Greene County candidates qualify for 2020 elections

Qualifying for the 2020 Alabama March Primary Elections closed on Friday, November 8, 2019 with several Greene Countians vying for public office. Greene County District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, seeking her third term in office, is unopposed in the March Primary.
Arnelia “Shay” Johnson, who is currently employed in the County’s Appraisal Office is seeking the position of Revenue Commissioner along with the incumbent Revenue Commissioner, Barbara McShan, who is completing two years of the unexpired term of former Commissioner Brenda Goree. McShan was appointed Greene County Revenue Commissioner by Governor Kay Ivey in April, 2018 and assumed the position July 1, 2018.
Greene County School Board positions in Districts 3,4,5 will also be up in 2020. Mr. Leo Branch, the incumbent in District 4, is unopposed for the March Primary. Ms. Veronica Richardson has qualified for School Board District 3, along with the incumbent Mr. William Morgan. Mrs. Mary Otieno has qualified for School Board District 5, along with incumbent Ms. Carrie Dancy.
The position of Constable is open in each of the five districts in Greene County. Mr. Lester Brown has qualified for Constable in District 1; Mr. John Steele, Jr. in District 2; Mr. Spiver Gordon in District 3; Rev. James E. Carter in District 4 and Mr. Jesse Lawson in District 5.
The Alabama Primary Election is scheduled for March 3, 2020.

County Commission holds annual reorganization: Turner and Summerville at the helm

Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. Chair and Roshanda Summervice Vice Chair

The Greene County Commission held its annual reorganizational meeting, Monday, November 12, 2019 and selected Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. as Chairperson and Commissioner Roshanda Summerville as Vice-Chairperson. Commissioner Lester Brown nominated Commissioner Tennyson Smith for the position of Chair, followed by the nomination of Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. by Commissioner Corey Cockrell. The vote was three to two, with Commissioners Turner, Summerville and Cockrell supporting Turner and Commissioners Brown and Smith supporting Smith.
Commissioner Corey Cockrell nominated Commissioner Roshanda Summerville for the position of Vice-Chair. There were no other nominations and the vote for Summerville was unanimous.
The commission’s reorganization process, conducted by Attorney Hank Sanders, was turned over to Turner immediately following the elections. Turner requested that the Chairman’s appointments to committees be tabled; the body approved the same. The commission agreed to maintain the same monthly meeting time of second Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Regarding the designation of bank depositories, the commission agreed by resolution to retain the same: Citizen Trust Bank, Merchants & Farmers Bank and the Bank of New York.
The signatures for checks and the commission’s safety deposit box usually include four authorized individuals (of which two are needed for transactions) and the following three were agreed upon: Chairperson, Allen Turner, Jr.; Vice-Chairperson, Roshanda Summerville; CFO Paula Bird, and the fourth to be determined later.
Commissioners Lester Brown and Tennyson Smith declined from consideration as check signers.
The Commission also approved following the rules and procedures of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA).
The CFO’s financial report and proposal for payment of claims were approved by the body. CFO Bird also noted that the commission has not received the funds for the contingency component of the sheriff’s budget. Although approximately 51% of the County Commission’s general fund budget is allocated to the sheriff’s budget, this is not sufficient to support all the personnel retained by the sheriff, without the contingency bingo funds provided by the sheriff’s office. According to Bird, to date, these supplemental bingo funds have not been provided to the commission. She stated that the commission is approximately $25,000 short in making the next payroll that would include all of the sheriff’s employees.
Attorney Sanders advised that the commission pay the personnel who have worked and then take immediate action to reduce that work force.
Based on the CFO’s information, the commission agreed to recess the meeting until Monday, November 18, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. Prior to that meeting, Chairman Turner will arrange a meeting with Sheriff Jonathan Benison to discuss the budgetary issues.

