Book signing held for George Hall’s biography ‘Tenacious’

U.S. Air Force Major, Aretha Dix and Hall’s daughter Verita adorn him with various commemorative medals. and Eutaw Mayor, Latasha Johnson presents George Hall with Key to the City.

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th a book signing and celebration of the life and work of George Washington Hall, former Sheriff of Greene County was held at Zion Brush Creek Missionary Baptist Church, near Eutaw, Alabama.

Hall is the author of a biography, entitled ‘Tenacious’ about his life as a native of Greene County, forty-year military career, two terms as Sheriff of Greene County, a farmer and syrup maker, as well as one of six farmers who were named plaintiffs in the historic Pigford vs. Glickman, Black farmers class action lawsuit.

Hall was assisted in writing and publishing his book by The Fifty Fund, a group of professional volunteers, based in Auburn, Alabama, with members around the nation. Members of The Fifty Fund were actively involved in the program honoring Hall and the publication of his biography.

The program included a prayer and welcoming remarks by Pastor Samuel Ezell of the Zion Brush Creek MBC. Ezell also recognized George Hall’s service as a deacon of the church over many years. Mayor Latasha Johnson awarded Hall the key to the City of Eutaw and praised his lifelong contributions to his home county.

Tributes were also offered by Robert Raymond, a lifelong friend of Halls and Mary McInnis, who served in the USDA Farmers Home and Farm Service offices and helped George Hall with documentation for his Black farmer discrimination claim. McInnis also mentioned that after the lawsuit, Hall was elected to the FSA County Committee and became its Chairperson, the first Black farmer in the state, to do so.

Roger Thurow, a former Wall Street Journal writer and author of the book’s forward, recalled meeting George Hall, when he was at early court hearings in the Black farmer case. Thurow recounted, “It took farmers who were willing to stand up to racism and discrimination by the U. S. government to win this lawsuit. George Hall had an abiding faith in truth and justice, which helped him win this award of $1.2 billion for Black farmers around the nation.”

Thurow and the book do not mention the role of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and attorneys like Chestnut, Sanders and Sanders of Selma, who were instrumental in helping farmers like George Hall pursue their claims against USDA in Federal courts.

Retired Major, U. S. Air Force, Aretha Dix, was present to award several medals to Master Sergeant George Hall for his forty years of service, from 1968 to 2008, in the active service, National Guard and Reserves. Among the medals, Dix awarded and pinned on Hall were U. S. Veterans Service Medal, Vietnam, 50th Anniversary Medal and the Armed Forces Retirement Medal.

Earlier in the day, the Greene County Commission recognized George Hall by naming County Road 133, on which he lives on as “George Hall Road” in his honor.

At the end of the program, guests were invited to purchase copies of Hall’s book, ‘Tenacious’ and partake in refreshments in the church fellowship area. Hall signed books for those who purchased one for $20.00 each.

More books are available by contacting: George Hall at 1570 County Road 133, Boligee ,AL. phone: 205/372-9458.

