Stories for April 2010


Friday, April 30

State Waits for the Oil; Fla., La. Declare Emergencies

Mississippi's oyster fishermen, already hit earlier in the year with scares of infected seafood, greeted a stormy last day of the commercial season, along with possibilities of being unable to sell the day's catch.

Sleep Inn Poised for September Opening

After a brief hiatus, construction on the Sleep Inn downtown is set to resume in the next two weeks and finish in time for a Sept. 1 opening. Robert Gibbs, a member of the Jackson-based LEAD Group LLC, which is developing the hotel, told the Jackson Free Press today that his group has acquired construction financing to finish the $5 million project.

Trent Walker

Trent Walker is counting on his 14 years of varied legal experience in his bid for Hinds County judge.

Paint, Parties and Plays This Weekend

This afternoon, start your weekend off right at Arts Alive! in Smith Park for art, music and dance performances. Tonight, go to New Stage Theatre's opening of the play "Dead Man's Cell Phone" at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5, and encore shows continue through May 2. Or, if you've ever been curious about kirtan chanting, head to the building for music by Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band. Tickets are $20. Later, partake in some body painting during the "Might Could Right Quick" CD release party for the duo Hot and Lonely at North Midtown Arts Center at 10 p.m. Admission is $5, CD included, and proceeds go to the Red Cross for the tornado victims in Yazoo. If that's not enough to keep you busy, begin your search for fun at the JFP Best Bets page, or the music listings for even more entertainment ideas.

Mason Leaving JSU for Southern Univ.

[verbatim from the Mississippi Institutions for Higher Learning]

After a decade leading Mississippi's largest historically black institution, Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. announced today that he has accepted the position as the next president of the Southern University and A&M College System in Louisiana.

Mississippi ‘Prepares for the Worst'

As expected, the oil spill caused by the explosion and sinking of BP-owned rig Deepwater Horizon April 20 reached the mouth of the Mississippi River this morning, reports CNN. The Louisiana wetlands in the river's delta will be the first to be affected by the spill; however the slick is steadily making its way to the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts as well. Officials expect the oil to reach Mississippi tomorrow.

Thursday, April 29

PSC Approves Coal Plant, Mississippi Power Rejects It

Read the Public Service Commission's Order (PDF)

Obama Names African American Jackson Attorney to Federal Bench

Carlton Reeves is set to become the second African American appointee to the U.S. Southern District Court in Mississippi. President Barack Obama sent Reeves' name to the Senate yesterday for confirmation, but Reeves has been rumored as Obama's pick for more than a year.

Crime Declines City Wide

The Jackson Police Department reports an overall decrease in major crimes from April 19 through April 25 in the city. But Assistant Chief Lee Vance is cautious not to attribute the decline to the department's implementation of the High Enforcement and Response Operation, a task force that began April 24.

Jamie Weems

When Jamie Weems moved to Jackson from Lafayette, La., eight years ago, he was discouraged by the lack of creative outlets for musicians. Now, however, he performs or rehearses with other Jackson musicians as many as five times a week.

Gulf Oil Spill ‘Potentially a Valdez'

This morning, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said the spill from the leaking BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was about 16 miles from the coast of Louisiana, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Initially, the well, damaged when an oil rig exploded and sank, had one leak pumping approximately 42,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf; however, a second leak is now spilling 5,000 barrels a day, and officials attempting to control the spill have discovered a third leak.

Wednesday, April 28

Reminder of Home

Snickerdoodles are a Branberg family tradition, passed down from my great grandma to my bumpa (the term I coined for my grandpa when I was very young), to my mom and finally to me. Usually, snickerdoodles are made during the winter and served with Russian spice tea, but they're just as tasty all year long.

Books for Mom

Getting any gift for Mom is always a daunting task. It's either classy or sassy, depending on her style. So why not get her a book? It can appeal to both sides, and do and learn something new on her special day.

Minnie's Shopping Guide

Mother knows best, right? She always was a classy lady with good fashion taste. Head over to the JFP Flip Book to become the fashonista that Mom wanted you to be. Tell 'em Minnie sent ya.

Oleta's Gifts, Greeks and Baskets

In a gray two-story building off Highway 51 in Ridgeland just below a comic book store sits a shop that celebrates the history of African American fraternities and sororities.

Books for Grads

Transitional states such as graduation can render a person wide open emotional lows and highs. This is actually the perfect moment to go out and explore the world. The following is a sampling from an ocean of books to get you amped up to splash into life freshly, wildly and mindfully.

Living Cheaply, Living Well

After years of hard work, your time has finally come. You've walked across the stage, received your diploma, perhaps even been offered a full-time job. Graduating college is a big plunge into the real world of work, paying bills and managing your time.

Death by Cubicle

Instead of delving into a 9-to-5 pace, Colleen Kinder sought out a national fellowship that took her to Cuba. The 2003 Yale graduate spent her first year out of college marching with students opposed to Fidel Castro, volunteering in a nursing home, salsa dancing and writing.

Maple Street Mentor

As the head coach of the Lanier High School basketball team, Thomas Billups has developed future NBA players and won state championships.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doctor S sez: The distance from star to bust is short. Just ask former Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead.

I Still Believe

My mind was restless and my thoughts wandered as I sat on the second row in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in downtown Jackson at the Extraordinary Women's conference April 16. I was excited to be there, but I could feel the weight of the week, the weight of my life on my shoulders. I clapped and sang along to the praise and worship, going through the motions––preoccupied.

Racist Names, Beware

Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba said he voted with a majority of the council to remove a controversial petition requirement for the renaming of city streets or facilities because he felt city residents deserved a "more fair system" for changing street and place names.

A Plan for Change

Otha Burton may be one of the newest appointees to the Jackson Public Schools board, but he is a veteran of city government. Burton served as chief administrative officer for Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., during Johnson's first two terms as mayor, from 1999 through 2005.