Veterans and active duty military honored in Greene County programs

The Town of Boligee held Veterans Day commemorative programs on November 11, 2019 honoring all veterans and other active duty military personnel. Shown above are the Town of Boligee Mayor Hattie Samuels with Council Members Michael Gipson, James E. Morrow, Halee Vogt, Earnestine Wade and Teresa Head-Mack, Town Clerk, Sharon Washington. Others shown are Veterans from Greene County who attended the program. Special honors were given to Boligee Mayor Samuels and Councilman Gipson, who are also Veterans.
The Town of Boligee Veterans Day Program commenced with opening remarks by Town Councilman Michael Gipson. Boligee Mayor, Hattie Samuels served as Mistress of Order and shared remarks on the importance of Veterans Day. Councilman James E. Morrow gave the opening prayer, followed by a welcome by Town Clerk Sharon Washington. A history of Veterans Day/Armistice Day was given by Councilperson Teresa Head-Mack. A moment of silence commemorating fallen military personnel was led by Councilperson Earnestine Wade. The Poem: A Fallen Soldier’s Table was rendered by Councilperson Halee Vogt. The items at the Fallen Soldier’s Table held a soldier’s uniform and other items representing everyday matters of life the fallen soldier once shared in and never again would share.

Alabama Arise on Medicaid Expansion benefiting Veterans
Veterans Day gives Alabama a chance to shine. Our cities and towns hold parades and ceremonies each Nov. 11 to honor service members and to burnish the state’s reputation as a great place for veterans to retire.
This year, as we celebrate those who have risked and sacrificed to defend our country, let’s remember a group too often overlooked: veterans who have low incomes and no health insurance. And let’s commit to expanding Medicaid to help them meet their health needs.
Medicaid expansion would help Alabama veterans meet their health care needs
Medicaid expansion would help Alabama veterans. Thousands of Alabama veterans are living without health coverage for themselves or their family members. They don’t qualify for Medicaid or VA care, and they can’t afford employer-based coverage or private insurance. 5,062 Alabama veterans with low incomes have no health insurance. (1,812 women and 3,250 men.) 7,934 low-income adults who live with Alabama veterans have no health insurance. (4,703 women and 3,231 men.) Medicaid expansion would give Alabama veterans and their families the health security they need.
It’s a common misconception that people who serve in the U.S. military automatically receive lifetime eligibility for health coverage and other benefits. In reality, though, veterans’ health benefits depend on their length of service, military classification, type of discharge and other factors. Treatment for service-connected conditions has no time-of-service requirement, but other health benefits do.
Active-duty service members and their families receive health coverage through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Most also receive “bridge” health insurance coverage in the 180 days before and after their active-duty service.
But many veterans — including many National Guard and Reserve members — return home without military health care for the long term. For the 13,000 Alabama veterans and adult family members who have no military health insurance and can’t afford private plans, the consequences can be dire.
A lasting commitment to Alabama’s uninsured veterans returning to civilian life can be challenging enough without the added burden of being uninsured. Injuries sustained from combat, environmental hazards or physical stress can cause chronic disability or loss of function. And the mental stress of combat and separation from family also puts some veterans at risk for mental health problems and substance use disorders. The rising rate of veteran suicides is stark evidence of this troubling toll.
There’s something Alabama can do to help. If we expanded Medicaid to adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level ($29,435 a year for a family of three), nearly 13,000 uninsured veterans and family members could get the health coverage they need. Medicaid expansion would be a meaningful and lasting commitment to make life better for veterans across Alabama.

Newswire : Australian researchers say Botswana is ancestral home of modern humans

