Greene County Commission approves funds for roads, bridges, equipment and support for the ambulance service

At its regular monthly meeting on August 8, 2022, the Greene County Commission approved funding and solicitation of bids for several road and bridge projects as well as the purchase of needed equipment to support the work of the Highway Department.

Willie Branch, County Engineer brought many of these issues to the attention of the Commission at its work session on August 3 and many of these items were placed on the regular monthly meeting agenda for action.

At Engineer Branch’s suggestion, the Commission approved projects to be funded under the County Transportation Plan in conjunction with the ALDOT Rebuild Alabama Program. These projects include repairs on  CR 100, CR 174, CR 148, and a bridge on CR220.

The Commission approved advertising bids for renovation of the William M. Branch Courthouse including bathrooms, flooring and lighting in the courtroom, and some additional work on the walls in the courtroom.

In the work session, Engineer Branch reported mechanical difficulties with the garbage truck in picking up garbage on schedule. At the meeting the Commission approved advertising for bids on a truck for the Solid Waste Department. Branch also recommended giving all county solid waste customers a two-month credit on their garbage bills to cover the period of
delayed or missed services. The Commission approved this credit for all garbage customers.

The Commission also approved Branch’s request for additional equipment to have two crews for road repairs and grass cutting on the roadways. He was authorized to purchase two spreader boxes for gravel, four tractors, a single drum roller and a replacement for the current backhoe. Mac Underwood, CFO, said this equipment could be purchased with monies saved from earlier refinancing the County’s bond issues as well as funds in the Capital Improvements Account from bingo.

The Commissioners also approved a resolution to close the 2007 Bond Warranty Account and to close two CD accounts in Robertson Bank at maturity and deposit funds in the Gasoline Fund to be used for purchase of construction equipment.

The Commission voted to give the Greene County Emergency Medical Services, which administers the ambulance in the county $18,000 towards one month’s payroll expenses. The GEMS had requested a year’s worth of subsidy of its payroll and expenses, of $40,000 a month, prorated on a population basis from the County and four municipalities.

The Commission choose between two options of giving $54,000 for a quarter or $18.000 for a month and allowing the ambulance service to report back before allocating additional funds. Commissioners Brown and Smith voted for the quarterly option which was voted down by the other three Commissioners – Turner, Summerville, and Cockrell. Chair Turner voted with Brown and Smith to approve the one-month option. Cockrell said, “We need to use our funds for things the people really want like recreation and a water park, or they will all move away from Greene County and then you won’t need an ambulance service anyway.” Commissioners Brown and Smith said ambulance services were a necessary service for everyone.

The Commission approved a resolution to support settlement of an opioid lawsuit and agreed to sell ten acres of land on Choctaw Road to Mercy and Grace for an assisted living project.

The Commission received a financial report from CFO Mac Underwood and agreed to pay all bids and claims for July 2022.The Commission reappointed three members of the DHR Board and appointed Gavin Edgar to the E-911 Board from District 2. All other available board nominations were tabled.

National Voting Rights Museum in Selma sponsors ‘Remembrance and Recommitment Ceremony’ for
the 57th anniversary of the passage of the 1965
Voting Rights Act

Voting Rights foot soldiers tell stories of the Selma Movement as part of the 57th anniversary
of the 1965 Voting Right Act.
Voting Rights foot soldiers honored by young people. L to R: Margaret Howard, Jeanette Howard, Jimmy Reynolds., Betty Boynton and Charles Mauldin.

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama, on August 6, 2022 sponsored a ‘Remembrance and Recommitment Ceremony’ for the 57th anniversary of the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The program included a slow-ride of about fifty vehicles from Browns Chapel Church, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to a rally on the eastern side in the Memorial Park. The rally stressed the importance of recommitting to voter registration, education, and involvement to overcome the efforts at voter suppression and gutting of the Voter Rights Act in recent years by the U. S. Supreme Court.

The rally ended with a litany dedicated to revitalizing the voting rights struggle and passage of the John Lewis Voter Advancement Act which has thus far been blocked in the U. S. Senate by a Republican filibuster.

The program then moved across Highway 80 to the National Voting Rights Museum Building for an afternoon of story telling by the veteran foot-soldiers who participated in the Selma Voting Rights Movement of the 1960’s and were part of the Bloody Sunday March in 1965.

Rev. Bernard Lafayette, a SNCC organizer who choose to come to Selma to work on voting rights in 1963 after the Freedom Rides and serving three weeks in the infamous Parchman Prison in Mississippi, said, “We started organizing young people  because they were available and willing; they could not be fired from a job for agitating and marching because they didn’t have a job. We recruited in the high schools and held classes with young people on their rights, non-violence, and social change theory. When the time came, we had a ready group of people who were the key to the movement in Selma.”

