Greene County Hospital receives bingo funds from Palace, newest Bingo facility in county

Bingo

Shown above Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd,  Mayor of Eutaw Raymond Steele, Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Boligee Councilwoman Earnestine Wade,  Mayor of Union James Gaines, Board of Education CFSO  Katrina Sewell, Greene County Hospital Board member Shirley Edwards, Mayor of Forkland Johnny McAlpine, County CFO Paul Bird and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, Greene County Sheriff Department distributed $337,922.19 in monthly bingo allocations from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The fifth and newest licensed gaming operation, the Palace, is located in Knoxville, AL. The Palace is the only bingo operation with a contribution to the Greene County Hospital.
The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Jonathan 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, Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital. Assessments are for the month of March 2017.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $86,354.83 to the following: Greene County Commission, $34,541.94; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $12,953.23; City of Eutaw, $6,476.61; Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,317.74; Greene County Board of Education, $19,429.83.
Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $60,000 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.

Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $60,000 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.
River’s Edge (TennTom Community Outreach) gave a total of $60,000 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.
Palace (Tom Summerville Police Support) gave a total of $71,567.36 to the following: Greene County Commission, $3,576.44; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $28,601.88; City of Eutaw, $21,506.84; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,576.44; Greene County Board of Education, $3, 576.44 and the Greene County Hospital 3,576.44.

Sheriff Joe Benison meets with Hospital Board to discuss bingo funds

Sheriff- Hostil

L to R: GCHS Board members: Margaret Bir, Sheriff Benison, Lucy Spann, Elmore Patterson, Jasmine Smith, Pinnia Hines, Shirley Edwards and Rosemary Edwards. Not shown are Eddie Austin and John Zippert who also attended the meeting.

Greene County Sheriff Jonathan “Joe” Benison, together with his executive assistant and bingo clerks, met with the Greene County Health System (GCHS) Board of Directors as part of their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with the Board their concerns over the status of payments from electronic bingo parlors to the GCHS, which operates the hospital, nursing home, physicians clinic and home health services.
On June 2, 2016, Sheriff Benison adopted a new rule for bingo which stipulated that the Greene County Hospital was to receive a fee of 4% of the amount paid to vendors, who provide bingo machines, to be paid to the hospital for providing health care services to the residents of Greene County.

The Sheriff adopted this rule change as a way to share some of the revenues generated by electronic bingo, under Alabama Constitutional Amendment 743, with the Greene County Health Care System.
Based upon estimates from the bingo clerks, Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System projected receiving $3,500 per month from each of the four operating bingo parlors as of June 2016. This would total $14,000 per month or $168,000 per year.

The GCHS Board informed the Sheriff that since adoption of the rule in June 2016, the health facilities have not received these 4% fees from the vendors. The GCHS has received an average of $5,133 per month for the hospital and $ 1,104 per month for the residential care center (nursing home). These averages include a one-time payment of $30,000 from Greenetrack and smaller donations as a sub-charity from all of the bingo operation. The Anchor Group, the charity operating the River’s Edge Bingo facility is the only operation that has been paying the 4% vendors fee under the Sheriff’s rules.
Sheriff Benison said that he understood the Greene County Health System’s concerns with the shortfall in the 4% vendors fee.
He said that he wanted to discuss this with the bingo operators, including the Palace Bingo, a new electronic bingo hall at the Knoxville Exit on Interstate 20/59. He said that after he consults with the bingo operators that he and his clerks would report back to the GCHS Board of Directors.
Elmore Patterson thanked the Sheriff for attending the meeting and said, “Health care is critical to Greene County. The GCHS is providing quality health care to residents of Greene County and surrounding areas. I just reported to the Board that we had an overall operating loss of $538,000 for the first six months of this fiscal year, which began October 1, 2016. This loss matches the half a million dollars of uncompensated care that the GCHS provided to Greene County citizens, during the same time period, with limited incomes who lack insurance or other health care payers. We are looking to electronic bingo, the county government and others sources to help us cover our deficit which basically comes from serving the people of our county who are poor and not covered by any health insurance.”
All of the GCHS Board members also thanked the Sheriff for coming and listening to the concerns of the community. The members said they hoped to hear some positive response from the bingo establishments and the Sheriff in the coming weeks.

Bingo funds distribution $265,680 for Feb. 2017

Bingo.jpgShown above Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Paul Bird CFO of the Commission, Forkland City Councilman Joe Lewis Tuck, Union City Councilman, Rosie Davis, Bingo Clerk, Emma Jackson, Cynthia McKinnon representing the Sheriff Department and Boligee Mayor Louis Harper.