County Commission expresses interest in county-wide Sunday alcohol sales

The Greene County Commission met in regular session Monday, May 8, 2023. All Commissioners were present. At the Commission’s work session on May 3, Commissioner Allen Turner raised an interest in the county authorizing Sunday alcohol sales. Turner raised questions on the process – would the County have to present its request to the State Legislative Representatives, and would such a proposed bill have time to be advertised before the current session ended. Subsequently, State Representative Curtis Travis was invited to attend the Commission’s meeting on May 8. Rep. Travis stated that since Greene County is a “wet” county, the County Commission could authorize Sunday alcohol sales at prescribed times. He noted that the Commission should develop a resolution to that effect.
According to Mayor Latasha Johnson, the City of Eutaw has authorized Sunday alcohol sales, but currently that does not extend throughout the county.
The Commission approved a request by Probate Judge Rolonda Wedgeworth to secure a new contract for computer services in her office. In her initial request presented at the Commission’s work session on May 3, Judge Wedgeworth stated that her office was in dire need of an updated computer system. She noted that due to the inadequacies of the current vendor, her office is out of compliance with the State. “We are in a situation where we have to develop our own forms which is a set back to our work. Our current vendor will not respond to requests for assistance,” she said. As per her request, the Commission approved Ingenuity, Inc., business and technology services, as the new vendor at a cost of $28,000.
The Commission approved three members for the Board of Equalization: Mrs. Alfretta Crawford, Mrs. Loydleetta Wabbington, and Mr. John Vester.
Other items approved by the Commission are as follows:
* Repair Jury Building on old courthouse square at cost not to exceed $35,000.
* Engineer’s request to fill position of Shop Foreman.
* Engineer’s request for right-of-way acquisition for bridge replacement on County Rd. 220 for the sum of $20, 500.
Engineer’s request to move one driver from Highway Department to Solid Waste Dept.
Engineers’s request to adjust salaries of four employees in Solid Waste Department.
* Travel request for Assistant Engineer on June 7 and June 13-14, 2023.
* Replacing back doors at Eutaw Activity Center.
Sheriff’s request to replace commercial dishwasher at county jail.
The Commission tabled the following items.
* Request from the Water Authority Board.
Consideration of Sunday alcohol sales in the County.
The commission approved the financial report and the payment of claims for April 2023 as presented by CFO Macaroy Underwood. In his report Underwood noted the following: Accounts payable – $309,692.59; Payroll Transfer – $274,299.19; Fiduciary – $69,124.45; Total $653,116.23; Electronic Claims – $85,183.29. Bank totals at end of April: Citizen Trust – unrestricted $2,928,224.96, restricted $5,181,617.91; Merchants & Farmers – unrestricted $3,170,801.50, restricted $1,544,523.24; Total investments – unrestricted $877,979,73, restricted $881,522.99.

Eutaw City Council approves roof
for National Guard Armory

At its first regular meeting for 2023, on January 10th, the Eutaw City Council approved a $45,000 contract with PM Roofing to replace the roof on the former National Guard Armory facility on Mesopotamia Street.
Mayor Latasha Johnson said, “We must fix this roof as a first step to saving this important building for use as a meeting and event facility for the City of Eutaw. It is currently raining in the building because the roof leaks. We need to save this building for the people of Eutaw.” On a roll call vote, the contract was approved unanimously 6-0 by the City Council.
The Eutaw City Council also approved a renewal of their agreement with Mason and Gardner CPA’s for payroll and other accounting services for the current year. The Council also approved a resolution declaring two police vehicles, a 2019 Silverado Chevrolet truck and a 2013 Chevrolet Caprice, as surplus, so they can be sold.
The Council also received a copy of a letter to the Greene County Water and Sewer Authority setting out a charge for water from the city water system. “We have provided water to the county at no charge, but in the future, we will have to charge for water, based on the volume they use. This is all part of our program to revitalize and improve the Eutaw-Boligee Water System,” said Corey Martin, Eutaw Water System Operator.
The Council also received and approved a resolution consenting to the purchase of Sky Cable, a local television provider, by Charter Communications. Charter also assumed the franchise rights of the cable company. Knowledgeable observers feel this move is related to Charter’s announced plans to provide broadband services in Greene County.The Council approved a series of travel and per diem requests for the council members and staff to attend various training sessions in the coming months including the Alabama League of Municipalities Annual Convention on May 10-13, 2023, in Birmingham.
William Smith, new Assistant Chief of the Eutaw Police Department was introduced to the Council and the public.
The City Council approved payment of bills and claims for the month of December. Ralph Liverman, City financial adviser gave the Council a partial financial report and said more details would be available at the next meeting. He also informed the Council that the annual payment of $102,218 had been made to USDA Rural Development for the loan for water system improvements.
Mayor Johnson announced several upcoming meetings to review the plans for the Eutaw-Boligee Water and Sewer System. There will be a Special City Council meeting to review and approve the plans on January 17, 2023; there will also be two public meetings on February 7 at 5:00 PM and 5:30 PM at Eutaw City Hall for the public to review and comment on the plans. These meeting are advertised in more detail in other parts of this newspaper.
A letter from Chris Jones, Executive Director of the Greene County Emergency Medical Services, was read praising the city for its work to clean up the streets and neighborhoods after the recent tornado. Jones said the city helped make the streets passable for emergency vehicles, like those of the ambulance service.

