Greenetrack wins major victory for gaming in Greene County by recent decision of the Alabama Tax Tribunal

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

On August 29, 2019, Jeff Patterson, Chief Judge for the Alabama Tax Tribunal rendered a decision voiding over $75 million in sales taxes and $746.292 in consumer use taxes claimed by the State of Alabama against Greenetrack, Inc.
These taxes and interest were imposed by the State of Alabama after an audit for the period January 2004 to December 2008 and related solely to bingo operations at the taxpayer’s facility – Greenetrack.
Luther ‘Nat’ Winn, CEO of Greenetrack, in an interview with this reporter, said, “We are pleased that the Tax Tribunal, headed by a judge, appointed by Governor Kay Ivey, took an objective view of this matter and gave us a fair hearing on the law and the merits of our case.”
“This matter has been going on for over a decade and we are pleased to see it ended in our favor. Gov. Bob Riley conducted the original tax audit as part of his efforts to closedown Greenetrack and electronic bingo in Greene County,” added Winn
The thirteen page analysis and decision of the Alabama Tax Tribunal reviews the history of Greenetrack’s exemption from sales tax on gaming, starting with dog racing
and continuing to include simulcasting of dog and horse races as well as gaming through electronic bingo, which was the subject of the tax liability that was in dispute.
The original legislation, Act 1975-376, allowing dog racing at Greenetrack imposed various license fees and taxes by the Greene County Racing Commission, also included Section 16, which stated “the license fees, commissions and excise taxes imposed herein shall be in lieu of all license, excise and occupational taxes to the State of Alabama.”

Greenetrack relied on the exemption specified in Section 16 to cover all gaming activities including bingo, which has grown to be the largest part of its revenues.The Tax Tribunal also cites later tax legislation, passed by the Alabama Legislature in 1986, which imposed sales taxes on merchandise, food and beverages sold at dog racetracks within the state. This legislation imposed other occupational, income and ad valorem property taxes on dog tracks but specifically exempted sales tax on admissions and the wagering handle at these facilities.
The Tax Tribunal in its decision voiding the sales taxes imposed on bingo gaming in Greene County said that it was not a legislative body and could not “displace the legislature by amending statutes to make them express what we think the legislature should have done.”
At the end of his decision, Jeff Patterson, chief Judge of the Alabama Tax Tribunal, gives the State of Alabama thirty (30) days to appeal its decision to the Circuit Court. When asked if he expected the State of Alabama to appeal, Winn said, “I cannot speak for the State but I hope they will not appeal and have confidence in the decision of their Department of Revenue administrative judges.”
Knowledgeable observers of the bingo battles between the State of Alabama, Greenetrack and other bingo operators feel this is a great victory that could have imposed retroactive sales taxes on gaming in Greene County that would have closed down this tourist industry, which is providing jobs and fee revenues to government agencies, municipalities, education, healthcare and other services in the county.

School Board holds annual budget hearings, noting decline in student enrollment

The Greene County Board of Education held its annual public budget hearings September 5-6, 2019 as well as a called school board meeting on Sept. 5.
CSFO Lavanda Blair presented the details of the proposed budget noting the following: key factors affecting the budget; budget objectives; allocations expected from the State Department of Education and from the Federal Government.
She emphasized that the FY 2020 budget objectives include maintaining pupil/teacher ratios; controlling expenses and maintaining adequate fund reserves.
Ms. Blair noted that last year’s enrollment totaled 1,015.80. As of September 5, the system has enrolled 992. The average daily attendance during the first 20 days after Labor Day determines the basis for state allocations for the next school year. Dr. Jones explained that his office has an aggressive plan underway to locate students in the county who have not yet enrolled in school. He noted that Eutaw Primary has been successful in locating and enrolling all students who were eligible to continue in that program.
According to Ms. Blair, the Greene County School System has earned 70.38 units from the state for the current school year which is a loss of .91. In the previous year, units totals 71.29. The school system currently is 9.5 units above the state allocation. These units must be supported by local revenue.
Although the system is experiencing a slow decline in students, state and federal funds did increase in some categories. The Education Trust Fund (Foundation Program) funds increased by $3,758; transportation funds increased by $18,748.
New revenue sources for the system include the Star Academy Grant of $300,000 for Robert Brown Middle School; Anti-Bullying Grant of $2,916; and a Digital Tools for Teachers grant of $7,195. Superintendent Corey Jones indicated that the system is pursuing funds for support of the arts in the schools.
In the called board meeting on September 5, the board approved the following personnel items recommended by Superintendent Jones:

  • Transfer of location of Ms. Shayla McCray from the Learning Academy (Alternative School) to Greene County High School; Transfer of mrs. Robert Stewart from Learning Academy ( Alternative School ) to Robert Brown Middle School.
    Supplement contracts for Rhonda Cameron, Assistant Cheerleader Sponsor; Rachael Nickson, Assistant Cheerleader Sponsor.
    Administrative items approved by the board included: Contract between Greene County Board and Activate LLC; Contract between Greene County High School, Robert Brown Middle School and West Central Officials Association in Livingston, AL; Contract for school resource officers.

County prepares administratively for new gasoline tax

The Greene County Commission held its regular monthly meeting, Monday, September 9, 2019 and took official action on various items discussed at its work session held the previous Wednesday. With the new gasoline tax in effect this month, the commission approved adding two new special revenue funds as it related to the Rebuild Alabama Act. The commission authorized a resolution for bank depository for the new gasoline tax and authorized the chairman to sign all necessary documents.
The commission approved entering into an agreement with TG Earnest & Associates for a culture resource assessment for the bridge replacement on County Road 69, allowing the chairman to sign all necessary documents. At the previous work session, County Engineer Willie Branch advised the commission that expenditures would not exceed $3,500 for the project.
Also based on the engineer’s recommendation, the commission approved hiring one equipment operator and one part-time laborer.
The commission approved the contract with the Alabama Department of Youth Services. Veronica Evans, representing ADYS, made a presentation at the previous work session, detailing the services rendered to youth of Greene County and the related costs. Ms. Evans was requesting that the commission consider budgeting more resources for ADYS in the upcoming fiscal year.
The commission and a delegation from the Town of Forkland, agreed to pursue appropriate action for the sale of, or transfer of, the Forkland park from the county to the Town of Forkland.
Apparently, the park cannot be sold without authorization from ADECA. The county’s attorney was authorized to send the appropriate letters noting the county’s intent.
J & S Bartending, LLC was granted a special events ABD license by the commission.
Commissioner Roshanda Summerville reappointed Mrs. Glenda Hodges to the DHR Board from District 5; and Commissioner Tennyson Smith reappointed Steven Abrams to the E-011 Board from District 2.
The following travel requests were approved:

  • Judge of Probate and one clerk and Board of Registrars to Election Conference, October 30-31, 2019 in Tuscaloosa.
    Overview of County Government for Assistant Engineer on October 9-10, 2019 in Prattville, AL.
    The commission also approved payment of claims and various budget amendments.

Newswire: Robert G. Mugabe, post-Independence leader of Zimbabwe died

Robert G. Mugabe

Sep. 9, 2019 (GIN) – There are two sides to every story and the same could be said of the legacy of Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who passed away Sept. 6 at the age of 95.

“Mugabe’s legacy will continue to be contested between those who revere him and those who revile him,” wrote lawyer and award-winning author Petina Gappah. “But what matters most now is how Zimbabwe’s new president handles that legacy.”

“From one viewpoint,” she wrote in a published opinion piece, “he is Zimbabwe’s founding father, the man who led his comrades through an armed struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe’s black majority from Rhodesian white-minority rule.

“His achievements in those early, heady years of independence were exemplary, with emphasis on health, education and women’s empowerment. This opened up possibilities to many Zimbabweans, particularly the rural poor, who were shut out from Rhodesia’s opportunities.

Yet from another viewpoint,” she continued, “he is the hero who became a villain, his 37-year rule characterized by massive human rights abuses, from the Gukurahundi massacres and persecution of supporters of the rival Zapu party of Joshua Nkomo just after independence, to the persecution of perceived enemies, both in the opposition and within his own party, whom he considered threats to his power.

“Even the land reform program,” she added, “much admired across Africa for restoring land to its rightful owners, was implemented amid chaos and violence.”

Among the many eulogies for the former president was one referencing Mugabe’s first wife, Sally. A “great feminist” who inspired many women’s rights activists around the world, she was secretary general of the Zanu-PF women’s league, founder of the Zimbabwe Child Survival Program and a backer of the pan-African consortium Akina Mama was Afrika. Born in Ghana’s Gold Coast, she fell in love with the future leader who was working there. She died in Harare in 1992.

