FOGCE Federal Credit Union holds Annual Meeting

The Federation of Greene County Employees (FOGCE) Federal Credit Union held its 44th Annual Meeting on December 19, 2019 in the recently dedicated Willie Carpenter Conference Room in the credit union offices at 112 Prairie Avenue, on the Courthouse Square in Eutaw, Alabama.
Joyce Pham, Credit Union Manager announced that as of December 31, 2018, the FOGCE Federal Credit Union had assets of $1,314, 887, which included $896,874 of member’s shares, a $100,000 non-member deposit and the rest in reserves and undivided earnings. She reported a surplus of $10,076 in income over expenses for the year.
She reported that the credit union had $466,544 in outstanding loans to members, $111,867 in cash, $31,000 invested in its building and the rest invested in other credit unions. She indicated that the credit union had 896 members.
Rodney Pham, speaking for the Credit Committee stated that the credit union had made 449 new loans in 2018 for $338,675 including five car loans for $105,535.
He said the credit union has a variety of loans, from small unsecured loans up to $500, larger loans for home repair, appliances, school expenses and other personal loans, as well as car loans for new and used cars.
Carol Zippert, President of the FOGCE FCU reported on the history of the credit union movement and the specific growth of the local credit union since 1975. “We are saving and borrowing each others money. In one of the smallest, poorest counties in Alabama, we have accumulated over $1.3 million by working collectively together. In 44 years, we have grown the credit union to over a million in assets and moved from rented rooms in the back of other buildings to our own offices at the Courthouse Square in Eutaw.”
Zippert indicated that the FOGCE Federal Credit Union was regulated and supervised by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a division of the U. S. Treasury Department. The NCUA also guarantees deposits in the Credit Union up to $250,000 for each account, similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantee for bank accounts.
“NCUA makes sure your deposits are safe but they also have been very hard on smaller size credit unions like ours. They are always suggesting that we merge with a larger credit union. They are not encouraging credit unions like ours, which teach self-determination and self-development of financial skills, thrift and systematic savings in the Black community,” said Zippert
Zippert also announced that the Credit Union Board had named the conference room in the back of it’s office building, as the Willie Carpenter Conference Room, in honor of the longtime Treasurer of the credit union, who passed away during the past year. “We will be placing a framed picture of Mr. Carpenter in the room with a written statement of his the dedicated work in building the FOGCE FCU over the past four decades,” said Zippert.
Darlene Robinson, Vice-President pointed out that the FOGCE FCU has payroll deduction with the major employers in Greene County, such as the School Board, Catfish plant, Hospital, WestRock box factory and many others. “This means that you can make savings and pay loans through your place of work. The funds will come out of your check and come automatically to the credit union,” she said.
Darlene Robinson was also Mistress of Ceremony for the Annual meeting and conducted elections, distributed door prizes and played some Christmas related games. Two members were re-elected to the Credit Union Board, Carol P. Zippert and Earnest Edmonds and one new member, Jackie Allen, was elected for three-year terms. James Powell and Debbie Rice were re-elected to the Credit Committee, which evaluates and approves loans.
Robinson pointed out that the “FOGCE Federal Credit Union is open to all who live, work or worship in Greene County.
Membership is $10 plus a minimum first deposit of $25. You can save regularly and systematically and your savings will grow. Then when you need a loan – you have a friendly place to borrow. The Credit Union office, on the Courthouse Square, at 112 Prairie Avenue, phone number 205/372-9025, is open weekdays, to receive new members.”

