Newswire : Alabama state school board member Ella Bell has died

By Trisha Powell Crain | tcrain@al.com

Ella Bell


Alabama state school board member Ella Bell died Sunday, November 3, after an illness, a state board of education official confirmed.
“I’ll be in prayer for the family of State Board of Education member, Ella Bell,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “We shared a passion for the children of our state. She was an ardent champion of her district and will be missed. May the Lord be with her family and friends during this time.”
Felicia Lucky, President of the Black Belt Community Foundation says,”We mourn the loss of Ella Bell. She was a tireless warrior and advocate for children and the education they deserve during her many years of service on the Alabama Board of Education. Representing District 5, she became a champion of the Alabama Black Belt.
“For many years, Ms. Bell provided invaluable service and leadership in her role as a member of the BBCF Board of Directors. We are deeply grateful for all her contributions and we will m iss her wit, pluck and tireless dedication to the cause of fair and equitable accdess to quality education, especially for those in the Alabama Black Belt.”
The Black Belt Community Foundation family mourns the lBell represented District 5, which covers west and southwestern areas of Alabama, including most of the Black Belt counties. Bell, a Democrat, was first elected in 2000 and was serving her fifth term as a member of the Alabama Board of Education. The Montgomery Advertiser reported Bell ran for mayor of Montgomery in 2015. “The driving force behind my run for mayor is that I’ve lived here,” Bell said of her reason for running, the newspaper reported.
Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey confirmed Bell died Sunday morning. “The Alabama State Department of Education is shocked and saddened by the passing of an education icon,” Mackey said in a statement. “Mrs. Ella Bell dedicated her life to the betterment of the students of Alabama. Her tenacity and steadfast resolve in fighting for equity for all students will be her legacy always. Her presence on the Alabama State Board of Education will be sorely missed.”
Bell was known for her provocative statements at the board table, often pointing out racial disparities in student outcomes, unequal access to educational opportunities based on wealth, and asking for help and resources for students in her district.
Board member Stephanie Bell was first elected in 1995 and served with Ella Bell the entire time Bell was on the board. “Ella referred to us as “The Bell Sisters,” something I will always treasure. Heaven has gained an angel who sincerely cared about those she served,” Stephanie Bell said Sunday.
“I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to serve on the state Board of Education with my dear friend and sister in Christ, Ella Bell,” Stephanie Bell said. “Our conversations always included updates on family members before focusing on the latest concerns regarding children, parents, and educators in her beloved District 5. Ella was extremely close to her sister and immensely proud of her son, daughter, and grandson. She often shared special stories about her precious Mother.”
State school board member Dr. Cynthia McCarty, R-Jacksonville, said Ella Bell’s heart “was always for children and especially for those who had the least advantages. She stood up for those less able to take care and fight for themselves. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her, and I will miss her.”
Ella Bell was in attendance at the Oct. 10 state board meeting, where she dressed in red alongside advocates and fellow board members in celebration of Dyslexia Awareness month.
Bell completed her Master’s degree as Alabama State University in 1974 and her Bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee University in 1969. She completed coursework toward a doctorate in education leadership at the University of Alabama.

Greene County candidates qualify for 2020 elections

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

Newswire : 85 percent of Blacks want Trump Impeached

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

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


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

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

Alabama New South Coalition holds Fall Convention

ANSC new state officers: L to R: Debra Foster, President, Everett Wess, First Vice President, Sharon Wheeler, Treasurer and Patricia Lewis Corresponding Secretary
ANSC Healthcare Panel: Rep. Merika Coleman speaking, Norma Jackson, Sen Malika Sanders Fortier and John Zippert ANSC past president.

