Sheriff Benison awards additional $72,000 in bingo funds to Greene County Health System

Sheriff Joe Benison symbolically presents envelop with check to John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board, on October 23, 2019, at the monthly bingo fund distribution ceremony, while actual funds were delivered to GCHS on November 12, 2019

Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System reported that she received a check for $72,000 from Sheriff Joe Benison. This check represents an additional distribution of funds paid to the Sheriff by electronic bingo operators for the month of October 2019.
Sheriff Benison said, “ I know that the Greene County Health System is in dire need of additional funds to serve the health needs of Greene County residents. I am awarding these funds and looking into finding other resources from electronic bingo for health care.”
Dr. Pugh said, “We are grateful and thankful for these additional funds. We will use them immediately to update our computer network and systems, help to move the CT scanner from an outside mobile unit into the hospital imaging center and to pay some of our outstanding bills.”
The Sheriff of Greene County is designated as the regulator of electronic bingo in Alabama Constitutional Amendment 743, which governs the establishment, operation and regulation of electronic bingo in Greene County.
In October 2017, Sheriff Benison amended the bingo operating rules to provide $25 per bingo machine, per month, for payment to the Greene County Health System for support of health care for Greene County residents.
The assessment for the healthcare system is in addition to the $200 month license fee for each bingo machine operated by bingo charities and organizations in the county.
The Sheriff distributes these license fees to county agencies, including his own bingo operations office, the Board of Education, municipalities and the GCHS for healthcare. Since November 2017, the GCHS has received $45,000 per month toward general operating support, which has helped to cover operating deficits and allow the hospital, nursing home and affiliated services to remain open and operating to serve the people of Greene County.
“We have recently received additional funds and donations from churches and community organizations to help improve our facilities and supplies at the hospital, nursing home and physicians clinic. These additional funds from bingo will help us to continue to upgrade and improve our healthcare services,” said Dr. Pugh.

Commission cannot conduct business when adoption of agenda fails

On Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, the Greene County Commission resumed a meeting recessed from the previous week, Tuesday, Nov. 12. The Nov. 18 meeting adjourned following several failed attempts by the newly elected Chairman, Allen Turner, Jr., to get the agenda approved.
Commissioner Lester Brown moved to approve the agenda, excluding the item for an executive session. Commissioner Tennyson Smith offered the second. The motion failed with a two-two vote; Brown and Smith for and Turner and Roshanda Summerville against (only four commissioners were present).
On the request again by Chairman Turner for a motion to approve the agenda, Commissioner Roshanda Summerville moved to approve the agenda as printed and the motioned failed for lack of a second. Turner repeated this exercise of alternating motions by Brown and Summerville; each time the motion failed. Turner then asked the Commission’s Attorney Hank Sanders: “What happens now; what are our options.” Sanders replied that once the body failed to adopt/approve the agenda, the meeting is adjourned. However, Commissioner Turner again asked for a motion and Summerville moved to approve the agenda as presented. Motion failed again for lack of a second. Turner then stated the meeting is adjourned.
The commission had recessed the Nov. 12 meeting to allow time for Commissioners Brown and Turner to meet with Sheriff Jonathan Benison regarding the bingo funds the commission needed to meet payroll for all the employees in the Sheriff’s Department.

The commission approved its budget for 2019-2020, allocating approximately 51% of the general fund monies for the Sheriff’s Department, however, that budget had a contingency component consisting of approximately $800,000 which would be provided to the commission from the sheriff’s bingo funds to supplement the sheriff’s budget. The sheriff had provided supplemental bingo funds in previous years to make up the difference from what the county could provide for the sheriff’s department.
Brown inquired as to the purpose of the executive session since he and Turner had not met with Sheriff Benison. Turner did not offer any explanation except to state that all that would be discussed in the executive session. Turner also stated that he had met with Sheriff Benison, but he did not explain why Brown was not included in that meeting, or whether other commissioners attended that meeting with him.
The commission took no action to set a date for a follow-up meeting.

