Democrat newspaper staff announce loss of long time worker, Laddi Jones

Laddi  Jones.jpg

Laird Jones aka Laddi Jones was born October 15, 1940 to the parents of Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Virginia Holt. Laddi passed away Sunday, October 15, 2017 at the Hospice of West Alabama.
Laddi Jones started working for the Greene County Democrat in June 1986 as a reporter, copy editor, photographer and darkroom technician. She worked for three decades until the end of 2014, retiring as Consulting Editor. She came to the Democrat after working as the Editor of the Livingston Home Record in Sumter County.
She loved covering crime and courtroom cases and became an advocate of criminal justice reform through her work in reporting on trials and criminal cases.
Laddi had her share of reliable “street news sources” and often was able to scoop other news outlets with details and information on criminal and political events beyond the official news briefings.
She was devoted to her two sons – Beau and Kevin – as well as her late husband, James Colvin of Union, Alabama.
All memorials and donations can be made to Hospice of West Alabama of Tuscaloosa.

West Alabama Works holds meeting to open AIDT Training Trailer at Greene Co. High School

JOB  Fair.jpgOver 150 mostly young people attended Tuesday night’s kick-off meeting for the AIDT Training Trailer, located at 14223 U. Highway 11 South, in front of the Greene County High School.
People were present to register and sign-up for classes and training to prepare for work in Greene County and surrounding counties in the West Alabama Black Belt.

Classes will be provided for Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) for entry-level work in the healthcare field. Classes will also be available for GED studies leading to a high school equivalency; Ready To Work training and certification in “work keys” which will lead to employment in the growing Alabama automotive industry; computer skills and other skill areas.
Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer for the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and Director of West Alabama Works, said the AIDT Training Trailer will be in Greene County for the next three months, “to provide free testing and training for local residents who are willing to commit their time to acquire new skills and certification. At the end of this process, there are real jobs in the area but employers want to know if you have the skills and attitudes to fill and keep these jobs.”
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime and the chance to transform families and change communities. We are building a career connect system to provide you the entry level skills and credentials you need to work in the future business and industry” said Jones.
Jones explained that the Ready to Work program provides soft skills for people, interested in working in Alabama. These soft skills include team building, attitudes toward coming to work consistently and on-time, safety including avoiding drugs and alcohol on the job, basic math, precision measurement and other skills. People who faithfully attend this five-week program receive certification that they can present to employers when seeking a job.
The CNA training for the healthcare field will be an eight-week training leading to basic certification to work in nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities.
Persons attending the kick-off were able to register with West Alabama Works about their interest in training. They will be called back for more in depth testing and a recommended training curriculum to meet their specific needs. Persons who missed the kick-off can still register at: or come by the AIDT trailer on Highway 11 at the Greene County High School.
The Region 3 Workforce Development Council, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, formed West Alabama Works to lead workforce development efforts throughout West Alabama. The regional workforce development system facilitates and implements a comprehensive, coordinated, seamless workforce development system for the region and supports workforce training activities
In the development of this mobile training unit, West Alabama Works is partnering with the University of West Alabama, Greene County Industrial Development Authority, Greene County Board of Education, Greene County Commission, Shelton State Community College, and AIDT to meet community needs. As Gary Nichols, Chairman of the West Alabama Works Steering Committee notes, “This will help individuals in the region prepare for new and existing job opportunities. We’re here to generate meaningful results.”

Newswire : Out of the shadows: overt racism flourishes in the American South in the Trump era

