Submitted by Miriam Leftwich
Cities across the county had been collecting water donations since the beginning of September, after the clean water crisis broke out in Jackson, MS. The Greene County Community Associates, of the Black Belt Community Foundation, took the lead in Eutaw, Alabama to help our neighbors in Jackson get bottled water. We knew that we needed to help out however we could.
Special thanks to our Mayor Latasha Johnson, who allowed the trailer to be parked on the premises of the Robert H. Young Community Center which was also the collection site.
Stay N On the Move Trucking, LLC allowed use of a trailer and transported the collected bottled water to Jackson, Mississippi. Donations poured in from the beginning of the Water Drive up until minutes prior to departure.
I am so grateful to this community, to all of the Pastors and the church families who took part in this drive, and to the Pastors and Deacons that helped to load and unload water from various destinations, to all of the Greek Letter organizations, Volunteer Fire Departments, Masonic and Eastern Star Lodges, Greene County High School Principal, students, and staff, Flowers Bakery, Tishabee Senior Citizens, Eutaw Housing Authority, Greene County Retired Educators Association, McInnis Mortuary, Greene County Ushers Alliance, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr., Black Belt Law. All of the support that you showed was absolutely great.
There were approximately 38 organizations and 45 families that represented by showing up and donating numerous cases of water. Donations poured in from as far as California. We even had donations shipped via FED EX. Hale, Sumter, Choctaw, and Tuscaloosa counties also contributed. All of the love that your residents showed us will never be forgotten.
Approximately 325,000 bottles of water were collected. We are forever thankful to each and every one of you. We collected enough water to fill the trailer and had to get a second vehicle for the excess water. To our Sheriff and his staff, we tip our hats to you for such a wonderful sendoff. The Sheriff escorted the trucks from the Community Center to the Boligee exit.
The drivers had a safe trip; water was delivered and those on the receiving end were grateful to have it and expressed their appreciation for a job well done.
The Greene County Commission met in a called meeting Wednesday June 22, 2022 and approved a schedule for additional payments to essential county employees. Each full time county employees will receive a total of $2,400; part time employees will receive $1,200 and temporary workers will receive $250. The commission will disburse 50% of the respective payments to employees on June 29, 2022 and the second half on December 16, 2022.
The resources for the essential workers payments are from the American Rescue Act Funds allocated to the county. The Greene County Commission received approximately $787,000 in May of 2021 and another allocation of approximately $787,000 one year later in 2022.
The county commissioners, as elected officials, are not eligible to receive American Rescue Act Funds.
In other business, Commission Chairperson, Allen Turner, Jr., explained the agenda item which was to consider the USDA Rural Development Wastewater Grant. According to Turner, Alabama State Senator Bobby Singleton will be announcing soon a $120 million grant for the Black Belt Region for wastewater treatment projects. Turner noted that for Greene County to be eligible, the commission needed to take action to participate. “ Our action today does not guarantee that Greene County will be selected to receive some of these resources, but if we do not vote to participate, we definitely will not be considered,” he stated.
The commission also held an executive session at this call meeting. No reports were forthcoming when the open meeting was resumed.
My name is Barrown Douglas Lankster, Sr., and I am seeking the office of District Attorney serving Greene Sumter and Marengo Counties.
I am the 5th of 12 children of Mrs. Velma J. Lankster and Mr. Albert Charles Lankster. I am the father of Kristina R. Brown, Dr. Nakieta M. Lankster and Barrown D. Lankster, II.
I am a 1968 graduate of George P. Austin High School; a l970 graduate of Selma University; a 1972 graduate of Livingston University and a 1975 graduate of Howard University School of Law.
I was on the Dean’s List at both Selma University and Livingston University. I chose Howard University Law School because it was the alma mater of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. While a student at Howard University School of Law, I was the recipient of the Herbert Lehman Scholarship, Earl Warren Scholarship and the Howard Thurman Educational Scholarship. I made the highest grade at the law school, 1OO% in Evidence, and was awarded the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence in the Study of Evidence.
