We need more details on Bevill finances

By ED HOWELL
Posted 5/24/18

Let's clear the notebook ... • Well, late in the day Tuesday, a press release from Bevill State Community College announced that its career tech programs slated to close, as announced on April …

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We need more details on Bevill finances

Posted

Let's clear the notebook ... 

• Well, late in the day Tuesday, a press release from Bevill State Community College announced that its career tech programs slated to close, as announced on April 18, will remain open. "After meeting with local business and industry leaders, the college understands there is a demand in the career tech fields," the college said, as if this was just something where the light bulb came on all of a sudden.

Dr. Kim Ennis said she reached out to the Alabama Community College System for support in maintaining the programs, and said the college would be "reviewing curriculum and working to improve the pipeline for students interested in entering these programs."

Well, I'm glad. I really am. The main objective has been met in our local communities. 

However, the devil is in the details — and that 220-word press release stayed away from the devil, pretty much shouting "Hallelujah" and dismissing with a short benediction. 

Now that we've gone through the turmoil that just about upended everyone in Hamilton and left confused and worried people on the other campuses, we have to remind ourselves the questions raised by the college itself and the need for financial answers, as this is a state institution paid by taxpayers.

Since the college has had deficit spending for five years and had to repeatedly dig into reserves, leading to the initial cuts, how will the programs now be funded? Is the college system transferring funds? How much in red ink are we, and how much is being transferred over? Will other programs, like athletics, now have to be cut? Will anything have to be cut at all? 

Nicole Smith is doing a story, and I don't know at this writing what will be on the front page. But at his point Wednesday, we have had three town halls cancelled and we get this short release that tells us very little. We have not been sent the data we requested the other day, and we have not been given an interview with the president now that the town halls have been cancelled, and no press conferences have been scheduled. Essentially, the effect of this, intended or not, is like being sent cryptic proclamations from the castle to the peasants. Ye programs have been saved! Dilly, dilly. And now go back to your lives.

We want to be supportive of the college in a very difficult time, and we have said that and meant it. But blind devotion is another thing all together, and the drip-drip of information is not enough with taxpayer funds in turmoil, as raised by the college itself, and with so much at stake. It is not enough to say spring will come this year; there has to be scientific proof. In this case, we need more financial details and more understanding of where we are and the choices of where we go. Bevill State is too important for a late cryptic message at the end of the day. We need a fresh, full reboot and hopefully we will get that information to make that understandable. 

• I was recently passing the old Temple Emanu-El in Jasper, near Jasper's First Baptist Church, when I noticed work on the exterior was continuing, as it has for a short time. I stopped to ask what was happening, when the owner of the building, John Crump, drove up by chance. He confirmed he is moving his office there and is working to preserve the building, including its religious markings. When he gets ready, I think he will get with the Daily Mountain Eagle and let us know some more, but I just want to say now that I think it is wonderful that he is preserving that structure, which was built in 1922 and is something of a landmark. He noted many other people have expressed an interest and appreciation in what he is doing. 

• To the person who complained the other day about cutting and litter in the Fall City Road area, District 1 Walker County Commissioner Keith Davis said it has been picked up within the past couple of weeks, and the mower was already in operation that day to cut the area. Someone complained about it not being cut in time for homecoming at Mt. Zion, but Davis said if the public will let them know in time for such events, county crews might can help out. 

• I hated I missed the Kay Ivey event, but I have been working late nights and I practically worked the whole weekend, including photos at two churches Sunday morning. For me to pass along the governor, you know I was in bad shape. I had a pleasant day and did very little, although I did purchase some new clothing and make some appointments. But time management has got to be a new goal. 

• The Sixth Avenue Church of Christ has a new leader. Birmingham native David Dixon will be honored at a reception on Sunday, June 3 at 2:30 p.m. at the church. We'll have more on him later, as he is currently in the moving process. He seemed happy to be in Jasper and is fitting in well.

• While, I am at it, congratulations to pastor David Byrd, who is marking his 20th anniversary at Northside Baptist Church and was honored Sunday. Dr. Rick Lance from the Alabama State Baptist Convention gave the sermon; I want to say it was Lance who thanked the church for welcoming Cuban refugees, a sly reference that Byrd and the family moved from the small Alabama community of Cuba in Sumter County. It was noted that Byrd has baptized almost 200 people since coming to Jasper, and I can vouch he has had a great heart to minister to people. 

• Another well-loved member of Northside is  Jonathan Allen, who will now likely get a lot of handshakes as the newly named principal of Jasper High School. I couldn't think of any educator in town who would have so much good will from the public going into the job. If he does as well as I expect, you'll read about his retirement from there well after my death.

• U.S.  Sen. Doug Jones made a good impression during his recent visit to Parrish. He is easy, personable to be with, far from being remote or overbearing or the like. After years of the stiff and formal Richard Shelby, it was a shock. Jones promoted Shelby in a way, noting he is head of Appropriations now and we should take advantage of that. I think they get along. For that matter, I think he and Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, get along, and Wadsworth even came to the event and participated in the discussion. Jones made some Democratic points — it will be interesting how he handles the 2020 election — but, again, there was a bi-partisan spirit, too. Jones also noted he is getting used to the grind; the biggest change in his life is the constant round-the-clock schedule, which he was not prepared for. 

• Someone asked me if the Daily Mountain Eagle political forum on Tuesday, set for Rowland Auditorium at Bevill State at 6 p.m., is open to the public. It certainly is, and we invite supporters and interested voters to attend. Candidates will be held for five minutes each. We are going to use these speeches for stories later, so anyone who cannot make it needs to get with me. Probate judge candidate John Mark Dutton, who had an unavoidable scheduling conflict, gave me his speech by phone, which was under the limit. 

• I saw the story we carried about Orlando parks like Walt Disney World (style note: It is NOT Disney World; the family wanted the name that way, as Walt had not been dead long). Disney (the company) is opening up Toy Story Land, but they have a bunch of other construction work. (Keep in mind the resort's 50th anniversary is only three years away.) The work includes a Star Wars Land, a new sky bucket system between the parks, and more. The Hollywood Studios park is getting the biggest overhaul, as it has been the weakest, with the MGM ride, for example, being replaced by a Mickey Mouse ride. Also, the monorail system, after suffering malfunctions, is finally being updated with new cars.