County Commission holds annual reorganization: Turner and Summerville at the helm

Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. Chair and Roshanda Summervice Vice Chair

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.

County Commission approves purchase of new equipment for Public Works Department

The Greene County Commission met in regular session, Tuesday, October 15, 2019 and authorized the purchase of several work vehicles for the County Public Works Department. These included the following: Three – 2020 Mack Dumps GR64F at $124,474 each; three -21 yd Dump Bodies at $25,084 each; one – 55 ton Lowboy Trailer at $54,375 and one – Motor Grader at $239,049.
According to County Engineer Willie Branch, the Dump Trucks are operated for a year and sold, usually retrieving the cost paid. Branch explained that the Motor Grader and the Low Boy are used until they stop running.
The commission made the following board appointments: Marilyn Jennings for the Greene County Hospital Board (District 2); Carolyn Morgan Young for the DHR Board (District 2). In other actions the commission approved the following:

  • Contract with Knox Pest Control, providing all necessary paperwork is submitted.
  • 2020 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday – Feb.21-23, 2020.
    • Travel: Engineer to ACCA Legislative Conference, Dec. 4-5, Auburn University; Engineer, Assist. Engineer and office personnel to CIMS User Training, Nov. 6-7, Anniston, AL; Two equipment operators – Flagger Training and Field Exercise, Oct. 29, Columbiana, AL;
  • Payment of claims.
    In her financial report, CFO Paula Bird noted the following bank balances as of September 19, 2019: Citizen Trust Bank – $3,132,651.79; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $2,192,308.10; Bank of New York – $358,782.51; Bond Sinking Fund – $1,049,464.99

County prepares administratively for new gasoline tax

The Greene County Commission held its regular monthly meeting, Monday, September 9, 2019 and took official action on various items discussed at its work session held the previous Wednesday. With the new gasoline tax in effect this month, the commission approved adding two new special revenue funds as it related to the Rebuild Alabama Act. The commission authorized a resolution for bank depository for the new gasoline tax and authorized the chairman to sign all necessary documents.
The commission approved entering into an agreement with TG Earnest & Associates for a culture resource assessment for the bridge replacement on County Road 69, allowing the chairman to sign all necessary documents. At the previous work session, County Engineer Willie Branch advised the commission that expenditures would not exceed $3,500 for the project.
Also based on the engineer’s recommendation, the commission approved hiring one equipment operator and one part-time laborer.
The commission approved the contract with the Alabama Department of Youth Services. Veronica Evans, representing ADYS, made a presentation at the previous work session, detailing the services rendered to youth of Greene County and the related costs. Ms. Evans was requesting that the commission consider budgeting more resources for ADYS in the upcoming fiscal year.
The commission and a delegation from the Town of Forkland, agreed to pursue appropriate action for the sale of, or transfer of, the Forkland park from the county to the Town of Forkland.
Apparently, the park cannot be sold without authorization from ADECA. The county’s attorney was authorized to send the appropriate letters noting the county’s intent.
J & S Bartending, LLC was granted a special events ABD license by the commission.
Commissioner Roshanda Summerville reappointed Mrs. Glenda Hodges to the DHR Board from District 5; and Commissioner Tennyson Smith reappointed Steven Abrams to the E-011 Board from District 2.
The following travel requests were approved:

  • Judge of Probate and one clerk and Board of Registrars to Election Conference, October 30-31, 2019 in Tuscaloosa.
    Overview of County Government for Assistant Engineer on October 9-10, 2019 in Prattville, AL.
    The commission also approved payment of claims and various budget amendments.