Upon my graduation from Howard, I had was choice of working at law firms in Washington, DC and New York City. I chose to begin my legal career at the Legal Services Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama, where I became Senior Staff Attorney.
Dr. Richard Arrington, Jr., who was a member of the Birmingham City Council asked me to apply for a position in the Law Department for the City of Birmingham because they had never hired an African American lawyer to work in that department. I was assigned to the courtroom of Judge Peter A. Hall, a great civil rights lawyer and Birmingham’s first Black Judge.
The Birmingham Bar Association, in 1979, submitted my name along with 2 other individuals to Alabama Governor Fob James to become a District Judge of Jefferson County. James selected Judge Sandra Ross but in an interview with Governor James, he committed to appointing me to the next district judge vacancy.
I chose to return to the Blackbelt in 1980 opening my practice on January15, 1981 in Demopolis, Alabama. Commissioners Claude Jackson, Obadiah Threadgill and Ben Walker hired me in 1982 to be the Commission’s attorney. I served Greene and Hale County Commissioners as their attorney, as well. Mayor Andrew Hayden and the Uniontown City Council appointed me City Judge. District Attorney Roy hired me as an Assistant District Attorney for the 4th Circuit of Alabama.
On November 3, 1992. I was elected by the people of Greene, Sumter County and Marengo Counties as District Attorney, becoming the first African American elected district attorney in the State of Alabama and the 2nd elected in the United States.
I am the Chairman of the Board of Deacons and Sunday School Superintendent of the Eastern Star Baptist Church, Demopolis, Alabama. I believe integrity matter. I am again seeking the office of District Attorney for Greene, Sumter and Marengo Counties. I ask for your vote and support.
By Charlene Crowell
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On Monday, January 17, the nation will pause to honor the life of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The only Black American to be honored with a national holiday, many will recall his historic civil rights achievements.
But Dr. King also stood as a tireless champion for economic justice. His last public speech, delivered a day before his 1968 assassination, was before a Memphis audience in support of a lengthy strike for fair wages among its largely Black sanitation workers. That prophetic oration, often referred to as his “Mountaintop” speech, also noted the city’s economic disparities..
“It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism,” said Dr. King. “But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day.”
When Dr. King moved his family into the city’s Lawndale neighborhood, he described it as “an island of poverty in the midst of an ocean of plenty”. “Chicago boasted the highest per capita income of any city in the world, but you would never believe it looking out of the windows of my apartment in the slum of Lawndale,” said Dr. King.
“My neighbors paid more rent in the substandard slums of Lawndale than the whites paid for modern apartments in the suburbs. The situation was much the same for consumer goods, purchase prices of homes, and a variety of other services.”
For example, the King family paid $94 per month for four rundown, shabby rooms. During the campaign’s open housing marches on Gage Park and other predominantly white places, new and larger apartment dwellers paid only $78 a month for five rooms[.
Fast forward to today and the cost of rental housing remains a challenge for millions of families[RP6] . The average fair market price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,295 per month. Yet the highest rent affordable to an average full-time worker is $977, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLHIC). Its recent report entitled Out of Reach exposes the mismatch between wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S.
Over 7.5 million extremely low-income renters are severely housing cost-burdened, finds the report, spending more than half of their incomes on housing. On average, someone who works 40 hours per week all year round must earn $24.90 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom home without becoming housing cost-burdened. The average renter’s hourly wage is just $18.78 per hour, however, and minimum-wage workers earn even less.
Additionally, ample research documents how consumers seeking to transition from renters to homeowners face even steeper financial barriers to building family wealth.
In 2019, prospective buyers of a median-priced home of $321,500 needed to save 11 years to accumulate a 5 percent down payment of $26,000 on that home, found the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) in its independent and recent report . But buyers seeking the least costly loans, conventional mortgages, needed a 20 percent down payment of $64,300 plus another $9,663 for closing costs.
