Commission approves $85,000 for engineering work on County Road 69

In its monthly meeting held Monday, March 12, 2018, the Greene County Commission authorized preliminary engineering work to begin on the bridge on County Road 69 with an investment not to exceed $85,000. At the previous commission work session, county engineer Willie Branch informed the body that this particular bridge has to be inspected every month and warrants this engineering work to begin to replace the bridge. The school bus cannot travel this bridge as it is. The bridge is currently posted at 3 tons.
The commission also gave its approval for the county engineer to sell all surplus equipment and/or surplus supplies.
Opening advertisement for a part-time position in the Solid Waste Department was approved following the commission accepting an employee’s resignation from that position.
The commission acted on the following:
Approved having a public hearing on vacating a portion of Outland Road from the end of the pavement at the railroad to the North Gloria Street property line.Approved various staff travel requests for continuing professional development.
In her financial report, CFO Paula Bird gave the various bank balances as of Feb. 18 as follows: Citizen Trust Bank, $3,109,438.69; Merchants & Farmers Bank, $2,157,243.70; Bank of New York, $363,933.28; total CD investments, $802,978.18. She noted that the Coroner’s office was over the amount budgeted for transportation, noting that it is difficult to estimate what will be needed for a given year. Bird also stated that the Sheriff paid $3,272.95 to cover overtime for his personnel.

Newswire : New EPI study shows no Black economic progress in 50 years

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)


Late last year, “The Washington Post” wrote that African Americans were the only group that showed no economic improvement since 2000. They based their conclusions on Census data. This year, there was even more sobering news in a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The new study issued found “no progress” for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years.
Much of what was included in the EPI study was stunning data on African American economic progress. Fifty years after the famous and controversial Kerner Commission Report that identified “white racism” as the driver of “pervasive discrimination in employment and education” for African Americans, EPI concluded that not much has changed.
The EPI study stated the obvious and pointed to glaring statistics.
Regarding the justice system, the share of incarcerated African Americans has close to tripled between 1968 and 2016, as Blacks are 6.4 times more likely than Whites to be jailed or imprisoned. Homeownership rates have remained unchanged for African Americans, over the last 50 years. Black homeownership is about 40 percent, which is 30 percent behind the rate for Whites.
Regarding income, perhaps the most important economic metric, the average income for an African American household was $39,490 in 2017, a decrease from $41,363 in 2000.
A press release about the report said that, “Black workers still make only 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by white workers, African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be in poverty than Whites, and the median White family has almost ten times as much wealth as the median Black family.”
In 2017, the Black unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 1968, and still roughly twice the White unemployment rate. In 2015, the Black homeownership rate was just over 40 percent, virtually unchanged since 1968 and trailing a full 30 points behind the White homeownership rate, which saw modest gains over the same period.
President Trump has bragged about the Black unemployment rate has reached record lows and homeownership has reached record highs under his presidency. What Trump leaves out is the overall statistical data over many years.
Much of what the data shows is connected to systemic policy problems that have been persistent for decades. In the press release about the EPI report, EPI economic analyst Janelle Jones said that it’s clear that structural racism is the root cause of the economic inequality between Blacks and Whites.
“Solutions must be bold and to scale, which means we need structural change that eliminates the barriers that have stymied economic progress for generations of African American workers,” said Jones.
Lauren Victoria Burke is a congressional correspondent for the NNPA Newswire. Lauren also works independently as a political analyst and communications strategist. You can reach Lauren by email at and on Twitter at @LVBurke.

Newswire: The Black press honors Senator Kamala Harris with NNPA’s 2018 ‘Newsmaker of the Year Award’ during Black press week

