Griggers returns to work after shooting incident

Greg Griggers, District Attorney for the 17th. Judicial District, encompassing Greene, Sumter and Marengo Counties, was shot outside his office in downtown Demopolis on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:45 PM. Former Alabama State Trooper Steven Smith, Jr. who was standing across the street shot at Griggers several times with a shotgun. He was injured in the face when struck with automobile window glass that shattered when the shots were fired. Griggers was taken to the Bryan-Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis but released the next day. Smith was shot by two officers who were with Griggers and had just returned from lunch at Stacey Café, down the street from the office. Steven Smith, Jr. was identified as the same person who in 1996 shot into the Livingston home of 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway. Smith was fired from the Alabama Department of Public Safety later that year. Demopolis Police Chief Tommy Reese who is investigating the shooting said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the ambush. At a short press conference held Friday, after his release from the hospital, Griggers said, “ I am alive and well and doing good. I want to thank the two officers who responded to my shooting and for saving my life. I and my family will never be able to thank them enough.” Griggers said he would return to work on Monday of this week and continue his work as District Attorney.

Eutaw City Council approves ordinance on political signs

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at City Hall. The Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting a strict ordinance on the display of political signs in the City of Eutaw. The Council also agreed to suspend rules to allow for final approval and publication of the ordinance without a second reading and meeting. The ordinance says in part, “Section 1: No political sign shall be erected, constructed, posted or painted on any utility pole, tree, bench, fence, or awning; nor attached to any city, county, state or federal roadway, directional sign or informational sign. No signs shall be erected, constructed, or posted on any portion of the Greene County Courthouse Square Historic District.” The ordinance goes on to limit signage to the period between qualification and election. There is a penalty of $25.00 per sign, ascribed to the candidate whose name is on the sign and whose sign is left up more than seven days after an election. Councilman Latasha Johnson proposed a resolution to declare the building adjacent to the National Guard Armory, which currently houses Christmas decorations, as surplus so it could be leased to the REACH organization for storing surplus furniture. This furniture is currently stored in a portion of the former Carver Middle School facility, which the City is converting to a civic and youth activities center. Johnson’s resolution was voted down in a vote of 3 to 3 with Mayor Steele, Bennie Abrams and Joe Lee Powell voting against use of the facilities for the community furniture business promoted by REACH, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Christ Temple Church in Eutaw. Johnson said, “My proposal for use of the storage building near the Armory would have brought in some rental money and helped keep this service for low income people in the community. The Mayor is against this REACH service business and wants the furniture out of the school.

A spokesperson for REACH told the Democrat that based on meetings with the Mayor that they have decided to move the furniture out of the school into some warehouse space the group has in Sumter County. “We will try to keep making furniture available through some empty houses we have in our community around our church in Eutaw. The Mayor has not been supportive of any solutions to this problem and had the furniture locked up in the school where it cannot help anyone,” he said. Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith announced that the TS Police Support League, Inc., the operating charity of the Palace Bingo was sponsoring a Community Christmas Party on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at the National Guard Armory. In the Public Comments Section of the meeting, several persons raised concerns about the problems and inaccuracies of the city water bills. Another asked about when the city would have an audit report available for public review and inspection. Mayor Steele invited the public to come at any time to the City Hall to examine the financial statements of the City, which would be provided by the City Clerk. Mayor Steele also indicated that the City staff was reading the water meters and trying to fix those that were not working properly. A Working Session of the Eutaw City Council scheduled for the third Tuesday of the month, November 20, 2018 has been cancelled and not rescheduled.

County Commission re-organizes: Tennyson Smith selected as Chair; Roshanda Summerville selected as Vice Chair

Shown L to R: Greene County Commissioners Lester Brown, Allen Turner, Jr., Roshanda Summerville, Tennyson Smith and Corey Cockrell.

 

At the Greene County Commission’s annual organizational meeting, held Wednesday, Nov.14, 2018, Commissioner Tennyson Smith was selected as Chairperson and newly elected Commissioner Roshanda Summerville was selected as Vice Chairperson. Attorney Hank Sanders, who presided over the process, opened the floor for nominations for Chairperson. Commissioner Corey Cockrell nominated Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and Commissioner Lester Brown nominated Commissioner Tennyson Smith. Smith received three votes and Turner received 2 votes.

