In compliance with the national state of emergency due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic, the Greene County Commission has devised a plan of action to provide for the health and safety of persons, including county personnel. The general plan includes steps to protect people at higher risk for complications; maintain critical operations; minimize impact on residents, customers and businesses; and be proactive by taking small measures now to minimize risk. More details of the Commission’s Action Plan can be obtained from the commission’s office. The county has reduced its onsite personnel to a skeletal crew. One person in each county office, including the Probate Judge’s Office, Revenue Commissioner, and County Commission will be on duty each day with others on call if the need arises. The offices of District Judge, Circuit Judge and Circuit Clerk were closed by the state last week. The sheriff’s office is also closed, but Deputies will continue to be on duty. Any emergency calls should be directed to E-911. Other essential county employees including sanitation workers will maintain their regular work schedules. Maintenance and county road personnel will have rotating schedules. According to County Commission Chairperson, Allen Turner, the county will continue to pay employees their current hourly rate during this emergency shutdown.
As of press time on Wednesday morning, Alabama was reporting 283 cases, with Jefferson County leading the state with 99 cases. No deaths are reported yet in Alabama. The virus is now infecting people in 28 of Alabama’s 67 counties. Interestingly, there are no confirmed cases reported yet in Greene County and in 11 of the 12 rural counties of the Alabama ‘Black Belt’, Pickens County reported its first case this morning. This may be because it is very difficult to get a test to confirm the virus. The coronavirus is most prevalent in urban communities of the state like Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Mobile. There is no guarantee that it has not already or will not spread to rural areas and communities around the state. New protocols require that testing be restricted to those with virus symptoms, referred by a doctor, heath care workers who may have been exposed, the elderly, living in nursing homes and others who can prove exposure to someone with the coronavirus. The coronavirus led to the closing of the four operating electronic bingo establishments in Greene County on March 16, 2020 because attendance in these places exceeded the state’s health department rules for safety and distance. Luther Winn, CEO of Greenetrack said, “We are following state health department guidance and will not reopen bingo or simulcasting until we are allowed. We have paid our staff last week and this week. We hope the Congressional stimulus package or unemployment will help us in the coming period.” Asked if electronic bingo will pay monthly fees to charities, county and municipal agencies, the hospital and school board, Winn said, “the revenues are not available to continue these fee payments, until we can re-open. All resources are going to employees and continued security.” In speaking with representatives of the charities at other bingo establishments, they said they agreed with Winn’s assessment and statements. They said once bingo reopens there may be a way to help restore the lost funds, from the per machine assessments, over time. The City of Eutaw has closed the Carver School and Community Center and the National Guard Armory to all community activities. City Hall is operating with a reduced staff. The regular City Council meeting held on the fourth Tuesday of the month has been cancelled. Mayor Raymond Steele said, “The City employees are continuing to work to assure basic water, sewer and street repair services to the residents. We have been continuing to improve our water services and get our meters and billing system updated. We are working with people who received very high bills to find leaks and negotiate suitable payment plans. Residents with problems should bring them to the attention of the Mayor and water department.” Many small businesses have closed or reduced hours and those businesses like fast food, the drug store and banks that have drive-through windows are using them in preference to allowing people into stores. The Greene County Health System including the Hospital, Nursing Home and Physicians Clinic are still open. The staff is taking temperatures and administering a survey to all who come. No visitors are allowed in the Nursing Home to protect residents although cell phones have been provided for voice and ‘facetime’ visits with residents. If you are sick and showing symptoms of the virus, you are asked to call ahead to make an appointment with the medical staff at the Greene County Physicians Clinic, so the proper precautions can be taken to protect staff and other patients.
Ads will highlight Trump’s broken health care promises to African American and Latino voters in key battleground
From The Democratic National Committee
Today, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) launched a diverse media advertising campaign in 6 key battlegrounds (AZ, MI, NC, PA, FL, WI), beginning with ads highlighting Republicans’ broken promises on the issue of health care to voters of color ahead of the tenth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The DNC is beginning this campaign with a significant initial buy and will make an overall six-figure investment in minority-focused media outlets. “Victory in 2020 will be won in Black and Brown communities throughout the country, and we cannot afford to take a single vote for granted,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Democrats in Congress made access to health care a reality for millions of people, especially in communities of color, and Trump’s agenda has trampled on that progress. In a time where America is facing a pandemic, it is important for voters to remember who has their back when it comes to protecting and expanding access to health care. These investments in diverse media outlets are happening much earlier in the cycle than ever before and we will continue to engage voters where they are on this critical issue, as often as possible.” The print ads, which will be published in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were placed through the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and will commemorate the passage of the ACA and the benefits it provides, including protections for preexisting conditions.: The radio ads will be produced by a Hispanic-owned creative agency. The ads will air on Spanish-language stations throughout Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida and will also focus on the ACA’s passage and Democrats’ commitment to providing access to quality, affordable health care to the Latino community.