On Saturday, November 2, Alabama New South Coalition held its Fall Convention at the RSA Activity Center on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery.
More than 200 delegates from around the state attended this 34th. annual convention of the predominately Black and progressive political and social change organization. The theme of the ANSC Fall Convention was “ Lifting our Values, our Voices and our Votes”.
The convention had three workshops on important voting issues; two mayors – Mayor Gary Richardson of Midfield and newly elected Mayor Tim Ragland of Talladega – addressed the luncheon. U. S. Senator Doug Jones also addressed the group about his service in Washington D. C. and plans for the upcoming 2020 election.
The members of ANSC approved a report from their Nominating Committee for new state officers for a two-year term beginning at the end of the Convention. Debra Foster of Calhoun County was elected President, Everett Wess of Jefferson County elected First Vice President, Ivan Peebles, Greene County, Second Vice-President (youth), Sharon Wheeler, Montgomery, Treasurer, Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County for Recording Secretary and Patricia Lewis of Mobile for Corresponding Secretary.
The Healthcare Workshop heard from Rep. Merika Coleman of Jefferson County, Senator Malika Sanders Fortier of Dallas County and Norma Jackson of Macon County.
Rep. Coleman said, “Working people in Alabama deserve healthcare that is why we have been working to expand Medicaid for those whose income is up to 138% of the poverty level. This impacts over 300,000 people from all parts of Alabama. Governor Ivey promised that after we passed an increase in the gas tax that she and the Republican leadership in the Legislature would revisit the issue of Medicaid Expansion but they have not followed through. This is because they know it would involve an increase in the budget, which would have to be paid for with increase in taxes or some other changes.”
Senator Fortier, said, “Without Medicaid Expansion, 340,000 people in Alabama face terror in securing health care. They are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. Our state is 5th worse in the nation, in our rate of infant mortality which is preventable with expanded healthcare coverage.” Fortier says she has been working with other Senators of both parties to find a solution to expand Medicaid. “ We need $158 million for year one and $30 million each year thereafter to fund Medicaid expansion in the state of Alabama. The Federal government provides 90% of the cost, under the Affordable Care Act and the state must match with 10%. We can find this money to cover 340,000 working adults, provide 30,000 new jobs in the healthcare field, keep hospitals, especially rural hospitals open, and improve the general health and wellbeing of our people in Alabama.”
Norma Jackson, Chair of the Macon County ANSC Chapter said, “We have a sickness-care system in Alabama not a health care system. We need to do more to take care of our own health alongside doctors, hospitals and others.” She suggested five steps: “eat fresh foods, drink clean water, breath fresh air, do exhilarating exercise and have rejuvenating rest for better healthcare that we can take responsibility for ourselves.”
The panel on Criminal Justice and Economic Development featured three speakers including Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa, County Commissioner Sheila Tyson of Jefferson County and Robert Avery of Gadsden.
Rep. England said, “Conditions in Alabama’s prison system are so overcrowded and bad that inmates are condemned to cruel and unusual punishment worse than the death penalty.” He said, “ The solutions lie in reducing the use of the system as a debtors prison, for those who cannot pay fines; more restorative justice, where prisoners are taught a skill in prison that they can use to make a living when they come out of prison, pay correction officers a fair wage, to attract better people and building more prisons to replace existing out of date and overcrowded prisons.”
Commissioner Tyson spoke to removing barriers to people to get workforce training and jobs with new industries. She said that she worked to change bus routes to go in low-income neighborhoods to increase participation by poor people in workforce training for new jobs coming into her district.
The third panel on Voting Rights was moderated by Faya Rose Toure and included: Robert Turner of Bullock County who stressed that a voteless people are a helpless people; Sam Walker of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma; Senator Bobby Singleton, who spoke to the issue that half of the registered Black voters in Alabama, do not turnout to vote; and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, who spoke on his efforts to encourage people in jails, prior to trial and conviction, who are eligible to vote, to vote absentee and helping to restore the voting rights of previously incarcerated felons, under Alabama’s new Moral Turpitude Law.

Newswire: British Museum – the World’s largest receiver of stolen goods, says author of new book

Nov. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An outspoken human rights lawyer in a new book is calling for European and US institutions to return treasures taken from subjugated peoples by “conquerors or colonial masters.”

In the new book by Geoffrey Robertson, the British Museum is accused of exhibiting “pilfered cultural property” and urged to ‘wash its hands of blood and return Elgin’s loot’.

“The trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display,” Robertson charges.

His views appear in the book, “Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure.”

Along with a distinguished career as a trial lawyer, human rights advocate and United Nations judge, Robertson has appeared in many celebrated trials, defending Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange, prosecuting Hastings Banda and representing Human Rights Watch in the proceedings against General Pinochet.

In his just released book, he scores the British Museum for allowing an unofficial “stolen goods tour”, “which stops at the Elgin marbles, Hoa Hakananai’a, the Benin bronzes and other pilfered cultural property”. The three items he mentioned are wanted by Greece, Easter Island and Nigeria respectively.

