SOS Caravan calls for Federal and state action at Montgomery Federal Courthouse

Cars lined up for SOS Caravan to Federal Courthouse
SOS  Press Conference in front of Montgomery Federal
Building.

The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held a life-or-death federal caravan on Thursday, May 21, 2020, with dozens of cars from across the state circling the Montgomery Federal Courthouse seven times with leaders then stopping to hold a noon press conference outside the Federal Courthouse. Leaders called on federal and state officials to take action now to save lives in the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming Alabama and killing Blacks at least three times the rate of Whites.
This was the fifth action taken by SOS since April to highlight the need for Federal and state action to respond to the disproportionate impacts of the corona virus on Black and poor people in Alabama.
SOS is demanding that Gov. Kay Ivey and the Legislature expand Medicaid in response to the overwhelming need for healthcare revealed by the pandemic. SOS plans to return to the State Capitol this Thursday and deliver body-bags symbolic of the tragic impact of this coronavirus on the most vulnerable people in the state.
At the Federal Courthouse rally last Thursday, World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “We are calling on President Trump and Governor Ivey to work with Alabama’s congressional delegation to find a way to expand health care coverage for the people of Alabama. The situation was dire before the coronavirus pandemic, but it is terrible now. We know that they can find a way with some strokes of the pen to provide lifesaving coverage and care for Alabamians. We don’t care what they call it. We don’t care who gets the credit. Just do it, and do it NOW!” emphasized the former Tuskegee mayor and Alabama state representative.
Montgomery Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “Montgomery is overwhelmed. Our hospitals had been having to share ventilators and then ran out of ICU beds yesterday. Our city is included on the White House list of ‘locations to watch” for large COVID-19 outbreaks. We are not just a location to watch; we are living it. The outbreak is here, and it is life and death. It is also taking out our Black brothers and sisters at three times the rate of our white brothers and sisters. Governor Ivey, we are glad you received successful treatment for your lung cancer, but we know every human being is precious. And every Alabamian deserves to have lifesaving treatment.”
Alabama NAACP Bernard Simelton of Madison County, AL said: “The federal government has put a lot of money into Alabama to help us be a world leader in space and defense and more. We need the President and Governor Ivey to work with our congressional delegation to provide health care for working Alabamians. The legislation pending in Congress that gives the fourteen states like Alabama, which have not expanded Medicaid, the first three years of funding fully provided by the federal government must become law as soon as possible.”
Civil Rights Advocate Faya Toure said: “Alabama workers ought not to be forced to choose between work and death – or even work and sickness. Alabamians must be able to work safely to provide for their families. It is truly a matter of life and death in Alabama workplaces – not only for the Alabamians who work there but also for the individuals who do business at those workplaces. We must have safe workplaces.”
Chair of the Greene County Health Systems John Zippert said: “We have reached a critical mass here in Alabama. Rural hospitals have been dying for years with way too many barely hanging on by life support. And this issue goes far beyond rural hospitals. It is a life-and-death matter for rural hospitals, but it is also a life-and-death matter for thousands of Alabamians all across Alabama. President Trump and Governor Ivey, work with Alabama’s congressional delegation to find a way to expand health care coverage for the people of Alabama and save hospitals.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “I continue to prevail upon the leaders of our nation and state not to forget the Alabamians in jails and prisons. Many of President Trump’s cohorts, including Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, have been getting out of federal prisons due to concerns of health and death risks in prison due to COVID-19. Manafort’s sentence is not up until 2024, but he has been put on house arrest, and Michael Cohen is being furloughed today – both because of COVID-19’s deadly concerns. Why should they get special treatment? Prisons and jails are some of the most deadly places during the coronavirus pandemic. In too many cases, nonviolent offenders face the death penalty from COVID-19 if left incarcerated. Others in our federal prison system – and state prisons and jails – deserve the same lifesaving treatment Manafort and Cohen are getting. No one should dispute that.”
Attorney and former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “I know from my 35 years in the Alabama State Senate, that both the federal government and the state government find a way to do that which they really want to do. This is a life-and-death matter, and if President Trump and Governor Ivey want to save lives, they can do it. We are here again today calling on them to do it and to do it immediately.”
During the SOS Federal Caravan at Montgomery’s Federal Courthouse, black and white balloons were again tied to cars in the caravan as the cars circled the Courthouse seven times in the Jericho Walls Spirit. At the noon press conference at the Federal Courthouse, the balloons were released in recognition of the lives lost and the lives in jeopardy in Alabama right now – and also with the recognition that Black lives are in much greater jeopardy than white lives.

