Submitted by Miriam Leftwich
Cities across the county had been collecting water donations since the beginning of September, after the clean water crisis broke out in Jackson, MS. The Greene County Community Associates, of the Black Belt Community Foundation, took the lead in Eutaw, Alabama to help our neighbors in Jackson get bottled water. We knew that we needed to help out however we could.
Special thanks to our Mayor Latasha Johnson, who allowed the trailer to be parked on the premises of the Robert H. Young Community Center which was also the collection site.
Stay N On the Move Trucking, LLC allowed use of a trailer and transported the collected bottled water to Jackson, Mississippi. Donations poured in from the beginning of the Water Drive up until minutes prior to departure.
I am so grateful to this community, to all of the Pastors and the church families who took part in this drive, and to the Pastors and Deacons that helped to load and unload water from various destinations, to all of the Greek Letter organizations, Volunteer Fire Departments, Masonic and Eastern Star Lodges, Greene County High School Principal, students, and staff, Flowers Bakery, Tishabee Senior Citizens, Eutaw Housing Authority, Greene County Retired Educators Association, McInnis Mortuary, Greene County Ushers Alliance, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr., Black Belt Law. All of the support that you showed was absolutely great.
There were approximately 38 organizations and 45 families that represented by showing up and donating numerous cases of water. Donations poured in from as far as California. We even had donations shipped via FED EX. Hale, Sumter, Choctaw, and Tuscaloosa counties also contributed. All of the love that your residents showed us will never be forgotten.
Approximately 325,000 bottles of water were collected. We are forever thankful to each and every one of you. We collected enough water to fill the trailer and had to get a second vehicle for the excess water. To our Sheriff and his staff, we tip our hats to you for such a wonderful sendoff. The Sheriff escorted the trucks from the Community Center to the Boligee exit.
The drivers had a safe trip; water was delivered and those on the receiving end were grateful to have it and expressed their appreciation for a job well done.
The Greene County Commission held it regular meeting on March 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm in the William M. Branch Courthouse and approved several Engineering Department proposals. The commission approved a resolution for the 2021 HRRR Project which is an Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Safety grant for guard rails on county road bridges. The commission also approved the engineer signing a utility relocation agreement for the power lines on County Road 69, near the bridge replacement project, for the approximate amount of $12,000. The commission will charge a $25 fee for flood plain permits. This applies to anyone who builds or locates in a flood plain in the county. The commission approved the annual tax levy on any alcohol beverage sold in the county. Bama Bingo’s ABC license application was approved and the ABC license for 432 South Lounge was ratified. The commission tabled the request from the Greene County Golf Course (Greens Committee) to be allowed get bids for timber cutting. Commissioner Allen Turner proposed getting legal research on the property first. Commissioner Lester Brown explained that the County is in charge of the Golf Course unless the property ceases to be utilized, then it returns to the original owner. Brown also stated that cutting timber has been a source of income for the Greens.“The county has not provided any financial support to the Golf Course for the last nine years,” he stated. During the public comment session, Mr. James E. Morrow, appealed to the commission to reconsider their decision, as he listed out various pressing needs of the Golf Course, including grading and cutting equipment, upkeep of the road and bridge across the lake and clubhouse repairs. “For the past nine years we have asked the county to place the Golf Course in its budget, but we have yet to receive a favorable response,” Morrow stated. The commission ratified several board appointments. In District 1, Martin Sellers was re-appointed to the Foster Ralph Water Authority; Cilla Morrow was re-appointed to the Library Board and Lucy Spann and John Zippert were re-appointed to the Hospital Board. At this point, Commissioner Allen Turner expressed a concern that Greene County was losing funds from the Greene County residents under the Foster Ralph Water Authority. Commissioner Brown explained that those residents get their water from Tuscaloosa so they pay their water bill to Tuscaloosa. Turner stated that he wants the commission to have more discussions