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

 UNITE THE RIGHT RALLY  l to r : members preparing to enter Emancipation Park holding Nazi, Confederate, and Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flags in Charlottesville, Va. (Anthony Crider/Wikimedia Commons)
Race relations in the United States, especially in the South, are plagued by troubling examples of the challenges that face the nation, as Americans work toward achieving the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of, more than 50 years ago.
Forty-two percent of Americans said that they personally worry a “great deal” about race relations in the United States, up seven percentage points from 2016 and a record high in the Gallup’s 17-year trend, according to Gallup News.
The Gallup poll marked the third straight year that worries about race relations have increased by a significant margin, a surge that experts have said likely stems from the racial tensions and public discourse sparked by high-profile incidents of police shooting unarmed Black people. These high-profile incidents, often sensationalized by mainstream media, overshadow the more pervasive forms of racism that exist in local politics, businesses and schools.
A longtime prominent Florence, S.C. school board member abruptly resigned when it was made public that he sent an email in which he described Black members as “darkies.” In part of the missive, Glenn Odom noted that he “didn’t want the Darkies” to know about the information—a reference to the African-American board members. He has now apologized.
“I guess I’m the head ‘darkie,’” school board member Alexis Pipkins, Sr., told the NNPA Newswire. “I didn’t find out about [the email] until September and there was a board meeting on September 14 and they didn’t notify us.”Pipkins continued: “So, if any of them say they’re shaken up by this, they weren’t shaken up enough to inform all of the board members. If this isn’t racism, my question would be, ‘then, what is?’”
Board Superintendent Barry Townsend struggled with explaining Odom’s actions. “I thought the biggest issues we’d have to deal with on the school board is education and taxes,” Townsend said.
Florence City Manager Drew Griffin said he learned about Odom’s email just hours before he was contacted for comment. “Certainly, the contents and language contained within the email are inconsistent with my personal beliefs as well as the mission and core value statements adopted by the city,” Griffin said.
Surprisingly, the local NAACP President Madie Robinson said the issue is strictly a school board matter and she declined further comment.
Odom, a school board member Florence (District 1) for 25 years and whose term wasn’t set to end until 2020, was among those who fought against a U.S. Justice Department order earlier this year to make sure its schools are more racially balanced.
In Conway, S.C., the FBI arrested a White restaurant manager for enslaving and torturing a Black worker for five years, calling him the “n-word” and paying him less than $3,000 a year while working him daily with very few, if any, days off, according to the local FOX-affiliated.
Restaurant owner Bobby Paul Edwards has been indicted on a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison for enslaving a Black employee. Christopher Smith had worked for 23 years at Edwards’ J&J Cafeteria as a buffet cook. Prosecutors said Edwards “used force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion” to compel Smith to work.
Smith, who reportedly has a mental disability, would work 18-hour shifts six days a week, sometimes without breaks, his attorneys said. Smith was hit with a frying pan, burned with grease-covered tongs and beaten with butcher knives, belt buckles and fists “while being called the n-word repeatedly,” the lawyers alleged, according to The Post and Courier.
In Hope Mills N.C., a massive Ku Klux Klan recruitment effort found its way into a high school, demanding that Whites join to “take back the country.” The Loyal White Knights of the KKK left flyers on the windshields of cars parked outside of Gray’s Creek High School. The flyer urged participation by Whites and railed against the removal of Confederate statues from public spaces; the group called the removal of the statues an attack on “White History, the White Race and America itself.”
In Louisiana, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator vehemently objected to the planned release of Black state prisoners, who he said could continue to work on washing cars for the warden and other officials. “In addition to the bad ones—and I call these bad—in addition to them, they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that, where we save money,” Prator protested at a news conference. “Well, they’re going to let them out.”
And, then there was the exchange between a Black female student at Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas, and a White student, according to a local ABC-affiliate. “U liberals dumb as hell,” the boy posted on Snapchat, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Not as dumb as you racist,” the girl responded. “I’m standing up for my country,” the boy said on Snapchat. “We should have hung all u [n-words] while we had the chance and trust me, it would make the world better.”
Myrlie Evers, a civil rights activist and the widow of Medgar Evers, who was murdered by a White supremacist in 1963, said that she was in a state of despair, hurt and anger, according to the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss. “I’m 84 years of age, and I’m thankful for my life,” she told the Clarion-Ledger. “In my prayers, I ask, ‘God, is it ever over? Must we continue to go through this horrible nightmare of prejudice, racism and hatred all over again?’ ”
Evers continued: “If we don’t step forward,” she said, “we have no one to blame but ourselves for what the end may be.”


Newswire :Puerto Ricans suffer apocalyptic nightmare after Hurricanes Irma and Maria

