County Commission deals
with financial matters

Rev. James Carter
1961– 2022

Rev. James Carter, a former Greene County Commissioner
District 4 passed away on Sunday, April 10, 2022, after a
long illness.

Carter was honored earlier that same day with a benefit program
to raise funds to help his family with expenses. Members of the Eta Mu Sigma
Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Paramount Class of 1979, members of churches
he pastored and others supported the program.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 1:00 PM at
Carver School gymnasium.

The Greene County Commission held a special meeting on March 31 and its regular monthly meeting on April 11, 2022 to mostly deal with and approve financial matters.

The special meeting was called to approve a refunding of the county’s bond issue for construction of the William McKinley Branch Courthouse and the Jail. There are 15 years left on the 2007 warrants, with a balance of $3,855,000 remaining, with an interest rate of 4.61%, after the February 2022 annual payment.

The bonds were refinanced by PiperSandler Investment Corporation, at 2.99% for remaining 14 years of the warrants from February 2023 to February 2037. The county will realize a net savings of $339,263 on the transaction (around $25,000 per year), which includes payment of issuance and placement fees and restoration of the bond warrants fund. Walter Lewis, a former University of Alabama quarterback, represented the company and secured placement of the bonds at a more favorable interest rate.

At the April 11 regular meeting, CFO Mac Underwood reported that the bond refinancing had been completed as of April 5, 2022, at the rates promised.

At the start of the April 11 meeting, the Commission observed a moment of silence to honor the late Rev. James Carter, who had served as a commissioner for District 4 in the past.

CFO Mac Underwood provided a financial report as of March 22, 2022, which showed $6,627,903 in various accounts in Citizens Trust Bank, $4,981,946 in Merchants and Farmers Bank and several certificates in Robertson Bank for a total of $11,971,738, plus an additional amount for the county’s bond fund in the Bank of New York. He also presented a report showing $640,650 in claims and payroll for March and $138,000 in electronic payments for taxes and retirement funds.

All agencies including the General Fund and Sheriff’s Department are in line with the budget and have spent around half of their budget funds by this mid-point in the fiscal year which began October 1st. Underwood recommend an increase of $14,500 in the Coroner’s budget due to high cost for transportation for people who died from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission approved the financial reports, payment of claims and the budget amendment.

The Commission heard a report from County Engineer, Willie Branch, and approved his recommendations, including:

• Awarding a bid of $197,715 to ST Bunn Construction for Project No. RA-GCP 01-02-2022 for spot leveling and patch county roads.

• Awarding a bid of $549,735 to ST Bunn Construction for Project No. RA-GCP – 01 -01-2022 for patching multiple sections of CR 117,120 and 154.
• Approving a Memorandum of Agreement with ALDOT regarding federal exchange funds.

• Approving a proposal from JM Wood Auction for sale of equipment at the June action and declaring that equipment as surplus.

The Commission also acted on a request from Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA), agreeing to serve as a co-applicant for EDA, Infrastructure Appropriations and Broadband grants for 2022-2023, including a proposal to repair transportation network roads in the Crossroads of America Industrial Park and Port.

The Commission tabled a request from the GCIDA for improvements to its office building on the Courthouse Square, across from Eutaw City Hall. The GCIDA and the Eutaw Chamber of Commerce jointly lease this building, for a nominal amount, from the County Commission. Commission Chair Turner requested a meeting with the GCIDA and Chamber of Commerce to consider sharing the cost of these expenses for the building.

At the Special Meeting on March 31, 2022, the Commission adopted a resolution to ask its attorney Mike Parnell to request an opinion from the State Attorney General on the use of county facilities, like the Courthouse and Eutaw Activity Center for “political meetings”. In the public comments section of the meeting, John Zippert, Democrat Co-Publisher, asked why an AG’s opinion was needed for a practice of using public buildings for political meetings, that Greene County had been implementing for fifty years.

Attorney Parnell said that he wanted to be sure it was legal to use county-owner facilities for political meetings. Zippert asked if the decision would be available before the May 24th Primary Election. Parnell said he hoped to have the decision before the November general election.

All Commissioners were present either in person or on the phone for both meetings,
except that Commissioner Corey Cockrell was absent for both meetings.

 

Events to mark MLK Birthday in Greene County announced

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spiver W. Gordon

Spiver W. Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Movement announced plans for the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday in Greene County, for the third weekend in January.

“In Greene County, we have been celebrating Dr. King’s Birthday long before it was a national holiday because of Dr. King’s work which brought civil rights and voting rights to our county. We also celebrate throughout the weekend, including on January 15, Dr. King’s actual birthday, as well as on the third Monday, which is the official national holiday,” said Gordon.