“That these rebel itineraries are allowed is a tribute to the tolerance of this great institution, which would be even greater if it washed its hands of the blood and returned Elgin’s loot,” he wrote.

He accused the museum of telling “a string of carefully-constructed lies and half- truths” about how the marbles “were ‘saved’ or ‘salvaged’ or ‘rescued’ by Lord Elgin, who came into possession of them lawfully.”

He criticized “encyclopedic museums” such as the British Museum, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York that “lock up the precious legacy of other lands, stolen from their people by wars of aggression, theft and duplicity”.

“This is a time for humility,” he observed, “something the British, still yearning for the era when they ruled the world do not do very well. Before it releases any of its share of other people’s cultural heritage, the British Museum could mount an exhibition – ‘The Spoils of Empire’.”

Advocating the return of cultural property based on human rights law principles, Robertson observes that the French president, Emmanuel Macron has “galvanized the debate” by declaring that “African cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European museums”.

“Politicians may make more or less sincere apologies for the crimes of their former empires, but the only way now available to redress them is to return the spoils of the rape of Egypt and China and the destruction of African and Asian and South American societies,” he writes.

“We cannot right historical wrongs – but we can no longer, without shame, profit from them.”

Newswire : Black teen suicide reaches historic highs

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

Black teen walking along train tracks
Suicide prevention workshop

African American teenagers in the United States historically have had lower suicide rates than their white counterparts – until now.
A new study analyzing suicide among American teens by a team led by researchers at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University have uncovered several troubling trends from 1991 to 2017, among Black high school students in particular.

Researchers discovered that between 1991 and 2017, there has been an increase in the number of African American teens who said they had attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide rates for teenagers of other races and ethnicities either remained the same or decreased over that period. The researchers did not cite a reason for the trend.
Bill Prasad, a licensed professional counselor with Contemporary Medicine Associates in Bellaire, Texas, cited what he believed are some reasons. “Lack of accessibility to mental health care, the inability to pay for medications and healthcare coverage, the lack of acceptance of mental illness among some members of the Black community, and the availability of firearms,” Prasad stated. Prasad was not among the researchers involved in the study.
Frank King, the so-called “Mental Health Comedian,” called the problem a ‘cultural phenomenon. “Young people in these groups are less likely to share their issues surrounding depression and thoughts of suicide with friends and family than youth in other racial and ethnic groups,” King stated.
Among the answers is starting the conversation on depression and suicide in high-risk groups,” he said. “A partial answer is giving young people permission to give voice to their experiences and feelings, without recrimination, such as ‘If you were stronger in Christ this wouldn’t be happening,’ or ‘What do you have to be depressed about, we’ve given you everything. Your father and I started our life with nothing,’ and so forth,” King stated.
Researchers in the NYU study noted that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens from all demographics. They found that only accidents kill more young people than suicide.
The study also revealed that, in 2017, approximately 2,200 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 died by suicide.
Researchers gathered information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 198,540 high school students from 1991 to 2017.
Among high school students of all demographics, 1 in 5 said they were thinking about suicide, and 1 in 10 said they had made a plan to end their lives.
CNN Health reported that the study is in line with earlier research that has shown African American boys, especially younger boys between the ages of 5 and 11, have experienced an increase in the rate of suicide deaths. In black children ages 5 to 12, the suicide rate was found to be two times higher compared with white children, according to CNN Health.