For Vice Chair, Commissioner Turner nominated Commissioner Cockrell and Commissioner Brown nominated Commissioner Summerville. Summerville received four votes and Cockrell received one vote. Following each nomination and vote, Attorney Sanders asked for a motion and second on the selection of officers for the record. Brown moved and Summerville seconded that Smith serve as Chairperson. The vote was again three to two for Smith. Brown moved and Cockrell seconded that Summerville to serve as Vice Chairperson. The vote was four to one for Summerville. The commission approved the second Monday of each month at 6:00 pm as its regular meeting schedule. The Chairperson’s appointment of Commissioners to chair various committees was tabled. The body also agreed to maintain the same designation of bank depositories, with Chairperson Smith and Vice Chairperson Summerville serving as signatories for checks. Smith and CFO Paula Bird will remain as signatories for the safety deposit box. The standard Rules of Procedure were approved. In other business the commission received and approved the finance report and payment of claims as presented by CFO Bird. The following bank balances as of October 18, 2018 were noted: Citizen Trust Bank $2,048,536.88; Merchants & Farmers Bank $4,351,360.62; Bank of New York $358,896.59; Bond Investments $921,428.30. The meeting was adjoined and public comments were invited.

Newswire: Is the FBI underreporting the surge in hate crimes?

 By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

Graphic on hate crimes

The FBI has released it’s 2017 hate crimes statistics which revealed a 17 percent increase in incidents since 2016. In 2017 there were 8,493 victims and 6,307 known offenders. By comparison there were 7,509 victims and 5,727 known offenders in 2016, according to the data. “This report is a call to action – and we will heed that call,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement. “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes.” The report contrasts with the prior year when there were 6,036 single-bias incidents, or occurrences where the perpetrator has one bias against a community or group. By comparison, in 2017, there were 7,106 single-bias incidents reported. According to the FBI, “58.1 percent were motivated by a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias, 22.0 percent were prompted by religious bias, 15.9 percent resulted from sexual-orientation bias and 1.7 percent were motivated by gender-identity bias.” “This [report] is shocking and requires Congress’s full attention,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Shouldn’t this urgent crisis be the subject of the first post-recess Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, instead of ramming through more Trump judges? Our lives are at stake,” Johnson said. Also, some organizations are skeptical of the FBI statistics and say underreporting remains a significant problem in its annual survey. In a statement, the Arab American Institute (AAI) expressed concern and disappointment with the release of the 2017 hate crime statistics. The organization claims that the data contained some glaring omissions, including three of the most severe acts of bias-motivated violence committed last year. And while career officials at the Department of Justice continue to demonstrate a commitment to serving communities and preventing hate crime, officials at the AAI said they remain dissatisfied with the response from this administration. Of 34 reportable bias motivation categories, all but five reported an increase in 2017. With 2,013 incidents reported, “Anti-Black or African American” bias accounted for nearly half of all crimes motivated by race or ethnicity, which rose 18 percent according to the FBI data, while “Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Anti-Multiple Races, Group,” and “Anti-Hispanic or Latino” hate crimes all increased over 20 percent (251, 180, and 427 incidents, respectively). “Anti-Arab” hate crime, which was reintroduced into the data collections in 201 after the category became “invalid” in 1996 and was eliminated in 2001, increased 100 percent last year, with 102 incidents reported. As for crimes motivated by religion, which increased 23 percent in 2017, “Anti-Jewish” hate crime surged 37 percent, representing a majority with 938 incidents