Tornadoes hit homes, trailers and church in Greene County

Tornadoes hit the homes of Mrs. Mary Anthony and her son and destroyed Morning Star Baptist Church, Forkland, leaving only a pile of rubble. In addition, other homes and trailers in the Forkland and Tishabee communities were destroyed.

Tornadoes roared through Greene County last Friday, touching down in both the northern and southern areas and damaging homes, trailers, and at least two church roofs.
Warning sirens began wailing at 1:22 p.m. and shortly afterward the winds moved in.
Morning Star Baptist Church in Forkland was completely destroyed.
The final damage report released by the Interim EMA Director Iris Sermon was: 11 mobile homes – six of them sustained minor damage. four sustained major damage and one totally destroyed; 10 homes – nine with minor damage and one destroyed; two churches damaged and one destroyed. There were also a number of trees and power lines downed.
Only a small percentage of those with damaged or destroyed property had insurance.
Four persons were treated for injuries sustained in the tornado.
Others had minor scrapes and bruises including two people who were actually blown out of their home and into an adjoining field.
One lady said that while the tornado missed her home, it uprooted some trees in the back yard – “picked them up by their roots and just tossed them,” she said.
Trailers and homes belonging to members of her family were destroyed. “It happened just about the time you could blink your eyes, it hit,” she said, adding that later that evening when she needed medical attention, they had to go up Highway 20 to get to the hospital because all of the other roads had trees and power lines on them.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” she said. “People have been good. Senator Bobby Singleton came down here and lots of people we didn’t even know.”
First responders including law enforcement officers, the County Highway Department, Forkland Fire Department as well as ambulances and fire departments from Demopolis worked through the night as the tornadoes continued to move.
Many citizens and members of the Greene County Commission, councilwomen and men from various towns and concerned citizens also offered assistance where they could.
On Tuesday, April 19, a delegation consisting of members of the State EMA and Congresswoman Terri Sewell visited the Forkland Town Hall and talked privately with various officials, including members of the Greene County Commission, about possible assistance.
Art Faulkner, head of the Alabama EMA, said everything would take time and Governor Bentley was expecting faith-based, community-based and other volunteers to help where needed.


Terri Sewell sworn in as Congresswoman for 7th Congressional District of Alabama

On Wednesday, January 5, 2011, in Washington, D. C., Terri Sewell of Selma was sworn-in as the Congresswoman, representing the Alabama 7th Congressional District in the U. S. House of Representatives.
She is the first African-American women elected to Congress from the State of Alabama. She will fill the seat vacated by Artur Davis, who represented the district for five terms.
Sewell hosted a reception for family, friends and constituents at the Library of Congress – Madison Building, across from the U. S. Capitol.
In the photo at left are Terri Sewell and Retired Federal Judge, U. W. Clemmons of Birmingham, at the reception.
Sewell was a clerk for Judge Clemmons in Birmingham when she first finished law school. Clemmons came to support her on her first official day as a Congress-person. He said, “Terri Sewell becomes a member of Congress on a propitious day for her and the nation; she will participate in many important decisions that affect the future of people in the nation and the world.”
Sewell thanked her family and supporters and said she “would make the people of the Alabama’s 7th District proud that they had sent her to represent them in Congress”.
She spent most of her first day on the floor voting for the Speaker of the House and many procedural rules for the coming Congressional session. There was a continuing reception for Sewell at her office at 1133 Longworth House Office Building which was crowded with constituents and well wishers. At press time, Sewell did not know her House committee assignments for the coming term.
Sewell thanked her family and supporters and said she “would make the people of the Alabama’s 7th District proud that they had sent her to represent them in Congress”.
She spent most of her first day on the floor voting for the Speaker of the House and many procedural rules for the coming Congressional session. There was a continuing reception for Sewell at her office at 1133 Longworth House Office Building which was crowded with constituents and well wishers. At press time, Sewell did not know her House committee assignments for the coming term.

Terri Sewell speaks at Eutaw church Women’s Day Program

Mrs. Bernice Young and her daughter Attorney Tamara Young Lee present Congresswoman-elect Terri Sewell (center) with a Certificate of Appreciation at recent Women’s Day Program at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

By John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Congresswoman-elect Terri Sewell of the Alabama Seventh Congressional District was the guest speaker for Sunday’s Women’s Day Program at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Eutaw, Alabama.
Sewell was elected as the first African-American woman to Congress from Alabama on November 2nd, taking the seat previously held by Artur Davis. Greene County and most of the Alabama Black Belt region is included in her district.
Sewell was introduced by Tamara K. Young Lee of Tuskegee whose mother, Bernice H. Young, was leading the program.
Sewell, who is a native of Selma, now resides in Birmingham where she was a lawyer specializing in economic development and bond financing for governments and utilities. Sewell was the first Black valedictorian at Selma High School and went on to get her undergraduate degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard University.
Sewell mixed religious passages, anecdotes from her life and advice to young people in her spiritual and inspirational message to the full church. She urged the audience to have purpose and vision in their lives and to derive that purpose from a belief in God and faith in yourself and your family, community, education and vision.
Sewell urged young people to ”move out of your comfort zone” and experience new challenges. She said that when she went to Princeton, she was a little apprehensive about her ability to succeed there but she relied on her faith, family and community support to give her strength to do well there.
She said, “Do not let others define you and be proud of where you come from and the journey you have taken. I am proud of being from Selma and it is a distinction that others now recognize.”
Sewell recounted the story of meeting another student, Pierre Dupont, from the chemical company, who introduced himself as “Pierre Dupont, from the Duponts of Delaware!” She responded, “Well I am Terri Sewell of the Sewell’s from Selma”. Sewell said one of the first campaign contributions she received in her Congressional race was from her college classmate – Pierre Dupont.
Sewell said, “She was honored and thrilled to represent the district in Congress but she needed the help of people who live in the area to help move the district forward. She asked people to assist her by giving their thoughts and opinions on the many important issues before Congress in the coming session.”
In her concluding comments, Sewell said, “Those of us who are blessed – must be a blessing to others. We must lift as we climb, which is what I hope to do in my service in Congress.”
Pastor Joseph Mason of St. Paul’s UMC in brief remarks after Sewell said he was pleased to hear her comments and that “ she has a spiritual foundation to her life”.
The program also gave scholarships to two students from the church attending post-secondary education and recognition to women who were political officials in Greene County.

