COVID-19

As of January 19, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,088,370 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(83,748) more than last week with 16,756 deaths (115) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,593 confirmed cases, (100 more cases than last week), with 47 deaths

Sumter Co. had 1,862 cases with 42 deaths

Hale Co. had 4,032 cases with 93 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Greene Co. commemorates Dr. King’s Birthday with march, rallies and church programs

Some of the participants at the MLK Birthday commemoration marched seven
times around the Old Courthouse Square.
Naomi Goodson Cyrus representing Valation Radio in Tuscaloosa presents award to Spiver Gordon for his lifetime
of service and civil rights
Spiver Gordon presents certificate to Rev. Kendrick Howell speaker at First Baptist Church, joined on podium by Rev. Joe Webb, Lester Cotton and Rev. Lynn Finch
Spiver Gordon joined by Carol Zippert presents certificate to
Sister Marta Tonon of the Guadalupan Multicultural Sisters
Spiver Gordon and Lester Cotton (R) present certificate to Fred Stanton
(L) of Panola, AL
Spiver Gordon and Whitney Spencer

Despite cold and rainy weather, Greene County citizens commemorated Dr. King’s Birthday with a weekend of programs, a march and rallies. The three days of activities starting on Saturday, January 15, 2022 were coordinated by Spiver W. Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement, Inc., which has two locations in the county packed with photographs, documents and other memorabilia of the Civil Rights Movement in Greene County and west Alabama.

Saturday’s program, on Dr. King’s actual birthday was held at Sandra Walker’s headquarters on Tuscaloosa Street downtown. After a spirited devotion, Commissioner Lester Brown of District 1spoke about the importance of grassroots peoples’ contributions to the movement. “Ms. Bessie Webb walked me to integrate Eutaw Primary School everyday when I was in second grade. Somebody made a way for me, so we have to make a way for the young people coming after us,” said Brown.

Carol P. Zippert, Chair of the Greene County School Board, said we must select people to public office that have our children at heart. “Hold your public officials accountable; Dr. King joined the sanitation workers in Memphis, in his last days to help them win respect and better working conditions. He was always working with people and communities to advance their needs and goals,” she said.

Spiver Gordon said, “My daddy died without the vote; I went to jail for helping people to vote absentee, what are we doing now to involve young folks in the struggle.” Lorenzo French, Chair of the Democratic Executive Committee reported on candidates qualifying for the May 24 primary.

Sister Marta Tonon of the Guadalupan Multicultural Sisters, who have a mission to aid the poor in Greene County, gave some remarks on her work with people in the area to combat poverty and help people improve their conditions. Gordon presented her with an award for the group’s work.

On Sunday, there was a program at First Baptist Church where Dr. King himself spoke during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement in Greene County. The program consisted of singing and preaching. Rev. Kendrick Howell, Pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church gave a ringing sermon on the topic, “We all love Dr. King – But we do not support his agenda!”

Howell, who also serves as Assistant Police Chief of Eutaw, said “We have gaming in our county, millions of dollars flow through, but we have no YMCA, with a real gym and swimming pool; we have no technology center to train our children to use computers.”

He continued, “Do not remember Dr. King just one day a year. We must do more to stand with the poor and pursue his agenda for all of us.”

On Monday, the program moved to the William M. Branch Courthouse, for a rally in the courtroom, which has a picture of Dr. King on permanent display above the judge’s seat. Spiver Gordon said, “ I live my life guided by these seven words – peace, freedom, justice, equality, unity, love and hope – which were also a part of Dr. King’s philosophy of life.”

After more singing and personal testimonies from people who participated in the movement, the group walked around the old Courthouse Square, now named for Sheriff Thomas Gilmore, seven times to honor Dr. King and for the biblical significance of God’s people walking around the walls of Jericho, seven times, until they fell.