By Barrington M. Salmon (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

It’s been nearly a month since two, historic hurricanes savaged Puerto Rico, and despite the utter devastation left after the storms, the island’s 3.4 million residents are still waiting for substantive relief from the federal government.
Help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been slowed, because of glaring lapses in coordination, a lack of guidance of medical and other personnel, as well as what critics and Puerto Rican officials have said was an almost total breakdown in distribution and supply chains. The result has been a yawning gap between the burgeoning humanitarian disaster and the urgent life-and-death needs of the shell-shocked populace.
Nearly 85 percent of the island is still in darkness, because the storms destroyed the electrical grid. Governor Ricardo Rosselló estimates that it will cost about $5 billion to repair the island’s power grid that was decimated by Hurricane Maria. Cellphone service towers across the island are slowly being restored; there is a critical shortage of food, medicine and other basic supplies; meanwhile, more than half of the commonwealth’s residents are living without potable water.
The official death toll is 48, but there are reports that the medical examiner’s office in San Juan is holding 350 bodies. There are also fears that, as the authorities reach the most remote parts of the island and as water-borne and other diseases take hold, that the death toll will inevitably rise.
Last week, FEMA scrubbed important statistics about the availability of clean drinking water and the paucity of electricity on the island, from its website.
The fierce winds of Hurricanes Irma and Maria left catastrophic damage, tore roofs from buildings, toppled power lines and transformers; stripped trees bare; triggered mudslides and flooding; flattened and demolished trees; and blocked roads. Beleaguered Puerto Ricans can only buy food, supplies and other materials in what is now a mostly cash-only society.
Yet, in the midst of all this need, more than 10,000 shipping containers loaded with food, medicine and other needed supplies have sat idle at the Port of San Juan and elsewhere, because of red tape, bureaucratic bungling and logistical logjams.
Aurora Flores, a New York-based activist, painted a harrowing picture that is slowly emerging as information seeps out of the soaked island. n“Oh, my God! I have such a combination of feelings. This is outrageous,” said Flores, a noted cultural historian and musician. “This is Trump’s Katrina. We’re in a dire situation. There is no electricity; people are waiting in line eight, nine hours for gasoline, food and other needs. Right now, we need the United States Army trucks and drivers. There’s no housing…we need cruise ships to come in.”
Flores continued: “We also need to secure the streets. Armed gangs are roaming. This is horrific. We’ve been shunned, pushed to the side.” Flores said that she had been in contact with family in Puerto Rico, despite the communications difficulties. She assailed the Trump administration for its slow response and castigated Trump for his constant congratulatory comments to first responders, FEMA, and others in his administration.
“He’s patting himself on the back. [Trump found time] to put down Black athletes over the weekend and not once did he say anything about Puerto Rico,” she said. We’ve been shunned, pushed to side. We don’t need any more excuses. Puerto Rico needs help right now. You don’t do this to other Americans. We need the federal government to come to the rescue. We need compassion and leadership to come together. We’ve fought for and bled for this country. We’re part of America.”
Critics have chided Trump for ignoring the crisis for the first week after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island. He spent more time tweeting to demand that NFL players kneel for the anthem than expressing any compassion or concern for Puerto Rico’s plight. And to add insult to injury, Elaine Duke, acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security crowed at the end of the first week that the federal efforts on the island as a “good news” story.
Trump’s nonchalance has angered Puerto Ricans and a raft of other critics, including singer Marc Anthony and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. “Mr. President, shut the f*** up about the NFL. Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico. We are American citizens, too,” the singer tweeted on September 25.
During a recent interview on CNN, Yulín Cruz lambasted attempts by the White House to spin the situation in Puerto Rico as a “good news story.” “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a ‘good news story.’ When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a ‘good news story,’” she said. “When you have to pull people down from their buildings because—you know, I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”
Yulín Cruz continued: “This is – damn it, this is not a ‘good news’ story. This is a ‘people-are-dying’ story. This is a ‘life-or-death’ story. This is a ‘there’s-a-truckload-of-stuff-that-cannot-be-taken-to-people’ story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.”
Latinx activist and community organizer Rosa Clemente said Puerto Ricans have been given the middle finger by Trump and his administration.
“What’s going on in Puerto Rico is definitely terrifying. People are on the precipice of panic,” said Clemente, during a recent interview. “Right now there are shipping containers stuck on wharfs, because drivers are isolated. Bridges have collapsed, people are trapped…I don’t think Trump would help any people of color. This is who he is. The big issue right now is for Congress to release the aid package.”
Reuters reported that the Republican-controlled House approved $36.5 billion in in emergency relief for Puerto Rico and other areas hit by recent disasters. “Senate approval is expected in coming weeks,” according to Reuters. “Trump is expected to sign the latest emergency package,” even though the president also suggested that there would be limits on how much federal aid Puerto Rico would receive.
Clemente, a revolutionary Hip Hop journalist and lecturer—who is the first Black Puerto Rican/Afro Latina to run for vice president of the Green Party—made arrangements to travel with a group of friends to Puerto Rico to hear and document stories from survivors on the ground and to continue to sound the alarm of the catastrophe that has befallen the island.
In an Oct. 11 Facebook Live post, Clemente detailed the devastation. “What we have now is a total catastrophe—both humanitarian and political. Disaster, crisis, catastrophe, none of these adjectives are describing what we’re seeing,” she said soberly. “People are sick, dying. People are getting infections, babies are sick. The situation in San Juan is bad and in the Western part of the island things are isolated, cut off. This situation is past the critical level. It’s not about getting clothes, food or water. We need generators and chainsaws, SUVs and trucks. We need nurses and doctors.”
Clemente continued: “They’re letting us die here, but everyone in Puerto Rico is doing everything they can to save themselves. They’ve helping each other, saving each other. Anyone not doing all they can to raise hell is complicit. We need to stop sending things. We need to pressure politically. We cannot talk about rebuilding, if this nation is allowed to collapse.”

