At Freedom Day commemoration, Mayor Arrington says: Greene County special election of July 29, 1969, was “a watershed event, that set off waves of hope across America”

Elder Spiver Gordon presents certificate to Dr. Richard Arrington at Freedom Day
Speaker and awardees at Friday, July 29, 2022, 53rd Anniversary Commemoration of the 1969 special election, which allowed Black officials to control the Greene County Commission and School Board.

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

On Friday, July 29, 2022, there was a banquet to celebrate the Special Election 53 years ago in 1969, in which Greene County first time voters elected Black candidates to control the County Commission and School Board. The program was held at the Eutaw Activity Center and attended by more than one hundred people, including special guests.

The July 29, 1969 Special Election was ordered by the U. S. Supreme Court after local white election officials left the slate of Black candidates, with the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), off the November 1968 ballot. Many of the Greene County voters had just been able to register to vote under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed after the struggle in Selma, Alabama.

The July 29, 1969 election resulted in the election of four County Commissioners: Harry Means, Franchie Burton, Vassie Knott and Levi Morrow Sr.; and School Board members: Robert Hines, and James Posey, joined Peter J. Kirksey, who had been elected to the Board in 1968. In 1970 Deacon John Head and Earsrie Chambers were also elected to the school board.

Greene County was the first county in the South to elect a majority Black local government since Reconstruction. In the next election in 1970, Greene County voters elected William McKinley Branch, as the first Black Probate Judge in America and Thomas Gilmore as the second Black Sheriff in Alabama. Greene County also elected Wadine Williams as first Black Circuit Clerk, Robert Cook as first Black Tax Collector and Rev. Harold (Abner) Milton as first Black Coroner.

The program was sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights Freedom Movement, headed by veteran civil rights leader, Spiver W. Gordon. The organization has two museums in Eutaw and Mantua of artifacts and photograph of the civil rights and voting rights struggle in Greene County.
Some of the materials from the museums was displayed at the banquet.
Gordon led a memorial tribute to 14 of the civil rights movement in Greene County before a delicious dinner was served

Dr. Richard Arrington guest speaker

Dr. Richard Arrington, first Black Mayor of Birmingham and Dean of Miles College, was the guest speaker. He was introduced by Attorney Hank Sanders of Selma, who praised Arrington as a man of understanding, courage, and vision, who served as Mayor of Birmingham for twenty years and was the first President of the Alabama New South Coalition, a progressive political organization.

Arrington began his talk by recalling his birth in 1934 in the Boyd community of Sumter County, near Livingston, Alabama. He recalled his great-grandfather, Oliver Bell, who was born in slavery and freed in 1865 at the age of six. Arrington’s family moved to Birmingham, when he was five but often returned to Sumter County for the summer. “I am a descendent of slaves in the Alabama Black Belt and I am proud of my heritage,” he stated.

Arrington said America went through 244 years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow segregation before emerging as a democracy involving everyone in the 1960’s. “This is a marathon race for justice, from generation to generation. Each generation passes the baton to the next. We must be careful not to drop the baton on our way to the promised land.”

He noted some of the violent history of voting rights in Greene County in 1868 and 1870 during Reconstruction. “The Courthouse was burned down and Black political leaders were killed by the Klan at that time.”

“I was at Miles College in July 1969, when I learned about the election of Black officials in Greene County. This was a watershed moment that changed the course of history. It was an example of Black political empowerment that Alabama, the South, and the Nation had never seen before. It created waves of hope among Black people all across America. If Black people can win elections in rural Greene County, they can win anywhere,” said Arrington.

Arrington gave a history of his election first to the City Council and then to be the first Black Mayor of Birmingham in 1979. He said, “Birmingham was the Johannesburg of the South, but despite this the Black people put me on their back and carried me to victory, just the way you had done in Greene County in 1969. President Jimmy Carter called to
congratulate me 15 minutes after I was declared the winner. The world was watching voting in Alabama.”

Arrington told many anecdotes of his time as Mayor including a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, where a dis-believing crowd gathered to welcome him, as the first Black Mayor of the largest city in racist Alabama.