Women's Fund Gets It Wrong … Twice

The Jackson Free Press has been a strong supporter of The Women's Fund—including giving proceeds raised by our production of "The Vagina Monologues" this year to the group. We applaud the Fund for tackling the issue of domestic abuse and, like the JFP, focusing on tackling the systemic causes of the epidemic rather than just the outcomes.

[Stiggers] The Four-Way Test

Miss Doodle Mae: "The staff of Jojo's Discount Dollar Store just finished the daily staff meeting, similar to the meeting seen on the television series ‘Hill Street Blues.' Our morning meeting is a great opportunity to prepare for the work day."

[Kamikaze] New Breed of Renaissance Man

If you're an avid fan of the NFL, then you were probably glued to your TV this past weekend as the 2010 draft unveiled America's newest millionaires. The draft always holds a few surprises, and after 72 hours of picks, a few players are always left who have yet to be picked up by a pro team.

Pompous and Circus

To walk or not to walk, that is the question. Or is it?

A Mother's Love

The nostalgically delicious aroma of a family feast is the first thing to envelope the senses in Minnie Spicer's home in Flora. Skillets of cornbread sit on a stove worn to vintage chic from years of large-scale dinner productions.

Ringing After Death

Jean is sitting in a café when she hears a cell phone ring at the next table where a well-dressed man sits in front of a bowl of soup.

Fusion of Fun

Melvin Priester and Tre Pepper want Jacksonians to get down. This deejay duo, called Hot and Lonely, have joined forces to create "Might Could Real Quick," a Special Passenger Records CD that remixes 10 songs by local musicians Emily Baker, Lizzie Wright, Johnny Bertram and The Bachelorettes.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 8, No. 33

Starting the weekend off early, Fire hosts a full night of rock Wednesday with Papa Roach, Puddle of Mudd, 12 Stones and Adlieta's Way starting at 8 p.m.

Betty Fortenberry

If anyone you know gave birth at Woman's Hospital at River Oaks over the past 25 years, chances are they crossed paths with Betty Fortenberry.

City Addresses Complete Smoking Ban

Restaurant Zydeco is a place where you can get delicious crawfish pie. It is also one of the few restaurants in the city where you can still smoke, so long as you sit in the bar area. Zydeco General Manager Patrick Barnes is confident his restaurant is obeying city codes—only it isn't.

Judge Ditches Post for Tea Party

Former state Supreme Court Justice Kay Cobb has suspended her duties as a substitute judge while she organizes the Oxford Tea Party.

Kemper Plant on Commission Agenda

The Mississippi Public Service Commission meets today in a closed-door session regarding Mississippi Power's proposed Kemper County coal plant, reports The Washington Examiner. In November, the commission determined Mississippi Power demonstrated a need for additional power plants, however they have not made a decision on whether the Kemper County plant is best for the state. The plant is estimated at $2.2 to $2.4 billion.

Tuesday, April 27

GOP's "Financial" Woes: Country Wants Reform, Libertarians Want Tea Parties Back

For the second time this week, the GOP stood together on Tuesday to block cloture on the Senate Financial Reform bill. Their party unity may, however, be working according to plan for the Democrats, who are feeling strong public support for the measure, according to CNN. In fact, the Republicans are in the awkward position of standing pat with the banking industry, fighting reforms that include additional oversight for the bank's investment arms and the ability of the FDIC to step in and protect consumer interests in failing banks. (Here's a nice little wrap up of what reform is meant to do.)

MEMA Helps Coordinate Services for Tornado Victims, Volunteers

Verbatim Statement from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency regarding services for tornado victims:

House Faces ‘Pointless' Abortion Bill, More

The Mississippi House of Representatives return to Jackson tomorrow to deal with the last remaining items of business in its 2010 legislative session, after a fierce battle over what several House Democrats are calling a pointless anti-abortion bill. House lawmakers came to the Capitol Saturday to deal with motions to reconsider on two major appropriations bills made in retaliation for Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Holland's refusal to bring an abortion funding bill before the committee.

Oil Spill Threatens Mississippi Seafood, Tourism

Gov. Haley Barbour declared today a "day of prayer" to commemorate the Mississippians who died in an April 20 explosion on a Gulf BP oil rig, but third generation ferry pilot and Ship Island Excursions CEO Louis Skrmetta suggested the state keep praying for relief from the damage still on the way.

Business Round Up

Jamie Woods, 36, wants to help small businesses succeed. On May 10, the Jackson Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for her new venture, J Woods Public Relations. Woods spent the last 10 years marketing behavioral health services for Pioneer Health Inc. and its physical therapy division, Medicomp Physical Therapy.

Jordan Mohr

Determined to rebuild the lives of Mississippians who are coping with the aftermath of a devastating tornado, Americorps National Civilian Community Corps member Jordan Mohr arrived in Yazoo City this morning prepared to help assess damages and sort through the rubble.

Barbour Declares Day of Prayer

Gov. Haley Barbour has declared today a "day of prayer" to commemorate the Mississippians who suffered losses in Saturday's tornadoes and last week's oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi counts 10 of the 12 deaths reported from tornados that ripped across nine southern states Saturday, and in the aftermath of an explosion on a Gulf BP oilrig on April 20, 11 workers remain missing and are presumed dead.

Monday, April 26

School Cuts Gay Student Photo from Yearbook

Also see: Ceara's Season, Adam Lynch's interview with Ceara Sturgis' family

Appliance Rebates Provide Economic Boost

Con "Cowboy" Maloney, co-owner of the only local electronic and appliance dealership, Cowboy Maloney's Electric City, says the new State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program is a boon to the local economy.

James Green

It was almost midnight May 14, 1970, when James Green, 17, made his way home from his after-school job at a grocery store, cutting through the chaotic and racially charged Jackson State University campus. Throughout the day, students peacefully protested the Vietnam War, and unequal rights of blacks but after false rumors of the assassination of Mississippi Mayor Charles Evers, brother of murdered civil-rights activist Medgar Evers, members of the community joined students on Lynch Street and started rioting.

