elgin_jones_web_13.jpgPalm Beach County

The jazz band of Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach has won several top awards, including the gold, at the World Strides Heritage festival competition in Chicago. They competed against 12 high schools from around the country. Congratulations!

Clarence Eugene “Shahid” Freeman, 62, a longtime education activist and former field representative of the South Palm Beach County branch of the NAACP, is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 12 on bribery and extortion charges. He is accused of attempting to blackmail Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Wayne Gent for nearly $900,000 over alleged incidents of sexual abuse. The evidence contained in the court files in his case are recordings of several meetings he had with Gent. There are also documents from a previous bribery investigation of Freeman, which did not result in any charges. In that unrelated incident, he allegedly presented a similar deal to the previous superintendent, Bill Malone, in which an unnamed principal was accused of sexually harassing a teacher. He allegedly offered to resolve it in exchange for $400,000 for a reading program Freeman operated. If convicted on all charges, Freeman faces up to 15 years in prison.

The American Shore & Beach Preservation Association has selected Delray Beach for its Best Restored Beach award. The city recently completed a large-scale beach restoration project and is about to begin another costing more than $8 million to replace 500,000 cubic yards of sand ravaged by recent hurricanes.

Broward County


Marsha Ellison, president of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward branch of the NAACP, announced the civil rights organization will join Consolidated Credit Counseling Services Inc. and Florida Community Bank to host a homeownership workshop for first-time homebuyers. Downpayment assistance, government grants, credit restoration, obtaining a mortgage and home selection and the buying process are among the topics that will be explained by experts. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at the Mizell Center, 1409 N.W. Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale, and is free and open to all. For information, call 954-377-9323 .

Noted civil rights attorney and author W. George Allen, 77, has been honored with a marble stone on Fort Lauderdale’s Walk of Fame on the beach at Las Olas Boulevard and State Road A1A. Allen, who grew up in the segregated South, went on to become the first black graduate of the University of Florida’s law school in 1962 and the first black to graduate from a white college in the South. He went on to open a law firm in Fort Lauderdale a year later where he used the legal system to break down racist laws and practices, including a landmark case that desegregated the Broward School District.

Elder Mathis Guice and the Men’s Ministry of Koinonia Worship Center church, which he chairs, will host a special Father’s Day conference called “The Father’s Call” for males. It will include discussions and forums focusing on fatherhood and social service agencies, the role of men in the lives of their children, families and community. There will also be a session where boys will discuss the impact of not having a father figure in their lives. It will take place 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at Koinonia Worship Center, 4900 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Pembroke Park, and is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 954-964-2901.

Albert Jones, 48, and his family, of West Park, continue to be in desperate circumstances and in need of the community’s support. As stated last week, Jones is a former Dillard High School basketball star who graduated in 1983 and went on to college and career. He worked on Wall Street and returned to South Florida, where he started several businesses, including a security firm and financial services company. Life was good but in 2009 Jones was stricken with a debilitating neurological ailment that has left him paralyzed from the waist down. He has been in and out of hospital and is unable to work. Medical bills forced his wife to quit her job to care for him. The family lost their home and other properties, as well as their cars, leaving them without transportation. To make matters worse, even though he is paralyzed and suffering other crippling conditions, the Social Security Administration has turned down Jones’ application for disability benefits many times, which is outrageous. Those wishing to make donations to this family are asked to call 561-853-5724. They need our help.

Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell has teamed up with Miami Dade College to host the first South Dade Community Job Fair. It will take place at the college’s Homestead campus and include dozens of companies and government agencies. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 5. For more information, call 305-378-6677.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho may want to prepare
himself for a possible drinking scandal. It surrounds unnamed officials from a
Miami-Dade school who allegedly were drinking while serving as chaperones on a recent student field trip to an amusement park. According to sources, students roamed about the amusement park without adult supervision while the chaperones had a hiccup good ole time. Stay tuned.

Monroe County

Several law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), are investigating the recent death of a crocodile that was killed in Lower Matecumbe Key near Mile Marker 74. Officials are not saying how it was killed but have indicated it was not an accident. Encounters with both the American crocodile and the non-native saltwater crocodile have been increasing in the Keys. People are fearful and some may have attacked the animals, which could result in fines and prison time. The FWC and the Humane Society are offering rewards of up to $6,000 for information leading to a conviction. The authorities are asking those with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-346-8477.

Endurance swimmer Chloe McCardel, 27, of Australia is in training for a record swim attempt from Cuba to Key West. She will try to make it across the Florida Straits in June without a shark cage. American swimmer Diana Nyad has made four unsuccessful attempts at the crossing and Aussie swimmer Penny Palfrey has made one. Only Susie Maroney, also of Australia, has completed it successfully but that was done in 1997, with a shark cage protecting her.