GCHS gets military-grade medical tent for COVID-19 patients

Shown above Dr. Marcia Pugh, Greene County Health System CEO, Bob Wilson, Jr., President of Andrew Development Company, Inc., Shelia  Smith, President of the TSPSL. and Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, (not pictured) Billy McFarland, TSPSL, Treasurer, inspecting the setup of the military-grade medical tent, donated by Wilson’s Company. The medical tent is an extension of the Emergency Department of the GCHS consisting of 6 rooms for patients, a procedure room, and a laundry room on back of the facility. This new set up will be utilized to help with COVID-19 crises. It allows the staff to isolate the Covid patients coming in for care.

Senator Doug Jones urges Governor Ivey to establish an Alabama Health Care Manufacturing Task Force

As of May 26, 2020 at 7:15 PM
Alabama had 15,650 confirmed cases of coronavirus
with 580 deaths
Greene County had 91 confirmed cases with 4 deaths

BIRMINGHAM – Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) on Saturday, May 23, urged Governor Kay Ivey to establish a health care manufacturing task force to explore ways for Alabama to move to the forefront of health care manufacturing for the United States.
Senator Jones’ proposal would utilize existing infrastructure to create jobs in Alabama, provide a supply chain for vital COVID-19 supplies, reduce dependence on foreign health care suppliers, revamp Alabama’s manufacturing economy.
In his letter to Governor Ivey, Senator Jones suggested utilizing existing infrastructure across the state, like shuttered factories, to build a statewide health care manufacturing sector as a way to produce critical health care items to respond to and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce our dependence on foreign health care suppliers, and revamp Alabama’s manufacturing economy as we face an uncertain period of economic hardship.
In light of the state of Alabama facing an estimated budget shortfall of more than $1 billion, this effort could also help generate new streams of revenue to support Alabama’s state and local governments.
“Just as the automotive industry has changed Alabama’s economy since Mercedes arrived in the 1990’s, a concerted effort to expand health care manufacturing in Alabama will help grow our population, raise our standard of living, and improve the quality of life for generations to come,” wrote Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health Committee.
“For instance, it has been reported that Goodyear is unlikely to reopen its facility in Gadsden. While I had hoped that Goodyear could have found a way to keep the plant operating, its likely closing is reflective of the ongoing transition in our state’s economy and adds urgency to the need to look for new opportunities to put local residents and others throughout the state back to work.”
Many industrial parks across Alabama have available buildings that could be used to develop businesses to produce medical supplies and equipment. In the Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee, Alabama, which serves Greene County, there is a 50,000 square foot building that could be used for manufacturing health care supplies.
The Greene County Industrial Development Authority built this structure a decade ago to attract industrial/manufacturing projects to Greene County.
“The shortage of PPE, ventilators, and other vital healthcare related items that we have seen in the course of dealing with this pandemic has demonstrated that our supply chains in the health care space are too dependent on foreign suppliers and not as diversified as they need to be,” he continued. “While a number of businesses in Alabama and across the country are stepping up and repurposing facilities during this pandemic to make these critical items, it is likely that they will return to their original purpose once the crisis has subsided. It is my view, however, that the United States needs to make a concerted effort to reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers of items essential to the delivery of healthcare, just as we did with foreign suppliers of oil a number of years ago.”

Newswire : On the run, Rwanda genocide suspect, Felicien Kabuga, arrested in French hideout