Newswire: Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joins Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker in White House race

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Deval Patrick


As doubts grow about the candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, other candidates have entered the race for the White House in 2020. In a surprise announcement on November 14, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, 63, tossed his hat in the ring. Only days before, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he would also join the crowded field of Democrats competing to take on President Donald Trump.
Former Governor Patrick’s late entry onto the presidential stage means that for the first time in history, three African Americans are running for President from one of the two major political parties. They are Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and now Patrick. The late arrivals have reignited a debate about “electability” and who can actually win in 2020. Biden’s poll numbers falling in Iowa started the debate.
The diversity of the field and Patrick’s late run only 80 days before the Iowa Caucuses have many insiders on team blue worried that a protracted primary fight may hurt the party’s chances of beating Trump. Concerns from Wall Street and the “one percent” about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax” ideas have many Democrats who are more corporation friendly, such as Patrick, re-thinking their chances to compete. Billionaire Bloomberg joined billionaire Tom Steyer, who literally bought his way onto the debate stage, are trying to ignite interest with the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
To add to the challenge, white candidates in the field must build the diverse Obama coalition of voters and ensure excitement in the most reliable sectors of the Democratic base while minority candidates must thread the needle of attracting white support. The share of white voters supporting the Democratic Party decreases two or three percent each year.
“We have women in this race, we have an openly gay person in this race, we have (a) biracial person in this race, African-Americans in this race,” Patrick said on November 15 to the Associated Press. “It is an incredible moment in American history that our field is so diverse and that voters have such qualified folks to choose from.”
It remains to be seen whether Patrick can quality for the debate stage next month. It also remains to be seen as to whether he can raise the millions needed to mount a serious effort for the White House. But with the current field in flux because of Biden’s faltering in the polls, Deval Patrick may have a chance compete in a crowded field.

Greene County candidates qualify for 2020 elections

Qualifying for the 2020 Alabama March Primary Elections closed on Friday, November 8, 2019 with several Greene Countians vying for public office. Greene County District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, seeking her third term in office, is unopposed in the March Primary.
Arnelia “Shay” Johnson, who is currently employed in the County’s Appraisal Office is seeking the position of Revenue Commissioner along with the incumbent Revenue Commissioner, Barbara McShan, who is completing two years of the unexpired term of former Commissioner Brenda Goree. McShan was appointed Greene County Revenue Commissioner by Governor Kay Ivey in April, 2018 and assumed the position July 1, 2018.
Greene County School Board positions in Districts 3,4,5 will also be up in 2020. Mr. Leo Branch, the incumbent in District 4, is unopposed for the March Primary. Ms. Veronica Richardson has qualified for School Board District 3, along with the incumbent Mr. William Morgan. Mrs. Mary Otieno has qualified for School Board District 5, along with incumbent Ms. Carrie Dancy.
The position of Constable is open in each of the five districts in Greene County. Mr. Lester Brown has qualified for Constable in District 1; Mr. John Steele, Jr. in District 2; Mr. Spiver Gordon in District 3; Rev. James E. Carter in District 4 and Mr. Jesse Lawson in District 5.
The Alabama Primary Election is scheduled for March 3, 2020.

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.

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.

Greene County Grand Jury indicts 24, returns 49 true bills

Grand Jury of Greene County went  into session on September 30, 2019 and ended the session on October 1, 2019.  The Grand Jury considered various criminal charges against various defendants and returned 49 true bills some of which were multiple count, indictments, resulting in 30 felonies and 14 misdemeanors.
There were 49 cases continued, all but three being drugs cases continued because there were no Certificates of Analysis from the department of  Forensic Sciences. There were 7 no bills returned.