“There is a huge disconnect between our collective view of America as the land of opportunity and this data, which show renters face a steep climb in saving for homeownership,” said CRL researcher and report author Christelle Bamona. “This climb is especially steep for Black and Latino Americans, essential workers, and people weighed down by student debt.”
The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) underscores CRL’s findings. Its 2021 research, the State of Housing in Black America: Emerging from the Pandemic Recession (SHIBA) found that although homeownership generates the largest part of building household wealth, fewer than 45 percent of Black households own their homes, compared to nearly 75% of whites. Further, Black homeowners captured only $198 million in savings from the Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates during COVID. Nationwide, the savings due to this policy change totaled $5.8 billion.
“Blacks have made little, if any, strides at closing the disparate homeownership gap between those of our White counterparts,” noted NAREB President Lydia Pope in the report’s foreword. “Systemic discriminatory regulations and policies continue to thwart any meaningful effort at closing the homeownership gap.”
For example, mortgage pricing, and under-appraisal of home values are examples of how the growth of Black homeownership and, in turn, wealth is systematically suppressed. Since 2019, the rate of mortgage loan denials to Blacks (16 percent) has consistently been double that of whites (7 percent).
While access to mortgage credit remains a central housing issue, housing affordability has worsened for a record 117 months of year-over-year increases, according.to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The November 2021 median price of existing-homes was $353,900, up 13.9 percent from November 2020 ($310,800).
Today the quest for economic injustice continues. Just a few weeks before Dr. King’s assassination, his prophetic voice remains as timely as it is timeless:
“Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day? They are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.”
Charlene Crowell is a senior fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shawn Rochester and Robin Watkins
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Shawn Rochester, who authored the spellbinding book “The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America,” and Robin Watkins, a highly regarded financial and operations accountant, have made Wall Street history.
And the two are poised to break through more barriers in the financial world. Their latest venture, Minority Equality Opportunities Acquisitions Inc. (MEOA), has raised $126.5 million they’ve earmarked to help minority businesses and enterprises grow and prosper through mergers and acquisitions.
“It’s amazing to be a part of this,” Watkins, a Drexel University graduate, stated. While Rochester serves as CEO of MEOA, Watkins counts as the company’s CFO.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” Watkins remarked during an appearance on PBS-TV and PBS-World’s The Chavis Chronicles with National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
The interview took place inside the new state-of-the-art NNPA television studios in Washington, D.C.
Because her grandfather owned a trucking company and café in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and her father and other family members were entrepreneurs, Watkins leaped at this latest opportunity.
MEOA raised the money after its initial public offering in August and now counts as the first special purpose acquisition company – or SPAC – headed by African Americans.
“We are trading now on the Nasdaq under MEOAU,” Rochester, who earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a focus in Accounting, Finance, and Entrepreneurship.
MEOA will target MBEs and Black-owned businesses nationwide. “We’re really a blank check company that’s funded through an IPO,” Watkins remarked.
“The funds are held in trust to acquire another company. In this case, we are looking at minority business enterprises to take them public through our IPO. We are the only SPAC that is targeting minority business enterprises.”
According to financial experts, SPACs generally have two years to complete an acquisition. If they fail, the company must return the money raised to its investors.
For Rochester and Watkins, failure isn’t an option. Rochester said they are looking at companies with enterprise values between $250 million and $500 million with recurring and predictable revenues. The criteria include having a history of being able to generate sustainable free-cash-flow.
“There is unprecedented demand for diverse suppliers, but many minority firms don’t have the resources to meet the demand,” Rochester said. “That’s where MEOA, and the decades of combined experience that our team has in operations, strategy, business development, and acquisitions enter the picture for the right business, to help accelerate growth,” he continued.
Further demonstrating a commitment to racial equity and economic inclusion, MEOA engaged the Industrial Bank of Washington, one of the country’s preeminent Black-owned institutions, for its working capital banking needs during the SPAC and IPO process.
The company’s directors are majority-minority including, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, MIT economist and Dean, College of Ethnic Studies, Cal State Los Angeles, Mr. Ronald Busby, Sr., President and CEO, US Black Chamber, Inc., and Mr. Patrick Linehan, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson.