Poster for Felicien Kabuga


May 25, 2020 (GIN) – Twenty-six years after financing the Rwandan genocide, wealthy businessman and most wanted fugitive, Felicien Kabuga, was nabbed in an upscale French hideout.
It was a relief for prosecutors of the Rwandan Genocide tribunal who feared the 84-year-old Kabuga could die a free man. He stands accused of masterminding the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans, mainly minority Tutsis but also political opponents among the Hutus, over a period of 100 days, from April to July 1994, in a murderous campaign of ethnic violence.
Clues to Kabuga’s whereabouts came to light after an intelligence-sharing meeting between investigators from France, Britain, and Belgium, as well as the UN and Europe’s Europol law enforcement agency. “We realized… that the trail from his children protecting their father converged on Asnières-sur-Seine, where he lived under an assumed name,” said Col. Eric Emeraux, head of a French police unit combating crimes against humanity.
“We also discovered one of his children was renting an apartment there.”
Because the coronavirus lockdown had paralyzed many intelligence operations across parts of Europe, time was freed up to focus on the man accused of being the economic backer of the genocide.
A former tea and coffee tycoon with 28 known aliases, Mr. Kabuga is alleged to have used his personal fortune to buy protection from a corrupt official in the office of Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said it had evidence that Mr. Kabuga either visited or resided in Kenya, but successive Kenyan governments allegedly refused to hand over the wanted suspect.
“We need to know the story of his life as a fugitive, who helped and protected him, his connections to the wider diaspora and the role of his children — all this might be a by-product of the trial,” said British journalist Linda Melvern.
Called the “preventable genocide”, the killings in Rwanda exposed a “disgraceful” failure of the international community as the U.N. ordered its blue-helmeted troops to evacuate foreigners – but not intervene to save the Tutsis from slaughter.
Kabuga, now confined to La Sante Prison in central Paris, appeared this week in court in a wheelchair, dressed in jeans and wearing a face mask. Prosecutors are seeking his transfer to U.N. custody for trial in international courts.
After his arrest, Valerie Mukabayire, the leader of the Rwanda widows’ group Avega, told the BBC: “Every genocide survivor is happy he is arrested. Everyone has been waiting for this news. It is a good thing that he is going to face justice.”

Newswire :NFL announces major steps to incentive teams to hire minorities for top posts

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


Roger Goddell and Troy Vincent


National Football League teams must now interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching positions under new resolutions that the league hopes will improve diversity among its 32 teams.
In an expansion of its Rooney Rule, which had previously called on teams to interview minority candidates, the league said teams must also interview at least one minority candidate for coordinator openings and one external candidate for positions in teams’ front offices.
“While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said during a media conference call.
“The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league.”
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations and second-in-command to Goodell, said the league is now in a better position to not only hire minorities and women but to retain their services.
“What the chairman (Art Rooney II) and the commissioner did today and what the ownership voted on today has been a fight for decades to get mobility that has disproportionately affected people of color,” Vincent stated.
“Just the ability to get an interview, you don’t get hired unless you have an interview. The mobility resolution today was significant and historic because it has been a fight for decades. That’s the foundation. Frankly, we would call that the linchpin of these inequalities. With these initiatives, the enhancement of the Rooney Rule, which is a tool; it just allows us to have a broader scope of how we look at things.”
The new rules include a provision that begins in 2021, which states that teams will no longer restrict staff from interviewing with other clubs for “bona fide” coaching or front office positions. Goodell called the commitment to improving diversity throughout the league is “critical” for future success.
“While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more,” Goodell said.
“The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league.”
Clubs also will be required to “include minorities and, or, female applicants in the interview processes for senior-level front office positions such as club president and senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology, and security positions,” according to the expanded rule.
Also, league officials stated that they would use an advisory panel to further strategies aimed at fostering an inclusive culture of opportunity both on and off the field.
Goodell also promised to improve the league’s pipeline for minority coaching and player personnel candidates with assistance from its Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
“This fight has been going on for a long time,” said Vincent, who could one day become the league’s first African American commissioner.
“The facts are we have a broken system, and we’re looking to implement things to change the direction in where we’re going, and it’s been south. Not a gradual south but a direct south.”

Newswire: Black unemployment was 16.7 percent in April

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Black people waiting to work


