Eutaw City Council votes to purchase firetruck; continues to debate Eutaw-Boligee water grant

Proposed firetruck the City of Eutaw purchased

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

At its August 23rd regular meeting approved purchase of a used 2006 Pierce Quint 75, 60-foot-long firetruck, with a forty-foot ladder, for $250,000. Several members of the Eutaw Fire Department went to inspect the truck in New Jersey and found it meet the city’s basic requirements and the truck could be housed in the current space below City Hall.

The firetruck will be moved to Huntsville, where some minor adjustments and mechanical repairs will be made before it can be picked up by the Fire Department, according to Brandon Broach, Deputy Fire Chief. The Fire Department will be able to pick up the truck within a few weeks and drive it to its new home in Eutaw, Alabama.

At the regular meeting the City Council opened bids for the grass cutting and maintenance of the two cemeteries. There was one bid which was higher than the current cost. Mayor Johnson suggested continuing to contract with Kay Dees Lawncare for 3 or 4 more cuts of both cemeteries at $1,500 per cut. The Mayor’s suggestion was approved. The Council tabled opening bids for the roof at the Robert H. Young Community Center because the bid had not been properly advertised.

The Council approved soliciting bids for the repair of Robert Street, Woodfield Street and Wheatland Circle, pursuant to earlier decisions to use American Rescue Plan and gas tax monies for these repairs.

Eutaw-Boligee Water Grant Agreement

At the August 23, 2022, regular meeting the Eutaw City Council agreed to accept a $3.5 million grant to consolidate and improve the water systems of Eutaw and the Town of Boligee. The Council in a previous meeting declined to accept a $3.5 million, half grant and half loan proposal, from ADEM and USDA, because the City of Eutaw could not go into further debt and because most of the funds would be used to upgrade the Town of Boligee’s service.

Mayor Johnson and Mayor Samuels of Boligee discussed the problem of accepting the grant-loan combination with Congresswoman Terri Sewell. Sewell was the only Alabama Congressperson who voted for the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Bill, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which contain funds for water and sewer improvements, targeted to  historically underserved communities. Sewell was able to negotiate a change from a $3.5 million grant-loan combination to a 100% grant for what is needed to improve the water and sewer systems of both Eutaw and Boligee.

There have been two subsequent meetings of Eutaw and Boligee mayors, councilpersons, attorneys, engineers, press and others. The Town of Boligee raised some concerns about giving up its water and sewer systems to consolidated control and management by Eutaw. They also wanted Eutaw to take on some past indebtedness of Boligee to USDA Rural Development, which Eutaw did not want to accept. Boligee also wanted its sewer system improvements included in the consolidation.

In a combination in-person and zoom meeting on Monday, August 29, 2022, most of these issues had been resolved. John Laney of ADEM said that USDA Rural Development would “take care of the Boligee water indebtness” and that Eutaw would not need to assume the costs.

Laney said he was open to a proposal from Eutaw and Boligee for use of the $3.5 million water grant and a $1.3 million sewer grant to Boligee, and potentially more funds as needed for the consolidated system, provided the consolidated water and sewer system insured proper pressure and quality of drinking and wastewater for Boligee; improved the City of Eutaw water and sewer system for its residents, was not overdesigned and was of reasonable cost.

Another factor in these negotiations is that the Greene County Industrial Development Authority’s water and sewer system, in the Crossroads of America Industrial Park, is linked in to Boligee’s system and ties back to the City of Eutaw as well. Phillis Belcher, Executive Secretary of the GCIDA, stated that in making any improvements to the water and sewer system, that there should be no reductions in service to the Crossroads of America Park, and that improvements, with a view toward attracting new industries, should be considered in making changes to the system.

The zoom meeting with Laney from ADEM ended with an agreement that Eutaw and Boligee’s attorneys and engineers would prepare new preliminary plans, cost estimates and phasing in of all needed improvements, no later than the end of September. The City Councils of Eutaw and Boligee would need to approve these new plans to make sure they were acceptable.

