County will sell surplus land to WestRock; addresses redistricting in Greene County

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Greene County Commission shown with two new vehicles for the County Highway Department. The vehicles are two 2018 F150 Crew Cabs 4×4 at purchase price of $28,650 each. Shown L to R: Commissioners Michael Williams, Tennyson Smith, Allen Turner, Jr.,and Lester Brown; County Engineer Willie Branch and Assistant Engineer John Ensley.

At its regular meeting held Jan. 8, 2018, the Greene County Commission agreed to sell a portion of surplus land to WestRock box plant in Eutaw. The commission is asking $30.000 for approximately 2.7 acres of land adjacent to the current WestRock property on Finches Ferry Road in Eutaw.
In an original plan, the County Commission deeded that parcel of land to the Greene County Industrial Board with the understanding that the IDA would lease the property to West Rock. Subsequently, West Rock determined that it was interested in purchasing same property to accommodate its expansion plans. The county’s plan to sell the property to West Rock will proceed once the IDA transfers the deed back to the county.
The commission voted to approve the County Registrars duties regarding the state’s redistricting and voter reassignment process for areas and voters affected by the new state legislative district lines. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States Census. The Alabama State Legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines.
On May 24, 2012, the Republican-controlled legislature approved state legislative redistricting maps. Maps for both chambers were passed during a special session. It next went to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for his signature, then to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance. The Justice Department cleared the state legislative maps on October 5, 2012. Various statewide organizations challenged the state’s redistricting lines up to the U.S. Supreme Court, but were unsuccessful.
According to the current legislative map, Greene County will fall in two State House Districts: D 71, Northwestern part of the county, (Rep. Artis McCampbell) and D 72, all other areas of the county (Rep. Ralph Howard). Greene County falls in only one State Senate District, D 24 (Senator Bobby Singleton).
Alabama’s House of Representatives is made up of 105 districts; Alabama’s State Senate is made up of 35 districts.
In other business the commission approved the following:
* Filling two employee positions in the Highway Department
* Accepting the resignation of one equipment operator and authorizing advertising to fill the position of Equipment operator.
* Travel request for employees as specified.
The Commission approved the various Committee Chair appointments as follows:
* Finance and Public Safety, Commissioner Tennyson Smith.
* Public Works and Health, Commissioner Michael Williams.
* Education and Social Concerns, Commissioner Lester Brown.
* Jobs and Industries, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr.
* Personnel, Commissioner Corey Cockrell.
CFO, Paula Bird provided the following financial summaries as of December 17, 2017.
Total funds in Citizen Trust Bank was $2,476,161.54; total funds in Merchants & Farmers Bank was $1,961,067.02. Bond investments totaled $800,989.79, Bank of New holds $358,718.17

Greene County Commission re-elects Tennyson Smith as Chairman and Michael Williams as Vice Chair

 

County Commissioners and County Engineer show off the new Asphalt Distributor Maximizer 3 truck recently purchased. The 2017 model made by Rosco has a 1,950 gallon capacity and cost approximately $170,000. Standing L to R: County Engineer Willie Branch, County Commissioners Allen Turner, Jr., Lester Brown, Tennyson Smith, Corey Cockrell and Michael Williams. and Asphalt Distributor Maximizer 3 Truck

At its regular November meeting on Monday, November 13, 2017, the Greene County Commission re-elected Tennyson Smith (District 2) as Chairman and Michael Williams (District 5) as Vice Chairman. They will serve in office for the next year.
The Commission also reaffirmed Merchants and Farmers Bank and Citizen Trust Bank, as the county’s banking depositories, with the same signatories on checks. Regular meetings were scheduled on the second Monday of each month at 5:00 p.m. at the William M. Branch Courthouse.
The Commission received a financial report from Paula Bird, CFO for the month of October, which is the first month of the new fiscal year. Bird reported that the Commission had bank accounts totaling $4,572,811 and an additional $1 million in bond related sinking funds.
Bird recommended closing two accounts, the REHAB Grant account with $6,060 and the RSVP account with $4,966, which were no longer needed and transfer the funds to the General Fund Account. The Commission approved this transfer of funds.
The financial report indicated that overall the county had spent 14.7% of its budget, $1,636,824 during the first month. This is a little higher than the 8.33% expected but according to Bird there are some recurring expenses that occur at the beginning of the fiscal year that will even out by the second quarter of the year.
General Fund expenses were running at $416,466 or 13%, for the month, with the Sheriff’s Department and Jail exceeding the budget, due to overtime pay. The Commission approved paying all bills and claims for the month of October.
The Commission voted to instruct the County Engineer, Willie Branch, to consider County Roads 60 and 120 for resurfacing utilizing Federal matching funds. Only major and minor collector roads are eligible for Federal support.