City of Eutaw receives $5.6 million for water and sewer improvements, first installment of a multiyear commitment to update Eutaw-Boligee joint system

Shown L to R: Greene Commission Chairman Corey Cockrell, Mayor of Boligee Hattie Samuels, Mayor of Eutaw Latasha Johnson, Councilwoman Valerie Watkins, Corey Martin, City of Eutaw Water Operator, and Pro Tem James Morrow

On Friday, December 2, 2022, the City of Eutaw held a press conference to announce receipt of grant of $5.6 million, $2.6 for drinking water and $3 million for sewage, from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) State Revolving Loan Fund.

This will allow the City of Eutaw to proceed with water and wastewater system improvements for the unified Eutaw and Boligee water and wastewater systems.

This funding, which is a grant with no matching fund requirements, was made possible with funding from the Biden Administration initiatives,
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Congresswoman Terri Sewell was instrumental in urging the state to use these Federal funds to benefit projects in the rural Black Belt counties within her Congressional District. Sewell was the only member of the Alabama delegation that voted in favor of this legislation in the past year.

The $5.6 million is the first installment of additional funding to be provided over the next three to five years for improvement of the joint Eutaw and Boligee water and sewage systems. This system also provides services to the Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee.

Mayor Latasha Johnson expressed thanks to the many persons and agencies that made the project possible including Congresswoman Terri Sewell, John Laney and Jim Graciano of ADEM and project engineer, Angela Henline of Cassidy Company in Tuscaloosa, who will be designing the project.

Corey Martin, City of Eutaw Water Operator, said, “The first part of the project will be to renovate and replace six lift stations which move sewage back to the lagoon in Eutaw. The second priority involves bringing the Boligee water tower back on line to relieve water quality and pressure issues. We do not know all the problems with the system and how they will be addressed until our engineer makes her official assessment and design plans for repairs.”

Mayor Hattie Samuels of Boligee, commented, “The Town of Boligee
Local funds were being drained to make constant repairs in the water and sewage systems. This is truly a blessing – to receive these grant funds to give our residents a better quality of life.”

Mayor Samuels read from a statement sent by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, which said,” This is GREAT news! For too long, Alabama’s rural communities have suffered from failing wastewater systems that have put the health and well-being of our residents at risk.

“Access to clean water and adequate wastewater infrastructure is a basic human right, and thus funding for the City of Eutaw will be instrumental as we work to end this crisis.

“I am proud to have voted I favor of both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan, which made these grants possible. I will continue to fight for more of these critical investments across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.”

Governor Kay Ivey sent a message, which was read Greene County Commission Chair, Corey Cockrell, stating “In Alabama, we believe in helping our neighbors, and that exactly what the city of Eutaw and the city of Boligee are doing here. I’m proud to see both cities come together and strike a mutually beneficial compromise that will go a long way to improving the quality of life for the residents of each community.”

Eutaw City Council seeks new engineer, passes zoning ordinance for Courthouse Square, plans for next round of ARPA funding

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher and Editor

The Eutaw City Council met for two regular meetings on April 12 and 26, 2022 to carry out city business and deal with the physical and financial health of the city.

At the April 12th meeting, the City Council approved a motion, originated by Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter and approved by all the members to terminate the contract of Babbs Engineering and request return of unspent funds on a $40,000 contract for a mapping the city’s utility systems. Carpenter said, Babbs took too long in generating the promised maps.

Torris Babbs of Babbs Engineering, an African-American firm, in an interview with the Democrat said he had completed the mapping paid for by the $40,000 contract. “We located more than 10,000 points of digital information to construct our maps. The city did not have the computer software until recently to read and display our maps, that was part of the delay,” said Babbs.

Babbs said he continued to work on coordinating the map he developed of above ground and underground utilities with the Google Earth Maps to insure they were congruent, up-to-date and showed the proper location and elevations of properties in the city. “There is a misunderstanding of the engineering work I did and the work I continued to do, under my monthly retainer. I will still give this information to the city, but I do not think the Council understands or appreciates the task we were doing and the complex map we were developing, which would help the city with planning and projects into the future.”