reported. After increasing 67 percent in 2015 and 19 percent in 2016, “Anti-Islamic (Muslim)” hate crime decreased in 2017 but remained well above historical averages with 273 incidents reported. Based on state-level hate crime statistics reported through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, which the FBI also uses to publish its annual report, the AAI was expecting an increase of crimes motivated by sexual orientation in 2017 statistics. While an increase was reported in the federal data, it was less significant than expected, the organization noted in a statement. Analysis from AAI shows that in multiple states, official state-level data reported a greater number of incidents than what is reported in the FBI’s statistics. Crimes motivated by disability, gender, and gender identity, which are more recent additions to the data collections and generally produce smaller annual totals, were significantly affected by these discrepancies. For example, the Kentucky State Police reported 41 gender-motivated hate crime incidents in official state-level statistics, whereas only 46 incidents were reported nationwide according to the FBI data. Aside from these discrepancies, additional aspects of the 2017 federal data suggest significant underreporting, the most striking of which being the omission of three of the most severe acts of bias-motivated violence committed last year, AAI officials said. According to FBI statistics, the city of Olathe, Kansas, reported no hate crimes, and statewide, zero hate crime murder were reported in 2017. But on February 22, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot to death in an Olathe bar because of his perceived national origin, according to the AAI. The shooter, Adam Purinton, who also wounded Kuchibhotla’s friend Alok Madasani and another man named Ian Grillot, was convicted on federal hate crime charges. Similarly, neither the May 26 fatal stabbing of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche aboard a train in Portland, Oregon, nor the August 12 killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, is reflected in the federal data. Further, over 300 jurisdictions representing populations of at least 50,000 people reported zero hate crimes in 2017. Of these jurisdictions, 78 represent populations of at least 100,000, and research from AAI found evidence of no fewer than 10 additional major jurisdictions that did not even participate in the data collections. The largest jurisdiction to report zero hate crimes in 2017 was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which represents a population of over 1.6 million and is one of the nation’s largest police departments in terms of population served. The entire state of Nevada had only three agencies submit incident reports last year, with just five incidents reported statewide. Not including Hawaii, which does not participate in the national hate crime statistics program, 11 additional states had fewer than 10 agencies submit incident reports in 2017. “The reported increase in the FBI’s hate crime statistics warrants concern, as do the discrepancies between state and federal hate crime data, the omission of several high-profile hate crime incidents, and the limited rate of hate crime reporting in some major jurisdictions,” AAI officials said. “The scourge of hate crime continues to harm communities in cities and states across the country. The FBI data confirms the reality we all know: hate is increasing in America,” said Maya Berry, the executive director of the AAI. “The FBI data, in what is missing from it, also demonstrates the hate crime reporting system we have in place is falling to respond adequately to hate crime, and thus inform fully the policy remedies we must make to improve our response to hate,” Berry said. Berry continued: “While we remain grateful to the career professionals at the DOJ, it is clear the Trump Administration has largely abdicated from the stated federal interest of eradicating bias-motivated violence, and the president’s rhetoric has at times appeared to exacerbate its spread. With respect to the recent data release, AAI is disappointed that despite our request, the administration made no attempt to coordinate an event with stakeholders and officials to discuss the annual FBI statistics, as was customary during previous administrations.”

