Commission reports Sheriff has depleted funds in Overtime Line Item

At its monthly meeting held, Monday, December 10, 2019, the Greene County Commission took action to zero out the Overtime Line Item in the Greene County Sheriff’s budget after transferring $9,388.95 to that line item from the Sheriff’s Fuel Line Item. According to the CFO Paula Bird’s report, the Sheriff had already spent above the budgeted funds for overtime pay for employees in his department. Bird reported that she was directed by the Commission Chairperson, Allen Turner, Jr. to make this budget adjustment for the commission’s review and action at this meeting.
In the budget amendment, the commission also approved transferring $478.20 to the jail’s budget.
During the meeting the commissioners were presented a document from Sheriff Jonathan Benison, however, the contents were not discussed in the open meeting. When Commissioners Smith and Brown raised questions about the document, Chairman Turner stated that it would be discussed in executive session.
According to the CFO Bird, the county’s bank totals as of Nov. 18, 2019 were as follows: Citizen Trust Bank – $2,833,696.38; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $1,787,300.29; CD Bond Sinking fund (Investment) – $1.053,312.97; Bank of New York – $616,750.79.
Following an executive session, the commission approved the community liaison appointments presented by Commission Chair Allen Turner, Jr.: Commissioner Brown – Industry and Local and State Agencies; Commissioner Cockrell – Public Works and Housing Authority; Commissioner Smith – Education and Hospital, Health Service and Library; Commissioner Summerville – Personnel, Park and Recreation and EMS; Commissioner Turner – Finance, Department Heads and Extension Services.
In other business, the commission took action on the following:
Approved revision of 2019 Holiday schedule – employees will have Dec. 25, 26, 27 off. Dec. 24 will be a work day.
Approved re-advertising the Coroner’s Bill.
Approved the easement agreement with Marvin Smith and Greene County Commission.
Approved annual bids, including the following: Treated Timber; CMP; Polyethylene Pipe; Aggregates; Liquid Asphalt; Petroleum Products.
Approved allowing Highway Department to assist Greene County Water Authority with earthwork for new building, providing Highway Department is reimbursed.
Approved travel for Engineering Department and Highway Department personnel.
In reference to Agenda Item 12 – Consider budgetary issues with salaries and overtime – the commission approved a motion to recess the meeting until Monday, December, 16, 2019 at 6:30 pm.

Eutaw Chamber hosts annual Christmas Parade and other holiday activities

The Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 4:40 p.m. in downtown Eutaw. This year’s theme: It’s Christmas, was selected to inspire parade participants to be truly creative in decorating the floats. Former Greene County Probate Judge, Earlean Isaac, served as the 2019 Christmas Parade Chairperson.
The Christmas Parade Grand Marshals were Jeff Klug, store manager of LOVE’S Truck Stop, Lovie Burrell Parks of the Greene County Extension Office and the Eutaw Garden Club. Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele is Honorary Grand Marshal.
The annual Tree Lighting Ceremony followed the Christmas Parade. With performances by children from Eutaw Primary and the GCHS Choir.
Business owners were encouraged to decorate their storefronts for this festive occasion.
Approximately 61 participants with floats or decorated vehicles constituted this year’s parade. Local officials, businesses and organizations participating in the parade along with the horse riders closed out the parade.
Ms. Beverly Gordon, President of the Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce, commended Judge Isaac, the Christmas Committee volunteers, and the Eutaw Garden Club for coming together to make this a great success. Toney Nixon and Pastor Joe Webb produced the music. Numerous businesses decorated their store fronts to Let Their Light Shine. Iris Sermon served as coordinator with the parade line up.
The Chamber’s office was transformed into Santa’s Workshop by Banks and Company’s Holiday Window Designer, Leigh Davidson. Attorney Joshua Sword served as Santa at Santa’s Workshop. Lovie Parks with the Extension Service donated over 150 gifts to children.
The Chamber and the Eutaw Garden Club will host the Christmas Coffee Shop at Ruby’ throughout the month of December on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. from 7:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The Coffee Shop, which opened on December 5th, is sponsored by Greenetrack, Inc.
Baseball Country will close out the holiday festivities with Christmas Eve on the Square. Christmas Eve on the Square will take place on December 24 from 9 a.m. until 11.am. On December 23, 2019 Children may sign up and wear their pajamas to hear Santa read Twas the Night Before Christmas located at the Coffee Shop. Milk and cookies for a $1.
It will be a fun time for all. For additional information, please contact Phillis Belcher at 205-372-9769.
Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce President Beverly Gordan would like to thank everyone for coming together and making this years annual Christmas parade and tree Lighting ceremony a joyous occasion, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Properous New Year.
Former Probate Judge Earlean Isaac would also like to thank the participants for they support.

