Auburn Extension provides playground equipment for Eutaw City Park

 

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Shown above at the Eutaw City Park L to R: Mt. Hebron Coalition Members Severe Strode, and Johnni Morning, Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Extension Secretary Mary Beck, Extension Coordinator Lovie Parks and Expanded Food and Nutrition Educational Program Director Mary Henley.

The Eutaw City Park on Lock 7 Road now has state-of-the-art playground equipment, secured with an AlProHealth grant through Auburn University Extension Program coordinated by Greene County Extension Coordinator Mrs. Lovie Parks. The grant also provides fencing around the park grounds. “The total investment in the park by Auburn Extension exceeds $40,000,” stated Ms. Parks.
According to Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, this project has been in the works for some time.
“We are also committed to adding a concession stand and a large pavilion with restrooms to make the park comparable to other state-of-the art parks in the state,” he said.

The playground unit will be available to children, ages 12 and under, from 7:00 a.m. until sundown. He noted that the park is also available to the community for special events such as reunions, birthday parties and more, by contacting the city for reservations.
Other benefits to Greene County by the Auburn Extension Program include providing the benches on the old courthouse square in Eutaw.
The Mt. Hebron Coalition has also benefited from an ALProHealth grant. The SCORE Center, originally organized by Betsy and Reola Bizzell, received funds for exercise equipment and other related live well programs. The SCORE Center is open to the community, serving seniors as well as youth. Johnni Morning, a Mt. Hebron Coalition Member, stated that along with the exercise equipment, internet service is also available at the Score Center. She noted that the public is invited to join the exercise program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the SCORE Center (old Mt. Hebron Pre-School) from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. ages 18 and older. Marvin Childs serves a president of the Mt. Hebron Coalition.
Mrs. Parks emphasized that a big component of the Auburn Extension program is building unity, bringing families and the community together. “The goal of ALProHealth includes increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, reducing obesity, and preventing and controlling diabetes, heart disease, and stroke by promoting community wellness,” she stated.
The Extension Program also sponsors after school programs, community gardens and various live well programs, partnering with churches and community groups.

West Alabama Works holds meeting to open AIDT Training Trailer at Greene Co. High School

JOB  Fair.jpgOver 150 mostly young people attended Tuesday night’s kick-off meeting for the AIDT Training Trailer, located at 14223 U. Highway 11 South, in front of the Greene County High School.
People were present to register and sign-up for classes and training to prepare for work in Greene County and surrounding counties in the West Alabama Black Belt.

Classes will be provided for Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) for entry-level work in the healthcare field. Classes will also be available for GED studies leading to a high school equivalency; Ready To Work training and certification in “work keys” which will lead to employment in the growing Alabama automotive industry; computer skills and other skill areas.
Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer for the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and Director of West Alabama Works, said the AIDT Training Trailer will be in Greene County for the next three months, “to provide free testing and training for local residents who are willing to commit their time to acquire new skills and certification. At the end of this process, there are real jobs in the area but employers want to know if you have the skills and attitudes to fill and keep these jobs.”
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime and the chance to transform families and change communities. We are building a career connect system to provide you the entry level skills and credentials you need to work in the future business and industry” said Jones.
Jones explained that the Ready to Work program provides soft skills for people, interested in working in Alabama. These soft skills include team building, attitudes toward coming to work consistently and on-time, safety including avoiding drugs and alcohol on the job, basic math, precision measurement and other skills. People who faithfully attend this five-week program receive certification that they can present to employers when seeking a job.
The CNA training for the healthcare field will be an eight-week training leading to basic certification to work in nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities.
Persons attending the kick-off were able to register with West Alabama Works about their interest in training. They will be called back for more in depth testing and a recommended training curriculum to meet their specific needs. Persons who missed the kick-off can still register at: http://www.westalabamaworks.org or come by the AIDT trailer on Highway 11 at the Greene County High School.
The Region 3 Workforce Development Council, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, formed West Alabama Works to lead workforce development efforts throughout West Alabama. The regional workforce development system facilitates and implements a comprehensive, coordinated, seamless workforce development system for the region and supports workforce training activities
In the development of this mobile training unit, West Alabama Works is partnering with the University of West Alabama, Greene County Industrial Development Authority, Greene County Board of Education, Greene County Commission, Shelton State Community College, and AIDT to meet community needs. As Gary Nichols, Chairman of the West Alabama Works Steering Committee notes, “This will help individuals in the region prepare for new and existing job opportunities. We’re here to generate meaningful results.”