The study authors found “an increased risk in reported suicide attempts among African-American teens between 1991 and 2017, and boys saw an increase in injuries related to those attempts. That might mean that black teens were using more lethal means when attempting suicide.”
They found a decline in attempts overall among teens who identified as white, Hispanic, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
Reasons for suicide explored
“As an African American woman, suicide is prominent in our community for two reasons: we often do not know how to handle it amongst our families, and the pressures on our culture are rising,” said Sabriya Dobbins of Project Passport LLC, a company that encourages getaway retreats centered around three mental wellness areas: reflection, community and personal.
“Oftentimes when a black family member says they want to take their life, the family may resort to church, belittle their response and tell them to stop overreacting, or simply assume it is not a big deal,” Dobbins stated.
“African American families are taught to be tough and to hold it together because it is already ‘us against the world.’ We are taught to put our heads down and work hard to get those degrees and move up in our careers.
“This causes expectations to be too high, then depression and anxiety are heightened. Not only are black youth trying to satisfy their families and be strong, but they are trying to fight their way through a world that is not always accepting. A world where they are dying in alarming numbers in senseless crimes. It is a double edge sword.”
Parents should be on the lookout for risk factors, such as a recent or severe loss like death or divorce, said Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent.
Dr. Walfish also counts as a regular expert child psychologist on CBS Television’s “The Doctors,” and she co-stars on WE TV’s, “Sexbox.”
“Parents should take heed when they observe specific warning signs like changes in behavior, including difficulty concentrating, difficulty focusing on school or following routine activities, researching ways to kill oneself on the internet, increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs, and acting recklessly,” Walfish stated.
Included among other signs are changes in personality, appearing withdrawn, isolating to their room, irritability, extreme mood changes that are more than typical moodiness, exhibiting rage or talking about seeking revenge, Walfish added.
Other alarms include changes in sleep patterns, insomnia, oversleeping, nightmares, talking about dying, going away, or different types of self-harm, she said.
“Teaching problem-solving and conflict resolution skills, building a strong connection to family, friends, and community support are ways to help,” Walfish stated.
“Restrict access to highly lethal means of suicide, such as firearms, and provide access to effective mental health care, including substance use treatment. Talk to your child. Many people are fearful that talking to their children about suicide will increase their risk of suicide. This is a myth,” Walfish said.
How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or 1-800-432-8366. You can also visit http://teenlineonline.org.

Newswire: Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa elected new chair of Alabama Democratic Party at Saturday meeting; infighting likely to continue

By: Associated Press and Montgomery Advertiser

Rep. Chris England

Rep. Christopher England, of Tuscaloosa, received 104 of 171 ballots cast at the Saturday, November 2 meeting of the State Democratic Executive Committee, the state party’s governing body. This comes after months of in-house bickering about the party’s leadership.

But the election may not settle the ongoing battle between two factions of the party over governance and leadership, as the previously elected chair said she would not step down.

“Elected officials had to stand in the gap and create the platform the party did not have,” England said before the vote. “You’ve seen me stand for the issues that matter to us.”

The vote came after the approximately 175 members of the SDEC voted 172 to 0 to remove Chair Nancy Worley and Vice-Chair Randy Kelley.

After the vote, Worley said she was reelected in 2018 and she intends to continue leading the party.“The true SDEC members did not elect two new officers in our places today,” Worley said in a statement. “Randy and I look forward to continuing our leadership roles.”

But the meeting represented a win for a group of Democrats opposed to Worley, who has chaired the state Democratic Party since 2013, and the Democratic National Committee, which ordered the state party in February to hold new elections and revise its bylaws to provide greater diversity on the SDEC.

England, 43, a city attorney for Tuscaloosa, has served in the Alabama Legislature since 2006. He has been at the forefront of attempts to change the leadership and direction of the party and pledged before the vote to work to “leave no stone unturned” in rebuilding the party. He promised to rebuild local county organizations and staff up the state party.

“As we kick the old folks out, the new folks are coming in,” he said. “We want to seize on that energy. We’re going to raise money, money like you’ve never seen.”

Former Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, was elected vice-chair.
Worley has previously accused the DNC of sending contradictory instructions and of trying to dilute the strength of African American voters in the party. The DNC said Worley missed deadlines and was nonresponsive to instructions.

Without the orders implemented, the DNC refused to ratify the state’s delegate selection plan and warned that inaction by the state party could prevent Alabama from being seated at next year’s Democratic National Convention. That would effectively invalidate votes cast in next March’s Democratic presidential primary.
A group of SDEC members, backed by U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, drafted a new set of bylaws that were approved by the DNC in September. The members then got a majority of the SDEC to vote to hold a meeting to ratify those bylaws on Oct. 5. At that meeting, the members set leadership elections for Nov. 2.

Worley proceeded with her own meeting on Oct. 12, which ratified a second set of bylaws — not approved by the DNC — and set elections for Nov. 16. On Wednesday, Worley and Kelly sued to stop the meeting of the Democrats.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin blocked the meeting in a decision late Friday, ruling that it would cause “chaos and confusion.” But the Alabama Supreme Court stayed the order about two hours later, allowing the gathering to proceed.

