Eutaw City Council learns that $110,000 remains on Prairie Avenue contract that may be available for other street repairs

At the regular Eutaw City Council meeting on June 13, 2017, Torris Babb, City Engineer for the Prairie Avenue resurfacing project, reported that $110,000 was left of the original $500,000 grant for the project. Babb also indicated that the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) was willing to allow this money to be utilized for other road projects in Eutaw that directly connect to a state highway.
While the roads in Branch Heights, which are in the greatest need of repair, cannot be included in this project, other roads at West End, M and M Subdivision and others that directly connect to a state highway can be considered. Babbs said even pothole repairs on tributary streets could be included. The Mayor and City Council took this report under consideration and will come up with a list of potential projects to negotiate with ALDOT. Babb emphasized that there was some urgency to begin discussions, make plans and contract the work before time expires on the grant.
The Council also considered the payment of bills for the month of May 2017. There was much discussion of the bills and the specific accounts from which they should be paid. Council members requested a meeting of the Finance Committee and a Council Working Session on June 20 to review the City’s bank accounts and the sources and uses of funds coming into the City for operations, capital improvements and other services. The City is not operating with a budget, which defines income sources and uses of funds. Councilwoman Sheila Smith voted against paying the bills. She said, “this is a protest to the way the city is operating.”
Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter said, “ I tried under the last administration and this one to get a budget, so we would know and could project expenses, and which accounts to use to pay our expenses, but no one wants to make a budget. I have given up raising this as an issue – but the problem remains.”
In other actions, the Council approved travel for the Chief of Police and Assistant Chief to attend statewide conferences on law enforcement. Travel reimbursement for Councilman Carpenter to the League of Municipalities meeting was also approved.
Mayor Raymond Steele reported on needed sewer repairs, including replacement of pumps. The Council approved these expenses to be taken from the Water-Sewer Fund not the Capital Improvement Fund. The Mayor also reported progress on the USDA Loan and Grant water project. Work will resume on the Water Tower after the July 4th Holiday and may take until the end of the year to complete.
The Mayor said he was meeting with the Chair of the County Commission on placement of a power pole, in front of the William M. Branch Courthouse, on a temporary basis during construction of the water tower. The pole has subsequently been placed in the street on the side of the Courthouse, according to the Mayor, at the recommendation of project engineers and Alabama Power Company.
The County Commission and many citizens are not pleased with the placement of the pole in the street and wish that the City and County governments could come together on a better location.

The Mayor also reported that city workers were following behind the water construction contractor fixing streets and curbs, installing new digital self-reporting water meters, clearing drains and doing other finishing and follow-up work. Council members said that the contractor should reimburse the city for this work.
The Mayor said the City’s knuckleboom truck to cut limbs of trees blocking the streets was being repaired and would be put to work as soon as possible to keep up with fast growing grass, weeds and other vegetation. “We have so many problems and requests for street and drainage services but very little money to do the work,” said the Mayor with some degree of frustration. Residents of various areas of the city raised more issues of needed maintenance work during the public comment sessions.
Ms. Deloris Powell of Lock 7 says she was grateful to get the water but that the contractor had left the construction areas and drainage pipes in a mess.
Councilman Joe Lee Powell thanked the “Tommy Summerville Police Support League, Inc.” for donation of a police car for the Eutaw Police Department. Councilwoman Sheila Smith is a leader of the Tommy Summerville Police Support League, which is the charity that holds the license for the Palace Bingo Hall.

House passes Rep. Sewell’s bipartisan foster care legislation

terri-sewell

Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Bill introduced by Reps. Sewell and Smucker keeps foster youths with relatives

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, bipartisan foster care legislation introduced by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) passed the full House of Representatives by a vote of 382 to 19. The Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act makes it easier for foster children to be placed in the home of a family member by encouraging states to update their foster care systems to promote such placements. Children raised by relatives experience increased stability, greater safety and permanency, and better behavioral and mental health outcomes.
In an op-ed jointly released today, Reps. Sewell and Smucker made the following statement:
“For the children in our foster care system, these changes could mean the difference between finding a permanent loving home with their family or continued instability. Updating foster care standards will also provide foster parents and human resource caseworkers with consistent and coherent licensing standards that put the well-being of our children first. The Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act is an opportunity for both parties to work together to address these challenges with a commonsense solution that helps keep families together.”
“When it comes to finding loving homes for children, there are no Republicans or Democrats — just mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, and sons and daughters who believe each child should have a bed to be tucked into at night in a loving home.”