Rep. Karen Bass, Chair on the Congressional Black Caucus The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has submitted a sweeping list of proposals that it says elected officials must implement to specifically protect Black people in America and their best interests as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis. The group of influential officials from Congress and the Senate sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer with suggestions centered on healthcare, protecting Black-owned businesses and voting rights to be considered as part of the estimated $1 trillion stimulus package to help with the economy during the coronavirus outbreak. Many of the asks from the list of suggestions were already being discussed in Congress and among local governments, including giving all workers access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave so that people can seek treatment without fear of losing their jobs or paychecks. The CBC also proposed a nationwide suspension on utility shut-offs as well as a ban of all evictions, foreclosures and repossessions, which has already happened in some parts of the country but not all. The proposal also got more specific when it comes to Black-owned businesses. For example, it called for a 90-day moratorium on all consumer and small business credit payments (student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car notes, small business loans, personal loans). The CBC also called for $50 billion in new grants for the Small Business Administration to help negatively impacted small businesses, including those that are “minority- and women-owned.” In addition, the CBC proposed government-backed interest-free loans to entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits and independent contractors to cover operating expenses and payroll needs in order to keep workers fully employed. On the voting front, CBC asked for a change of procedure for casting ballots in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. That includes establishing a National Vote-By-Mail system for all remaining primaries and the general election. The group is also seeking an end to voter suppression by restoring Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For prisoners’ safety, the CBC suggested releasing all juveniles who’ve committed non-violent crimes, ensuring all inmates and staff get coronavirus testing and “releasing incarcerated individuals in prisons, jails, and detention centers through clemency, commutations and compassionate release.” The CBC also said it wanted additional funding for the expansion of broadband access to ensure all students, including those in rural and urban communities, have access to tele-learning resources since many schools have canceled in-person education. The CBC also reiterated its demands made before the coronavirus hit, such as canceling student debt and providing funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), especially in this time of the coronavirus. As of Sunday evening, a massive $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill failed to pass the Senate, according to NBC News. Republicans, who needed 60 votes to move forward on the bill, weren’t able to win over Democrats who felt dissatisfied with worker protections in the bill, which was drafted by Republicans. Democrats also felt the rules on corporate bailouts were too lax. Negotiations on the now proposed $2 trillion stimulus bill are continuing between Senate and House Democrats and Treasury Secretary Manuchin representing the Trump Administration.
Bishop T. D. Jakes stands before about 30 people in his Potter’s House sanctuary that seats 8,200 in Dallas.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Md., is used to preaching to two packed sanctuaries every Sunday. But on Sunday, March 22, Browning and a skeletal staff preached to a mostly empty sanctuary while his members watched on the Internet. “I feel like a spiritual first responder,” Browning said. “It’s called Live from the Church. We try to duplicate church as much as we can. We have members of the praise team and a skeletal staff.” Browning’s situation is one example of a new reality for churches around the nation. Even the 8,200-seat sanctuary of Bishop T. D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas has been virtually empty. As the Coronavirus spread around the nation and world and as state governments and health experts increasingly issue stay at home orders and suggest social distancing, life as usual has become non-existent. Members of the Class of 2020 are still hoping for their proms, commencement exercises and celebrations that are normal milestones for generations past. In sports, there are no NBA basketball games, NCAA tournaments or baseball Spring training. And in terms of mass gatherings, going to the movies, eating out, and even worshipping God in church pews has been forbidden for a season. Even weddings and funerals have been curtailed. As a result of the Corvid 19 virus, this lethal strain of the Corona flu, America is a stranger to herself with frightened and helpless citizens “sheltering in place” behind locked doors in a society where toilet paper has become priceless as indicated by the empty shelves in grocery stores. “People are losing it. My brother drives a bread truck and he said that his colleague was robbed, said Sean Brown, 39, a financial manager in Severn, Md. “They took his entire bread truck.” As of this writing, March 22, America had nearly 30,000 people diagnosed with COVID 19, which means America is now number three in the world in terms of a disease that has now killed more than 13,000 around the globe. This is despite glaring headlines and weekly White House briefings that produced more arguments than solutions. “If ever there is a time to practice humanity — it is now,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a tweet on Sunday. “The time to show kindness, to show compassion. New