Alabama New South Coalition holds Fall Convention

ANSC new state officers: L to R: Debra Foster, President, Everett Wess, First Vice President, Sharon Wheeler, Treasurer and Patricia Lewis Corresponding Secretary
ANSC Healthcare Panel: Rep. Merika Coleman speaking, Norma Jackson, Sen Malika Sanders Fortier and John Zippert ANSC past president.

On Saturday, November 2, Alabama New South Coalition held its Fall Convention at the RSA Activity Center on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery.
More than 200 delegates from around the state attended this 34th. annual convention of the predominately Black and progressive political and social change organization. The theme of the ANSC Fall Convention was “ Lifting our Values, our Voices and our Votes”.
The convention had three workshops on important voting issues; two mayors – Mayor Gary Richardson of Midfield and newly elected Mayor Tim Ragland of Talladega – addressed the luncheon. U. S. Senator Doug Jones also addressed the group about his service in Washington D. C. and plans for the upcoming 2020 election.
The members of ANSC approved a report from their Nominating Committee for new state officers for a two-year term beginning at the end of the Convention. Debra Foster of Calhoun County was elected President, Everett Wess of Jefferson County elected First Vice President, Ivan Peebles, Greene County, Second Vice-President (youth), Sharon Wheeler, Montgomery, Treasurer, Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County for Recording Secretary and Patricia Lewis of Mobile for Corresponding Secretary.
The Healthcare Workshop heard from Rep. Merika Coleman of Jefferson County, Senator Malika Sanders Fortier of Dallas County and Norma Jackson of Macon County.
Rep. Coleman said, “Working people in Alabama deserve healthcare that is why we have been working to expand Medicaid for those whose income is up to 138% of the poverty level. This impacts over 300,000 people from all parts of Alabama. Governor Ivey promised that after we passed an increase in the gas tax that she and the Republican leadership in the Legislature would revisit the issue of Medicaid Expansion but they have not followed through. This is because they know it would involve an increase in the budget, which would have to be paid for with increase in taxes or some other changes.”
Senator Fortier, said, “Without Medicaid Expansion, 340,000 people in Alabama face terror in securing health care. They are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. Our state is 5th worse in the nation, in our rate of infant mortality which is preventable with expanded healthcare coverage.” Fortier says she has been working with other Senators of both parties to find a solution to expand Medicaid. “ We need $158 million for year one and $30 million each year thereafter to fund Medicaid expansion in the state of Alabama. The Federal government provides 90% of the cost, under the Affordable Care Act and the state must match with 10%. We can find this money to cover 340,000 working adults, provide 30,000 new jobs in the healthcare field, keep hospitals, especially rural hospitals open, and improve the general health and wellbeing of our people in Alabama.”
Norma Jackson, Chair of the Macon County ANSC Chapter said, “We have a sickness-care system in Alabama not a health care system. We need to do more to take care of our own health alongside doctors, hospitals and others.” She suggested five steps: “eat fresh foods, drink clean water, breath fresh air, do exhilarating exercise and have rejuvenating rest for better healthcare that we can take responsibility for ourselves.”
The panel on Criminal Justice and Economic Development featured three speakers including Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa, County Commissioner Sheila Tyson of Jefferson County and Robert Avery of Gadsden.
Rep. England said, “Conditions in Alabama’s prison system are so overcrowded and bad that inmates are condemned to cruel and unusual punishment worse than the death penalty.” He said, “ The solutions lie in reducing the use of the system as a debtors prison, for those who cannot pay fines; more restorative justice, where prisoners are taught a skill in prison that they can use to make a living when they come out of prison, pay correction officers a fair wage, to attract better people and building more prisons to replace existing out of date and overcrowded prisons.”
Commissioner Tyson spoke to removing barriers to people to get workforce training and jobs with new industries. She said that she worked to change bus routes to go in low-income neighborhoods to increase participation by poor people in workforce training for new jobs coming into her district.
The third panel on Voting Rights was moderated by Faya Rose Toure and included: Robert Turner of Bullock County who stressed that a voteless people are a helpless people; Sam Walker of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma; Senator Bobby Singleton, who spoke to the issue that half of the registered Black voters in Alabama, do not turnout to vote; and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, who spoke on his efforts to encourage people in jails, prior to trial and conviction, who are eligible to vote, to vote absentee and helping to restore the voting rights of previously incarcerated felons, under Alabama’s new Moral Turpitude Law.