In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

•Approved a resolution for an annual review water and sewer rates and adjustments according to the CPI if needed.
• Approved a new water purchase agreement to be presented to Consolidated Catfish Processing Company.
• Heard a request from First Baptist Church to repair a road that passes behind the church.
• Approved declaring a Dodge Charger police car surplus and sell to the Town of Pickensville for $10.00, to use for parts.
• Approved travel for City Clerk and Assistant to training in Tuscaloosa in October.
•Approved payment of all bills and claims.
• Police Chief Tommy Johnson announced Police Night Out for September 15, 2022, at Robert H. Young Community Center.

More than 40 homes destroyed by
tornado in Branch Heights; No fatalities,
but more than 100 people displaced

Mrs. Eula Lanier with Congresswoman Terri Sewell on the front of her damaged house.

On Wednesday night, April 13, 2022 between 10:00 and 10:30 PM, an EF0 tornado, with winds of 65 to 85 miles per hour, passed through Eutaw and Greene County, Alabama. It did the greatest damage in the William M. Branch Heights community, which is a part of the city of Eutaw.

“More than 40 homes in Branch Heights were visibly damaged and we are still discovering less obvious damage to bricks and foundations which may have been loosened and shifted,” said Anita Lewis, Greene County Housing Authority Executive Director.

Lewis continued, “We have had more than 100 people displaced, made homeless, by this storm. Some have found shelter with family and friends but we have placed 24 families in a nearby hotel, near Greenetrack, which is  8 miles from their homes. Senator Bobby Singleton and Representative A. J, MacCampbell are seeking state resources to extend hotel stays as needed.”

Branch Heights was built with HUD funds in the 1970’s as a major project of the newly elected African American controlled Greene County Commission. It contains over two hundred single family homes. Most of the homes are still rental units, under the control of the Greene County Housing Authority, but about a third of the homes have been purchased by the homeowners, as part of a special program, where people who had rented for 15 years, were able to purchase their units.

Lewis said that the Greene County Housing Authority’s insurance company was still evaluating the damages but that 12 homes have only roof damage and these will be the first to be repaired, so families can return to their units. She said at least four families that owned their own homes did not have insurance to rebuild.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell who was in Greene County, on Tuesday morning, April 19, 2022 for a town hall meeting in Boligee, said, “My team and I toured the devastating storm damage in Branch Heights which has displaced over 100 residents. It was important to me to see this damage for myself and to join with the local community as they begin to rebuild. While it won’t bring back the homes and belongings that were lost, I was honored to buy lunch for some of my constituents who were affected. We all have a role to play when our community is in need. Now is the time to lend a helping hand.”

Earlier at the Boligee meeting, Sewell in answer to a question from Commission Chair Allen Turner, on the need to secure a FEMA disaster declaration for small areas like Branch Heights, affected by storms, said, “Congress will have to change the FEMA designation but we will work to secure SBA long term low interest loans for rebuilding homes and businesses. We will also work to identify other state, Federal and private resources that can help with rebuilding.”

In an interview on Monday, Lewis said, “The City of Eutaw, their police and street department are involved and helping us; the County, the Sheriff’s Department are also here and working very diligently on getting things put together and assessed and also assisting with our residents. This storm has been a challenge to all of our government and private aid agencies, including the Red Cross.”

“We had to put displaced people in hotels because we have no vacant public housing units in the area. We may have to seek help from adjoining cities like Tuscaloosa, to house our residents. Now we have to arrange food, clothing, transportation, clothes washing and other services for our people,” said Lewis

School Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones announced at recent board meeting that he will re-route school buses to accommodate students who have been placed at local hotels and other locations. Other assistance from the school system may also be available.

Lewis said, “We need all the help we can get for our residents here in Branch Heights, especially the children. We also need volunteer manpower to clear debris and help with rebuilding. We are at the Greene County Housing Authority are willing to accept any assistance and donations. You can call us at: 205-372-3342 or by email at:gchauth@bellsouth.net

Vice-President Kamala Harris joins thousands to commemorate 57th. Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ and calls for the resurrection of the Voting Rights Act and end to voter suppression

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma
Spiver W. Gordon walks with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert, Co-Publisher


Vice-President of the United States, Kamala Harris, was the keynote speaker at a rally at the foot of the Edmond Pettus Bridge, in Selma, Alabama on Sunday March 6, 2022, to mark the 57th anniversary of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ March, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Harris and many other civil rights and U. S. cabinet officials said it was critical to commemorate this anniversary because Black, Brown, poor and young people had a better chance to vote in 1965, after passage of the Voting Rights Act, than they have today, when the right to vote is under challenge, as part of a larger attack on democracy.