As a Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, Rep. Sewell regularly addresses issues relating to child welfare and the foster care system. This May, Rep. Sewell hosted a foster youth from Birmingham in Congress as part of Foster Youth Shadow Day, a program which gives young people who have interacted with the foster care system the chance to follow a Member of Congress for the day, learning about representative government while sharing their understanding and experiences about foster care with Members.

2017 Alabama Legislature enacts laws relative to education

The 2017 Alabama Legislature passed several bills that are relevant to public education. The Alabama Association of School Boards has provided a synopsis of some of these general bills.  

* ACT 2017-173 Requires K-12 students to pass a civics test (U.S. naturalization test) as a component of the government course in the high school course of study beginning in the 2018-19 school year; authorizes local boards to determine implementation of the test; provides a special education exemption and allows the chief school administrator to grant a waiver for good cause. S.32 (Orr) Effective July 1, 2017.
* ACT 2017-259 Grants military recruiters of the United States Armed Forces and Department of Homeland Security the same information and access to students as granted to prospective employers or postsecondary institutions. S.203 (Holtzclaw) Effective August 1, 2017.
* ACT 2017-278 Allows students in public and non-public schools to possess and use FDA-regulated, over-the-counter sunscreen without a physician’s order. S.63 (McClendon) Effective May 16, 2017.
* ACT 2017-337 Requires health benefit plans to cover Applied Behavior Analysis treatment for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder; benefits are subject to an age-based sliding scale and capped at the age of 18. H.284 (Patterson) Effective October 1, 2017.
* ACT 2017-368 Requires a local board of education to provide information about the influenza disease and vaccine whenever other health information is provided to parents and guardians. H.381 (Daniels) Effective August 1, 2017.
* ACT 2017-354 Creates the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 and establishes a Committee on Alabama Monument Protection; prohibits the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming or other disturbance of architecturally significant or memorial buildings in place for more than 40 years; provides a waiver process for those buildings in place 20 to 40 years; exempts K-12 and post-secondary from the structural prohibitions; requires a waiver to rename K-12 or post-secondary memorial schools in place for more than 20 years. S.60 (Allen) Effective May 24, 2017.

* ACT 2017-120 Changes the dates of the annual back-to-school sales tax holiday from the week beginning the first Friday in August to the third Friday in July each year. S.136 (Melson) Effective April 29,2017.
* ACT 2017-421 Creates the Farm-to-School Procurement Act; allows federal school nutrition funds to be used to purchase unprocessed agricultural products pursuant to the federal simplified acquisition threshold as an exception to the competitive bid process for local boards of education. H.53 (Beech) Effective May 26, 2017.
* Act 2017-401 Requires the state Department of Education to implement an electronic notification system to allow local school systems to enter information regarding school delays, early releases, shelter-in-place and other emergency information in a central repository accessible by the department and governor. H.89 (Baker) Effective August 1, 2017.
* ACT 2017-335 Appropriates $6.42 billion from the Education Trust Fund for the support, maintenance and development of public education in Alabama, for debt service and for the capital outlay for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2018. S.129 (Orr) Effective October 1, 2017.
* ACT 2017-374 Creates the Alabama Youth Residential Facility Abuse Prevention Act; establishes state registration, regulation and accountability measures for faith-based, church nonprofit or for-profit alternative facilities and programs that require a minimum 24-hour on-site residency for children; requires criminal background checks for employees and volunteers. H.440 (McMillan) Effective May 24, 2017.
* ACT 2017-171 Amends the Alabama Community College System designation to a corporate body; authorizes its employees to participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama and State Employees’ Health Insurance Plan; specifies that employees of community and technical colleges participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Alabama and Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan; provides for the acquisition, conveyance and disposal of property. H.163 (McMillan) Effective April 20, 2017.

Newswire : Africa among the top ten fastest-growing markets for air travel

African airline

South African Airline

June 19, 2017 (GIN) – Airline industry and ministry officials attending Aviation Festival Africa and Airports Show Africa heard some good news and some not so good news.