“The mission and purpose of MEOA will help to catapult minority enterprise in this country,” Rochester asserted. “As a SPAC, we have the opportunity to not only help drive significant change and unleash superior performance but to also signal to the broader marketplace that there is tremendous value in companies and teams that have long been ignored.”
Natalie and Derrica Wilson (left) founded the Black & Missing Foundation to raise awareness about people of color who have disappeared./ Allison Keyes / WAMU
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire
It’s been 13 years since Natalie Wilson and her sister-in-law Derrica Wilson founded the Black and Missing Foundation to help bring attention and closure to the ever-growing number of cases in minority communities.
As incomplete and cringe-worthy, the number of the missing – one count suggests that of the more than 600,000 individuals currently reported missing, more than 200,000 are individuals of color – Wilson forges ahead.
The recent case of the disappearance and death of Gabbi Petito, who was white and blone, has focused more attention on the missing people of color, including indigenous people, who go missing every year without similar press attention.
She does so, even 13 years and some success stories later, emotionally.
“We’ve come a long way,” Wilson declared during a recent visit to the new, state-of-the-art National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) television studios in Washington, D.C.
During a conversation with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Wilson punctuated the need for the Black and Missing Foundation with the story of Phoenix Coldena young African American woman who went in 2011 missing near St. Louis, Missouri.
“I called every media outlet, and no one covered that story,” Wilson recalled. “Finally, an assignment editor got tired of me calling and asked me to send Colden’s profile.”
In her interview with Dr. Chavis, which will air on PBS-TV and PBS-World as a special on The Chavis Chronicles, Wilson reflected on how the news media and even law enforcement fail to highlight missing people of color – notably missing Black girls.
“I’m so grateful for the Black Press,” Wilson remarked. “They have used their platform to showcase [these stories]. Media coverage is important. It could speed up the recovery and add pressure on law enforcement to add resources to these cases, and that’s vital.”
Wilson proclaimed that laws are needed to protect children, particularly victims of sex trafficking. She said she had witnessed young boys and girls arrested after becoming sex trafficking victims. “They need rehabilitation,” she exclaimed.
Wilson recalled a case in Virginia of a young Black woman who went missing.
“She was too old for an Amber Alert and too young for a Silver Alert,” Wilson stated. Ashanti Billie, 19, was kidnapped while heading to work in 2017. Authorities recovered her body 11 days later in North Carolina.
Because she didn’t qualify for either an Amber or Silver alert – which notifies the public about missing children and senior citizens – family and authorities lost precious time.
Virginia has now enacted The Ashanti Alert, which bridges the age gap. “This needs to be on the national level because so many of our missing are slipping under the radar,” Wilson stated.
She pointed out that since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in sex trafficking, and children are more exposed to online predators than ever before.
“They are tapping into our children,” Wilson said.
“There was a young lady who went missing. She was a gamer, and she was talking to a man online. So, when she went missing, her family was so surprised that she was talking to someone online.”
“You’ve got to be nosey with your children. Have them sit in an open area so you can see what’s going on. Create a fictitious account and see if you can befriend your child online and share information to save their lives. Unfortunately, once they go missing, we don’t have any intelligence to help save them.”
For more information about the Black and Missing Foundation, visit http://www.bamfi.org.
HUD Secretary, Marcia Fudge
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge convened a virtual roundtable discussion with over 90 mayors, state legislators, county commissioners, and local municipal leaders on the housing investments and racial equity opportunities that would be created through President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
The mayors and state and local elected leaders make up the executive teams and memberships of the National League of Cities- National Black Caucus for Local Elected Officials, National Organization of Black County Officials, African American Mayors Association, and National Black Conference of State Legislators.
Speakers included Georgia State Rep. and President of the National Black Conference of State Legislators Billy Mitchell, African American Mayors Association President and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Commissioner and National Organization of Black County Officials President Rodney Ellis, and Akron City Councilman and National League of Cities- National Black Caucus for Elected Officials President Russell C. Neal, Jr.