The Mayor said the City of Eutaw was advertising for a new engineering firm. At the April 12 meeting, the Council authorized the Stan Nelson and Jonathan R, Bonner of Insite Engineering of Tuscaloosa, to pursue two $30,000 grants from USDA Rural Development to evaluate the city’s water and sewer systems. To this reporter, the work that these engineers were seeking to do was very similar to the work that Babbs says he has already done.

These engineers said they did not charge a fee but would be paid out of the grants if they were obtained. These engineers said that the city needed to get audited financial statements to enhance the chances for government grant assistance going forward.

At the April 26, 2022 Council meeting an agenda item: “Approve Engineer Services Agreement between the City of Eutaw and Craig P. Williams, P. E.” was tabled because council members said they wanted to meet and speak to this engineer before he was employed. Mayor Latasha Johnson said she would arrange the meeting and that it may require a special called meeting because an engineer was needed to help with the many grant applications that the City planned to submit.

Zoning Ordinance change

At the April 12 meeting, the City Council approved a recommendation from the Eutaw Planning Commission on an Ordinance amending Chapter 98, Section 98-5 and Section 98-87 of the Code of the City of Eutaw. This ordinance would amend the zoning of the business area of the Thomas E. Gilmore Square (old Courthouse Square) to prohibit businesses that derived more than 50% of their revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages from locating in this downtown area, adjacent to the William M. Branch Courthouse and Eutaw City Hall.

This ordinance raised some controversy, because the REACH Inc. church related corporation, has purchased a number of vacant properties on the Courthouse Square and around Eutaw, for the purpose of rehabilitating the properties and leasing them to businesses. REACH purchased three adjoining buildings of the Square including the ‘John’s Bar Building’, which they were planning to lease to some people to open a “sports bar”.

Sandra Walker of REACH says, “We feel this ordinance was adopted to prevent us from using the properties we purchased, to help the city’s growth and development, be used for its best purposes.” Mayor Johnson said that the John’s Bar property had never been issued an alcoholic beverage license.
However, the Greene County Democrat newspaper reported that the Eutaw City Council voted at its February 27, 2018 meeting to grant Raymond Steele, former mayor, a “liquor license for John’s Bar”.

At the 12th.meeting, in the Public Comments section, Fanny Granthum also of REACH, read a December 7, 2020 letter on City of Eutaw stationery, signed by Mayor Latasha Johnson, confirming that Steele had been granted a liquor license for John’s Bar and Grill in Eutaw. The Democrat has received a copy of this letter. Steele never utilized the permission to get a liquor license or opened John’s as a bar for the public.

Walker said, “REACH is disappointed by the actions and statements of the Mayor and Council. It seems that they adopted the ordinance to prevent us from opening a sports bar on the Square. They went to the Planning Commission not the Zoning Commission to get the recommendation for the ordinance. They never really officially had a hearing where the public could make its views known. The Mayor denied that a license had been issued but we have a letter from her saying the City did approve the license and placed it in its official minutes.”

“REACH has been trying to help revitalize the city by buying up vacant properties, rehabilitating them and leasing the buildings to attract new businesses to Eutaw. We will locate the sports bar in one of our other buildings or we will open a combination restaurant and sports bar that will comply with the new zoning requirements,” said Walker.

At the April 26th meeting the Council approved a budget for $309,000 of city improvement projects to be paid for with the city’s second installment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) COVID relief funds from the Federal government. The budget proposal may be revised based on the most pressing needs. The City also adopted a list of nine storm sewer and street repair and improvement projects to recommend for infrastructure funding from ALDOT, ADECA and ADEM state agencies. Before the council meeting ended, other needed road and street projects were recommended for the list.