Newswire:  Both Abrams and Gillum fall just short of Governors’ Mansions

By Barrington M. Salmon

 

Stacey Abrams and Andrew and C.J. Gillum

TriceEdneyWire.com) – In the end, Stacey Abrams said voter suppression and systematic voter manipulation by former Secretary of State and Governor-Elect Brian Kemp tilted the Georgia governor’s race in his favor. After 10 days of legal, electoral and other maneuvering, Abrams bowed out of the race, ending a combative and bitter contest in her bid to become the first Black woman governor in the country. An attorney, author and former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, Abrams called Kemp “the architect of voter suppression” and accused him of purging voters rolls, delaying and denying new registrations and generally disenfranchising African-American and other non-white voters. “I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” said Abrams at a Nov. 16 press conference. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.” Abrams castigated Kemp – who served since 2012 as secretary of state until he stepped down last week – making it clear that she refuses to act as if the election was normal, while pointing out that she wasn’t making a concession speech. She castigated Kemp for the “deliberate and intentional” voter suppression he employed and promised to continue to fight for fair and comprehensive elections. “Pundits and hyper-partisans will hear my words as a rejection of the normal order. You see, I’m supposed to say nice things and accept my fate,” she said. “They will complain that I should not use this moment to recap what was done wrong or to demand a remedy. You see, as a leader I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke but stoicism is a luxury and silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people. And I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right.” Investigative Journalist Greg Palast filed an affidavit on November 15 in federal district court in Atlanta in support of the Common Cause Georgia’s case filed against Kemp. Palast said on his website that an expert report from one of his consultants shows that 340,134 voters were wrongly purged from Georgia’s voter rolls – without notice – by Kemp in 2016 and 2017 while Kemp was Secretary of State and preparing his run for Governor. There are documented efforts of Kemp’s machinations to suppress the vote in investigations by the Associated Press, Mother Jones and other news outlets. Kemp has removed significant swathes of African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos from voter rolls by purging more than 1.5 million voters – almost 11 percent of those registered – from the rolls between 2016 and 2018. He also closed 214 polling stations, the majority of them in poor and non-White neighborhoods. And using a program called ‘exact match,’ he blocked almost 35,000 Georgia residents from registering from 2013 to 2016. Exact match only grants residents the right to vote if their registrations exactly match information found in state data bases. Registrations aren’t accepted if there is a name difference, a misspelled word or an accent. Kemp’s office also put more than 50,000 voter registrations on hold by using the unreliable “exact match” system. Fully 70 percent of those are Black. Abrams’ election run electrified African-Americans around the state. And the Black-woman-powered ground game brought Abrams to within two percentage points of beating Kemp. “We’ve been working in Georgia all year,” said Melanie Campbell, president/CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “Sisters laid the groundwork. We’ve been doing voter registration. While the focus has been on leaders, this was a coalition effort of women like Helen Butler of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, who was all over the state. We were phone banking since the primaries calling Black women. People like Deborah Scott and Felicia Davis and groups like the Southern Black Women’s Initiative and Shirley Sherrod were canvassing neighborhoods, developing voter profiles and putting women together.” Campbell said the emergence of Donald Trump, the rise in hate crimes and the ratcheting up of racism are of most concern to Black women. This has animated their resistance to Trump and the Republican agenda. “The whole notion is that our lives are at stake. It’s in our DNA,” she said. “There is a drumbeat, a drumbeat knowing that this country is in peril. We’re seeing, feeling and hearing it. It took a minute for folks to tune in.” Campbell said campaigns like Abrams represents a power shift and will have important implications for African-Americans in 2020 and beyond. In Florida, after a flurry of lawsuits, uncertainty about the fate of uncounted ballots, and two South Florida counties failing to meet the deadline, a machine recount determined that Tallahassee Mayor was unable to catch Republican Ron DeSantis in that gubernatorial contest. Gillum trailed DeSantis by 33,683 votes, a net gain of one vote for Gillum from the unofficial results reported last week. Of eight million votes cast, the margin was a mere 0.41 percent. Despite the apparent insurmountable lead, Gillum would not concede and called for counting to continue. His lawyer hinted at a lawsuit. “A vote denied is justice denied — the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote,” Gillum said in published reports. “As today’s unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process.” There grew a cacophony of calls for Gillum to concede. So far, he has refused. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board has called him “ungracious,” saying that his refusal to concede is “a display of ill-grace that won’t help his political future in Florida.” Ultimate, he conceded saying he will not stop working for fair elections in Florida.“We wanted to make sure that every vote, including those that were undervotes and overvotes –as long as it was a legally cast vote – we wanted those votes to be counted,” Gillum said. He concluded, “We also want you to know that even though this election may be beyond us, that this – although nobody wanted to be governor more than me – this was not just about an election cycle…This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government, our state, and our communities.” This story includes information from The Tallahassee Democrat, gregpalast.com and NPR

Greene County Commissioners take Oath of Office

 

Shown L to R: Coroner Ronald Kent Smith and his wife, Mrs. Pamela Smith; Commissioner Lester B. Brown and his granddaughter Peyton Brown; Commissioner Tennyson Smith and Mrs. Brenda Burke; District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne. Shown L to R: Commissioner Roshanda Summerville and her son Brian Summerville; Mrs. Emma Turner, mother of Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and Judge William “Nick” Underwood. Shown L to R: Commissioner Corey Cockrell and his mother Mrs. Margree Davis; Probate Judge Julia Spree.

