County will sell surplus land to WestRock; addresses redistricting in Greene County

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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

County Commission approves submitting proposal to purchase Carver School facility

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.

Community Conversation urges political participation on Dec. 12 to deal with community issues

Doug Jones

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.