In other actions, The Eutaw City Council:

• Opening of bids and sale of surplus items, with some exceptions where the bids were too low.
• Authorized the Mayor and City attorney to negotiate contract with the Town of Boligee on water and sewer services; and a water/sewer billing with Consolidated Catfish Company.
• Approved Lease-purchase with John Deere Sun South for 4 mowers, tractor, bushhog and accessories.
• Approved quote to repair/replace values for Armory Water Tank.
• Approved payment of claims for Anthony Taylor and Earl Purse Jr.
• Approved “Strength in Numbers”, A Black Belt Gathering for Sexual Assault Victims, on Saturday, April 30 at Carver School, starting at 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM.
• Approved 2022 “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday.
• Approved 2022 Spring Clean-up Day for Saturday, April 30, 2022 from 8:00AM until Noon.
• Set May 17, 2022 at 4:00 PM for City Handbook Work Session.
• Approved payment of all bills.

Eutaw City Council approves change in garbage collection contract

7th grader Joveon Carpenter received award from Mayor Johnson and Council members
L to R: Jacqueline Stewart, Phillips Cherry, Mayor Latasha Johnson, Marcus Burton, Paul Jones, LaJeffery Carpenter, Larrie Coleman and Valeria Watkins at presentation of certificates to Water Department trainee

At its most recent regular meeting on November 9, 2021, the Eutaw City Council approved the assignment of the Waste Management contract for garbage collection to Arrow Disposal Service as of December 1, 2021.

Mike Mitchell representing Waste Management appeared before the Council and said, “We are unable to pick-up the garbage on a regular schedule in the City of Eutaw, due to labor shortages, and we are requesting assignment of this contract, to give the people better service.”

The city’s current contract with Waste Management runs through 2023. Arrow Disposal Service is picking up trash in Hale County and will be
able to fulfill the schedule in the City of Eutaw. Waste Management is allowing the new company to use its garbage bins. Mayor Johnson said the new company would follow the same routes and schedule as the old company for the same cost to the city.

Rick Harbin, a CPA from Tuscaloosa gave an interim report to the City Council on his work to audit Eutaw’s finances. He said the last city audit was in 2012 and the last statement was for 2014. Harbin has reviewed the records and prepared a statement as of September 30, 2017 to have a starting point for his audit work. Using the 2017 starting numbers, he is working on an audit or fiscal years 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and the current year 2020-21.

Harbin said he hoped to be able to give the city an “unqualified opinion” on its finances based on the records he has been reviewing. He mentioned that he had a found a large water loss in the city’s water department, which needs to be analyzed and corrected since this is the propriety function of the city where it is pumping and selling water to the residents.

The City Council approved a contract of $ 6,230 with the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with a reimbursable grant they are receiving from the Tombigbee RC&D for signage and beautification. The Chamber will repay the city from grant proceeds.

The City Council agreed to a proposal from the Alabama Children’s Policy Council to place a Little Free Outdoor Library at the City Park and Tennis Courts on Mesopotamia Avenue.

In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

• Approved a resolution concerning zoning for the Rollingwood Apartments, Morrow Realty Company.

• Approved expenditure of $7,000 for National Water Services for a flow test and maintenance of city water wells. This expense is already included in the budget.

• Approved Next Level Leaders use of the R. H. Young Community Center Gym on November 13 for $50.00.

• Approved use of police officers to use city vehicles for part-time patrol at West-Rock manufacturing facilities.

•Approved Supreme Electrical Service for additional work on city facilities.

• Agreed to pay bills.

In her Mayor’s report, Latasha Johnson, called up Javeon Carpenter, a 7th grader at Robert Brown Middle School, and presented him a certificate and award for helping to stop a fight between students at his school. Police Chief Tommy Johnson recommended him for this award.

The Mayor also gave certificates to three Water Department employees – Marcus Burton, Phillip Cherry and Paul Jones – who are studying to receive certification as water operators.

Eutaw City Council adopts $4.8 million budget for fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2021

The Eutaw City Council met on October 12 and again on October 19, 2021, with the main purpose of approving a budget for city operations for the fiscal year October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022. At the October 12 meeting the budget was tabled but at the October 19 meeting it was approved by a 4 to 1 vote.

Several council members said they did not completely understand the entire budget and the concept that the budget could be amended and changed as new financial issues came up. Mayor Johnson said, “This budget is not written in stone, it can be changed as new things occur. We have a surplus in all o our main accounts, so funds are available to cover unexpected or new expenses.”

