In February 2019, the Jefferson County Board of Health (JCBH) and the United States filed a complaint against Drummond Company, Inc. alleging violations of the federal Clean Air Act at the ABC Coke facility in Tarrant. The Jefferson County Board of Health, United States, and Drummond agreed to a settlement of all of the U.S. and JCBH claims against Drummond; this included a civil penalty paid to the JCBH in the amount of $387,500. On March 10, JCBH approved a transfer of $387,500 for the Jefferson County Public Health Advised Fund of The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. The funds established the ABC Coke Fund to be used for grants that benefit the public health of the City of Tarrant, the North Birmingham community, and Birmingham’s Inglenook neighborhood.
The Community Foundation reached out to invite organizations serving the Tarrant, North Birmingham, and/or Inglenook communities to apply for funding to support these communities’ public health-related programs, services, and activities. Twenty-four grant applications were received during the eight-week application period. An advisory committee representing the above communities advised the Jefferson County Health Officer on grant award recommendations to the Community Foundation. Grant applications related to social determinants of health such as education, housing, access to safe outdoor spaces, and access to healthy food were considered in addition to health care services. The following organizations received awards to serve these communities:
- The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, to purchase and distribute books to children from birth to 5 years old through the “Reach Out and Read” program
- The Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library, for a series of public presentations on women’s health issues
- HUB Worldwide, to provide supplies and equipment needed for the Northern Health Center and the Northside Dental Clinic through an ongoing partnership with Alabama Regional Medical Services (ARMS)
- The Literacy Council of Central Alabama, for a program helping persons with low literacy better understand health-related information
- Oasis Counseling for Women and Children, to provide mental health services to low-income women and children experiencing trauma from physical, emotional or sexual abuse, severe depression and anxiety, grief from loss or death, or other mental health problems
- Sight Savers America, to provide Tarrant city school students with free health screenings, vision screenings, and follow-up case management
- Changed Lives Christian Center, to help support a mobile clinic that serves clients in North Birmingham
- Christian Service Mission, for housing repairs to 12 homes in the North Birmingham community
- Freshwater Land Trust, to install trailhead, wayfinding signage, and benches along the Tarrant Aqueduct Trail within the Red Rock Trail System
- The Jefferson County District Attorney Office, to extend access to the Helping Families Initiative (HFI) in the Carver High School feeder pattern and the Tarrant City Schools. The HFI partners with schools to identify children with unexcused absences and suspensions from school and provides them with a program designed to improve family functioning, child well-being, and educational outcomes through assessment, intervention, and social services referrals
- Meals on Wheels of Central Alabama, to expand the number of seniors receiving delivery of meals.
Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Health Officer, commented, “Settlement funds from alleged federal Clean Air Act violations are typically used to help offset the cost of administering air pollution control programs across the country, but in this case, we were happy to use the settlement funds for the benefit of these communities. Everyone involved in recommending these grant awards seemed pleased with the process and the outcome.”