More than 20 million jobs were lost in March because of the pandemic
It is the worst of times for blacks workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the jobless rate for the blacks was 16.7 percent in April, a giant leap backward from 6.7 percent in March, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused nonfarm employment to fall by 20.5 million jobs last month.
The overall unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in April, the highest since the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939. The number of jobs fell sharply in all major industry sectors, particularly in leisure and hospitality.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in for black men 20 and older in April was 16.1 percent, up 7.0 percent in March. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black women 20 and older in April was 16.4 percent, way up from 5.2 percent in March.
BLS reported that the sharp increases reflect the Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to control it, such as furloughing workers.
The number of individuals who work full time declined by 15 million and the number who worked part-time dropped by 7.4 million.
Employment in the leisure and hospitality industries plummeted by 7.7 million. The jobless rate in education and health services declined by 2.5 million. Professional and business services shed 2.1 million jobs and manufacturing dropped 1.3 million jobs. Employment in the services industry declined by 1.3 million jobs and government employment dropped 900,000.
McKinsey & Company reported that the March 14 household survey data from BLS show that racial minorities make up 20 percent of the labor force but 25 percent of the newly unemployed.
The unemployment rate for major worker groups was 14.2 percent for whites, 14.5 percent for Asians and 18.9 percent for Hispanics, the highest rate for all racial groups.
April’s unemployment rate is still an underestimate of the actual number of unemployed workers. It would be higher if all the people who lost their jobs had actually remained in the labor force, said Elise Gould, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C.

Newswire : Federal Judge rules Florida felons can vote without paying legal fees

By Associated Press

Florida voting booths

Judge Robert Hinkle says the current law is unconstitutional but his ruling is likely to face Republican challenge in key battleground state
The law in Florida requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge has ruled.
The 125-page ruling, issued by US district court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee on Sunday, involves a state law to implement a 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to automatically restore the right to vote for many felons who have completed their sentence.
The Republican-led legislature stipulated that fines and legal fees must be paid as part of the sentence, in addition to serving any prison time.
Hinkle has acknowledged he is unlikely to have the last word in the case, expecting the administration of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to launch an appeal.
The case could have deep ramifications in the crucial electoral battleground given that Florida has an estimated 774,000 disenfranchised felons who are barred because of financial obligations. Many of those felons are African Americans and statistically more likely to vote for the Democratic party. Florida was also the scene of the infamous “hanging chad” controversy in the 2000 US election.
The judge called the Florida rules a “pay-to-vote system” that was unconstitutional when applied to felons who were otherwise eligible to vote but genuinely unable to pay the required amount.
A further complication was how to set the exact amount in fines and other kinds of legal fees owed by felons seeking the vote. Hinkle said it was unconstitutional to bar any voter whose amount owed “could not be determined with diligence”.
Hinkle ordered the state to require election officials to allow felons to request an advisory opinion on how much they owe, essentially placing the burden on election officials to seek that information from court systems. If there was no response within three weeks, then the applicant should not be barred from registering to vote, the ruling said.
Hinkle said the requirement to pay fines and restitution as ordered in a sentence is constitutional for those who are able to pay if the amount can be determined.
The case, Kelvin Jones vs Ron DeSantis, consolidates five lawsuits filed by advocates of disenfranchised felons, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“This is a tremendous victory for voting rights,” Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with ACLU’s voting rights project, said in a statement. “The court recognized that conditioning a person’s right to vote on their ability to pay is unconstitutional. This ruling means hundreds of thousands of Floridians will be able to rejoin the electorate and participate in upcoming elections.”
The 2018 ballot measure, known as Amendment Four, does not apply to convicted murderers and rapists.

Newswire : Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden clarifies message to Black America