Charles Mauldin, a teenager at 15, was one of the students that Rev. Lafayette reached in 1963 and 1964. He and other student leaders, Terry Shaw, Betty Fikes, and others started boycotting the schools and working for justice in Selma. “My parents were among the first to register to vote in Selma after 1965. They encouraged me and other young people to fight in the movement. It was not an option to be scared. We knew we were taking on the power of the State of Alabama, but we did what we had to do. Mauldin can be seen near the front of the 1965 march, in pictures of Bloody Sunday.

Jimmy Reynolds, another sixties foot soldier said, “I had trouble at first with non-violence. I was not going to turn away when I was hit but after attending mass meetings with my aunt, I joined the movement. I was part of the strategy committee. Dallas County Sheriff, Jim Clarke arrested us in 1963 demonstrations and took us to three jails. We wound up at Camp Camden for about three weeks.

Betty White Boynton, wife of Bruce Boynton and daughter-in-law of Amelia Boynton Robinson, who invited Dr. King to Selma, said she was active as well as a teenager in 1963-65. “I was arrested several times and went to Camp Selma on Highway 80. The conditions were not suitable for human beings, but we kept on working for change,” she said. On Bloody Sunday, she came to Brown’s Chapel at the end of the march to assist people who were beaten and teargassed.

Dr. Joe Reed, head of the Alabama Democratic Conference and state Black teachers’ association said he started activities in his home county of Conecuh and was a student sit in leader at Alabama State in the 1960’s. He participated in the founding meetings for SNCC. By 1965, he was already leading the Black teachers in the state, and he helped Rev. Fred Reese and Marie Foster to help teachers who were involved in the movement.

Two sisters from Marion, Alabama, Margaret, and Jeanette Howard, also gave testimony on the fatal shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper, while he was protecting his grandfather from attack by the police in February 1965, in the Perry County seat of Marion, Alabama. Both sisters were recruited out of high school by Albert Turner, legendary SCLC Alabama State Director. Both sisters said they were on the bridge on Bloody Sunday.
Margaret said, “I could run a little faster than my sister, so I was not beaten. But we both went to Camp Selma. We had grits for breakfast, bologna sandwiches for lunch, and peas for dinner. It was a pretty tough place to be for teenagers.”

The program concluded with young people placing medals of achievement around the necks of the foot soldiers to honor them for their courage and bravery in the battle for civil and voting rights.

Local stakeholders join in welcoming Greene County High scholars on first day back to school

Greene County High School Principal Andrea Perry put out a special call for community to rise early and join her faculty and staff in welcoming scholars to their first day back to school for 2022-2023 year. Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones joined the cheering group after arriving from his early morning bus ride with students on the Forkland school bus route.
Welcomers shown above include Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, GCHS Principal Andrea Perry and staff, members of the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Dr. Florence Williams Chapter President, Eutaw Councilperson, Valerie Watkins, Lea Banks with Alabama Power Company, Carrie Logan with the Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce, visiting graduates and other community stakeholders.

Coronavirus Box as of August 6, 2022

As of August 6, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,436,450 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(14,690) more than last week with 19,974 deaths (84) more
than last week)

Greene County had 2,056 confirmed cases, 13 more cases than last week), with 51 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,826 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,190 cases with 109 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Newswire:New film spotlights World’s only female army in Kingdom of Dahomey