Mugabe’s second wife, Grace Mugabe, had political ambitions but was better known for shopping trips in European capitals. After side-lining vice-president Joice Mujuru, she opposed Mugabe’s right hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ultimately ousted the president in a military coup.

Now there is reportedly a dispute over where Mr Mugabe will be buried. Some of his relatives want him to be buried at his rural homestead in the village of Kutama in Mashonaland West province. But government officials are pushing for burial at a shrine near Harare.

Most of Zimbabwe’s national heroes – those who fought against white-minority rule – are buried at the Heroes’ Acre shrine just outside of the city.

Newswire: NAREB urges Black Americans not to defer their dream of homeownership


— “Statistics show that there are 1.7 million Black millennials making $100,000 or more and could improve their financial futures with homeownership or participation in real estate investment opportunities.
NAREB is determined to reach them with messages that rebut, yet improve, some of their current lifestyle choices,” says Donnell Williams, the newly installed president of NAREB. What’s more, he adds, homeownership is critical. “One clear message to millennials: Think about a house before you buy the car.”

According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) wealth building usually begins with that first investment in owning your own home. Whether you purchase a first-time “starter” home or inherit a property or residence, you start down the road to building wealth. But something has changed in the Black community. The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics indicate that the Black homeownership rate has dropped once again.

Now at 40.6%, the rate starkly signals a continual loss of wealth for Black Americans. By comparison, the non-Hispanic White homeownership rate for the same period was reported to be 73.1%, a nearly 30% difference. There’s a problem and NAREB is on point to stop the loss and return Black Americans to wealth building through homeownership of real estate investment.

NAREB is aware that the Black community, particularly its local and national leaders, may need a clear, strong wake-up call to reverse this daunting downward trend.
What are the causes? But more importantly, what are the solutions? What can the community of concern do to prompt home purchase and therefore, wealth building?
These and other questions are slated to be addressed at NAREB’s annual “State of Black America” forum to be convened at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2019 Annual Legislative Conference, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, 2:00p.m.- 4:00p.m.
Expert panelists, steeped in the issues, the disparities and likely solutions to raising Black homeownership are committed to working with NAREB on its mission to restore confidence in the real estate market, identify critical systemic blockages, and outline the concerted advocacy strategies that lawmakers at every level of government need to keep in mind to improve Black homeownership outcomes.
During the forum, Donnell Williams, the newly installed president of NAREB, will announce an aggressive program to reach out and encourage Black millennials to consider, or re-consider, homeownership as a wealth building tool.

Newswire: BCRI gets 17 new board members with Angela Davis fiasco behind

By Erica Wright, Birmingham Times

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Following backlash from a decision to rescind an invitation to civil rights activist Angela Davis, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) will get a dozen new board members.
The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of 17 members – 12 new — to the BCRI board. Two additional seats are pending Council approval on next week’s regular agenda.
Earlier this year, several board members resigned following an outcry after the board rescinded the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to international activist and Birmingham native Angela Davis.
“We’re delighted to bring forth the slate of names of board members who have been chosen in a period of some disruption that found us in a very awkward position as an organization and in search of new leadership to help us pursue our mission to promote and preserve human and civil rights for all people,” said Andrea Taylor, president and CEO of the BCRI.
The BCRI reappointed five members, who will be serving their second term, in addition to new members.
The five reappointed were Rosilyn Houston, a senior executive with BBVA USA; Danny Markstein, president of Markstein, a full service marketing and communications agency; John Oros, president of the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau; Jonathan Porter, vice president at Alabama Power and Reverend Thomas Wilder, pastor of historic Bethel Baptist Church.
The new appointed members are Cassandra Adams, Samford University Cumberland School of Law; William Burgess of Burgess Fine Arts; Dr. Tamera Beasley, Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Nyesha Black, Regional Planning Commission; Robert Dickerson, a local businessman and executive director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center; Daryl Grant, an executive at KPMG Advisory Services; Angela McKenzie, Regions Bank; Richard Rice, The Rice Firm, LLC; John Saxon, John D. Saxon P.C.; David Thomas, District Manager at Starbucks; Reverend Gwendolyn Webb, with Foot Soldiers International and Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church and Yolanda Clayton, who formerly served as a chief of staff for Jefferson County Commission District 1.
In March, the BCRI received more than 50 nominations.
“We narrowed that down . . . to a group of about 20 and we had three days of interviews with those 20 individuals to determine their qualifications, interests, skills and their willingness to serve and from that number we selected 12 new prospective board members for the BCRI,” Taylor said.
A few days after the BCRI rescinded the award, three board members resigned which were Mike Oatridge, Walter Body and Janice Kelsey. As a result of that, two other board members subsequently resigned. After those five resigned, it left eight members on the board.
The eight remaining board members were eligible for a second term on the board and encouraged to reapply, however two chose not to, leaving six current board members to reapply.
Taylor appeared at the city council meeting with 18 appointments – six returning and 12 new- however, one of the returning board members, Isaac Cooper, name was taken off the slate to further amend his term appointment and his name will be on the slate next week for the council to confirm along with one other board member.
Their bylaws allow for up to 27 members, but for now, 21 is ideal.
Councilor Steven Hoyt applauded the BCRI for its diligence in selecting new board members.
“I’m glad that you and the board found it necessary to have such diversity, you have to have it in order to be conscious of where we are and the climate we’re . . . and the more we can promote [diversity)] , I think the better we can expect our society to be.”