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

Joe Biden campaign rally


Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden clarified his message to Black America after the GOP, and others, seized on a remark he made in jest while wrapping up an interview with the famous Breakfast Club.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden stated after the comments to show host, Charlamagne Tha God, went viral.
“I shouldn’t have been so cavalier. No one should have to vote for any party based on their race, religion, and background.”
As the Breakfast Club interview wrapped and a Biden aide said he was running short on time, Charlamagne asked the former vice president to stop by the studio when Biden returns to New York. It’s a long way until November,” Charlamagne told Biden. “We’ve got more questions.”
Biden replied, “You’ve got more questions?” “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for Trump or me, then you ain’t black.”
Republicans seized on the remark, with some sending emails to NNPA Newswire claiming that Biden was “race-baiting.”
In response, NNPA Newswire asked members of the GOP to address what many in the African American community believe have been the racially-charged remarks and actions of the president. There was no response.
“The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period,” Biden’s senior advisor Symone D. Sanders wrote on Twitter.
“Vice President Biden spent his career fighting alongside and for the African American community. He won his party’s nomination by earning every vote and meeting people where they are, and that’s exactly what he intends to do this November,” Sanders stated.
In a “Meet the Black Press” segment of an interview on the web-based show, “Make It Plain,” National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, said people should react favorably to the exchange.
“Charlamagne always asks pointed questions, he takes no prisoners and he’s a great brother,” Chavis stated. “But, the vice president is a street fighter who comes from Wilmington, Delaware. Remember, he was speaking directly to Charlamagne.”
Pressed further, Dr. Chavis noted that the issue boils down to the current administration verses a possible Biden administration.
“What Black people have to decide is not all of the prerequisites, but given what we know today, what is our aspirations? Who can best improve our quality of life? That’s the issue,” Chavis stated.
“We can’t get caught up in personality politics. I would rather have a president who speaks from the heart, from the gut, than a president who speaks from a teleprompter. I want to know what Biden is thinking about. That he’s thinking about Black, White, Latino, about the oneness of man.
“I would prefer to hear what he has to say, rather than to muzzle him. I tell hip-hop artists that they have freedom of expression, but they have to be responsible for what they put out. You have the freedom to say what you want, but after you say it, you have to be accountable.”
In an interview with NNPA Newswire in February, Biden said the Black vote was critical to anyone with aspirations of winning in November.
Biden’s Plan for Black America.
Last month, he called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to collect more data regarding how COVID-19 is affecting communities, including breaking down its impact by race.
“The data we’ve seen so far suggests that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites. Long-standing systemic inequalities are contributing to this disparity – including the fact that African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and to live in communities where they are exposed to high levels of air pollution,” Biden stated.
Barack Obama’s former vice president’s plan for Black America includes:
• Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gaps.
• Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.
• Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.
• Strengthen America’s commitment to justice.
• Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans.
Address environmental justice.
Biden, who this month fiercely denounced the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, noted that he spearheaded the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which authorized funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach.
However, the program has never been funded to fulfill the original vision for community policing. He said he would reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment.
As a condition of the grant, Biden stated that hiring police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community they serve. Additionally, as President, Biden promises to establish a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement in our communities.
He said he would invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel, and create a $20 billion grant program to support criminal justice reform at the state and local level.
Biden pledged to work with Congress to reform federal sentencing and provide incentives to state and local systems to do the same. He said he would end once and for all, the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity, decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions.
The Democrat also promises to end the criminalization of poverty and cash bail, which he called the modern-day debtors’ prison.
“We need a comprehensive agenda for African Americans with an ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with a recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities,” Biden noted.

Supt. Jones gives update on students academic arrangement School system proposes 2020 high school graduation in July with precautions

Shown L to R: GCHS Counselor Tameka Thompson, GCHS senior Jasmine Bevelle and Superintendent Corey Jones display 2020 seniors yard signs.

