Greene County Commission inaugurated

On Sunday evening, November 13, 2022, the newly elected Greene County Commissioners were sworn in at the William M. Branch Courthouse in front of a full house of family, friends and political followers.

Probate Judge Rolonda Wedgeworth gave a welcome and greeting. Rev. John Kennard gave a Scripture Reading from John, Chapter 1, and an invocation prayer for the occasion. Marvin Turner on the saxophone and Bruce Parris on the keyboard provided musical selections.

Each of the commissioners was sworn in by a different person. Marilyn Sanford, City Clerk of Union, Alabama, administered the oath to Garria Spencer of District 1. His wife Althenia Spencer held the Bible. Spencer is newly elected to the position held by Lester ‘Bop’ Brown until his untimely death. Lester’s daughter, LaPortia Brown, was appointed to serve out her father’s term. Garria Spencer served on the Commission for two terms in the 1990’s.

District Judge Lillie Jones-Osborne swore in Tennyson Smith, District 2 and Allen Turner, current Chair, from District 4. LaPortia Brown held the Bible for Smith and Allen Turners father held the Bible for him.

Probate Judge Rolonda Wedgeworth swore in Corey Cockrell, District 3. Cockrell’s mother held the Bible for him.

District Judge Eddie Hardaway swore in Roshanda Summerville, District 5, with her son holding the Bible.

Commissioners Smith, Cockrell, Turner and Summerville will be joining the Commission for another term.

The new Greene County Commission will meet on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 4:45 PM for its first meeting. At this meeting, the Commission will elect a Chair, Vice Chair and make other assignments to the commissioners.

Arnelia ‘Shay” Johnson inaugurated as Greene County Revenue Commissioner

Arnelia “Shay” Johnson (center) being sworn-in as Revenue Commissioner, by Circuit Clerk, Veronica Morton-Jones; Ariyanna Johnson holds Bible for her mother.

On Thursday, September 30, 2021, Arnelia “Shay” Johnson was sworn-in as Revenue Commissioner for Greene County, a position over the appraisal, assessment and collection of ad valorem property taxes for the county.

Johnson was elected to the position in the November 2020 General Election but her four-year term does not begin until October 1, 2021, to coincide with the fiscal/tax year. She succeeds Barbara McShan, who held the position for the past six years.

Johnson worked in the appraisal and assessment part of the office for many years, so she is knowledgeable and familiar with the role she will play as Revenue Commissioner, heading the office which brings in a substantial part of the tax revenues coming to Greene County.

At the inauguration ceremony, Marilyn Sanford was the Mistress of Order, Roshonda Summerville, Chair of the Greene County Commission offered a welcome and Rev. Kevin L. Cockrell gave an invocation. Rev. John Kennard, a former Greene County Tax Assessor, before the positions of Assessor and Collector, were merged into one position as Revenue Commissioner, introduced the new Revenue Commissioner.

Circuit Clerk, Veronica Morton Jones, administered the oath of office to Arnelia “Shay” Johnson. Ariyanna Johnson, the new Commissioner’s 15 year- old daughter held the Bible, which was used to swear in her mother.

After the oath, Johnson thanked her family and friends for their support, including John Cockrell, her campaign manager, who passed away since the election. “I am here to give service to the people of Greene County. I will have an open-door policy, if you need to see me to ask a question or voice a concern, I will be available to assist you,” said Johnson.

At the conclusion of his introductory remarks, Rev. John Kennard said, “She will have to be tough, to fight for what is right; she will have to be tender, to love; she will be human and make mistakes; she will have the humility to admit her mistakes; and she will need resilience, to keep moving forward.”


49th anniversary of Greene County Freedom Day held at Morrow-Brown Community Center


Spiver W. Gordon presents certificate to Rev. John Kennard, Guest Speaker at the 49th anniversary program. Several of the program participants joined them at the podium.

On Saturday, July 28, 2018, about 50 residents of Greene County, met at the Morrow-Brown Community Center in Branch Heights to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the July 29, 1969 Special Election. This election resulted in a victory for four African-American candidates for the Greene County Commission and two for the Board of Education, which meant Black control of county government for the first time since Reconstruction. The Special Election of 1969 was ordered by the U. S. Supreme Court in a case brought by Greene County indicating that local officials had deliberately left Black candidates supported by the National Democratic Party (NDPA) off the 1968 ballot. In the 1970 election, William M. Branch was elected Probate Judge and Thomas Gilmore was elected Sheriff of Greene County completing a sweep of almost all public offices in the county. The Greene County Special Election of 1969 was heralded as a great victory for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in an Alabama Black Belt county that contributed marchers to the ‘Bloody Sunday’ and subsequent marches in Selma. A New York Times headline on July 30, 1969 proclaimed: Election of 6 Alabama Negroes hailed as ‘Giant Political Step’. The Alabama Civil Rights Museum under the leadership of Spiver W. Gordon sponsored Saturday’s program, which included a display of photos, and programs from the museum’s collection. Rev. John Kennard was the Guest Speaker. Levi Morrow Jr. spoke about the origins and planning that went into the construction of Branch Heights. District 1 Commissioner Lester Brown and others made remarks to commemorate the occasion.