Arrington concluded with the statement, “The right to vote is very powerful. Slavery died in 1865 and we have tried to bury slavery and its accompanying white supremacy, ever since. This is still our task to bury the remnants of slavery. We must vote in every election and use our votes to do the job.”

Spiver Gordon recognized special guests with certificates and awards, at the end of a significant program marking the 53rd Greene County Freedom Day.

Newswire: Study boosts fight for reparations in
climate damaged African nations

Drought stricken area of Africa 


Aug. 1, 2022 (GIN) – The African continent of 1.2 billion people, which represents 17% of the world’s population, contributes less than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions but suffers from extreme weather events which scientists have warned will become more frequent due to climate change.
 Researchers in a new study have now put an actual dollar figure on economic harm caused by the countries most responsible for the climate crisis, and the ground-breaking data could serve as a starting point for legal action by Africans against the world’s wealthiest nations.
 The Dartmouth College study found that just five of the world’s top emitters of planet-warming gases — the United States, China, Russia, India, and Brazil — caused around a $6 trillion loss in gross domestic product from 1990 to 2014, or about 11% of total global GDP.
 The study also shows the US and China — the two biggest contributors to the climate crisis — individually caused global economic losses of more than $1.8 trillion each during that same period.
 The study’s authors said this is the first time scientists have connected the dots between one country’s fossil fuel emissions and the economic harm those emissions have done to other countries.
 The world’s wealthiest countries have already agreed to pay into a global climate finance fund,  though rich countries have shirked deadlines on payments to that fund.
 Having a rich set of data to show how much poorer nations’ economies have been harmed could increase the pressure on richer nations at this year’s summit, experts told CNN. 
 “Scientific studies show that high emitters no longer have a leg to stand on in avoiding their obligations to address loss and damage,” said Bahamian climate scientist Adelle Thomas of Climate Analytics.
 Recent studies “increasingly and overwhelmingly show that loss and damage is already crippling developing countries, she said.
 After the U.S., the countries that caused most damage since 1990 are China ($1.8 trillion), Russia ($986 billion), India ($809 billion) and Brazil ($528 billion), study authors figured. Just the United States and China together caused about one-third of the world’s climate damage.
 

Newswire: Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia puts Herschel Walker’s debate dodging on blast in new political ad

Sen Raphael Warnock


By: Anoa Changa, NewsOne


Sen. Reverend Raphael Warnock is not letting his opponent Herschel Walker off the hook regarding upcoming debates. In a new ad, the Georgia senator highlights Walker’s apparent refusal to commit to even one debate this fall.
At a recent campaign stop, Walker said he wasn’t dodging debates, but his team had not agreed upon dates and times for the dates. For his part, Walker has tried to claim that he isn’t going to do things the “traditional political way” but hasn’t provided an alternative suggestion.
Before the Georgia Republican primary, Walker talked a good game about taking on Warnock on the debate stage. Now it’s time to put up or shut up, and Walker can’t seem to commit.
Not debating his opponents in the Republican primary made strategic sense, given his steady lead. But in the general election, he is trailing the senator.
Walker may be a hometown football hero, but that’s not going to be enough on the debate stage where voters expect candidates to have actual answers to real challenges. Warnock faired well against Kelly Loeffler, who couldn’t utter coherent policy stances and overplayed her hand, calling the reverend a “radical liberal” 13 times in one debate.
There is a growing list of debates to which Warnock has also confirmed attendance. On Wednesday, he confirmed attendance at an October 13 debate sponsored by the Mercer University Center for Collaborative Journalism.
The senator has also accepted invitations to debates held by several newsrooms, including 11 Alive WXIA, Georgia Public Broadcasting and WTOC in Savannah, Warnock’s hometown.
In a statement, Warnock for Georgia campaign manager Quentin Fulks said that it’s important for Georgia voters to hear what the candidates have to say.
“I don’t know if Herschel Walker is scared for voters to hear what he has to say or scared for voters to hear that he’s unprepared to speak on the issues that matter most to the people of Georgia,” Fulks said. “There’s a clear choice in the race for Senate, and we hope Herschel Walker will be true to his word and commit to joining us at three debates.”
Georgia voters don’t seem to look too favorably on debate dodgers. Kwanza Hall went into the  Georgia Democratic primary runoff for lieutenant governor the clear front runner and felt no need to debate his opponent Charlie Bailey. With an endorsement from Stacey Abrams, Bailey easily secured the party’s nomination.
Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue did not appear in his final debate against Jon Ossoff. Ossoff made use of that time and spoke directly to Georgia residents.
During the 2021 Senate runoff, Perdue lost his re-election bid and failed in his attempt to run for governor. Ossoff joined Warnock in the Senate.
A Warnock-Walker debate would put the former NFL player alongside a seasoned policy advocate. Even before entering office, the reverend worked alongside advocates addressing voting rights and criminal justice reform issues.
It’s entirely possible that Walker isn’t afraid to debate Warnock per se but that he doesn’t want to have to explain himself or his many outrageous claims and positions. If Walker doesn’t show up for any debates, Warnock will have a full block of time to share his views