on how to change that situation. In District 2, Sylvia Edgar was re-appointed to the Library Board and Katie Powell was re-appointed to the Greene County Housing Authority Board. In District 4, Eddie Austin was re-appointed to the Hospital Board and Vanessa Gray Bryant was appointed to the Library Board. In District 5, Rose Marie Edwards was re-appointed to the Hospital Board. Commissioner Corey Cockrell requested that all his board appointments be tabled at this time. Underwood reported the following bank balances as of February 21, 2021: Citizen Trust Bank – $4,012,268.44; Merchant & Farmers Bank -$3,337,636.62; Total Investments – $1,082,713.91. Claims paid included the following: Accounts payable – $128,434.89; Payroll Transfer – $299,184.92; Fiduciary – $206,113.54. Total claims paid – $633,733.36. Electronic claims paid totaled $72,974.19. The commission approved the following travel requests. * County Engineer to ACEA Conference, Perdido Beach, May10-14. * H.R. to ACAA Conference, Perdido Bech, May 10-14. * Property Clerk and Revenue Clerk to Birmingham, Introduction to Property Tax Administration, March 23-26. In his financial report, CFO Macaroy Underwood provided the commission with the total Bingo funds received this fiscal year as shown below: Sheriff’s Bingo Revenue to Greene County Fiscal Year to Date, Oct. 2020 thru Feb. 2021 Dream, Inc. – $152,850; TSP Support League -$187,394.10; Anchor – $152,850; Greenetrack – $120,000; Austin Foundation – $152,850; Interest income – $523.82. Total Bingo Revenue to County to date – $766,467.92.
The Greene County Commission met in its regular session, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 with all commissioners in attendance. The agenda presented was approved with an addendum, offered by Commissioner Corey Cockrell, proposing that Bingo funds received by the county be separated from the country’s general funds and only spent when authorized by the County Commission. The proposal was approved.
The County Commission also agreed that any additional items and/or services related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and approved by the state, would be purchased with advance funds available through the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF). Once the county receives its CARES reimbursement, BBCF would be refunded the advance funds provided. This arrangement with BBCF allows the county to make needed purchases without tying up local funds or making other budget adjustments. To date, the county has expended approximately $220,000 in COVID related expenditures. Greene County has been allotted a total of $500,000 in CARES money.
BBCF, which raised these earmarked funds to assist local communities, has a similar arrangement with other county and municipal governments in its service area.
The commission approved a staggered schedule for county employees through the end of this calendar year. The county offices will remain open, but will serve citizens by appointment only.
County offices will be closed for the holidays on December 24 and 25, 2020 as well as on January 1, 2021.
The commission approved a one-time payment to employees at the rate of $300 for part-time employees and $550 for full time employees.
Commission Chairperson, Roshanda Summerville, announced the following commission committee appointments: Commissioner Lester Brown is assigned Education; Commissioner Corey Cockrell is assigned Highway and Solid Waste; Commissioner Allen Turner is assigned Public Safety and Health; Commissioner Tennyson Smith is assigned Industrial Development and Summerville is assigned to Personnel and Finance.
In other business, the commission acted on the following:
Tabled consideration of draft suit related to Commission vs Greene County Sheriff.
Approved extension of exemption application to January 18, 2021.
Approved engineer hiring additional staff for paving.
Approved hiring personal property clerk.
Approved match for 2021 HRRR Grant (Bridges without guardrails).
Approved modification of the 2020 HRR grant to include just two sites.
Approved three year participation plan for liability coverage renewal (related to bridges).
Approved advertising for solid waste driver.
Approved Red Cross Agreement, relative to county providing use of facility during disaster recovery assistance.
The County CFO, Macaroy Underwood presented the following bank balances as of November 20, 2020. Citizen Trust Bank – $3,848,524.22; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $2,845,573.19; Investments – $1.076,756.46. Bank of New York – Report not available.
Underwood reported the following claims paid for November: General Fund – $$86,999.60; Gasoline – $51,911.28; Appraisal Fund – $$1,098.93; Solid Waste – $17,942.41;
Senior Citizen Fund – $1,108.84; Federal match – $436.34. Electronic claims paid totaled $75,827.09.