Secretary Fudge underscored the Biden-Harris Administration’s Build Back Better plan and its investments in housing construction and rehabilitation, economic development, and community revitalization.
She noted that even before the pandemic, nearly 11 million households spent more than half their incomes on rent – and that people of color represent a disproportionate number of these households.
Secretary Fudge reiterated President Biden’s commitment to addressing the affordable housing crisis through the Build Back Better plan, which calls for historic investments in our nation’s housing.
Further, the group discussed how the federal government will continue to work with local officials to protect renters through quickly delivering assistance to stop evictions during the pandemic.
The local officials raised their priorities to ensure communities of color receive investments to build more affordable housing and break down barriers that drive up costs.
Shown above: Rev. Ricky McKinney, Tuscaloosa Municipal Court Judge; Judge England; State Rep. Chris England; Donna Foster; and State Senator Bobby Singleton.
On the grounds of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse where he served as Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge before his retirement earlier this year, Judge John H. England, Jr. was presented the Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Sunday, June 27, 2021. The Plaque was presented by SCLC Chapter President, Rev. James Williams and England’s son State Representative Christopher John England, Sr. Of all the presenters at the ceremony, Judge England’s seemingly greatest pride fell upon his grandson Christopher John England, Jr., who read his grandfather’s biographical sketch. England’s Pastor, the Rev. Anderson T. Graves, II, of Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church in Tuscaloosa, was the keynote speaker. In lifting England’s undergraduate studies in Chemistry at Tuskegee University, Rev. Graves noted that a key feature of scientific equations is balance, and attributed that same characteristic of balance to Judge’s England life of service and contributions toward the wellbeing of others. Each presenter lauded England as a living legend and a trailblazer for his contributions to civil rights and generally for securing and protecting human rights. Representative Chris England delivered warm platitudes toward his Dad, also noting that the elder was known for embarrassing him as well as many others. Chris clarified that in that scenario of embarrassment, “…there was always a lesson and today I am very grateful for that.” The ceremony for Judge England included Donna Foster as Mistress of Ceremony; Welcome by Commissioner Reginald Murray (Tuscaloosa County District 4); Song by Reuben Harris, Jr. A reception followed at The Willie Clyde and Kay Rice Jones Education Building at Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church. Judge H. England, Jr., who proudly claims his birthplace in the Alabama Black Belt, was born in Perry County (Uniontown) and attended public schools in Birmingham, AL. He is a 1969 graduate of Tuskegee Institute (University) with a BS Degree in Chemistry. In 1999, Tuskegee bestowed him with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree. England served two years in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and later graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1974, and began his law practice. He and SCLC President, Charles Steele, were the first African Americans elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985. England served two terms and was Chairman of the Finance and Community Development Committee. When he was appointed to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in 1993 by Governor Jim Folsom, England became the first African American to hold a county-wide political office. He was re-elected to a full term in that office in 1994, where he served until he was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Governor Don Siegelman in 1999, the third African American to hold such a seat. England returned to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County in 2001 and served continuously through his current retirement. Judge England currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and in 2019 was the first African American to have a dormitory on the University’s campus named for him (John H. England, Jr. Hall). He takes a father’s pride and joy in the fact that he is the first African American UA Law School graduate to witness his three children graduate from the UA Law School: John H. England, III, U.S. is a Magistrate Judge for the Northern District in Alabama, April England Albright, is a Civil Rights Attorney in Atlanta and Chris England is an Alabama State Representative and Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.