Newswire: Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ has died at 89

Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura


By: CNBC


Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood when she played communications officer Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series, has died at the age of 89.
Her son Kyle Johnson said Nichols died Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,” Johnson wrote on her official Facebook page Sunday. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”
Her role in the 1966-69 series as Lt. Uhura earned Nichols a lifelong position of honor with the series’ rabid fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies. It also earned her accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited Black women to acting roles as servants and included an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.
“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89,” George Takei wrote on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”
Takei played Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series alongside Nichols. But her impact was felt beyond her immediate co-stars, and many others in the “Star Trek” world also tweeted their condolences.
“Star Trek: Voyager” alum Kate Mulgrew tweeted, “Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again.”
Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs starting in 1979 with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and frequented “Star Trek” fan conventions. She also served for many years as a NASA recruiter, helping bring minorities and women into the astronaut corps.
The original “Star Trek” premiered on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966. Its multicultural, multiracial cast was creator Gene Roddenberry’s message to viewers that in the far-off future — the 23rd century — human diversity would be fully accepted.
“I think many people took it into their hearts … that what was being said on TV at that time was a reason to celebrate,” Nichols said in 1992 when a “Star Trek” exhibit was on view at the Smithsonian Institution.
She often recalled how Martin Luther King Jr. was a fan of the show and praised her role. She met him at a civil rights gathering in 1967, at a time when she had decided not to return for the show’s second season.
“When I told him I was going to miss my co-stars and I was leaving the show, he became very serious and said, ‘You cannot do that,’” she told The Tulsa (Okla.) World in a 2008 interview.
″‘You’ve changed the face of television forever, and therefore, you’ve changed the minds of people,’” she said the civil rights leader told her.
“That foresight Dr. King had was a lightning bolt in my life,” Nichols said.
During the show’s third season, Nichols’ character and Shatner’s Capt. James Kirk shared what was described as the first interracial kiss to be broadcast on a U.S. television series. In the episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” their characters, who always maintained a platonic relationship, were forced into the kiss by aliens who were controlling their actions.
The kiss “suggested that there was a future where these issues were not such a big deal,” Eric Deggans, a television critic for National Public Radio, told The Associated Press in 2018. “The characters themselves were not freaking out because a Black woman was kissing a white man … In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We’re beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send.”
Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners wanted to film a second take of the scene where the kiss happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories,” that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.
Despite concerns, the episode aired without blowback. In fact, it got the most “fan mail that Paramount had ever gotten on ‘Star Trek’ for one episode,” Nichols said in a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television.
Born Grace Dell Nichols in Robbins, Illinois, Nichols hated being called “Gracie,” which everyone insisted on, she said in the 2010 interview. When she was a teen her mother told her she had wanted to name her Michelle, but thought she ought to have alliterative initials like Marilyn Monroe, whom Nichols loved. Hence, “Nichelle.”
Nichols first worked professionally as a singer and dancer in Chicago at age 14, moving on to New York nightclubs and working for a time with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands before coming to Hollywood for her film debut in 1959′s “Porgy and Bess,” the first of several small film and TV roles that led up to her “Star Trek” stardom.
In her 1994 book, “Beyond Uhura,” she said she met Roddenberry when she guest starred on his show “The Lieutenant,” and the two had an affair a couple of years before “Star Trek” began. The two remained lifelong close friends.
Another fan of Nichols and the show was future astronaut Mae Jemison, who became the first black woman in space when she flew aboard the shuttle Endeavour in 1992.
In an AP interview before her flight, Jemison said she watched Nichols on “Star Trek” all the time, adding she loved the show. Jemison eventually got to meet Nichols