University of West Alabama holds Summit on Rural Workforce Development; announces $2.5 million dollar grant from DOL and DRA for 10 county workforce development effort

Panel speaking at UWA Summit on Rural Workforce
Development

On Friday, November 1, 2019, the University of West Alabama held a Summit on Rural Workforce Development at the Bell Conference Center in Livingston. As part of the program, Dr. Tina Jones, UWA Vice-President for Economic and Workforce Development announced a $2.5 million grant from the U. S. Department of Labor and the Delta Regional Authority for a regional workforce development program serving ten counties in the western Alabama Black Belt.
The three hundred attendees at the Summit heard from three panels of industry, education and state government officials with responsibility for basic education, job training and workforce development in the state and in our west Alabama area. There was also an interesting luncheon keynote from Jay Moon, President of the Mississippi Manufacturers, on future trends in work and preparing people to work in the future economy.
Nick Moore, Governor Ivey’s advisor on Education and Workforce stressed, “there is no wrong door to enter the state’s workforce development program. No matter your entry point, the state’s education and workforce agencies and programs will assist you where you are, with the education you have, and the skills and experiences you have and want to develop to go to work with any industry and employer.”
Donny Jones with West Alabama Works followed this up by saying that the workforce system will help you no matter your literacy and math skills. “We will help you get a GED. We will help you get basic skills; we will work with you to overcome barriers of transportation, childcare, and other problems. We are looking at people now that were previously incarcerated and trying to give them the skills and awareness they need to be productive members of the state’s workforce.”
Fitzgerald Washington, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor indicated that unemployment in the state is at a record low level of 3%. We still have 66,000 people who are officially unemployed. We also have 41.6% of our eligible adult population that have opted out of the labor force. “We need to use these workforce and training initiatives to bring more people back into the labor force and give them the education, attitudes and skills necessary to work in to our growing economy.”
Nick Moore said, “We must be aware of the ‘benefit cliff’ that some persons who have opted out of the workforce will experience when they come back into the workforce. Some people loose so much in SNAP, Medicaid, childcare and other benefits when they move into a job that they are reluctant to make the transition. We have to find ways to ease this ‘benefit cliff’ for people and seamlessly transition them into the workforce.”
The Summit provided important insights into the current status and position of workforce development in the state. The announcement of the $2.5 million grant to UWA will help enhance the practical follow-up to this meeting.
“We are immensely appreciative of this grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Delta Regional Authority that will allow UWA the opportunity to expand our economic and workforce development efforts for a 10-county rural area that we serve,” said UWA President Ken Tucker.
 “As a regional university whose mission includes improving the quality of life for the region, we have long seen education as an engine that drives economic and workforce development, and this nearly $2.5 million will have a transformative influence on the people of west Alabama and beyond for many years to come. We have an outstanding team in UWA’s Division of Economic and Workforce Development working daily to establish the partnerships and innovative initiatives that will strengthen the impact of this generous investment for our region and rural Alabama.”
The grant will fund a UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development initiative known as LINCS: Leveraging Interconnected Networks for Change and Sustainability.  LINCS is designed to help develop a regional workforce based on industry-recognized standards, credentials and identified needs in order to strengthen the economy and skill levels in a 10-county west Alabama rural region.
 “We are grateful for the many partners who have come together to assist UWA with the development of the LINCS proposal,” said Dr. Tina Jones, vice president of the UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development. “By tapping into existing workforce systems that have a proven record of success, our goal is to address current barriers and gaps in the workforce pipeline.”
 “We want to improve remote delivery and access to relevant workforce training in our rural areas, strengthen connections to employment opportunities, and yield a workforce ready to step into Alabama’s growing advanced manufacturing environment,” Jones said.
 “We believe that offering customized, economic-responsive curricula designed around the needs of regional commerce through a University-industry partnership will help create a region rich in jobs, with better educated citizens earning more at their jobs, thereby improving lifestyles and bringing in more resources for our region and the State,” Jones explained.
The stated goal of the LINCS project is to increase advanced manufacturing employment skill sets in the underserved rural counties of west Alabama. The awarded grant will implement a three-pronged approach to address current barriers and gaps in the workforce pipeline in collaboration with other existing agencies and employer-driven organizations.  These include: 1) development of employer-driven curriculum and fast-track certificate programs; 2) recruitment and placement of new entrants into the workforce and promotion of incumbent workers to retain or advance current employment; and 3) establishment and expansion of rural apprenticeship initiatives.
LINCS will be designed to be a customized development program in advanced manufacturing skills and technologies in concert with existing partners, employers, and stakeholders.  The project will: 1) fill identified gaps by connecting all levels of education and skills with training and employment opportunities; 2) increase accessibility to training; 3) deliver a better prepared workforce; and 4) provide systemic change yielding a higher level of economic impact for the region.
 “This is collaborative effort built on partnerships,” Jones said.  “We are excited that UWA will be joined by major industry groups, and key essential workforce development groups throughout the region and Alabama to make LINCS a reality, including existing regional workforce development councils such as West Alabama Works, Central Alabama Works and Southwest Alabama Works.”