The Greene County Commission held its Installation Program on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 5:00p.m. at the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw, AL. The Greene County Coroner was also installed. Greene County District Judge, Lillie Jones-Osborne conducted the installation and Oath of Office of Commissioner Lester Brown, for District 1; Commissioner Tennyson Smith, for District 2; and Coroner Ronald Kent Smith. Greene County Probate Judge Julia Spree installed and conducted Oath of Office for Commissioner Corey Cockrell for District 3. Eutaw City Judge William Nick Underwood installed and conducted Oath of Office for Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. for District 4 and Commissioner Roshanda Summerville for District 5. The program opened with welcome and greetings by Greene County Circuit Clerk Mattie Atkins. Invocation and scripture were given by Rev. John Kennard. Following the Oath of Office of the commissioners, there was a recognition of elected officials present. Rev. Kennard closed the program with Benediction. A repast was held at Ruby’s. The re-organization of the County Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 at 5:00 pm.

Two-thirds of Alabama voters cast straight party tickets

By The Associated Press MONTGOMERY Nearly two-thirds of Alabamians voted a straight-ticket — either all Republican or all Democratic— when they went to the polls 0n Tuesday, November 6, a record number that reflects political polarization and likely boosted Republicans in their easy sweep of state races. According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, about 1.1 million of the 1.7 million ballots cast on Tuesday were straight-ticket votes, where voters checked one box to vote for all of a party’s candidates. Of those straight- ticket votes, 661,898 were for the Republican Party and 460,408 were for Democratic Party. Another 135 were for the Libertarian Party. In Greene County, 3, 228 (89.8%) voted straight Democratic and 367 (10.2%) voted straight Republican. Secretary of State John Merrill said that is a record high for straight party ticket voting in the state. “This is a very high, high number,” Merrill said. “It tells me that people are becoming more polarized.” Republicans swept all statewide and contested congressional races, holding Democrats to about 40 percent of the vote. Republicans also picked up six seats in the Alabama Legislature. Alabama is one of eight states that allow or offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A number of states have abolished the option in recent years. The other states in addition to Alabama are:  Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas. Political scientist Jess Brown said Wednesday that party label and national politics appeared to be increasingly on voters’ minds as they went to the polls. According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate and nonvoters, more than half of Alabama voters said a reason for their vote was to express support for or opposition to President Donald Trump Thirty-seven percent of voters said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and 21 percent said they voted to express opposition to Trump. By comparison, 42 percent of Alabama voters said Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes. Immigration was at the forefront of voters’ minds: 31 percent named it as the most important issue facing the nation in this year’s midterm elections.

CASH REWARD $7,500 LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF PERSON(S)

CASH REWARD $7,500 LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR: Setting Deputy “Hank” Henry McWhorter’s House on Fire At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Friday, October 7, 2016; unknown person(s) attempted to burn an occupied residence and explode an adjacent propane tank; which would have caused serious property damage and casualties. This serious criminal offense took place in the Tishabee Neighborhood of Boligee, Alabama Please call Henry “Hank” McWhorter if you have any information to solve this crime at 205-259-9000.

Tennyson Smith defeats Pelt for Commission seat Greene County has high turnout for straight Democratic ticket; Not enough to stem state trend for Republicans

Gov. Kay Ivey and Tennyson Smith

Unofficial vote totals for Tuesday’s General Election show that 4,183 of Greene County’s 7,050 registered voters (59.3%) turned out and voted overwhelming for the straight Democratic ticket. In Greene County, in the Governor’s race, Democratic candidate, Walt Maddox received 3,506 votes (84.1%) to 661 votes (15.1%) for incumbent Republican Kay Ivey. Statewide Ivey received 849,410 (61%) to 562,521 (39%) for Maddox. Ivey becomes Alabama’s second woman Governor and at 74, the oldest elected Governor in the nation. In other statewide contests, the Republican candidates were all successful in their races including: Will Ainsworth for Lieutenant Governor, Steve Marshall for Attorney General, Tom Parker for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, John H. Merrill for Secretary of State, John McMillan for State Treasurer, Jim Ziegler for State Auditor, Rick Pate for Commissioner of Agriculture, Jeremy H. Oden, Public Service Commission, Place 1 and Chris ‘Chip” Beeker Jr., Public Service Commission Place 2. Beeker is a native and resident of Greene County. All seven of Alabama’s incumbent Congresspersons were reelected, including Terri Sewell, who ran unopposed for the 7th District. Sewell is the only Democrat in Alabama’s delegation to Congress. In local Greene County races, Tennyson Smith was reelected County Commissioner in District 2 by a vote of 620 defeating Independent Latoya ‘Mi-Mi’ Pelt with 191 votes. Tennyson Smith will be joining Commissioners Lester ‘Bop’ Brown (District 1), Corey Cockrell (District 3), Allen Turner, Jr. (District 4), and Roshonda Summerville (District 5), who were Democratic nominees from the primary who were unopposed in the General Election. This election also officially confirmed the election of other Greene County office holders who were nominated in the Democratic primary and unopposed in this election. This includes: Eddie Hardaway Jr, Circuit Judge, Veronica Morton-Jones, Circuit Clerk, Rolanda H. Wedgeworth, Judge of Probate, Jonathan ‘Joe” Benison, Sheriff, and Ronald ‘Kent’ Smith, Coroner. Greene County will also be represented by the same legislative delegation including Bobby Singleton, State Senator District 24, A. J. McCampbell, State Representative District No. 71 and Ralph A. Howard, State Representative District 72, who were unopposed and elected in yesterday’s election. All four State Amendments on the ballot were approved statewide by a 60% margin, however in Greene County voters opposed amendments 1, 2 and 4. Amendment 2, which says that Alabamians recognize the rights of the unborn, could lead to the outlawing of abortions and certain contraceptive measures in the future.

