Wedgeworth wins Probate Judge race Summerville chosen District 5 Commissioner in Tuesday’s Runoff Election

 

 

 

 

 

Wedgeworth

Summerville

Rolonda H. Wedgeworth won Tuesday’s Runoff Election by a vote of 1,291 (56.2%) to 1,006 (43.8%) for Jeremy Rancher for the Democratic nomination for Probate Judge of Greene County. Since there is no Republican opposition, Wedgeworth will be elected at the November 6, 2018 General Election.
Roshonda Summerville defeated Marvin Childs for the Democratic nomination for Greene County Commissioner District 5 by a vote of 248 (53.45%) to 216 (46.55%).
Turnout was down significantly in the runoff from the June First Primary election. Turnout in the Democratic party races was 2,308, down more than a thousand votes from June. Republican turnout was 115 votes. This highlights the dilemma of educating voters to vote in each and every election, which is critically important.
Wedgeworth, who serves as Chief Clerk in the Probate Judge’s office, won in all but three precincts. She thanked her supporters and said “I look forward to serving all citizens of Greene County in the Probate Judge’s office.”
Summerville, a political newcomer who works at the Greene County Physicians Clinic, said, “I learned a lot about my district and the people by campaigning door-to-door and I hope to be a good representative for people in District 5.”

Statewide Republicans completed their slate for the November 6 election with Will Ainsworth for Lieutenant Governor, Steve Marshall for Attorney General, Sarah Hicks for Place 1 on Supreme Court and Rick Pate for Agriculture Commissioner.
Attention turns now to the November 6, 2018 General Election, which is 100 days away. This will pit incumbent Republican Governor, Kay Ivey, against Walt Maddox, Tuscaloosa Mayor, the Democratic candidate, as well as other races for statewide and legislative offices. Candidates and politicalm organizations will be working on strategies to interest and excite voters to turnout at record numbers to participate in this upcoming election.

County Commission agrees to opt-in PILT Class Action Lawsuit

At its regular meeting held Monday, July 9, 2018, the Greene County Commission approved joining the Payment In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Class Action Law Suit and authorized Chairman Tennyson Smith to sign all necessary documents. This law suit relates to payments due to a local government for federal lands within its borders. The U.S. Government does not pay taxes on land it owns in a county, therefore, Congress passed a law mandating the federal government to make substitute payments in lieu of taxes.
The statue explains the following: “PILT payments provide compensation to certain units of local government within whose borders lie lands that are owned by the federal government and which are therefore immune to state and local taxation. The statute sets forth specific formulas to calculate the amount of the payment that each eligible unit of local government will receive.”
Due to insufficient appropriations for 2015–2017, PILT recipients did not receive the full amount to which they were entitled under the PILT statute based on the Department of the Interior’s full payment calculation.
As a result, Kane County, Utah filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in June 2017, seeking to recover its own underpayments and the underpayments of all other PILT recipients nationwide for the period 2015 -2017.
To participate in the class action lawsuit and collect possible amounts due them, each underpaid PILT recipient had to complete and submit a form “opting into” the lawsuit. If a county does not elect to join the class, they will not be included in the class action lawsuit—and will not receive any recovered funds. Counties will have until mid-September to opt into the class.
In other business the County Commission approved Commissioner Allen Turner’s re-appointment of Ms. Shirley Scott Isaac to the Greene County Health Services Board for District 3, as well as Commissioner Corey Cockrell’s appointment of Jonathan Woodruff to the E-911 Board for District 3. Commissioner Smith did not have an appointment from District 2 to the E-911 Board.
The commission also took action on the following:
* Approved Gas Tax Revenue Enhancement Agreement, authorizing chairman to sign all necessary documents.
* Approved Chairman Smith’s appointment to the Association of County Commissioners Legislative Committee.
* Approved budget amendments and payment of claims.
* Approved travel for one employee to the Alabama Association of Assessing Officials conference in Orange Beach, August 7-10, 2018.
Bank balances as of June 18, 2018, reported by the CFO Paula Bird, were as follows:
Citizen Trust bank – $2,610,588.56; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $4,677341.42; investment funds in CD’s – $806,571.43; Bank of New York – $918,088.04.