 For more information on the LINCS initiative or other projects of UWA’s Division of Economic and Workforce Development, call 1-833-UWA-WORK.
 

Greene County Sheriff changes bingo distribution rules  County Commission no longer receives funding from bingo

Shown above Greene County School Supintendent Dr. Corey Jones, Boligee  City Coucilwoman Ernestine Wade, Representing the City of Eutaw, Larry Sandford, Union City Councilwoman Rosie Davis, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Forkland clerk Lynette Woods, Representing the Greene County Hospital Board Chair John Zippert and Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd.

The September 2019 bingo distribution did not include funds for the Greene County Commission. The Commission had been receiving approximately $72,000 per month, funds provided by only three of the currently four operating bingo entities in the county including Greenetrack, Inc., River’s Edge and Frontier Bingo Parlors. The Palace bingo facility does not contribute any funds to the County Commission.
In his rule change dated September 30, 2019, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison stated that the Greene County Commission has refused to provide responses to the Sheriff’s repeated requests for information on the Commission’s use of bingo funds during the previous three years.
According to County Commission records, approximately 60% of the bingo resources provided to the county are earmarked for matching funds required for ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) and ATRIP grants awarded to the county, with the remaining funds used for continuing county road projects. According to the County CFO Paula Bird, regular reports on bingo funds received are submitted to the Sheriff’s office.

Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier and River’s Edge each provided $24,000 in the September distribution for the Greene County Commission which was withheld by Sheriff Benison, who indicated in his distribution report that this amount, totaling $72,000, would be placed in trust.
For the month of September, the Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $357,960 from the four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county.  The bingo distributions for September are contributed by Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. 
  The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations currently include the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).  
   Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, -$0-(no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-(no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.  
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,300 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-(no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System,  $11,600.
    Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $151,360 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0- (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $80,960; City of Eutaw, $24,640; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $7,040; Greene County Board of Education, $7,040 and the Greene County Health System, $17,600. 

Newswire: British Museum – the World’s largest receiver of stolen goods, says author of new book

Nov. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An outspoken human rights lawyer in a new book is calling for European and US institutions to return treasures taken from subjugated peoples by “conquerors or colonial masters.”

In the new book by Geoffrey Robertson, the British Museum is accused of exhibiting “pilfered cultural property” and urged to ‘wash its hands of blood and return Elgin’s loot’.

“The trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display,” Robertson charges.

His views appear in the book, “Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure.”

Along with a distinguished career as a trial lawyer, human rights advocate and United Nations judge, Robertson has appeared in many celebrated trials, defending Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange, prosecuting Hastings Banda and representing Human Rights Watch in the proceedings against General Pinochet.

In his just released book, he scores the British Museum for allowing an unofficial “stolen goods tour”, “which stops at the Elgin marbles, Hoa Hakananai’a, the Benin bronzes and other pilfered cultural property”. The three items he mentioned are wanted by Greece, Easter Island and Nigeria respectively.

“That these rebel itineraries are allowed is a tribute to the tolerance of this great institution, which would be even greater if it washed its hands of the blood and returned Elgin’s loot,” he wrote.

He accused the museum of telling “a string of carefully-constructed lies and half- truths” about how the marbles “were ‘saved’ or ‘salvaged’ or ‘rescued’ by Lord Elgin, who came into possession of them lawfully.”

He criticized “encyclopedic museums” such as the British Museum, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York that “lock up the precious legacy of other lands, stolen from their people by wars of aggression, theft and duplicity”.

“This is a time for humility,” he observed, “something the British, still yearning for the era when they ruled the world do not do very well. Before it releases any of its share of other people’s cultural heritage, the British Museum could mount an exhibition – ‘The Spoils of Empire’.”