The Greene County Commission held its annual reorganizational meeting, Monday, November 12, 2019 and selected Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. as Chairperson and Commissioner Roshanda Summerville as Vice-Chairperson. Commissioner Lester Brown nominated Commissioner Tennyson Smith for the position of Chair, followed by the nomination of Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. by Commissioner Corey Cockrell. The vote was three to two, with Commissioners Turner, Summerville and Cockrell supporting Turner and Commissioners Brown and Smith supporting Smith.
Commissioner Corey Cockrell nominated Commissioner Roshanda Summerville for the position of Vice-Chair. There were no other nominations and the vote for Summerville was unanimous.
The commission’s reorganization process, conducted by Attorney Hank Sanders, was turned over to Turner immediately following the elections. Turner requested that the Chairman’s appointments to committees be tabled; the body approved the same. The commission agreed to maintain the same monthly meeting time of second Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Regarding the designation of bank depositories, the commission agreed by resolution to retain the same: Citizen Trust Bank, Merchants & Farmers Bank and the Bank of New York.
The signatures for checks and the commission’s safety deposit box usually include four authorized individuals (of which two are needed for transactions) and the following three were agreed upon: Chairperson, Allen Turner, Jr.; Vice-Chairperson, Roshanda Summerville; CFO Paula Bird, and the fourth to be determined later.
Commissioners Lester Brown and Tennyson Smith declined from consideration as check signers.
The Commission also approved following the rules and procedures of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA).
The CFO’s financial report and proposal for payment of claims were approved by the body. CFO Bird also noted that the commission has not received the funds for the contingency component of the sheriff’s budget. Although approximately 51% of the County Commission’s general fund budget is allocated to the sheriff’s budget, this is not sufficient to support all the personnel retained by the sheriff, without the contingency bingo funds provided by the sheriff’s office. According to Bird, to date, these supplemental bingo funds have not been provided to the commission. She stated that the commission is approximately $25,000 short in making the next payroll that would include all of the sheriff’s employees.
Attorney Sanders advised that the commission pay the personnel who have worked and then take immediate action to reduce that work force.
Based on the CFO’s information, the commission agreed to recess the meeting until Monday, November 18, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. Prior to that meeting, Chairman Turner will arrange a meeting with Sheriff Jonathan Benison to discuss the budgetary issues.
The Greene County Health System held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, October 24, 2019 for a newly renovated and equipped Emergency Room area in its Hospital facility.
Ollie Braggs, the first patient served by the Greene County Hospital on November 20, 1961, received the honor to cut the ribbon on the new area.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Greene County Health System thanked the people for taking time to attend the open house and ribbon cutting. She thanked the Greene Ladies, women’s auxiliary for their dedicated volunteer service, the staff, the Board of Directors, the GCHS Foundation and others in the community for their help and support. She also thanked members of the helicopter health transfer service who were present for their work and support.
John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board also thanked those in attendance, including three county commissioners – Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner and Roshanda Summerville for attending. He spoke about the GCHS services including the 20-bed hospital, 72 beds Nursing Home – Residential Care Center and the Physicians Clinic.
In relation to the ribbon cutting, Zippert stressed that “Our Emergency Room and services will help to stabilize you in case of an accident, stroke, heart attack or other injury. Come to our facility first, let us restore your vital signs, stop bleeding and decide what kind of additional care you need and send you on by ambulance or helicopter to another health care facility. Many people have come to our emergency facilities first; and had their lives saved so they could be transferred to other places.”
Zippert reminded the audience that there are many health care services available at and through GCHS, including Medicare 21 day recuperation at the end of a hospital stay, physical and occupational therapy, X-ray, CT-scan, lab testing and many others. “You have to speak up and ask to come back and use GCHS services even if you are somewhere else. The choice is yours. But if we do not use the services of our health system – then we will surely loose them.”