Greene County bucks state and national Republican trend; Dr. Bentley wins governorship; Republicans sweep Alabama; Terri Sewell elected first Alabama Black woman to Congress

Dr. Robert Bentley, Terri Sewell, Sheriff-elect Joe Benison
Eighty-five percent of Greene County’s 4,362 voters (a 60% turnout) supported Democrat Ron Sparks for Governor of Alabama while statewide Dr. Robert Bentley and other Republican candidates were swept into office. Nationally, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and Democrats retained control of the U. S. Senate by a narrow margin.
In Greene County, Sparks had 3,666 votes (85%) to 665 (15%) for Dr. Bentley but statewide Bentley won with 58% of the vote. In Greene County Jim Folsom led Kay Ivy for Lt. Governor by 3,746 (87%) to 562 (13%) but statewide she won a narrow victory over Folsom.
For the rest of the statewide contests, Republicans were swept into office. U. S. Senator Richard Shelby was reelected for a fifth term. Luther Strange defeated James Anderson for State Attorney General. All three Republican candidates for Alabama Supreme Court – Tom Parker, Kelli Wise and Michael Bolin were victorious.
For other state positions, Beth Chapman was reelected as Secretary of State, Young Boozer as Treasurer, Samantha Shaw as State Auditor, and John McMillan for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.
Long time Democratic members of the Public Service Commission, which sets utility rates, Jan Cook and Susan Parker, were defeated by Republicans Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Terry Dunn.
Republicans took control of the Alabama Legislature for the first time in 136 years. Republicans will control the Alabama Senate 22 to 13 and the Alabama House by at least 60 to 55. This is important because Republicans will control the redistricting process, based on the 2010 Census and can draw the legislative and Congressional district lines in such a way to perpetuate their power for many years to come.
The one positive light for Democrats in Tuesday’s election was the victory of Terri Sewell as 7th District Congressperson by an over 75% margin. Sewell is the first African-American women to serve in Congress from the state of Alabama and takes the seat vacated by Artur Davis. She will be the only Democratic member of the state’s legislative delegation. The other six Congresspersons will be Republicans and our two Senators are Republicans.
“I am so grateful to the people of the 7th District and I will roll up my sleeves everyday to show them that I earned their vote,” said Sewell at her victory celebration in Selma. In Congress, where she will be part of the minority party, she said she will work to create jobs, invest in small businesses, bring economic development, emphasize education and concentrate on promoting career and technical training.
In local elections, most Greene County candidates ran unopposed as Democratic candidates. Jonathan ‘Joe’ Benison was formally elected the new Sheriff of Greene County and will take office in January 2011.
Five County Commissioners were chosen: Nick Underwood (District 1), Tennyson Smith (District 2), Endora Fluker (District 3), Allen Turner Jr. (District 4) and Marvin Childs (District 5) and will take office as soon as they are certified. There will be a swearing-in ceremony this coming Sunday (November 7) at the William M. Branch County Courthouse in Eutaw, Alabama for the new Commissioners.
Lester ‘Bop’ Brown was re-elected to the Greene County School Board from District 1 and Morris Hardy from District 2.
Ronald “Kent” Smith was reelected County Coroner defeating a write-in challenge from Melvin Smith by 3,214 votes to 692. Greg Griggers was reelected as District Attorney for Greene, Sumter and Marengo Counties.
Bobby Singleton was re-elected as a State Senator for District 24 including Greene County and Artis “A. J’’ McCampbell was re-elected as State Representative for District 71. They will return to Montgomery as members of a smaller Democratic minority party.
Senator Hank Sanders, who was re-elected to the Legislature, commenting on the elections said, “ This election is a setback for Alabama. We do not have a single Democrat elected to statewide office. The Democrats were more open to diversity and inclusion of African-Americans at all levels in state government and community development in general. This election has greatly diminished the possibilities of diversity particularly for African-Americans.
“I hope the Republicans that have been elected will reach out and be more inclusive in all areas and especially in areas of race but up to this point I have not seen them do so.”
When asked about being part of the minority party in the Legislature, Sanders said, “Well this is nothing new for me. I have been part of a minority for all of my life in this society. Being part of the majority, with the Democratic Party for the past few years, was the exception for me. We will need to be more resourceful, more creative and more determined. We will have to work harder and do more to accomplish less. The challenges will be greater and the blessings coming from those challenges will be greater as well.”