Benin’s women warriors

Aug. 1, 2022 (GIN) – The only documented female army In modern history was that of the Kingdom of Dahomey – now southern Benin – which, by the 1800s, had thousands of female troops.
 In September, a film version that portrays the lives of these warrior women will be seen in cinemas around the country. In the meantime, a trailer of the film can be seen on YouTube. It features Viola Davis and Hero Fiennes.
 “The Sacred Ibis” posting on YouTube, explains that the Kingdom of Dahomey was located in present-day Benin from 1600-1904 and became a regional power in the 18th century. The Dahomey Mothers, known as the Agooji, were the all-female army trained to kill while striking fear in the European colonizers.
 The King often picked them as teenagers for their strength and beauty. By 1800, up to 4000 women were fighting for the Kingdom. They live on through dances performed in Benin today.
 Nanlèhoundé Houédanou is a survivor. “My Amazon was gentle,” said Houédanou, who, at 85, is one of the last people on Earth to have grown up with one. “She was known for protecting children,” she told the Washington Post. 
 Researchers have spent decades combing through European and West African archives to craft a portrait from the jottings of French officers, British traders and Italian missionaries.
 Of close to 3,000 comments on YouTube, most were very positive. “It is incredibly rare that goosebumps and complete awe overwhelm me the instant a trailer begins. This changes that!” wrote Derrick Ensey.
 “Everything about this is epic on an astronomical level. The most subtle thing about it is the TIMING. At a time when women are being attacked, this is total female empowerment right here. Never underestimate a unifying message!
 “The previous depictions of the all-women Agojie warriors, also known as the Amazons, portrayed the female soldiers as “beasts” and “mannish. Davis and director Gina Prince-Blythewood sought instead to bring the authenticity of the story to the big screen instead of racial stereotypes.”
 “These women were fascinating and didn’t need to be embellished or glossy,” Prince-Blythewood told Vanity Fair. “I wanted it to be real and visceral and raw. We didn’t want to show them as just one thing — badass women who killed. They also laughed and loved and cried. We wanted to show their full humanity, not just the cool part that that would look good in a trailer.”
 “The French made sure this history wasn’t known,” said the Beninese economist Leonard Wantchekon, a professor of international affairs at Princeton University. “They said we were backward, that they needed to ‘civilize us,’ but they destroyed opportunities for women that existed nowhere else in the world.”
 Now a team of Beninese researchers is working to reshape the narrative. For the last three years, historians at the African School of Economics, a private university that Wantchekon founded near Cotonou, the capital, have been tracking down descendants of Amazons across the nation.
 They aim to glean local memories for a book that can be taught in schools — to present a three-dimensional view of the real Amazons. Only 50 of the women are thought to have survived the two-year war with France. The last died in the 1970s. 

Newswire: NLRB demand for UMWA to pay Warrior Met Coal strike costs “outrageous,” threatens American workers’ right to strike

Warrior Met coal miners at union rally

The United Mine Workers of America today made it clear that it will vigorously challenge an outrageous assessment of damages made by the National Labor Relations Board Region 10 regarding the UMWA’s 16-month strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama.
“This is a slap in the face not just to the workers who are fighting for better jobs at Warrior Met Coal, but to every worker who stands up to their boss anywhere in America,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “There are charges for security, cameras, capital expenditures, buses for transporting scabs across picket lines, and the cost of lost production.
“What is the purpose of a strike if not to impact the operations of the employer, including production,” Roberts asked. “Is it now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights as working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand.”
The union entered into a settlement agreement in June with NLRB Region 10 regarding charges the company had made about picket line activity in order to save striking members and families from days of hostile questioning by company lawyers. On July 22, the NLRB sent the union a detailed list of damages totaling $13.3 million dollars, more than 33 times the estimated amount NLRB lawyers had initially indicated would be assessed.
Warrior Met has reported millions of dollars in costs it has incurred over the course of the strike. “It appears that Warrior Met wants us to reimburse it for those costs, including costs it incurred before the strike even began,” Roberts said. “What’s extremely troubling here is that the NLRB appears to have taken up the company’s cause without a second thought.
“I want to be clear: Warrior Met Coal instigated this strike and has brutally extended it through its sustained unwillingness to reach a fair and reasonable agreement at the bargaining table,” Roberts said. “We have no intention of paying its costs for doing so. The right to strike in America must be preserved. We will fight this at every level, in every court. We will spend every penny of our resources rather than give in to something like this from the NLRB, Warrior Met or any other entity.”

Newswire:Study finds nearly 90 Percent of Black homicide victims were killed with guns

 Handgun with ammunition

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


According to a new and comprehensive study on gun violence, Black men, women, boys, and girls remain the most impacted victims of homicide in America, yet year after year this shocking and unacceptable toll is allowed to continue.
The study published by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, revealed that in 2019, the United States recorded 7,441 Black homicide victims.
African Americans represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 52 percent of all homicide victims, the study authors found.
The annual study, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2019 Homicide Data, also ranks the states according to their Black homicide victimization rates. Officials said it’s based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Report.