Yorkers are tough — but we are also the most courageous community that you have ever seen.” On Sunday, Sean Brown, the financial manager, a husband and father of two, watched a taped worship service from the University Park Church of Christ. Despite the change, he still has hope through his faith. “It is important to remember who is in control. God is still in control.” COVID 19 has ushered in an era of “social distancing.” And yet it is easy to find examples of hope in cities and towns and communities across America in terms of faith, family and every aspect of life. On Twitter, there was a video of a group of Cuban doctors of color in White lab coats and masks arriving in Italy and being greeted by people waiting in the international airport. As restaurants closed, many soup kitchens that regularly feed the homeless, such as Miriam’s Kitchen in Northwest Washington, DC, kept their doors open. But among the most notable changes are the churches which quickly adjusted their empty sanctuaries to computer screens and conference calls. Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, Chief Operating Officer for the National Council of Churches, said despite the Corona Virus “Most churches are using creatives to remain connected. They are using zoom, video conferencing, prayer calls. My home church in New York is having prayer callers at 6 am.” With Easter two weeks away, Browning said that he will have Lenten services every morning between six and seven AM that will be rebroadcast “people can start their day,” but Browning added, “I really missing the people it is like being away from your wife.” “My concern is for the people. There is concern about people dying but I don’t think I hear a heart for the people who survive. They literally don’t know how they are going to eat.” Browning of Ebenezer in Maryland said he is really concerned about conducting funerals when there is a restriction. “Right now, can’t have more than ten people. I can’t imagine having a love one dying and there are only 10 people there.” Even medical doctors are taken aback by the new realities. “We had our church by telephone conference,” said Tracey Burney, a retired urologist who attends Bethany CME Church in Clearwater, Florida. “Being a physician, we are always ready for the worst. But I have never seen anything like this in my wildest dreams.”
The Greene County Commission held an emergency meeting last night at the William M. Branch Courthouse to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Greene County. The Commission was concerned to bring its response to the virus in compliance with Federal and state directives to manage the crisis. The Commission heard reports from county agencies and related county services on their responses to the pandemic. At the end of the meeting, the County Commission approved a resolution giving Allen Turner, Chairperson of the Commission, discretionary authority to close or reduce the services and hours of service of County facilities and staff for the period from March 19 to April 19, 2020. Brenda Burke, County Administrator, announced that the Greene County Courthouse would be closed this week on Thursday and Friday (March 19 and 20, 2020) for deep cleaning. She also said all court activities, license tag renewals; driver’s license tests would be suspended until April 16, 2020, with no late fees or penalties. She indicated that the Greene County Courthouse would reopen next week for critical business but urged residents to postpone routine business until the emergency subsidizes and conduct business by phone or email in the interim period. “We may have to open only for limited hours and stop people at the front door to be sure that they need to come through the building,” said Commissioner Turner. They indicated that the offices in the Courthouse would be open and have staff to respond to problems and concerns. Prior to this morning’s announcement that the Republican Primary Runoff is postponed from March 31 to July 14, Turner said the Circuit Clerk would check the mail daily for absentee ballots and other correspondence relative to the election. Superintendent Corey Jones of the Greene County Board of Education said the schools were out this week for Spring Break and that the Governor had closed the schools through April 6. “There is a strong possibility that the schools may be closed for the rest of the semester,” said Jones. The Superintendent indicated that the teachers were preparing lessons and educational materials for the students to work on while they were at home. He also said that the Board of Education had received a waiver from the Federal government to continue to provide school breakfasts and lunches to the students. “We are working on a plan to provide nutritious food for our children, starting next week. This will include delivery of meals to selected sites around the county where it will be easier to distribute the food or have families to pick up the food from community centers, fire stations and other locations,” said Jones. Dr. Marcia Pugh, Administrator of the Greene County Health System said the county’s critical health facilities would remain open. “We are restricting entrance to the facility to the front door, where we have a temperature check and a short survey of health symptoms to make sure that people who may have the coronavirus are not allowed access to our other patients and nursing home residents. We are not allowing visitors into the Nursing Home as a protection for the residents, however we have cell phones available for virtual ‘face-time’ visits, said Dr. Pugh. Dr. Pugh also indicated that if you have ‘flu-like symptoms’ call ahead to make an appointment at the Greene County Physicians Clinic. “We can refer you for testing to the drive through testing at DCH in Tuscaloosa or Bryan-Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis, to help you,” she said. Mayor Raymond Steele said the City Hall would be open to