“In 2020, despite the pandemic, we had a record turnout of voters, which helped to elect President Biden and myself. As a result, the Republicans have launched an assault on the freedom to vote. They have passed and are working on passing legislation in over 30 states to make it more difficult to vote.

“Every Republican Senator voted against passage of the John Lewis Freedom to Vote Act, when it came up for a vote earlier this year. We have no choice, we must stand and fight for the right to vote and we must fight with determination, even in the face of arcane rules, like the filibuster,” said Harris.

The Vice-President was accompanied to Selma by her husband, Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman, and five Biden Administration cabinet members, including: HUD Secretary, Marcia Fudge, Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Regan, Environmental Protection Agency head and Donald Remy, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

After her talk, she joined a group of three hundred civil rights leaders, local foot-soldiers, public officials, cabinet members and others at the front of the march across the bridge. Over 10,000 or more other marchers, who had started from Browns Chapel Church, followed behind a line of Secret Service, law enforcement and other security officials protecting the Vice-President and five cabinet officials, who traveled to Selma with Harris and also spoke at the rally.

Sunday’s march re-enactment and protest for revitalizing the Voting Rights Act came at the end of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee weekend, which featured more than 30 activities including a parade, banquet, several breakfasts, many workshops, a golf tournament and other related events.

“The Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee is the largest civil rights and voting rights activity in our nation. Some of our activities were virtual and others were curtailed and impacted by the pandemic, but we still had large crowds of engaged people, which was our goal,” said Hank Sanders, cofounder with his wife Faya Rose Toure (Sanders) of the Jubilee, more than 30 years ago.

Many of the speakers, related the struggle for voting rights in our country, to the struggle to defeat the Russian invasion of Ukraine and preserve democracy in that eastern European country.
Sherrilyn Ifill, Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, after recounting the attacks on voting rights by the Supreme Count and state legislatures, said, “What we do in Selma, in Washington, D. C., Fulton County, Georgia, will have global implications. Black people must save democracy and we must make our country better.”

Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter said, “We are winning, we voted in record numbers in 2020. The turnout was younger, browner and more diverse than ever. This is what generated the attacks on voting rights and this is why we must continue to fight.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson, assisted by his son Jonathan Jackson, Bishop William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Derrick Johnson, NAACP, Melanie Campbell of the Black Women’s Roundtable, Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, Charles Steele of SCLC, Congresswoman Terri Sewell and many other members of the Black Congressional Caucus were present and gave remarks.

Many of the civil rights leaders were in town for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, because they agreed to work jointly to continue the march from Selma to Montgomery, this week (March 7-11). They felt the necessity to illuminate the challenges to the Voting Rights Act and engage people in the 2022 mid-term elections to work for passage of the John Lewis Voter Advancement Act, in future sessions of Congress.

Newswire: Rep. Sewell introduces H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Terri Sewell

  Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) introduced H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This critical legislation would restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) which were gutted by the Supreme Court in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision and more recently in the 2021 Brnovich v. DNC decision. The bill aims to protect voters from discrimination by restoring and strengthening the protections of the VRA. The introduction of H.R. 4 comes amid the most coordinated state-level effort to restrict the right to vote in generations and follows a months-long investigation by the House Committee on Administration and House Committee on the Judiciary into the status of voting rights in America. The bill enjoys support from over 190 original co-sponsors including all members of House Democratic leadership. The House is expected to vote on H.R. 4 next week.   “The right to vote is the most sacred and fundamental right we enjoy as American citizens and one that the Foot Soldiers fought, bled, and died for in my hometown of Selma, Alabama,” said Rep. Sewell. “Today, old battles have become new again as we face the most pernicious assault on the right to vote in generations. It’s clear: federal oversight is urgently needed. With the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, we’re standing up and fighting back. By preventing states with a recent history of voter discrimination from restricting the right to vote, this bill restores the full promise of our democracy and advances the legacy of those brave Foot Soldiers like John Lewis who dedicated their lives for the sacred right to vote. I’m proud to be introducing this bill today and look forward to its swift passage. Our democracy is at stake.”   For decades, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) ensured equal access to the ballot box for Black and minority voters by requiring states and localities with a history of voter discrimination—as determined in Section 4—to obtain pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. However, in its infamous 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority struck down Section 4, arguing that voter discrimination was an issue of the past and that the formula used to determine which states and localities were subject to preclearance was outdated.   On July 1, 2021, in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC, the Supreme Court struck another devastating blow to the VRA, upholding Arizona’s voting laws targeting Latino and other minority voters and making it more difficult for parties to challenge racially discriminatory voting laws under Section 2.    Beginning in April, the House Committee on Administration Subcommittee on Elections held a series of investigatory hearings and collected numerous reports and documents regarding the status of voting rights in America. The hearings culminated in a report which the Committee released on Friday, August 6, detailing modern-day efforts to restrict the right to vote. Meanwhile, the House Committee on the Judiciary also held hearings on the need to protect the right to vote.   Informed by these findings, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore protections of the VRA gutted by the Supreme Court. It would once again prohibit states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination from restricting the right to vote by including an updated formula for determining which states and localities are subject to federal oversight. It would also amend Section 2 of the VRA to eliminate the heightened standard for challenging voter discrimination that the Supreme Court created in its decision in Brnovich v. DNC.   The introduction of H.R. 4 comes amid the most coordinated state-level effort to restrict the right to vote in generations. Driven by the Big Lie, 18 states have enacted at least 30 new restrictive, anti-voter laws just this year.   A previous version of H.R. 4 passed in the House of Representatives during the 116th Congress by a vote of 228-187, but stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Last year, the bill was renamed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to honor the legacy of civil rights icon and former Congressman John Robert Lewis who passed away on July 17, 2020.   “The House today is taking a momentous step to secure the sacred right to vote for generations to come,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “With the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, proudly introduced today by Congresswoman Terri Sewell alongside Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrats are fighting back against an anti-democratic tide, protecting access to the ballot box for every American and carrying on the cause to which our beloved John Lewis devoted his entire life.  When the House returns on August 23rd, Democrats plan to pass H.R. 4 – and we hope it can secure the bipartisan support this vital legislation deserves.”   The House is expected to vote on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act next week.

Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast and Slow-ride only in-person event of the virtual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma

Sunday March 7th was the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. The Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast held in the Wallace Community College parking lot and a Slow-ride of over 200 cars across the bridge were the only in-person activities of the four-day Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The Unity Breakfast, which was held in a socially distanced way with people in their cars viewing the speakers on two large television screens, featured a host of speakers including President Joe Biden, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Mayor James Perkins, Martin Luther King III, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Charles Steele, SCLC President, Jonathan Jackson representing his father Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and many others. Several persons received awards including Congressman James Clyburn, Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and LaTosha Brown and Attorney Cliff Albright, co-founders of Black Voters Matter also made presentations. In his video comments, President Biden announced his plans to sign an Executive Order later in the day, making it easier to register and vote and mobilizing all Federal agencies to support voter registration and participation. Biden who had attended the Unity Breakfast in 2014, when he was Vice-President, said, “We must be vigilant or people will take our basic rights away. The Republicans have been chipping away at voting rights for many years. Now 256 measures have been introduced in 43 state legislatures to cut back and suppress the right to vote and make it difficult for people to vote.” Biden and other speakers promoted support for and passage of HR-1 “For the People Act” which will strengthen voting rights, make voter registration automatic and contains ethics provisions to reduce the influence of money in campaigns; and HR-4 “the John Lewis Voting Rights Act” which would restore Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, stripped out by the U. S. Supreme Court in Shelby vs. Holder, and again allow for Justice Department pre-clearance of state and local voting regulations. Congresswoman Terri Sewell said she was proud to stand on the shoulders of the many foot-soldiers that made the Civil Rights Movement and Voting Rights Movement a success. She said that she had just voted to approve the American Rescue Plan which will provide financial and healthcare benefits to the American people and mitigate the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. “ I regret that this is our first celebration of Bloody Sunday without my friend and mentor, Congressman John Lewis, who passed in 2020. We must redouble our efforts to pass HR1 and HR 4 to honor his memory,” said Sewell. Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said it was important to support HR-1, HR-4 and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for criminal justice reforms. She suggested calling your Senators at 202-224-3121 (the U. S. Capitol switchboard) and urge them to vote for these important reforms. Cliff Albright in his remarks said, “The movement is not over. As we did in 1965, we must continue to do today.” He urged the crowd to “Push their U. S. Senators to end the filibuster, an undemocratic relic of slavery. We will not be able to pass HR-1, HR-4 and other critical legislation, as long as the 60 vote requirements of the filibuster remain in place.” LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said. “ I am a child of Selma. This community trained me and taught me to believe in the power of people and when people rise up they can make meaningful change.” Rev. Bernard Lafayette spoke to honor the contributions of civil rights leaders who had died in the past year: Dr. Joseph Lowery, C.T. Vivian, Congressman John Lewis, Attorney Bruce Boynton and Vernon Jordan. At the conclusion of the Unity Breakfast, about 200 cars, with their flashers on participated in a slow-ride across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the spot where marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday in 1965. A group of family members led by Rev. Lafayette said prayers and then placed wreaths at the Voting Rights Memorial Park on the eastern side of the bridge.

