Eutaw City Council receives reports on finances, sales tax collection and Water Department

At its regular meeting on November 23, 2021, the Eutaw City Council received reports in its budget, bank accounts, sales tax collections and the Water Department.

Two Council members were absent – LaJeffrey Carpenter and Tracy Hunter – but a quorum was present which allowed the meeting to proceed.

Based on recommendations from their Financial Adviser, Ralph Liverman, the Council reviewed and approved several bank resolutions to close several certificates of deposit and place checking accounts into money market accounts, which will earn interest on surplus funds on deposit in these bank accounts.

Liverman also presented a detailed report on the opening balances in all city banking and operational accounts as of the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2021.

The most interesting report that Liverman furnished was a record of sales tax and motor fuel revenues received by the City of Eutaw over the past three fiscal years, which shows the impact of the Love’s Travel Center in significantly increasing the tax revenues paid to the City of Eutaw.

A chart summarizing this information is included in this news report. The chart shows revenues for the three fiscal years, FY2018-2019, which was the year before Love’s opened for business, FY 2019-2020, which includes the first eleven months of Love’s operation and FY 2020-2021, which includes a full year of the truck stop and travel center operations.

The chart shows an increase of sales taxes from $530,962 before Love’s, to $772,756 for last year, which was a full year of operation for the travel center. This is an increase of $ 241,794 or 31%

The fuel tax increase, which is based on 3 cents per gallon, increased from $54,798 to $472,377, which is an astounding increase of
$ 417,574 or 762%.

Overall sales tax and motor fuel revenues increased from $692,730 to $1,515,045, which was an increase of $822,315 or 119%. On a monthly basis this represents $126,253 in tax revenues added to the city budget.

Note that the total sales tax rate in Greene County is 10% of which 3% goes to the municipality, in this case the City of Eutaw; 3% to the County Commission, and 4% to the State of Alabama. So, the county government and State of Alabama are receiving similar increases in revenues, to those received by the City of Eutaw.

It should also be noted that much of the increase in tax revenues which is attributed to the Love’s Travel Center were from people traveling through Greene County on Interstate 20/59, not from residents of the city or the county.

The Eutaw Water Department reported continuing progress in collections and reducing water losses. The City collected over $75,000 in water revenues for November 2021, which was about double what had been collected in previous years. There are 1,461 customers, with 12 new customers of which 9 were customers found, who previously had not been billed. There are still 534 accounts with $63,469 past due and receivable, some of which are under payment agreements.

In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

• Did not approve, November 24, the day before Thanksgiving for a full day paid vacation for employees. They left this benefit at a half day.

• Approved changes in the right-of-way for utilities and access to Raintree Apartments LLC and a similar adjustment for Rollingwoods Apartments.

• Heard reports from the City Engineer and Chief of Police.

• Agreed to pay bills for November 2021.

Bingo gaming distributions for October total $528,519.72

On Friday, November 19, 2021 Greene County Sheriff Department issued a listing of the bingo distributions for October, 2021, totaling $582,519.72 from four of the five licensed bingo gaming facilities.  The October distribution reported by the sheriff does not include the additional $71,000 from Greenetrack, Inc. distributed to the same recipients, independent of the sheriff.
The bingo facilities distributing through the sheriff include Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace, Bama Bingo.  The recipients of the October distributions from bingo gaming include Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, and Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).           
  Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Housing Authority of Greene County (Branch Heights), Department of Human Resources, the Greene County Library, Eutaw Housing Authority. Newly added  sub charities include the Historical Society, REACH, Inc., Headstart  Community Service and This Belong To US.
Bama Bingo gave a total of $116,080 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System,  $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,045, including REACH;  Community Service received and $475 and This Belong to Us received $95.
     Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $117,150 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board  of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,027, including the Historical Society and REACH. Community Service received $467and This Belong to Us $95.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of  $118,288 to the following:  Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee  each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,027, including the Historical Society and REACH.  Community Service received $467 and This Belong to Us received $92.
  Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $177,001.72 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $45,765; City of Eutaw, $12,543; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5,254.50; Greene County Board of Education, $14,238 and the Greene County Health System, $14,238; Sub Charities received $1, 375, including the Historical Society and REACH 375. Community Service received $625 and This Belong to Us received $125.
  In the Sheriff’s October distribution report, supplemental funds, totaling $139,899.30, were provided by each of the four licensed facilities.  Bama Bingo contributed $30,570; Frontier contributed $30,750; River’s Edge contributed $14,275 and Palace contributed $64,304.30 in supplemental funds..  

 

Newswire: African countries rage at new travel bans by vaccine hoarding countries

South African President Cyril Ramaposa


Nov. 29, 2012 (GIN) – Southern African countries are facing new travel restrictions after the discovery of a handful of coronavirus variants, first found in Botswana. For some African leaders, it’s the classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
 
“Despite the repeated warnings of health leaders,” declared former British prime minister Gordon Brown,  “our failure to put vaccines into the arms of people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us. We were forewarned – and yet here we are.”
 