First, according to the International Air Traffic Transport Association (IATA), the top 10 fastest growing world markets for air travel over the next 20 years will be in Africa. The top 10 fastest growing markets are: Benin, Central African Republic, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Feeding this growth is the rise in Africa’s middle class and rapid urbanization.

The bad news, IATA warned, is that the Africa airline industry continues to be burdened by high taxes, having to pay fuel prices higher than the global average, competition from the Gulf, resulting in continued financial losses.

The big three Gulf carriers – – Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad, as well as Turkish airlines have all grown their presence in the African market with a large number of aircraft on order and with plans to further develop African routes. There is also a potential threat to African carriers from Chinese carriers.

Without large and successful hubs, African carriers will be unable to compete with the big foreign carriers, IATA warned. Currently there are three African hubs – Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Nairobi, all of which could face the problem of being bypassed by foreign competitors operating on the continent.

Another constraint on airline carrier growth particularly low cost carriers, is a high proportion of ticket sales made in cash. With the absence of alternate payment mechanisms, airlines must rely on agents that cut into their margins.

According to IATA’s 2017 outlook for the global industry, African airlines are expected to lose $100 million, about the same as last year. North American airlines, by contrast, as a group generated half of worldwide profits, while carriers in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East were also profitable.

Currently, only, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air, Moroccan Royal Air Maroc and Cape Verde’s TACV airline have the right to fly passengers in and out of the United States.

Newswire : Commemorating the Lovings and their courage

By Saraya Wintersmith

loving marker celebration
From left, Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan, Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance and ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga help  unveil the new state marker outside the Patrick Henry Building at 11th and Broad streets. PHOTO: Richmond Free Press
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A state historical marker in Downtown Richmond, Va. now commemorates the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, which resulted in laws banning interracial marriage being overturned in Virginia and 16 other states.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his wife, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, were joined by Mayor Levar M. Stoney, Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance, Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan and others to unveil the marker on Monday, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision.The new marker is located at 11th and Broad streets, outside the state-owned Patrick Henry Building, which once housed the Virginia Supreme Court.Virginia’s highest court upheld the law that triggered the arrest and conviction of Richard and Mildred Loving of Caroline County in July 1958. Richard, a White man, and Mildred, an African-American woman, married in the District of Columbia, and returned to their home in Caroline County’s Central Point.
They were arrested and convicted of violating Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act, which banned interracial marriage. A judge suspended their yearlong jail sentence on the condition that the couple leave the state for 25 years. The Lovings appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court with the held of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1967, the nation’s highest court overturned Virginia’s law and lifted all such interracial marriage bans across the nation.
“It’s almost hard to believe, but that’s actually what happened,” Gov. McAuliffe told the gathering of more than 100 people at the marker dedication ceremony.“
All they wanted to do was get married. They loved each other, and all they wanted was their state to recognize them.
”While the Lovings are now deceased, neither of their two surviving children or other relatives attended the ceremony. Julie Langan, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, said they prefer to remain out of the public eye. Langan described the Loving v. Virginia marker as one that will fill a “glaring gap” in the nation’s oldest highway marker system.
“Our motivation stems from the belief that in order to mature and to evolve as a society, we must analyze and often re-examine the facts in order to accurately piece together the truth of our history,” she said.Gov. McAuliffe pointed out that the Loving case is part of a “chain” linked to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry. Same-sex marriage became legal in Virginia in October 2014.
Gov. McAuliffe said to applause, “We would never have had marriage equality two years ago had it not been for Mildred and Richard Loving.”