Superintendent Carter updates board on school initiatives

In the recent meeting of the Greene County Board of Education, held Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, Superintendent James H. Carter, Sr. reported on the following initiatives in the school system.
*The Backpack Meal Program has been implemented at Eutaw Primary as a pilot this year. This program is a partnership between the Greene County School Board and the Tuscaloosa Food Bank
*Greene County High School will begin producing a Greene County High newspaper this fall.
* STEAM program this year will provide students an opportunity to show their skills in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Each program will have a Robotics Component. STEAM is not just about providing access to resources or programs; it is about providing quality teaching and learning experiences to students – how much is needed in a curriculum to ensure students are career and college ready.
*The school system has been approved for a grant in the amount of $15,000 for the At-Risk Program, Launching Excellence and Achievement Project.
*The system will develop a social media lounge for teachers and students to go on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat to express their support for public schools; develop a College and Career Ready Room for students to apply for colleges and universities; also to provide students the opportunities to apply for financial aid and scholarships.
*The system will implement an action plan to decrease the absentee rate for students and teachers. This plan will address the specific reason why absenteeism is more problematic in some schools versus others.
*The system will pursue T-Mobile to give hotspots to students who do not have internet access at home.
*Congratulations to Robert Brown Middle School on the very innovative concept of going out to visit the school community, instead of community visiting the school.

In other business the board approved the following personnel items recommended by Superintendent Carter.
* Employment: Carl Oliver, Part-time Maintenance/ Part-time Custodian, Greene County High School; Employ Additional Resource Officer at Greene County High School; Additional Service contract(s) for the following employees at Robert Brown Middle School for the 2017 – 2018 academic year. (Separate Contract): Corey Cockrell, Head Girls Basketball Coach; Henry Miles, Assistant Girls Basketball Coach:
* Catastrophic Leave: Sadie Moore, Secretary, Eutaw Primary School.
Family Medical Leave: Verna Nickson, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation. * Leave without pay: Siegfried Williams, request leave of absence for every Tuesday in the month, beginning August 22 – December 12, 2017. Total of 17 days. * Travel: Rachel Nickson to travel to Atlanta, GA to attend Save the Children Cluster Meeting on November 14 -17, 2017.
The board approved the following administrative services recommended by the superintendent. First Reading: Student Discipline Implementation Guide; Email Acceptable Use Policy; Travel Policy; Capital Plan 2017-2018; Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll; Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Katrina Sewell, CSFO.
School Board CSFO, Katrina Sewell, presented the following report for September. Total revenue for September was $734,680.56; From the accounts payable register, state funds expended totaled $57,652.40; federal funds expended totaled $92,143.89; local funds expended totaled $321,578.79. Accounts payable totaled $471,285.08. Payroll expenditures for the month totaled $861,819.08. The current fund balance of $3,274,984.27 does not include final expenditures for accounts payable in FY 2017.
Attorney Hank Sanders, in his report to the board, advised that a lawsuit has been recently filed by the Alabama Attorney General against six counties where electronic bingo operates. “If this lawsuit succeeds, the Greene County School System, along with other entities, will lose funds,” Sanders noted. Attorney Sanders also informed the board that a law suit filed by an employee has been settled, but the employee is seeking more.