Newswire: Basketball legend Bill Russell dies at 88

Bill Russell showing some of his championship rings

 

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
 

Boston Celtics Legend Bill Russell, one of professional basketball’s greatest players and the sport’s most crowned champion, has died at the age of 88.
Russell, who won 11 NBA titles as a player and two as a player-coach, died “peacefully” with his wife, Jeannine, at his side, a statement on social media said.
Jeannine said funeral arrangements are pending.
“But for all the winning, Bill’s understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life. From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi’s first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evans’ assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness, and thoughtful change,” the statement read.
It continued:
“Bill’s wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you’ll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded.
“And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill’s uncompromising, dignified, and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last and lasting win for our beloved #6.”
President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom in 2011, and Russell won five NBA Most Valuable Player awards.
He made the All-Star team in 12 of the 13 years he played in the league. The prolific big man finished his career in 1969 with 21,620 career rebounds, an average of 22.5 per game, and led the league in rebounding four times.
He grabbed 51 rebounds in one game, 49 in two others, and a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds.
Many viewed Russell as the greatest player in history until Michael Jordan arrived in the 1980s and 1990s and Lebron James in the 2000s.
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1934, Russell’s family moved to the San Francisco area, where he attended McClymonds High School in Oakland.
He earned a scholarship to play at the University of San Francisco and helped lead the basketball school to an astounding 56 straight wins and back-to-back NCAA titles.
In 1974, Russell earned election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1980, he was voted Greatest Player in the History of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America. He was part of the 75th Anniversary Team announced by the NBA in October 2021.

Newswire: Scholars and experts make case to expand Supreme Court; abolish Electoral College

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has raised concerns from women regarding bodily autonomy and palpable fear that other long-held rights may also be in jeopardy.
And with the ongoing hearings surrounding the January 6 insurrection and the attempt by former President Donald Trump to change the outcome of the 2020 election, momentum has increased in favor of abolishing the long-standing Electoral College.
A growing number of Americans reportedly believe that expanding the court and ridding elections of the Electoral College are keys to preserving democracy in America.
This month, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 (ECRA) to ensure that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s public vote for president.
“Adding more justices to Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College both help to give the majority of Americans the ability to have a say in what’s going on in their country,” said H.R. Bellicosa, the author of The Punishings, a novel about a world without abortion rights.
“We are headed toward minority rule if we’re not there already. Overturning Roe is a deeply unpopular opinion, but with a conservative majority on the court, the justices were able to further their theocratic agenda,” Bellicosa stated.
“More justices would combat that. The Electoral College has given us two recent presidents who did not win the popular vote – [George W. Bush and Trump]. America is under threat of being ruled by a deeply unpopular minority, and steps must be taken to mitigate that.”
A change.org petition has garnered more than 103,000 signatures from individuals desiring to abolish the Electoral College, a system established in the 1800s and resulted in the infamous “three-fifths compromise” in which three-fifths of an enslaved Black person would count toward allocating electors and representatives.
The U.S. Constitution holds that whoever wins the electoral vote claims the presidency during presidential elections even if the candidate fails to win the popular vote.
Further, historians noted that officials created the Electoral College to give slave states more power and to keep an agent of England’s King George from becoming president. Neither situation rises as pertinent in the 21st Century, said historian and political scientist William S. Bike.
Bike said he believes it’s time to get rid of the Electoral College, and Democrats, while in the majority, should act. “Republicans use every weapon at their disposal against Democrats, but Democrats tend to behave like someone bringing a tennis racket to a knife fight,” stated Bike, the author of Winning Political Campaigns, a how-to guide on political campaigning.
“So, Democrats expanding the Supreme Court would be a weapon seldom used before in American history, but without it, the extreme right will continue taking away Americans’ rights,” Bike asserted. “They’re coming after Miranda, birth control, gay marriage, homosexuality, and possibly interracial marriage and racial equality.