The new party bylaws preserve the Minority Caucus to nominate African Americans to the SDEC. But they also create new caucuses to nominate Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ individuals, youth and those with disabilities. Approximately 68 people were seated from the youth, Hispanic, Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander caucuses on Saturday.

Greene County Hospital holds ribbon cutting for new Emergency Room area

Shown above Nursing Director, Lakesha Jones-Gill, Commissioner Roshanda Summerville, CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh, Ollie Braggs, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and Chair of the Greene County Hospital Board, John Zippert.

The Greene County Health System held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, October 24, 2019 for a newly renovated and equipped Emergency Room area in its Hospital facility.
Ollie Braggs, the first patient served by the Greene County Hospital on November 20, 1961, received the honor to cut the ribbon on the new area.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Greene County Health System thanked the people for taking time to attend the open house and ribbon cutting. She thanked the Greene Ladies, women’s auxiliary for their dedicated volunteer service, the staff, the Board of Directors, the GCHS Foundation and others in the community for their help and support. She also thanked members of the helicopter health transfer service who were present for their work and support.
John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board also thanked those in attendance, including three county commissioners – Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner and Roshanda Summerville for attending. He spoke about the GCHS services including the 20-bed hospital, 72 beds Nursing Home – Residential Care Center and the Physicians Clinic.
In relation to the ribbon cutting, Zippert stressed that “Our Emergency Room and services will help to stabilize you in case of an accident, stroke, heart attack or other injury. Come to our facility first, let us restore your vital signs, stop bleeding and decide what kind of additional care you need and send you on by ambulance or helicopter to another health care facility. Many people have come to our emergency facilities first; and had their lives saved so they could be transferred to other places.”
Zippert reminded the audience that there are many health care services available at and through GCHS, including Medicare 21 day recuperation at the end of a hospital stay, physical and occupational therapy, X-ray, CT-scan, lab testing and many others. “You have to speak up and ask to come back and use GCHS services even if you are somewhere else. The choice is yours. But if we do not use the services of our health system – then we will surely loose them.”
Zippert also suggested that supporters of the GCHS need to be pushing the Governor and their legislators to approve Medicaid Expansion, to provide health insurance for the working poor. “Expanding Medicaid would do a lot to improve the financial outlook of our small rural hospital and many others around the state,” he said.
Ms. Braggs said she was a 16 year old first time mother trying to give birth at home in Boligee, with the aid of a midwife when complications developed. Dr. Bethany’s wife came to check on her and she got her husband Dr. Bethany and Dr. Joe P. Smith to admit her to the newly constructed Greene County Hospital in November of 1961 She gave birth to her son, Hubert Lewis, on November 20, 1961 and they were the first patients and baby born in the facility. Dr. William Fredericks assisted in the birth.
GCHS presented Ms. Braggs with a fruit basket in recognition of her place in the history of the facility. The newly renovated Emergency Room suite consists of four rooms on a corridor, equipped with ‘crash carts’ and other medical devices and supplies. The area is interconnected with X-ray, the CT scanner, laboratory and other diagnostic tools to help determine your health status.

Branch Heights residents protest water shut-offs Eutaw City Council approves motion for a state audit of the Water Department

Mayor Raymond Steele addresses Branch Heights residents.

At its October 22, 2019 regular meeting the Eutaw City Council approved a motion by a vote of 4 to 2 to conduct a state audit of the City’s water department. Council members: Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell, Sheila H. Smith and LaJeffrey Carpenter voted in favor while Councilman Bennie Abrams and Mayor Raymond Steele voted against the motion.
The Eutaw City Council has been expressing concern and discontent with the operation of the City Water Department for more than a year. The Council concerns include problems with the operation and accuracy of the self-reporting water meters; problems with the soft wear reading the meters and creating the water bills, and a drop-off in revenues from the water department due to billing and collection problems.

The Council asked the Mayor repeatedly to correct problems with the water system and billing. The Mayor has said he is handling the problems but the Council members point out that there has not been any improvement in the operation of the department.
Many of the City’s 1,400+ water customers report that they receive the same monthly minimum water bills each month regardless of usage. Other users report not receiving bills for months and then receiving a large bill all at once, which they say they cannot afford.
Council member Latasha Brown,” I made the motion for a state audit because we have got to get to the bottom of the problems in our water department. We need an independent review of the status of the meters, billing, collection and all other aspects of the system.