provide essential services to the city residents. “We closed the Carver School Gym and programs, use of the National Guard Armory but City Hall will be open and our staff will be ready to main the water, sewer and other essential services,” said Steele. Iris Sermon with Greene County 911 urged people not to panic and work on maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet from other people to prevent spreading the virus. She also gave a toll free phone number: 1-888-264-2256, to get information on testing and testing sites. Anita Lewis, Director of the Greene County Housing Authority, said she was keeping her office open to serve the residents of Branch Heights and King Village. “My greatest concern is for the welfare of the 344 children who live in these housing developments, making sure they are safe, getting nutritious food and engaging in meaningful learning activities, without congregating in large groups to fuel spreading the virus. Lorenzo French, Chair of the Board of the City of Eutaw Housing Authority asked for help in securing hand sanitizer, wipes and other necessary supplies for residents. Attending this meeting it was clear that although there are currently no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Greene County and 39 confirmed cases statewide that this is a growing problem that Greene County residents must be aware of and make plans to combat.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $349,814.79 for the month of February 2020 from three licensed bingo gaming operations in the county, including Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace. The Charities of Greenetrack, Inc. reported distributions to the various community entities separately from the sheriff. The recipients of the February distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, 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). This distribution report includes the following Bingo Sub- Charities: Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, Greene County Golf Course, Poole Memorial Library, Children’s Policy Council, Greene County Housing Authority and Department of Human Resources. Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $68,997 to the following: Greene County Commission, $18,342; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $20,250; City of Eutaw, $5,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $2,325; Greene County Board of Education, $6,300, Greene County Health System, $7,500. Frontier’s total distribution included $4,080 to six sub charities at $680 each. River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $118,904.85 to the following: Greene County Commission $31,609.38; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $34,897.50; City of Eutaw, $9,564.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,006.75; Greene County Board of Education, $10,857, and the Greene County Health System, $12,925. River’s Edge total distribution included $7,301.22 to six sub charities at $1,171.87 each. Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $161,912.94 to the following: Greene County Commission, 43,042.56; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $47,520; City of Eutaw, $13,024; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5,456; Greene County Board of Education, $14,784 and the Greene County Health System, $17,600. Palace’s total distribution included $9,574.38 to six sub charities at $1,595.73 each.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy. Representing nearly 1 million current and retired members of all ethnicities and backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the UAW has never had an African American president. Until now. “I was sitting at home and brainstorming on things that I needed to do, and then the phone started to ring,” stated Rory Gamble, a welder fixture repairman, who joined the UAW in 1974 when he worked at the Ford Motor Co. Dearborn (Mich.) Frame Plant. “The local NAACP chapter president called, and others,” noted Gamble, who in December was named the 13th president of the 85-year-old union. “It hit me then that, ‘Hey, you’re the first African American president,’” Gamble recalled. “It struck me like a rock. It’s a great accomplishment.” Gamble observed a distinct and frequently-used quote that dates back to Winston Churchill: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’. “There is a great weight that comes with being the first African American president,” Gamble said. “I want to be an example where no one can question my leadership and not use anything against another African American brother or sister to prevent them from being able to ascend to a position like this.” Gamble accepted the job after his predecessor, Gary Jones, resigned amid a corruption scandal. Despite the cloud of suspicion left behind, Gamble observed that the union must continue to move forward. “Being an African American already means you have a great deal of responsibility and so I want to make sure that the way I carry myself will keep the doors open for others to follow,” Gamble expressed during an exclusive interview with NNPA Newswire. “I’ve been blessed. I was able to come up during a time where there was a lot of activism. Unlike today, where a lot of our brothers and sisters get caught up in the digital world, I came up when everything was more hands-on and personal,” Gamble continued. “You couldn’t hide behind a keyboard. You had to get up and see people and look them in the eye. Looking folks in the eye shows that you have a lot more of yourself invested.” That doesn’t mean Gamble is technologically challenged. “I had to get social media because you have to engage and keep up with the times,” he said. “I’m very personal, and I love engaging with the members. I try hard to make sure that our union doesn’t get away from that even though we have this digital and electronic stuff. That’s fine, but the downside is that it can be icy when it comes