Community Events and Public Meetings

9 a.m.-6 p.m., Mississippi Afterburner Jet Rally at John Bell Williams Airport (4100 Airport Road, Bolton). See radio-controlled jet and unmanned aerial vehicle demonstrations. The event is part of Radio Controlled/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (RC/UAV) Aviation Week. Refreshments will be available, and all proceeds go to the Hinds Community College Aviation Scholarship program. $5 per car; call 601-857-3884 or 601-857-3300.

Fairgrounds Setup for Tornado Victim Donations

Officials are accepting donations for nonperishable food and bottled water at the Mississippi fairgrounds to assist victims of Saturday's tornados, reports The Sun Herald. The state Department of Agriculture opened the fairgrounds yesterday to receive aid.

Friday, April 23

Mayor and Police Chief Announce Police Task Force

Verbatim Statement: At a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Johnson and Jackson Police Chief Rebecca Coleman announced the implementation of Operation H.E.R.O. (High Enforcement and Response Operation). Operation H.E.R.O. will involve Jackson Police in partnership with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department, ATF's (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) Cease Fire Unit, MBN (MS Bureau of Narcotics), HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force) and JET (Jackson Enforcement Team) in an effort to curb street level drug sales and related crimes.

EPA Alleges Treatment Plant Violations

City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen confirmed at a public forum this morning that the Environmental Protection Agency has informed the city of possible water-quality violations at the city's wastewater treatment plant. "We have a sewage treatment plant in south Jackson that was designed to treat 50 million gallons (of wastewater) a day. It went online in 1989, under (Mayor Dale) Danks' administration. That plant started exceeding its capacity within a year. Now we're 20 years down, and we're still exceeding capacity," Teeuwissen told a crowd of about 70 at Koinonia Coffeehouse's Friday Forum. "The EPA has brought to the city's attention various alleged violations including the amount of sludge in the south Jackson sewage lagoons."

Georgia Cohran

By auctioning lunch dates with local celebrities like civil-rights legend James Meredith, Ward 2 Councilman Chowke Lumumba and Miss Jackson State University Christen Scott, Georgia Cohran hopes to raise money for educational and art opportunities for children in Jackson.

Your Weekend Starts Here

Start the weekend with a thought-provoking evening. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., head to Fondren and the Rainbow plaza for a screening of "Crude: The Real Price of Oil," at Rainbow's dinner-and-a-movie event. Tickets start at $13. For a live performance, consider the J-Lee Productions' play, "Revenge." at 8 p.m., at Jackson State. Tickets are $20 and $30. Where's the best place to look for events? Start on the JFP Best Bets page.

Jackson Ad Firm Featured in Book

The Ramey Agency has plenty to brag about. The Jackson-based branding and marketing firm boasts an impressive roster of clients, from Viking Range, to Millsaps College, to the Mississippi Museum of Art. Now, Ramey has one more accolade to add to its already full trophy shelf--a spot in "Where We Work," a book published by Harper Collins that showcases inspiring interior designs from workplaces around the world.

Parolee Arrested for Barrett Killing

Around 6 p.m. yesterday, police arrested Vincent McGee, 22, for the slaying of white supremacist Richard Barrett. McGee, on supervised release for assaulting a police officer and grand larceny in 2007, lived with this mother just a few doors down from Barrett in Pearl, and had done yard work for him.

Thursday, April 22

White Supremacist's Death Investigated as Homicide

The Rankin County Sheriff's Department is investigating white supremacist and lawyer Richard Barrett's death as a homicide, the Associated Press reported today. Rankin County officials discovered Barrett's body this morning at his home in Pearl, following a house fire. Rankin County Sheriff Ronni Pennington was not immediately available for comment.

Barbour Calls Special Session

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour called a special session this afternoon to consider increasing the amount that state, county and municipal employees pay toward retirement. Barbour, who made the announcement about three hours before the special session began, said he wants K-12 and college teachers and government employees to pay 9 percent of their paychecks toward retirement, instead of the current 7.25 percent, in order to save $56 million in the general fund and another $20 million in municipalities and county governments.

Anti-Abortion Resolution Holds Little Weight

A senate resolution suspending a January legislative deadline for bills to be introduced, afforded Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, the opportunity to include language to stop federal funds from funding voluntary abortion in the state, which the House passed today in an 80 to 33 vote. Several legislators, however, say the resolution is purely symbolic.

City Unveils Urban Garden

On the corner of Capitol and Adams Streets, city work crews and volunteers are busy transforming an empty lot into a community garden that will provide fresh produce and a sense of community for residents.

JPD Building Habitat House, Battling Burglaries

The Jackson Police Department is adding construction to its list of responsibilities. Along with the Jackson Fire Department, JPD will contribute volunteers to the construction of a Habitat house on Winn Street in south Jackson. Construction should take eight working days and wrap up by May 18, Habitat special projects manager Maureen Wishkoski said. The Winn Street house will be the 465 house built by the metro Jackson chapter of Habitat for Humanity, making it among the top 20 most active chapters in the country.

Brian Cicero

From the East Coast to Jackson by way of Texas, Brian Cicero was a luminary within the BRAVO! kitchen. Brian, 38, passed away in his sleep Saturday, April 17.  Later, doctors discovered that he had a heart condition.  As his family pastor said during the memorial service:  "Brian went to sleep Saturday night, and the Lord called him home."

State Senate Kills Jobless Benefits Proposal

The Mississippi Senate Finance Committee yesterday defeated a bill proposing to extend unemployment benefits to citizens who have less than six-to-12 months on the job, reports Currently, the state calculates benefit eligibility using the first four of five quarters of the calendar year preceding an unemployment claim, and workers need to have worked at least two of those quarters.