Newswire : Colin Kaepernick files collusion grievance against NFL owners

Many analysts have commented that Kaepernick’s inability to sign with a team is a clear result of his protests.

By Doha Madani, Huffington Post
Colin Kapernick kneeling

Colin Kaepernick kneeling with teammates during playing of National Anthem at football game

Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the National Football League, accusing owners of colluding to keep him from playing, according to reports from 6 ABC and Bleacher Report.
Kaepernick received national attention last year when he knelt at a football game during the national anthem. Then a San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Kaepernick explained that his act was a form of silent protest to raise awareness about police brutality and racial injustices in the United States. Critics of the quarterback have claimed that the act of “taking a knee” is disrespectful to the American flag and the military.
At the end of last season, the quarterback opted out of his contract with the 49ers and entered free agency, allowing him to play with other teams. But Kaepernick has yet to sign with a new team. His grievance accuses team owners of violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, released a statement on Sunday.
“If the NFL … is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government,” Geragos said.
It’s highly unusual for quarterbacks to spend so long in free agency, especially one with Kaepernick’s record. Kaepernick, 29, managed to throw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions in a matter of 12 games with the 49ers.
FiveThirtyEight analyzed the length of free-agency periods for quarterbacks in March and again in August in the last five years, showing that Kaepernick’s situation was an outlier. Kaepernick was most recently snubbed by the Tennessee Titans, who denied him the chance to work after the team’s current quarterback was injured.
Many sports fans and analysts have remarked that the quarterback’s inability to get a job is a blatant result of the NFL kneeling protests. President Donald Trump further fanned the flames after he implicitly called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” and called on NFL fans to boycott games when kneeling occurred.
Trump’s words only pushed more players to kneel in protest.
While most Americans support the idea of free speech, polls have shown that their opinions don’t necessarily support the NFL players’ peaceful protest.

Newswire : Sens. Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray reveal outline of health insurance deal

By: Associated Press
Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander
Senator Patty Murray and Senator Lamar Alexander

Two leading senators said Tuesday they have the “basic outlines” of a bipartisan agreement to resume federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. The agreement also includes funding for advertising and navigators for the ACA healthcare marketplaces that were also cut by the President. Both Senators said in separate interviews that they still have unresolved issues but expressed optimism that a compromise was near.
The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets.
In exchange, Republicans want Congress to give states “meaningful” flexibility to ease some coverage requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law. “The definition of meaningful,” Alexander said when asked what the remaining stumbling blocks were.
Alexander agreed with his negotiating partner, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who said the two lawmakers “have the basic outlines” of an agreement but have differences to bridge.
The two senators planned to brief colleagues in separate GOP and Democratic Senate lunches. Alexander chairs the Senate health committee and Murray is that panel’s top Democrat.
Murray and Alexander began talks on extending the payments months ago, when Trump was frequently threatening to stop the subsidies. Both said they were close to a deal, but GOP leaders shut the effort down in September when the Senate revisited the Republican drive to repeal Obama’s law. The repeal effort failed, as did an earlier GOP attempt to dismantle the law in July.
Trump’s halt of the payments and worries about its impact have galvanized lawmakers in both parties to take action to prevent it.
Even so, strong opposition by some conservatives means the congressional fate of a compromise would be uncertain. For their part, Democrats believe Republicans in control of Washington will be blamed by voters for future health care problems and are reluctant to bend too far toward GOP demands for opening loopholes in Obama’s law.
Alexander said Trump has twice in recent days urged him to reach a deal with Murray. “He says he doesn’t want people to be hurt in this interim,” said Alexander, a reference to Trump’s desire to revisit the effort to scrap Obama’s statute next year.
Trump repeated his gloomy assessment of a law that’s expanded health coverage to 20 million people and required insurers to cover specified services and limit costs, but has also seen premiums rise and limited competition in some regions.
“Obamacare is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obamacare,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s stoppage of the payments “showed that he’s willing to take a wrecking ball to our nation’s health care for the sake of politics.” He said congressional support for an agreement between Alexander and Murray would show lawmakers have “no intention of going along with President Trump’s reckless sabotage of the nation’s health care law.”
Under Obama’s 2010 overhaul, the government must pay insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for lower-earning customers. A federal judge has ruled that Congress hadn’t legally approved the payments, but Obama — and initially Trump — continued them anyway. Trump halted them last week, even though by law insurers must continue reducing costs for lower-income consumers.
Trump and some Republicans consider the payments to be bailouts to carriers. But Democrats and some Republicans say halting them will create chaos in insurance market places.
The so-called cost-sharing reductions cost around $7 billion this year and lower expenses like co-payments and deductibles for more than 6 million people. The people receiving this marketplace subsidy live in states carried by Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.