Advocating the return of cultural property based on human rights law principles, Robertson observes that the French president, Emmanuel Macron has “galvanized the debate” by declaring that “African cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European museums”.

“Politicians may make more or less sincere apologies for the crimes of their former empires, but the only way now available to redress them is to return the spoils of the rape of Egypt and China and the destruction of African and Asian and South American societies,” he writes.

“We cannot right historical wrongs – but we can no longer, without shame, profit from them.”

Newswire: Lewis Hamilton wins record-tying sixth Formula 1 World Driving Championship

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Lewis Hamilton with race car

Black British racing car driver Lewis Hamilton on Sunday won a record-tying sixth Formula One championship.
Hamilton, who drives for the Mercedes racing team, earned 381 points to the 314 for Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas’ and 249 points for Ferrari’s Charles Lecleric.

Hamilton finished second to Bottas in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, but Hamiltom’s wins and finishes throughout the season will make it impossible for Bottas to outpoint him although two more races remain in the season—Brazil Grand Prix (November 17) and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (December 1).

“Cloud nine doesn’t even get close to where I am – I’m somewhere far above that,” said Hamilton. Formula 1 is the world’s highest form of automobile racing.

The 2019 F1 racing season began March 17 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Hamilton won the world driving championship in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Hamilton joins Michael Schumacher as the only other driver to win as many as six F1 championship titles.

Hamilton was born January 7, 1985, in Stevenage, England. His parents are Anthony Hamilton and Carmen Larbalestier. He has one of four children; he has a brother and two sisters. This year, he has a reported net worth of $285 million. His full name is Lewis Carl Hamilton.

His father named in honor of sprinter Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals. Lewis was vilified by some in the U.S. Black community because he is gay.

“Still I Rise” is written across the back of Hamilton’s racing helmet and tattooed across his shoulders. The quote is from a poem written in 1978 by Maya Angelou.

Newswire: Gwen Ifill immortalized with Postal Service Forever Stamp

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Stamp honoring Gwen Ifill

The 43rd stamp in the United States Postal Service’s Black Heritage series honors Gwen Ifill, one of America’s most esteemed journalists.
The stamp features a photo of Ifill taken in 2008 by photographer Robert Severi and designed by Derry Noyes, according to the Postal Service.
Among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, Ifill was a trailblazer in the profession.
Ifill was born on September 29, 1955, in New York.
Her father, O. Urcille Ifill, Sr., served as an African Methodist Episcopal minister who hailed from Panama. Her mother, Eleanor Husbands, was from Barbados.
According to Ifill’s 2012 biography and interview with The HistoryMakers, her father’s ministry required the family to live in several cities in different church parsonages throughout New England.
Those stops also included Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York, where the family resided in federally subsidized housing.
Ifill’s interest in journalism was rooted in her parents’ insistence that their children gather nightly in front of the television to watch the national news, according to The HistoryMakers.
In 1973, Ifill graduated from Classical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Four years later, she received her B.A. degree in communications from Simmons College in Boston.
“During her senior year, she interned at the Boston Herald American newspaper,” the biography reads. She later worked at the Baltimore Evening Sun, the Washington Post, and the New York Times before moving over to NBC News.
In 1999, Ifill became the first African American woman to host a prominent political talk show on national television when she became moderator and managing editor of PBS’s Washington Week and senior political correspondent for The PBS NewsHour.
Ifill died at the age of 61 on November 14, 2016.
“She was the most American of success stories,” Sherrilynn Ifill, a law professor, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Gwen Ifill’s cousin told NBC News. “Her life and her work made this country better.”

Newswire : Black teen suicide reaches historic highs

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Black teen walking along train tracks
Suicide prevention workshop

African American teenagers in the United States historically have had lower suicide rates than their white counterparts – until now.
A new study analyzing suicide among American teens by a team led by researchers at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University have uncovered several troubling trends from 1991 to 2017, among Black high school students in particular.