Primary Runoff Election set for next Tuesday July 17

Jeremy Rancher and Roshanda Summerville

Next Tuesday, July 17, 2018, the Democratic and Republican parties in Alabama are holding a Primary Runoff Election to decide political contests where one candidate did not get a 50% majority in the First Primary, held on June 5, 2018.
In Greene County, in the Democratic Party, we have two important political races to be decided in the runoff.
For Greene County Probate Judge, the race is between Jeremy Rancher and Rolonda Wedgeworth. In the first primary, Rancher, Chief Deputy with the Sheriff’s Department, led with 1091 votes (32.76%) to Wedgeworth’s 813 votes (24.41%). Wedgeworth currently is on leave from her position as Chief Clerk in the Probate Judge’s office. Four other candidates split the remaining votes.
For Greene County Commissioner District 5, there will be a runoff between Marvin Childs, a former commissioner who polled 203 votes to Roshanda Summerville, a political newcomer, who works at the Greene County Physicians Clinic, who polled 135 votes. Three other candidates, including incumbent commissioner, Michael Williams split the remaining votes.

In the first primary, four incumbent commissioners: Lester ‘Bop’ Brown, District 1; Tennyson Smith, District 2; Corey Cockrell, District 3 and Allen Turner Jr., District 4 were returned for another term. The Greene County Commission will face important decisions on the future direction of the county including road and bridge repair, recreation for young people, assisting the Greene County Health System to maintain hospital services in the county and many other issues facing the lives of Greene County residents.
Sheriff Joe Benison was re-nominated in the first primary. Veronica Morton Jones was nominated as Circuit Clerk and Ronald Kent Smith was re-nominated as County Coroner. All of these candidates will face the General Election on November 6, 2018 but local Democratic candidates are unopposed and will be elected pending any write-in campaigns.
On July 17, Republican voters will decide several statewide nominations for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner and several Supreme Court Justice positions.
All Democratic statewide candidates were decided in the first primary: Walt Maddox will be running for Governor, Will Boyd for Lieutenant Governor, Joe Siegelman for Attorney General, and many others will be on the November 6, 2018 General Election ballot.
On July 18, 2018, the general Election campaigns will begin in earnest with 110 days left until the November 6 General Election. People who have not registered will have another chance to register or change their voting address for the General Election.
Please remember to vote in the July 17 Runoff Election. Too many died and suffered to win the right to vote for all!

Newswire: AME Church and Black banks launch new partnership for Black wealth

By Hazel Trice Edney

Bishops-Bankers Crowd Shot.jpg
AME Church Bishops pose with Black bankers and business leaders after announcing historic partnership. PHOTO: Klarque Garrison/Trice Edney News Wire