The Greene County Board of Education held its regular meeting Monday, May 18, 2020, observing the required COVID-19 physical arrangements with limited participants wearing masks and seated 6ft. apart. The board’s quorum consisted of C. Zippert, L. Branch and W. Morgan.
In a key announcement, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones stated that the school system is tentatively planning to hold Greene County High School graduation on Friday, July 24 utilizing the stadium and football field at Robert Brown Middle School. He stated that his executive committee is planning the arrangements where graduates will be spaced appropriately from each other and each student will be allowed only four guests who will also be distanced according to guidelines. Other specific logistics will be announced at a later date.
Superintendent Jones noted that GCHS graduates received their caps and gowns and personalized yard signs Monday afternoon in a drive-through at the high school prior to the board meeting, with numerous faculty, staff and board president available to present the attire and congratulatory gestures. (See photo display on page 8)
In a COVID-19 academic arrangement update, Jones reported on each school regarding teachers’ contacts with students and students’ compliance in submitting completed assignments.
Eutaw Primary reported 100% teacher contact with students and 80% packets returned by students. Robert Brown Middle School reported 93% teacher contact and 85% packets return. Greene County High reported 95% teacher contact and 95 % packets return. The Career Center reported 100% teachers contact and 80% packets return.Regarding additional technology for students’ virtual learning, Superintendent Jones announced that the school system was awarded a $30,000 grant from Alabama Power Foundation toward the $167,000 cost of 600 Chrome Books and hot spots for students, which are on order. He added that the school system is exploring various internet carriers to service our outlying areas, including AT& T and Verizon. “These technological improvements will allow us to extend learning time and provide optional arrangements for the teaching-learning process” he stated.
Jones indicated that because of the COVID-19 uncertainties, his executive staff is investigating a possible blended schedule for the next school term, where various grades could attend on-site classes in shifts and participate in classes virtually off-site.
The school system has ended its regular meals program having provided 66,540 meals to families with children 1-18 years of age, however, families can continue to receive meals for students through the USDA Meals-To-You Program. Each family must sign-up for the program through the following website: http://www.mealstoyou.org. Meals will be delivered to parents who sign up.
CSFO Lavonda Blair reported that the State Audit Exit Conference was held vitally last week with board members. There were no findings. A final on-site report will be scheduled at a later date. She also noted that the school system’s income is decreasing, as tax revenue decreases, however expenses are increasing.
According to Blair, the water bills at the various school sites have had considerable increases even though the facilities are closed. At GCHS there was a $2,000 plus increase in the water bill in a month’s period; At RBM there was a $700 plus increase water bill; and at Eutaw Primary there was a $300 plus increase. Superintendent Jones indicated he has attempted to reach Mayor Raymond Steele to investigate these increases and obtain an explanation. If the Mayor does not respond, Dr. Jones indicated he will approach the City Council.
The board has tentatively scheduled its required annual Superintendent and CSFO Evaluations for June 15 and June 8, respectively.
The board also discussed the AASB Whole Board Training for 2020, but no definite decision was determined since all board members were not present.
The superintendent noted that his office has taken appropriate actions to alleviate the Bat problem at RBMS.
The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to hire Mr. James Gaines as Interim Transportation Supervisor for the school system.
In a traditional process, the board approved the superintendent’s recommendations to non-renew various non-tenured and contract personnel. Dr. Jones indicated that most will be called back.

Eutaw City Council meeting continues to discuss Water Department

As of May 20, 2020, at 9:00 AM
Alabama had 12,701 confirmed cases of

coronavirus with
508 deaths
Greene County had 86
confirmed cases
with 4 deaths

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting on May 12, 2020. The meeting with full attendance met at the Carver School gymnasium to allow for property social distancing of Council members and the audience.
Most of the City Council meeting was devoted to a continuing discussion of the need to correct problems of water meters, computers and software to read the meters, conformity in water billing and making sure that the water was generating sufficient revenues to support the City budget.
The City Council reaffirmed its decision by a 4 to 1 vote to remove Mayor Steele as Superintendent of the Water System, however, there was dissension relative to taking the next steps to correct the problems in the Water Department.
Council members, led by Sheila Smith and LaTosha Johnson, want to declare an emergency in the Water Department and contract with a company, headed by Kathy Horne, to come in and correct the management and billing problems. Horne’s firm and the Alabama Rural Water Association presented a report to the City Council in February recommending changes to improve the city’s water system.Mayor Steele insists that although he is no longer Superintendent of the Water Department, as Mayor he still has day-to-day supervision of the water system. He says that he is reluctant to bring in consultants to correct problems that he says have already been resolved.
The Mayor says that the current corrected water bills that have been sent to residents will generate an additional $30,000 in revenues for the city. He also says 90 of the new digital water meters have been reinstalled properly or replaced.
City attorney, Zane Willingham, backed the Mayor and said if the Council wants to bring in consultants, they must advertise and bid out these services under the laws governing municipalities like the City of Eutaw. The City Council voted to bid out a contract for management of the water system, however, at press time the Democrat has received no legal notice to print soliciting bids for management of the water system.
The Council also discussed the need to build more storm shelters to protect the residents of the city from storms and tornados. Councilman Joe Powell brought some cost estimates for shelters. There was a discussion of building shelters in different sections of the City with grants from FEMA. The Council voted to table the discussion of shelters until electronic bingo resumes operations, after the coronavirus, to provide matching funds for the construction of shelters.
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• approved a resolution honoring first responders and frontline health care workers, scheduled for May 14, 2020;
• approved a resolution supporting the renovation of Elmwood Manor;
• approved a “Back to School – Sales Tax Holiday”, scheduled for July 14-19, 2020;
• agreed to pave M & M Drive as soon as funds are available;
• discussed pending insurance claims;
• requested a list of all purchases made by the City, since the beginning of 2020, to determine if supplies are adequate;
• discussed street washouts in the City and how to contract, with FEMA funding for their repair.