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Plains in Botswana

The ancestral home of modern humans is in Botswana, according to a new study by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.
Although some of the oldest skeletal remains suggest an eastern African origin, Southern Africa is home to contemporary populations that represent the earliest branch of human genetic phylogeny, researchers said.
Vanessa M. Hayes, of the Genomics and Epigenetics Division of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and her colleagues said they used the mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down exclusively from mother to child, to map out the oldest known maternal line of humans alive today.
“It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors,” Hayes told reporters. “We’ve been able to pinpoint what we believe is our human homeland.”
The study found that ancestors of modern humans thrived for about 70,000 years in and around Botswana until climate change forced a migration out of the area.
Study authors noted that some previous evidence had suggested East Africa as the ancestral home of modern humans, but their new DNA evidence concludes that it’s South Africa.
The new report was published in the journal Nature.
Hayes noted that the Lo lineage and its sub-branches point back to an ancestral home that spreads from Namibia across Botswana and into Zimbabwe.
Her team then focused on geological, archaeological, and fossil evidence to gain insight into the climate and broader ecosystem in the region. They discovered that a body of water called Lake Makgadikgadi – which is now salt pans – had at one time dominated the area.
Researchers said it was previously home to Homo Sapiens and was populated by modern humans for at least 70,000 years. However, the water eventually became a massive wetland. “It would have been very lush, and it would have provided a suitable habitat for modern humans and wildlife to have lived,” Hayes stated.
“We’ve known for a long time that modern humans originated in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago, but what we hadn’t known until the study was where exactly this homeland was,” she noted. According to the DNA analyses reported in the study, the L0 lineage split 130,000 years ago when some of the founder population moved north-east along a green vegetated route that opened up as rains drenched the arid land. The L0 lineage is the earliest known modern human populations.
The second wave of migration headed southwest about 20,000 years later as rainfall also increased vegetation in that direction. Those who headed Northeast gave rise to farming populations, while those who went South became coastal foragers, the scientists believe.
“Essentially, these ancestors were the first human explorers,” Hayes stated. “Every time a new migration occurs, that migration event is recorded in our DNA as a time-stamp. Over time our DNA naturally changes, it’s the clock of our history,” Hayes continued. “Everyone walking around today… it does actually come back to L0 being the oldest, and it all comes back to this one region.”
Hayes and her colleagues used DNA to trace the first 100,000 years of modern humans. She said they worked with communities throughout Namibia and South Africa where they collected fossils and blood samples. “Mitochondrial DNA acts like a time capsule of our ancestral mothers, accumulating changes slowly over generations,” Hayes stated. “Comparing the complete DNA code, or mitogenome, from different individuals provides information on how closely they are related.”
Taking into account the intensive study, “we propose a southern African origin of anatomically modern humans with sustained homeland occupation before the first migrations of people that appear to have been driven by regional climate changes,” Hayes said.

Newswire: ‘Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson turns 101

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson, one of the African American women whose stories received global attention in the best-selling book and blockbuster movie, “Hidden Figures,” has turned 101.
The renowned mathematician was instrumental in Alan Shepherd’s 1961 journey to space. She also played a pivotal role in John Glenn becoming the first American to successfully orbit Earth one year after Shepherd’s flight.
Johnson will also receive a Congressional Gold Medal thanks to a bipartisan bill passed by Congress earlier this month. All four of the heroines depicted in “Hidden Figures” will receive recognition. In addition to Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson will also receive medals. Vaughn’s and Jackson’s medals will be presented posthumously.
The book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race,” by Margot Lee Shetterly, helped tell the women’s story. “Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden made monumental contributions to science and our nation,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
Harris and five other members of Congress introduced legislation to secure Congressional Gold Medals for Johnson and her colleagues. “The groundbreaking accomplishments of these four women and all of the women who contributed to the success of NASA helped us win the space race but remained in the dark far too long,” Harris stated.
“I am proud our bill to honor these remarkable women has passed Congress. These pioneers remain a beacon for Black women across the country, both young and old.”
The honor isn’t the only one for Johnson. Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) agreed this month to rename its 7000 Columbia Gateway Drive building in Columbia, Maryland, the Katherine G. Johnson Building.
A plaque will be placed at DreamPort’s 7000 Columbia Gateway Drive entrance commemorating the naming of the building in honor of Mrs. Johnson and her legendary accomplishments as a NASA mathematician and her essential role in the space program, according to a news release. At 101 years of age, Mrs. Johnson is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, multiple NASA Langley Research Center Special Achievement awards, and many others.
In addition to the recognition by COPT, Johnson has other buildings, schools, and libraries named after her.
In an earlier interview, Johnson told NNPA Newswire that she missed working“I’d go back now,” she said. After leaving her teaching job in 1953, Johnson began working for NASA and was able to calculate the trajectory for numerous space missions, including for the space flight of Alan Shephard, the first American in space and the path for the famed 1968 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. “I’d do them over if I had to. I’d do anything for anyone,” Johnson stated.
At an early age, Johnson developed enviable math skills so much so that even NASA officials wrote a story about her titled, “The girl who loved to count. I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to the church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed anything that could be counted, I did,” Johnson said.
“I entered college; I was 15. I was going to be a math teacher because that was it. You could be a math teacher or a nurse, but I was told I would make a good research mathematician and they had me take all of the courses in the catalog,” she stated.
When Glenn went to the Moon, Johnson said her “Hidden Figures” crew acted as the computer for the mission. Calculating everything involved in the flight became like a geometry problem, Johnson recalled.
“I felt most proud of the success of the Apollo mission. We had to determine so much. Where you were, where the Moon would be and how fast the astronauts were going,” Johnson stated. “We were really concerned, but the astronaut had to do it just as we laid it out. I was looking at the television and hoping that we’re right.”

