By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Baseball’s recognized home run king and an African American hero, Henry “Hank” Aaron, has died at the age of 86.
Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record on April 8, 1974, was not just a baseball legend but a hero to superstars. “He’s the one man that I idolize more than myself,” the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali once said about Aaron.
While with the Atlanta Braves, Aaron tied Ruth’s mark of 714 homers on April 7. A day later, he slugged No. 715 against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Al Downing.
Before and throughout his chase of Ruth’s longstanding record, Aaron was subjected to racism and hate. Death threats were common, and even some teammates and those throughout baseball despised Aaron as he approached their white hero’s record.
Despite beefed up security at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, some fans breached the outfield walls as Aaron trotted around the bases following his record-setting dinger.
“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, who called the game, proclaimed as Aaron’s mother, family, and teammates greeted him at home plate.
Born Henry Louis Aaron on February 5, 1934, in a poor Black section of Mobile, Alabama, called “Down the Bay,” Hank Aaron was the third of eight children born to Estella and Herbert Aaron. Aaron’s father made his living as a tavern owner and a dry dock boilermaker’s assistant. Aaron and his family moved to the middle-class Toulminville neighborhood when he was eight years old.
Aaron, who became known as “Hammering Hank,” developed a strong affinity for baseball and football at a young age and focused more heavily on sports than his studies. During his freshman and sophomore years, he attended Central High School, a segregated high school in Mobile, where he excelled at football and baseball.
Aaron first starred in the Negro Leagues in 1952 and again in 1953, batting .366, with five home runs and 33 RBIs in 26 official games. He began his Major League Baseball career in 1954 with the Milwaukee Braves and spent 23 seasons as an outfielder with Milwaukee – the franchise eventually moved to Atlanta.
Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs, a record topped by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants in 2007. However, many baseball purists recognize Aaron as the true record holder, alleging that Bonds used performance enhancing drugs to bolster his power.Bonds has denied those allegations.
Aaron’s biography at the Baseball Hall of Fame, where he earned induction in 1982, noted that he was “a consistent producer both at the plate and in the field, reaching the .300 mark in batting 14 times, 30 home runs 15 times, 90 RBI 16 times and captured three Gold Glove Awards enroute to 25 All-Star Game selections.” He also had over 3,000 hits during his MLBaseball career.
On the 25th anniversary of Aaron’s 715th home run, Major League Baseball created the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the players with the best overall offensive performances in each league.
Aaron received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, from President George W. Bush in 2002.
According to the New York Times, the Baseball Hall of Fame opened a permanent exhibit in 2009 chronicling Aaron’s life. His childhood home was moved on a flatbed truck to the grounds of Hank Aaron Stadium, which was the home of the Mobile BayBears, a former minor league team, and opened as a museum in 2010.
“Through his long career, Hank Aaron has been a model of humility, dignity, and quiet competence,” former Atlanta Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young noted in a statement. “He did not seek the adoration that is accorded to other national athletic heroes, yet he has now earned it. ”
The Greene County Board of Education met in a virtual meeting, Tuesday, January 19, 2021with all board members in attendance. The sale of the former Birdine school property to the Town of Forkland was among the superintendent’s recommendations approved by the board.
In preparation for this sale, the board had to certify to the State Superintendent of Education that any funds derived from this sale will be used for public school purposes and that it is to the benefit of the Greene County School District that Birdine School Property be sold.
According to school board legal counsel, Attorney Hank Sanders, years ago county boards of education could not own real property. School property had to be in the name of the State of Alabama. The Birdine School Property was in this category and even after boards of education could own real property, property owned by the state remained with the state.
“The Greene County Board of Education is now working to get the Birdine School Property out of the state and in the Greene County Board of Education by authorizing the superintendent and board president to execute the necessary documents of certification as required by the Alabama State Department of Education, ” Attorney Sanders stated. According to Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, the Town of Forkland is prepared to purchase the Birdine School Property when all state requirements are met.
In his report, Superintendent Jones noted that the total positive coronavirus cases among school personnel is 18 and to date the total that reportedly have been exposed/isolated/quarantined is 40. He assured the board the all school facilities are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized daily.