The Commission also considered asking the County Engineer to resurface two miles of road in each County Commission District with county funds. Commissioner Corey Cockrell raised the concern that since his district, District 2, did not have many major or minor collector roads, which are eligible for Federal support, that his district should receive more paving of other roads.
The other commissioners were not impressed with Cockrell’s arguments and supported the original proposal for the County Engineer to designate two miles of roads in each district for paving.

In other actions, The Commission:

* Appointed Sheila Henderson (District 1) and Ron Edwards (District 3) to the DHR Board, which gives recommendations on welfare assistance policies in the county.
* Reappointed Margretta Bir (District 2) and Shirley Edwards (District 3) to the Hospital Board.
* Approved an alcoholic beverage license for Patrice Harris Kimble to operate DOCS Bar on the Lower Gainesville Road.
* Approved travel for Probate Clerk to Licensing Conference, January 10-11, 2018 in Prattville, Alabama.
* Approved Holiday Work Schedule for all county employees.

Newswire :Rev. Jesse Jackson calls for ‘full-scale boycott of BMW

By Freddie Allen (Editor-In-Chief, NNPA Newswire)

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Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition (at the podium), called for a “full-scale boycott of BMW,” during the 2017 Rainbow PUSH Coalition Global Automotive Summit in Detroit, Mich. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, called for a “full-scale” boycott of BMW, the German automaker, for refusing to reply to the survey for the group’s annual diversity scorecard.
Not only did BMW refuse to complete the survey, the German automaker also refused to meet with the civil rights leader.
Jackson made the announcement, during a press conference at the 2017 Rainbow PUSH Coalition Global Automotive Summit. “The diversity scorecard was developed in 2012 to provide a snapshot of each manufacturer’s success at building and sustaining ethnic diversity and inclusion, with a primary focus on people of color,” survey’s report said.
Jackson said that he met with all of the automakers that participated in the survey. The diversity scorecard participants included: Ford Motor Company; Toyota Motor North America; General Motors; Nissan North America; Hyundai Motor America; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Honda North America; Subaru of America; Kia Motors America; Mercedes-Benz USA and Volkswagen Group of America.
The automakers answered questions about employment, advertising, marketing procurement, minority dealership opportunities and philanthropy.
The auto companies that reflected best practices for ethnic diversity established by the Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project, an initiative of the Citizenship Education Fund, earned green scores. Red marks indicated that diversity initiatives and investments were non-existent, not disclosed, or the company didn’t provide enough relevant information for scoring.
Ford and Toyota earned tops scores for employment, advertising, marketing, procurement and philanthropy. General Motors scored green in employment, marketing, procurement and philanthropy.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kia Motors America, Mercedes-Benz USA and Volkswagen earned failing grades in advertising, marketing and procurement and yellow scores, which indicate some progress in diversity, for employment, dealership diversity and philanthropy.
BMW earned red marks in all categories, because they refused to reply to the survey request. According to Jackson, that refusal showed the company’s contempt and resentment towards the Black community.
“We are in a different stage of our civil rights struggle,” said Jackson. “The first stage of our struggle was to end legal slavery; the next phase was to end legal Jim Crow; the third stage was the right to vote.” Now, that the Black community brings money, market share, talent and experience to the table, Black businesses should be seen as partners, Jackson said. “We trade for with you, you trade with us,” said Jackson. “There is more to the car than the ride.”
The civil rights leader called for “a full-scale boycott of BMW” until the company agrees to meet with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and works out “a mutually beneficial trade relationship. Jackson said that Blacks account for more than 10 percent of purchases of the company’s luxury models.
According to a 2014 poll by Strategic Vision, a research and consultant firm based in San Diego, Calif., BMW was the brand that was most often cited as a future vehicle purchase for African Americans.
“If you have a BMW, we urge you to get another car. If you don’t have one, don’t plan on [buying one],” said Jackson. “We’re saying to the auto industry, ‘we’ve worked too hard and consumed too much, to be locked out.’”
Jackson said that the Black community wants equity, parity and mutually beneficial, reciprocal business relationships across all business sectors, a message that he plans to convey through a partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group that represents more than 200 Black-owned media companies. NNPA media outlets reach more than 20 million readers in print and online every week.
Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, recognized that some people will question why the Black community and its allies should support the BMW boycott. “The real question is: Why did BMW decide to boycott the diversity report card? It’s an insult!” Chavis exclaimed. “What is BMW hiding? Why isn’t BMW joining the rest of the auto sector in responding to the report card?”
Dorothy Leavell, the chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Crusader Newspaper Group, said that the diversity scorecard is very important, because there are companies that say that they do business with the Black community, yet, the scorecard proves that they don’t. Leavell said that when it comes to promoting ethnic diversity and inclusion and economic equity, obviously BMW doesn’t have anything to show. “To insult an organization like [the Rainbow PUSH Coalition], to not even respond to very valid inquiries, means that BMW should be boycotted,” said Leavell. “Our people should know what kind of business BMW conducts.”