Poster for three murdered Civil Rights Workers in Mississippi
By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Fourteen years ago, thesent the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice a list of 74 cold cases involving African Americans allegedly murdered in racially motivated circumstances by White people between 1952 and 1968. Most of the crimes took place in Mississippi, which contained nearly half of the 74 cases. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee all made up the rest. All went cold, and the victims’ families never received justice. Today, a new path to justice has opened to crack these cold cases. On Friday, June 11, President Joe Biden announced the first set of nominees for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. The panel would have the power to declassify government files and subpoena new testimony that could reopen cases and reveal publicly why many racially motivated lynchings and killings of Black people were never adequately investigated. “The White House hopes that the Senate moves quickly to [confirm] these nominees,” an administration official told the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “The Board was established with nearly unanimous bipartisan support in 2019,” the official noted. President Biden’s nominees are: • Clayborne Carson has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movements Dr. King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History (Emeritus). • Gabrielle M. Dudley, an Instruction Archivist at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. In this role, she partners with faculty and other instructors to develop courses and archives research assignments for undergraduate and graduate students. • Hank Klibanoff, a veteran journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize in History in 2007 for a book he co-wrote about the news coverage of the civil rights struggle in the South. Klibanoff is the creator and host of Buried Truths, a narrative history podcast produced by WABE (NPR) in Atlanta. • Margaret Burnham has served as a state court judge (appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis, 1977), civil rights lawyer, and human rights commissioner. A graduate of Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Burnham has been on the Northeastern University faculty since 2002. She was named to the 2016 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, an honor recognizing a select group of scholars for their significant work in the social sciences and humanities. The panel could consider cases like the three civil rights workers in Mississippi – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. Two months later, the activists’ bodies were riddled with bullets, burned, and buried in a dam in Neshoba County. The “Mississippi Burning” case has largely gone unsolved and primarily unpunished. In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but authorities closed the case and put an end to hopes of prosecuting others involved. In Lowndes County, Alabama, there is the case of 18-year-old Rogers Hamilton. On a brisk night in October 1957, two white men arrived at Rogers’ home, summoned him outside, and put him in a truck. His mother, Beatrice Hamilton, trailed the truck on a dusty road and watched in horror as they pulled Rogers out of the vehicle and shot him in the head. When she notified the sheriff, he told her she didn’t see what she “thought she saw” and closed the case. “No one cared, except his extended family, now scattered from Chicago to New York,” John Fleming, an editor at the Center for Sustainable Journalism, wrote in a 2011 column. “The case remains open, though the reality is that this case will never be prosecuted,” Fleming decided. “Though the family wants justice, even if it means getting the local district attorney to indict a dead deputy, what’s equally important to them is the fact that the story of a long-dead [man] in faraway Alabama has finally been told.”
At its regular meeting, held Monday, April 12, 2021, the Greene County Commission selected a new attorney to serve as its legal representative. Attorney Mark Parnell, of Parnell and Thompson of Birmingham, was hired on the vote of three commissioners, Chairperson Roshanda Summerville, Commissioners Cory Cockrell and Allen Turner, Jr. At the opening of the commission’s meeting, before the printed agenda was voted on, Commissioner Corey Cockrell stated he had two items to add to the agenda: Building storm shelters with bingo funds; and Hiring an Attorney. The item on hiring an attorney had not been discussed at the previous work session. The agenda was adopted with the additions. Following a lengthly executive session, the commission acted on the original items on the agenda and approved the added item concerning building storm shelters with bingo funds. No additional information was presented regarding the storm shelters. The final item on the agenda related to hiring an attorney. Chairperson Summerville called for a vote on Candidate 1 (the candidate’s name was not stated). Commissioner Cockrell offered a motion to approved Candidate 1; Turner seconded the motion and Summerville voted with Cockrell and Turner. The chair declared that Candidate 1 was selected, then called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Two other candidates the commission had