Newswire : Nooses on the National Mall stoke memories of “America’s Dark History”

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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U.S. Park Police confirmed that another noose was found on the National Mall, last week, according to ABC News. Late last month, a portion of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C., was closed for nearly three hours after a noose was found in a gallery, officials said.
The museum, on the National Mall near the White House, reopened fully later that day, after police deemed the area “safe and secure,” according to an internal memo provided to ABC News by the Smithsonian. In an article posted to the Smithsonian’s, museum officials said that the noose is a reminder of “America’s dark history with lynching” and referred to similar incidents of noose sightings around the country including at a school in Missouri, a construction site in Maryland, on the campus of Duke University, at a fraternity house on University of Maryland’s campus, at a middle school in Maryland and at a high school in Lakewood, California.
Tourists found the noose in the museum’s exhibit on segregation.
The incident at NMAAHC occurred after a noose was found on May 26 hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum, which is located close to the Black History museum.
In an email to museum staffers, Lonnie Bunch, the director of NMAAHC, said that the incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face.
“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity—a symbol of extreme violence for African-Americans,” said Bunch.
On May 30, at Wakefield High School in Raleigh, N.C. a Black doll with a noose around its neck was suspended outside of a window.
“Let me be clear: This was an offensive act that has no place in our school. The imagery is deeply offensive and everyone in our school community should be appalled,” said Principal Malik Bazzell, as reported by a Raleigh TV station.
During a rally at the a park named after Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee Charlottesville, Va., on May 13, participants with torches chanted “Russia is our friend” and “you shall not erase us.”
According to ThinkProgress.org, the rally was in response to “the state’s decision to sell off a statue of treasonous general Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia against the United States during the Civil War.” ThinkProgress.org also reported that, “Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer condemned the rally and its attendees.”
On May 26, in Portland, Oregon, a man named Jeremy Christian hurled anti-Muslim vitriol on a subway train at two young women, then murdered two men who intervened, Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, and injured a third, Micah Fletcher.
On May 20, Richard Collins, 23 year-old second lieutenant in the Army, was stabbed to death by University of Maryland student Sean Urbanski, 22, as Collins waited with friends for a ride. Lt. Collins was about to graduate from Bowie State University on May 23. The FBI is investigating the murder as a possible hate crime and it has already been reported that Urbanski was a member of an “alt-right” group on Facebook.
On the eve of the NBA Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized; the “N-word” was written with spray paint on his house.
“Just shows that racism will always be a part of the world, part of America. Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day. It is hidden most days. It is alive every single day,” James told reporters. “No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much people admire you, being Black in America is tough.”

Newswire : Cop acquitted in shooting death of Black Minnesota motorist – Philando Castille

But the town dismisses the police officer following the verdict

By Frederick H. Lowe
castile
Philando Castile

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
A majority White jury today acquitted a Minnesota police officer in last year’s shooting death of a Black motorist who told the cop minutes earlier that he was a registered gun owner and was carrying a weapon.
The jury acquitted Jeronimo Yanez, of the St. Anthony, Minn., police department of all charges, including first-degree manslaughter, in the shooting death of Philando Castile, 32, on July 16, 2016, in Falcon Heights, Minn., near Minneapolis.
Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the car’s front passenger seat livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. Reynolds testified that she livestreamed the shootings aftermath because she feared Yanez would kill her. Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter was sitting in the car’s backseat.
Yanez testified that he stopped Castile’s car because he resembled one of two men who were involved in a recent robbery. When Yanez stopped the car, Castile told him he was a registered gun owner and that he was carrying the gun at the time. Castile was ruled out as a suspect in the robbery. No one has been arrested.
According to a transcript, Yanez said, “Okay, don’t reach for it.” As Castile reached for his ID and proof of registration, as requested by Yanez, he fired seven shots killing him. Police found Castile’s .40 caliber pistol in his right front pocket. The gun contained a loaded magazine but there wasn’t a bullet in the chamber.
When the verdict was read, some spectators cursed the jury, shouting that Yanez got away with murder.
Following the verdict, the City of Anthony announced that it has dismissed Yanez as a police officer.
The city officials said in a statement, “The City of St. Anthony has concluded that the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city. The city intends to offer Officer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer. The terms of this agreement will be negotiated in the near future, so details are not available at this time. In the meantime, Officer Yanez will not return to active duty,”
Last month, a majority white jury acquitted Tulsa, Okla., police officer Betty Shelby of first degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed motorist, after his vehicle stalled in the middle of the road. The deadly shooting occurred in September 16, 2016.
Shelby collected more than $35,000 in back pay and has returned to work but not to patrol. Crutcher’s estate has sued Shelby and the City of Tulsa. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks financial damages and departmental reform.
In the Crutcher shooting and in the Castile shooting, both cops used the same defense. They said they fired their weapons because they feared for their lives.