Wednesday, April 21

[Rob In Stereo] Inching Toward the Present

I rolled my eyes upon first hearing Dr. Dog's flagrant aping of The Beatles and The Band. Critics' main disparagement continues to be over its derivative sound, and I was in no position to disagree; however, the more I listened to the music, the more I recognized that there was something going on here deeper than mere imitation.

Finding Balance

Victoria McFarland stood at her kitchen counter as her husband, Billy, frantically put food into the cooler for their summer camping trip. She was feeling foggy and couldn't remember simple everyday tasks. She felt helpless.

‘Poor People' Food

Eating at a brasserie in New Orleans a few weeks ago got me thinking about what food writers like to call "rustic" cuisine. Food writers tend to shy away from calling this style of cooking what it truly is: poor people food.

2011 NFL Draft Preview

You only need to look back to the 2005 NFL Draft to see how disastrous it can be.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doctor S sez: They say that people who are intoxicated shouldn't watch 3-D TV. So much for watching sports.

Family Values

Our history as a state and a nation is filled with atrocious efforts to destroy the self-esteem of black men. During the entire arc of slavery and then Jim Crow laws--which did not end until the U.S. Supreme Court finally acted in December 1970, sending thousands of Jackson families fleeing to the suburbs and white academies--white supremacists worked diligently to de-moralize and criminalize black men. Their excuse was fear that those men would rape women with my skin color, even as many of the white bigots raped and impregnated black women that they "owned."

Grading the Lawmakers

Political and community activist Rims Barber released a 2010 political report card grading legislators based on their votes for 10 progressive bills that filed through the 2010 legislative session before it temporarily recessed in March.

Legislators Eye State Budget

The Mississippi Legislature was back in action April 20 to approve a $5.5 billion fiscal-year 2011 budget and the re-authorization of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Bill Cosby Invades Mississippi

If you're a die-hard fan of stand-up comedy, you may have heard of an obscure actor/comedian by the name of Bill Cosby. This promising upstart from Philadelphia, Pa., will perform at Pearl River Resort Saturday, April 24.

A Different Tree for Downtown?

The live oak trees lining Capitol Street have withstood decades of storms, but a new proposal calls for uprooting them in the name of progress. Downtown Jackson Partners is calling for the city to replace the large species with something smaller and less disruptive to street infrastructure.

Things Can Change, Mississippi

Mississippi's prison system is in desperate need of reform. Under "tough on crime" legislation like increased zero-tolerance penalties for minor drug offenses and the 85-percent rule, which mandate that prisoners serve 85 percent of their sentences prior to parole eligibility, the state's prison population and incarceration rates exploded.

[Stiggers] Garment Of Destiny

Dear Disgruntled American Citizens: I want to make an appeal to you through this letter.

[Collier] Matters of the Heart

Just about all my formal education was whitewashed. The things I knew about the parts of American history that weren't white, I learned from my family.

Tease photo

The Cost of ‘Tough on Crime'

Jackson resident Almona Fleming is a placid woman, prone to introspective stares and thoughtful contemplation during interviews. Her calm demeanor says nothing about the writhing coil of hunger that for years twisted inside her, eating at both her stomach and her family life.

Council Approves Renaming Proposal

Members of the Jackson City Council passed a proposal by Council President Frank Bluntson to remove a petition requirement for the renaming of city streets or facilities. The current ordinance requires approval from 75 percent of property owners within 150 feet of a public facility or street are to approve changing a street or facility's name.

Walthall County: Separate and Still Unequal

The two biggest high schools in Walthall County are only 10 miles apart, but for almost 20 years a student transfer policy allowed the two schools to become symbolically separate, effectively re-segregated public schools. Last week, a federal judge put an end to the county's intra-district transfer policy, confirming that the Department of Justice's 1970 desegregation order is still necessary.

Alfred Jacobs

On any given day during a week, you can find Alfred Jacobs, 46, walking the halls of Bradley Elementary School. Jacobs is not the principal or even a paid administrator at the school; he is an involved parent.

Mound Bayou, Revisited

The story of Mound Bayou, Miss., is as improbable as it is inspiring. In 1887, former slaves founded the town in the Mississippi Delta wilderness as a haven for former slaves.

Hood Requests Execution Dates

After the Mississippi Supreme Court denied appeals for two death row inmates Monday, Attorney General Jim Hood requested the court set execution dates for the two men. Paul Woodward has been on death row since 1987 and Gerald Holland since 1993. Hood has requested dates on or before May 20. The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear either case.

Tuesday, April 20

Council Mulling JATRAN Suit, Route Consolidation

The Jackson City Council will either approve or reject an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on making city buses more accessible to the disabled and consider consolidating bus routes to cut costs at its 6 p.m. meeting tonight.

[Balko] Justice Stevens' Mixed Record on Civil Liberties

Many hail retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as a champion of the accused. Stevens, The New York Times editorial board opined, has a "record of being on the side of fairness and justice."

Alice Walker

Long before Alice Walker wrote "The Color Purple," she made her mark on Jackson as a civil rights and women's activist.

Business Round Up

Local celebrity chef and entrepreneur Nathan Glenn told the Jackson Free Press last week that he will no longer be The Auditorium's general manager. Instead, chef Nate Ballard will take over as the new general manager. Glenn will continue to co-own The Auditorium but said he will focus on operations at Basil's in Fondren, which he also owns. Next month, he will unveil his new website,, to promote all area Basil's Restaurants and the new Congress Street Bar and Grill--all owned by family members.

Consultants Recommend Merging School Districts

A consulting firm hired to evaluate Mississippi public school districts for possible consolidations have recommended merging 18 of the state's 149 underperforming districts with their larger neighbors. The company, Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, presented their findings yesterday to a school-consolidation commission appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour.