 

Jimmie Benison announces candidacy for Greene County Sheriff

Hello fellow citizens. My name is Jimmie L. Benison, Sr. and I’m announcing my candidacy for Sheriff of Greene County. As many of you may know, this is my third time running for Greene County Sheriff, and you may wonder, why do I keep running. Well, I keep running because I keep caring. I’ve lived in Greene County all of my life and have worked in law enforcement for many years right here in Greene County and surrounding areas. I care that there are so many changes needed in our community.
I care that our schools need attention; our hospital needs help. We need care invested in our young children and so much more. As a father in law enforcement, I would rather see our young people in an after school facility than jail. I’m sure that we all share the same vision for our community. Better schools, more job opportunities, more industries, and better use of the resources that we do have.
We also need more transparency. As your Sheriff I can assure you that the county affairs under my jurisdiction will be an open book. My goal would be to form oversight committees to assure the proper use of our resources.
It is time for a change in our county, and I believe that the citizens are ready for a change. Together we can bring that about. So join me in making that change and vote Jimmie L. Benison, Sr., Sheriff of Greene County.

 

Bingo facilities distribute $497,549.58 for December, with $55,668.58 for sheriff’s supplemental fund

On Friday, January 14, 2022, Greene County Sheriff Department issued a listing of the bingo distributions for December, totaling $497,549.58 from four of the five licensed bingo gaming facilities. The December distribution reported by the sheriff does not include the additional $71,000 from Greenetrack, Inc. distributed to the same recipients, independent of the sheriff.
The bingo facilities distributing through the sheriff include Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo. The recipients of the December distributions from bingo gaming include Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, and Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Housing Authority of Greene County (Branch Heights), Department of Human Resources, the Greene County Library, Eutaw Housing Authority. Newly added sub charities include the Historical Society, REACH, Inc., Headstart Community Service and This Belong To US.
Bama Bingo gave a total of $114,995.03 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,026.89, including REACH; Community Service received and $466.77 and This Belong to Us received $93.35.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,995.03 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $8,070; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,027, including the Historical Society and REACH. Community Service received $466.77and This Belong to Us $92.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $118,288 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,027, including the Historical Society and REACH. Community Service received $467 and This Belong to Us received $92.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $149,271.52 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $65,182.92; City of Eutaw, $12,543; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5,254.50; Greene County Board of Education, $14,238 and the Greene County Health System, $14,238; Sub Charities received $1, 375, including the Historical Society and REACH $1375. Community Service received $625 and This Belong to Us received $125.
In the Sheriff’s December distribution report, supplemental funds, totaling $55,668.68, were provided by the four licensed facilities. Bama Bingo contributed $14,274.79; Frontier contributed $14,274.79; River’s Edge contributed $14,275 and Palace contributed $12,844.10 as sheriff’s supplemental funds.

 

Newswire: Calls grow for investigation into Bronx fire that took over a dozen African Lives

Grieving families at the Islamic Center of the Bronx PHOTO: Dean Moses




(TriceEdneyWire.com/Global Information Network) – A smoky building fire that raced through a 19 story building on an early Sunday this month took 17 lives – adults and children, many from the African nation of The Gambia – is raising questions about the building’s reported insufficient heat and automatic doors that should have been shut but weren’t working.

The Jan. 9 fire was the city’s deadliest since 1990, when arson at an unlicensed Bronx nightclub killed 87 people, mostly Honduran and Central American immigrants.

“I live 2 blocks from where it happen and let me tell you it’s heart breaking!” Michael C wrote on social media. “ I blame the NYC Dept of Building because when it’s cold the people are forced to buy space heaters! … Right now it’s 18F outside and my room is 50F freezing my hands off! I feel for those people! It’s a truly tragedy!”

“The law, that is building and fire code, is insufficient as well as often poorly enforced, and this is the case today in the Bronx and it was as well in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory,” said Elissa Sampson, a lecturer in Jewish studies at Cornell University.

“They were our aunts and uncles and others who were coming to our food pantry since the pandemic,” said Ajifanta Marenah, secretary of the Gambian Youth Organization, just blocks from the site of last Sunday’s fire. “This is a community of people who have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.”

The dead included Haji Dukary, 49, his wife, Haja Dukureh, 37, and their three young children. Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, and her 6-year-old son, Omar Jambang. Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, and three of her children. There was Seydou Toure, 12, and 5-year-old sister Haouwa Mahamadou. The youngest victim was 2-year-old Ousmane Konteh.

All 17 victims died of smoke inhalation, according to the city medical examiner. A communal funeral was held at the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bronx on Sunday morning, according to a board member.

“There’s a lesson to be learned about the neglect of government … and there’s a lesson to be learned about why this continues to happen in this corner of the Bronx,” said New York Attorney General Leticia James.