Jones provided updates on the maintenance and repairs associated with various school facilities, including an update on the new roofing project at the central office.
The following personnel items were approved by the board:
Maternity Leave for Kalyn Bryant, Science Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, effective January 4, 2021.
Employment of Angela Taylor, Long-term Substitute Science Teacher, Robert Middle School; and Milton Jones, Greene County Board Maintenance Department.
Retirement of Atausha Tinker-Mitchell, effective January 7, 2021.
Rescind employment of Latonya Taylor, Special Needs Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School. She did not accept position.
The board approved the following administrative service items:
Sale of Birdine Elementary School to the Town of Forkland.
Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
Approval for the Extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response ACT (FFCRA) Leave until March 31, 2021.
Ms. Lavonda Blair, CSFO, presented the following financial snapshot for the period ending November 30, 2020: General Fund Bank Balance – $1,124,226.97; Accounts Payable Check Register – $450,615.36; Payroll Register – $815,656.88; Combined Fund Balance – $4,424,586.70; Local Revenue: Property/Sales Taxes – $136,055.01; Bingo – $57, 873; Total Local Revenue – $193,928.01
By: Associated Press
One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times higher than the general population. In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected, according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project.
As the pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected, more than 1,700 have died and the spread of the virus behind bars shows no sign of slowing. New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August.
“That number is a vast undercount,” said Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at New York’s Rikers Island jail complex.
Venters has conducted more than a dozen court-ordered COVID-19 prison inspections around the country. “I still encounter prisons and jails where, when people get sick, not only are they not tested but they don’t receive care. So they get much sicker than need be,” he said.
Now the rollout of vaccines poses difficult decisions for politicians and policymakers. As the virus spreads largely unchecked behind bars, prisoners can’t social distance and are dependent on the state for their safety and well-being.
This story is a collaboration between The Associated Press and The Marshall Project exploring the state of the prison system in the coronavirus pandemic.
Donte Westmoreland, 26, was recently released from Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas, where he caught the virus while serving time on a marijuana charge. Some 5,100 prisoners have become infected in Kansas prisons, the third-highest COVID-19 rate in the country, behind only South Dakota and Arkansas.
“It was like I was sentenced to death,” Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland lived with more than 100 virus-infected men in an open dorm, where he woke up regularly to find men sick on the floor, unable to get up on their own, he said.
“People are actually dying in front of me off of this virus,” he said. “It’s the scariest sight.” Westmoreland said he sweated it out, shivering in his bunk until, six weeks later, he finally recovered.
Half of the prisoners in Kansas have been infected with COVID-19 — eight times the rate of cases among the state’s overall population. Eleven prisoners have died, including five at the prison where Westmoreland was held. Of the three prison employees who have died in Kansas, two worked at Lansing Correctional Facility.
In Arkansas, where more than 9,700 prisoners have tested positive and 50 have died, four of every seven have had the virus, the second-highest prison infection rate in the U.S.
Among the dead was 29-year-old Derick Coley, who was serving a 20-year sentence at the Cummins Unit maximum security prison. Cece Tate, Coley’s girlfriend, said she last talked with him on April 10 when he said he was sick and showing symptoms of the virus.
“It took forever for me to get information,” she said. The prison finally told her on April 20 that Coley had tested positive for the virus. Less than two weeks later, a prison chaplain called on May 2 to tell her Coley had died.
The couple had a daughter who turned 9 in July. “She cried and was like, ‘My daddy can’t send me a birthday card,’” Tate said. “She was like, ‘Momma, my Christmas ain’t going to be the same.’”
Nearly every prison system in the country has seen infection rates significantly higher than the communities around them. In facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, one of every five prisoners has had coronavirus. Twenty-four state prison systems have had even higher rates.
Prison workers have also been disproportionately affected. In North Dakota, four of every five prison staff has gotten coronavirus. Nationwide, it’s one in five.
Not all states release how many prisoners they’ve tested, but states that test prisoners broadly and regularly may appear to have higher case rates than states that don’t.
Infection rates as of Tuesday were calculated by the AP and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the criminal justice system, based on data collected weekly in prisons since March. Infection and mortality rates may be even higher, since nearly every prison system has significantly fewer prisoners today than when the pandemic began, so rates represent a conservative estimate based on the largest known population.
