County Commission approves purchase of new equipment for Public Works Department

The Greene County Commission met in regular session, Tuesday, October 15, 2019 and authorized the purchase of several work vehicles for the County Public Works Department. These included the following: Three – 2020 Mack Dumps GR64F at $124,474 each; three -21 yd Dump Bodies at $25,084 each; one – 55 ton Lowboy Trailer at $54,375 and one – Motor Grader at $239,049.
According to County Engineer Willie Branch, the Dump Trucks are operated for a year and sold, usually retrieving the cost paid. Branch explained that the Motor Grader and the Low Boy are used until they stop running.
The commission made the following board appointments: Marilyn Jennings for the Greene County Hospital Board (District 2); Carolyn Morgan Young for the DHR Board (District 2). In other actions the commission approved the following:

  • Contract with Knox Pest Control, providing all necessary paperwork is submitted.
  • 2020 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday – Feb.21-23, 2020.
    • Travel: Engineer to ACCA Legislative Conference, Dec. 4-5, Auburn University; Engineer, Assist. Engineer and office personnel to CIMS User Training, Nov. 6-7, Anniston, AL; Two equipment operators – Flagger Training and Field Exercise, Oct. 29, Columbiana, AL;
  • Payment of claims.
    In her financial report, CFO Paula Bird noted the following bank balances as of September 19, 2019: Citizen Trust Bank – $3,132,651.79; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $2,192,308.10; Bank of New York – $358,782.51; Bond Sinking Fund – $1,049,464.99

Nov. 8, 2019 is qualifying deadline for Democratic Party 2020 Primary Elections

Lorenzo French, Chairperson of the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee announced that qualifying is now open for persons interested in running for political positions in the March 3, 2020 Primary Election. The closing date for qualifying to run in the primary is November 8, 2019 at 5:00 PM.
There are several positions national, statewide and local which are subject to the 2020 Democratic Primary elections. The positions include: District Judge (6 year term – The Hon. Lillie Osborne incumbent); Revenue Commissioner (6 year term –incumbent Barbara McShan, plans to retire); Board of Education (6 year Term – District 3 – incumbent William Morgan, District 4 – incumbent Leo Branch, and District 5 – incumbent – Carrie Dancy); Constables (5) – one from each Commission District.
Persons interested in qualifying for the District Judge and Revenue Commissioner positions must qualify with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office.
Candidates for the three positions on the Greene County Board of Education and the five Constable positions must qualify by filing out forms with Lorenzo French, Democratic Executive Committee at the Greene County Courthouse, Commissioner Roshanda Summerville’s office, 9:00 AM to 4:00PM or contact French by cell phone at 205-799-2691.
The qualifying fee for Board of Education positions is $144 and for constable is $5.
Candidates running for President of the United States, U. S. Senate and Congressional positions must qualify with the State Democratic Party.
The Democratic President Primary, which includes other state and local positions, will be held on March 3, 2019; with a Primary Run-off Election, if needed, on March 31, 2020. The General Election is set for November 3, 2020.

Newswire: Kremlin hosts first Russia-Africa Summit in push for influence and business

Putin with African leader

Oct. 21, 2019 (GIN) – Some 43 African leaders are expected to converge on the Black Sea city of Sochi this week for the first summit with the Russian leader as he moves to build allies and strategic partnerships in a new political landscape around the world.

President Vladimir Putin sweetened the invitation on Monday saying that Moscow could offer help without strings, unlike the exploitative West.

The summit is scheduled to run from Oct. 23-24.

“We are not going to participate in a new ‘repartition’ of the continent’s wealth; rather, we are ready to engage in competition for cooperation with Africa, provided that this competition is civilized,” Putin told Russia’s Tass news agency Sunday.

Russia hopes to host such summits every three years, with foreign ministers meeting annually, said Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is the co-chair this time.

Over the years, the former Soviet Union explored ties with Angola and Ethiopia and more recently the Central African Republic where ties with former president Michel Djotodia led to the arrival of Russian military and civilian trainers.

Until the death of Stalin in 1953, the Soviet Union showed very little interest in Africa. But Soviet leaders, beginning with Nikita Khrushchev, were excited by the enthusiastic young Black Africans who first came to Moscow for a major youth festival in 1957. Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University was established in Moscow in 1960 to provide higher education to Third World students. It became an integral part of the Soviet cultural offensive in nonaligned countries.

