Greene County DST Chapter awards $3,000 in scholarships

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Shown L to R: Shaleah McCain, Hale County High School; Jamia Jackson, Greene County High School; Tony White, Jr., Greene County High School; Eldria Jones, Green County High School and Alexis Jordon, Greene County High School. Not shown: MaKayle Lewis, Greensboro High School.

The Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held a reception recently honoring the six students awarded $500 scholarships upon their enrollment in postsecondary schools. The scholarship recipients from the sorority’s service are: Shaleah McCain, Hale County High School; Jamia Jackson, Tony White, Jr., Eldria Jones, and Alexis Jordan, all of Greene County High School. Not pictured is Makayla Lewis, of Greensboro High School. The reception, held Monday, May 14, 2018, included Mediation by Jacqueline Allen; Greetings by Chapter President Andrea Perry; Words of Encouragement by Evelyn James. The scholarship recipients and their parents enjoyed refreshments and fellowship with sorority chapter members present.

Sen. Doug Jones gives keynote address UWA holds Rural Technology Summit illuminates high-speed broadband gaps in Alabama Black Belt region

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

 

Senator Doug Jones and  Shown L to R: Greene County participants in Summit, Lovie Parks Burrell, Debbie Duncan, John Zippert, Phillis Belcher, Beverly Gordan and Johnny Coleman, Jr.

The University of West Alabama in Livingston held an all day ‘Summit on Rural Technology” on Friday, April 13, 2018. The session was attended by 200 political and community leaders from the Alabama Black Belt and surrounding communities.
The session highlighted the importance of high-speed internet connectivity and digital literacy for economic development, health care, education and quality of life for the future in all communities of Alabama. The session illuminated that not all communities, especially rural communities and the Alabama Black Belt area, were prepared and positioned to equitably access to the ‘broadband highways’ of the future.
In his keynote address, Senator Doug Jones of Alabama said “270,000 people in rural parts of Alabama do not have access to high speed internet and there was a need for equal access and opportunity for all zip codes in the state.

Jones said, “ The state’s economy depends on high-speed broadband and this is a bi-partisan issue which transcends the division between political parties.’ He also said that internet access was a key to ending the ‘homework gap’ between well-heeled urban/suburban school districts and rural areas. “Ending the internet access gap will also improve the availability of healthcare and telehealth capabilities in the rural communities of the state,” stated Jones.
Jones reported that $600 million was appropriated in the latest budget for USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) programs to improve broadband access in rural areas. Senator Jones said his staff would be working to help businesses and communities that wanted to take advantage of these programs.
Dr. Roberto Gallardo of the Purdue University Center for Regional Development gave the opening talk on Rural Development in the Digital Age. He said, “Big data will be the oil of the 21st century. The digital economy has a 6.5% share of the total economy or $1.2 trillion. Rural on-line transactions today are $1.4 trillion annually.”
As an example of the exponential growth of the internet economy, Gallardo said, “Airbnb generates an average of $6,700 in income for its members. In four years, it has grown to offer 600,000 rooms. It took Hilton Hotels 93 years to grow to offer 600.000 rooms!”
Gallardo called young people “digital natives” and said they have grown up with digital skills that the rest of us must catch-up and master as well or we will be left behind in the coming ‘digital economy’.
Gallardo said that the digital future was at least 25 megabits of information down and 3 megabits up. Communities without these capabilities would miss out on the benefits of the coming digital economy. “Digital exclusion may be our gravest problem in the future,” said Gallardo.
C. Wayne Hutchens of Alabama A. T. &T spoke on some of the technical innovations that his company was pursuing and testing to bring high speed internet to more people. He spoke about small cell technology to reduce the need for large-scale towers in congested areas. These small cells could be placed on lampposts, mostly in cities. He also said that AT&T’s Project AirGig was testing ‘inductive coupling’ which was a way of transmitting high-speed internet in conjunction with electrical power lines. “If these trials work then we will have a way to serve more rural communities,” said Hutchens.
The Rural Technology Summit also has a panel of Alabama State Legislators that spoke on state funds that will be available for broadband access in rural areas. There was also a panel featuring Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville and Mayor Gary Fuller of Opelika on ways they were providing broadband to businesses and residents in their municipalities. Fuller explained that Opelika had a municipally owned electric system which had borrowed $43 million in bonds to finance proving high speed internet anywhere in the city limits of Opelika. This system was serving as an incentive to attract businesses of all kinds to the east Alabama city.
At the end of a challenging day of information, Dr. Tina N. Jones of the University of West Alabama said the summit was the beginning of an effort by the university to reach-out and assist rural communities in west Alabama to benefit from the growing digital economy.