Monday, April 19

Hinds County Mulls Inmate Medical Expenses

Hinds County is on track to outspend its budget for inmate medical expenses, county supervisors learned at a meeting this morning. Dan Gibson, the county's inmate medical facilitator, told supervisors that, six months into the fiscal year, the county has spent $1.3 million on medical care for prisoners, more than 50 percent of its annual inmate medical budget. Last year, inmate medical expenses were roughly $700,000 at this point.

Mini-Grants Available to Abused Women

Heather Spencer's legacy lives on to protect Mississippi women who are the victims of domestic violence. Spencer's family and friends organized the non-profit Heather's T.R.E.E. shortly after George Bell III murdered her in September 2007, with the purpose of training, providing resources, educating and empowering women in the state.

Community Events and Public Meetings

Monday, April 19

2 p.m., "Global Warming: Attribution, Who is to Blame?" at Jackson State University (1400 John R. Lynch St.) in Just Science Hall, room 209. Dr. Anthony Lupo of the University of Missouri-Columbia will discuss the science of climate change as well as his own experiences as a contributor and expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Call 601-979-7012.

Meaghan Johnson

When one of Meaghan Johnson's second-grade students told her she had never painted before during a recent art project, Johnson says she realized the importance of providing students with creative opportunities to try new things.

Legislators Return to $5.5 Billion Budget Deal

The Mississippi Legislature will return to Jackson tomorrow to reconvene its regular session, put on hold three weeks ago in anticipation of $187 million in additional federal stimulus funds. In the meantime, top lawmakers have come up with a $5.5 billion budget for the 2011 fiscal year that does not rely on those funds, which have yet to materialize reports The Sun Herald.

Sunday, April 18

Crossroads Film Festival Winners Announced

The Crossroads Film Society today announced the winners of its 2010 festival competition. The festival continues today at the Malco in Madison; all the winning films will screen. See the Crossroads festival site for schedule of other film screenings. The winners are:

Friday, April 16

Downtown Trees on the Chopping Block?

Business Accelerator Hopes to Speed Entrepreneurs

A new collaborative venture run by Jackson's New Horizon Ministries seeks to promote entrepreneurship and develop the city's existing small businesses. The Jackson Business Accelerator will connect potential entrepreneurs and current business owners with resources, program manager Michael Harris said at a press conference this morning.

It's the Weekend

Spring is in full bloom, just in time for the 10th annual Crossroads Film Festival. The weekend festival is packed with workshops, screenings and after-parties. For a complete schedule and ticket prices visit festival's Web site. or read this week's JFP issue. Tonight you can meet filmmakers at Sal and Mookie's Pi(e) Lounge from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. At 9:10 p.m., the festival will feature a music video showcase at the Malco Grandview at 221 Grandview Blvd. in Madison featuring local musicians such as J-Tran, Law School, Storage 24, Johnny Bertram and Furrows. If you'd rather stay downtown tonight, be sure to attend "Operation Spring Fling: A Benefit for Operation ShoeString," 7 p.m. at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The event will feature food and live entertainment by Horse Trailer and Wiley & The Checkmates. All proceeds go to benefit Operation Shoestring, an organization that provides afterschool programs and assistance to low-income families in Jackson. If you need more entertainment options, check out the JFP's Best Bets.

Bill Minor

Mississippi Roads to Blame for Wrecks

The magnolia state ranks in the top ten for road-condition related vehicle crashes, reports WLBT. The 2006 cost to Mississippi for those wrecks stands between $103.4 million and $131.4 million.

Thursday, April 15

Medical Mall Pitches Projects

The Jackson Medical Mall Foundation has several large economic-development projects pending, but Hinds County appears unable to support them, for the moment. Primus Wheeler, executive director for the foundation, asked the county Board of Supervisors at a work session this morning for $1.8 million to support an expansion on the Medical Mall's northern end. The Board has already allocated $2 million in bonds that would be its most likely source of funding, to another project.

Police Search for Shooting Suspect

The Jackson Police Department is searching for a suspect believed to have shot and killed a man outside the Texaco station on North State Street last Sunday morning.

Michael Wallace

The American Bar Association is a sore topic for Jackson attorney Michael Wallace, who is now representing Mississippi in a multi-state lawsuit against health-care reform.

Tonight: JPS Hosts Moms Conference

Jackson Public Schools is hosting its first ever Moms Conference tonight planned exclusively for JPS mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other female role models, celebrating "mothers as lifesavers." The conference kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at Galloway Elementary School (186 Idlewild St.), with registration starting at 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 14

[Modak-Truran] And We're Rolling

The independent film scene is less robust than 20 years ago when it was the ultimate cool. The major studios have a tough enough time reaping profits today, and with a few exceptions such as Participant Media, the big players have virtually abandoned personal film-making because the numbers don't add up.

A Movie Theater in Jackson?

The exodus from Jackson to the suburbs over the last several decades took a heavy toll on movie theaters inside the city limits. As more theaters popped up outside the city limits, several theaters closed in Jackson leaving the city without a place for Jacksonians to catch a flick.

Larry Emmett & Michael Parker

Larry Emmett and Michael Parker have been together for 18 years, but they couldn't get married before 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Canoodling by the Icebox

The Bradford pear trees have finally announced the arrival of spring. For my husband, Mason, and me, this means it's time to open up the windows, forgo the soups and stews of winter, and enjoy refreshing springtime recipes.

Perfect Date Cocktails

Looking to impress your date tonight? Try some of these drink recipes to get them in the mood!

Lake 255 Makes its Debut

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board is considering decreasing the size and depth of its Lower Lake plan to save portions of LeFleur's Bluff Park and its adjoining campgrounds and hiking trails from inundation.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doc Sez: These spring games are crucial for your favorite college team. It might be the only game your heroes win this year.

Stop Stalling Flood Control

It becomes more clear with every Levee Board meeting that the strategy of hard-core Two Lakes development supporters is to stall any alternative plan that could render their plan moot—even though the local levee board has voted to pursue other options. That strategy is severely flawed.