Publishers’ granddaughter celebrates wedding – Mr. & Mrs. Donald Fondel, Jr.

Cf wedding.jpgCydney Lauren Chatters and Donald Wayne Fondel, Jr., both of Lake Charles, LA, were united in Holy Matrimony on Saturday, September 2, 2017 at St. Augustine Catholic Church in New Orleans, LA. Cydney’s Maids of Honor were her sisters, Jodi and Drew Chatters. Donald’s brother David Fondel and friend Joseph Gallien, served as Best Men. Chase Zippert was Ring Bearer and Ava Alfred was Flower Girl. The wedding party included eight bridesmaids and accompanying groomsmen.

Cydney is the daughter of Rachel Zippert Chatters and Benard Chatters of Lake Charles, LA. Donald is the son of Brenda and Donald Fondel, Sr., also of Lake Charles, LA. Grandparents of the groom are Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Mayes and the late Mr. & Mrs. Marion Fondel, Sr. Grandparents of the bride are Mr. & Mrs. Maynard T. Chatters, Sr. and John and Carol Zippert, Publishers of the Greene County Democrat.

Cydney is a Pre-Med graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and is currently a medical school student at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg, MS. Donald received his B.S. Degree in Health Science from Dillard University, New Orleans, LA, and his Master’s Degree in Public Health fromTulane University, New Orleans, LA. He is currently employed with Cheniere Energy, Cameron, LA, as Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Donald is a Certified Safety Specialist (CSP) from the American National Standards Institute.

Sheriff Benison hires new officer

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Sheriff Jonathan Benison shown swearing in newly hired Deputy Emonfre White.

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White is shown above surrounded by family members Racquel Johnson, Alyce Josephine Hill and Mary Goodson, not pictured Idolis White. Sheriff Benison, Lieutenant Jeremy Rancher and Vincent Hardwick

Emonfre White stepped from the university door into the door of the Greene County Sheriff Department.
In the photo above, Sheriff Jonathan Benison is shown swearing in newly hired deputy, Emonfre White, from Tuscaloosa, AL, but whose roots are in Mantua, Greene County. Ms. White is the 23 year old daughter of Mary Bell Goodson and Fred White, Jr. and the granddaughter of the late Ovis and Bertha Goodson. Her paternal grandparents are Fred and Mary White of Fosters, AL.
White graduated from the University of Alabama on August 5, 2017 with a BS in Human Environmental Sciences. She is also a 2012 graduate of Tuscaloosa County High School.
Prior to joining the sheriff’s department, White has been serving in the Army National Guard at the Canton, AL Post. According to White, her training at Fort Jackson, SC allowed her to work diligently and gain her place with the graduating class on September 30, 2015.
According to Deputy White, “Law enforcement has been a life long dream for me.”
She plans to be active in community while enforcing the law and grateful and honored to be in this position.