Greene County Commission clarifies renewal of sales tax for education until 2040

At their regular meeting on Monday April 8, 2019, the Greene County Commission took action to clarify the renewals of two one-cent sales taxes for the Board of Education to 2040.
The County Commission approved two one cent sales taxes for education, one in 1986 and 1993, for a total of two cents out of the three cents of sales tax that comes to the Greene County Commission. One of these taxes was extended for thirty years in 2009 but it was unclear which tax had been extended.
Monday’s action by the Commission, extended both one-cent taxes, for a total of two cents, to 2040 for education of Greene County students. This is not a change or an increase just a change in the confirmation that both education taxes will run together until 2040.
The remaining one-cent of the three-cent sales tax goes to the Greene County Hospital. That tax runs through 2027 and is pledged to pay for a bond issue that the facility used to pay debts and continue operations.
Paula Bird, CFO of the County gave the monthly financial report for March 31, 2019, the half way point of the fiscal year. She indicated that the Commission had $5,661,662 in various funds in local banks and an additional $1.3 million in banks to cover bond issues.
She also reported that revenues and expenditures for the various funds were in line with the budget and were at or close to the 50% mark puts them in comp-liance with the half-year mark of the budget.
The Commission approved payment of $657,000 of claims for the month, including $212,300 from the General Fund. $102,700 in amendments to the budget were approved. These changes were internal rearrangements of funds not an increase.
In other actions, the Greene County Commission:
• Approved a Sales Tax Holiday for back-to-school supplies and clothing scheduled for July 19-21, 2019
• Approved liquor licenses for DOCS Bar and Lounge on the Lower Gainesville Road
• Approved advertising to hire a Clerk for the Judge of Probate; and a Van Driver for the senior nutrition sites.
After an Executive Session to consider legal matters, the Commission returned and voted to support the Sheriff in settling a claim with Great Western Development Corporation.
More details on this legal settlement will be available once the full settlement is reached with all involved parties.

Bingo entities provide $372,455 to county recipients for February

Shown above Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Forkland Clerk Kinya Isaac, Union Councilwoman Rosie Davis, Greene County Heath System CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Brenda Burke representing Greene County Commission, Assistant Chief of Police Walter Beck representing the City of Eutaw, Boligee City Councilwoman Ernestine Wade and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson

Thursday, March 21, 2019 the Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $372,455 for the month of February, 2019 from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $65,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $5,000.

Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.
River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,125 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,125.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.

Greene County Commission handled routine business at February meeting

At its regular monthly meeting on Monday, February 11, 2019, the Greene County Commission handled regular and routine business in under an hour. All Commissioners were present and there was little discussion or disagreement.
Paula Byrd presented the financial report showing that the County had $6.4 million in county banks and additional funds in a sinking fund for bond payments in the Bank of New York. She reported that most agency spending was in line with the budgets and since this is the fourth month of the 2018-19 fiscal year, which began October 1, 2018, that most agencies had spend about a third of their budgets. She presented several budget amendments to cover special cases like additional expenses for the November election.
The Commission approved a resolution supporting an increase in the state’s gasoline taxes, under review by the Alabama State Legislature, which would generate a significant increase in support and funding for county road improvement. The state gas tax has not been increased in 27 years since 1992 when it was set at 18 cents a gallon. An increase in this tax, based on fuel and road usage, would provide more funding for road improvement statewide.
The Commission approved the following items on their agenda:

• Approved the schedule of fees for securing alcohol licenses in the county. The amount of the fees is unchanged from last year.• Approved the Ad Valorem Tax Assessment for 2019, which is a routine matter that must be approved annually in the February meeting.
• Approved replacement of a $6,000 gas pump at the County Jail for use by the Sheriff’s Department. It was agreed that these funds would come out of the bingo funds since the Sheriff’s departmental budget for repairs to the jail was already committed and the pump while located at the jail is not part of the jail operations.
• Approved a contract with Terracon for maintenance and engineering services at the County Landfill.
• Approved a request from the County Engineer to employ 4 to 6 temporary workers for the Highway Department, which are included in their budget.
• Approved travel requests for staff and Commissioners to attend training related to their job performance.
The Commission also made several appointments to county boards. Darrow Jones was reappointed to the District 5 position on the Greene County Industrial Development Authority. Commissioner Cockrell requested tabling of the District 3 position.
Mary Snoddy was appointed to the District 1 position and James Williams to the District 5 position on the PARA Board.
Jimmy Hardy was selected for the District 3 position and Carolyn Branch for the District 4 position on the Greene County Housing Authority.
For the Greene County Library Board, Dan Edgar was selected for the District 2 position and Alicia Daniels Jordan for the District 5 position.
The Commission held an Executive Session to discuss legal matters and returned stating that no decisions had been reached that required action in the public meeting.