City shuts off water to 50 homes in Branch Heights

Mayor Raymond Steele says in response to the concerns of the City Council for the financial stability of the City Water Department that he decided to shut-off water supplies to 50 homes in Branch Heights that were more than three months behind in their water bills.
This action against the backdrop of unresolved problems in the City Water Department caused an uproar with many Branch Heights water customers crowding City Hall on Monday, October 28, 2019 for answers to the water shut-off, which they considered arbitrary and unfair.
“We want to have regular and quality water services. We are willing to pay but we want good water to drink not cloudy water and sometimes brown or red water. We also want to be sure the meters are reading correctly – so we will be billed monthly and fairly for our water usage,” said one angry Branch Heights resident.
In response to the citizen complaints, Mayor Steele said that he would turn the water back on and require all customers to pay their back bills by the end of November or face shut-off again. When asked if he would accept payment agreements for past water charges, Mayor Steele said the City needs to be paid like other utilities. People don’t ask Spire Gas Company or Alabama Power for payment plans, they pay their bills or get cut-off.

The Mayor also agreed to flush the lines in Branch Heights to clear the water system of sediments, which make it cloudy or different colors. “We will flush the lines to clear up the water,” said Steele.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson said she is worried that the Mayor is not really looking for long-term solutions to the problems of the City Water Department and system. “We need him to respond with a plan to resolve the long term financial problems of the system, make sure all the meters are working properly, work out reasonable repayment plans with people for their past debts and operate in a fair and equitable manner with all customers.”

City Council other business

In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

• agreed to find space for the offices of Ms. Lovie Parks, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, at the Carver Community Center facilities;

• approved a resolution, above the Mayor’s objections, to advertise for bids on the roads and streets in King Village. The Mayor said that there are other streets in town, which are in more need of paving and repair than King Village. He pointed to West End Avenue, which suffered from erosion due to recent storms, as more deserving than King Village, at this time;
• approved request of Ducks Unlimited for use of Carver School Gym, for their annual fundraising banquet on November 8, 2019, which included a special liquor license for the occasion;

• approved travel for Councilman Joe Lee Powell to attend Alabama League of Municipalities committee meeting in Montgomery on November 7, 2019.

Newswire : Senate passes Jones amendment to fund Heirs’ Property Program

Sen. Doug Jones speaking on floor of the Senate

WASHINGTON – By a vote of 91-1, the Senate passed an amendment on Monday, October 29, 2019, introduced by Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) to help heirs’ property landowners secure a clear title for their land. The amendment to the FY2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill includes $5 million to fund a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program Senator Jones was able to include in the 2018 Farm Bill. His provision authorized the Farm Service Agency to make loans that will help families resolve heir’s property ownership and succession issues.
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Rural Coalition worked on helping to frame the language for the heirs property sections of the 2018 Farm Bill which were introduced in a bi-partisan effort by Jones and Senator Tim Scott (R – SC).
Senator Jones took to the Senate floor immediately before the vote to encourage his colleagues to support the amendment. Copies of his statement are available on his werbsite.
Heirs’ property is land that has been informally passed down within families, often for several generations when the original owner fails to make a will. This can lead to costly legal complications and prevent landowners from qualifying for federal assistance. Heirs’ property is predominantly owned by African American farmers and producers and an estimated 60-percent of minority-owned land is projected to be heirs’ property.
Challenges associated with heirs’ property status are the leading cause of involuntary land loss among African Americans. Landowners of heirs’ property also cannot qualify for USDA loans necessary for farming, receive disaster relief funding, or use their land as collateral in private lending. More background on heirs’ property and the amendment are on the Senator’s website
Over the past year, Senator Jones has led a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to help these landowners gain fair access to federal programs and to make it easier to resolve legal issues that result from their heirs’ property status. In addition to the re-lending provision, Senator Jones also secured a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill to help heirs’ property owners obtain a USDA farm number, which is key to accessing assistance from the agency’s programs.
More information on Heirs Property and an upcoming national confertence is also available at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives website at www.federation.coop.