Tenants and relatives of the victims in Sunday’s fire have filed a class-action lawsuit against the current and previous owners of the building, which was built in 1972, according to court documents. They are seeking $2 billion in damages, according to the documents.
The city and various agencies were also given notice of a separate class-action lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages for alleged negligence in enforcing building codes. The storefront Gambian Youth Organization filled up last week with donated clothes, boxes of baby formula, toys and other items for the displaced.

The fire started when one of several space heaters that had been running for days malfunctioned in a third-floor duplex, a fire official told CNN.

The self-closing front door of the unit failed to close, according to fire officials. The fire-fueled smoke spread upward to the 15th floor, where another door failed to close automatically. Victims were found in stairwells on every floor, many in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Coincidentally, in The Gambia, media this week was covering a local fire that burned a compound with 8 houses in Faraba, Niani District, Central River Region North.

Mamadou Wague, father of eight, said the sound of his children screaming jolted him awake Sunday morning. Wague, an Uber driver who emigrated to the U.S. from Mali in 2000, said the fire burned all his family’s belongings. They are staying with friends in the Bronx.

“Poor people’s fire tragedies they’re big news for a very short time and then they fade away Ray Bromley, a professor emeritus of geography and planning at the State University of New York at Albany,. “By the time we get to the Super Bowl, this will be gone.”

Jaha Dukureh, who campaigned to have female genital mutilation banned in her home country, said that support from the Gambian community – both in the US and abroad – has been profound. But she added that the families affected by the blaze would need much more help. A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations.

Newswire: Maya Angelou first Black woman on U.S. coin

Maya Angelou quarter

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

 

Famous author and noted civil rights leader Maya Angelou became the first African American woman featured on the 25-cent coin.

The U.S. Mint began shipping the quarters on January 10.

Reportedly, the Angelou coin is the first in a series designed to celebrate the accomplishments of American women.

“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”
Angelou, whose works include such classics as “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “And Still I Rise,” and “The Heart of a Woman,” died in 2014.

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.

The commemorative new coin features Angelou with her arms uplifted like a bird in flight and a rising sun behind her.

“They are images inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived,” officials at the U.S. Mint said in the statement.

To the right are the words “e pluribus Unum,” Latin for “out of many, one,” a phrase also on the national seal.

The flip side features a portrait of George Washington.

“Excited to announce that Maya Angelou becomes the first Black woman to appear on a U.S. quarter,” California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee wrote on Twitter.

“The phenomenal women who shaped American history have gone unrecognized for too long – especially women of color,” Rep. Lee wrote.

“Proud to have led this bill to honor their legacies.”

Newswire: Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: A tireless champion for economic justice

 DR. ML King at 1968 rally

 

By Charlene Crowell

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On Monday, January 17, the nation will pause to honor the life of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The only Black American to be honored with a national holiday, many will recall his historic civil rights achievements.

But Dr. King also stood as a tireless champion for economic justice. His last public speech, delivered a day before his 1968 assassination, was before a Memphis audience in support of a lengthy strike for fair wages among its largely Black sanitation workers. That prophetic oration, often referred to as his “Mountaintop” speech, also noted the city’s economic disparities..

“It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism,” said Dr. King. “But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day.”

When Dr. King moved his family into the city’s Lawndale neighborhood, he described it as “an island of poverty in the midst of an ocean of plenty”. “Chicago boasted the highest per capita income of any city in the world, but you would never believe it looking out of the windows of my apartment in the slum of Lawndale,” said Dr. King.

“My neighbors paid more rent in the substandard slums of Lawndale than the whites paid for modern apartments in the suburbs. The situation was much the same for consumer goods, purchase prices of homes, and a variety of other services.”

For example, the King family paid $94 per month for four rundown, shabby rooms. During the campaign’s open housing marches on Gage Park and other predominantly white places, new and larger apartment dwellers paid only $78 a month for five rooms[.

Fast forward to today and the cost of rental housing remains a challenge for millions of families[RP6] . The average fair market price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,295 per month. Yet the highest rent affordable to an average full-time worker is $977, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLHIC). Its recent report entitled Out of Reach exposes the mismatch between wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S.

Over 7.5 million extremely low-income renters are severely housing cost-burdened, finds the report, spending more than half of their incomes on housing. On average, someone who works 40 hours per week all year round must earn $24.90 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom home without becoming housing cost-burdened. The average renter’s hourly wage is just $18.78 per hour, however, and minimum-wage workers earn even less.