With the decline of socialism in Russia and most Africa countries, Russia is now focused on military cooperation agreements which have been signed with at least 28 African countries, the majority in the past five years, often using counterterrorism as a basis, according to an analysis published in August by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

Moscow can’t bring as much to the table in terms of investment, humanitarian aid or even soft power but its assistance is free from conditions linked to human rights concerns, making Russia an attractive business partner for other countries chafing from Western sanctions.

One of them is Zimbabwe, whose President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with Putin in Moscow early this year and praised Russia for standing by during his country’s long period of isolation. “You, as a senior brother, can hold my hand as I try to develop Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said, according to the Kremlin’s report. Putin is a decade younger than him.

Newswire : Bullet-proof monument rededicated for Emmett Till

Three previous monuments were destroyed

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

Emmett Till
The new bullet-proof monument for Emmett Till

The Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Mississippi, on Saturday dedicated a bullet-proof sign honoring Emmett Till. The 500-pound sign replaces three others that either had been shot up by racists, including by members of a frat from the University of Mississippi, or had been thrown into a river.
Three Ole Miss frat brothers, posing with smiles and guns, shot up one of the signs. They were members of Kappa Alpha Order, whose spiritual founder is U.S. Civil War traitor General Robert E. Lee.
Two men carried the shot-up sign and placed it at the base of a Confederate statue on the University of Mississippi campus.
Relatives of Emmett Till attended the ceremony to see the sign installed in Graball Landing on the banks of the Tallahatchie River where Till’s bloated and beaten body was discovered after it unexpectedly floated to the water’s surface.
Till, a 14- year-old from Chicago, was spending the summer of 1955 with relatives in Money, Mississippi, where his mother believed he would be safe from Chicago gangs.

But two white men who brutally beat him and shot him in the head in what some call a lynching. J.W. Milam and his half-brother, Roy Bryant, murdered Till. The teenager’s lifeless body, which had been weighted down so no one would ever find it, was thrown like a bag of garbage into the Tallahatchie, a 230-mile long river that flows through Mississippi.

Jet magazine, whose editor and founder was John H. Johnson, published a photo of the open casket, showing Till’s face disfigured beyond recognition. His teeth were missing, one eye was hanging from its socket and one ear had been severed. Mamie Till, his mother, who insisted on the open casket so people could see what had happened to her son, leaned over the casket, and wept uncontrollably.

But even in death, Till did not find peace. His mother buried her son in Burr Oak Cemetery, an African American-owned cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. Investigators discovered Till’s casket had been desecrated along with others in a scheme to resell burial plots.

The first sign that notified visitors this was where Till’s body was discovered was thrown into the Tallahatchie. The next two signs were riddled with bullets. These incidents occurred over 11 years.
The new sign is heavy and sleek. It is made of thick AR500 steel and sheathed by an acrylic panel.

Newswire: Judge temporarily blocks Florida law restricting voting by ex-Felons, who could not pay fines, fees and restitution