Bingo facilities distribute $359,660 to local entities for October, with $72,000 unspecified

Shown Above: Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Union Mayor James Gaines, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Greene County Hospital Board CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh, Greene County School Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, Boligee City Councilwoman Ernestine Wade, Representing the City of Eutaw, Ruthie Thomas, Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson and Forkland City Councilman Joe Tuck.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $359,660 for the month of October 2019 from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions for October are contributed by Greenetrack, Inc., Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. Green Bingo is no longer in operation, however, a bingo license was issued by Sheriff Jonathan Benison to a new entity, the Raymond Austin Memorial Foundation for Rural Advancement & Development, Inc. on August 8, 2019.
The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
The following distribution reports, excluding the Palace, also contain an additional $24,000 from each bingo operation but does not give the recipient of this total amount of $72,000.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500. ( + $24,000 for undesignated recipient)
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500. (+ $24,000 for undesignated recipient)
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,300 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0-no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,300.( + $24,000 for undesignated recipient)
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $151,360 to the following: Greene County Commission, $-0- (no distribution); Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $80,960; City of Eutaw, $24,640; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $7,040; Greene County Board of Education, $7,040 and the Greene County Health System, $17,600.

Newswire: Climate activists at Madrid Summit denounce inaction by World leaders

African protestors call attention to climate change

Dec. 9, 2019 (GIN) – As the 25th United Nations climate conference moved into its second week, environmental activists from around the world denounced the influence of corporate power plainly visible at the Madrid summit and took to the streets in a massive climate protest led by indigenous leaders and youth.
The summit — known as COP25, or conference of parties — has so far focused on meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to “well below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.” But climate scientists say the talks are failing to produce the drastic measures necessary to address the climate crisis.
Protesters from India, Africa, the U.S., the UK, Europe and Latin America linked arms to march through Madrid’s city center.
Nigerian environmental organizer, Godwin Ojo, explained the purpose of his participation. “We are here to stop corporate power. We are here to stop corporate capture of the state, corporate capture of the U.N., corporate capture of resources.
“We want to put an end to climate change. All over the south, there is flooding. A lot of people are dying from climate change. And now the farmers are unable to plant because there are rainfall problems in Nigeria.
“Multinationals have totally grabbed the reins of government,” he observed. “Economic concerns overrule all other interests. Industry continues to degrade the environment, overexploit crude oil resources, destroy people’s livelihoods, pollute the waterways – they can’ t even be brought to acknowledge the damage they are doing, let alone clean it up.
“What is their driving force? Profit, profit and more profit. Human rights violations, climate change, none of it matters. Climate change even to the point of disaster is business.”
“Africa needs to receive means of implementation,” added Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, a lead negotiator from the Africa Group. “We need to receive financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity building. And these are not outrageous asks.”
Nakabuye Hilda Flavia of Uganda remarked: “This reminds me a bit of the rampant racism and apartheid my ancestors endured… We are suffering severe effects of climate change, as if coming from the global south is a mortal sin, with no or very little action from developing countries.”
“Developed countries must be ashamed of themselves given the amount of carbon they emit compared to what Africa is emitting. We almost emit nothing but we are suffering the most.” w/pix of climate protest in Durban, South Africa

Newswire: End of Kamala Harris’ White House campaign, ignites discussion on her treatment

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Senator Kamala Harris

On December 3, Senator Kamala Harris of California suspended her campaign for the White House. Harris’ decision was announced by video after four straight weeks of negative media coverage regarding her campaign organization and strategy.
Harris’s campaign started with a bang and a ton of media attention. She announced her run for the presidency on January 27 to a crowd of over 20,000 in Oakland, Calif. But after a dynamic and promising start, Harris’ campaign struggled with a consistent message and then low poll numbers. Some political observers theorized that the entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden in the race hurt Harris’ campaign.
Many also noted that Harris was treated differently and more harshly than other candidates running for The White House in 2020.
“I really appreciated getting the opportunity to draw attention to the manufactured disinformation campaign against #KamalaHarris. Many articles will write about the gossip yet won’t acknowledge the tragically effective suppression campaign against her,” wrote Reecie Colbert who focuses on the views and politics impacting African American women.
“A lot of people won’t realize the depth of this tragedy for a while – or ever. But this was what we needed. The best person for the job to vanquish Trump and get our country on track. Too much focus on disinformation and polls instead of what’s right for America,” wrote Reginald Hudlin about Harris on twitter.
“Sen. Kamala Harris, a proud graduate of Howard University, and a fearless advocate for equal justice under the law has decided to suspend her 2020 presidential campaign. Something tells me we will hear more from her in the future. Thank you Senator Harris for your courage and tenacity,” observed Donna Brazile.
“Thank you Kamala Harris for running a spirited and issue-oriented campaign. I look forward to working with you to defeat the most dangerous president in history and ending the hatred and divisiveness that he has created,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Harris was on the only African American women running for the White House in 2020. She was the second African American woman, the first since Shirley Chisholm’s historic run in 1972, to run for The White House as a major party candidate in 47 years.
Rumors are already circulating that Harris may be selected as a running mate or for a cabinet position at a later date.
“To all the candidates, staff, and volunteers who have worked their hearts out for presidential campaigns that have ended—remember that fighting for what you believe in is always worth it,” wrote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on December 3, hours after Harris announced she was ending her campaign.