“We are concerned that there seem to have been attempts to stigmatize the country where it was detected,” said Botswana Health Minister Edwin Dikoloti while criticizing derogatory reports of a so-called “Botswana variant”.
 
South Africa will remain on the lowest ‘Level One’ of its five-level lockdown strategy to fight the Covid-19 pandemic despite the global panic around the detection of the Omicron variant in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.
 
Ramaphosa also called on more than 20 countries that have imposed travel bans to and from South Africa and its neighbors to immediately end the ban to avoid further harm to the economies of these countries, which have already been battered by the pandemic.
 
“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic,” he added. 
 
Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa for the World Health Organization, also criticized travel curbs and called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid such measures.
 
Shabir Madhi, a South African vaccinologist, told Al Jazeera it was “naive” for countries “to believe they can stop the spread of this variant with a blanket ban on countries in southern Africa”.
 
“The virus has already found its way into these societies from individuals that haven’t even travelled to or come into contact with anyone from southern Africa,” he said. “In South Africa, we have one of the globe’s best COVID sequencing capacities based on our experience with treating HIV and TB. We have been ahead of the game for a while now and we are thus a victim of our success.” 
 
In the absence of mass vaccination, Covid is not only spreading uninhibited among unprotected people but is mutating, with new variants now threatening to unleash themselves on even fully vaccinated people in the richest countries of the world.
 
As the new variant was spotted Saturday in Britain, Germany and Italy, one country after another shut their doors to southern Africa. 
 
Countries slapped with new travel restrictions by the UK include South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola. 
 

Newswire: Pioneering Black Golf Champ Lee Elder dies at 87

Lee Elder

 

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Lee Elder, a golfing pioneer, and the first Black player to compete in the Masters has died at 87.
“It’s remarkable to look back on Lee’s life and career and realize the hardships he endured and the sacrifices he made to reach golf’s highest level,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan.
“To have the success he had while paving the way for others to dream big and achieve is a testament to the type of man he was and how much talent he possessed. The TOUR is profoundly grateful for the career of Lee Elder, and we extend our sincere sympathies to his family.”
Born in 1934 in Dallas, Texas, Elder took up golf to help his parents financially. He caddied at the all-White Tennison Park Golf Club in Dallas, but soon the golf pro began allowing Elder to play the course.
In 1959, Elder joined the United Golfers Association and dominated the all-Black group. According to BlackPast.org, Elder won four Negro National Open Championships and an eye-opening 18 of the 22 tournaments in which he participated.
Using the purses from those victories allowed Elder to participate in the 1967 qualifying school for the PGA TOUR. In 1971, Elder made history as the first Black player invited to participate in the South African PGA Tournament.
“His participation in that event made this the first integrated sports event in South Africa since the establishment of the official Apartheid policy in 1948,” researchers at the Black Past wrote.
However, they noted further that Elder and other Black golfers continued to face racial challenges at home. “Although the PGA Tour was officially open to African Americans, it was not friendly to them. Many tournaments would not allow Black golfers into the clubhouse and instead required that they change and eat in the parking lot,” the researchers wrote.
However, in 1975, Elder made history again in Augusta, Georgia, when he was invited to compete at the Masters Open, the most prestigious tournament in golf.
With his victory at the 1974 Monsanto Open, Elder automatically qualified for the Masters Open, but he also became the first Black player invited. Unfortunately, Elder missed the qualifying round in the tournament.
Still, his entrance was an African American milestone covered by almost every major magazine and news program in the country, noted the Black Press.
Elder played in five more Masters, won three PGA tournaments, and was named to the 1979 Ryder Cup Team. He had a combined 12 tournament victories on the PGA and Senior Tours, earning more than $1 million on each tour.
However, his invitation to the Masters in 1975 proved that African Americans could compete at the highest levels of golf, the researchers continued. “Lee Elder was a pioneer, and in so many ways,” legendary golf champ Jack Nicklaus told Bill Fields during a PGATOUR.com interview.
“Yes, he was the first Black player to compete in the Masters Tournament, but that simply underlined the hard work Lee put in to further the cause of everyone who has a dream to play on the PGA TOUR and perhaps thinks there were too many barriers before them. It was wonderful that the Masters Tournament and Augusta National paid a well-deserved tribute to Lee by inviting him to be an Honorary Starter on this last Masters. That morning, you could see the joy in Lee’s face, and Gary Player and I were honored to enjoy that moment with him. That memory will remain special for so many, including me, for many years to come.
“Lee was a good player, but most importantly, a good man who countless people very well respected,” added Nicklaus. “The game of golf lost a hero in Lee Elder. Barbara and I send our heartfelt condolences to Lee’s wife Sharon and their entire family.”