At Forkland Town Hall Meeting: Terri Sewell says she is part of a nine member Congressional Commission on the USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) Trade agreement

Congresswoman Sewell surrounded by young people who attended her Town Hall meeting in Forkland, Alabama

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Congresswoman Terri Sewell held a “Congress in Your Community” meeting at the Forkland Town Hall, attended by more than 50 community residents.
As part of her report, Congresswoman Sewell announced that she was appointed by Speaker Pelosi, to a special nine member commission, to review the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA 2.0) before its ratification by Congress. Sewell said, “ I will soon be traveling to Mexico City for discussions on this new trade agreement.

I want to be sure American workers are protected with labor and environmental standards.” She said she was particularly concerned about Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobile parts, which would drive up automobile prices and could reduce the American workforce in states like Alabama.
On healthcare, Sewell said she was supporting improvements to the existing Affordable Care Act by reducing deductibles and premiums, including for pharmaceutical drug prices. She says she strongly supports Medicaid Expansion, which Alabama’s Republican Governor and Legislature have refused to adopt. “Due to partisan politics state officials have left $7 billion over ten years on the table to be used by other states,” says Sewell.
Sewell said she was concerned that Republican controlled states were suing in Federal courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional. “This will mean that 1.9 million Alabamians would loose their protection for pre-existing conditions and almost 200,000 would loose their healthcare insurance coverage all together,” said Sewell.
She and Senator Doug Jones have introduced legislation to incentivize states to pursue Medicaid Expansion, but this legislation is tied up in committee because none of the 14 states remaining, who have not agreed to Medicaid Expansion, have indicated interest in changing their positions, “If Alabama wants to adopt Medicaid Expansion, we may be able to get this legislation passed,” said Sewell.
Congresswoman Sewell said she was prepared to vote for an increase in the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, adopted ten years ago in 2009, to $15 an hour in stages over the next five years. “ Workers have lost 18% in purchasing power over the past decade. This bill will give 45% of Alabamians a pay raise! While I proposed a regional minimum wage, which would be more equitable and help small businesses to be competitive, I will be voting for this bill,” says the Congresswoman.
Sewell said her bill (HR4) the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the preclearance provisions stripped from the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, will soon be voted on and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill would create an updated formula to qualify states for preclearance for voting rights changes.”14 states would be qualified under the new formula for modern day voting rights violations since 1990, “ says Sewell.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate and his colleagues will not allow a vote on any of the progressive legislation, we have passed in the House of Representatives. The voters in 2020 will have to act to change this deadlock,” said Sewell.
The Congresswoman took questions from the audience, posed for photos with many constituents and spoke with officials of the Town of Forkland before leaving Greene County.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell visits Greene County

 

 

Congresswoman Terri Sewell visited the Eutaw City Hall last Monday for a “Congress in Your Community” session serving people who live in Greene County. Sewell who represents the Seventh Congressional District of Alabama that stretches from Birmingham through Tuscaloosa into the western Alabama Black Belt counties came to give a report to her constituents on the status of legislation and projects from the nation’s Capitol. “Things in Washington, D. C. are pretty dysfunctional. We are supposed to be seeking solutions but mostly we see politicians, like President Trump sowing discord,” said Sewell. “ I am watching the 2018 Farm Bill to be sure that this major agricultural legislation serves family farmers, especially African-American farmers, does not slash child nutrition and SNAP (food stamps) too far and helps our catfish farmers, who are endangered by imports of mislabeled fish grown under less than satisfactory environmental conditions,” said Sewell.

