Local Credit Union and Extension Office sponsor community gathering – Come Meet Your Credit Union

The Federation of Greene County Employees Federal Credit Credit Union (FOGCE) and the Greene County Office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A& M University and Auburn University) partnered in holding a community gathering – Come Meet Your Credit Union. The purpose of the gathering, held June 15, 2023 at the Robert Young Community Center in Eutaw, was to bring more attention to the local credit union and its current services, promote a membership drive for the credit union as well as to proposed addition financial literacy workshops to residents, which would be scheduled and presented through the local Extension Service Office, where Mr. Doug Fulghum is County Coordinator.
Board members and staff of the FOGCE Federal Credit Union gave brief summaries of the history, committee roles, office procedures, loan process, and other relevant information on the operations and services of the credit union. Board Member. Board members also shared vignettes of how their membership in the FOGCE Federal Credit Union afforded them vital resources at very critical times in their lives.
Board participants included, Dr. Carol Zippert, President, Mrs. Darlene Robinson, Vice-President and Chair of the Supervisory Committee, Ms. Mollie Rowe, Board Secretary, Mr. Rodney Pham, Chair of the Credit Committee, Mrs. Jacqueline Allen, Mr. Jimmy Pasteur and Mr. Earnest Edmonds.
Mrs. Joyce Pham, Manager, assisted by Shaniqua Mayes, Clerk, shared information on membership intake and loan processing. Mrs. Pham noted that financial counseling is also available to members.
Mr. Doug Fulghum, Greene County Coordinator, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, gave a presentation of the various financial service workshops available to the community. A poll of those present indicated a great interest in topics such as financial management and budgeting, improving credit scores, benefits of saving accounts, growing equity through home ownership and more.
Following discussions on all the presentations, the credit union board pledged to volunteer payment of the $10 joining fee for anyone present at the gathering who joined the credit union. The new members would each pay at least the minimum share payment of $25 required for membership. Fellowship followed and refreshments were served.

Black Women in Leadership in Greene County

Mrs. Phillis Branch Blecher is first Black woman to serve as CEO of the Greene County IDA.

Dr. Marcia Pugh is first Black woman to serve as CEO and Administrator of Greene County Health Systems.

Mrs. Loretta W. Wilson is first African American Woman to receive Community STARS Award.



Mrs. Phillis Branch Belcher, a native of Forkland, Greene County Alabama, currently serves as Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) since April 1992.
In this capacity, she has achieved accomplishments for the Greene County Industrial Development Authority in partnership with numerous organizations nationally and internationally, including acquired federal, state, regional and local funding for improvements to the Crossroads of America Port and Park.
She continues to work with local leadership for industrial and economic advancement for the citizens of Greene County, AL.
She also served as a Marketing Instructor at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa for one year.
She is a 1974 Graduate of Paramount High School and received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Montevallo, Montevallo, AL in 1977, earning a double major in Management and Marketing with a minor in Philosophy. In 1989, she earned a Master of Business Administration, Marketing from Adelphi University, Garden City, NY.
Prior to returning to Greene County with the IDA, Mrs. Belcher held the position of Senior Account Executive with XEROX Business Services, Syosset, New York from 1985 to 1992.
From 1978 to 1984, she worked with CMP Publications, Inc. of Manhasset, New York in Accounting, Information Technology, Sales, Marketing, Management.
Her professional committee and commission experiences include the following: Alabama Tourism Advisory Board, Montgomery, AL; Economic Development Association of Alabama, Montgomery, AL; Impact Alabama, Auburn, AL; Leadership Alabama, Montgomery, AL; Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council, Columbus, MS.
Her voluntary contributions and community service include the following: Co-Founder Greene County Rotary Club; Co-Founder of Greene County Math and Science Camp Created t-shirt design; Founder of Leadership Greene County; Gear Up Alabama-Greene County; National Night Out City of Eutaw; Greene County Board of Education.
Mrs. Belcher is a Charter Member of the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; The Links, Incorporated where she served as President of the Tuscaloosa Chapter; Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated. She is married to Charles Belcher; they have two children. She is a member of Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa.