On Saturday, January 15, 2022, at 12:00 Noon there will be a Freedom Sidewalk Luncheon at Sandra Walker’s former Campaign Headquarters, in Eutaw, next to the new Courthouse on Tuscaloosa Street. Speakers at this outdoor program include: Sister Martha Lucia Tonon of the Guadalupon Multicultural Services; and Attorney John Stamps, III of the Black Belt Law Center in Bessemer, Alabama. Other speakers have also been invited to give remarks.

On Sunday, January 16, 2022, there will be a community program at First Baptist Church at 3:00 to honor Dr. King. There is a historical marker at the church remembrance of Dr. King’s coming to speak at the church in the 1960’s as part of the movement to change civil rights in this nation. Rev.  Kendrick Howell , will be the keynote speaker at this event. Rev. Lynn Finch is pastor of First Baptist Church.

On Monday, January 17, 2022 at 8:00 AM there will be a Freedom Unity Breakfast at the Branch Heights Community Center. After breakfast, there will be a march from Branch Heights to the William M. Branch County Courthouse in downtown Eutaw. At the Courthouse there will be a Freedom Rally with speakers, including Rev. James Carter, Rev. Kevin Cockrell, Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson, School Board Chair, Dr. Carol P. Zippert and other elected officials.

After the Courthouse Rally, the group will return to the Branch Heights Community Center for a Dreaming About Freedom Mass Rally with Teirdre Owens, Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Terri Sewell and others.


“We are hoping to have an inspirational series of events to start the year of 2022 in the right ‘freedom spirit’ to continue throughout the year.

Salute to First Responders and Healthcare Workers to be held May 14-28 in Greene County

As of May 13, 2020 at 10:00 AM:
Alabama had 10,494 confirmed cases of coronavirus
with 442 deaths.
Greene County had 74
confirmed cases and 4 deaths

The Greene County Responders Committee has come together to plan a series of events over the next two weeks to honor First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers for their dedicated and selfless service during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Committee seeks to recognize the services, commitment and dedication of all police, sheriff deputies, firefighters, EMT’s. E-911 staff, and staff at the Hospital, Nursing Home and health clinics.
The salute to First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers will begin with a program at Noon on Thursday, May 14, 2020 on the Old Courthouse Square. Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth will present a Proclamation to honor First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers. Other County and Municipal governing bodies and agencies will also present resolutions of support. Persons attending the program will be asked to wear masks and practice social distancing requirements.
After this short program, a group of fire trucks, with sirens blazing, followed by a caravan of local vehicles will drive through town to honor our first responders. They will stop at various places along the route to honor first responders and healthcare workers.
On Friday, May 15, 2020, the E-911 will sound their sirens at Noon to honor first responders and healthcare workers. Saturday, May 16, 2020 will be Mask Day and everyone outside their homes will be asked to wear a face covering, in the interest of safety. For Sunday, May 17, 2020, the Greene County Responders Committee is asking all church pastors to include a reference to honoring and thanking first responders and healthier workers in their sermons and church announcements.
The Greene County Responders Committee also plans a Special Love Program for Thursday, May 28, 2020, where all first responders and healthcare workers will receive a lunch and other expressions of love and support.
“The Greene County Responders Committee was set up in haste to respond to the pandemic emergency and the need to honor first responders and healthcare heroes,” said Anita Lewis, Committee Chair and Director of the Greene County Housing Authority. Spiver Gordon, President of the Alabama Civil Rights Museum, is Committee Organizer.
“We welcome other Greene County residents to join our Committee and bring ideas, support and funding to help us strengthen our salute to First Responders and Frontline Healthcare Workers. We want to develop other activities during the two week period to honor First Responders and Healthcare Workers,” said Ms. Lewis.
Other members of the Greene County Responders Committee include Mollie Rowe, Veronica Jones, Sandy Walker, J. E. Morrow, Latasha Johnson, Lorenzo French, Hodges Smith, Geraldine Walton, Shelia Smith, Rev. James Carter, Lester Brown, Joe Lee Powell, Elzora Fluker and John Zippert
Ms. Anita Lewis may be contacted through the Greene County Housing Authority office in Branch Heights at 205/372-3342.

Local Foot Soldiers honored at Dr. King Commemorative Program

 

Shown L to R: Mrs. Elzora Fluker, Mrs. Leola Carter, Mrs. Elberta Miles and Elder Spiver Gordon; Shown L to R: Rev. John Kennard, Rev Carlos Thornton, Rev. James Carter, Joseph Siegelman, Lorenzo French, Ruby Cain, Elder Spiver Gordon and former Governor Don Siegelman; Elder Spiver Gordon gives Certificate of  Appreciation to Rev. Carlos Thornton 

Sunday, April 8, 2018 a commemoration program was held at Mt. Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church in Tishabee, AL where Rev. Carlos Thornton serves as church pastor. The program, sponsored by the Alabama Civil Rights Museum, honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the Foot Soldiers of Greene County who worked in the Civil Rights Movement.
The theme for the event, Recognizing, Observing and Remembering featured the observance of local Civil Rights leaders of Greene County from the Tishabee and Forkland communities. Elder Spiver Gordon, the President of the Alabama Civil Right Museum, presented local Foot Soldiers with certificates of recognition for their contributions in paving the way to ensure a better future.