Sewell indicated that much of the government, including farm programs, was operating under a Continuing Resolution for budgetary purposes until December 7, 2018. “ We still have to reach some decisions and compromises to fund the government. I hope we will be able to do this work during the lame duck session after the November election,” said Sewell. Sewell said she hopes Congress will take action on raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to a more livable wage in stages up to $15 an hour, depending on local economic conditions. She also said the issue of pay equity for women needs to be addressed. She also said changes and improvements were needed in the Affordable Care Act to make it more effective for people. “We don’t need to tear it apart, like the President and Republicans are doing but we need to fix it,” she said. Sewell said that she was focused on changes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates that would help rural hospitals in their efforts to survive and continue providing health services in disadvantaged communities. Sewell said she was also concerned about tariffs that President Trump had placed on steel, aluminum and automobile parts. “In Alabama, we are the nation’s third largest producer of automobiles and auto parts and these tariffs may hurt our automobile industry in the long run.” Sewell introduced William Scott of Selma who is working with the upcoming 2020 U. S. Census. Scott said that jobs will be available for people who want to work on the Census. He urged people who were interested to go to the website: http://www.2020census.gov/jobs or call 1-855-562-2020. Sewell concluded the program by urging everyone in attendance to be sure to vote in the up-coming Midterm elections in November. “Please go and vote and give the Democratic Party a chance to be a check and balance on this President and his party who have controlled the national government for the past two years.”

Groundbreaking held for Love’s Travel Center at Interstate 20/59 Exit 40 Eutaw

Officials participating in groundbreaking (L. to R.): Kenneth Boswell (ADECA), Rep. Ralph Howard. Senator Bobby Singleton, Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Governor Kay Ivey, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Jenny Love Meyer, Rep. A. J. McCampbell, Bill Gleason (Love’s), Eutaw Council members Joe Lee Powell, Sheila H. Smith, Bennie Abrams, LaJeffrey Carpenter, and Danny Cooper (GCIDA)

On Monday, October 15, 2018, a groundbreaking was held for a Love’s Travel Center and Country Store, near the location of the new business on the Southside of the Interstate 20/59 Exit 40 on Highway 14 coming into the City of Eutaw.The mid-morning groundbreaking was attended by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Legislative delegation members, Senator Bobby Singleton, Rep. A. J. McCampbell and Rep. Ralph Howard, members of the Eutaw City Council, Greene County Commission and other state and local agencies involved as well as Jenny Love Meyer and William “Bill “ Gleason representing the Love’s corporation. The new $12.5 million travel stop will be built on a 13.9-acre site and is expected to bring an estimated 43 jobs to the area with a projected 1,000 trucks per day. The new Love’s will be one of the largest Love’s sites in Alabama and will include a Hardee’s, Godfather’s Pizza, and Chester’s Chicken. The Eutaw location will also consist of 96 parking spaces for professional drivers, with the possibility of future expansion for more parking spaces. Councilman Joe Lee Powell welcomed the over 250 people assembled for the groundbreaking ceremony by stating, “You are welcome in Eutaw the Gateway to the Alabama Black Belt.” Rev. John Hodges, Pastor of the Saint Mathew Baptist Church in Boligee gave the invocation. Congresswoman Terri Sewell thanked all the groups and agencies present for their contributions to make the project a success. “We thank Love’s for bringing jobs to the Alabama Black Belt where they are greatly needed. We can assure you that people are our greatest asset – their strength, their intellect and their heart, which will become part of this project.” State Senator Bobby Singleton said, “this is a great day for Eutaw and Greene County. This project is a gamechanger that will bring new jobs and open opportunities for other development and jobs.” State Representatives A. J. McCampbell and Ralph Howard, who represent Greene County, echoed these same sentiments. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said, “This is an exciting day for this county, when Greene County wins, Alabama wins.” She reviewed her success in bring 16,000 jobs to Alabama since she became Governor. “We are working to make groundbreakings like this an everyday occurrence in Alabama. We know that Love’s has 14 locations in Alabama, especially in rural locations like this one. We wish them success in providing drivers a quality and safe place to rest and refuel,” she said. Jenny Love Meyer speaking for the Love’s Company said, “This will be one of 470 locations around the nation that will bear our family name. We started in Oklahoma to build clean and friendly places for truckers and other travelers. We know this new location will live up to our company’s mission and vision.” William ‘Bill’ Gleason, Real Estate Property Manager for Love’s, who was instrumental in finding the location, said, “ Our travel centers have no wheels under them. Once we build, we are with you to stay!” Mayor Raymond Steele thanked everyone involved in the project, including ADECA, Delta Regional Authority, USDA Rural Development Greene County Industrial Development Authority and the West Alabama Regional Planning Agency who provided funds and direction to extended sewage and other utilities to the Exit 40 site. The Mayor also thanked the Eutaw City Council, the Greene County Commission, Jamie Banks family, who sold the land for the project and many others for making the project possible. “We hope that this is just the beginning for new jobs and growth in our community. With this project, we have a chance to move forward together and open other new opportunities for the people of our area,” said Mayor Steele, before a large group of the invited dignitaries put their golden shovels in the ground to turn over the dirt symbolizing the start of the project.