The study details homicide rates for 2019, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available. For homicides in which authorities could identify the weapon used, 88 percent of Black victims (6,190 out of 7,056) were shot and killed with guns. Of those, 64 percent (3,935 victims) were killed with handguns.
On average, more than 20 Black Americans died each day from homicide – 17 were known to have died from gunshots.
“These deaths almost always involve a gun, and the resulting devastation ravages families, friends, and community members,” Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann stated in a news release.
“The goal of our research is to help support advocates and organizations working on the ground to stop this lethal violence while, at the same time, continuing to educate and engage the public and policymakers on the need to address this ongoing national crisis,” Sugarmann said.
The study also revealed that the Black homicide victimization rate in the United States was nearly four times the overall national victimization rate and nearly seven times the white homicide victimization rate.
In 2019, the Black homicide victimization rate was 18.08 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.79 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 2.69 per 100,000.Further, 87 percent of Black homicide victims were male (6,454 of 7,441) and 13 percent were female (986 of 7,441).
The authors noted that Black male homicide victimization rate in the United States was “more than four times the overall male victimization rate and more than eight times the white male homicide victimization rate.”
In 2019, the homicide victimization rate for Black male victims was 32.49 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for male homicide victims was 7.68 per 100,000 and the rate for white male homicide victims was 3.88 per 100,000.

For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 77 percent of Black victims (2,282 out of 2,954) were killed by someone they knew.The number of victims killed by strangers was 672.
For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 70 percent (2,856 out of 4,102) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 56 percent (1,591 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
With a homicide rate of 50.64 per 100,000 residents, Missouri ranked the highest. Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Michigan, and Oklahoma rounded out the top 10.
The authors said individuals living in communities where violence is prevalent are at higher risk for a broad range of negative health and behavior outcomes.
An increased understanding of how trauma resulting from community violence influences development, health, and behavior can lead to improvements in the way many social services are delivered as well as policy changes at the local and federal levels.
“At the same time, the firearms industry, looking to expand beyond its shrinking base of white male gun owners, has launched an organized marketing campaign focusing on Black and Latino Americans,” the study authors wrote.“If successful, such efforts can only increase gun death and injury in these communities.”
The full study is available at http://vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide22.pdf.

Newswire: Four police officers federally charged with civil rights violations in Breonna Taylor’s death

Breonna Taylor

By Antonio Planas, NBC News
Two current and two former police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, have been charged with violating Breonna Taylor’s civil rights in the 2020 botched raid that led to the young Black woman’s death, federal officials said Thursday.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, in announcing the charges, said the Department of Justice alleges that the violations “resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.”
Detective Joshua Jaynes, with the Louisville Metro Police Department, obtained the warrant used in the March 13, 2020, search of the 26-year-old medical worker’s apartment. 
Kelly Goodlett, who along with Jaynes was a detective in the Place-Based Investigations unit that investigated drug trafficking, and Sgt. Kyle Meany, who supervised the unit, were charged with falsifying an affidavit. 
Jaynes and Goodlett are accused of misleading investigators probing the deadly shooting. Meany allegedly lied to the FBI, Garland said.
In a separate indictment, Brett Hankison was charged with using excessive force while executing the search warrant.
Hankison was terminated from the department in June 2020, while Jaynes was terminated in January 2021, Louisville police said in a statement Thursday. The department is also seeking to terminate Goodlett and Meany, the statement said.
“Today Chief Erika Shields began termination procedures of Sgt. Kyle Meany and Officer Kelly Goodlett. While we must refer all questions about this federal investigation to the FBI, it is critical that any illegal or inappropriate actions by law enforcement be addressed comprehensively in order to continue our efforts to build police-community trust,” police said.
A lawyer believed to be representing Jaynes could not be immediately reached Thursday. Attorney Stew Mathews, who has previously represented Hankison, said he did not know yet whether he would be representing him in the federal case.
Mathews said he spoke to Hankison on Thursday morning while he was “on his way to turn himself in” but has not spoken to him since then. 
An attorney representing Meany could not be reached. It was unclear if Goodlett had retained an attorney.
Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement Thursday it’s been a difficult two years since Taylor’s death for her family and advocates fighting for her.

Newswire: Senate passes sweeping climate-focused Inflation Reduction Act; VP Kamala Harris casts vote to break 50-50 tie

VP Kamala Harris casts tie breaking vote

Yahoo News

After more than a year of infighting, President Joe Biden’s climate agenda has cleared a significant hurdle. On Sunday, Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 in a 51-50 decision that went along party lines and saw Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, reports The Washington Post.
If passed by the House, the 755-page bill would authorize the single largest expenditure to combat climate change in the nation’s history. In all, the legislation calls for $370 billion in spending to reduce US greenhouse emissions by approximately 40 percent by the end of this decade.
Among the climate change provisions most likely to affect consumers is a reworked federal EV tax credit. The Inflation Reduction Act would provide up to $7,500 in subsidies for electric SUVs, trucks and vans that cost less than $80,000 and cars under $55,000. It would also allow people to claim up to $4,000 when buying a used EV. In both cases, an income ceiling would prevent those who make more than the average American from taking advantage of the legislation.
On top of EV subsidies, the $370 billion in investments set aside by the bill would incentivize the building of wind, solar and other renewable power sources. The act also calls for the creation of a $1.5 billion program that would pay companies that reduce their methane output.