Content Writer Elena Zimmerman added that the benefits of expanding the Supreme Court in its current state are impossible to miss. “Whatever the intentions were with the decision to appoint 9 judges, it would be difficult for anyone to argue the idea in mind was for one political party to appoint 66 percent of the justices of the most powerful judicial body in the country while systematically excluding the choices of elected presidents in the opposing party while in office,” Zimmerman stated.
“It would also be difficult for anyone to argue that it should be acceptable for new potential justices to lie during their confirmation hearings about their intentions to rule if appointed.
“Expanding the court during a democratic president’s tenure and with an evenly divided Senate could potentially balance this inequality of partisan power.”
Zimmerman further concluded that there’s “no longer a benefit to the Electoral College.”“Particularly when it can be used exclusively to the benefit of only one party to override the popular vote,” she insisted.

Other experts suggest putting an 18 year time limit on Supreme Court Justice terms. Every two years as a justice’s term ends, a new justice would be appointed by the sitting President and confirmed by the Senate. The current court would be replaced starting with those with the longest tenure. This would mean over time the Court would be more representative of the current political trands.

COVID-19

As of July 28, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,421,760 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(5,450) more than last week with 19,890 deaths (1) more
than last week)

Greene County had 2,043 confirmed cases, 6 more cases than last week), with 51 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,807 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,165 cases with 108 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

FEMA awards $64.8 million in funeral benefits to COVID-19 victims

What: FEMA Advisory | FEMA Monthly Update of State-Specific Funeral Assistance Information – FEMA has provided over $2.7 billion to more than 420,000 people to assist with COVID-19 related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after January 20, 2020. Please see email message below and attachment for details.

Applicants may apply by calling 844-684-6333 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.Multilingual services are available. Please note, phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number. Applicants who use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, should give FEMA the number for that service. Additional information about COVID-19 funeral assistance, including frequently asked questions, is available on FEMA.gov. See attachment.

State/Territory
Applications
Amount Approved
Number of Awards
ALABAMA
11,834
$64,818,565.09
9,550

*Funeral assistance data can/will change daily; the information reflects data as of 8 a.m. ET Monday, August 1, 2022.

Bingo facilities distribute $563,211 for month of June

 

On Tuesday, July 26, 2022, Greene County Sheriff Department issued a listing of the bingo distributions for June, totaling $563,211.34 from four of the five licensed bingo gaming facilities. The June distribution reported by the sheriff includes $24,000 from Greenetrack, Inc. and $51,000 from the Sheriff’s Supplemental Fund distributed to the Greene County Commission.
The bingo facilities regularly distributing through the sheriff include Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo. The recipients of the June 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, Historical Society, REACH, Inc., Headstart Community Service and This Belong To US.
Bama Bingo gave a total of $114,995.01 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; 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 $870.53, including REACH. Community Service received $395.69 and This Belong to Us received $79.14.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,995.01 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $48,070; 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 received $870.53, including the Historical Society and REACH. Community Service received $395.69 and This Belong to Us received $79.14.
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, $48,070; City of Eutaw, $12,543; 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 $214,933.32 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $89.846.04; City of Eutaw, $17,288.87; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $7,242.63; Greene County Board of Education, $19,625.20 and the Greene County Health System, $23,363.33; Sub Charities received $1,726.02, including the Historical Society and REACH, Inc. Community Service received $784.55 and This Belong to Us received $156.91.

Eutaw City Council receives FY2021 Audit and detailed financial report showing progress but difficult decisions ahead

New police officer, Danny Morales, who is bi-lingual in Spanish and English, joined the Eutaw Police force. He is standing with Chief Tommy Johnson.

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

At last night’s regular Eutaw City Council meeting, the city received a 53-page audit report from Rick Harbin, CPA on the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021.

They also heard a report from Attorney Ralph Liverman, City Financial Advisor, on the first 9 months of the current fiscal year showing revenues over budget (104%) and expenses slightly over projections (88%) with a positive net cash position, with three months left in the fiscal year. Liverman also pointed out some long-term issues with the water, sewer and streets in the city which will require attention and increased expenditures in coming years.

Harbin presented the long-awaited audit report for last fiscal year ending on September 30, 2021. Harbin said he could not give an “unqualified” audit opinion because there were deposits made in the early part of the year, before the current mayoral administration took charge, which cannot be properly traced to their purpose.