considered, Attorney Hank Sanders and Attorney Prince Chestnut, were not presented for a vote. Reportedly, the Commission Chairperson selected a committee to interview applicants for the attorney’s position. Seemingly, this committee was composed of Chairperson Summerville, Commissioner Cockrell, and staff Brenda Burke. Burke later acknowledge that the extent of her role was to prepare the advertisements and set up the interviews for Mark Parnell and Prince Chestnut. CFO Macaroy Underwood was invited to sit in when the applicants were interviewed. Senator Hank Sanders stated that he did submit an application but did not receive a notice regarding an interview. According to Sanders, following the commission’s work session on Wednesday, April 7, he was asked to come to the commission’s office to discuss a financial matter with Underwood, Summerville and Cockrell. Sanders said that at the close of that meeting, Commissioner Cockrell asked him to discuss his “strong points.” At no point during the commission’s meeting or immediately following the meeting, did the commission offer any additional information to the public regarding the change in attorneys. When Chairperson Summerville was asked, following Monday’s meeting, who was Candidate 1, she deferred to Ms. Brenda Burke, who responded that she did not know. Burke indicated she had nothing to do with this. Commissioner Turner was asked who was Candidate 1, and he referred this to the Chairperson. Ms. Summerville was cautioned that this was public information and she had an obligation to tell the community who had just been hired as the Commission’s attorney. At that point, Ms. Summerville revealed the name of Attorney Mark Parnell. In separate follow-up discussions with Commissioners Smith, Brown and Turner, all three emphatically stated that they did not know Attorney Parnell, had never met him or spoken with him. Smith and Brown did not vote to hire Parnell, but Turner did. In later attempts to seek further comments from the Commission Chairperson, she only replied with no comment, and with the statement, “You must ask this of the whole commission.” In its September, 14, 2020 meeting, the Greene County Commission, through an added on agenda item, agreed to advertise for an attorney. At that time Commission Chairperson Allen Turner, Jr. stated that the current attorney, Senator Hank Sanders, was serving without a contract. He stated the contract had expired. At that same meeting, Commissioner Lester Brown offered a motion to provide a contract for the attorney and this was adopted. Brown stated at that time that his motion was intended to replace the agenda item to advertise for an attorney. Chairman Turner disagreed. Nothing else was made known about an attorney’s search until the April 12, 2021 commission meeting. At press time, Brenda Burke submitted the following statement: After completing the process, the Greene County Commission hired Parnell and Thompson as legal counsel. Chairman Summerville stated: “Our decision is in the best interest of Greene County and the residents we serve. We would like to thank Attorney Sanders for his years of service.” Other Business of the Commission The Commission acted on the following items: Adopted the Division C Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. *Approved $15,000 for new control panel for jail lights from Capital Improvement. *Ratified $6,412 for new computer for Probate Judge’s Office from Capital Improvement. *Approved Amended lease agreement for the Greene County Sheriff Department. *Adopted the resolution regarding the Citizen Participation Plan (CDBG Grant). Adopted the resolution for Fair Housing (CDBG Grant) *Adopted resolutions regarding Standards of Conduct, Procurement Methods, Minimizing Displacement and Section 504 Transition Plan (CDBG Grant). *Authorize the Engineer to order three dump trucks and bodies, totaling $462,603. *Approved proposal from JM Wood Auction for the sale of existing dump trucks in June with a guarantee net of $457,560 and declare trucks as surplus. *Approved proposal from Jackson Security for camera surveillance equipment in area near old shop at cost of $13,313.75. *Approved proposal from Premier Electric to provide power for surveillance equipment in area near old shop at cost of $2,140. *Approved bid from ST Bunn for resurfacing and striping of CR 133 from 131 to the interstate 20/59 for cost of $268,526. *Approved proposal for Dynamic Civil Solution, Inc. for Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study for Miller Road, for 2020 FEMA Storm Event at cost of $11,250. *Approved proposal for Dynamic Civil Solution, Inc. for Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study for CR 97 for 2020 FEM A Storm Event at cost of $11,250. *Approved Brandy Eubanks as District 3 PARA Board Member. *Approved Gavin Edgars as District 2 E 9-11 Board Member. *Approved financial report and payment of claims as presented by CFO, Mac Underwood. Underwood reported the following claims paid in March 2021: Accounts Payable – $267,120.14; Payroll Transfer – $230.052.50; Fiduciary – $195,910.29 totaling $693,082.93. Electronic claims paid totaled $75,093.69. Underwood reported the following bank totals; Citizen Trust Bank – $4,486,650; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $3,551,307.69; Bond Sinking Funds – $1,085,793; Bank of New York – $715,920.40.