Dr. Marcia Pugh (DNP, MSN, MBA, HCM, RN) is the Chief Executive Officer and Administrator of the Greene County Health System which includes the Hospital, Nursing Home, the Physicians Clinic which is a rural health clinic and other specialty services. She is the first Black woman to hold that comprehensive role.
Dr. Pugh has worked over 50 years in the healthcare field and held many positions during her career in health systems in Anniston, Tuskegee, Birmingham and Demopolis, AL and Baltimore, Maryland.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Tuskegee University. She received her Master’s Degrees in Nursing and Business from the University of Phoenix where she did specialty courses in Health Care Management. She holds a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from The University of Alabama where she was inducted in Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She has also taken Health Care Management courses from Capella University and UCLA (the University of California in Los Angeles).
Being the first female CEO is not the only first for Dr. Pugh. During her 25 years at Whitfield Regional Hospital (previously Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital) she initiated the Grants, Research and Outreach of West AL (GROWestAL) grants division. This division operated for eleven years (until her move to Greene County) and was instrumental in bringing in over ten million dollars in grant funding to the organization and surrounding communities.
Dr. Pugh has two children. Her daughter, Dr. Nakieta Lankster, is a Clinical Psychologist and has her own practice. Her son, Barrown Douglas Lankster, who served a tour of duty in the Air Force, has given her the joy of a granddaughter who keeps her very busy.

Mrs. Loretta W. Wilson is the first African American recipient of the Community STARS Award presented by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) at the annual celebration of National Rural Health Day, November 17, 2022 in Montgomery, AL. The annual celebration honors those who serve the vital health needs of nearly 61 million rural Americans. This award is presented to individuals and organizations making a positive impact in rural communities. Only one recipient is selected per state.
Loretta Webb Wilson is regarded as a passionate community leader and convener. Working to bridge health disparities and improve outcomes in the state’s poorest communities in Alabama’s Black Belt, she formed a team in collaboration with multiple organizations, agencies, and institutions, bringing COVID-19 education, testing and vaccinations to places where it mattered most. The results of her efforts are found in CDC data. For example, eight of Alabama’s top 10 most vaccinated counties are in the Black Belt.
Mrs. Wilson currently serves as the CEO of Hill Hospital in Sumter County. She has 31 years of experience working in rural hospitals and clinics where she has gained understanding of state and national healthcare policies and their impact on the health of rural residents. Additionally, she is the founder and Director of Rural Alabama Prevention Center, a non-profit organization, where she seeks funding to address social determinants of health issues afflicting West Central Alabama. Through her non-profit organization, she manages numerous grant programs and knows the importance of these programs are to addressing health services and new initiatives that would otherwise not be available. She currently serves on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS) where she provides feedback relative to the challenges rural healthcare providers face in providing quality health care.
Loretta Webb Wilson is a 1985 graduate of Eutaw (Greene County) High School, holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Stillman College in Business Administration; a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Healthcare Management from the University of Phoenix; and a Health Care Executive Program Certification from the University of California, Las Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management.
She is a member of the Greene County Alumna Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and was featured in the Demopolis Times Pink Magazine 2011 Issue as one of the “Most Influential Women” in the community.
Mrs. Wilson is a member of New Generation Church, where she severs as Church Administrator, member of the Women’s and Inspiration Choirs, and Praise Team. She lives in the Dollarhide community with her husband Floyd and two children Zaddrick and Lauren.


As of September 18, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,512,134 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(7,954) more than last week with 20,322 deaths (83) more
than last week.

Greene County had 2,109 confirmed cases, no more cases than last week), with 51 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,922 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,336 cases with 109 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.

Coronavirus Box as of August 6, 2022

As of August 6, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,436,450 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(14,690) more than last week with 19,974 deaths (84) more
than last week)

Greene County had 2,056 confirmed cases, 13 more cases than last week), with 51 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,826 cases with 52 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,190 cases with 109 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.

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: Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charge in Russian court

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner told a Russian court Thursday that she didn’t intend to commit a crime, but in her rush to pack her luggage, she accidentally carried a small amount of cannabis oil.
The Phoenix Mercury standout then pleaded guilty to drug smuggling, which could land her as much as ten years in prison. She has been detained since February, and officials scheduled a July 14 court appearance for the now-convicted basketball player.
U.S. officials didn’t immediately comment. Recently, there’s been a growing call for her release. Many observers have opined that Russia is using the 31-year-old as a political pawn.
It’s believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would free Griner if the United States did likewise for convicted arms dealer Victor Bout.
It’s unknown whether Griner’s guilty plea is part of an overall strategy to bring her home, with the thought of not dragging out the court case and lessening the spotlight.
On July 4, President Joe Biden received a letter from Griner pleading for his help getting her home. A day later, Cherelle Griner, the WNBA player’s wife, went on national television to express frustration that she hadn’t been in touch with the White House about Brittney.
On July 6, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner via telephone and reassured her that the administration is continuing to work to bring her loved one home.
“While I will remain concerned and outspoken until she is back home, I am hopeful in knowing that the President read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond,” Cherelle Griner said. “I know BG will be able to find comfort in knowing she has not been forgotten.” Biden shared with Cherelle Griner a letter he planned to send to Brittney.