Family Members and Authorities Desperately Search for two Alabama men missing in California

Prayer Vigil at the Old Greene County Courthouse Square
LaDexter Pelt and John DuBose Jr.,
Police in California and the Black and Missing Foundation seek assistance in locating two African American men from Alabama who went missing after they arrived in Sacramento on Friday, November 5.
Authorities said LaDexter Pelt, 25, of Greene County, Alabama, and John DuBose Jr., 20, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, boarded a flight after Pelt celebrated his birthday. LaDexter is the son of Eutaw City Councilwoman Tracy Hunter  who also works at Greene County High School as secretary.  
Sunday, November 14, 2021 a prayer vigil was held, drawing a large crowd.
Authorities said they know that the men arrived in California, but their whereabouts remain a mystery. Heightening the tension, a hunter found a cell phone that belongs to Dubose, and police said it last pinged in the Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area, an approximately 3,200-acre region that includes two long, narrow parcels on each side.
Police have searched the area and have reportedly questioned the hunter but have not developed any new leads.
“This is a case that we’re very much watching,” said Derrica Wilson, the co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, which has spotlighted the plight of missing people of color for 14 years.
Pelt’s mother, Tracy Hunter, has expressed her fears and pleaded for her son’s safe return.
“I have every reason to be concerned because my child would’ve called me by now,” a shaken Hunter told reporters.
“He let me know that he made it to Sacramento, California, and we said goodbye for now. And that was it,” Hunter said, adding that both her son’s and DuBose’s phones are now disconnected.
“This is totally out of the ordinary,” she asserted.
Authorities said Pelt has short, black hair. He has brown eyes, stands six feet tall, and weighs 220 pounds.
DuBose is 5’6 inches and weighs 140 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.
“LaDexter and John, if you are out there, please contact your family members,” Hunter said. “We are distraught; we are mentally exhausted. And as a mother, I am mentally torn and heartbroken.”
Anyone with information should contact the Sacramento Police Department at 916-808-5471 or the Greene County Sheriff’s Department at 205-372-3152.
Individuals can also call the Selma Police Department at 334-874-2137 or contact the Black and Missing Foundation at http://www.BAMFI.org.

Newswire: What HBCUs can learn from Howard University’s student protests

 Student Protestors rally at the Howard University

 

It’s time to hold Howard and other HBCUs accountable to serving their students to the best of their ability while also loving these institutions for what they symbolize and the excellence that they foster.

Written By ddooleyhbcu, NewsOne
The Blackburn protests are officially over after an announcement from Howard University confirmed that the students and institution have reached an agreement to hopefully settle the tensions. 
Howard students were demonstrating in and around the Blackburn University Center for more than a month to force the university to address major issues and provide a better living experience for the students on campus. 
Mold, rodents, leaky pipes and a lack of adequate WiFi to complete assignments are just some of the issues that have been voiced throughout this tumultuous time in the school’s history. Attorney Donald Temple told the Washington Post that the students he represents have “accomplished their objectives.” However, he kept the details of the agreement between the students and university confidential. 
Hopefully, today starts a new chapter for Howard University. While Howard students have led various protests for decades, this one felt a little bit different. 
The impact of this protest feels like it’s finally cut through the rose-colored perception of Howard that its administration has relied on for years to continue to attract students to “The Mecca.” If you’ve been in HBCU circles, you’ve heard the whisperings about the problems at Howard. But, for the most part, the culture at Howard was largely similar to most Black families: Problems exist, but they are expected to be kept in-house to maintain a unified public image for the community. 
For Howard and other HBCUs, this was a much-needed defense mechanism for decades because of the way white media would slant coverage toward these institutions and try to paint them as inadequate. Protecting their image at all costs wasn’t just for convenience, it was for survival. 
Yet, it’s clear now that the lines between protecting the institutions and neglecting the concerns of the individuals that make these places magical were being blurred. For the first time, I saw a mass of Howard students going to social media to basically denounce the university. The impacts of the pandemic altered the student experience at the school which undoubtedly increased the tensions and fervor of the protests. 
The protests generated national attention and saw civil rights activists such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber II and Martin Luther King III publicly support the students. Jackson even decided to spend time on campus to see what had transpired. Also for the last month, it seemed as if every time conversations about HBCUs came up in Black circles, “what’s wrong at Howard?” became a recurring topic. 
Granted, while Howard deserves fault in this debacle, a lot of this also centers on the racial wealth gap and how HBCUs have been consistently underfunded throughout their existence compared to predominantly white institutions. 
Now that the protests are seemingly over, we can address this situation with a sense of realism and honesty that will help uplift our storied institutions to be better. This doesn’t mean that every HBCU has major issues because that’s simply not correct. 
But what it does mean is that we can hold Howard and other HBCUs accountable to serving their students to the best of their abilities while also loving these institutions for what they symbolize and the excellence that they foster.