Zippert also suggested that supporters of the GCHS need to be pushing the Governor and their legislators to approve Medicaid Expansion, to provide health insurance for the working poor. “Expanding Medicaid would do a lot to improve the financial outlook of our small rural hospital and many others around the state,” he said.
Ms. Braggs said she was a 16 year old first time mother trying to give birth at home in Boligee, with the aid of a midwife when complications developed. Dr. Bethany’s wife came to check on her and she got her husband Dr. Bethany and Dr. Joe P. Smith to admit her to the newly constructed Greene County Hospital in November of 1961 She gave birth to her son, Hubert Lewis, on November 20, 1961 and they were the first patients and baby born in the facility. Dr. William Fredericks assisted in the birth.
GCHS presented Ms. Braggs with a fruit basket in recognition of her place in the history of the facility. The newly renovated Emergency Room suite consists of four rooms on a corridor, equipped with ‘crash carts’ and other medical devices and supplies. The area is interconnected with X-ray, the CT scanner, laboratory and other diagnostic tools to help determine your health status.
County personnel view demonstration model of excavator equipment approved by Commission.
The Greene County Commission met in a specially called meeting, Monday, November 26, 2018 to handle some business matters that were not dealt with at the re-organizational meeting the prior week. The commissioners approved a request by County Engineer, Willie Branch, to purchase a mini excavator with mulcher attachment at a cost of approximately $126,000. According to Mr. Branch, this will replace the county’s Boom Mower. Branch indicated that he expects the equipment to arrive by the first of the year. Commission Chairperson, Tennyson Smith, issued committee assignments for each commissioner: Commissioner Lester Brown will chair the Education Committee; Commissioner Corey Cockrell will chair the Highway/Solid Waste Committee; Commissioner Roshanda Summerville will chair the Personnel Committee; Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. will chair the Industry and Public Health Committee; and Commissioner Smith will chair the Finance/Public Safety Committee. In other business the Commission acted on the following: * Approved letter of support for Greene County Industrial Authority. * Approved Proclamation for World Aids Day, Dec. 1, 2018 for the Greene County * Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. * Approved replacement of HVAC unit at Activity Center ( Extension offices). * Approved ABC License for Tobacco Permit for Dollar General store in Clinton, AL. * Approved Dec. 31, 2018 as an additional county holiday for this year. * Approved 2019 county holiday schedule. * Approved Ratification of Chairman’s actions regarding resolution for Alabama Workers’ Compensation Self Insurers Fund. * Approved following employee travel request: Licensing Clerk to attend Licensing Conference in Prattville, Jan.16-17, 2019; CFO to attend Annual Governmental & Accounting Forum, Dec. 6-7, 2018 in Hoover, AL; CFO to attend Continuing Education in Bessemer, Dec. 11-12, 2018; H.R. Personnel to attend Legislative Conference, Dec. 4-6, 2018 in Montgomery; Board of Registrars to attend Registrar’s Conference Nov. 16 in Montgomery. The meeting was officially adjourned.
Greene County Commission shown with two new vehicles for the County Highway Department. The vehicles are two 2018 F150 Crew Cabs 4×4 at purchase price of $28,650 each. Shown L to R: Commissioners Michael Williams, Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner, Jr.,and Lester Brown; County Engineer Willie Branch and Assistant Engineer John Ensley.
At its regular meeting held Jan. 8, 2018, the Greene County Commission agreed to sell a portion of surplus land to WestRock box plant in Eutaw. The commission is asking $30.000 for approximately 2.7 acres of land adjacent to the current WestRock property on Finches Ferry Road in Eutaw.
In an original plan, the County Commission deeded that parcel of land to the Greene County Industrial Board with the understanding that the IDA would lease the property to West Rock. Subsequently, West Rock determined that it was interested in purchasing same property to accommodate its expansion plans. The county’s plan to sell the property to West Rock will proceed once the IDA transfers the deed back to the county.
The commission voted to approve the County Registrars duties regarding the state’s redistricting and voter reassignment process for areas and voters affected by the new state legislative district lines. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States Census. The Alabama State Legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines.