With Sunday’s vote, the Inflation Reduction Act now moves to the House, which will return from its summer recess on Friday. For much of 2021 and the first half of 2022, President Biden’s Build Back Better plan looked doomed to go nowhere due to opposition from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. In late July, however, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they had come to a compromise.
The act contains tax provisions which will have major companies, earning more than a billion dollars a year in profits, will pay a minimum tax of 15%. There is a 1% special tax on corporations who buy back their stock rather than invest in new business expansion. The Internal Revenue Service will gain additional staff to pursue taxpayers who are not paying their fair share of taxes.
In exchange for Manchin’s support, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a provision that would see the federal government reinstate canceled oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet. While that concession upset environmentalists, it’s not expected to undo the good the Inflation Reduction Act is poised to do for the environment. According to one estimate by Princeton University’s Zero Lab, the bill could reduce US greenhouse emissions by about 6.3 billion tons through 2032.

Greene County Schools welcome scholars and parents for new academic year

Shown above Greene County Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones with Eutaw Primary School Principal Brittany Harris,  touring the school and making sure everything is up to code to welcome students back next week.

The Greene County 2022-2023 School calendar states that the new school term begins Thursday, August 4 with a Virtual Teacher Institute from 8:00 -11:30 am, however, school personnel have been preparing all summer to welcome scholars with an exciting and challenging academic curriculum as well as supporting extra curricula activities. Friday, August 5, is scheduled as professional development day with continuing classroom preparations on the following Monday. Students return to classes on Tuesday, August 9, 2022.
Eutaw Primary School Principal Brittany Harris extends the following welcome to faculty, scholars and parents. “Eutaw Primary School is such an exciting place that’s full of adventures. This year, join the educators at Eutaw Primary School as we go through the jungle, underneath the big top, under the sea, through the forest and outer space. This is sure to be an exciting learning adventure that our scholars will never forget.
“Parents, we encourage you to attend our Open House and Meet & Greet. On August 4, 2022 all kindergarten and first grade scholars and parents are encouraged to meet their child’s teacher from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. On August 8, 2022 all second and third grade scholars and parents are encouraged to meet their child’s teacher from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing each of our scholars and parents”
Robert Brown Principal Shawnta Owens extends a similar welcome to the school community.
“Welcome Back.  As we embark on this new school year, Robert Brown Middle School’s faculty and staff look forward to new faces, new opportunities, and new ways to meet the needs of our scholars. Parents, thank you for trusting us with your children, and we look forward to your participation throughout the school year. Please support our RBMS scholars with your presence and positivity, and always remember, “It’s a great day to be a T.I.G.E.R.” 
This enthusiastic welcome comes from Greene County High School Principal Andrea Perry. “As the 2022-2023 school year begins, I am excited to welcome back our faculty, scholars and parents as we kick off a great year. I hope everyone has had an exciting summer and is recharged and ready for a new year. I am privileged to serve as Principal of Greene County High School. Our focus this year is to change the culture and build healthy relationships while improving student achievement. Parents, we look forward to partnering with you to ensure our scholars receive an exceptional education. We are even more excited to work with you and invite you into a climate of smiling faces and open arms. We are committed to ensuring your children receive the best education.”
Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones offers his special welcome to our school community. “Welcome back. We hope everyone had a great summer and is excited to be back. Our district faced many challenges this past year, but our scholars and staff experienced great success even with these obstacles. This was due to the hard work of our scholars and staff. The safety of our scholars and staff continues to be our school district’s priority. Our goal is that Greene County provides the best education for our scholars in a safe environment. We are excited to work with you to provide an excellent educational experience for our scholars. Thank you for everything you do as we continue to strive for excellence. Soaring to Excellence will not only continue to be our brand, but our crowning achievement in Greene County. Let’s make it a great year.”
Please note that masks are required for everyone in the school system. Detailed information on student uniform requirements is available on the school system’s website and in the Greene County Democrat newspaper. Parents/guardians may also contact the central office personnel regarding uniform requirements.
The Greene County Children’s Policy Council and the Greene County School System’s At-Risk Department are sponsoring a Back-To-School Rally and Anti-Bullying Rally on Sunday, August 7.  There will be various speakers, food, and school supplies will be given out.  The rally will be held downtown Eutaw on the Thomas E. Gilmore Square (old courthouse square) from 4:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.