He said he had to put a disclaimer on his opinion due to these concerns. “But as the year went on, the city set up a budget and an accounting system that can account for all income and expenditures,
so, I was able to provide an audit you can use for complying with agency conditions and seeking new funding,” said Harbin.

Harbin said the 2021 fiscal year, the City of Eutaw had $12.8 million in assets, with sufficient cash assets to meet current expenditures and have a new worth of about $3.2 million. Harbin distributed copies of the audit report and said he was willing to come back for a ”council work session” to explain things in more detail and answer any questions from the Mayor and Council.

Liverman reports on financial issues

The Council also heard a report from Ralph Liverman, Financial Advisor, on the nine months of the current fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, 75% of the year. He showed General Fund revenues from property taxes, sales taxes, privilege licenses, building permits, garbage fees, rent and other sources of income for the nine months was $2,493,338 (104%) of budget at $2,337, 716 for the year. This means the city in 9 months has already taken in more than its total annual projection of revenues with three months to go. There is a separate report for the Water and Sewage Department which was not reviewed.

Liverman also showed General Fund expenses for the City Administration (people in City Hall), Police Department, Streets and Sanitation, Parks and Recreation and the Fire Department which were budgeted for $2,195,962 for the year, had spent $1,953,378 or 88% of the budgeted amount for 75% of the time.

Liverman stated that the budget projections were based on limited information available and that the next budget would be more accurate. The budget had balances and surpluses built in to cover the spending incurred. For the year to date, with $2,494,338 in revenues and $1,953,378 in expenses, there is a surplus of $540,960, which may increase over the remaining three months of the year.

Liverman complimented the mayor, staff, and Council for a positive financial effort and moving the City in a positive direction. He then said there were some difficult and costly decisions ahead. First, the City must decide on how to deal with problems of the water system specifically in serving Boligee, where a major connecting waterline and lines in the town are leaking. The City has been offered a $3.5 million loan and grant combination by ADEM and USDA, but half is a grant and half is a loan, that the City cannot take on without assistance from the Town of Boligee.

There are also problems of the City providing water at no cost to the Greene County Water System, the City also provides water and sewer services to the Catfish plant at concessionary rates under a ten-year agreement, that expired in 2010 and has never been updated or renegotiated. The City may have to raise water rates and late fees, especially for those in Boligee.

Liverman also mentioned that the City’s sewage lagoon is 60-70 years old with many problems, which will take millions to repair. He also mentioned ten locations around the city where there are dangerous drainage problems. The City just spent $19,000 to repair a drainage ditch and curbing behind City Hall on Springfield Avenue. More expenditures are ahead to fix drainage throughout the city.

Other Business

The Council also heard a report from Brandon Broach, Assistant Fire Chief, on the condition of the city’s fire-fighting equipment. The Department has one certified and operable fire engine and a second engine that runs but is too old to be certified. The Fire Department has $150,000 in donated funds towards a second engine with a 40-foot ladder that can reach a third story building like some of the apartment complexes in Eutaw. A used fire truck that can be certified will cost $300,000, so more funds must be raised to get suitable equipment to save lives and retain a good rating for insurance purposes.

The Fire Department is all volunteer and needs younger members to get training and help fight fires, said Broach. There is also a need for a better budget for other equipment to fight fires.

The Eutaw City Council opened bids for caring for the roads and area around the Exit 40 intersection and going to Love’s Travel Center. Rev. William Webb’s -Total Care submitted a bid for $1,200 monthly, for services, twice a week. The bid was accepted by the City Council. The bid to maintain and care for the two city cemeteries – Mesopotamia and Thomas – was opened but the bid was not submitted properly on the form. This service was ordered rebid.

In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:
• Paid all bids and claims for June and July.
• Approved an agreement between the City of Eutaw and the Greene County Commission for the pavement of Choctaw Road, which is joint owned by both.
• Approved travel and per diem for staff to attend training.
• Approved a salary increase of $6,500 annual for Police Chief,
Tommy Johnson.
• Approved a Restaurant Retail Liquor License for the Cajun Café, LLC.

•Approved use of ARAP funds to give an incentive payment to city employees.