to human relationships, so I like the eye-to-eye contact.” Gamble, 64, started his UAW career as a welder fixture repairman. Before that, he was a defensive tackle at Northwestern High School in Detroit, where he credited his father, a former elected officer of Local 600, as an early mentor. In 1975, Local 600 members elected Gamble to serve as a plant trustee. From 1976 to 1979, he was the local’s alternate benefit representative and, later, he served as a bargaining committee chair. In 1988 Gamble earned an appointment as staff director and administrative assistant for Local 600’s president, with responsibilities for third-stage grievance agendas for all Ford Rouge plants and as editor of UAW Facts, the local’s newspaper, according to his biography. Since 1987 Gamble’s assignments have included local union health and safety coordinator, employee support services program, education director, civil rights coordinator, fitness center coordinator, and family services and learning center coordinator. He has served as director of Local 600 Ford units, including Dearborn Engine and Fuel Tank, Dearborn Truck Plant, Milan, Industrial Athlete, and Dearborn Frame. Other assignments have included retirees’ liaison and coordinator of the Rouge Rehabilitation Center. In 1998 and 2003, Gamble served on the UAW-Ford National Negotiating Team. From 1993 to 2002, he was elected for three terms as the local’s recording secretary. Gamble was elected first vice president of Local 600 in 2002 and re-elected in 2005. In 1999 Gamble received the Spirit of Detroit award; the 2006 Horace L. Sheffield Jr. Humanitarian Award; and the 2008 Minority Women’s Network (Detroit chapter) Man of the Year award. “Labor unions have raised the standards of living, that’s pure and simple,” Gamble observed. “If someone’s family gets into a major health scare, the family could be put into major financial jeopardy. So, the union has provided employees with job security, increased wages and enhanced health care benefits. You can plan for your kids to attend college and other important milestones that you might not otherwise be able to do if you didn’t have that protected status that unions provide.” Gamble continued: “I have never sat across the table from a CEO of any major company who didn’t have a contract with that company that guarantees their wages and benefits and even a golden parachute. That same worker will tell the worker in the plant on the floor that they don’t need a union, but every major CEO has his wages and benefits contracted. That’s a big irony.” Gamble also noted the UAW’s relationship with the Black Press of America had spanned decades because the union and publishers share a common belief in social justice and civil rights. “People need to know how important the Black Press is and how important the union is,” Gamble said. “Both have accomplished so much together. We do this by making sure that we use all of the available resources to educate our people and let them know how important and relevant the Black Press and the union is especially when they are functioning together. The things we’ve accomplished to uplift society and our people, in general, is something we need to continue to do together.”
March 16, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – ProGeorgia, a group of community-based, civic engagement organizations, called on Georgia election officials to protect voters’ rights in the wake of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s announcement that the presidential primary election would be moved from March 24th to May 19th. The groups said: “The Secretary of State’s decision to move the presidential preference primary to May 19th, which was informed by important public health concerns emanating from the spread of COVID-19, has significant ramifications for Georgia voters. Moving an election midstream, when hundreds of thousands of Georgians have already cast ballots during early voting, is not an easy endeavor in the best of circumstances. In these challenging times, Georgia election officials are going to have to make difficult decisions and change their processes in order to properly implement this unprecedented change. The devil is in the details, and we are concerned that many voters’ rights will be at risk if Georgia election officials fail to address critical issues in implementing such a significant change in the middle of an election period. “Postponing the election does not diminish the State’s obligation to ensure that voters have adequate accessible and available means to vote. There are concrete steps that Georgia election officials can take immediately to protect the right to vote in the consolidated May 19th primary election. We recommend that the State increase the time to request and return vote by mail ballots, work with local election officials to educate voters and poll workers, offer more flexible methods for return and collection of ballots based on the potential for postal service delays and reduced staffing, and extend voter registration opportunities to ensure all eligible voters can participate. “To ensure a successful and inclusive election, we call on Georgia election officials to employ an open and transparent process that allows all voices to be heard and protects voters’ rights during the May 19th primary. We are deeply committed to seeing Georgia through a safe and complete primary election process and welcome the opportunity to work with state and local election officials to ensure that all Georgians have a full and fair chance to exercise their right to vote.” The following ProGeorgia members have joined ProGeorgia in calling on the Secretary of State to protect voters’ rights: ACLU of Georgia, All Voting is Local – Georgia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Common Cause GA, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda, Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters Georgia, Inc, and State Voices.