BBCF Greene County Associates collect 3,400 pairs of shoes with Funds2Orgs

The Greene County Associates of the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) completed a two-month drive seeking new and slightly used shoes for distribution to small-scale entrepreneurs in Africa, Haiti and other nations.
The Greene County Associates shown in photo, L. to R: Darlene Robinson, Mildred Gill, Carol Zippert, Dean Williams, Nancy and Eddie Cole loaded a truck last week with 136 bags of shoes, with 25 matched pairs in each bag, destined for Funds2Orgs. Others who also assisted in loading the truck included Joe Thomas, Albert Hunter, Melvin Robinson and Kent Daniels. The Greene County Associates want to thank all the people who contributed shoes to this project.
Funds2Orgs works with micro-entrepreneurs in helping them create, maintain and grow small businesses in developing countries where economic opportunity and jobs are limited. Proceeds from the sales of the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers are used to feed, clothe and house their families. One budding entrepreneur in Haiti even earned enough to send to her son to law school.
Funds2Orgs will also pay the Greene County Associates, $10 per bag of shoes collected, which goes into our local fundraising efforts for the foundation. The BBCF matches what the local associates raise and grants these funds back to eligible Greene County non-profits serving the community.
“The shoe drive is a win-win for everybody involved. People got to clean out their closets of slightly worn shoes. Funds2Orgs international entrepreneurs received new inventory to sell. The Greene County Associates grew our local fund will be matched and redistributed in community grants,” said Miriam Leftwich, Chairperson of the Greene County BBCF Associates.

Eutaw Mayor and City Council tangle over bills and budget

At their regular Eutaw City Council meeting on September 25, 2018, Mayor Raymond Steele and City Council members once again questioned each other over outstanding bills and the need for a budget for the operations of the city. When asked by City Council members how he was determining which outstanding bills to pay, the Mayor said, “We use our best judgment and pay the most pressing bills which the Council has approved for payment. We have had no increase in our tax base in twenty or more years so we do not have enough tax and business revenue coming in to pay all of our bills.” Councilwoman Sheila Smith pressed the Mayor on the Waste Management garbage bills, “People in the city pay $15 a month on their water bills for garbage collection, yet we are three months behind ($48,000) in our payments to Waste Management for these services. Who is deciding how to use the monies paid for garbage collection to pay for other things?” inquired Smith. Councilman Latasha Johnson asked, “Why don’t we have a budget. The City of Eutaw needs a budget. The Council is in charge of the City’s finances but without information and a budget, we really don’t know how we are operating.” Mayor Steele responded, “The City has not had a budget since 2012 because of the problem with our revenue streams. “Our equipment is old and in need of constant replacement and repairs. I have been talking to the Sheriff about more bingo funds. I hope the Loves Travel Center will bring in new gas and sales tax revenues. We are doing our best to handle this difficult situation.” Councilwoman Johnson suggested that, “We should do a budget anyway to see where we are and agree on some priorities for spending our city funds.” Mayor Steele presented a contract for $448,500 from Central Asphalt Company of Tuscaloosa to repave the streets in Branch Heights with 1 and ½ inches of asphalt. “This is not a permanent solution to the problems of Branch Heights roads and streets but it will help, he said.” The Mayor asked that the Council, City Attorney and Engineer study the proposal so it can be adopted at the next meeting. Steele said the funds for the contract would come from gas tax funds, which can only be used for road improvements.

The Council approved naming four more persons to the Eutaw Airport Authority Board: Reginald Cheatem, Derrick Coleman, Collin McCray and Joe Lee Powell. The Council previously named Danny Cooper and Billy Mingus to the Board. The Eutaw Airport Authority Board will work to maintain and improve the City’s airport for use in transportation and economic development. Mayor Steele asked the Council for permission to seek cost estimates to repave West End Avenue, which was approved. The Council also approved the use of Eutaw Civic Center, formerly the National Guard Armory, for a Ducks Unlimited annual event on November 9. Darlene Robinson said that she was going to place pink ribbons around the Courthouse Square for “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and presented a plaque to the City. John Darden asked the Council if they had a strategic plan for flooding in view of the disaster of Hurricane in the Carolinas. He also raised the problems of failing culverts and lighting on Springfield Avenue, where he lives. Police Chief Coleman introduced retired Sheriff’s deputy Tommy Johnson Sr. who has been retained as a part-time city police officer. Several people in the audience thanked the police for their life saving and crime fighting efforts.

Mia Jordan wins BBQ grill

Grill.jpgGreene County Associates of the Black Belt Community Foundation held a raffle of a BBQ grill at the festival. Mia Jordan of Eutaw (3rd from left) won the first prize in the raffle. W. Hamm won the $50 second prize and Mr. Gee, a blues musician from Montgomery won the $25 third prize. In photo are Greene County BBCF Associates, from left, John Zippert, Darlene Robinson, Jordan and Geraldine Walton.The raffle generated more than $1,200 for the work for the Black Belt Community Foundation.