Additionally, ample research documents how consumers seeking to transition from renters to homeowners face even steeper financial barriers to building family wealth.

In 2019, prospective buyers of a median-priced home of $321,500 needed to save 11 years to accumulate a 5 percent down payment of $26,000 on that home, found the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) in its independent and recent report . But buyers seeking the least costly loans, conventional mortgages, needed a 20 percent down payment of $64,300 plus another $9,663 for closing costs.

“There is a huge disconnect between our collective view of America as the land of opportunity and this data, which show renters face a steep climb in saving for homeownership,” said CRL researcher and report author Christelle Bamona. “This climb is especially steep for Black and Latino Americans, essential workers, and people weighed down by student debt.”

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) underscores CRL’s findings. Its 2021 research, the State of Housing in Black America: Emerging from the Pandemic Recession (SHIBA) found that although homeownership generates the largest part of building household wealth, fewer than 45 percent of Black households own their homes, compared to nearly 75% of whites. Further, Black homeowners captured only $198 million in savings from the Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates during COVID. Nationwide, the savings due to this policy change totaled $5.8 billion.

“Blacks have made little, if any, strides at closing the disparate homeownership gap between those of our White counterparts,” noted NAREB President Lydia Pope in the report’s foreword. “Systemic discriminatory regulations and policies continue to thwart any meaningful effort at closing the homeownership gap.”

For example, mortgage pricing, and under-appraisal of home values are examples of how the growth of Black homeownership and, in turn, wealth is systematically suppressed. Since 2019, the rate of mortgage loan denials to Blacks (16 percent) has consistently been double that of whites (7 percent).

While access to mortgage credit remains a central housing issue, housing affordability has worsened for a record 117 months of year-over-year increases, according.to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The November 2021 median price of existing-homes was $353,900, up 13.9 percent from November 2020 ($310,800).

Today the quest for economic injustice continues. Just a few weeks before Dr. King’s assassination, his prophetic voice remains as timely as it is timeless:

“Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day? They are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.”

Charlene Crowell is a senior fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

 

Newswire: MLK Day 2022 follows another year of racial strife

 CNN video showing man carrying Confederate flag inside the U. S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2022.

 

 


By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On Jan. 6, 2022, thousands of insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol, attempting to stop the counting of Electoral College votes that were to confirm Joseph Biden as president. Other than the violence itself, the single most visible image among the insurrectionists was the Confederate battle flag.

The image was so disgusting to historian Dr. Mary Frances Berry that she told the New York Times that she just “wanted to scream” seeing the image of racism and White supremacy cross the lines where it had not even gone during the Civil War as it stood for the enslavement of Black people.

“To see it flaunted right in front of your face, in the United States Capitol, the heart of the government, was simply outrageous,” said Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and former chair of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Fourteen days later, Biden was inaugurated in front of the building, surrounded by more than 26,000 armed troops to prevent further physical attacks. But even that show of force could not end the insurrection that continued – in spirit – using what has come to be known as “the big lie” – the untruth spread by President Donald Trump and his supporters that say Biden did not legitimately win the 2021 election. It is a lie that is being spread, in part, because of his vast support from Black voters and a desire to discount those votes.

Now a year after January 6, 2021, there appears to be no end in sight for racial strife in America. At another Martin Luther King Holiday on Monday, January 17, the nation looks back on a year that revealed stark division – especially between Whites and Blacks.

On April 21, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the brazen murder of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street. He had knelt on Chauvin’s neck for almost 10 minutes, even after he was already dead.
On the other hand, Kyle Rittenhouse on Nov. 19, an 18-year-old White teen vigilante, was acquitted on all charges after killing two White people and wounding another in Kenosha, Wisconsin during protests led by activists against the disparate police killings of Black people.
On Nov. 24, in yet another trial, three White men who killed 25-year-old B Black man Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their Georgia neighborhood were found guilty of murder.
Ultimately, with only days before Christmas on Dec. 23, former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, a White woman, was found guilty of manslaughter drew her handgun instead of her Taser during a routine traffic stop in April in which she fatally shot a young Black man Daunte Wright, 20.
Despite the perceived wins for justice as juries convicted the killers of Floyd, Arbery and Wright, racial statistics across America continue to reveal the pains of racial division as an underlying force across the nation. Those examples include:

In the COVID-19 pandemic, African-Americans have died at a staggering three times more often than Whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In other health statistics Black people sicker, and die earlier, than other racial groups, according to the American Bar Association
Yet, the uninsured among African-Americans remain at twice that of Whites.
In economics, “the median white household has a net worth 10 times that of the median Black household,” according to the Brookings Institute.
Even as these statistics continue as America faces yet another King Holiday, civil rights leaders continue to fight for congressional voting rights legislation that would protect the voting rights that have been stripped by dozens of states as the so-called “big lie” continues.