Commission invests in road re-surfacing and courthouse HAVC unit replacement; tables Forkland request for park property

In its regular meeting held, Monday, January 14, 2019, the Greene County Commission approved a resolution allowing the county to enter an agreement with ALDOT to resurface County Road 72. The county’s share of the financial investment in the project will be $348,945.01. The commission also approved replacing the HAVC unit on the main courthouse facility at a cost of $29,753.
The County Commission is hoping to have a Bill in the 2019 State Legislative Session that will bring some changes regarding the County Coroner. The proposed Bill would allow the coroner to have a salary, instead of just depending on fees; it would allow the coroner to get needed equipment and space through the county including a vehicle for transporting. At Monday’s meeting, the commission approved advertising the Coroner’s Bill.
A delegation from the Town of Forkland was present anticipating action from the commission regarding a request for the county to convey to the town the property associated with the Forkland Park. At the commission work session, the previous week, the Forkland Mayor, Charlie MacAlpine and members of the Town Council presented this request to the commission. At that session, Mr. MacAlpine explained that the park needs to be re-vitalized and the town is willing to take on this responsibility including the up-keep, but would like to own the property.Following an executive session, Commissioner Allen Turner, who represents Forkland, offered a motion to table the request, seconded by Commissioner Corey Cockrell. The motion passed.
An item added to the agenda was the request from the Sheriff Department for the purchase of a vehicle. Commissioner Turner moved to purchase a vehicle at fair market value not to exceed the requested amount. At the previous work session, Chief Deputy Jeremy Rancher, presented a proposal to the commission for the purchase of a used vehicle available at a cost of approximately $45,000. He stated that a normal patrol car would cost from $55,000 and above. He also said that the county needs six vehicles replaced, and it would help if the commission could provide one at this time.
In other business, the commission appointed Greene County Health Services CEO, Dr. Marcia Pugh, to the EMT Board, and approved the purchase of a full page ad in the annual Black History Edition of the Greene County Democrat newspaper.
The commission was scheduled to confirm appointments on various county boards, however, many of these positions were tabled for a later time. For the Industrial Development Authority Board, the commission did approve the re-appointments of Dr. Warren Burke and Mr. Luther Winn, from Districts 1 and 2 respectively. IDA appointments for Districts 3 and 4 were tabled. For the PARA Board, the commission approved Mr. Christopher Stepner for District 4. PARA Board appointments for Districts 1 and 5 were tabled. Housing Authority of Greene County Board appointments for Districts 3 and 4 were tabled. Ms. Anna Gray was re-appointed to the Library Board for District 4. Districts 2 and 5 appointments were tabled.
The commission approved the travel requests for the County Engineer and Assistant Engineer, and approved hosting the Association of County Commissions of Alabama District Meeting scheduled for February 4, 2019. The ACCA will cover food and catering expenses.
The commission approved paying Mr. Jasper Means $6,500 for the safe house foundation until funds from FEMA are received.
The commission approved the financial report and the payment of claims as proposed by the CFO, Paula Bird. Ms. Bird reported the following bank balances as of December 18, 2018: Citizen Trust Bank, $3,186.545.46; Merchants & Farmers Bank, $2,458,290.70; CD Bonds, $924,445.41. There was not a report for the Bank of New York.

Commission commits $126,000 for new equipment; Chairman makes committee assignments

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.

Status Conference held in State AG lawsuit against bingo operations in Greene County

Special to the Democrat by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

On Friday, September 28, 2018 there was a legal status conference in Eutaw on a lawsuit filed in October 2017 by Alabama Attorney General, Steve Marshall, against all electronic bingo operators in Greene County. The State of Alabama seeks to end the “public nuisance of unlawful gambling in Greene County by ending the use of slot machines and other gaming devices at five ‘casinos’ in the county”. State Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed similar lawsuits against electronic bingo in Houston, Montgomery, Lowndes and other counties, which like Greene, have passed Constitutional amendments to permit bingo. “This lawsuit is a clear and profound threat to economy, health and welfare of the people of Greene County,” said Attorney Michael Trucks of Fairfield who represents The Center for Rural Family Development, Inc. DBA Green Charity, one of the defendants in the case. Trucks pointed out in his interview with the Democrat that Greene County voters passed Constitutional Amendment 743, which permits “bingo and electronic forms of bingo to operate in Greene County”. He also indicated that Greene County’s Amendment 743 is the only one that specifically permits “electronic forms of bingo”, which the State of Alabama argues are illegal slot machines. Circuit Judge James Moore of Fayette, Alabama, is hearing the case since local Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway had to recuse himself from the case. At Friday’s hearing, Judge Moore asked all of the plaintiffs and defendants in the case, the operators and charities connected to the five bingo establishments, to attend the legal conference to discuss the status and scheduling of the case. John L. Kachelman III, Assistant Attorney General, on behalf of Steve Marshall, Attorney General, represented the State of Alabama. Lawyers representing Greenetrack asked that the three main charities supporting its operations, E-911, Woman to Woman, Inc. and Greene County Association of Volunteer Firefighters be added as defendant to the lawsuit. Other lawyers asked to add the main beneficiaries of bingo fees through the Greene County Sheriff’s office including the Greene County Board of Education, Greene County Commission, Greene County Health System, Greene County municipalities and others, who receive monthly support from the bingo operations, as defendant in the lawsuit, so they could speak to the damages to their constituents and services from ending electronic bingo in the county.