 

 

On Friday, March 17, 2017, Greene County Sheriff Department distributed $265.680.22 in monthly bingo allocations from the four licensed gaming operations in the county.
The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Jonathan Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union and Boligee and the Greene County Board of Education. Assessments are for the month of February 2017.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $85,680.22 to the following: Greene County Commission, $34,272.09; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $12,852.05; City of Eutaw, $6,426.00; Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,284.01; Greene County Board of Education, $19.278.05.

Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,090; 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.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $60,000 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.
River’s Edge (TennTom Community Outreach) gave a total of $60,000 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.

 

Bingo facilities contribute $273,624.87 to local agencies

bingoShown above Chief Derick Coleman, Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson, Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Sharon Washington representing the Greene County Board of Education, Brenda Burke representing the Greene County Commission, Forkland City Councilman Willie Sashington, and Town of Union City Councilwoman Louise Harkness

On Wednesday, February 20, 2017, Greene County Sheriff Department distributed $273,624.87 in monthly bingo allocations from the four licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Jonathan Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union and Boligee and the Greene County Board of Education. Assessments are for the month of January 2017.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $93,424.87 to the following: Greene County Commission, $37,369.95; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $14,013.73; City of Eutaw, $7,006.87; Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,671.24; Greene County Board of Education, $21,020.60. Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $60,200 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,080; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,030; City of Eutaw, $4,515; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,010; Greene County Board of Education, $13,545.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $60,000 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.
River’s Edge (TennTom Community Outreach) gave a total of $60,000 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.

Bingo facilities contribute $286,006.43 to governmental agencies in December

bingoL to R: Emma Jackson, Bingo Clerk; Mayor of Union, James Gaines; Chief Derick Coleman representing City of Eutaw; Minnie Byrd, Bingo Clerk; Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Forkland Mayor Charlie McAlpine; Paula Bird representing the Greene County Commission; Sharon Washington, of Greene County Board of Education and Boligee City Councilwoman Earnestine Wade.

 

On Friday, January 20, 2017, Greene County Sheriff Department distributed $286,006.43 in monthly bingo allocations from the four licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Jonathan Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union and Boligee and the Greene County Board of Education. Assessments are for the month of December 2016.
Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $106,006.43 to the following: Greene County Commission, $42,402.57; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $15,900.97; City of Eutaw, $7,950.48; Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5,300.32; Greene County Board of Education, $23,851.45.
Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $60,000 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.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $60,000 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.
River’s Edge (TennTom Community Outreach) gave a total of $60,000 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.

Countywide meeting held to support and defend Greene Co. Constitutional Amendment 743 for ‘electronic bingo’