“This assault on democracy is fueled by a racial backlash against the growing electoral power of people of color,” writes Rev. Jesse Jackson. “This isn’t the first time that democracy has been assaulted. After the Civil War freed the slaves, the 15th Amendment was passed to prohibit discrimination in the right to vote. When coalitions of Black and white people emerged to threaten the privilege and power of the plantation South, the reaction was fierce. Armed bands — the Ku Klux Klan and others — terrorized Black people and their allies. Laws were passed and enforced to make it virtually impossible for Black people to register and vote.”

But during the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965 the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. then activist John Lewis and thousands of others who protested.

Now, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, in this year alone, “19 states have enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote.”

Facing these attacks, the family of Dr. King, after initially calling for no celebration of the King Holiday this year until voting rights legislation is passed by Congress, have now called for a D.C. march to honor Dr. King. The march would demand that Congress take action by passing the two voting rights bills.

The march is being led by Martin Luther King III; his wife, Andrea Waters King; and their daughter, Yolanda Renee King.

According to the Washington Post, the Jan. 17 march will take place across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in D.C. at 10 a.m.

before joining the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Peace Walk.

“MLK Day has always been a day on, not off. When we call for ‘no celebration without legislation,’ we’re not urging Americans not to honor this day — we’re asking people to honor Dr. King through action to protect the right to vote,” Martin Luther King III, chairman of the Drum Major Institute, a nonprofit started by his father, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We’re directly calling on Congress not to pay lip service to my father’s ideals without doing the very thing that would protect his legacy: pass voting rights legislation.”

Newswire: Biden gets applause for Voting Rights Speech and call to remove flibuster, but was it all too late?

President Biden speaking at Atlanta University

By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Joseph Biden is winning wide applause among the national civil rights community for his Atlanta speech last week finally pushing the Senate to move on voting rights and for the controversial filibuster to be removed.

But most also say there must now be action by the Biden Administration and the Senate to pass protection for the Voting Rights Act. “I believe President Biden set the right tone on voting rights today, and I thank him for paying homage to the life’s work of John R. Lewis who advised us that, ‘Sometimes you have to not just dream about what could be—you get out and push, and you pull, and you preach. And you create a climate and environment to get those in high places, to get men and women of goodwill in power to act,’” said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn in a statement on President Biden’s speech in Atlanta on voting rights. Clyburn is the highest-ranking Black member of Congress.

Civil rights leaders, many of whom attended the Biden speech, also praised the speech but said Biden hasn’t done nearly enough to get the voting rights bills passed that would essentially override new laws in states across the nation that aim to diminish voting rights.

“So far, Republican legislators in 19 states have passed 34 bills that restrict access to voting for young, Black, Hispanic, Asian, disabled, and elderly Americans. These cynical bills are aimed at making it more difficult to vote – deleting voter registrations, restricting access to the ballot box, and limiting access to vote by mail. These bills are rooted in partisanship and racism, and we cannot sit idly and watch as local, state, and frankly, U.S. Senators strip us of our most sacred right,” wrote National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial. “All Senators of all parties have a duty to vote for legislation that will protect the right to vote for all Americans. They must pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and Freedom to Vote Act. And as the President said, if it takes amending the Senate rules to limit the weaponization of filibuster to do it, so be it.”

The two laws before the Senate, both of which have broad public support, are key. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would make any voting rule illegal if it discriminates on the basis of race, language or ethnicity. It would also empower voters’ to challenge discriminatory laws, according to PublicDemocracyAmerica.org. Secondly, the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) “would solidify comprehensive voter protections, including a minimum of 15 days for early voting, mail-in ballots, and making Election Day a national holiday. The bill would set up national standards for voter identification. The bill would also establish protections for election officials against intimidation and partisan interference. To further ensure election integrity, the Freedom to Vote Act would require states to use voting systems with a verifiable paper trail and establish national standards for voter identification,” according to PublicDemocracyAmerica.org.

