Mounds swears in new mayor

Rita Flummer, middle, takes her oath of office as mayor of the City of Mounds May 6 with the help of former mayor, Waymon Butler, right and city clerk Robin Barksdale. After being sworn in, Flumer then lead her first city council meeting.-- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Rita Flummer, middle, takes her oath of office as mayor of the City of Mounds May 6 with the help of former mayor, Waymon Butler, right and city clerk Robin Barksdale. After being sworn in, Flumer then lead her first city council meeting.– Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Mounds City Hall saw a big turnover May 6.

During a regularly scheduled meeting of the City of Mounds City Council, five people took the oath of office. Jesse McNeil and Raymond Howard were both sworn in as aldermen. That night Lynda Walker and Noel Roberson were appointed to the council as aldermen.

The most notable change, however was Rita Flumer being sworn in as Mayor.

Flumer lost no time after the ceremonies were finished. Before she conducted her first council meeting as mayor, she took the time to address the council and the public attendants.

In her address, Flumer commented on how she planned to run her office. She said she plans on allowing the heads of the City’s department’s to go about their daily work without much interference from her.

“I’m not here to micro manage your departments,” Flumer said. However, she did make it clear she wanted communication should anything be out of the ordinary.

Flumer also said she wants to work out any internal friction within City Hall by implementing a system of direct communication  and professionalism.

“We need to respect each other,” she said.

Flumer announced that she will put Mounds above all else. She said any action that taken against the city will not be tolerated.

Finally, Flummer said she will be fair in her dealings with all the department heads. She said she does not listen to hearsay, but instead bases opinions on real relationships.

– Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Packing up the polls

On April 9, the polls opened for the Consolidated Election.

Barbara B. Johnson, left, Tyrus Davis, middle, and Vernon Stubblefield finish packing up the third ward polling location April 9 at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. Many of the polling places throughout the county had a slow day, one not even seeing its first voter until after noon. Stubblefield said in 13 hours of being open, Ward 3 had 30 voters. In all 660 people in Alexander County went out to vote. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Barbara B. Johnson, left, Tyrus Davis, middle, and Vernon Stubblefield finish packing up the third ward polling location April 9 at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. Many of the polling places throughout the county had a slow day, one not even seeing its first voter until after noon. Stubblefield said in 13 hours of being open, Ward 3 had 30 voters. In all 660 people in Alexander County went out to vote. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

5th grade has early inauguration

Aeris Jackson, left,and Brajuan Allgood walk down the red carpet after exiting a limousine Jan. 18 at Emerson Elementary School in Cairo. Allgood and Jackson acted as Barack and Michelle Obama during their 5th grade class’ Inaugural Ball. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizent
Aeris Jackson, left,and Brajuan Allgood walk down the red carpet after exiting a limousine Jan. 18 at Emerson Elementary School in Cairo. Allgood and Jackson acted as Barack and Michelle Obama during their 5th grade class’ Inaugural Ball. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizent

It was a cold, clear morning when the white stretch limo picked up members of Regina Brown’s fifth grade class to escort them to the Inaugural Ball.

It took several trips but everyone finally made it to the school and crowded around the red carpet, waiting for the guests of honor: The President and the First Lady, or at least the fifth grade actors playing the two.

Once gathered inside their classroom students in Brown’s class recited poems and stories and after he took his Oath of Office, Brajuan Allgood even recited part of the speech President Obama gave after winning the election in Nov.  When asked what his first action as president would be, he said it would be to make schools safer places. He said he would ban firearms to prevent another school shooting like the one in Newtown Conn.

Planning for the event started once the election was called last Nov.

“When we heard the news that President Obama would be elected for a second term, I told that kids that we had an inaugural ball four years ago and they were really excited about it,” Brown said. They asked if they, too, could have an inaugural ball and Brown told them it would take a lot of hard work.  After talking it out with her class, Brown agreed to let them host the event and gathered together the necessary materials and the kids volunteered to do certain jobs, including play the roles of Barack and Michelle Obama.

Brown said to be sure the kids had time to prepare for the ball, she built her social studies lesson plan around it. She said this type of activity engages the kids on a different level than reading about the Inauguration in a textbook would.

“An activity like this is more hands on and it gives them concrete and first-hand knowledge they can apply to real world situations,” Brown said. The learning did not stop once the party was over, however. The students had to watch the inauguration and compare and contrast what happened in Washington and what happened in their classroom.

While it all looked like fun and games, there was a distinct message Brown wanted her students to glean from the experience.

“I want all of them to know that if society gives you labels, that does not dictate who you are,” she said.

Constance Williams, a grandparent and former educator, attended the event and said the kids were not the only ones being educated that day.

“I think the audience as well as the students learned a lot,” Williams said.

— Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242

County judges swear in new officials

The newly elected county officials for both Alexander and Pulaski Counties gathered in their respective courthouses Dec. 3 to take their oath of office.