Senator Kamala Harris (D CA)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—(NNPANewswirePR)—The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) will honor Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) with the 2018 Newsmaker of the Year Award during the NNPA’s 2018 Black Press Week. The Newsmaker event will take place at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, March 14 at 7pm.
“The Honorable Kamala Harris, the second African American woman and first South Asian American senator in U.S. history, is an outstanding choice for the NNPA’s 2018 Newsmaker of the Year Award,” said Dorothy Leavell, the chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Crusader Newspapers in Chicago and Gary, Ind.
The NNPA will also celebrate the senator’s efforts to raise wages for working people, reform the criminal justice system, and expand healthcare access for all Americans.
“In all of my years of covering news in our community, Senator Harris has been one of the smartest, most fearless, steadfast and caring politicians that I have come to know,” said Amelia Ashley-Ward, the new NNPA Foundation chair and publisher of the San Francisco Sun-Reporter. “She has a lot to offer the world…we are so fortunate to have her advocating on our behalf.”
The theme of this year’s Black Press Week is “Celebrating 191 Years of the Black Press of America: Publishing Truth to Empower.” Black publishers, media professionals, civil rights leaders and lawmakers from across the country attend the annual event, taking place March 14-16. On Friday, March 16, Democratic strategist and author Donna Brazile will deliver a keynote address on the state of the Black Press in America.
“When John B. Russwurm and Samuel E. Cornish printed that first issue of Freedom’s Journal they sought to empower Black people to determine their own destiny and to define themselves,” said Leavell. “How iconic, that in 2018, our theme still rings true: ‘Publishing Truth to Empower.’”
Black Press Week will also feature sessions on business development, education reform, and sickle cell disease. Outstanding leaders in the Black community will be honored during the Torch Awards Dinner.

The Torch Award recipients are: Dr. Amos Brown, the pastor of the San Francisco Third Baptist Church; Rep. Barbara Jean Lee (D-Calif.); and James Farmer, a senior consultant for General Motors.
Ken Barrett, the global chief diversity officer for General Motors, said that “Jim” Farmer dedicated his career to transforming the automotive industry through diversity and community service. “I am proud of the invaluable support Jim continues to provide GM and he is truly most deserving of this prestigious honor,” said Barrett.
Chairman Leavell agreed. “The NNPA Foundation, under the leadership of Chairman Amelia Ward, the publisher of the Sun Reporter in San Francisco, Calif., has chosen some of the most outstanding leaders and trailblazers in the Black community to receive Torch Awards, this year,” said Leavell.
The 2018 Black Press Week partners include the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Reynolds American (RAI), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pfizer, Inc. The 2018 Black Press Week sponsors include AARP, Amerihealth, Comcast, Koch Industries, Wells Fargo, AT&T, and Volkswagen.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, said that the NNPA and the NNPA Foundation have joined together to celebrate the 191-year anniversary of the Black Press in America. “This year, Black Press Week convenes at a time of profound opportunity and responsibility to ensure a record turnout for Black American voters in the upcoming midterm elections across the nation,” said Chavis. “The new strategic alliance between the NNPA and the NAACP bodes well to advance civil rights and the economic, political, and cultural empowerment of Black America.”

The National Newspaper Publishers Association represents more than 200 Black-owned media companies in the United States. The NNPA promotes the profession of journalism and the business of publishing, while celebrating the evolution of the Black Press in America.

Newswire: Bernard Simelton elected to NAACP National Board of Directors

Bernard Simelton

Bernard Simelton

The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP is proud to announce that Benard Simelton who serves as President of the Alabama State Conference was elected to serve as a member of the National Board of Directors at their annual meeting in New York on February 17, 2018.
Board member James Crowell who nominated Simelton, noted his work with the special senate election in Alabama, held on Dec 12th. Crowell also mentioned the dedication and tenacity during Simelton’s tenure as the Alabama State Conference NAACP president.
After being sworn in as a National Board member, Mr. Simelton took his seat at the board meeting! “I am excited about moving forward in this new role as a National Board member and as I take the oath of office, I look forward to furthering the mission and goals of the NAACP,” said Benard Simelton.
Simelton will also continue to serve as President of the Alabama State Conference.

Newswire: U. S. Secretary of State fired, cutting short long awaited Africa visit

Tillerson with Chadian leader
  Secretary of State Tillerson meets with Chadian foreign minister

Mar. 12, 2018 (GIN) – An extended visit to Africa this month by the U.S. Secretary of State to mend fences after the President’s crude description of African and Caribbean countries was cut short this week by the dismissal of the embattled Secretary Rex Tillerson.

It was the first tour of the continent by the ex-Secretary who was the first high level U.S. representative to visit the continent since the President’s vulgar remarks. Tillerson has been replaced by the CIA director, Mike Pompeo.

The President — who has long clashed will Tillerson— felt it was important to make the change now, as he prepares for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as upcoming trade negotiations, three White House officials said.

“(The President’s) statements shocked almost all Africans,” Chadian Foreign Minister Mahamat Zene Cherif said at a press conference seated next to Tillerson, but added, “We made efforts on either side to move ahead and look at the future with optimism.”