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Black church, among the most prosperous institutions in America, has long led movements for the spiritual, social and civic uplift of Black people. When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he had just launched the Poor People’s Movement, which quickly fizzled after his death.
With this historic backdrop, the African Methodist Episcopal Church – with a legacy of leadership in its own right – has announced an innovative economic partnership with Black-owned banks across the country. The partnership aims to be a catalyst to spur business development, homeownership and wealth in the Black community.
“We are now pleased to announce a partnership with the presidents of the nineteen (19) Black banks in the United States, with the goal of increasing Black wealth,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops. “This initiative will strengthen Black banks across the United States and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit, and to offer other forms of credit to AME churches and our members. This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”
Bishop Jackson made the announcement during a press conference held during the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta June 26. The specific details of a memorandum of understanding are being formulated and will be announced this summer. But the goals are as follows:
· Increase deposits and loans with Black banks;
· Increase Black homeownership to over 50 percent nationwide. This means 2,000,000 more Black homeowners than now exist; and
· Grow the number of Black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million and total gross receipts from an average of $72,500.00 to $150,000.00.
“The spirit in which you all have shared the commitment to the community, to the banks and to what we can do together is outstanding,” responded Preston Pinkett, III, chairman and CEO of the City National Bank of New Jersey and chairman of the National Bankers Association. “Thank you for your willingness to step outside of the norm to do something that I would say is extraordinary here in America and extraordinary in the world.”
Pinkett says the church-bank partnerships are already beginning around the nation. “It is safe to say that this kind of commitment; this kind of demonstration will go a long way in supporting our banks and the banks to be able to support the community…With God’s blessings, we will accomplish great things.”
Amidst an atmosphere of excitement, the bankers, bishops and supporters of the movement packed into a meeting room in a Downtown Atlanta hotel. Jackson was surrounded by all 20 Bishops of the 231-year-old denomination as well as supporters of the movement. They included principals of the growing economic movement, Black Wealth 2020, which Jackson credited as inspiration for the idea.
“This partnership grows out of an initiative formed in Washington, DC in 2015, called Black Wealth 2020 which is providing an economic blueprint for Black America,” Jackson said.
Michael Grant, one of the founders of Black Wealth 2020, presided at the press conference. He connected the new partnership directly with the movement begun by Dr. King.
“The great civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others has now morphed into a full-fledged movement for economic empowerment,” Grant said. “The offspring of African slaves and their unrewarded labor have catapulted a small Colonial outpost into the greatest industrial giant the world has ever known. Now, as a people, we are turning our efforts toward our own enrichment. We must now create those economic opportunities for ourselves.”
Opening the press conference, Grant underscored the historicity of the moment. “For those of you who are students of history, you would not be surprised that the Church of Richard Allen would be leading an effort to close the wealth gap across the United States of America.” Allen, among America’s most influential Black leaders, founded the AME church in 1794. It was the first independent Black denomination in the U. S. “And we do this with malice towards none,” stressed Grant.
Bishop James L. Davis, of the Second Episcopal District, likened the partnership to a marriage – a marriage between a church and its community. “It is a marriage that says a church that is concerned about its people, concerned about the good and the bad, all of the things our people have had to go through.”
The prophetic voices of Black church leaders not only articulate ideas, but strategies.
“In the next decade in the global church and in the AME church and in Black banking, we will see both evolution and revolution. Banks must reinvent themselves, not just to respond to the pressures of the day, but to be flexible enough to adapt to the world of tomorrow. The ecclesia, the church, must also evolve its business knowledge, educational platform, and its missional thrust without losing its stance in the Word of God,” said General Board Chair Bishop Vashti Murphy Mckenzie. “Both of our institutions are dealing with increasing assertive governmental intrusion, higher membership and customer demands along with increasing change in the wider world.”
The announcement of the new partnership was met with applause from national civil rights leaders.
“Thank you and your fellow bishops for making economic development a priority of your denomination,” wrote civil rights icon Georgia Congressman John Lewis in a letter to Bishop Jackson. “Hopefully, your visionary leadership will inspire other denominations to replicate your efforts nationwide.”
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial also weighed in with a letter: “I want to express the support of the National Urban League for your leadership and initiative in addressing the challenges of Black homeownership and the need to increase the support, viability and profitability of our African-American businesses,” he wrote.
Morial is among economic leaders who have determined that among the reasons homeownership among African-Americans is disparately low is, in part, because of discriminatory lending practices.
Mortgage Banker Lois Johnson, president/CEO of Salt Lake City-based United Security Financial, said she takes “great pride in our HUD designation as a fair practice lender. We provide loans to all who meet the minimum criteria, especially people of color who have been denied the opportunity to have their own homes.”
Johnson, who is licensed to operate in 49 states, says she intends to travel to each of the AME church’s episcopal districts to “create hope and opportunities.”
The principals agreed that the key to the success of the partnership must be mutual respect for Black spending power and mutual support of Black businesses.
“We hear about Black folks have a trillion dollars in spending power,” said Ron Busby, president/CEO of the U. S. Black Chamber, Inc. and co-founder of Black Wealth 2020. “But that’s usually White folk talking about our dollar sand how can they get their share of it. We came together to say how can we deal with the Black wealth, the gap of it and really to move our agenda forward inside our own community.”
Busby pointed to the USBC’s new AP called the USBC Mobile Directory with 109,000 Black-owned businesses in order to help consumers make targeted purchases inside the Black business community.
Robert James, CEO of the Carver State Bank in Savannah discussed how the movement will be sustained. “There was a time that no church got financed in Savannah Georgia unless we financed them at Carver State Bank,” James said to applause. “This program will get us back on the path.”
James says he knows the relationship can be sustained because the bishops have authority to oversee and encourage AME church leaders to do business with Black-owned banks. “We can talk to the Bishops about those local churches. And you can talk to your elders and your preachers,” he said.
Bishop Jackson underscored the fact that the U. S. partnership is only the beginning. He indicated that the movement will also expand abroad. “The possibilities extend throughout the Diaspora. The African Methodist Episcopal Church has over 4,000 churches in Africa, the Caribbean, West Indies and Europe. These churches and members can also benefit from this partnership,” he said.
To augment this expansion, Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, ambassador for the African Union, spoke to the Bishops the day before the press conference, promising to encourage Africans in America to also put their deposits in Black banks. She stressed the need for Black-owned institutions to unify, cooperate and not turn on one another.
“I hope we will all come together and support the idea of putting all of our money in Black banks. I have already taken the initiative and listed all of the Black banks in the country on our website. I’m already encouraging all Black people when I do presentations to say we’ve been stupid for too long. We drive past Black banks to give our money to people who don’t give a hoot about us. And they take our money so they can get rich; not only here, but in Africa. We’ve got to change this.”