William “Buchie” Bingham arrives early Dec. 3 to again be sworn-in as Alexander County Coroner.– Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Chalen Tatum, middle, waits with his father, Bill Tatum, left, and Craig Worthington, before he is sworn-in as Alexander County Commissioner Dec. 3 in the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. Chalen Tatum participated in his first Alexander County Board meeting Dec. 4. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Left to right: Judge Mark Clark, Chalen Tatum, county commissioner, William “Buchie” Bingham, county coroner, Paul Jones, circuit clerk, and Jeff Farris, state’s attorney, pose for a portrait Dec. 3 after the swearing-in ceremony at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Judge William Thurston swears in Bryan Curry as Pulaski County Coroner Dec. 3 at the Pulaski County Courthouse. — Photo provided
Judge William Thurston swears in Cindy Kennedy as Pulaski County Circuit Clerk Dec. 3 at the Pulaski County Courthouse. — Photo provided
Judge William Thurston swears in Monte Russel as Pulaski County Commissioner Dec. 3 at the Pulaski County Courthouse. — Photo provided
Judge William Thurston swears in Grayson Gile as Pulaski County State’s Attorney Dec. 3 at the Pulaski County Courthouse. — Photo provided
Judge Mark Clark, left, signs paper work officially making Chalen Tatum Alexander County Commissioner Dec. 3 at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

 

Judge Mark Clark, left, signs paper work officially making William “Buchie” Bingham the Alexander County Coroner Dec. 3 at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

County board gets down to business with new leadership

The Alexander County Board welcomed a fresh face Dec. 4 during their regularly scheduled meeting.

Former Alexander County Commissioner Mike Caldwell, left, talks recently inaugurated County Commissioner Chalen Tatum through his first County Board meeting Dec. 4 at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo. Tatum said he was both nervous and excited about the meeting. – Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

During the meeting Chalen Tatum, the recently inaugurated County Commissioner, took his seat as the newest member of the board. Though he said he has served on many boards throughout the county, he was nervous and excited about his new position.

Finances were at the top of the discussion for the Board. Because of late tax bills, it anticipates a lean four to five months until tax revenue begins to come in.

Because of low funds, the Board discussed borrowing from the Highway Department to pay portions of both its Workman’s Comp. and County Liability bills. However, it decided to table the item until a special meeting Dec. 6 at 3:00 p.m.
— Isaac Smith can be reached at 618-734-4242

Voter purge cleaned up numbers for election night

In the months before this year’s election, the Alexander County Clerk purged the registered voter list to help clean up election results.

Polly Greggs, right, helps Jane Adams cast her ballot Nov. 6 at the Cairo Junior / Senior High School polling location. Adams said she had no problem voting this year, other than having some confusion about where her polling place was located. Alexander County Clerk Francis Lee said the voter purge her office completed in the months prior to this year’s election helped clean up the results once the ballots were counted, however she said it had little to do with how smoothly voting went over all. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

2012 election images

Eric Neumann, candidate for Alexander County state’s attorney, right, watches the voting process Nov. 6 at the 4th district poll in Cairo. Neumann said he had been making the rounds to different polling places throughout the county to ensure there was no voter tampering. – Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Curtis Jones brings in the ballot box from the Cache precinct in Alexander County to the Alexander County Courthouse Nov. 6. During the election, out of 225 registered voters, 167 showed up at the polls and voted primarily Democrat. – Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Jesse Russell, left, of America, Leonard Johnson, center, of Mounds City, and Artie Dickerson of Mounds City, wait for election results Nov. 6 at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Mounds City. Russell wandered around the courthouse for hours waiting to see if his dad, Monte Russell, would be reelected as County Commissioner. When the votes were tallied, Monte Russell won with 1,668 votes cast in his favor. – Lynnette Oostmeyer | The Cairo Citizen
Candidate for Alexander County County Commissioner, Chalen Tatum, calls in votes after the polls closed Nov. 6 at the Alexander County Courthouse.
From left to right Chalen Tatum, Brenda Gooden and Danny Brown, check recently posted vote totals Nov. 6 at the Alexander County Courthouse. Tatum, who ran for Alexander County Commissioner, won with a margin of more than 1,000 votes.

Alex. Co. voter purge cleans up jury pool

This year’s Alexander County registered voter purge helped not only the polling process, but also jury selection.

Judge Mark Clarke said though the prospective juror list is compiled from several different sources, cleaning up the registered voter list is a big step towards having a more accurate jury pool. Now that the voter registration list has been corrected, he anticipates  streamlined jury selection to be more streamlined.

“The most important thing is when we send out a number of jury summonses to prospective jurors, we are going to get a far higher percentage returned back,” Clarke said. Clarke allocated $1000 from his office to help County Clerk Frances Lee with the purge.

“It was in the best interest of the judicial system that we assist with cleaning up the voter list so that it would assist in cleaning up the prospective juror list, so that it would cut costs and allow us to manage our jury selection process more efficiently,” he said.

On May 14, Lee’s office sent out more than 7,000 cards to all the registered voters on the county’s list to establish how many still lived in the county. With the response from those mail notices, Lee was able to start crossing off names. When she started the process, there were 7,866 registered voters in the County, however there were only 6,351 county residents that were eligible to vote, which put the county’s percentage of eligible voters to registered voters at over 120%. When she tallied  the numbers again on Sept. 27, there were 5,172 registered voters in the county, which dropped their percentage of eligible voters to registered voters to 79%.

Lee said this kind of purge takes time and a county is under strict guidelines as to when the process has to be finished. Because of these rules, Lee said the county started a purge several times but simply ran out of time before the nearest election.  Lee, who has been employed by the county for more than 30 years said she cannot remember a time when the county finished a full purge.

Lee said because they have already gotten the big purge out of the way, keeping the records clean in future years will be an easier task.

“Every two years there should be a purge to keep it up to date instead of waiting another ten years and do what we had to do which was mail out 7,000 cards.”

She said her office is still receiving purge cards after the Aug. 8 deadline. Lee said she will still be filing those away and making adjustments to the voter list after the election Nov. 6.

–Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242