Researchers discovered that between 1991 and 2017, there has been an increase in the number of African American teens who said they had attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide rates for teenagers of other races and ethnicities either remained the same or decreased over that period. The researchers did not cite a reason for the trend.
Bill Prasad, a licensed professional counselor with Contemporary Medicine Associates in Bellaire, Texas, cited what he believed are some reasons. “Lack of accessibility to mental health care, the inability to pay for medications and healthcare coverage, the lack of acceptance of mental illness among some members of the Black community, and the availability of firearms,” Prasad stated. Prasad was not among the researchers involved in the study.
Frank King, the so-called “Mental Health Comedian,” called the problem a ‘cultural phenomenon. “Young people in these groups are less likely to share their issues surrounding depression and thoughts of suicide with friends and family than youth in other racial and ethnic groups,” King stated.
Among the answers is starting the conversation on depression and suicide in high-risk groups,” he said. “A partial answer is giving young people permission to give voice to their experiences and feelings, without recrimination, such as ‘If you were stronger in Christ this wouldn’t be happening,’ or ‘What do you have to be depressed about, we’ve given you everything. Your father and I started our life with nothing,’ and so forth,” King stated.
Researchers in the NYU study noted that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens from all demographics. They found that only accidents kill more young people than suicide.
The study also revealed that, in 2017, approximately 2,200 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 died by suicide.
Researchers gathered information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 198,540 high school students from 1991 to 2017.
Among high school students of all demographics, 1 in 5 said they were thinking about suicide, and 1 in 10 said they had made a plan to end their lives.
CNN Health reported that the study is in line with earlier research that has shown African American boys, especially younger boys between the ages of 5 and 11, have experienced an increase in the rate of suicide deaths. In black children ages 5 to 12, the suicide rate was found to be two times higher compared with white children, according to CNN Health.

The study authors found “an increased risk in reported suicide attempts among African-American teens between 1991 and 2017, and boys saw an increase in injuries related to those attempts. That might mean that black teens were using more lethal means when attempting suicide.”
They found a decline in attempts overall among teens who identified as white, Hispanic, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
Reasons for suicide explored
“As an African American woman, suicide is prominent in our community for two reasons: we often do not know how to handle it amongst our families, and the pressures on our culture are rising,” said Sabriya Dobbins of Project Passport LLC, a company that encourages getaway retreats centered around three mental wellness areas: reflection, community and personal.
“Oftentimes when a black family member says they want to take their life, the family may resort to church, belittle their response and tell them to stop overreacting, or simply assume it is not a big deal,” Dobbins stated.
“African American families are taught to be tough and to hold it together because it is already ‘us against the world.’ We are taught to put our heads down and work hard to get those degrees and move up in our careers.
“This causes expectations to be too high, then depression and anxiety are heightened. Not only are black youth trying to satisfy their families and be strong, but they are trying to fight their way through a world that is not always accepting. A world where they are dying in alarming numbers in senseless crimes. It is a double edge sword.”
Parents should be on the lookout for risk factors, such as a recent or severe loss like death or divorce, said Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent.
Dr. Walfish also counts as a regular expert child psychologist on CBS Television’s “The Doctors,” and she co-stars on WE TV’s, “Sexbox.”
“Parents should take heed when they observe specific warning signs like changes in behavior, including difficulty concentrating, difficulty focusing on school or following routine activities, researching ways to kill oneself on the internet, increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs, and acting recklessly,” Walfish stated.
Included among other signs are changes in personality, appearing withdrawn, isolating to their room, irritability, extreme mood changes that are more than typical moodiness, exhibiting rage or talking about seeking revenge, Walfish added.
Other alarms include changes in sleep patterns, insomnia, oversleeping, nightmares, talking about dying, going away, or different types of self-harm, she said.
“Teaching problem-solving and conflict resolution skills, building a strong connection to family, friends, and community support are ways to help,” Walfish stated.
“Restrict access to highly lethal means of suicide, such as firearms, and provide access to effective mental health care, including substance use treatment. Talk to your child. Many people are fearful that talking to their children about suicide will increase their risk of suicide. This is a myth,” Walfish said.
How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or 1-800-432-8366. You can also visit http://teenlineonline.org.

Newswire: Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa elected new chair of Alabama Democratic Party at Saturday meeting; infighting likely to continue

By: Associated Press and Montgomery Advertiser

Rep. Chris England

Rep. Christopher England, of Tuscaloosa, received 104 of 171 ballots cast at the Saturday, November 2 meeting of the State Democratic Executive Committee, the state party’s governing body. This comes after months of in-house bickering about the party’s leadership.

But the election may not settle the ongoing battle between two factions of the party over governance and leadership, as the previously elected chair said she would not step down.