Greene County Schools celebrate annual homecoming 2017

 

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Greene County High students celebrated Homecoming with the crowning of kings and queens at their annual coronation. The Homecoming parade included two bands: Greene County High and Marion Francs High Band, numerous brightly decorated floats, majorettes, football players and horseriders. Sheriff Jonathan Benison served as 2017-18 Homecoming Grand Marshall. A large number turned out to enjoy the parade and the game.
The GCH Tigers defeated Francs Marion 42-0.

Greene County School Board receives AASB President’s Award

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The Greene County Board of Education received the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) President’s Award 2017 at the annual District Meeting held Monday, September, 25, in Tuscaloosa, AL. The President’s Award is presented to school boards that have had 60 percent or more of their members attend at least three AASB conferences in an academy year and, in that same year, have had all members of their boards meet state-mandated training requirements. The award is usually presented at the AASB Fall District Meetings. In photo Left to Right: Greene County School Board Member, Ms. Kashaya Cockrell; Superintendent Dr. James H. Carter, Sr.; Board Vice President, Dr. Carol P. Zippert; Board President, Mr. Leo Branch and Board Member, Ms. Carrie Dancy. Not shown: School Board Member William Morgan.

School board approves superintendent’s contract Greene County schools awarded $300,000 for school based 21st Century Community Learning Centers

At the Greene County school board meeting held Sept. 18, 2017, Superintendent James Carter announced that the school system, in partnership with the Greene County Children’s Policy Council, under the leadership of District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, was awarded two 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants (CCLC) for Eutaw Primary School and Robert Brown Middle School, totaling $300,000. The projects will serve 100 students at each school facility with a 36-weeks after school program (Monday through Friday) and a four-to-six-weeks summer enrichment program.
The 21st CCLC programs at both schools will focus on Reading, Math and Science, and (STEM), Arts and Music education, tutorial services, language enhancement, recreational skills, entrepreneurial education and nutrition and health education, counseling and expanded library access.
The project also includes programs that promote parental involvement and family literacy, and drug, bullying and violence prevention programs.
“The current funding of this 21st Century CCLC project is a significant boost to our overall goals and efforts in preparing our students academically as well as equipping them with relevant life skills,” said Dr. Carter.
According to Dr. Carter, the sponsoring partners have scheduled orientation and training for timely implementation of the programs.
At its September meeting, the school board approved a contract agreement with Superintendent Dr. James H. Carter, Sr. for the period 2018-2020.
Other personnel actions of the school board included the following:
*Approved the resignation of Lamar Lavender, Custodian at Greene County High, effective September, 2017.

*Approved employment of Tina Cherry as Substitute Cook, Child Nutrition Program.
*Approved Additional Service Contracts 2017 – 2018 Greene County High School: (Separate Contract) Karon Coleman – Head Track Coach.
*Approved Catastrophic Leave for Angelia Hood – Special Education Coordinator, Central Office; Family Medical Leave for Linda Merriweather – Cook, at Greene County High School and for Freddie Merriweather – Bus Driver, Transportation Department.The board approved the following administrative services:
*Greene County Schools One-on-One Technology Handbook.
*Implementation Guide of Curriculum Component for Strategic Plan (Phase 1).
*Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Greene County Sheriff ‘s Department through Football season.
*Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Greene County Commission for School Resource Officers, for the following schools: Greene County High School; Robert Brown Middle School and Greene County Learning Academy.
*First Reading of the Travel Policy.
Superintendent Carter also reported on the following initiatives in the school system.
*Teachers in grades Pre-K – 3rd will be trained in how to implement the Math Their Way concept, an approach which incorporates adding concrete means in calculations.
*Students at Robert Brown Middle School will have the opportunity to engage in a community garden program.
*Provide opportunities for students in grades 4 -12 to engage in the National Park Service Programs.
*Field trips will have a greater focus on historical sites in and around Greene County this school year. Also, a main focus will be on the contributions that Black citizens made in the civil rights movement.
*We are exploring the possibilities of implementing during this school year a salad bar for students and teachers at all schools. Students also have the opportunity to provide input in the school menu.