Quietly, however, Chadian President Idriss Déby made his anger known about his country being targeted in a Muslim travel ban despite close working relations between the two countries on anti-terrorism.

Other planned activities that were called off included the laying of a wreath at the memorial to victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and a working luncheon with Kenyan leaders.

A full day of meetings in Nigeria was reduced to a quick chat with President Muhammadu Buhari and his foreign minister before hopping a flight home.

Among the responses to the State Department’s visit was a published piece by visiting professor of international relations at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, Joseph J. Stremlau, titled Three Reasons why Africa should treat the visit with scepticism.

The Secretary was scheduled to visit just five of Africa’s 54 countries: Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria – the so-called “arc of instability,” noted Stremlau..

“Evidently, counter terrorism is America’s main Africa concern,” he wrote. “If Trump and Tillerson were seriously interested in issues of trade, public health, and good governance, he would have at least included democratic South Africa on his agenda. Instead, Tillerson has prioritized repressive governments and ones under states of emergency.”

Stremlau’s second reason for skepticism is that the US hasn’t shown much appetite for diplomatic engagement with Africa since Trump became president.

“By contrast, the US military is already deeply engaged in the struggle against counter terrorism.”

“Neither Trump or Tillerson has announced an overarching Africa policy. No assistant secretary for Africa has been named, important embassies, including in South Africa, lack ambassadors. This is in sharp contrast to the US’s active engagement on the military front,” he pointed out.

“Finally, said Stremlau, “Tillerson has no credibility. He has been publicly criticized and even mocked by his commander-in-chief. Rumors persist that he will resign or be fired. And any claims that the government he represents means what it says is undermined by Trump’s own false or misleading statements.”

Stremlau congratulated African leaders for setting a dignified precedent when Trump compared African countries to dirty toilets.

Africans should also remind Tillerson of their appreciation of China’s increasing importance as their leading development partner, Stremlau urged.
He added: “It’s worth recalling that since the 1990s, Congress has consistently supported expanding economic and political partnerships with Africa.

“The reason for this is that congressmen have been pressed to do so by African-Americans as well as other sympathetic elements in America’s diverse civil society, business, and philanthropic sectors.

“Networks such as these, as well as close ties at state and local government level that stretch throughout Africa may indeed be more important in the long run.”

Newswire : ‘Help Wanted’ at the White House as employment opportunities abound with nonstop resignations, firings

Written By Bruce C.T. Wright, Newsone

With all the bragging the president has done about how many people in the country have jobs, he may need to pay more attention closer to home as the White House resignation floodgates just can’t seem to stay shut.
Yet another key White House insider was reportedly set to leave the Trump administration just hours after the president proudly proclaimed that he liked the “conflict” that has routinely led to the departure of dozens of others. The Tuesday afternoon announcement that Gary Cohn, the president’s top economic adviser, has apparently had enough of the madness followed the revelation that another Trump adviser had violated a rule surrounding Alabama’s special election, casting doubt on her future in the White House, too.
The developments unfolded after the president hosted the Swedish prime minister in the White House and discussed the revolving door when it came to his staff.
“It’s tough, I like conflict, I like having two people with different points of view – and I certainly have that – and then I make a decision,” Yahoo News reported the president said.
Famous last words.
Soon afterward, it was reported that White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway has violated an election law known as the Hatch Act that says, according to CNN, “that with the exception of the president and the vice president, employees of the executive branch cannot engage in any sort of conduct or speech that might be construed as endorsing one party or one candidate over another.”

She apparently crossed the line pushing the senate candidacy of accused pedophile Roy Moore.
While the White House was licking those wounds with a steady stream of denials over the announcement by the Office of Special Counsel, Cohn was apparently plotting his escape over a disagreement – or, “conflict” – with the president’s plans to impose a controversial tax on steel and aluminum imports, according to the Associated Press.
The White House has lost at least 32 key staffers either through firings or resignations. A full list of those people follow, according to MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin. Conway could make it 33, depending on the consequences for her alleged violation.