Newswires: Brennen Center report finds 17 million voters purged nationwide between 2016 – 2018

By Stacy M. Brown, BlackPressUSA

Voting stickers

A Brennan Center analysishas found that at least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, similar to the numbers discovered between 2014 and 2016.
Using data released by the Federal Election Assistance Commission, the Brennan Center found that counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at high rates.
“This phenomenon began after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision that severely weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the report states.
“Before the Shelby County decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit proposed changes in voting procedures to the Department of Justice or a federal court for approval, a process known as ‘preclearance,’” the report’s authors wrote.
The Brennan Center first identified this troubling voter purge trend in a major report released in July 2018.
As the nation heads toward the all-important 2020 election cycle, many said they’re concerned with voter purging and the ever-present threat of voter disenfranchisement.
“Automatic voter registration is a great way to be sure that every eligible American is registered to vote,” said Dr. Margaret Groarke, an associate professor of political science at Manhattan College in New York.
“Whether this prevents voter suppression is complicated by the fact that there are many ways that people suppress the vote,” Groarke said.
“Key strategies today are over-inclusive voter purges, strict voter ID laws, and making threats that people with unpaid fines or warrants shouldn’t come near the polls,” she said.
“Automatic voter registration might counteract the effect of purges, but will do nothing to stop other strategies,” Groarke said.
The Brennan Center report follows aCenter for American Progress analysis that examined how conservative lawmakers are suppressing the votes of people of color, young people, and those with disabilities.
From discriminatory voter ID laws in places such as North Dakota, South Carolina, and Michigan to failures to provide early polling places in a majority-black neighborhood in Texas and the freezing of more than 50,000 voter registrations in Georgia, voter suppression is rampant in 2018, according to the CAP report.
“Voter suppression is widespread again this year, and these efforts from conservative lawmakers largely target people of color, young people, and people with disabilities,” Connor Maxwell, a research associate for Race and Ethnicity Policy at the CAP, said in a news release.
“Despite these efforts, there are many steps people can take to ensure their vote counts on election day,” Maxwell said.
Voting is a fundamental right for all U.S. citizens, “so we encourage everyone to double-check their voter registration; determine ahead of time whether you need to bring certain materials to the polls; and take advantage of the many voter assistance hotlines if you run into problems,” said Danielle Root, a voting rights manager at the CAP.
In its report, The Brennan Center noted why voter purges could prove problematic.
“If a voter moves from Georgia to New York, they are no longer eligible to cast a ballot in the Peach State. As such, they should be removed from Georgia’s voter rolls,” Brennan authors said, as an example.
The report continued:
“Similarly, voters who have passed away should be removed from the rolls. Reasonable voter list maintenance ensures voter rolls remain up to date. Problems arise when states remove voters who are still eligible to vote.
“States rely on faulty data that purport to show that a voter has moved to another state. Frequently, these data get people mixed up. In big states like California and Texas, multiple individuals can have the same name and date of birth, making it hard to be sure that the right voter is being purged when perfect data are unavailable.
“Troublingly, minority voters are more likely to share names than white voters, potentially exposing them to a greater risk of being purged and voters often don’t realize they’ve been purged until they try to cast a ballot on Election Day – after it’s already too late.”
The Brennan Center’s report authors said as the 2020 election cycle heats up, election administrators must be transparent about how they’re deciding what names to remove from the rolls.
They must be diligent in their efforts to avoid erroneously purging voters, the report’s authors said.
“And they should push for reforms like automatic voter registration and election day registration which keep voters’ registration records up to date,” the authors wrote.
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

Newswire : Gov. Kay Ivey says ‘Heavens no,’ she won’t resign over 1967 blackface skit

By Mike Cason |

Gov. Kay Ivey made her first public appearance today since apologizing last week for wearing blackface during a racist skit when she was a student at Auburn University in 1967, an incident the governor says she does not remember.