Elzora Fluker announces candidacy for Commission District 3

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I am announcing my candidacy for District 3 Commissioner. I have been a community servant all my adult life and it is with this sense of love for my community that I announce my candidacy for County Commissioner. It has always been my desire to help bring unity to Greene County as Commissioner. I realize that the county will not grow and attract industry until all Commissioners work together. I know that it is going to take all county government, municipality and state government to move this county forward.
I am running for County Commissioner because of my willingness to fight for the citizens of District 3. I’m running because citizens should hold the county government accountable to those that elect them.
I’m running because I care about the people that call Greene County home. I’m running because we need leadership that has fresh ideas.

I’m running because we need safe and clean neighborhoods with better education. I’m running to seek funding to help better the education of our children. I will work to obtain funds and support for more programs in the county for our children and seniors.
I will work to bring more job opportunities to Greene County. I also want to make it possible to have better health care opportunities. I will work with the Commissioners to restore the integrity of the county finances.
I will work to give the citizens a better understanding of the county government budget. Lastly, I’m running to endorse the future of this county. Currently, I’m an active member of the Greene County Children’s Policy Council, a volunteer with the S.P.O.T. after school tutorial program, as well as G.I.R.L., a mentoring program for our young females.
I am married to Willie Fluker, Jr. We have two children, Tashema Batch and Louis M. Toa Fluker. I am an active member of the Christian Valley Baptist Church of Tishabee.
I have the knowledge and know the role and responsibility to do the job of a county commissioner.
I am thanking you in advance for your support and your vote. On June 5, 2018, I am asking that you go to the polls and vote for Elzora Fluker as your County Commissioner, District 3.

Newswire : NAACP concerned with HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s efforts to change agency mission

By: Malik Russell, NAACP Director of Communications

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BALTIMORE (March 8, 2018)—The NAACP is deeply concerned by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson’s move to dilute the agency’s long-standing mission.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Act, which established HUD as a cabinet-level agency, declared a purpose: “[T]o provide for full and appropriate consideration, at the national level, of the needs and interests of the Nation’s communities and of the people who live and work in them.” This purpose is sustained through the agency’s mission to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” Secretary Carson’s action not only threatens HUD’s founding purpose, but also reveals plans of regression.

“Dr. Carson’s attempt to diminish HUD’s mission comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission’s report which affirmed that discrimination and segregation had long permeated much of American Life and continues to threaten the future of every American; and at a time when the Trump administration seeks to cut billions of dollars in housing aid for low-income families,” said NAACP’s Sr. Director of Economic Programs, Marvin J. Owens, Jr.

Despite these attempts, the promise of discrimination-free practices lives on in the Fair Housing Act which has the central objective of prohibiting race discrimination in sales and rentals of housing. The hope of continued progress in America rests in the hands of communities across the country that continue to push their elected leaders to preserve programs designed to help disadvantaged communities and promote policies that make economic inclusion a reality.

The NAACP recognizes the importance of an inclusive economy and economic policies that address the challenging realities facing our country including poverty, lack of jobs and disproportionate high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, and foreclosures. The NAACP Economic Department’s work enhances the capacity of African Americans and other under-served groups through financial economic education; individual and community asset building initiatives; diversity and inclusion in business hiring, career advancement and procurement; and monitoring financial banking practices.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting NAACP.org.

Gaines qualifies for County Commission District 1

James Gaines

I, James Gaines, Jr., am announcing my candidacy for Greene County Commissioner, District 1. I am a member of the First Baptist Church Union and I am currently serving as the Mayor of the Town of Union. I feel that I have made a difference in the town and want to broaden my horizons by making a positive impact on our county as well as working to unify our county. Through prayer and great consideration I have given much thought in seeking this office. Here in our county, we have led our communities in many ways and I believe that by working together in unity we can continue to move our county forward. Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old established politics and ideas. Now is the time for us to come together to become unified and move this great county to higher heights.
My campaign is not based on individuals but instead on what is best for the county and I hope all of my constituents feel the same way. With your support, I believe we can become unified. My pledge is “Unity” Starts With Us. Thanking all of you in advance for your vote and support in the upcoming June 5th Election.