Yet, as vaccine campaigns get underway, there has been pushback in some states against giving the shots to people in prisons early.
“There’s no way it’s going to go to prisoners … before it goes to the people who haven’t committed any crime,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told reporters earlier this month after his state’s initial vaccine priority plans put prisoners before the general public.
Like more than a dozen states, Kansas’s vaccination plan does not mention prisoners or corrections staff, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-partisan prison data think tank. Seven states put prisoners near the front of the line, along with others living in crowded settings like nursing homes and long-term care facilities. An additional 19 states have placed prisoners in the second phase of their vaccine rollouts.
Racial disparities in the nation’s criminal justice system compound the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color. Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. They are also disproportionately likely to be infected and hospitalized with COVID-19, and are more likely than other races to have a family member or close friend who has died of the virus.
The pandemic “increases risk for those who are already at risk,” said David J. Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.
This week, a Council on Criminal Justice task force headed by former attorneys general Alberto Gonzalez and Loretta Lynch released a report calling for scaling back prison populations, improving communication with public health departments and reporting better data.
Prison facilities are often overcrowded and poorly ventilated. Dormitory-style housing, cafeterias and open-bar cell doors make it nearly impossible to quarantine. Prison populations are sicker, on average, than the general population and health care behind bars is notoriously substandard. Nationwide, the mortality rate for COVID-19 among prisoners is 45% higher than the overall rate.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, public health experts called for widespread prison releases as the best way to curb virus spread behind bars. In October, the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering released a report urging states to empty their prisons of anyone who was medically vulnerable, nearing the end of their sentence or of low risk to public safety.
But releases have been slow and uneven. In the first three months of the pandemic, more than 10,000 federal prisoners applied for compassionate release. Wardens denied or did not respond to almost all those requests, approving only 156 — less than 2%.
A plan to thin the state prison population in New Jersey, first introduced in June, was held up in the Legislature because of inadequate funding to help those who were released. About 2,200 prisoners with less than a year left to serve were ultimately released in November, eight months after the pandemic began.
California used a similar strategy to release 11,000 people since March. But state prisons stopped accepting new prisoners from county jails at several points during the pandemic, which simply shifted the burden to the jails. According to the state corrections agency, more than 8,000 people are now waiting in California’s county jails, which are also coronavirus hot spots.
“We call that ‘screwing county,’” said John Wetzel, Pennsylvania’s secretary of corrections, whose prison system has one of the lower COVID-19 case rates in the country, with one in every seven prisoners infected. But that’s still more than three times the statewide rate.
Prison walls are porous even during a pandemic, with corrections officers and other employees traveling in and out each day.
“The interchange between communities and prisons and jails has always been there, but in the context of COVID-19 it’s never been more clear,” said Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, a professor of social medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill who studies incarceration and health. “We have to stop thinking about them as a place apart.”
Wetzel said Pennsylvania’s prisons have kept virus rates relatively low by widely distributing masks in mid-March — weeks before even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending them for everyday use in public — and demanding that staff and prisoners use them properly and consistently. But prisoners and advocates say prevention measures on the ground are uneven, regardless of Wetzel’s good intentions.
As the country heads into winter with virus infections on the rise, experts caution that unless COVID-19 is brought under control behind bars, the country will not get it under control in the population at large.
“If we are going to end this pandemic — bring down infection rates, bring down death rates, bring down ICU occupancy rates — we have to address infection rates in correctional facilities,” said Emily Wang, professor at Yale School of Medicine and co-author of the recent National Academies report.
“Infections and deaths are extraordinarily high. These are wards of the state, and we have to contend with it.”
In the December, 2020 distribution of $71,000, Greenetrack, Inc. Charities gave a specific contribution of $9,000 to Community Service Program of West Alabama in support of the Greene County Head Start Program.
Head Start/Early Head Start, a division of Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Inc., provides comprehensive services to children, ages birth to five, of low-income families. The program focuses on school readiness and improving family functioning. Applications are currently being accepted. Families can apply online at http://www.cspwal.com.
The non-profit charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack in Eutaw, AL, E-911 Communication Services, the Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and Woman to Woman, Inc., provided charitable contributions, for the month of December, to a variety of local organizations, all benefitting Greene County residents.