But even more than the two voting rights bills, civil rights advocates want to end the filibuster. In a nutshell, a filibuster is a political strategy in which one or more members of Congress speak at length on a proposed legislation for the sole purpose of delaying a vote. The filibuster was commonly used during the civil rights movement to stop civil rights legislation from moving forward.

Speaking at the Atlanta University Center Consortium with HBCU students behind him, Biden called for Senators to back the end to the filibuster as is. “I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote,” Biden said. “Let the majority prevail,” he said to applause. “And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this,” he said to repeated applause. “The filibuster has been weaponized and abused,” he said.

Two Democratic Senators, Joe Mansion of West Virginia and Sinema of Arizona have stated that although they support voting rights, they are opposed to changing the Senate filibuster rules to make passage of these critical bills posuble.

Morial concluded, “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration for today’s speech. But now we all have a responsibility to keep up the pressure on all Senators to preserve and protect the right to vote by immediately passing voting rights legislation.”

Greene County Commission considers financial and road improvement projects

At its first regular meeting of the calendar year, on Monday January 10, 2022, the Greene County Commission dealt with financial matters and approved plans by the County Engineer for road repair projects.

The Commission authorized Willie Branch, the County Engineer, in consultation with Mac Underwood, the CFO, to proceed with road projects not to exceed $990,000 for Fiscal Year 2022. This will allow repair of County Roads 60, 117 and 18 in various parts of the county.

The funds authorized include $557,123 in funding, already in hand from the Rebuild Alabama/Federal Exchange Program and an advance of $440,000 from electronic bingo funds, to be repaid from future Rebuild Alabama funding, which is expected in the coming years.

The Commission also approved spending $500,000 from electronic bingo funds for patching and leveling roads in the county in need of these repairs. The County Engineer will provide a list of these projects in future meetings.

The Commission also approved also approved the FY2021 Annual Report to the Rebuild Alabama Program detailing the work that was done with state funding last year. Also approved was advertising for two needed Highway Department positions, one full time and one temporary worker for the Solid Waste section.

The Commission appointed a bond insurance team to refund outstanding 2007 warrants to build the County Jail facility. There is $2,775,000 in financing at 4.61% interest to be refinanced. At the Commission Work Session on January 5, Walter Lewis representing the Piper-Sandler investment banking company said he was seeking to refinance the outstanding bonds at a lower interest rate between 2.44 and 2.49%, for an additional 8.6 year term, which would save the Greene County between $569,000 and $599,000 in interest over the remaining time period.

The Commission approved a resolution, designating a team with Underwriters: Piper/Sandler; Bond Counsel: Butler and Snow; and Issues Counsel: Parnell and Thompson to work with Mac Underwood, CFO< to provide a proposal for the refinancing of these bonds.

Mac Underwood, CFO, gave the financial report as of the end of the first quarter of the FY 2021-22 showing that most agencies, including the County General Fund, had spent 25% or less of their budgeted funds, leaving 78% of the budget remaining. Underwood reported that there was $5,821,482 in Citizens Trust Bank as of December 21, 2021; there was $10,850,868 in Merchants and Farmers; with $1,102,438 in Bond Sinki9ng Funds. There is $787,734 in American Rescue Plan Act funds in Citizens Federal with $420,374 allocated leaving a balance of $367,359. The Commission authorized payment of all claims for the month of January.

The Commission heard a report from Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Greene County Health System on the impact of the coronavirus in Greene County. She indicated that there were no reported cases of the omicron variant among residents of the Greene County Nursing Home, who are vaccinated and tested on a weekly basis due to the high rates of positive testing in the county and throughout the state. Dr. Pugh emphasized the need for all people, above the age of 5, to get vaccinated and boosted to prevent serious disease and hospitalization.

In other business, the Commission:

• Tabled consideration of settlement of a dispute with Greenetrack, for payment of lease funds for use of the facility, which is partially owned by the County.

• Approved advertising for a person to sit at the front door of the Courthouse and screen visitors for coronavirus and direct them to the proper offices for their business.

• Approved travel for the County Engineer to a conference in Montgomery on February 9 and 10 dealing with transportation.