Newswire : NNPA honors Martin Luther King III with lifetime legacy award

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

legacyawards_7247_fallen_web120.jpg(From left-right) Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., president and CEO of the NNPA, Denise Rolark Barnes, outgoing chairman of the NNPA and Dorothy Leavell (far right) honor Martin Luther King III with the NNPA’s Lifetime Legacy Award at the Legacy Awards Gala at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md., on June 23, 2017. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) honored Martin Luther King III with the 2017 Lifetime Legacy Award, as the group wrapped up its annual summer conference, at the Gaylord Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland.
King, the oldest son of the iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., said that the tribute tops all others he’s received, because the Black Press has meant a lot to his family, especially his father, as he fought for freedom, justice and equality.
“The NNPA is one of the most impactful institutions our community has and every week the newspapers of the Black Press reach at least 22 million people in our communities,” said King. “And every week the Black Press tackles issues that we deal with, that we cannot find in the mainstream newspapers.”
King continued: “The Black Press provides the information that’s needed for African-Americans and if not for the Black Press, I would say that, during the Civil Rights era, my father would not have been successful. The African-American [journalists] had their ears to the ground to what was important in our community.”
King, who attended the awards ceremony with family members, graduated from his father’s alma mater, Morehouse College, with a degree in political science. While at Morehouse, King was selected by former President Jimmy Carter to serve in the United States delegation to the Republic of Congo for participation in their centennial celebration ceremonies.
Like his father, King participated in many protests for civil rights and one of the more notable acts of civil disobedience came in 1985 when he was arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. protesting against Apartheid and for the release of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
“This is a special time,” King said, as he spoke to NNPA members, friends and industry leaders in attendance at the award ceremony.
Showing a lighter side, King quipped, “I like the word ‘legacy,’ but it means you’re getting older.”
King also talked about the impact of social media and how it can be difficult to understand the shorthand that some young people use to communicate via text and social platforms like Twitter.
“I have to ask the kids to tell me what these things mean, because I don’t do Twitter or Facebook,” he said.
Striking a more serious tone, King, the former president of the legendary Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that the Black community “must do better.”
King continued: “We have to educate our community. We, as a community, have the ability to do much more.”
In an effort to help African-Americans realize and capitalize on the vast spending power in the community, King founded Realizing the Dream, a foundation that is focused on helping community-based organizers to ignite investment in local neighborhoods and to foster peaceful coexistence within America and abroad.
“If we decide to divest, or even talk about [boycotting] some of the companies where we are spending billions of our dollars…we won’t see insensitivity,” King said.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, said that the organization was especially proud and delighted to present the prestigious award to King.
“For decades, more than anyone else, Martin Luther King III has continued to personify and represent the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for freedom, justice and equality,” Chavis said. “He has carried on his father’s legacy quite honorably, quite admirable, and quite successfully.”
In 2008, as former president and CEO of the King Center, King spoke on behalf of then-Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, where he highlighted the need for improved health care, quality education, housing, technology and equal justice.
King also served on the Board of Directors for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and co-founded Bounce TV, the first independently-owned, digital multicast network featuring around-the-clock programming geared towards African-Americans.
“I remember going to my mother’s alma matter in Ohio and seeing the statue of Horace Mann which was inscribed with the words ‘be ashamed to die until you have won some kind of victory for humanity,’” King said.
“As a child, those are words that are very powerful. As an adult, I say we can win victory at schools, we can win victory in our places of worship, we can win victory in our cities, our counties, our states, our country and some may win in our world.”
King continued: “I say, be ashamed to die until you have done something to make your community better.”