  • Kendrick Tyrell Chavers was indicted on Sexual Abuse II; Count II: Sodomy 2nd Degree and Count III: Enticing Child for Immoral Purposes.
     * Jeremy Obrian Hutton was indicted for Receiving Stolen Property 3rd Degree.
  • Quin’darious Keshawn Jackson was indicted for Robbery I, Count II: Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree and Count III: Assault II.
  • Terry Lee Moore was indicted for Receiving Stolen Property I, Count II: Bringing Stolen Property Into State and Count III: Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, and Count IV: Unlawful Possession of Marijuana II.
  • Nikita Raynard Riles was indicted on Theft of Property I.
  • Richard Winn was incited for Discharging Firearm into Occupied Vehicle and Count II: Reckless endangerment. 
  • Antonio Belton was indicted on Rape I.
    JaJuan Fluker was indicted on Discharging Firearm into Occupied Vehicle and Count II: Reckless Endangerment. 
    Prentiss Fountain was indicted for Discharging  Firearm into Unoccupied Dwelling and Count II: Reckless Endangerment. 
    Larry Lee Hall was indicted on Domestic Violence III and Count II: Unlawful Imprisonment.
    Alfred Johnson was indicted on Receiving Stolen Property II.
    Franshay Keon Stewart was indicted on Possession of Marijuana I.
    Dekenta Thompson was indicted on Certain Person Forbidden to Possesses Pistol and Count II: Carrying a Concealed Weapon.
    Champion Bruce Tucker was indicted on Burglary III and Count II: Criminal Mischief III.
    Tavares Donte Folks was indicted for Possession of Marijuana II.
    Lydell Bailey was indicted for Possession of Marijuana I.
    Dwayne Watkins was indicted for Possession of Marijuana I.
    Aaron Micheal George was indicted for Trafficking in Cannabis.
    Darius Jerel Cobble was indicted for Trafficking in Cannabis.
    Jonathan Henry Harris was indicted for Trafficking in Cannabis. 
    Terrell Dewayne Davis was indicted for Possession of Marijuana I.
    Mark Dewayne Jones was indicted for Domestic Violence II.
    Cornelius Thomas was indicted  for Forgery 3rd Degree.
    Dekenta Thompson was indicted for Certain Person Forbidden to Possess Firearm, Count II: Discharging Firearm into Occupied Building and Count III: Criminal Mischief II; Count IV: Reckless Endangerment.  
    The Grand Jury also made the following recommendations: Repair the light in the holding cell in the Greene County Jail and there need to be two nurses needs on duty at the Greene County Jail.
    The Grand Jury noted that Pursuant to Alabama Code 14-6-42, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office has provided the Grand Jury with documentation verifying that a Prisoner Feeding Fund has been set up and is being maintained for the purpose of feeding the prisoners in the custody of the Greene County Sheriff Department.

Eutaw City Council votes to use $200,000 in ‘earmarked account’ to pay necessary city expenses

At the end of a long and raucous meeting, filled with arguments and motions to table issues, the Eutaw City Council voted 4 to 2 to take $200,000 from an account earmarked for Branch Heights Roads to pay necessary and accumulated bills for the city. Councilmembers: Latasha Johnson, Benny Abrams, Joe Lee Powell and Mayor Steele voted in favor while Councilmembers: Sheila Smith and LaJeffrey Carpenter voted against.
The City of Eutaw utilized $500,000 earlier this year from its gas tax accounts to resurface the roads in Branch Heights and place speed-bumps where needed. The Mayor said these funds were now needed to pay accumulated bills for needed items, like chemicals to treat the city water, repair costs for city equipment, and other expenses where vendors are threatening to cut the city off for non-payment of past bills.
City Attorney, Zane Willingham, said that he could find nothing in the Greene County Constitutional Amendment 743 authorizing bingo that restricts or earmarks the use of funds. The Sheriff’s bingo rules and the City Council’s decision to place funds in ‘earmarked accounts’ was a policy decision that could be changed by the Eutaw City Council that initially placed restrictions on the funds but now needs them for other purposes.
Mayor Steele said the city’s problems with finances are because the city tax base has not expanded over the past thirty years. “The opening of the Love’s Truck and Travel Center in October 2019, will help to employ more people and expand our sales and fuel tax revenues. But we will need more economic expansion to fully cover the costs of city services and operations.”
The City Council also agreed to purchase a new truck (estimated cost -$35,000) and a new tractor (estimated cost $20,000) for the city street department, from the gasoline tax funds.
The Council received a report from Rob Pearson, with Mason and Gardner Accountants, who presented a draft report of budgets for the City General Fund and Water Department. He said that both budgets showed a deficit with expenses exceeding revenues. After many questions from Councilmembers it was agreed to hold a more detailed discussion of the budgets at a work session to be held on the third Tuesday in September.
Mayor Steele reported that the Alabama Rural Water Services had visited and reviewed the city’s water system including the new meters, softwear and billing systems. They found 294 problems and have corrected 200 of them. “They plan to be back soon to correct the remaining accounts and get the system operating properly,” said Steele.
The Council tabled a number of controversial issues that come up regularly at meetings, such as the policy not to accept cash, undercover tags on city vehicles, use of city facilities for meetings and activities of non-city agencies and organizations, drainage repairs on private property, salary increases for staff, disposition of the Assistant Police Chief and others.