Newswire : 85 percent of Blacks want Trump Impeached

57 Percent of Latinos Agree in Poll, Only 41 Percent of Whites
By Richard Prince

U. S. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) was the first member of Congress
to publically state on May 17,2017 that President Trump should be impeached.

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Journal-isms
( – Eighty-five percent of African-Americans say President Trump should be impeached, the highest of any ethnic group, according to the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll.
Fifty-seven percent of Hispanics feel the same way, the poll shows.
However, only 41 percent of Whites do, according to the survey, meaning that the common conclusion that the country is evenly divided on the impeachment issue is possible only because of the intense anti-Trump feeling among people of color.
“A year out from the 2020 election, we don’t have 2020 vision, but the general dynamics of the race are coming into focus: a sitting president below 50 percent, who receives credit on the economy,
speaks his mind for better or worse, but who most Americans do not trust and who is facing an impeachment inquiry that a majority of Americans support,” a summary of the poll said. “Taken together, these suggest a tough road ahead for Donald Trump. . . .”
Jeff Horwitt, a senior vice president at Hart Research and Associates, which conducted the survey for the two news organizations, told Journal-isms that the sample sizes for Asian Americans and Native Americans were too small to be valid.
He gave the racial breakdown as follows: Impeach/Not impeach
• White – 41 percent/54 percent
• African-American – 85 percent/9 percent
• Hispanic – 57 percent/40 percent

“The raw number of interviews among all adults are 117 African Americans and 99 Hispanics,” Horwitt messaged.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 27 to 30, among 900 adults of all races, with additional interviews to get to 414 interviews among Democratic primary voters, the survey takers said.
The results for Blacks and Latinos clearly contradict Trump’s frequent boasts that people of color support him.
Trump made a typical claim in July when he insulted the majority-Black city of Baltimore. “What I’ve done for African Americans, no president, I would say, has done. Now, I’ll say this: they are so happy, because I get the calls,” he told reporters as he left for a speech in Virginia that was boycotted by Black state lawmakers, as Daniel Dale reported July 30 for CNN. “They are so happy at what I’ve been able to do in Baltimore and other Democratic-run, corrupt
Trump continued later: “The African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy [at] what a president has done. Not only the lowest unemployment in history for African-Americans, not only opportunity zones for, really, the biggest beneficiary the inner city, and not only criminal justice reform. But they’re so happy that I pointed out the corrupt politics of Baltimore. It’s filthy dirty. It’s so horrible. And they are happy as hell.”
At a rally in New Mexico in September, Trump claimed, “We are working night and day to deliver a future of limitless opportunities for our nation’s Hispanic-American citizens. . . . Nobody loves the Hispanics more. We love our Hispanics, get out and vote,” Bess Levin reported Sept. 17 for Vanity Fair.
Trump also said, “At the center of America’s drug crisis, this is where the Hispanics know it better than anybody. People said, ‘Oh, the Hispanics won’t like a wall.’ I said, ‘I think they are going to love it.’ You know why? Because you understand it better than other people, but at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in, and you understand that when other people don’t understand it.’ . . . .”