Bring Back Cartoons

When did ads and previews start taking up 30 minutes of good quality movie time? When I was a kid, cartoons preceded every movie on the silver screen. And while cartoons weren't the feature, at least they weren't advertising.

JPD Officers Get Commission Hearings

The Civil Service Commission has granted former Det. Ernest Perry a hearing to contest his 90-day unpaid suspension from the Jackson Police Department following an internal fuel theft investigation.

[Stiggers] Naked Truth

Boneqweesha Jones: "This is a ‘Qweesha Live' television news special report! Let's go to TaaQweema Jenkins, Suma Cum Laude graduate of Hair-Did University School of Cosmetology, reporting live from the Ghetto Science Team's Museum of Fine Arts and Culture, where the controversial Brother Sylvester, Christmas Missin' Toe artist, has another thought provoking exhibit titled ‘Breast-N-Plants: Exposing the World to the Naked Truth.'"

[Kamikaze] Open the Dialogue

My father and I are the only non-educators in my immediate family. My mother and my siblings were once or are all teachers. And since my father sees every conversation as a "teachable" moment, I guess he could qualify as some sort of "teacher."

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 8, No. 31

Spring fever is in the air, and you'll find lots going on this week around town.

Levee Board Opinion Request Withdrawn

The Department of Archives and History has withdrawn its request for an opinion from Attorney General Jim Hood to determine if the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board should be designated as a state agency.

Pre-K: An Ounce of Prevention

Little Samaritan Montessori is an unusual sight in Jackson's Midtown neighborhood. In an area with high rates of vacancy and a declining population, Little Samaritan represents the future. The child-care center serves 62 children, from 6 weeks to 5 years old, with a Montessori curriculum, an experiential approach to education that emphasizes students' self-direction.

Crossroads Film Festival 2010

Several months ago, a group of local film enthusiasts started the arduous process of screening films for the Crossroads Film Festival. After spending entire weekends camped in front of a television watching hundreds of films—some inspiring, and some not so inspiring—they democratically selected this year's festival line up.

Building a Better World

For more than 20 years, a quiet revolution in American architecture took place in Canton. Samuel Mockbee, a Meridian native, practiced a defiantly local but widely influential form of modernist architecture in the Deep South from the 1970s until his death in 2001.

Fighting Injustice

When we hear stories of the Civil Rights Movement, we often think of the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or James Meredith. But one of the most powerful and unheard stories is that of African American sanitation workers in Memphis during that time period.

The Cost of Witnessing

When it comes witnessing tragedies and historic events, journalists are often the ones in the crosshairs. But the perception that journalists are tough as nails isn't always true.

Building on Faith

"God's Architects" is a documentary that explores the works of five self-appointed architects who cite a higher power as the reason for constructing their environments.

Questioning Human Nature

Alexander Pearce was an Irish convict transported to Tasmania by the British judicial system for theft of six pairs of shoes in 1819. He was also, by accusation of the British government, a cannibal.

The Greatest Connection

It's hard to imagine a country that's been at war for as long as you've been alive, but Sudan, which includes the states of Darfur, has seen almost continuous civil war since 1956, the year I was born.

A Good Day to Die

The life force, our survival instinct, is incredibly strong. For most of us, dying is not something to look forward to. Mostly, we don't want to talk or even think about death. But for those living with incurable illnesses, life often becomes so painful that it's no longer worth living. What then?

In a Pig's Ear

"Smokes and Ears," directed by Joe York of Oxford, is a 26-minute documentary tells the story about the Big Apple Inn on Farish Street, and its speciality sandwich.

The Kid In the Picture

When brothers Joel and Ethan Coen filmed "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" in Canton 10 years ago, they gave many Jackson-area residents their first—and in some cases, their only—taste of Hollywood.

Shorts On Shorts

It's quite possible you're one of the many people who go to film festivals on purpose. While I consider myself a movie buff, I snuck a peek at a few of the films heading our way this year.

A Different Kind of Road Trip

An elderly woman drags her walker behind her as she trudges through a field, occasionally glancing at an unassuming building behind her while Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" plays eerily in the background. The woman comes to an old barbed-wire fence, hurling the walker over it with every ounce of strength, proceeding to crawl through it. An alarm sounds.

Radio: Mississippi Style

A lively foot-stomping crowd gathers every week to hear author readings and live music in the most unlikely of places: a bookstore.

Philip Scarborough

When Philip Scarborough was a child, he watched "HBO's Behind the Scenes: Raider's of the Lost Ark," and decided to become a filmmaker. Scarborough's parents bought him a Super 8 camera when he was 11, and he has captured stories ever since.

Deep South Tinseltown

When young filmmakers think of places to start their future careers, cities like New York or Los Angeles usually top their lists. But a 36,000-square-foot film studio in Canton—slated to open this spring—could make Mississippi a more desirable location for film and television production.

A Jew For Palestine

Seated in a well-appointed living room, a pretty young woman tells a tragic story in an eerily steady voice. Anna Baltzer is speaking in the 2008 DVD "Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories & Photos," a recording of her presentation about daily life for West Bank Palestinians.

Judge Orders End to Segregation Practices

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Tom Lee put an immediate stop to Walthall County School District's alleged "clustering" policy, which has allowed hundreds of white students to transfer out of majority-black elementary schools, reports The Christian Science Monitor. The judge gave the district 30 days to formally change the policy.

Tuesday, April 13

Barbour Joins Health Care Suit

Despite Attorney General Jim Hood's advice, Gov. Haley Barbour announced today that he will join a multi-state lawsuit against national health-care legislation President Barack Obama signed last month.

Barbour Criticized for Slavery Insensitivity

Gov. Haley Barbour earned the ire of many when he downplayed a controversy over state proclamations of Confederate History Month--which omitted any mention of slavery--in comments last weekend.