By Michael Wines, New York Times

Florida cannot prevent people with felony convictions from registering to vote if they cannot pay fines and other costs stemming from their convictions, a federal judge ruled on Friday, temporarily blocking a state law that civil rights’ groups have called an unconstitutional “poll tax.”
The ruling was a rebuke to the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and its Republican controlled Legislature. Legislators had enacted a law requiring the fine and fee payments this year after voters resoundingly approved an amendment to the State Constitution that restored voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons.
The law was widely seen as an attempt to suppress voting by the former felons, many of them African-Americans or Hispanics who appeared likely to support Democrats.
The injunction technically affects only 17 plaintiffs in the suit challenging the law, all of whom said they lacked the money to pay costs stemming from their convictions. But the principle behind the ruling applies to all people convicted of felonies and will require the state to change its repayment policy if it stands, said Julie Ebenstein, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Evidence in the lawsuit indicated that roughly four in five felons who have completed their sentences had unpaid fines, court costs or restitution to victims of their crimes. “People can’t be disenfranchised for outstanding legal financial obligations that they are unable to pay” she said. “Even though the ruling applies only to the individual plaintiffs, the process is obviously problematic” regardless of whom it is applied to.
Voting rights advocates who sought Friday’s ruling hailed the injunction as a crucial step toward limiting the Legislature’s effort to restrict access to the ballot. The decision is “a critical step towards ensuring that the voting rights of other people with felony convictions are not trampled on by Florida officials,” Leah Aden, the deputy director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for full relief for Florida voters who must not pay to vote.”
Florida officials had no immediate response to the ruling by Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the United States District Court in Tallahassee. The state could challenge the injunction in a higher court, change the law when the Legislature convenes next year or postpone action until a trial in the lawsuit, now scheduled for April, produces a definitive ruling on the law’s legality.
Floridians restored the voting rights of felons who had completed their sentences — except those convicted of murder or sex offenses — in a referendum last November that passed with the backing of nearly 65 percent of voters. The Legislature sought to blunt the effect of the vote by passing a law that included any court-imposed financial obligations linked to a felony in the definition of “sentence.”
The legislators went even further by specifying that those obligations included fines and other costs that had been converted to civil liens, a common court practice applied to costs that felons are unable to pay. Civil liens cancel the criminal nature of the obligations, converting them to ordinary debts like loans or credit card purchases.
By requiring people with felony convictions to pay legal obligations before registering to vote, the lawsuit’s plaintiffs had argued, Florida legislators had effectively created a modern version of the notorious poll taxes used to disenfranchise African-Americans during the Jim Crow era. The United States Constitution’s 24th Amendment did away with the practice, stating that the right to vote in a federal election could not be denied for failure to pay “any poll tax or other tax.”
In his ruling, Judge Hinkle, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, left open the question of whether the repayment provisions were in fact a poll tax. He noted that the drafters of the constitutional amendment approved in November had indicated to the state Supreme Court that fines and other court costs were indeed considered part of a sentence, but he said that it was up to Florida courts to decide whether the amendment approved by voters required their repayment.
In any case, the judge said, it was clear that states have the right to deny voting privileges to people who can afford to pay such costs but choose not to.
But Judge Hinkle said the law was equally clear that Florida cannot refuse to restore a former felon’s voting rights simply because the felon is unable to pay legal debts. In fact, he wrote, a 2005 ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit involving a Florida felon who was unable to pay restitution stated that “access to the franchise cannot be made to depend on an individual’s financial resources.”
The state can investigate whether a former felon’s claim of poverty is legitimate, the judge wrote, and can establish a process for deciding whether and how voting rights should be restored. But “what the state cannot do,” he wrote, “is deny the right to vote to a felon who would be allowed to vote but for the failure to pay amounts the felon has been genuinely unable to pay.”
Under the preliminary injunction, the judge wrote, the 17 former felons who are plaintiffs in the case can seek to regain their voting rights by proving to the state that they are unable to pay their legal debts.
“When an eligible citizen misses an opportunity to vote, the opportunity is gone forever; the vote cannot later be cast,” he wrote, adding: “Each of these plaintiffs have a constitutional right to vote so long as the state’s only reason for denying the vote is failure to pay an amount the plaintiff is genuinely unable to pay. The preliminary injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable harm to any such plaintiff.”
Micah Kubic, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Florida, hailed the ruling. “The court’s decision is clear: The right to vote cannot be denied to anyone based on their inability to pay,” he said in a statement. “The state must create a clear and unencumbered process that provides Florida’s returning citizens the ability to vote. This is an important win for our democracy.”
Shelley Fearson, Coordinator of the Alabama New South Coalition, said, “We have similar rules in Alabama, where former felons trying to get their voting rights restored face high fees, costs and restitution, which stops them for getting their voting rights back. We will be watching this legal case in Florida to see how it can be used to correct similar problems here in Alabama.”