On May 24, 2012, the Republican-controlled legislature approved state legislative redistricting maps. Maps for both chambers were passed during a special session. It next went to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for his signature, then to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance. The Justice Department cleared the state legislative maps on October 5, 2012. Various statewide organizations challenged the state’s redistricting lines up to the U.S. Supreme Court, but were unsuccessful.
According to the current legislative map, Greene County will fall in two State House Districts: D 71, Northwestern part of the county, (Rep. Artis McCampbell) and D 72, all other areas of the county (Rep. Ralph Howard). Greene County falls in only one State Senate District, D 24 (Senator Bobby Singleton).
Alabama’s House of Representatives is made up of 105 districts; Alabama’s State Senate is made up of 35 districts.
In other business the commission approved the following:
* Filling two employee positions in the Highway Department
* Accepting the resignation of one equipment operator and authorizing advertising to fill the position of Equipment operator.
* Travel request for employees as specified.
The Commission approved the various Committee Chair appointments as follows:
* Finance and Public Safety, Commissioner Tennyson Smith.
* Public Works and Health, Commissioner Michael Williams.
* Education and Social Concerns, Commissioner Lester Brown.
* Jobs and Industries, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr.
* Personnel, Commissioner Corey Cockrell.
CFO, Paula Bird provided the following financial summaries as of December 17, 2017.
Total funds in Citizen Trust Bank was $2,476,161.54; total funds in Merchants & Farmers Bank was $1,961,067.02. Bond investments totaled $800,989.79, Bank of New holds $358,718.17
At the regular monthly meeting of the Greene County Commission, held Monday, December 11, 2017, the body voted 3-2 to authorize the chairman to negotiate details of an offer to purchase the former Carver School property from the Greene County Board of Education.
The first dissenting voice came from Commissioner Corey Cockrell who questioned why would the commission want to consider purchasing Carver School now. According to Cockrell, the commission had had previous discussions on the property but had taken no action toward purchase.
Commissioner Allen Turner stated that the county had a long list of projects and needs that should be addressed instead of purchasing a building that brings with it additional obligations. Both Cockrell and Turner stated that the City of Eutaw has submitted a request with a plan to purchase Carver and it seems that the county is trying to undercut the city.
Commissioner Lester Brown spoke in support of the county’s securing Carver School. He stated that there are numerous projects that the county could house in that facility including Parks & Recreation, Senior Citizens Programs, Summer Feeding, Veterans Programs and others.
Commissioner Michael Williams, who also supported the county’s move to acquire Carver, noted that the Carver facility could allow the county to sponsor various training programs and workshops that would benefit employees and the community.
Rev. Michael Barton, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Forkland, was present and seemed to be the spokesperson for many in the audience who opposed the County Commission’s efforts to acquire Carver Middle School. Many of those in the audience were among his parishioners.
It should also be noted that Mayor Raymond Steele of Eutaw, proposed Rev. Barton to be employed by the City as Recreational Coordinator, if the City’s proposal for the school facilities is accepted by the Board of Education. Steele proposed employing Rev. Barton at the November 14 City Council meeting but withdrew the proposal before a vote since Eutaw Council members were reluctant to vote on staffing before the facilities had been secured.
Many in the audience echoed the sentiments of Commissioners Cockrell and Turner which were in favor of Eutaw purchasing Carver School, however Carl Davis suggested that the county and city come together and devise a plan for joint purchase.
It should be noted that a purchase by the city is for the city; whereas the county would be obligated to serve all of Greene County.
The commission voted to allow the Coroner to establish an office in the space above the Law Library, where the Society of Folk Arts & Culture currently stores it equipment and artifacts related to the production of the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival. The county is obligated to provide suitable work space for the Coroner.
In a previous conversation, Commission Chairperson Tennyson Smith stated he would work with the Society in securing suitable space for the festival equipment.
In other business the commission acted on the following:
* Approved RDS to collect lodging taxes and authorize chairman to sign necessary documents.