Sen. Doug Jones gives keynote address at Federation’s Co-op Month celebration at Rural Training Center in Epes

 

U. S. Senator Doug Jones was the luncheon speaker at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives celebration of National Co-op Month at its Rural Training and Research Center near Epes, Alabama. The Federation had a series of workshops on cooperative and credit union development and land retention issues during the morning. This included a presentation by several members of the SoGoCo, meat goat producers’ co-op on their efforts to promote goat production among family farmers in west Alabama. Rev. Samuel Fairley, Rev. Constance Scott and Pamela Madzima talked about their work with SoGoCo to encourage farmers to produce goats. The co-op now has 30 members with over 500 nannies, female reproductive goats. The cooperative is looking forward to having a large enough membership to support a goat processing plant. “We want to produce goat sausage and other quality cuts of goat meat for consumers and restaurants in the area,” said Fairley. The Federation’s Land Retention Specialist and Attorney, Monica Rainge, spoke on the problems of land tenure by Black farmers indicating that “heir property ownership” has become a significant obstacle to Black land owners making maximum utilization of their land. “When the original land owner dies without a will, the land title passes to all of the heirs without a division. This means all of the heirs have an un-divided interest in the land and all the heirs must agree on any decisions affecting the utilization of the land, including the application for USDA funds and programs. If several generations pass before the family tries to resolve this problem, there can be multiple heirs spread around the country, which makes it difficult for families to make decisive and timely decisions affecting the use of the land,” said Rainge. In his luncheon remarks, Senator Jones said he had been working since he was elected on bipartisan themes that would be helpful to rural people and communities in the State of Alabama including affordable health care, expanding high speed internet services and support for farmers. Jones said he was working on several aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill, which was now in a conference committee to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation. Jones said he had sponsored a proposal with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina to provide support and assistance to heir property landowners, which is part of the Senate bill. He is also supporting an effort to provide support for veteran, minority and beginning farmers, which would provide outreach and technical assistance for these groups and help to pass down the farming legacy from older farmers to the next generations. Jones said he was also working to protect the basic safety net and disaster assistance sections of the Farm Bill as well as prevent excessive cuts to food and nutrition programs. “Overall I am looking for ways to bring people together and seek bi-partisan common ground in a Washington D. C. that is broken. This has been a difficult ten days for our nation and I hope you go out and vote. You also must demand that your public officials be more responsible and work together. “We learned from the period of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama that politicians could fan the flames of racism with their words and rhetoric. Governor George Wallace and Police Commissioner Bull Conner made things more difficult with what they said in the 1960’s and the current President’s words on the caravan of poor immigrants from Central America and Mexico weigh on our nation’s discourse. “We must put our common good at the forefront of our discussions and seize the opportunity to speak and work for unity and not discord in our nation,” said Jones. Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation observed that, “ We appreciate Senator Doug Jones coming to the Federation’s Rural Training Center in Epes. We have had Congressmen and women, three Secretaries of Agriculture, numerous government officials, but Doug Jones is the first U. S. Senator to visit our facilities. He also came on a great day to celebrate National Co-op Month.