Bridge Crossing Jubilee to be this weekend in Selma, Alabama

The 53rd commemoration of the “Bloody Sunday Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights” will take place in Selma from Thursday, March 1 to Sunday, March 4, 2018. This will also be the 25th anniversary of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, featuring over 40 events to celebrate voting rights and plan for future actions to maintain and expand voting rights.
The theme of this year’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee is Many More Bridges to Cross. Most of the events being held over the four-day period are free to the public.
The initial event is the Old Fashioned Mass Meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Broad Street from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Thursday, March 1, 2018. Bishop Staccato Powell of AME Zion Church is the main speaker. Tabernacle is the site of the first mass meetings of the Selma Voting Rights Struggle more than half a century ago. The Miss Jubilee Pageant for youth is also that same evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the School of Discovery.
On Friday, March 2, 2018, there is an Educational Summit to deal with major issues facing the education of young people, a Mock Trial on an important issue and a special rally for the “Poor People’s Campaign – A National Moral Revival” featuring Rev. William Barber. The Jubilee Golf Tournament begins early Friday morning and the day ends with a “Stomp Out the Vote” Step Show.

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, there will be a parade, the Foot Soldiers Breakfast, to honor pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement, an Intergenerational Summit, with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Jubilee Street Festival, to be held on Water Street close to the bridge, and the Freedom Flame Awards Banquet.
On Saturday there will also be two major workshops on “Human Rights Violation is a Devastation to Our Nation” and “What Democracy Looks Like and Making Democracy Work for US”. Many speakers including Cornel West, Ruby Sales, Raymond Winbush, Anthony Browder and others will participate. These workshops will be held at the Dallas County Courthouse.
Sunday, March 4, 2018, will begin at 7:30AM with the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast at Wallace Community College. Kamala Harris, U. S. Senator from California will be the keynote speaker for the breakfast. She will be joined by new Alabama U. S. Senator Doug Jones, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Rev. Jesse Jackson and many others. After breakfast, marchers are encouraged to join church services around Selma.
At 1:30 PM Sunday, there will be a pre-march rally at the Browns Chapel Church, followed by a re-enactment of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March starting at 2:30 PM. Thousands are expected to attend and follow the original march route across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A post-march rally and other activities will be held later that afternoon.
Faya Rose Toure, organizer of the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee said, “We invite everyone who supports and celebrates the right to vote to come to this largest annual continuing Civil Rights Celebration, but we also must rededicate ourselves to working on the next necessary steps to carry the movement for voting rights, civil rights and human rights forward!”
Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said: “Tens of thousands come to Selma every year to be a part of these events. There is something for everyone of all ages and all backgrounds. See you in Selma!”
For more information and a detailed schedule of all events, check the website: http://www.BridgeCrossingJubilee.com.