Mason Could Leave Hard Feelings

Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. is scheduled to interview for the president's post at the Southern University System in Louisiana today, and his potential departure could mean new leadership for JSU.

[Balko] The Police Blackout

Last November along the roadside of Richmond Highway, a major thoroughfare in Fairfax County, Va., a police officer shot and killed David Masters, an unarmed motorist, as he sat in the driver's seat of his car. Masters, who was bipolar, was wanted for allegedly stealing some flowers from a planter. He received a ticket the day before for running a red light and then evading the police officer, though in a slow and not particularly dangerous manner.

Chef Larry Love

Chef and Jackson native Larry Love wants to provide people with knowledge on how a raw-food diet can extend their life span through his 30-year culinary expertise and experience. Love is hosting a raw-food tasting event this month to promote Liquid Light Cafe, a Web site where clients can order live-food delivery services, event catering and obtain recipes.

Hood: ‘Haste Makes Waste'

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is not taking action to join a multi-state lawsuit against recently passed federal health-care reform legislation. In a letter sent to Gov. Haley Barbour on Friday and released to the press, Hood advised the governor that because the issues raised can only be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court "there is no hurry to join the suit," and that it would be cheaper for Mississippi to wait. "In law and in life, the old maxim 'haste makes waste' still applies."

Monday, April 12

State Again Tries to Take Over Levee Board

A member of the Two Lakes of Mississippi Foundation rattled the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board at its meeting this morning with another attempt by state officials to usurp the authority of the local Levee Board. Board attorney Trudy Allen told the board that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has listed the Levee Board, which to date has operated independently of the state, as a state agency in Mississippi's 2010 Blue Book of state agencies.

Jackson Business Round Up

The success of last month's "Downtown After Dusk" event in the courtyard of Underground 119 has secured a new tradition in Jackson. Julie Skipper, one of the organizers, said today that the event will not conflict with "Fondren After Five" in the future. The next "Downtown After Dusk" will take place May 13 starting at 5 p.m. in front of the new Congress Street Bar and Grill on the corner of Congress and Amite Streets. The event is sponsored by Downtown Jackson Partners, the Jackson Convention and Visitor's Bureau, YP Alliance, Jackson Downtown Neighborhood Association, Underground 119, Entergy and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. "The event is a way to get people to support business owners downtown and get people to stay downtown after work," Skipper said. "We were overwhelmed in a good way, it was a great, diverse crowd. ... We were expecting 300 people, and 600 showed up."

Corinne Fox

As Jackson's director of planning and development, Corinne Fox has her eyes focused on the future. As a result of her forward thinking, The American Institute of Certified Planners granted fellowship to Fox last week for her achievements in mentoring, research and community service. Fox is one of 425 city planners who the organization has given fellowship to since 1999.

Community Events and Public Meetings

7 p.m., No Fuss Lawn Care at Millsaps College (1701 N. State St.). Felder Rushing will cover selecting the right kind of grass, mowing, fertilizing, weed control, and designing with a smaller lawn in mind through the use of ground covers and mulches. $40; call 601-974-1130.

Barbour: Slavery Omission ‘Doesn't Matter for Diddly'

Speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Gov. Haley Barbour defended fellow Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's recent proclamation of Confederate History Month that did not reference slavery. While McDonnell has been backpedalling in Virginia, repeatedly apologizing and calling it a "major omission," according to The Washington Post, Barbour called the incident "just a nit."

Friday, April 9

Sense of Community Revealed

In my humble opinion, The Jackson Free Press has set itself apart in this city, state and nation as a publication that is hard-hitting, to the point and never shows only part of an issue. The staff has created awareness of the creative juices in this city and awakened dead stories, and people, which became award-winning journalism.

City Defends Officer Dismissal

The Jackson Civil Service Commission will decide if the city had the right to dismiss former Jackson Police Officer Kevin Nash after allegations that he used excessive force against a civilian and violated his employment agreement.

Africa Book Cafe Brings Culture, Music to Fondren

Tawanna and Rico Chapman are bringing their love of African culture to Fondren, with the opening of their new business, Africa Book Cafe, on Mitchell Avenue. The shop, which sells books, clothing, fragrances and refreshments, will celebrate its grand opening April 16.

It's the Weekend

If you're feeling dramatic this weekend, head over to the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center tonight to see the Ballet Magnificat! Spring Concert Series. Tickets can be purchased online for $10-$30. If ballet isn't quite your thing, take a drive down Interstate 20 to Clinton and see the play "The Watch They Keep," at 7 p.m. at the Old Clinton Junior High School Auditorium for $12. For more entertainment options, visit the JFP Best Bets page.

Sean Byers

As the new general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, better known as the King Edward Hotel, Sean Byers knows he is at the center of Jackson's renaissance and wants to help it flourish.

Justice Stevens Announces Retirement

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has said he will retire after the current court session, which ends this summer, reports The Washington Post. Stevens is 11 days shy of his 90th birthday.

Thursday, April 8

Traffic Citations Boost City Revenue

City revenues are slipping, but the Jackson Police Department is making a dent in the budget hole by stepping up traffic citations.

Smoothie Bar Promotes Healthy Living

When Sameerah Muhammad was walking through the Jackson Medical Mall last summer, she craved a smoothie to accompany her morning workout. "I saw that there were different vending stands, but there wasn't a fresh fruit smoothie bar," she says. Less than two months later, Muhammad's urge was satisfied when she opened Bottoms Up Fresh Fruit Smoothie Bar.

Ron Blaylock

At a concert at the Eudora Welty Commons, Ron Blaylock maneuvers through the audience with couple of cameras draped around his neck. In between shots, he stops to scoop up his three small children and dance with his wife, Lindsay.

High School Seniors Honored

The Jackson Council PTA/PTSA will honor the top 10 graduating seniors from each of Jackson's high schools this evening. Hosted by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., the annual Salute to Scholars will take place at the Jackson State University e-Center at 1230 Raymond Road starting at 6 p.m. Each honoree will receive a certificate and the event includes a reception for the seniors and their families.