The governor spoke to reporters this morning after a ceremony about the state’s bicentennial at the Archives and History building in Montgomery.
Associated Press reporter Kim Chandler prefaced the first question by saying that Ivey had told her last spring that she had never worn blackface. Today, Chandler asked Ivey today what she remembered and her reaction to the revelation about the skit.
“I was shocked to hear the tape,” Ivey said. “I didn’t remember being at the Baptist Student Union for any kind of skit like that for sure. But I’ve apologized for it. I should not have done that. And I know it’s important to apologize to the people of Alabama. And since I took office in 2017, my goal has been to make Alabama as good as it can be and certainly better, or to leave the state better than when I found it.”
On Thursday, Ivey’s office released a statement and a video apologizing for the skit at the Baptist Student Union, which came to light while Auburn University was converting archived records to digital format, including a 1967 interview on the Auburn student radio station during which Ivey and her then-fiance talked and laughed about the skit.
The Alabama NAACP and two African American lawmakers – Reps. Juandalynn Givan and John Rogers of Birmingham – called on Ivey to resign because of the incident. Others said they were disappointed but accepted Ivey’s apology and said they hoped it could bring attention to improving race relations and issues important to African Americans.
“Governor Ivey wants us to look at the record,” Bernard Simelton, President of the State of Alabama NAACP said, “Here it is. During Governor Ivey’s administration, she refused to Expand Medicaid, did not support Birmingham increase in minimum wage; Governor Ivey even signed a bill approving the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. A law that upholds racism and the effects of racism. If you want to heal the land, or correct errors, or even make right the wrongs, you have the power to do that. You are the leader who can do away with the status quo, and you are in a key position to leave a legacy that heals the hearts of Southerners who got slavery and the confederacy wrong, heal Alabamians and lead Americans. We are better than honoring those who led us into darkness, calamity and shame. No, we don’t need to erase our history, but we do need to make right, what was done wrong.”
The issues mentioned in the press release have divided black and white politicians in Alabama for several years.
Democratic lawmakers have called for Medicaid expansion since it became available under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ivey has not supported expansion, nor has the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Ivey’s office issued a statement last week indicating she has no intention of resigning. Ivey was asked today about her response to the calls for resignation.
“Heavens no, I’m not going to resign,” the governor said. “That was something that happened 52 years ago and I’m not that person. And my administration stands on being inclusive and helping people. We’ve got a lot of good things going on with our rebuild Alabama and broadband access being expanded and improving our education, etc. So, no, I’m full speed ahead.”
Ivey said she had heard positive comments since her apology.“Not only from African-Americans, I’ve heard a lot from them as well, but also most of the comments I’ve had have been very encouraging and very supportive and very understanding,” Ivey said. “And I’m grateful for that support and that understanding. It was a mistake when I was a student in college and I do apologize. And I’m grateful for everybody’s support, including African Americans.”