Mayor Johnson almost begged some council members to approve the budget, “I have been on the council under the last two mayors and we did not have a budget, so we never knew if we could afford to make a decision that involved spending money. The people of Eutaw deserve to know how much money is coming in to the city and what we are spending it on. The council and the people need to know that we have a budget, with a spending plan and that we are following our plan. If something changes or needs to be adjusted then we can always amend the budget.”

The Mayor also assured the council, that with new accounting software that is now in place, bills and expenses will be charged to the appropriate budget and category within the budget, so the council will be able to measure expenses against the budget as they are paid.

The budget is compiled from seven major funds the city has: General Fund, Water Fund, Sewer Fund, 4 Cent Gas Fund, 7Cent Gas Fund, Capital Improvements Fund and Special Street Fund. The revenues coming into each fund are based on experience during the past year and expenses are projected based on actual personnel and costs that are in place for the coming year. The budget projects total revenues of $4,807,716, with expenses of $4,526,200, leaving a surplus of $281,516, with a surplus in each of the seven funds.

The Democrat plans a more detailed review and analysis of the city’s budget in future issues. “I am pleased to see that the City government of Eutaw has a budget, after many years of operating without a budget. This will give the Mayor, Council and the public a better handle on the finances,” said Danny Cooper, Chair of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority and a frequent observer at council meetings.

In other actions, The Eutaw City Council:

• Approved a resolution for a $25,000 contingency fund for the $500,000 grant to repair the roof at the Robert H. Young Community Center, formerly Carver School.

• Declared an old swing set at Clarence Thomas Park as surplus.

• Agreed to close City Hall at Noon on October 21st to prepare for National Night Out at 4:00 to 6:00 PM at the City Park.

• Approved Sever Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday for February 25-27, 2022.

• Approved the Mayor’s appointments to the City Industrial Board – Faye Tyree; Eutaw Planning Board – Joe L. Powell and Noha Alnaham; and the reappointment of Isaac N. Atkins to the Eutaw Housing Authority Board.

• Approved Girl Scout Troop for use of City Park on October 22 and 23, for a Trunk or Treat event.

* Approved rental agreement for Clifford McPeek for music classes and drum repair at R. H. Young Community Center.

• Approved payment of bills.

Eutaw City Council acts on financial and budgetary matters before start of new fiscal year on October 1

In its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, the Eutaw City Council dealt with financial and budgetary matters prior to the beginning of a new fiscal year, later this week on October 1, 2021.

The Council approved recommendations from the Mayor for raises for city personnel other than the Police Department, which had received raises in a prior meeting.

“When we raised the police salaries, you asked me to evaluate the rest of the staff, street, water and other workers, I have now done this and recommended raises in the range of 50 cents to a dollar an hour for the staff. I also consulted Mr. Liverman, our financial consultant, who agreed that funds were available to cover the cost of these raises which will begin with the first pay period in the new year,” said Mayor Latasha Johnson.

Financial advisor, Ralph Liverman, presented the council members with a new draft budget for the coming year, which he said he was still revising.
Liverman said, “We have increased revenues for the coming year, based on
higher sales and gas tax payments made by Love’s Travel Center, which has really helped us. We are also receiving about $50,000 a month in receipts from electronic bingo. We also increased revenues in the Water Department due to better management and collections. I expect we will have $5 million in revenues to work with in the coming fiscal year.”

Liverman explained that the City had set up the proper accounts in Citizens Trust Bank for the water improvement project loan from USDA Rural Development. We are now making required monthly deposits in our loan payment account and two reserve accounts for maintenance and repairs on the system. The City has also established a Water Tank Maintenance Account, to have funds available for tank repairs and have ended a contract with a company for tank maintenance.

Liverman also said he had sent a copy of the proposed budget to BBI, the software company which is setting up the city’s new financial system, which will be used to prepare financial statements and reports comparing expenditures to the budget in the coming year.

The City Council approved a contract with STATERA Consulting, a Human Resource (HR) firm, for $3,500, to review and revise the City’s Personnel Policy Handbook, which requires updating and clarifications. The representative of the company, on a video connection said that he would “make realistic and practical recommendations for changes and improvements to the policies and compliance.”