Newswire: 400 Years in Virginia. 500 Years in Slavery.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia


In August 2018, the National Newspaper Publishers Association began a series on the transatlantic slave trade.

The series started in conjunction with the annual United Nations International Day of Remembrance. With the observance of the first African landing in America, some question whether it’s the 400th or 500th anniversary.

Historians point out that the 400th anniversary is the 400th year of the Anglo-centric history of Africans in the Americas.
“Dating the history of Africans in North America to 400 years ago reinforces this narrative of English superiority,” Greg Carr, the Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, told Time.com.“Remembering the Spanish and indigenous sides of the history is more important now than ever as the people are closing the borders to those who are descendants from people who were here when you came,” Carr said.

In his 2013 PBS documentary, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,”Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., said slavery was always an essential ingredient of the American experiment. Gates called slavery, “The supreme hypocrisy,” and “capitalism gone berserk.”

The first African to come to North America was a free man who accompanied Spanish explorers to Florida in 1513 – or 106 years before the 20 Africans who were kidnapped and brought to Point Comfort, Va., in 1619, Gates said.
“The father of our country was one of its largest slave owners,” Gates said in the documentary.
“Because of the profound disconnect between principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the simultaneous practice of slavery, we’ve had historical amnesia about slavery,” he said.
Indeed, the slave trade began in the 15th century, said Boniface Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe. It was driven by colonial expansion, emerging capitalist economies and the insatiable demand for commodities – with racism and discrimination serving to legitimize the trade, Chidyausiku said.
Chidyausiku, then the acting president of the United Nations General Assembly, made the remarks in 2007 during the UN’s observance of the 200th anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave trade.
“Fortunes were made, and financial institutions flourished on the back of human bondage…[so] today’s commemoration must encourage everyone to live up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and to redouble efforts to stop human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery,’” said Chidyausiku, who is now 69.
Michael Guasco, a historian at Davidson College and author of “Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World,” suggests it’s the 500th anniversary.
“There’s a Hispanic heritage that predates the U.S., and there’s a tendency for people to willingly forget or omit the early history of Florida, Texas, and California, particularly as the politics of today want to push back against Spanish language and immigration from Latin America,” Guasco told Time.

The fact that slavery was underway for a century in South America before introduction in North America is not widely taught nor commonly understood, Felicia Davis of the HBCU Green Fund told NNPA Newswire.
“It is a powerful historical fact missing from our understanding of slavery, its magnitude, and global impact. The knowledge that slavery was underway for a century provides deep insight into how enslaved Africans adapted,” Davis said.
Far beyond the horrific “seasoning” description, clearly generations had been born into slavery long before introduction in North America, Davis said.
“This fact deepens the understanding of how vast majorities could be oppressed in such an extreme manner for such a long period. It is also a testament to the strength and drives among people of African descent to live free,” she said.
Prior to 1619, “America had a system of discrimination and prejudice against all groups who were not identified as White Anglo-Saxon native,” said Walter D. Palmer, who started a Community Freedom School for children and adult learners in Philadelphia that would become the platform on which he built his social legacy.
“By the mid-1600s, America created the slave codes,” Palmer told NNPA Newswire.
During the country’s founding, many settlers learned from and lived close to Native Americans on the east coast, said author Cassie Premo Steele.
For example, it wasn’t until resources like silver were found on what was Cherokee land that Andrew Jackson ordered the removal that became known as the “Trail of Tears,” Steele told NNPA Newswire.
“Further genocides and removals took place in the West when similar resources and land were desired by white Americans,” Steele said.
“Similarly, slavery was primarily an economic system that was based upon the dehumanization of Africans. Dehumanization is in some ways even worse than hate since it is a denial of the humanity of a people,” she said.
The observance of the 400th anniversary of the first African landing at Point Comfort, Va., did bring about changes, according to Time. It was the type of race-based chattel slavery system that solidified in the centuries that followed was its unique American tragedy.