Thurgood Marshall’s widow keeps his legacy alive; On Brown v. Board of Education, 63rd anniversary “Cissy” Marshall laments lack of progress

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Cissy Marshall
CISSYMARSHALL1 Cecilia Marshall, Justice Thurgood Marshall’s widow, keeps his legacy alive. (Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage)

Thurgood Marshall with family.jpgTHURGOODMARSHALL1 Cecilia Marshall (2nd from left) and Justice Thurgood Marshall (right) and their two sons. (Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage)

Cecilia Marshall never imagined that the battle for equal rights in schools and elsewhere would still be as vital today as it was six decades ago when her husband, United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, fought to end legal segregation as a civil rights lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

“We haven’t made too much progress,” said Cecilia Marshall, 88. “Sixty-three years later, we’re still fighting in the courts for equal treatment and that’s not what my husband, nor I would have imagined would be going on today.”

There’s little argument that one of the greatest achievements in the long and illustrious career of the late-Justice Thurgood Marshall, who died in 1993 at the age of 84, was the landmark decision in the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.

According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, in 1940, “Marshall became the key strategist in the effort to end racial segregation, in particular, meticulously challenging Plessy v. Ferguson, the Court-sanctioned legal doctrine that called for ‘separate but equal’ structures for Whites and Blacks.”

The Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit began as five separate cases filed in South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Kansas. The plaintiffs in all of the cases alleged that the civil rights of their children under the 14th Amendment had been violated.

A biography about Justice Marshall that appears on The Legal Defense Fund’s website said that, “Marshall won a series of court decisions that gradually struck down [‘separate, but equal’], ultimately leading to Brown v. Board of Education, which he argued before the Supreme Court in 1952 and 1953,” finally overturning the doctrine and acknowledging that segregation greatly diminished students’ self-esteem.”

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that separate educational facilities were “inherently unequal” and that racial segregation of public schools violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Brown v. Board of Education decision came more than a decade before Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court. The decision has been credited with inspiring the Civil Rights Movement that unfolded over the next decade and it also led to Marshall being recognized as one of the most successful lawyers in America.

“He accomplished so much and worked so hard, but I thought by now we would have come so much further. He would have thought that, too,” said Marshall, whom loved ones and others affectionately call “Cissy.”

Her work continues in her husband’s memory. On the 63rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Marshall and the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust plan to host a fundraising gala to observe the historic decision and to announce a call to action, which she’s titled, “Equal Education for All Based on the Brown Decision.”

The event will be held at the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage in Northwest, Washington, D.C. “The problems remain and this event, this anniversary, comes against the backdrop of a significantly troubling retrenchment of access to education for African-Americans, Latinos and other children,” Marshall said.

She cited a Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights report that said there are numerous factors that appear to have combined to cause the rapid re-segregation of schools since 1991, the year her husband retired from the bench.

The courts began turning against desegregation plans in the 1980s—denying new petitions to desegregate schools, ending previous court imposed plans and even striking down voluntary plans created by local school districts, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a diverse collective of more than 200 national civil and human rights groups.

Further, executive branch agencies topped the aggressive campaign to enforce the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act that proved successful in the 1960s and 1970s, the Leadership Conference reported.

In a statement about the report, the Leadership Conference said that the rapid growth of the Hispanic and African-American populations and growing income disparities have increased the concentration of minorities living in high poverty districts.

Leaders from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and others plan to join Marshall at the historic event to celebrate the life and legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall. “The NNPA reaffirms the living legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA. “We note this month the 63rd anniversary of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision. Marshall utilized his legal genius and courage to win that case.”

Chavis continued: “Today, it’s important to reassert the critical importance of continuing to demand equal, high-quality education for Black American students and all students across the nation.”

Marshall, she said that, she still gathers with the wives of former and current Supreme Court Justices. “We’re a big family, we call ourselves ‘sisters,’” she said.

Those get-togethers, as well as the success of her two sons—Thurgood, Jr., and John W. —serve to further validate her husband’s legacy. “Seeing his sons grow up to become adults—Thurgood, Jr. a lawyer; and John serving in civil service—has been a great joy,” said Marshall. “My husband gave me and all of us a great life and his favorite slogan was something we’ve always lived by and I still live by today, especially when I think of the state of things in this country.” She said that slogan is, “Never give up.”