Newswire : Congressman Elijah Cummings dies at 68

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Cong. Elijah Cummings


The Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and a titan of the U.S. Congress, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7), died early Thursday morning. He was 68.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s wife and chairman of the Maryland Democratic Committee, said Cummings died at 2:45 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mrs. Cummings said her husband’s death resulted from complications concerning longstanding health challenges.
Recently, and in increasingly rare sightings of the congressman, Cummings was seen using a walker. He underwent an undisclosed medical procedure, and his office expected that he would only miss about one week of work.
“He was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion, and humility,” Mrs. Cummings said.
Cummings obtained his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Howard University, serving as Student Government President and graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
The recipient of 13 honorary doctoral degrees, Cummings dedicated his life of service to uplifting and empowering the people he was sworn to represent, according to his biography.
He began his career in public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years, becoming the first African American in Maryland history to ascend to the position of Speaker Pro Tem.
Since 1996, Cummings has represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cummings was committed to ensuring that the next generation has access to quality healthcare and education, clean air and water, and a strong economy defined by fiscal responsibility. Children “are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see,” he often said.
In addition to the contributions he made to improve the lives of all Americans, the congressman was a passionate advocate for his beloved Baltimore, where he was born and raised.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump disparaged the city – particularly parts of Cummings’ district — labeling the city as a “rodent-infested mess where no human being would want to live.”
Cummings immediately responded: “Those in the highest levels of government must stop making hateful, incendiary comments that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.”
“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings added.
“He was a champion of the people, a soldier and a warrior for his city, the state, and the nation,” said Baltimore Times Publisher Joy Bramble. “Elijah Cummings made Baltimore and all of those who came across better.” The congressman told a local reporter that he and Trump had just one face-to-face conversation since the president took office in 2016.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon, you and I will be dancing with the angels. The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do – what present can we bring to generations unborn?”
His last act in Congress came on Oct. 8, when he joined three others from a bipartisan group to introduce legislation called “The Family Asthma Act.” The bill seeks to expand federal, state, and local efforts to improve care for individuals with asthma.
“Long live the freedom-fighting spirit of Brother Leader Congressman Elijah Cummings,” National Newspaper Publishers Association President, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said. “On behalf of the Black Press of America, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Cummings and to the Cummings family.

Newswire : Love’s Truck Stop and Travel Center opens October 24

  • The Love’s Truck Stop and Travel Center at Exit 40 on Interstate 20/59 opens for business on Thursday morning, October 24, 2019 at 7:00 AM. The business provides full service for parking, fueling and servicing 18 wheeler trucks. The travel center will provide gas, food and a convenience store to persons driving along the Interstate or coming on county roads. The center will have three fast-food restaurants – Hardee’s, Chester’s Chicken and Godfathers Pizza. Love’s has hired more than 70 full and part time staff, many from Greene County, to operate the business.

Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Fighters selects Jimmie Rice, Fireman of the Year

Hodges Smith and Jimmie Rice

Mr. Jimmie Rice, of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, was selected as Fireman of the Year at the Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments 7th Annual Volunteer Fire Fighters Awards Banquet & Ball. In photo, Mr. Hodges Smith, Association President, presents the 1st Place Plaque to Rice. The runners-up were Mr. Landon Jacobs, of Jena Volunteer Fire Department and James Cleveland, of Dollarhide Volunteer Fire Department.

New Generation Community Outreach dedicates new Sanctuary

October 6, 2019 -New Generation Community Outreach Center, formerly New Generation Church, opened its doors to the community in a dedication service in observance of the new building located at 119 Louis Barnett, Jr. Street, previously known as the Vanco Building. Pastor Joe N. Webb founded the new Generation Church, Inc. in October 2003 with a congregation of nearly 50.  At that time the non-denominational church held worship services in the old Hook movie theatre on Prairie Ave. in Eutaw..
In September, 2013, the Greene County Commission approved the sale of the county’s Vanco property to New Generation Church, at fair market price not to be less than assessed value.

New Generation Community Outreach
dedicates new SanctuaryAccording to pastor Joe N. Webb, the new facility would be developed in three phases: Phase 1, The Sanctuary and business offices; Phase 2, Area for community gatherings and services, including weddings and other celebrations, and funerals; Phase 3, Recreational area, including a gymnasium.
Pastor Webb stated that the church plans to acquire additional adjacent property for outdoor recreational uses, such as picnic grounds, cook-out, ball games, etc.
“The New Generation Church intends to develop this new facility to reach our community through worship, resources and other outreach services. We are committed to motivating and making a difference in the lives of people, imparting spirituality, blessing financially, and embracing the truth that we have a responsibility to the growth and development of our community,” Pastor Webb stated.
In the dedication ceremony, Apostle Steve Green, pastor of the More Than Conquerors Faith Church, served as the guest speaker.  Scripture readings were rendered by Rev. Kelvin Cockrell of Morning Star Baptist Church and Pastor Samuel Ezell of Brush Creek Baptist Church. Greetings were delivered by County elected officials, Campers on Mission, Eutaw Mayor and Council, Merchants and Farmers Bank, Judy Livingston and others.