Mike Abrams is 2017 Fire Fighter of the Year at 5th Annual Banquet of Association of Volunteer Fire Departments

red eye firghter.jpgShown L to R: James Allen Cleveland, 3rd Runner-Up; Mike Abrams, 2017 Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year; Heidi Alexander, 2nd Runner- up; Rev. Barry Lusk, 1st Runner-Up; and Hodges Smith, Association President.

Democrat and Independent.jpg

The Association presented its Presidential Award to the Greene County Democrat and the Greene County Independent, county newspapers.

The Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments held its 5th Annual Volunteer Fire Fighters Ball and Awards Banquet, Friday, October 13, 2017 at the former Greene County National Guard Armory. Four volunteer fire fighters were recognized for their dedicated service as volunteer fire fighteers. Michael H. Abrams received the award as Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year; Rev. Barry Lusk was honored as 1st Runner-Up; Heidi Alexander was 2nd Runner-Up and James Allen Cleveland was 3rd Runner-Up. Each Volunteer Fire Department was recognized for its commitment and dedication to community service.

As a great surprise to all present, the Association presented its Presidential Award to the Greene County Democrat and the Greene County Independent, county newspapers, in recognition of their exemplary dedication and outstanding service.
Michael H. Abrams, 2017 Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year, joined the Eutaw VFD in 1976, following in his father’s footsteps. He has attended numerous training classes offered by the Alabama Fire College including Fire Investigation; Hazardous Materials Leak, Spill and Fire Control, Alabama Industrial Development – chemical technician. He is also a certified driver.
Rev. Barry Lusk, 1st Runner-up Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year, was inspired to be a Volunteer Fire Fighter after assisting Mr Walter Taylor with a call in 2002. He then joined the Boligee VFD and in 2010 also joined the Forkland VFD. Rev. Lusk was appointed Fire Chief for Boligee in 2015 and now serves faithfully for both Boligee and Forkland VFD’s.
Heidi Alexander, 2nd Runner-up Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year, joined the Forkland VFD in 2014, when she and her husband, Ben, moved back to her hometown. She decided to join the Forkland VFD after seeing her brother respond to fire and assistance calls. She currently serves as Assistant Secretary of the Forkland VFD. She is CPR certified and has received certificates for completing the Basic Wildland Fire Fighter and Modular Emergency Response Radiological Transportation Training (MERRTT). She hopes to continue her training to become an EMT.
James Allen Cleveland, 3rd Runner-up Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year, enjoys hunting, fishing and volunteering with the fire department. His jobs have always included engineering, home improvement, carpentry and working on the farm. He is always eager to learn more about fire prevention and safety so he can better help the community.
Bennie Abrams served as Master of Order; Minister Brenda Hardy gave invocation; Mrs. Janetta Hall brought greetings and the occasion; Rev. Barry Lusk blessed the food; Ms Felecia Smith gave a musical selection; Ms. Geraldine Walton led the memorial tribute; musical selections also rendered by Marvin Turner-Impluze & Band; entertainment provided by DJ Birdman.