Judge James Moore asked all the parties to recommend additional defendants in 14 days. He will decide which defendant groups to add to the lawsuit and give additional time to serve those entities with the lawsuit and time for them to give a response. Attorney Trucks said that he did not expect this process to be completed until early in the new year of 2019. Commenting on this lawsuit, County Commissioner Lester “Bop” Brown of District 1 said, “ I have been warning for a long time that we cannot count on bingo funds forever. There is a simple way to deal with this lawsuit and that is to vote for the Democratic candidates for Governor, Attorney General, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on November 6.” “Walt Maddox, Democratic candidate for Governor, Joe Siegelman, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, and Bob Vance, Democratic candidate for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court all support Amendment 743 and will not interfere or try to stop electronic bingo operations in Greene County. If they are elected on November 6, this lawsuit will be withdrawn. “Anyone who is concerned about the jobs and livelihoods of Greene County people working in bingo and the many organizations, county agencies and charities serving the people of Greene County, based on bingo funds, need to turnout and vote for the Democratic candidates on November 6. You are crazy if you don’t vote that way,” said Commissioner Brown.

Greene County Commission agrees to assist E-911 with parking lot

Highway 14 in Eutaw to be closed starting Monday, September 17, 2018 for maintenance work on Colonial Pipeline The Eutaw City Council approved closing of Highway 14 (Mesopotamia Avenue) where the Colonial Pipeline crosses, at the junction with Greene County Road 170, about a mile from the Interstate 20/59 Exit (Mile Marker 40). This closing will begin on Monday, September 17, 2018 to allow for maintenance and removal of a covering on Colonial Pipeline. The closing will last for ten (10) days. Eutaw Police Department will reroute traffic around this closure. This will require using Highway 11 to go to Boligee or to Highway 208 (Union) to reach Interstate 59/20. Traffic coming North from Meridian, will have to exit at Boligee (Exit 32) or Union (Exit 45) and make their way into the city.

 

At its regular September meeting on Monday, the Greene County Commission approved providing assistance to the E-911 program for the parking lot at its new building site on Highway 43 in Eutaw. The Commission also appointed Dorothy Bambarger to serve on the E-911 Board of Directors. The Commission approved routine matters dealing with its finances, payment of claims and budget amendments to complete its fiscal year at the end of this month. Financial reports showed $2,463,180 in Citizens Trust Bank and $1,923,635 in Merchants and Farmers Bank. An additional $919,946 in funds are on deposit with The Bank of New York in trust accounts for bond issues. Overall in the Budget Report Recap, the Commission has spent an average of 89.7% of annual funds budgeted, which is in line with eleven of twelve months in the fiscal year budget period. Based on the budget, some departments and functions are at differing levels but all are below budget. Paula Byrd, Financial Officer presented some budget changes in shifting funds between accounts, which were approved. The Commission also approved awarding a bid to Merchants and Farmers Bank to handle CD’s related to bond maturities. The Commission adopted a resolution requiring county workers to deal with employment concerns and complaints through their direct supervisor. In other actions, the Greene County Commission: • approved an ABC license for Docs Store and Grill in the Pleasant Ridge – Sipsey Community, owned by Matthew Eric Eads; • allowed County Engineer to advertise and hire an Equipment Operator; • vacated a 1,500 foot portion of Outland Road in the Boligee Community; • approved a Traffic Safety Grant from ALDOT; • approved EMA Performance Grant from the state; • approved recommendation of the Revenue Commissioner to employ an Administrative Clerk; • supported travel by the Engineer and Assistant Engineer to various training sessions in September and October. • approved contract for School Resource Officers in conjunction with the Board of Education and the Sheriff’s Department. The Commission also agreed to allow the County Engineer to provide a report on needed resurfacing and patching of county roads for future action by the Commission.