Newswire: Black News Channel (BNC) TV launches in America

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (pictured at right), Former Republican U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts, chairman of BNC (left) and Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shad Khan, who is a primary investor in the new network (center).

In a joint teleconference broadcast live from the Four Season’s Hotel in New York’s Financial District, the Black News Channel (BNC) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association announced the official launch date and time for the nation’s first 24-hour, 7-days a week all-news TV channel that will focus on African American news.
The new channel promises to inform, educate, and empower nearly 50 million African Americans now living in the United States.
The potential for the network appears almost limitless.
BNC will immediately have the potential to reach 33 million households daily in all the major media markets across the nation.
Combined with the millions of readers who consume information from NNPA’s Black-owned newspapers and media companies each week, the BNC could quickly become the top destination for all who want to consume African American news on TV and on mobile devices.
BNC, which officially launches at 6 a.m. on Friday, November 15, 2019 has agreements with Charter Communications, Comcast and DISH TV. The network already has commitments for carriage in major African American hubs like Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Los Angeles.
Tallahassee, Florida, houses BNC’s headquarters, and the network will have news bureaus around the country, including Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Former Republican U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts is chairman of BNC, which is backed financially by business mogul and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
“This platform will create a venue for the African American community to have a dialogue to talk about news, education and cultural things,” stated Watts, who added that the network has been in the planning stage for many years.
“I had an afro when I started this,” Watts referenced.
“It’s especially important to have the Black Press of America join us in this venture. I bet most people don’t realize that there are 223 African American-owned newspapers in the NNPA, and that’s content for us,” Watts stated.
“We suffered a big blow with the loss of Ebony and Jet, publications I grew up reading. But I still read the Black Press in Oklahoma City, growing up.”
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., who participated in the teleconference, said the NNPA’s partnership with the BNC is a profound win-win for Black America.
“This year marks the 192nd year of the Black Press of America. Black Americans striving for excellence in all fields of endeavor give life to our culture that attracts and impacts all people. We set trends for ourselves and others,” Chavis stated.
“We’re not a cursed people, and we are a blessed people. We continue to strive for excellence, and to have Shad Khan announced as a primary investor for the launch and sustainable development of the BNC is of major significance,” Chavis noted.
Kahn told NNPA Newswire that the decision to back BNC was easy once he looked at the mission and the business model.
“I am a big believer in the fact that we have a number of communities, obviously especially the African American community, who are underserved,” stated Kahn, a magnate in the auto equipment industry.
In addition to the Jaguars, he owns the Fulham Football Club of the English Football League, All Elite Wrestling, and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.
“I hope that as time goes on, this becomes a bridge to connect all the cultures, including obviously south Asian. But I do believe there is an undeniable calling for everything the Black News Channel will deliver to African American television audiences, who have historically been underserved in an era where networks have otherwise successfully targeted news to specific demographic groups and interests. My decision to invest is an easy one because we get to answer that calling,” Kahn explained.
Both Watts and Kahn promised that BNC will give a voice to the varied experiences of African Americans and will not just tell a segment of the story but will tell the entire story.
“We will inform, educate, inspire, and empower the African American community,” Watts added.
BNC will have three primary anchor teams who will host the network’s evening newscast, morning newscast, and mid-day D.C. Today Live broadcast. In addition to primary anchor teams, BNC also will have high-profile expert contributors who will add commentary and information to each newscast.
The network will work with historically Black colleges and universities to ensure that all African Americans have a voice.
A BNC correspondent will examine life on the HBCU campuses and explain why the experiences students have at these institutions of learning are so meaningful in the cultural development of many students’ lives. The weekly one-hour program will focus on what is happening at HBCUs that is good, positive, and uplifting.
Additionally, one of the many topics will include Sickle Cell Diseases, the blood disorder that disproportionately affects African Americans.
Veteran TV anchor Kelly Wright, who will host a 6 p.m. show on BNC, said his inaugural program would include a segment on the NNPA’s missing black girls national series.
That series spotlights the more than 424,000 African American women and girls who have gone missing in the United States over the past half-decade.
“We’re not looking to be Republican or Democrat. There will be current affairs, but we are culturally specific to the African American community. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN may have African American faces on their news shows, but they are not necessarily covering the community from a cultural perspective,” Watts stated. “We’re not looking to be left or right. We will be authentic and true to enriched and diverse African American experience.”