groupMore than 250 people attended Tuesday’s countywide meeting at the National Guard Armory to discuss the recent decision of the Alabama Supreme Court deeming ‘electronic bingo’ in Greene County to be illegal. This decision made on an appeal by the State of Alabama on the 2010 raid which confiscated 825 electronic bingo machines from Greenetrack.The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that it has defined bingo as a game of chance played on paper cards and that the electronic bingo machines used at Greenetrack and other gaming facilities in Greene County are “illegal slot machines”.
This decision comes despite the 2003 vote by Greene County residents to enact Constitutional Amendment 743 authorizing electronic bingo. Greene County voters approved this amendment by an overwhelming vote.
Luther “Nat” Winn, CEO of Greenetrack presided over the meeting and introduced the county and legislative officials who spoke.
Winn said, “This decision by the Supreme Court is an illegal decision, they went against a Constitutional Amendment that we that we worked hard and legally secured for Greene County. The voters of Greene County have lost our basic right to vote and make decisions to help ourselves and build our county. The Supreme Court is taking 300 jobs from Greene County and millions of dollars of support for county government, municipal government and vital services. They have given us nothing in return. We are not going to accept this decision, we are going to fight it.”
Mayor Raymond Steele of Eutaw said,” This is going to be devastating for Eutaw and Greene County. There is no growth or new business in our area besides gaming. If the Supreme Court and the State take away bingo what will we have left. Do not touch Greenetrack until you bring us some jobs and revenues to replace it.”
Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System, warned that the hospital and nursing home would be forced to close without the jobs and revenues from bingo.
Hodges Smith speaking on behalf of the Greene County Firefighters Association said, “ We got tired of selling hamburgers and fish sandwiches to support our voluntary fire departments in Greene County. We supported Amendment 743 and went to the Alabama Legislature to get it passed because of the revenues that have been generated to support 14 fire departments across the county.”
Dr. Carol P. Zippert, District 1 School Board members said, “I cannot speak for the Board, but I can speak for the children of Greene County. We have not received enough funds from bingo but what we have received has helped the children of the county. This is a voting rights issue; the Alabama Supreme Court is taking our votes away. I had hoped that we had made some progress since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s but it seems that our children will have to fight the same fights all over again to protect our rights.”
Lester Brown, Greene County Commissioner said, “ We need to support Amendment 743. It provides that matching funds for roads and bridges in our county. It provides jobs for our people. The Supreme Court wants us to cross a bridge with out the money to build it – that won’t happen!”
State Representatives Ralph Howard and Artis McCampbell who represent Greene County in the Alabama Legislature also spoke. “We have Constitutional Amendment 743, what else do we need to have? We need to stand up for the rule of law… it is worth fighting for,” said Howard.
Kennard Randolph, Blackbelt Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Terry Sewell said the Congresswoman was supportive of gaming in Greene County and would help in any way she could.
State Senator Bobby Singleton addressed the group and said he had been involved in the original debates over bingo in Greene County and helped insert the language for ‘electronic bingo’ in the legislation for the Constitutional Amendment referendum in 2003.
“This whole fight against bingo is a conspiracy between AG Luther Strange, the Republican Supreme Court and the Republican Party. There is ex parte communications between Luther Strange and the Supreme Court. The Republican Party wants to cut out all possible sources of campaign funds for the Democrats. They went after the teachers (AEA), unions, state employees, trial lawyers and gaming, “ said Singleton.
Singleton said he serves on the Governor’s Task Force on Gaming and he learned, “That this issue of electronic bingo in Greene County stands between the state giving the Native Americans exclusive rights to gaming in the state; a state lottery and other issues. I am fighting for the people of Greene County, not just Greenetrack. We need jobs at livable wages and revenues from gaming to support needed government and community services.”
Near the end of the meeting, Probate Judge, Judy Spree asked Winn what was his plan of action. Winn said, “ We are going to fight to protect bingo but if you know people in high places then contact them and ask them to help Greene County.
Others suggested using social media like Facebook to spread the word of the impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision on Greene County people. A more detailed strategy of resistance and fighting back was left to future meetings.
Noticeable absent from this countywide meeting was Sheriff Benison, who is the county official who supervises bingo under Amendment 743, makes the rules and administers the funds coming from bingo. Also missing were representatives of the owner-operators of the other bingo parlors in Greene County – Green Charities, Rivers Edge and Frontier.

Greene County Commission agrees to submit grant proposal for Alabama Gulf Coast Railroad

At its regular meeting on Monday night, December 12, 2016, the Greene County Commission agreed to submit a grant proposal on behalf of The Alabama Gulf Coast Railroad to the FASTLANE II program of the U. S. Department of Transportation.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Railroad runs from Columbus, Mississippi to the ports of Mobile, Alabama Pensacola, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. The 348-mile railroad provides freight services to industries in Pickens, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Wilcox, Monroe and Escambia counties in Alabama; and Escambia and Baldwin counties in Florida.
The proposed project will provide support for major and minor improvements to 114 bridges along the route of the railroad. These improvements will allow the use of 286,000 pound standard maximum weight freight cars, so customers can increase their shipping capabilities and competitiveness.
The project costs a total of $16.1 million. The A&GC Railroad has contributed $7 million, the Florida DOT has made a 5% match at $ 769,000 and the DOT FASTLANE grant request is for $ 8.3 million. The Railroad needed a state or county government sponsor to submit the grant. The Greene County Commission agreed to be a sponsor and will receive some administrative fees for serving as the fiscal agent for the grant.
The Greene County Commission received a financial report from Paula Bird, County Finance Officer, showing total expenses for the two months (October and November 2016) of the fiscal year were $1,276,482.50, which is 11.11% of the budget and in line with the projections for the year. She also reported $ 3.54 million in cash on hand; $681,151 and $390,094 in bond sinking funds; and an escrow for Greenetrack funds of $83,343.In other business, the Commission:
• approved travel for staff to training programs,
• approved County Engineers request to change County Road 119 to a dirt road,
• adopted holiday calendar for Dec. 23 and Dec. 30,
• employed Vernon Nickson, as van driver for the Eutaw Nutrition Center,
• extended County Engineers contract until December 2021.