Town of Forkland breaks ground for Dollar General store

The Town of Forkland, (Greene County, AL) symbolically broke ground on Friday, August 30, 2019 for its first Dollar General retail store, which will be located on Alabama State Highway Hwy 43. The bulldozers had already begun to turn up the ground for construction of the store that is expected to hire 6 to 10 employees at the start.
In the opening ceremony, Travis Wilson, District Manager for Dollar General, stated that the Forkland store is a new prototype.
“The Forkland store is unique. There will not be another like it in the District, which now has a total of 20 stores. It will have home and domestic goods; larger capacity for frozen and chill goods,” he said.
He confirmed that Dollar General is in the process for securing a manager for the store, who is expected to be a local resident and he added that the number of employees could increase depending on the growth. Wilson also acknowledged that there will be growth opportunities for associates to “climb the ladder.”
In his remarks, Wilson noted that Dollar General is always excited to get involved with serving the community, providing access to affordable goods. “ I love the excitement I see here today for the Dollar General store. I assure you Dollar General its just as excited to be a part of this community.”
According to Wilson, the Forkland store should be completed by mid November.
Forkland Mayor Charlie McAlpine shared Reflections of the process the town went through in developing the partnership with Dollar General. “We wanted to develop a strategic plan and wanted all of Forkland to participate in this planning,” he stated.
McAlpine explained that if you are going to do business, you have to be set up for business. “You have to get your house in order, and our house is in order. We are financially sound to do business on the level we are pursuing now,” he stated.
In his overview, the mayor shared more specifics of the town’s plans for growth. “We have started our police force. We hired our chief and will continue to grow the force. We will be activating our municipal court. We plan to build a public safety building in Forkland; expand public parking, improve recreation. We are currently working to renovate our park,” he explained.
Mayor McAlpine noted that all this will take a little time, but we are determined to meet our goals. “We have plenty on the horizon,” he exclaimed.
Forkland Clerk, Kinya Isaac Turner, presided over the Groundbreaking Ceremony, at which time she credited Team Forkland for the good work that brought them to this moment. Team Forkland members include: Mayor Charlie McAlpine; Councilman Christopher Armstead; Councilman Preston Davis; Councilwoman Samitria Gray; Councilman Willie Sashington; Councilman Joe Tuck; Kinya Isaac Turner; Lynette Woods; Mary Madison; Sylvester Hall; Thomas Smith; Carrie Jones; Scheree Datcher and Elmira Smith. McAlpine remarked to the gathering that Kinya Isaac Turner is the hardest working clerk he has ever seen.
The Welcome was brought by Forkland Mayor Pro-Temp, Joe Tucker and Invocation by Pastor Carol Branch. Mrs. Gertrude Parker shared sentiments From the Community, stating that Forkland was incorporated in 1974 and has been on the move ever since.
Robert Stewart, Outreach Coordinator from Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s office, brought greetings and proclaimed that “ Forkland is the success story of the Black Belt.”
The gathering enjoyed food and refreshments at a reception which closed out the Groundbreaking Ceremony.

Senior Installation Ceremony

-Photography by Cynthia Crawford

Submitted by Marva Smith

The 2020 graduating class of Greene County High School was honored and celebrated through a first-time GEAR UP AL initiative, A Senior Class Installation Ceremony that was coordinated by Mrs. Marva Smith GEAR UP Site Facilitator. Mrs. Smith has worked with the current twelfth grade students since they were eighth grade students at Carver Middle School and Paramount Jr. High School. This program was held on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 9:30am in the school gymnasium. The entire program was everything that an upcoming graduate could imagine at the commencing of the academic year prior to graduation. –
Each person who spoke during the program rendered words of encouragement and motivation for completion of this year and years ahead. The speaker for the occasion was Mrs. Katie Jones-Powell, retired educator and Superintendent of Sumter County School District. She advised them to develop an action plan TODAY if they do not have one already and to be date-specific in executing the plan. It is imperative that the plan include what they intend to do immediately after graduation and work toward the goal. Mrs. Jones-Powell said, “You have only three options: 1) go to college, whether 2-year or 4-year institution, 2) to the military, or 3) straight into the workforce”. In conclusion, she challenged them to be all they can be.
Other individuals who had encouraging and motivating statements for the Seniors were Dr. Samantha Briggs, GEAR UP AL Director, UAB, Birmingham, AL; School Board Member President, Hon. Leo Branch; Dr. Corey Jones, recently appointed Superintendent of Greene County School System; Also, communicating words of encouragement were Counselor Tamika Thompson; English Instructor Mrs. Tura Edwards, Assistant Principal and GEAR UP Team Leader Ms. Andrea Perry and Principal Willie Simmons.
The students were motivated through song from Choral Music instructor, Mr. Siegfried Williams and a Video Clip, “Go to College” by Former First Lady Michelle Obama. But to culminate and top the event off, the students read the Senior Oath followed by pinning with a gold CLASS OF 2020 lapel pin by a parent, guardian or faculty member. That was most definitely the highlight of program.
Thanks to Senior Class Advisors Ms. Tameshia Porter, Mr. Larry Burnette (program Chair), Mrs. Ka’Needa Coleman, Mr. Siegfried Williams and Mrs. Tamika Thompson for your assistance.