Newswire : Super Bowl Viewers Infuriated by truck ad featuring voice of Dr. King

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Image of church and truck in commercial that uses the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the St. Louis American and Victoria Burke of NNPA

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A Ram Truck Super Bowl LI commercial sparked outrage by using a recording of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech to push car sales, In the 30-second ad, a recording of Dr. King’s 1968 a speech serves as the soundtrack for snapshots of everyday Americans engaged in community service.,“In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ram truck owners also believe in a life of serving others,” the ad’s description said.

The reaction was swift and harsh. An overwhelming consensus concluded that the ad was a tactless attempt to capitalize on Dr. King’s legacy. Among those offering backlash was the King Center .A tweet from the King Center read: “Neither @TheKingCenter nor @BerniceKing is the entity that approves the use of #MLK’s words or imagery for use in merchandise, entertainment (movies, music, artwork, etc) or advertisement, including tonight’s @Dodge #SuperBowl commercial.”

Although the center carries on King’s teachings, a separate entity controls King’s speeches and image — Intellectual Properties Management Inc. Eric D. Tidwell, managing director of the organization, which is run by King’s son Dexter, said in a statement early Monday: “We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others. Thus we decided to be a part of Ram’s ‘Built To Serve’ Super Bowl program.”Tidwell’s response came after an endless evening of criticism. When writer Michael Arceneaux wrote on Twitter, “So that means the King children allowed Dr. King’s voice to be used to sell me a Dodge truck,” Bernice King replied with a single word: “No.”
April 4, 2018 will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, at the hands of James Earl Ray.
“The worst commercials are those that use icons like Martin Luther King Jr to sell things like a Dodge Ram truck,” tweeted Boston Globe Deputy Bureau Chief Matt Viser. He wasn’t the only one who noticed.
“So, Ram Truck appropriated Martin Luther King Jr. and used an all white cast + one token black to sell trucks to Trump supporters as if we’re back in the 1950s. #SuperBowl,” stated Lucy Amato on Twitter.
“Using a “Martin Luther King” speech and completely taking it OUT OF CONTEXT for a truck commercial is a disgrace,” another Twitter user reacted in a typical statement.
Super Bowl advertisements have become an annual obsession as the expensive and targeted marketing to a huge audience has become a place where products are debuted for the first time. Super Bowl ads have also become an annual time to analyze and study the many marketing strategy, as well as the “hits and misses” of the ads seen during the game.

It’s likely that the ad featuring King’s voice and words will likely be the source of analysis over the coming days. The ad might also reignite discussion on some of the decisions being made by Dexter King and Martin Luther King III regarding the use of their father’s image and words.

Newswire : NAACP and Africa-America Institute announce Alliance

Partnership includes Pre-K to College Curriculum on the African Diaspora

By: Malik Russell/ mrussell@naacpnet.org

 

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                                               Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

PASEDENA, CA (January 15, 2018)—On Monday, January 15, 2018, the holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP and the Africa-America Institute announced a groundbreaking partnership during the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
The NAACP will work with the AAI on the development and distribution of a curriculum designed to highlight the accomplishments, achievements and history of Africa and its Diaspora.
“It’s appropriate that on a day that we honor Dr. King as well as promote positive images of people of color, we announce to the world a partnership that includes a curriculum, learning exchange and a network for advocacy and activism on behalf of those of African descent in the United States and abroad, “said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.
“AAI has a long history of academic exchange and educational meetings between Africa and America. Now is an extraordinary time and opportunity to partner with the NAACP and together connect the more than 42 million Afro-descendants with the brilliance of the African history and its contribution to modern civilization,” added Kofi Appenteng, President of the Africa-America Institute.
The curriculum from the NAACP/AAI Alliance will include content such as Africa’s Great Civilizations, the critically acclaimed series by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Partners and NAACP chapters will benefit from organized screenings and lessons with an early education focus on positive identity formation and a more advanced curriculum that includes studies in social sciences.

A campaign kick-off will take place in February of 2018 as a part of Black History Month.
ABOUT THE AFRICA-AMERICA INSTITUTE (AAI)
The Africa-America Institute is the premier U.S.-based international organization that works to increase the capacity of African individuals and institutions through higher education initiatives, leadership development, professional workforce training, convening activities, program implementation and management.

ABOUT THE NAACP
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

 

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.”