Newswire: Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against Trump

By Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clarke Jalonick, Associated Press

From left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff, D-Calif., unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol in what she called a “solemn act.” Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House.
“He endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington. “Our next election is at risk… That is why we must act now.”
The charges unveiled Tuesday stem from Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals as he withheld aid to the country.
Trump tweeted ahead of the announcement that impeaching a president with a record like his would be “sheer Political Madness!”
The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president.
n drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment articles more focused on Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. House Democrats have announced two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Trump, meanwhile, insisted he did “NOTHING” wrong and that impeaching a president with a record like his would be “sheer Political Madness!”
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Judge John Roberts would preside over any impeachment trial, which would be held every day except Sunday until senators vote to convict or acquit President Trump of the articles.
McConnell said the Senate would hear the case House officials present before deciding whether to call witnesses, the Examiner reports.
“Or, it could decide that they’ve heard enough and they believe they know what would happen and move to vote on the two articles of impeachment,” the majority leader said.
Fifty-one Senate votes would be required to acquit Trump — and that would most likely happen, McConnell told reporters.
A two-thirds majority vote of the 100-member Senate is necessary for conviction and for removing Trump from office. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
“I said I would be totally surprised if there were 67 senators to remove the president,” McConnell said, “and that remains my view.”

Newswire: SOS calls for using the Alabama Bicentennial to remember, recognize and rectify past history

        The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) held a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama to call for Governor Kay Ivey, the Alabama State Legislature and the public to use the celebration of the Alabama Bicentennial to “remember, recognize and rectify the state’s racial history.  
        SOS is a movement comprised of more than 40 statewide organizations in Alabama focused on improving the lives of all Alabamians.  Sanders said, “We call upon Alabama to use this occasion of the celebration of the Bicentennial to remember all the history of the State of Alabama and to recognize the wrongs committed in order to repair and to restore the deepest hope for Alabama’s future.”

      “This year Alabama is celebrating its Bicentennial – the 200th anniversary of our state’s founding.  It is good to celebrate, but we need to understand what we celebrate. We need to know that we can do better.  We need to correct that which we did not do right.  To celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial without acknowledging all the history of Alabama – including the taking of Native American lands, the enslaving of Black people, and the taking of the dignity and rights of Black Alabama citizens during Jim Crow segregation – does not lay a strong foundation to build the next 200 years,” said attorney and former State Senator Hank Sanders at a news conference on the steps of the Alabama Capitol today at noon.   

“To celebrate the Bicentennial without changing the present does not truly the 200 years since Alabama’s founding. Alabama has hundreds of thousands of citizens without medical care, and Alabama can do something about that right now. All it has to do is expand Medicaid. That would be a true celebration of Alabama’s first 200 years,” said John Zippert, Chair of the SOS Health Committee and Chair of the Board of the Greene County Health System.

“The advertisements for the Bicentennial show Native Americans, African Americans and Whites, and that is good but it is misleading. The Confederate monuments still stand on Capitol grounds, and a statute of Dr. J. Marion Sims still stands on Capitol grounds. We can truly honor these 200 years by removing the Confederate monuments and putting up monuments to those who fought to preserve the United States of America, including the 6,000 Black soldiers from Alabama who served in the Union Army,” said attorney and Civil Rights activist Faya Rose Toure.

“The promotions of the Bicentennial honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Booker T. Washington, but there are no statues on the Capitol grounds recognizing them. As we go into the next 200 years, in the spirit of unity we need to start by expanding Medicaid, removing from the Capitol the statutes of those who fought the legitimate government of the United States, and including statutes of people who fought for and lifted those who were excluded. Today is International Human Rights Day, which is especially appropriate because we need to acknowledge the denial of human rights in Alabama’s past,” said Martha Morgan, attorney and Law Professor Emerita at the University of Alabama School of Law.

The Greene County Democrat is publishing a Guest Editorial, by Attorney Faya Rose Toure, on page 4 of this newspaper, which gives more details on the concerns which prompted the SOS press conference.