COVID-19


As of November 15, 2021 at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 839,953 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(2,703) more than last week with 15,981 deaths (92) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,293 confirmed cases, (5 more cases than last week), with 45 deaths

Sumter Co. had 1,360 cases with 40 deaths

Hale Co. had 3,149 cases with 89 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 18 and up.

 

 

COVID-19

As of November 9, 2021 at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 837,250 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(3,757) more than last week with 15,879 deaths (203) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,288 confirmed cases, (4 more cases than last week), with 44 deaths

Sumter Co. had 1,358 cases with 40 deaths

Hale Co. had 3,148 cases with 89 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 18 and up.

Two Greene County teachers honored at memorial to educators who died from COVID-19

Mrs. Alisa Ward Allen
Mrs. Sandra Gordon
Leo Branch, Greene County School Board member places a flower on memorial bench for educators lost in coronavirus pandemic.
Two Greene County teachers – Mrs. Alisa Ward Allen and Mrs. Sandra Gordon – were honored as part of a memorial service held by the Alabama State Association of School Boards (AASB) at their October 17th Fall training conference in Montgomery.

The AASB honored sixty Alabama school board members, educators and school staff lost to the COVID-19 pandemic with a special space on the grounds of its Montgomery headquarters office at the corner of South Jackson and Houston Streets.

The association chose to create a permanent memorial space to commemorate the loss of those who dedicated their time to schools and school systems statewide. The new memorial features a special bench, oak tree and garden that will serve as a public space of reflection and remembrance for all whose lives they touched.

“Our school systems have experienced so much unprecedented adversity due to the pandemic – the most difficult of which has been the loss of so many dedicated school employees and leaders, and we felt compelled to recognize that in a meaningful way,” said AASB Executive Director Sally Smith. “We hope this memorial will serve as a poignant tribute to these education heroes who touched so many lives. We invite all to join us for this moment of reflection.”
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and AASB President and Baldwin County Board of Education Member Shannon Cauley delivered remarks at the ceremony. Leo Branch, Greene County School Board member, attended and represented Greene County at the memorial ceremony.
Mrs. Alisa Ward taught Language /Art and Mrs. Sandra Gordon was a Reading Coach both taught at Robert Brown Middle School.

City of Eutaw 2021-22 budget shows surplus

Mayor Johnson and staff pose with new street sweeper

News Analysis by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher


At its special called meeting on October 19, 2021 the Eutaw City Council approved its budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2021 and goes to September 30, 2022. The budget covers all city operations, services and capital improvements and shows a surplus of more than a quarter million dollars for the year.

It must be noted that this is the first budget that the city has had in more than ten years. Mayor Latasha Johnson, when she was campaigning for the position said that she was going to develop a city budget, make expenditures based on the budget, report to the City Council and the public as expenses were made against the budget and have an audit of city finances each fiscal year.

Upon taking office, Mayor Johnson employed retired attorney Ralph Liverman as financial consultant to help in untangling the city’s finances and developing a budget. Liverman has been working with the Mayor and City Council for the past year in tracking down the city’s finances and developing the budget that was recently approved. Liverman also assisted in securing new accounting software, which will allow reporting of revenue and expenses based on the budget line-item categories. This will give the Mayor, Council, city staff and the public a better understanding of the city’s finances.

A summary chart of the budget is included to show the seven basic funds of the city, their revenues, expenditures and projected surplus. The summary shows $4,807,716 in revenues, $4,526,200 in expenditures and a surplus of $281,516.

There are separate pages which breakdown the details for each of the seven funds. The projections of income are based on funds received from taxes, license fees, bingo allocations, water and sewer payments and other revenues generated by the city in the past year. Expenses are based on current staffing and compensation paid, supplies used, operational and other costs based on actual and project ted amount.

The budget also includes payment of loans for the water system and other capital improvements, such as sewage line extension and lighting for the Love’s Travel Center at Exit 40 and Interstate Highways 20/59. This includes annual payments on the recent loan of $500,000 from Merchants and Farmers Bank to purchase equipment including: police cars, trucks, a knuckle-boom truck to pick up debris on the side of city streets and roads, a street-sweeper and other needed equipment.

The full detailed budget is available at City Hall and may soon be posted to the City’s website, so the residents of Eutaw can see in-depth the
financial plans, projections and results for the city. The budget will also help the Mayor and City Council to plan for new expenses, new capital needs, and new grant projects that may require matching funds.

The Mayor and the Council are to be commended for the hard work needed to clarify its finances and develop this budget planning and financial accountability tool to help guide the future directions and decisions of the city administration.