City Attorney Zane Willingham presented the City Council with a memorandum on legal steps they will need to take to deal with overgrown properties and charge the costs to the owners. Willingham suggested that council members prepare a list of problem properties in their districts so that
they could be acted upon together.

The Council received a request from Mercy and Grace to purchase 4.5 acres of land on Boligee Street, where the swimming pool was previously located, to build an Assisted Living facility for the elderly. Attorney Willingham advised that the Council would need to approve a resolution that the land was not needed for public use before it could be sold. The Council tabled the sale until the resolution could be prepared for the next meeting.

In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

• Opened bids for the sale of surplus property, including trucks, cars, a van and equipment. The Council accepted some of the bids and rejected others. A full report is on the City’s website.

• Approved purchasing identification badges for all city employees, including council members.

• Approved observing October 11, 2021 as Branch & Gilmore Local Holiday, in place of Columbus Day for all city employees.

• Approved request from Girl Scout Troop 408, Greene County Human Rights Commission and Greene County Health Advisers to use City Park on October 6, 2021 for their annual run/walk to promote cancer awareness.

• Approved request from Greene County PARA for use of the City Park on November 6, 2021 for a Commu8nity-wide Fall Festival.

• Approved resolution to declare certain water fund accounts as bad debts and uncollectible, to clear records for the new fiscal year.

• Approved payment of monthly bills.

• Announced National Night Out, for police community relations, will be held October 21, 2021 at the R. H. Young Community Center.

Eutaw City Council approves application for $500,000 to repair roof at old Carver School

The Eutaw City Council met for a partially virtual meeting on August 24, 2021, that was also broadcast to the public on Facebook-Live due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in Greene County. The Eutaw City Council received reports from a number of city departments and paid regular bills for the month. The Council approved a resolution for Mayor Latasha Johnson to apply for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the State ADECA office, to repair the roof on the Robert H. Young Community Center, formerly the Carver Elementary School. The city acquired the school from the Board of Education several years ago and uses it to house non-profit and small business entities. There are no matching fund requirements for this grant. The grant is due before the next regular meeting of the Council. Corey Martin for the Water Department reported that the department had collected $1,039,398.32 in water, sewer and garbage payments since the October 1, 2020 start of the fiscal year. For the last full fiscal year, the Water Department collected $585,592.17, a difference of $453,806.15. The Department has 1,394 customers and added 8 customers this month in the city and 9 customers on Boligee routes. The Water Department has been working to find and fix meters, find and repair leaks and generally to improve the system to increase revenues and reduce water leakage. This includes collection of past due receivables and closing accounts for non-payment or unwillingness to agree to payment plans to settle past-due accounts. Torris Babb, City Engineer reported on his work to evaluate streets that need major repaving work to be funded by state and local funds. He urged the Council to approve a contract for a company to clean out the sludge in the city lagoon to allow its pumps and pipes to work more efficiently. Babb also reported on FEMA financed drainage repairs, a new building code ordinance, GPS mapping of city utilities and other work. Babb also said he secured permission from ALDOT to close a bridge at the end of Springfield Avenue until it could be redone. Linda Spencer, Magistrate and Court Clerk reported that she was working on plans and procedures to hold City Court virtually beginning next month in September. Ralph Liverman, fiscal consultant presented the city with a financial report for the period October 1,2020 through July 31, 2021. The report listed numerous bank accounts that the city has and transactions made during the fiscal year. Liverman also reported he was working on a budget for the coming 2021-2022 fiscal year and wanted to review this in detail with the finance committee. At this time, subject to changes, Liverman projects a budget with $4,057,856 in revenues and $3,616,191 in expenditures with a surplus of $441,665. Liverman said, “This budget would allow for payment of all long-term loan payments like the water system, lighting at the Interstate Exit, and matching fund requirements for various grants. It also would allow us to consider a leasing arrangement for four new police cars, a knuckle-boom truck, a street sweeper and several pick-up trucks needed to improve the ability of the city’s staff to serve residents.” Mayor Johnson reported that negotiations were on-going with IRS to remove a tax lien on the city for employee taxes during the period 2015 to 2020. “We settled with IRS on some years – 2016 and 2017 – and we are awaiting the final charges for 2018 and 2019, to settle this debt,” she said. The Mayor also reported that she had spoken with Waste Management about delays in collecting city garbage. The company says it has staff shortages resulting in delays in garbage collection. The mayor asked City Attorney Zane Willingham to communicate with Waste Management in writing about their service and contractual violations. In other business, the City Council:

• Approved payment of $1,200 each, to three employees, who were sick with COVID-19, from remaining CARES funds.