Newswire: Rep. Sewell praises House passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act

Washington, D.C. – On Friday, December 6, 2019 , U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) praised the House passage of H.R. 4, her Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill will restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by outlining a process to determine which states and localities with a recent history of voting rights violations must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice.
“Voting is personal to me, not only because I represent America’s Civil Rights District—but because it was on the streets of my hometown, Selma, Alabama, that foot soldiers shed their blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge so that all Americans—regardless of race—could vote!” Sewell said. “I am so proud that, today, the House took critical steps in addressing the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision and passed H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full strength.”
The Supreme Courts’ 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlined the qualifications needed to determine which states are required by the Justice Department to pre-clear elections changes in states with a history of voter discrimination.
Since the Shelby decision, nearly two-dozen states have implemented restrictive voter ID laws and previously-covered states have closed or consolidated polling places, shortened early voting and imposed other measures that restrict voting.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) seeks to restore the VRA by developing a process to determine which states must pre-clear election changes with the Department of Justice. It will also require a nationwide, practice-based pre-clearance of known discriminatory practices, including the creation of at-large districts, inadequate multilingual voting materials, cuts to polling places, changes that reduce the days or hours of in person voting on Sundays during the early voting period and changes to the maintenance of voter registration lists that adds a basis or institutes a new process for removal from the lists, where the jurisdiction includes racial or language minority populations above a certain percent threshold.
Under H.R. 4, there are three ways to become a covered jurisdiction that is required to pre-clear election changes:
States with a history of 15 or more violations at any level in the previous 25 years; or
States with a history of 10 or more violations, if one violation occurs at the state level in the previous 25 years; or
Political subdivisions or localities with 3 or more violations in that subdivision in the previous 25 years.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act now heads to the Senate for consideration, where it was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
Many are now calling on the Senate to take up the measure. Rev. Dr. William Barber, the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and the architect of the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, counts among those calling out Senate leaders.
“The U.S. House passed legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act,” Barber stated. “If [GOP Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell refuses to take it up in the Senate, he’s confessing that he believes the GOP can’t win without voter suppression.”
Gerrymandering, unfair voter I.D. laws, and intimidation at the polls are among the tactics being used to prevent voters of color from casting votes, stated Marcela Howell, the founder, and president of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.
“Passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act by the House is a first step toward restoring our democracy. We applaud the House of Representatives for passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019,” Howell stated.
“The wholesale disenfranchisement of voters threatens our democracy. Conservative lawmakers across the country are pulling out all the stops to prevent people of color – especially Black people – from exercising our right to vote,” she stated.
Howell continued: “We didn’t march and die fighting for our right to vote only to have that right denied us in this new Jim Crow era –fueled by the racist policies of conservative state legislators and the terrible decision in Shelby v. Holder by the Supreme Court that reinforced these oppressive laws.
“We call on Sen. Mitch McConnell to follow the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop the assault on voting rights by scheduling a Senate vote on the Voting Rights Advancement Act as soon as possible.
“We encourage voters across the country to unite in resistance by holding their elected representatives accountable and, most of all, by exercising their right to vote in local, state, and federal elections.”
The bill is supported by more than 60 national organizations, including the NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NALEO Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Native American Rights Fund, League of Women Voters of the United States, AAUW, ACLU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Communications Workers of America, SEIU, UAW, Democracy 21, Democracy Initiative, End Citizens United Action Fund, Sierra Club, and League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

DST Alumnae Chapter provides Thanksgiving dinners for a family in Greene and a family in Hale Counties

1st photo: Mrs. Loydleetta Wabbington, representing Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., presents Thanksgiving dinner for local family to Greene County DHR staff, Beverly Vester, QA Coordinator.

2nd photo: Hale County DHR staff receives Thanksgiving dinner for local family. L to R: Jerilyn White, Shana Lucy, Social Service Supervisor and Yolanda Curry.

On Tuesday, November 26, 2019, the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. provided Thanksgiving dinners for a family in Greene County and a family in Hale County. The dinners were provided through the respective county’s Department of Human Resources (DHR), who selected the recipient families. This is an annual service provided by the DST Alumnae Chapter. Phillis Belcher is Chair of the Chapter’s Courtesy Committee. Mrs. Loydleetta Wabbington serves as Co-Chairperson of the Courtesy Committee. Isaac Atkins is DST Sorority Greene County Alumnae Chapter President.

ALEA’s Driver License Division to open five additional locations on Dec. 7 for Saturday Services

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Driver License Division on Dec. 7 is adding to its Saturday operations lineup.
Beginning this week, the Montgomery, Sheffield, Jacksonville, Tuscaloosa and Dothan locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday. The agency launched the Saturday pilot program in April with its Birmingham, Opelika and Mobile offices; and it expanded Nov. 2 to include its Huntsville office. On Saturdays, walk-in customers are assisted on a first-come, first-served basis for such services as first issuances and renewals of standard driver licenses and non-driver IDs, as well as STAR IDs; knowledge and road skills tests; and out-of-state transfers. For reinstatement, customers may call 334.242.4400 Monday through Friday.