Newswire : NAACP: Statement on the retirement of Justice Kennedy

NAACP-logoBALTIMORE, June 28, 2018, NNPANewswirePR—NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, issued the following statement regarding the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Justice Kennedy played a pivotal role on the Supreme Court for thirty years. He was the deciding vote in many close cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. Without his moderating influence, the balance on the Court could shift dramatically to the right.
This court has already undermined basic rights we all believed we enjoy as Americans—the right to strong unions that bargain collectively, one person one vote principles, redistricting, and regarding the right of women to make their own health care decisions.
The stakes for nominating a replacement could not be higher at any moment in our history.
The court serves as the guardian of our rights and liberties. The country desperately needs a fair-minded and independent jurist. Now is not the time for a divisive and biased appointment who will shake the public’s faith in the justice system.
The constitutional process for appointing and confirming the next justice must be careful, deliberative and conducted with bipartisan support. The Senate should not consider a nominee until a new Senate is seated next year. Moreover, the new Senate should ensure that the nominee have a demonstrated commitment to equal justice and civil rights. The names identified on Trump’s shortlist do not fit that bill. For the good of the American people, we urge that the President and the Senate to carefully exercise their respective roles under the Constitution in light of the consequential impact of this nomination on our democracy.
The NAACP and its members are committed to protecting the gains won through the sacrifices of our ancestors and to protecting civil rights for generations to come.
Our justice system—and indeed the very peace and tranquility of our nation—hang in the balance.
We will not go silently into the night. We can’t.

Black Belt Community Foundation welcomes three new team members Black Belt Roots and Deep Dedication to Service Characterize All Three

Group Photo Carolyn, Dex and Kim

Shown above (L-R -Carolyn Essex, Dexter Jackson and Kimberly Davis)

SELMA,  AL  –  June 20, 2018:  The Black Belt Community Foundation is proud to announce adding three new team members, Kimberly Davis, Carolyn Essex and Dexter Jackson, to its full-time staff, filling key positions.
Selma native, Kimberly Davis, will serve as BBCF’s new Arts Program Officer. She is a graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta and American Public University, possessing both a B.F.A and M.P.A. (in Public Administration with a focus in Human Resource Management) from these institutions respectively.