• Approved travel for city staff to a training for Municipal Clerks and Administrators in Orange Beach in November; and for a BBI Software conference in Meridian, Mississippi on September 2, 2021.

• Approved a contract of $12,720 with Supreme Electrical LLC to replace light fixtures with LED fixtures throughout City Hall, from the Capital Improvement Fund.

Eutaw City Council approves raises for police and water department

Mayor Latasha Johnson, Council members and staff present check for $30,000 to support E-911 dispatch and other emergency services. Funds came from the City’s American Rescue Act funding.

At Tuesday night’s regular Eutaw City Council meeting, the members went through an extensive agenda mostly distributing funds and buying necessary items with General Funds and special funds provided to the city under the American Rescue Plan passed by Democrats in Congress and signed by President Biden. Fiscal Advisor, Ralph Liverman reported that the City had raised $577,000 in General Fund revenues in nine months since the October 1st fiscal year had begun, compared with $525,000 in revenues forecast in the budget. “This means the city will earn additional revenues beyond what we budgeted and the Council can approve additional needed expenditures,” said Liverman. Liverman also reported that $800,914 in revenues from the City’s Water Department for nine months, ending June 30, 2021 was substantially greater than the budgeted amount and more than last year’s full collections. Liverman said Corey Martin, Water Department Supervisor had corrected problems with meters and leaks, raised collections, and secured a license as a sewer operator as well as having a water operator’s license, required to operate the city’s systems. At the Mayor’s suggestion, Liverman recommended that the Council approve a raise of $4.00 an hour for Corey Martin. The Council approved the raised based on the recommendation. It was noted at the end of September 2021, the city would no longer have to pay another contracted company $1,900 for supervising the sewer system, since Martin’s new sewage license would qualify him to play this role. The Mayor asked that the Council approve a $1.00 an hour raise for all police officers which would raise the minimum pay for certified officers to $15.00 an hour. Chief Tommy Johnson commented, “This rate of pay is still low in comparison with other cities, like Moundville and Linden who are paying $17 an hour. Some cities like Demopolis are offering a $5,000 signing bonus. Councilwoman Jacqueline Stewart said she supported a pay raise but it should be based on an evaluation of the individual officer’s work record. “Some officers may deserve more than a $1.00 an hour raise and some less,” she said. Mayor Johnson said let’s give this raise, because it is in the budget already and look again in six months to get an evaluation of all police officers for additional adjustments in pay. The Council and mayor unanimously approved this pay raise for the police. The Eutaw Council also approved spending $97,208 for a well improvement telemetry program to put all wells on a digitally monitored system instead of using a telephonic warning system, which does not provide the information on a as detailed or timely basis. They approved $3,483 a year for the On-Solve Community Notification System, to inform residents of emergencies and problems with the city utilities. They also approved $21,175 for new software for bookkeeping, cemetery maintenance and business licenses; $8,896 for purchase of body cameras for the police; and $1, 980 for replacement of the light fixtures in the City Council meeting chamber. Most of these expenditures will be paid by the American Rescue Plan funds or from the Capital Improvement budget. In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

•Approved a resolution to set up a Water Department Revenue Account and ending the Water Deposit Account, since there are no records of water deposits paid. If a resident can produce a receipt for a water deposit they will be reimbursed. New water customers will be required to pay a one-time $100 water connection and account fee. •Adopted a written Water Leak and Bill Dispute Policy.

•Approved several members of the staff to attend an Alabama Rural Water Training in Tuscaloosa on July 15, 2021

•Approved a resolution to set up a bank account for currency seized by police in raids and arrests.

•Approved the creation of a police sub-station at the Robert H. Young Community Center (old Carver School). •Approved paying bills. •Approved a contribution of $30,000 to support E-911.