The honorees included Rev. Marshall Anthony, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hines, Mr. Jonah Smothers, Mr. George Perry, Mr. Ed Carter, Rev. W.D. Lewis, Mrs. Eliza Carter, Mrs. Mary Eliza French, Mr. Vassie Knott, Elberta Miles Mr. and Mrs. Willie C. Carter and many more. Family members were present to accept on behalf of their deceased family member.
Gordon stated, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a predominant leader in the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination in America during the 1950s and 1960s and a leading spokesperson for nonviolent methods of achieving social change. The local Foot Soldiers followed the philosophy of Dr. King.”
On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated on the balcony outside his Memphis, Tennessee, hotel room. In a posthumously published essay titled “A Testament of Hope,” King urged African Americans to continue their commitment to nonviolence, but also cautioned that “justice for Black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”
During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Gordon noted that these principles guided the Foot Soldiers of Tishabee and Forkland who sacrificed and took risks to bring about change. During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The King Center in Atlanta is a living memorial to King’s vision of a free and equal world dedicated to expanding opportunity, fighting racism and ending all forms of discrimination.
Local candidate in the 2018 June Primary and November General Elections were invited to come to meet and greet the community. For Probate Judge: Rev. John Kennard and Rev. James Carter were present; Circuit Clerk candidate Veronica Morton-Jones was present; Commission Candidate, District 4, John Vester was present and Commission Candidate, District 3, Elzora C. Fluker was present. In the Sheriff’s race Lorenzo French and Beverly Spencer were present.
Also in attendance was former Governor Don Siegelman, along with his son Joseph Siegelman, who is a candidate for Attorney General. Both greeted the congregation.
Keynote speaker Senator Hank Sanders delivered greetings via phone. He stated as one of his favorite quotes: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Bro. Lorenzo French recited one of Dr. King’s speeches. Songs were rendered by Rev. Kendrick Howell, Bro. Willie Mack and Donald Young.

Industrial development delegation visits Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee to review feasibility for Waste to Energy Plant

IDA .jpg

Visiting delegation review feasibility of Crossroads of America Industrial Park for waste-to-energy project: (L to R) a member of the Greene Co. Water Authority staff, Ralph Banks III, Treasurer of GCIDA, Rev. James Carter, GCIDA, Vincent Atkins, Greene County Water Authority, Mayor Louis Harper of Boligee, Dr. Ellsworth James, consultant to project, Dr. John Wu, Chairman, JMC Renewable Energy Systems, Dao Xian Feng, JMC Senior Boiler Engineer, Danny Cooper, Chair of GCIDA, Jian Tu, JMC Project Manager, Ying Hua Deng, Senior Electrical Engineer and Christopher Wu, Board Secretary for JMC.

A delegation of representatives from JMC Renewable Energy Solutions visited the Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee in late December 2017, to review the feasibility of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority’s site for a potential industry. The delegation also met with GCIDA Board members, Mayor Harper of Boligee, the Greene County Water Authority and others to discuss the potential of this renewal energy project.
JMC Renewable Energy Solutions, Inc. specializes in designing, developing and operating custom renewable energy and infrastructure solutions. JMC’s goal is to reduce the carbon footprint resulting from MSW and GHG through energy recovery and sustainable infrastructure development.