“To ignore what had been happening with relative frequency in the broader Atlantic world over the preceding 100 years or so understates the real brutality of the ongoing slave trade, of which the 1619 group were undoubtedly a part, and minimizes the significant African presence in the Atlantic world to that point,” Guasco said in a History.com interview earlier this month.
“People of African descent have been ‘here’ longer than the English colonies,” he said.

Newswire : Congresswoman Maxine Waters Statement on Capital One Data Breach

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement on a data breach which exposed account information of over 100 million Capital One customers.
“This data breach shows that it’s not just big technology companies and credit reporting agencies like Equifax that are vulnerable to hacking and data breaches – big banks are vulnerable targets as well. As this is not the first incident in which Capital One’s customer data was exposed, we need to understand what bank regulators have been doing to ensure that this bank, and other banks, have strong cybersecurity policies and practices. We must also understand what bank regulators are doing to ensure strong oversight of third-party technology providers that banks work with.
“As we learn more about this incident, I plan to work with my colleagues and take action in the Financial Services Committee on legislation to improve oversight of the cybersecurity of financial institutions.
“This massive data breach also underscores how important it is that the consumer credit reporting bills that the Financial Services Committee recently passed become law so that any consumer affected by a data breach is not further harmed. Among other things, the bills the Committee passed ensure that consumers can get a free copy of their credit score, provide better tools for victims of fraud, and make it easier for consumers to get errors on their reports corrected.”
On July 11 and July 16, the Financial Services Committee passed a series of consumer credit reporting bills, including:

H.R. 3642, the “Improving Credit Reporting for All Consumers Act,” introduced by Representative Alma Adams (D-NC)
Rep. Adams’ bill addresses burdens consumers experience when removing errors from their consumer reports, including by providing a new right to appeal the results of initial reviews about the accuracy or completeness of disputed items on the report. The bill empowers consumers by clarifying injunctive relief is available to ensure reporting errors are actually fixed when a consumer is harmed.
H.R. 3618, the “Free Credit Scores for Consumers Act of 2019,” introduced by Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
Rep. Beatty’s bill directs the nationwide CRAs to give consumers free copies of their credit scores that are used by creditors in making credit decisions, as determined by the Consumer Bureau, or if not practicable, educational credit scores whenever consumers obtain their free annual consumer reports. A consumer can get their free credit score once a year, and they can get a free credit score if they have reason to believe that their file contains inaccurate information due to fraud.
H.R. 3622, the “Restoring Unfairly Impaired Credit and Protecting Consumers Act,” introduced by Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
Rep. Tlaib’s bill would, among other things, establish the right to free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services if a consumer is a victim of identity theft, fraud, or a related crime, or harmed by the unauthorized disclosure of the consumer’s financial or personally identifiable information.
H.R. 3614, the “Restricting Use of Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act,” introduced by Representative Al Lawson (D-FL)
Rep. Lawson’s bill would generally prohibit employers from using credit reports for employment decisions, except when a credit report is required by local, state, or Federal law or for a national security clearance.
H.R. 3621, the “Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act,” introduced by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Rep. Pressley’s bill would remove adverse credit file information relating to defaulted or delinquent private education loans for borrowers who demonstrate a history of timely loan repayments for these loans. The bill would require repayment plans be affordable and reasonable, and permits reasonable interruptions in the consecutive repayment periods for those facing unique and extenuating life events, such as service members who are receiving imminent danger or other special pay duty when deployed.
H.R. 3629, the “Clarity in Credit Score Formation Act of 2019,” introduced by Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
Rep. Lynch’s bill would clarify oversight of the development of credit scoring models by directing the Consumer Bureau to set standards for validating the accuracy and predictive value of credit scoring models. The bill would also require the Consumer Bureau to study the impact of having more non-traditional data on consumer reports and the use of alternative data in credit scoring models.