* Approved vacating un-named road off CR 203 with attorney filing necessary papers with Judge of Probate.
* Approved to consider agreement with JM Woods for sale of three dump trucks for June action.
* Tabled filling two vacant equipment operator positions.
* Approved joining lawsuit in regards to the Opioid epidemic and authorize Chairman to sign all necessary documents.
Approved travel for Probate Judge, Chief Clerk – Jan 16-19 in Montgomery.
Approved financial report and payment of claims as presented by CFO Paula Bird.
The CFO’s financial report included the following:Total Fund Balance as of Nov. 17, 2017, was $2,191,254.71. Total funds in banks – $4,061,096.44; total investments – $800,180.54; total ion Bank of New York – $358,521.42. Accounts payable totaled $500,574.95; Payroll Transfers totaled $242,520.89; Other Transfers totaled $71,398.97; Fiduciary $144,908; Total – $959,402.81.
U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones addresses community meeting in Greene County
A ‘Community Conversation’ on Monday, October 30, 2017, at the Eutaw Activity Center sponsored by Greene County Chapter of Alabama New South Alliance, supported by the Greene County Chapter of Alabama Democratic Conference and other groups, heard from community leaders, elected officials, ordinary citizens and a special guest.
The conversation dealt with three important issues – supporting the Greene County Health System, providing more recreational and educational opportunities for young people and involving more people in voting and the democratic process.
Doug Jones, Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate, in the December 12 Special Election, attended the meeting and made some remarks in support of his election.
Greetings were given by State Senator Bobby Singleton and State Representative Artis J. McCampbell. Both legislators strongly endorsed Jones and urged voters to participate and vote in the December 12 Special Election.
Commissioner Allen Turner, District 4 County Commissioner gave the occasion for the meeting suggesting that the community must participate and get involved and offer leadership and direction in solving problems facing Greene County.
John Zippert, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Greene County Health System, reviewed some of the problems facing the Hospital, Nursing Home and Physicians Clinic. He said that some of the financial problems of the health system came from Federal health-care uncertainties and the failure of the State of Alabama to extend Medicaid but the rest was our local responsibility in Greene County. He said, “ if we don’t use our health care system –we will surely lose it. We have doctors, facilities and services in Greene County which we need to use first before we go elsewhere to get our healthcare.”
Lorenzo French discussed the importance of providing more recreational opportunities for young people in the county. He said that he was committed to starting a little league baseball team in the coming year. French’s comments set off an animated discussion by others on the problems of Greene County in providing adequate recreation and sports activities to involve young people. A committee was proposed as a way for more people to get involved in working to provide opportunities for young people.
Sara Duncan and Commissioner Lester Brown spoke on the importance of voting and getting people registered and prepared to vote in the December 12th Special Election.
Duncan says that she encounters many people who tell her voting doesn’t matter, it won’t change things and that their vote doesn’t count. “I am very patient with these people. I talk to them about the struggle and history of voting in Greene County and the relationship of voting to the progress we have made in Greene County.”
After talking some will agree to register.
Lester Brown said, “ The Special Election on December 12 is critical to opening the doors for Democratic candidates to run in 2018 for Governor and other state offices. We must work to get everyone to vote in this Special Election. Absentee and Walk-in voting are available right now, starting today, at the Circuit Clerk’s Office in the Courthouse. If you plan to be out of town on Election Day, you can walk-in to the Clerk’s office and vote early. This is a sure way to make sure you vote and have your vote counted.”
Doug Jones, Democratic candidate for U. S. Senate, spoke at the end of the meeting. “I am glad that I attended this meeting and listened to the people of Greene County talk about some of the problems and issues in Greene County. This is not my last meeting or visit to Greene County. I will be back here after I am elected to work with you on the problems.”
Jones said his staff advised him, when he was U. S. Attorney that prosecuting the Klu Klux Klan for the bombing and murders at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was a ‘long-shot’. “We took that long shot and won the convictions. We face another long-shot now in this election, but I feel that we are on the right side of history and will win this election with your support,” said Jones.