“Elected officials had to stand in the gap and create the platform the party did not have,” England said before the vote. “You’ve seen me stand for the issues that matter to us.”

The vote came after the approximately 175 members of the SDEC voted 172 to 0 to remove Chair Nancy Worley and Vice-Chair Randy Kelley.

After the vote, Worley said she was reelected in 2018 and she intends to continue leading the party.“The true SDEC members did not elect two new officers in our places today,” Worley said in a statement. “Randy and I look forward to continuing our leadership roles.”

But the meeting represented a win for a group of Democrats opposed to Worley, who has chaired the state Democratic Party since 2013, and the Democratic National Committee, which ordered the state party in February to hold new elections and revise its bylaws to provide greater diversity on the SDEC.

England, 43, a city attorney for Tuscaloosa, has served in the Alabama Legislature since 2006. He has been at the forefront of attempts to change the leadership and direction of the party and pledged before the vote to work to “leave no stone unturned” in rebuilding the party. He promised to rebuild local county organizations and staff up the state party.

“As we kick the old folks out, the new folks are coming in,” he said. “We want to seize on that energy. We’re going to raise money, money like you’ve never seen.”

Former Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, was elected vice-chair.
Worley has previously accused the DNC of sending contradictory instructions and of trying to dilute the strength of African American voters in the party. The DNC said Worley missed deadlines and was nonresponsive to instructions.

Without the orders implemented, the DNC refused to ratify the state’s delegate selection plan and warned that inaction by the state party could prevent Alabama from being seated at next year’s Democratic National Convention. That would effectively invalidate votes cast in next March’s Democratic presidential primary.
A group of SDEC members, backed by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, drafted a new set of bylaws that were approved by the DNC in September. The members then got a majority of the SDEC to vote to hold a meeting to ratify those bylaws on Oct. 5. At that meeting, the members set leadership elections for Nov. 2.

Worley proceeded with her own meeting on Oct. 12, which ratified a second set of bylaws — not approved by the DNC — and set elections for Nov. 16. On Wednesday, Worley and Kelly sued to stop the meeting of the Democrats.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin blocked the meeting in a decision late Friday, ruling that it would cause “chaos and confusion.” But the Alabama Supreme Court stayed the order about two hours later, allowing the gathering to proceed.

The new party bylaws preserve the Minority Caucus to nominate African Americans to the SDEC. But they also create new caucuses to nominate Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ individuals, youth and those with disabilities. Approximately 68 people were seated from the youth, Hispanic, Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander caucuses on Saturday.

Greene County Hospital holds ribbon cutting for new Emergency Room area

Shown above Nursing Director, Lakesha Jones-Gill, Commissioner Roshanda Summerville, CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh, Ollie Braggs, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and Chair of the Greene County Hospital Board, John Zippert.

The Greene County Health System held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, October 24, 2019 for a newly renovated and equipped Emergency Room area in its Hospital facility.
Ollie Braggs, the first patient served by the Greene County Hospital on November 20, 1961, received the honor to cut the ribbon on the new area.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Greene County Health System thanked the people for taking time to attend the open house and ribbon cutting. She thanked the Greene Ladies, women’s auxiliary for their dedicated volunteer service, the staff, the Board of Directors, the GCHS Foundation and others in the community for their help and support. She also thanked members of the helicopter health transfer service who were present for their work and support.
John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board also thanked those in attendance, including three county commissioners – Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner and Roshanda Summerville for attending. He spoke about the GCHS services including the 20-bed hospital, 72 beds Nursing Home – Residential Care Center and the Physicians Clinic.
In relation to the ribbon cutting, Zippert stressed that “Our Emergency Room and services will help to stabilize you in case of an accident, stroke, heart attack or other injury. Come to our facility first, let us restore your vital signs, stop bleeding and decide what kind of additional care you need and send you on by ambulance or helicopter to another health care facility. Many people have come to our emergency facilities first; and had their lives saved so they could be transferred to other places.”
Zippert reminded the audience that there are many health care services available at and through GCHS, including Medicare 21 day recuperation at the end of a hospital stay, physical and occupational therapy, X-ray, CT-scan, lab testing and many others. “You have to speak up and ask to come back and use GCHS services even if you are somewhere else. The choice is yours. But if we do not use the services of our health system – then we will surely loose them.”
Zippert also suggested that supporters of the GCHS need to be pushing the Governor and their legislators to approve Medicaid Expansion, to provide health insurance for the working poor. “Expanding Medicaid would do a lot to improve the financial outlook of our small rural hospital and many others around the state,” he said.
Ms. Braggs said she was a 16 year old first time mother trying to give birth at home in Boligee, with the aid of a midwife when complications developed. Dr. Bethany’s wife came to check on her and she got her husband Dr. Bethany and Dr. Joe P. Smith to admit her to the newly constructed Greene County Hospital in November of 1961 She gave birth to her son, Hubert Lewis, on November 20, 1961 and they were the first patients and baby born in the facility. Dr. William Fredericks assisted in the birth.
GCHS presented Ms. Braggs with a fruit basket in recognition of her place in the history of the facility. The newly renovated Emergency Room suite consists of four rooms on a corridor, equipped with ‘crash carts’ and other medical devices and supplies. The area is interconnected with X-ray, the CT scanner, laboratory and other diagnostic tools to help determine your health status.

