Peter Staley, DeeDee Chamblee, Antwan Matthews, and Katrina Haslip.
 

Newswire: DOJ wants a manager to oversee the troubled water system in Jackson, Mississippi

Community groups distribute bottled water in Jackson, MS

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — The federal government filed a proposal Tuesday to appoint a manager for the troubled water system in Mississippi’s capital city, which nearly collapsed in late summer and continues to struggle.
The Justice Department said in a news release that the proposal is meant to be an interim measure while the federal government, the city of Jackson and the Mississippi State Department of Health try to negotiate a judicially enforceable consent decree. The goal is to achieve long-term sustainability of the system and the city’s compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and other laws.
The city and the state health department have signed the proposal, which needs approval of a federal judge.
The Justice Department on Tuesday also filed a complaint on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against Jackson, alleging that the city has failed to provide drinking water that is reliably compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act. According to the agreement, that litigation will be put on hold for six months while all parties try to improve the water system.
Edward “Ted” Henifin was appointed as interim third-party manager of the Jackson water system and Water Sewer Business Administration, the city’s water billing department. An online profile of Henifin says he is a registered professional engineer who served 15 years as general manager of the Hampton Roads Sanitation District in Virginia. Before that, he served as director of public works for the city of Hampton, Virginia.
The proposal lists 13 projects that Henifin will be tasked with implementing. The projects are meant to improve the water system’s near-term stability, according to a news release. Among the most pressing priorities is a winterization project to make the system less vulnerable. A cold snap in 2021 left tens of thousands of people in Jackson without running water after pipes froze.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the news release that the Justice Department is “taking action in federal court to address long-standing failures in the city of Jackson’s public drinking water system.”
“The Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to keep the American people safe and to protect their civil rights,” Garland said. “Together with our partners at EPA, we will continue to seek justice for the residents of Jackson, Mississippi. And we will continue to prioritize cases in the communities most burdened by environmental harm.”
EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who has been to Jackson four times in the past year, said the Justice Department’s action “marks a critical moment on the path to securing clean, safe water for Jackson residents,″ adding that he is grateful to Garland for acting quickly on the city’s water crisis.
“Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege to spend time with people on the ground in Jackson — many who’ve struggled with access to safe and reliable water for years,″ Regan said. “I pledged that EPA would do everything in its power to ensure the people of Jackson have clean and dependable water, now and into the future. While there is much more work ahead, the Justice Department’s action marks a critical moment on the path to securing clean, safe water for Jackson residents.″
Jackson has had water problems for decades. Most of the city lost running water for several days after heavy rainfall exacerbated problems at the city’s main water treatment plant in late August. When that happened, Jackson had already been under a boil-water advisory for a month because health inspectors had found cloudy water that could make people ill.
The boil-water advisory was lifted in mid-September, but many people remain skeptical about water quality.
About 80% of Jackson’s 150,000 residents are Black, and about a quarter of the population lives in poverty.

Newswire : Montgomery school board votes to remove confederate names from schools

BY: Josh Moon, ALPolitical Reporters

Two confederate figures will be replaced by a renowned Black scientist and several Civil Rights Era figures. That, of course, is ludicrous. Lee was a slave owner who beat Black and tortured other humans for his own benefit. Davis was the leader of a traitorous revolt against this country – a revolt centered entirely on the issue of slave labor. In addition, neither man was from Montgomery, or even Alabama, and only Davis spent a miniscule amount of time in the state. 
In the meantime, Dr. Percy Julian was born in Montgomery and became one of the first Black scientists to earn a doctorate degree. He held more than 130 chemical patents and his work – pioneering the synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants – still influences the lives of every American on a daily basis. 
Judge Frank Johnson served as a federal judge in Montgomery and issued some of the most famous and consequential rulings of the Civil Rights Era. He is widely hailed as a champion of equality and justice, and some of his decisions still serve as precedent today. 
The Montgomery County School Board voted Thursday to officially remove the names of confederates from two city high schools and rename the schools after civil rights leaders, a federal judge and a renowned Black chemist. 
The school formerly known as Jefferson Davis High will be renamed Dr. Percy Julian High. Former Robert E. Lee High will now be called JAG High, an acronym combining the first initial of the last names of Judge Frank Johnson, Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Robert Graetz. 
“I’m glad we were able to put it on the table and move it forward,” said Montgomery Superintendent Melvin Brown, who made the formal recommendation for the name changes. “We can now get this change going in a positive direction. The bottom line is we’re going to make decisions based on what our kids need and not based around whatever nostalgia might exist.”
The renaming of the two high schools has been, unfortunately, a controversial issue, and the renaming of the schools did not receive unanimous approval from the county board. Two members voted against it, with one of those members proclaiming that choosing the civil rights leaders and a Black scientist was just as divisive as naming the schools for a confederate general and the former confederate president. 
Ralph Abernathy, a Baptist minister, was one of the most consequential figures of the Civil Rights Movement, working hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Abernathy helped create the Montgomery Improvement Association, which launched the 1955 Bus Boycott – the starting point to the Civil Rights Movement. He also founded the Southern Christian Leadership Council and led hundreds of protests and movements in the name of equality. 
And Rev. Robert Graetz was one of the few white ministers to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. Graetz and his wife, Jeannie, took over a small, predominantly Black church in Montgomery just prior to the Bus Boycott and helped facilitate the transportation and other needs of the participants. Their home was bombed multiple times as a result. 
“The community wanted the names (of the schools) to be reflective of the people who live in Montgomery now,” said board member Arica Watkins-Smith.

Newswire: Texas judge stops President Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

A federal judge in Texas bent to the will of a few and struck down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program that offered relief to at least 40 million borrowers.
The conservative group, Job Creators Network Foundation, filed the lawsuit against the plan on behalf who two individuals who didn’t qualify for relief under Biden’s program. There remains another legal challenge to the plan.
“We strongly disagree with the District Court’s ruling on our student debt relief program, and the Department of Justice has filed an appeal,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
“The President and this Administration are determined to help working, and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents – backed by extreme Republican special interests – sued to block millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief,” she stated.
White House officials maintain that the Secretary of Education received power from Congress to discharge student loan debt under the 2003 HEROES Act. “The program is thus an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated,” wrote Judge Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump nominee.
“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” he continued.
Under the president’s plan, borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in either 2020 or 2021 and married couples or heads of households who made less than $250,000 annually in those years are eligible to have up to $10,000 of their federal student loan debt forgiven.
If a qualifying borrower also received a federal Pell grant, the individual would receive as much as $20,000 of debt forgiveness.
In October, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals placed an administrative hold on Biden’s forgiveness program based on a suit filed by six GOP-led states.
In the most recent case in Texas, one plaintiff did not qualify for the student loan forgiveness program because the federal government does not hold her loans.
The other plaintiff is only eligible for $10,000 in debt relief because he did not receive a Pell grant.
They argued that they could not voice their disagreement with the program’s rules because the administration did not put it through a formal notice-and-comment rule-making process under the Administrative Procedure Act.
“This ruling protects the rule of law which requires all Americans to have their voices heard by their federal government,” said Elaine Parker, president of the Job Creators Network Foundation, in a statement.
CNN reported that major Trump donor and former Home Depot CEO Bernie Marcus founded Job Creators Network Foundation.