Adding to her impressive resumé, Kimberly has served our country for ten years in the Georgia National Guard while working active duty as a Human Resource Generalist, and is continuing to serve through Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL. Prior to joining BBCF, Kimberly had been working at Concordia College for the past four years as Lead Data & Communications Specialist.
Marion native, Carolyn Essex, joins BBCF as Office Administrator. With over ten years of experience in office administration and Associate Degrees in both Business Administration and Business Technology from Wallace Community College – Selma, she is thrilled to bring her considerable skills to bear for the benefit of BBCF and the Black Belt.
Fort Mitchell native, Dexter Jackson, now fills the role of BBCF’s Fiscal Officer having formerly served as Controller, Vice President for Business & Fiscal Affairs and Chief Operating Officer at Concordia College Alabama in Selma.  Dexter is a proud graduate of Auburn University, holding a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting.
BBCF President Felecia Lucky states: “BBCF is truly blessed to welcome our three newest team members to the fold. All three possess deep Black Belt roots and no doubt will be working with that level of personal passion and dedication to serving the Black Belt region adding to their impressive professional skill sets and training. One of things I am most thrilled about is that each of them have already been serving the Black Belt in diverse ways for many years now, prior to their joining our BBCF family. Already possessing an understand of the region and many of the challenges we are tackling, they bring their positive sense of dedication to work with them each day!”

Newswire : African Union to hold summit in ‘slavery hub’

'No to Slave

People hold sign ‘No to Slavery’

June 18, 2018 (GIN) – “Corruption” is the theme of this year’s African Union Summit to be held next month in the capital of Mauritania – a country better known for being the last country in the world to ban slavery.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, Mauritania has one of the highest rates of slavery in the world, with an estimated 43,000 living in modern slavery conditions, out of a population of 4 million. The practice especially affects the Haratins, who have been caught in a cycle of servitude enforced by the Moors, the lighter-skinned descendants of Arab Berbers.

Their masters sell them or buy them as gifts, provide little education or pay, and they are prohibited from inheriting property or giving testimony in court. There have also been reports of government collusion with Arab Berbers into intimidating slaves who break free from their masters.

This year, the African Union rebuked Mauritania for handing down light sentences to a family said to “own” two young brothers, Said and Yarg Ould Salem, who were made to work seven days a week without pay, eat only leftovers, sleep in the bush with the animals and endure regular beatings.

Unlike other children in the family, they neither attended school or learned the Quran.

After the brothers escaped in 2011, their master, Ahmed Ould El Hassine, was arrested, ordered to pay $3,800 and was sentenced to two years in prison while the law required five to ten years, said the UK Anti-Slavery International.

“The problem is that there is a law criminalizing slavery, but it’s not respected,” said Lucy Claridge, legal director for Minority Rights Group International, which helped bring the brothers’ case to the African Union.

Another AU meeting, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will take place in Mauritania next April, creating possibly another public relations nightmare for the country.

Meanwhile, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, now in his second and final term, is reportedly planning to amend the constitution, paving the way for him to scrap term limits altogether.

Mr Aziz has been a loyal ally of the US and France in the war on terror, arresting radicals and allowing allied troops to operate across Mauritania. Not surprisingly, there has been little criticism of slavery or human rights.