Branch Heights residents protest water shut-offs Eutaw City Council approves motion for a state audit of the Water Department

Mayor Raymond Steele addresses Branch Heights residents.

At its October 22, 2019 regular meeting the Eutaw City Council approved a motion by a vote of 4 to 2 to conduct a state audit of the City’s water department. Council members: Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell, Sheila H. Smith and LaJeffrey Carpenter voted in favor while Councilman Bennie Abrams and Mayor Raymond Steele voted against the motion.
The Eutaw City Council has been expressing concern and discontent with the operation of the City Water Department for more than a year. The Council concerns include problems with the operation and accuracy of the self-reporting water meters; problems with the soft wear reading the meters and creating the water bills, and a drop-off in revenues from the water department due to billing and collection problems.

The Council asked the Mayor repeatedly to correct problems with the water system and billing. The Mayor has said he is handling the problems but the Council members point out that there has not been any improvement in the operation of the department.
Many of the City’s 1,400+ water customers report that they receive the same monthly minimum water bills each month regardless of usage. Other users report not receiving bills for months and then receiving a large bill all at once, which they say they cannot afford.
Council member Latasha Brown,” I made the motion for a state audit because we have got to get to the bottom of the problems in our water department. We need an independent review of the status of the meters, billing, collection and all other aspects of the system.

City shuts off water to 50 homes in Branch Heights

Mayor Raymond Steele says in response to the concerns of the City Council for the financial stability of the City Water Department that he decided to shut-off water supplies to 50 homes in Branch Heights that were more than three months behind in their water bills.
This action against the backdrop of unresolved problems in the City Water Department caused an uproar with many Branch Heights water customers crowding City Hall on Monday, October 28, 2019 for answers to the water shut-off, which they considered arbitrary and unfair.
“We want to have regular and quality water services. We are willing to pay but we want good water to drink not cloudy water and sometimes brown or red water. We also want to be sure the meters are reading correctly – so we will be billed monthly and fairly for our water usage,” said one angry Branch Heights resident.
In response to the citizen complaints, Mayor Steele said that he would turn the water back on and require all customers to pay their back bills by the end of November or face shut-off again. When asked if he would accept payment agreements for past water charges, Mayor Steele said the City needs to be paid like other utilities. People don’t ask Spire Gas Company or Alabama Power for payment plans, they pay their bills or get cut-off.

The Mayor also agreed to flush the lines in Branch Heights to clear the water system of sediments, which make it cloudy or different colors. “We will flush the lines to clear up the water,” said Steele.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson said she is worried that the Mayor is not really looking for long-term solutions to the problems of the City Water Department and system. “We need him to respond with a plan to resolve the long term financial problems of the system, make sure all the meters are working properly, work out reasonable repayment plans with people for their past debts and operate in a fair and equitable manner with all customers.”

City Council other business

In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

• agreed to find space for the offices of Ms. Lovie Parks, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, at the Carver Community Center facilities;

• approved a resolution, above the Mayor’s objections, to advertise for bids on the roads and streets in King Village. The Mayor said that there are other streets in town, which are in more need of paving and repair than King Village. He pointed to West End Avenue, which suffered from erosion due to recent storms, as more deserving than King Village, at this time;
• approved request of Ducks Unlimited for use of Carver School Gym, for their annual fundraising banquet on November 8, 2019, which included a special liquor license for the occasion;

• approved travel for Councilman Joe Lee Powell to attend Alabama League of Municipalities committee meeting in Montgomery on November 7, 2019.