JMC is partnering with the Chinese Machinery and Equipment Corporation, an eight billion dollar publicly-traded infrastructural conglomerate, which designed, financed and constructed super projects in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The first project in the United States is a partnership with JMC Renewable Energy Solutions Inc., a Mississippi Corporation. CMEC will provide the engineering, design, and financing for the Mississippi project. JMC has put together competent local management teams in each region where renewable energy projects are planned. Current projects are planned for Bolivar County, Mississippi and Greene County, Alabama.
The proposed Greene county project is a state of the art Waste-to-Energy plant that converts all municipal solid waste – household garbage – into electricity, with no harmful emissions released in the air or toxins into the land and groundwater.
The Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plant currently under evaluation utilizes an advanced technology that converts trash to electricity and will sell the energy to the regional power grid. The plant will provide a constant supply of energy to the grid, 24-7.
The new WTE plant will reduce input to landfills and eliminate nearly 100% of toxic methane gas, the most harmful of all greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere. The residual 3% is an abrasive material that can be sold to landfills to absorb landfill emissions and odor, or used to make asphalt.
The WTE plant will also reduce the demand for local landfills that contaminate the land and groundwater, reduce the harmful greenhouse gases being released in the atmosphere, and convert the steam produced to generate low-cost, clean electricity.
The particular system under review is a proven technology currently used the SWA’s Renewable Energy Faciity 2 in West Palm Beach Florida. At capacity, REF 2 will process more than 1 million tons (907,200,000 kg) of post-recycled municipal solid waste annually and 3,000 tons a daily – more than 660 curbside trucks worth of trash every day!
Once fully operational, the communities in the Alabama Black Belt, that participate in the project will receive direct financial benefits by:
•reducing costly municipal expenses for garbage transport to the landfill and energy expenses for residential and business customer; and
•generating revenue sharing opportunities to communities sending their municipal solid waste to the WTE plant.
By reducing expenses and adding revenue to local municipal budgets, the communities have the potential to strengthen their financial positions. With the planned revenue, Black Belt communities can develop new long-term project plans and budgets, for desperately-needed infrastructure repairs, housing and commercial developments, all of which will provide employment opportunities for area residents.
If you would like more information about this project, please contact David Hannans at geg@gatewayenergy.co.

 

Advocates urge a “NO” vote Black Warrior EMC sends out package of revised by-laws for a membership vote by May 1

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

BWEMC

Members of the Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation, as of February 24, 2017 have received a package of materials, including a revised set of By-laws, a summary of the changes and a mail ballot to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on all of the changes in one vote.
Members have contacted the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which has been sponsoring “a co-op democracy project” focused on Black Warrior, to ask how they should vote on these by-law changes. Black Warrior members have also contacted the Greene County Democrat and other trusted community organizations to ask for advice on this by-law package.
If you receive your electric power from Black Warrior EMC you are a “member” of the cooperative. Black Warrior has 26,000 members in the rural parts of many of the western Alabama Black Belt counties including Greene, Sumter, Hale, Perry, Choctaw, Marengo, Tuscaloosa and others.
If you paid your deposit and have a Black Power Electric meter, you are a member of the “electric membership corporation” or cooperative and you have a vote on major issues facing the cooperative, like election of the board of directors, changing the by-laws and other important issues.
Rev. James Carter of Tishabee Community in Greene County said, “I was surprised to receive this 24 page set of new by-laws in the mail and a ballot to vote, without more explanations, without a meeting scheduled to explain these changes. I have an education but I feel you need to be a lawyer or other professional expert to fully understand this document and make an informed and intelligent vote on it.”

Carter, who is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit to make Black Warrior’s Board and Management more transparent, accountable and democratic, also said, “ I am happy to see these by-laws because they answer many questions the members have been raising with Black Warrior, for a number of years, but they also raise new questions about additional discretionary powers granted to the co-op’s Board of Directors, which may adversely affect the members.
“We need more time and a series of meetings in the Black Warrior EMC service area to explain these changes and allow for the members to understand what they are voting on. We are also asked to vote up or down on the whole package in one vote even if we disagree with some of the specific changes or would like to add other changes to make the cooperative more democratic and responsive to its members.”
Adriauna Davis, a Community Outreach Worker with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, who has been meeting with BWEMC members to discuss and strategize ways to make the power provider more democratic and responsible to its members, said, “We plan to go to court, under our existing lawsuit, and stop this by-law mail ballot until a membership meeting or district membership meetings are held to explain these new by-laws and the changes.”
“In the meantime, we are urging BWEMC members to vote “NO” on the ballot and write in that, “ I do not understand all of these by-law changes and want a meeting to understand and discuss these changes,” said Davis.
Davis points out that the current BWEMC By-laws require a membership meeting to amend the by-laws. The Board and Management, who developed and sent out the new ballot revisions, say their effort is legal under new provisions of the Electric Cooperative Statute of Alabama, which allow for a mail ballot.
Marcus Bernard, Director of the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama said, “We received about 100 phone calls last week from BWEMC members who were mailed the by-laws package. They say that they do not understand what to do. Many do not fully understand that they are members and are entitled to vote on the by-laws and other matters. We are recommending a “NO” vote until there are educational meetings to explain the changes to members.”
Bernard pointed out that the BWEMC was founded in 1938 and has not revised its by-laws in 66 years since 1950. The co-op has not had an official Annual Meeting of Members to elect the co-op’s board of directors during this same period. Since their have not been official membership meetings, with the required quorum of 5% (1,300 members) the board has been allowed to perpetuate itself without meaningful input from the members.
The Democrat will be following this story closely in coming weeks and will have more articles and opinion pieces on these important issues.