Newswire : Dorothy Cotton, civil rights icon, dead At 88

Dorothy Cotton

By Sebastian Murdock, Huffington Post

Civil rights leader and icon Dorothy Cotton, who helped educateBlack Americans about their rights and worked with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died at the age of 88.
Cotton died at an Ithaca, New York, retirement community on Sunday afternoon, the Ithaca Journal reported. Her cause of death was not specified, but a family friend and spokesperson said she bad been battling a recent illness.
A North Carolina native, Cotton first met King in 1960 when he preached at a church she attended in Virginia. The two began working together with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which organized peaceful protests and worked for the rights of black Americans during the civil rights era. Cotton held a leading role in the group as the educational director ― one of the few high-level positions for women in the SCLC at the time.
Cotton is described as an “unsung hero” for the civil rights movement on her eponymous institute’s website. She led the Citizenship Education Program, which worked to help “ordinary people identify what was intolerable in their circumstances, envision the change they desired, learn their civil rights [and] prepare for democratic engagement” and to help foster “the transformation of often poorly educated and disenfranchised people from ‘victims’ to full citizens.”
Cotton told NPR in a 2013 interview that during the civil rights era, her work wasn’t often publicized because it “would have been shut down [for] teaching all those old black folk that they are citizens.”
The dedicated civil servant put herself through college working as a housekeeper for the university president at Shaw University before she earned an undergraduate degree from Virginia State University and a master’s degree in speech therapy from Boston University.
“She had a beautiful voice, and when things got tense, Dorothy was the one who would start up a song to relieve the tension,” Xernona Clayton, who was King’s office manager in Atlanta and organized protest marches and fundraisers, told The Associated Press.
“She had such a calming influence in her personality,” Clayton added. “She had a personality that would lend itself to people listening to her.”

Newswire : South African conservationist tapped to head U. N. panel on biodiversity for World Environmental Day

South African school childfren for Environment Day

South African school children supporting World Environmental Day

June 4, 2018 (GIN) – U.N. activities for World Environment Day on June 6 will be focused this year on plastic pollution. Marked every year since 1974, the day is celebrated in over 100 countries.

Dr. Luthando Dziba, managing executive for conservation services at South African National Parks (SANParks) has been appointed to the UN body on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Dr Dziba, who studied at Utah State University and Fort Hare University in the U.S., says he’s looking forward to engaging with people worldwide in finding solutions for the sustainability of the world’s natural assets.

In a video marking the June 5 event, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that “our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Every year, more than eight million tons end up in the oceans.” That leaves virtually nowhere on earth untouched, with the potential that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.

Nearly every African country, including the island nations sensitive to the impact of plastics on their ecosystems, has events marking the day. There are beach cleanups in Cape Verde, student plastic-bag pickups in Burkina Faso, a university campus cleanup in Angola, and educational workshops in South Africa.

Volunteers in Djibouti will head out to clean up the coastline along the Gulf of Aden, while across the continent their counterparts in Sierra Leone will focus on cleaning up their Atlantic Ocean shores.

“Today provides an opportunity for each of us to embrace the many ways that we can combat plastic pollution around the world,” said Dr. Richard Munang, an Africa climate change and development policy expert for the UN Environmental Program based in Kenya.

UNEP chief Erik Solheim called plastic pollution a form of violence against the planet.

In Nigeria, community partners are offering free bus rides in exchange for turning in a single-use plastic item for recycling as part of the #waste4ride campaign. And in Malawi, participants will learn how to build benches out of bricks made from the plastics.

For more information about World Environment Day and how to participate, visit the website: worldenvironmentday.global/en/get-involved/find-event

Eutaw Primary designated as an Alabama Bicentennial School

 

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Shown above L to R: Teacher, Walter Taylor and Prinicipal, Dr. Sharon Jennings

Eutaw Primary was selected from a pool of 400 schools to serve as an Alabama Bicentennial School. The very competitive process included schools throughout Alabama submitting applications and proposed projects. Alabama Bicentennial projects must foster community and civic engagement. Eutaw Primary will receive $2,000 in the fall to assist with implementation of the project. A press conference will be held in early August to recognize the Alabama Bicentennial School designees throughout the state. Congratulations Eutaw Primary School!