A total of $71,100 dollars was divided and given to the following charities:
Greene County Board of Education ($13,500); Greene County Hospital ($7,500); Greene County Commission ($24,000); City of Eutaw ($4,500); City of Union ($3,000); City of Boligee ($3,000); City of Forkland ($3,000); Greene County Ambulance Service ($8,000) and Woman to Woman for 2021 toward Community Service Program of West Alabama for Greene County HeadStart Program.
Each of the following non-profit groups received $300: Greene County Nursing Home, SCORE, Greene County Golf Course, James C. Poole Memorial Library, Greene County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, PARA, Greene County Housing Authority Youth Involvement, Children’s Policy Council, Reach, Greene County DHR, Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.
As of January 6, 2021 at 11:30 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 384,184 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(32,380) more than last week with 4,994 deaths (257 more than last week)
Greene County had 709 confirmed cases, (59 more cases than last week), with 20 deaths
Sumter Co. had 882 cases with 24 deaths
Hale Co. had 1,550 cases with 34 deaths
As of December 22, 2020 at 11:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 329,811 confirmed cases of coronavirus, (28,278) more than last week) with 4,452 deaths (328 more than last week)
Greene County had 595 confirmed cases, (43 more cases than last week), with 20 deaths
Sumter Co. had 771 cases with 24 deaths
Hale Co. had 1,309 cases with 33 deaths
FOGCE Board Member, Jacqueline Allen and Manager Joyce Phan observe credit union member participate in Drop By Annual Meeting.
FOGCE Federal Credit Union, based in Eutaw, AL, held it annual membership gathering as a Drop-By Meeting, on Friday, December 11, 2020, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Members visited the credit union’s office during that time period to sign-in and receive a gift bag with annual operational reports on the credit union, as well as various holiday treats. The members sign-in roster served as the basis of selection for awarding door prizes.
Board members scheduled individual volunteer time to meet and greet members assisting in maintaining the safe distance as members participated in the Drop-By Annual Membership Meeting.
The credit union is obligated to hold an annual membership meeting, but the board of directors and staff recognized the responsibility of maintaining a safe environment for the credit union’s continued service to members.
FOGCE manager, Mrs. Joyce Pham, secured various equipment on the premises as safety measures for staff and members. These include sanitation stations and plexiglass dividers in the lobby area, clerk and manager’s offices and in the boardroom. The mask requirement is also in place, and routine cleaning and sanitizing are conducted throughout the operational hours.
The December FOGCE Board of Directors meeting followed at 4:00 p.m.
The FOGCE Federal Credit Union is located at 112 Prairie Avenue, Eutaw, AL, across from the Thomas E. Gilmore Courthouse Square.
In the spirit of giving, Greenetrack has added the Department of Human Resources to its charity distribution list. The Greene County Department of Human Resources will receive nine thousand dollars ($9,000). This addition comes during a time when families will benefit most. Many families have been affected by COVID 19 and Greenetrack’s employees and shareholders hope that this contribution will help ease some of the burden caused by this pandemic.
The non-profit charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack in Eutaw, AL, E-911 Communication Services, the Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and Woman to Woman, Inc., provided charitable contributions, for the month of November, to a variety of local organizations, all benefitting Greene County residents.
A total of $71,100 dollars was divided and given to the following charities:
Greene County Board of Education, $13,500; Greene County Hospital, $7,500; Greene County Commission, $24,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; City of Union, $3,000; City of Boligee,$3,000; City of Forkland, $3,000; andGreene County Department of Human Resources, $9,000.
The following non-profit groups received $300: Greene County Nursing Home, SCORE, Greene County Golf Course, James C. Poole Memorial Library, Greene County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, PARA, Greene County Housing Authority Youth Involvement, Children’s Policy Council, Reach, Greene County DHR, Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.
As of December 9, 2020 at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 280,187 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(23,359) more than last week) with
3,985 deaths (174 more than last week)
Greene County had 499 confirmed cases, (57 more cases than last week),
with 18 deaths
Sumter Co. had 630 cases with 22 deaths
Hale Co. had 1,078 cases with 33 deaths