Newswire : As arguments begin, Civil Rights Leaders urge Supreme Court to uphold one of the nation’s oldest anti-discrimination statutes

Byron Allen, Entrepreneur and Cable Programming Developer

WASHINGTON – Today, November 13, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments that pit Comcast (CMCSA), America’s biggest cable provider, against National Association of African American-Owned Media and Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc,.,owned by Byron Allen and more importantly one of the Nation’s oldest anti-discimination statutes, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Section 1981 prohibits intentional race discrimination in contracting, and protects African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities from discrimination in the workplace and marketplace. The law applies to all private and public actors and prohibits retaliation. It has been one of the cornerstones of the oldest and most storied pieces of civil rights laws for over 150 years.
Comcast is asking the Supreme Court to rule that intentional race discrimination claims brought under Section 1981 should be dismissed if plaintiffs are unable to show that race was the reason behind a discriminatory action, as opposed to a reason.
Civil rights leaders urge the Supreme Court to affirm the lower court’s ruling that intentional race discrimination claims under Section 1981 are viable if the plaintiff is able to show that race played a role in the challenged discriminatory decisions. A ruling by the Supreme Court requiring plaintiffs to prove that race was the but for reason of a discriminatory decision would make it nearly impossible for litigants to prevail in their cases and would result in meritorious cases being dismissed at the earliest stages of litigation.
Leaders representing the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under law, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), NAACP, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, submitted “friend of the court” briefs in the case pending before the Supreme Court, Comcast v. National Association of African American-Owned Media and Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc.
“This is the most important racial justice case that will be heard by the Supreme Court this term,” said Kristen Clarke, president & executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “An adverse ruling by the Court stands to impose a burdensome pleading standard in Section 1981 cases that would shut the courthouse door on victims of discrimination all across the country. Section 1981 is one of the oldest civil rights statutes that provides core protection from groups otherwise beyond the reach of civil rights statutes including independent contractors and gig economy workers. The Court should reject this challenge to help ensure that victims of discrimination get their day in court and have the opportunity to be heard.”
“Section 1981 is one of our nation’s oldest civil rights laws, specifically intended to end racial discrimination in contracting,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Every person, no matter who they are or what their race, should have fair and equitable access to opportunity and economic mobility. The Supreme Court must not weaken the vital protections of this historic civil rights statute.”
“All eyes should be on this critical case,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “An adverse decision by the Supreme Court could imperil the integrity of section 1981 as a tool for protecting the full economic and legal rights of Black people.”
“The case that sits before the Supreme Court is one of monumental importance to the protection and continuation of Black businesses and contractors, said Derrick Johnson,” President and CEO, NAACP. “The attempt to turn back the clock on one of the most vital civil rights protections is a grave threat to the very fabric of the nation — we will continue to fight so that section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 is preserved for generations to come.

Newswire : Federation of Southern Cooperatives/ Land Assistance Fund announces FORWARD 2020: National Heirs’ Property Conference

East Point, GA – The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/ Land Assistance Fund announces its inaugural FORWARD 2020: NATIONAL HEIRS’ PROPERTY CONFERENCE, in Atlanta, Georgia, December 4-6, 2019, at the Embassy Suites By Hilton Atlanta Airport.
FORWARD 2020 will be the nation’s largest gathering of heirs’ property owners and passionate land retention practitioners from across the US.
FORWARD 2020, a “boot camp” style event, will offer Master Classes taught by experts and landowners and one-on-one meetings with resource professionals. This intensive, two day conference will be a one stop shop with everything heirs need to create a path FORWARD!
The National Heirs Property Conference will feature two educational tracks. Track 1 will focus on how heirs’ property owners can kick start their efforts to resolve their heirs’ property issues and unlock their land’s wealth potential. Track 2 will focus on professionals who work with heirs’ property owners. Track 2 will include train-the-trainer educational sessions and Master Classes to sharpen skills and share peer-to-peer learning. The highlight of Track 2 will be a comprehensive workshop on heirs’ property legislation and regulations from the 2018 Farm Bill.
“This conference will be a game changer for many farm families with heirs’ property. It is intentionally designed to empower heirs’ property owners with the strategies and resources to clear their title and make their land a wealth building asset,” said Monica Rainge, Director of Land Retention and Advocacy at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/LAF.
For over 52 years, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/ Land Assistance Fund has assisted heirs’ property owners in land retention and sustainable development. The Federation’s history of using successful land retention strategies has focused on outreach, education, and technical assistance in resolving heirs property issues, estate planning, and developing alternative ownership models such as corporations, cooperatives, trusts, limited liability companies and intra-family buy-outs.
For more information, please visit their website at or call 404.765.0991.

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

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.