Newswire: 17 receive Presidential Medal of Freedom at White House ceremony

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Fred Gray, Tuskegee Civil Rights attorney receives medal
Diane Nash, founder of SNNC receives medal

A reporter reported about Covid kept actor Denzel Washington from attending the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House on Thursday, but 16 others, including Olympic Champion Simone Biles, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe, and Khazir Khan, joined President Joe Biden to accept their respective honors.
Washington, Khan, Rapinoe, and Sandra Lindsay, the Black nurse from New York who received the first shot of COVID vaccine and served on the front lines of the pandemic, each received the medals – the country’s highest civilian honor.
“The Fourth of July week reminds us of what brought us together long ago and still binds us – binds us at our best, what we strive for,” Biden remarked during the ceremony.
“We the people, doing what we can to ensure that the idea of America, the cause of freedom, shines like the sun to light up the future of the world,” Biden stated.
McCain, who served alongside Biden in the U.S. House and Senate, received his award posthumously, as did Apple Founder Steve Jobs and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Other medal recipients were former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., an advocate of campaign finance reform and marriage equality; Sister Simone Campbell, an advocate for progressive issues; Julieta García, the first Hispanic woman to serve as President of a U.S. college; Fred Gray, one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction and attorney for Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks; the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, former vicar-general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Diane Nash, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who worked with Martin Luther King Jr.; Wilma Vaught, an Air Force brigadier general and one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military; and Raúl Yzaguirre, a civil rights advocate who was the CEO and President of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years.

The White House said the President presents medals to individuals who have had significant cultural impacts or made significant contributions to the country or the world.

Newswire: AARP and NNPA reveal concerns of older Black women voters

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The pandemic has accelerated an economic crisis that has disproportionately impacted older women.
Their concerns could shape the election, as this voter group has had one of the highest turnout rates for decades, especially for Black women.

AARP and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) have highlighted new findings from a national poll and focus group that explored the priorities and concerns of Black women aged 50 and over.

Researchers said the findings highlight how older Black women plan to vote in the all-important 2022 midterm elections.
The findings also revealed what Black women over 50 views as the country’s top issues, including inflation, the economy, and the increasingly polarized political environment.

Researchers also noted that the findings show that candidates should not take these voters for granted – most haven’t decided which candidates to support yet. Their votes will likely determine the balance of power in Congress.

“At AARP, our mission is to make sure that the most important issues facing older adults get the attention and action they deserve. We know that voters aged 50 and older are the largest voting bloc in the country and that women aged 50 and up are a particularly critical cohort in elections,” stated Lisa Simpson, multicultural engagement, disparities, and equity director, at AARP.

“This is especially true for Black women, who are one of the most active voting blocs in the U.S. electorate,” Simpson said.
While women aged 50 and over make up a quarter of the voting-age population, they cast 30% of all ballots in the 2020 election.

In addition, more than eight in ten (83%) registered women voters in this age group voted.
Meanwhile, Black women are only about 7% of the population but have voted at or above 60% in the past five presidential cycles.

Black women have had tremendous influence in critical swing states like Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida.
They led the way for women of color in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election, representing almost 17% of the state’s electorate and 84% of turnout by women of color.
And in a recent election survey for AARP Pennsylvania, 79% of older Black women said they are “extremely motivated to vote” in the upcoming midterm election. “Despite all this, their votes are often taken for granted, and their concerns are ignored or not really understood,” Simpson noted.

AARP’s survey found that Black women aged 50 and over are more optimistic about the economy than women of other races and ethnicities. The majority (56%) say the economy is working well for them, compared to 52% of 50-plus women who say the economy is not working well for them.

In Pennsylvania, the AARP survey yielded similar results: 46% of Black women aged 50 and over said the economy is working well for them, compared to just 33% of 50-plus women overall.
However, they still have financial worries.

“This is truly some fascinating research,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
“It’s critical that we, as journalists, do our part to ensure elected leaders are listening by spreading the word on what truly matters to older Black women voters because we know they’ll be at the polls in November.”