Eutaw City Council concerned about financial recordkeeping and reporting

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, the Eutaw City Council was unable to get a second and vote on a motion made by Councilman Joe Lee Powell to pay bills for the month of August.
Three Council members present, LaTasha Johnson, Jeffrey Carpenter and Sheila H. Smith expressed misgivings about paying the bills without a more detailed financial statement and record of the City’s finances and bank accounts. Councilman Bennie Abrams was absent and was not present to second or vote on the motion. Had Abrams been present, the motion may have resulted in a tie vote on paying the bills.
Councilwoman LaTasha Johnson said she sent Mayor Steele a letter asking for specific information about bills and bank accounts especially the funds coming from electronic bingo. Councilman Carpenter said he has been pushing for many years for the city to have a budget and pay bills based on a plan and a budget.

Mayor Steele said the City of Eutaw did not have its records in proper form to provide the reports and budget that were being requested. Steele said Council members could come to City Hall “at any time and request that the City Clerk show them any bills, bank statements or other financial data they want to see.”
Steele said that he had discussed this with James Gardner, the City’s CPA and accounting firm and was advised that additional funds were needed to train and support City Hall staff to enter information in the computer system to generate the needed reports. Steele said that he would invite Gardner to speak with the Council at a work session on Monday, September 18, 2017 to explain the situation.
At the Council Work Session, Gardner explained that the last audit for the City of Eutaw was done by him in FY2012 and that a Financial Compilation Report and Financial Statement was done for fiscal year 2014, through September 30, 2014. There have been no financial statements or reports done by his firm for the ensuing fiscal years of 2015, 2016 and 2017. Bank statements and files of receipts and expenditures are on file in the City Hall, which could be used to construct a financial statement and reports.
Gardner said that he would send an estimate of the cost to do these unaudited compilation statements by the next City Council meeting. Gardner said it would cost $4,000 to $7,000 to train City Hall staff to enter financial information in a modified QuickBooks system, for the city’s multiple accounts, starting October 1, 2017. Once this training was done and the system was properly maintained he could do an audited statement for the FY2018, which ends September 30, 2018.
Mayor Steele said that he would bring a report from the CPA firm on recordkeeping, accounting and financial reporting to the next meeting for the Council to make a formal decision.
At the Council Work Session, Mayor Steele reported that the City water system expansion project was moving toward conclusion. More new digitized self-reporting water meters will still be installed, including individual meters in Carver Circle taking the place of a single master meter.
Steele said the new water tank would be painted by the end of October and put into operation by the end of the year. This would allow the power pole to be moved from its temporary location in the street near the Courthouse to its permanent place. The Mayor also indicated that the water line contractor would return to fix other areas that were affected by the construction.
The Mayor indicated that the City’s knuckle-boom truck to cut and remove trees from city roadways was in the shop and would require $18,000 to $20,000 to repair. He reported that both City backhoes were also in the shop for repair and that the city workers were doing their best to pick up branches piled up on the side of roads and streets.
Steele said, “Our equipment is very old and in need of repair and upgrading. We are going to do our best to prepare for the Tour of Homes, scheduled for October 7 and 8, in Eutaw.”
At the September 12 Council meeting, Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith confronted Mayor Steele and tried to make a motion to deny the Mayor the use of a new 2017 Tahoe, he uses for conducting city business. Smith said the vehicle could be better used by the Police Department.
Steele said he needed the car to show visitors interested in the community, a positive image of the community. He also said he needed a reliable vehicle to travel to meetings to seek resources for the city. The Mayor suggested that Smith was taking these actions against him, as personal retribution, because he had requested that she turn in her city issued cell phone. The Mayor was successful in ruling the motion out-of-order but the issue lingers and may come up again in future meetings.