Newswire: Leading Black legislator calls for economic unity, action as Black Wealth 2020 celebrates second year

By Hazel Trice Edney

gregory porter.jpg
Indiana Rep. Gregory Porter, president, National Black Caucus of State Legislators
( – The president of America’s largest organization of Black legislators has called for unity behind economic development initiatives prioritized by Black Wealth 2020, a movement launched two years ago to forge progress for Black-owned businesses, banks and homeowners.
“Economic development is the cornerstone for everything. It’s kind of interesting to talk to you all because you’re living it every day. You know what it takes,” said Indiana Rep. Gregory W. Porter, president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). He was speaking to Black Wealth 2020 founders, executives and associates at its second anniversary luncheon. “What it takes is for a community to get along. Also, we don’t spend with our people like we should and we know that. The bottom line is this: We know the whereases. We know what the problems are. Therefore, what are we going to do? Jesse [Jackson] said years ago ‘Can’t nobody save us but us.’… That’s what we’re doing right now, saving us.”
Backing from the NBCSL adds significant momentum to Black Wealth 2020, founded two years ago by Ron Busby, president/CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc.; Michael Grant, then president of the National Bankers Association; and Jim Winston, president of the National Organization of Black Owned Broadcasters. At least a dozen other major Black organizations have either joined or expressed support for its economic initiatives.
“We own too little land. We have too lower median income than other Americans. We have much lower family wealth than our White brothers and sisters and we’ve got to make that change,” Porter said to shouts of “Amen” and applause from the audience.
A strategy to unify with other organizations will be the key to success, said Porter, a Democrat serving his 13th term in the Indiana General Assembly.
“We’re working with the NAACP, Urban League, other groups and National Organizations because if we do that we’ll be strong together. We can’t continue to be silos. So, I know as we go forth, we will do it as a community. And so, remember, you have 600 legislators, we represent 60 million people. We’re in 45 states, plus U. S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. We have the means. It’s up to all of us to come together and have the will.”
Speaking to the luncheon gathering at HomeFree-USA, Porter listed a number of economic policies currently being pushed by NBCSL, which has a membership that blankets the nation; plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, DC. “We represent about 60 million people in rural communities and we come together two or three times a year in an annual conference.”
Pointing to long-held discussions about Black wealth, Porter, ranking minority member on Indiana’s Ways and Means Committee, stressed that the most important need now is less talk and more strategic action. “The bottom line is that we can talk all we want to, but we’ve got to have our independence in regards to economics,” he said.
As an example of action, he said he and likeminded legislators have had to hold up certain projects in order to assure Black participation.
“We’re the super minority, so a lot of us are fighting to stay relevant in this whole process,” he said. “They always go to the big company, but we’ve got to know how we’re going to build our capacity by choosing minority companies…We’ve worked very hard in dealing with minority access for sustainable financial institutions through our resolutions. As Black Caucuses across the country, we’re increasing our fair contracting opportunities and practices for economic parity. These are resolutions that we’ve passed.”
Among key economic issues being dealt with in legislatures daily are homeowner protection, anti-predatory lending, home affordability resolutions, anti-discrimination and gentrification issues. Preparation for the 2020 Census and making sure African-Americans are fully counted will also be key, he said. NCBSL’s next legislative conference will be held Nov. 28 at which time they will “look at Black wealth.”
Echoing the importance of unity in order to accomplish economic goals, HomeFree-USA President/CEO Marcia Griffin appealed to those in the room to “be our ambassadors, our messengers, etc. because we need to reach thousands with a sense of understanding and get people to wrap their arms around our goals. … We’re from all sorts of different segments of the Black community, but we’ve come together to work together to empower ourselves and empower our community and empower our country.”
Grant, now based in Nashville, where he is regional president of United Security Financial, a mortgage banking company, agreed with the appeal for harmony. “We’re not trying to upstage anybody. We’re not trying to compete with anybody. What we’re trying to do is pull our strength together so that when we speak with one voice, they’re looking at all of these organizations coming together and it’s hard to say no to that kind of power.”
Porter also underscored the importance of constituents holding lawmakers – including Black legislators – accountable and not taking for granted that they will automatically push for economic inclusion. He suggested that constituents:

Have their own kitchen cabinet and invite legislators to neighborhood and community meetings.
Come to state houses, visit the representatives’ offices.
Attend and speak at public hearings.

“You can’t be the invisible,” he said. “We’ve got to stay woke about economic development and the process that we have. We did build this country. We need to manage this country.”
Expressing the importance of this year being the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Movement, Porter said, “It does mean a lot to us…You’ve got to know where you came from to know where you’re going.”