Wednesday, April 7

Chronicling Jackson's BOOM

It just occurred to me when I sat down to write this that the Saints won the Super Bowl within weeks of the King Edward re-opening--after both had suffered roughly four decades of discontent. I guess the Saints and King Eddie were using the same cold month in hell to make a few "never gonna happen" things ... happen.

The Siren Song of Food

The world first met the vivacious Mandisa, with her powerful voice and mega-watt smile, during the fifth season of "American Idol" in 2006. Unfortunately, she also became known for Simon Cowell's negative comment at her audition: "Are we going to have a bigger stage this year?"

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Pro golf, The Masters (3 p.m., ESPN): You might have heard that Tiger Woods is going to play golf this week. All the waitresses in Augusta are very excited. … College basketball, presentation of Howell and Gillom trophies (6:30 p.m., Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, Jackson): Both these trophies are going to Starkville. You read it here first. … Pro baseball, Tennessee at Mississippi (7:05 p.m., Pearl, 103.9 FM): The M-Braves open the season against the Smokies. Welcome back, fellas.

New Charter School Law Brings New Costs

Former Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Earl Watkins said a new charter school law that both the House and Senate approved last month will carry additional costs to the local public-school districts, which already have strapped budgets.

Chaney Critical of Insurance Hike Request

Allstate has submitted its request for a home-owner rate increase on more than 50,000 Mississippi homes because of higher expenses in the state.

Recovering our Confidence

In the first glimmer of good news Mississippi has seen over its lagging tax revenues, the State Tax Commission reported an increase in collections of about a half a percentage point over the previous month.

[Stiggers] Little Bit of Change

Miss Doodle Mae: "Finally, it looks like this winter's cold spell has broken. Trees covered with white blossoms decorate the ghetto landscape. The street corners and hangout spots are alive with unemployed folk, winos and beggars."

[Collier] Rearing Ain't for Everybody

Picture it: A woman is rolled into Choose-a-Patron-Saint's-Name Hospital, writhing in pain, cursing men and pleading with God for mercy. The contractions are coming closer together and are more difficult to bear. After 40 weeks or so, it is finally time. The little bundle of joy (or terror, whichever the case may prove to be) is on the way to make a mark on the world.

Hood Responds to Hayne Criticism

Gov. Haley Barbour signed H.B. 1456 into law March 19, requiring that pathologists doing autopsies in Mississippi--in addition to the state medical examiner--hold American Board of Pathology certification. Such certification is the "gold standard" for pathologists operating anywhere in the United States, according to Commissioner Stephen B. Simpson of the state Department of Public Safety, the agency tasked with oversight of the state's crime lab and, at some point, the state's medical examiner.

McMillin Talks on Irby ‘Conspiracy'

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin this week fired back at accusers who say he led a conspiracy to go easy on Karen Irby, whose intoxication and high-speed driving killed two doctors and seriously injured her husband, Stuart, and herself after leaving the Jackson Country Club the evening of Feb. 11, 2009. Police reports show that she crossed five lanes of traffic in her black 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500 and hit a Chevrolet Silverado C1500 pick-up truck head-on; it burst into flames, killing Drs. Mark Pogue and Lisa Dedousis.

Musical Harmony, Cultural Acceptance

On a crowded stage with a six-piece band jamming behind him, AJC, clad in a black vest and tie, jumps up and down. The black and white crowd at Hal & Mal's Red Room lingers near the stage, moving, shaking and shuffling to the drummer's beat. AJC signals the band with his right hand, cueing the musicians into the second verse, as he raps a verse from "The Battle of Success."

Juanita Sims-Doty

As the second youngest of 13 brothers and sisters, Dr. Juanita Sims-Doty grew up in Canton "holding and picking cotton" until her sophomore year of college. Now the southeastern regional director of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Sims-Doty spends her time encouraging young women to serve others and embrace 
educational opportunities.

Barbour Calls Himself a ‘Fat Redneck'

In an interview yesterday on CNN's "John King USA," Gov. Haley Barbour refused to criticize Republic National Chairman Michael Steele and characterized himself as a "fat redneck."

Tuesday, April 6

2010 Duke Blue Devils, Your National Champions

The 2010 Duke Blue Devils can be your national champion, because they won't be mine. This team was one of the worst national champions in recent memory. Sure, they showed grit and clutch performances. But Coach K's crew plowed through a weak ACC like Caesar through Gaul, then took advantage of so many upsets in the first few weeks. Their hot streak through the last four games cemented a fifth national championship for the Blue Devils, but I doubt that this team could have beaten any of those other great Duke teams. A generous critic would call them overachievers. I don't.

City Addresses South Jackson Development

The Jackson City Council is focusing on south Jackson development by addressing concerns about rent-to-own leases and approving the city's purchase of property at Metrocenter Mall.

State Public Safety Dept. to Stay in Jackson, For Now

A proposal to move the Mississippi Department of Public Safety's headquarters from Jackson to Pearl is off the table for the moment, but a spokesman for the Department said Commissioner Steve Simpson still hopes to complete the move later. The Mississippi Legislature passed a bonds bill March 26 to pay to move the state crime lab and medical examiner's office to Rankin County, a process that began last year.

Daniel McMullen

Daniel McMullen would be difficult to pick out of a police line-up. It's hard to determine McMullen's age and race, and although he's the special agent in charge of the FBI's Jackson division since September 2009, he keeps a low profile.

[Balko] Another Senseless Drug War Death

The Jonathan Ayers story was already outrageous enough. Last September, a North Georgia narcotics task force gunned down Ayers, a 28-year-old Baptist pastor from Lavonia, Ga., in the parking lot of a gas station. Ayers had not been a suspect in any drug investigation. And even today, police acknowledge he was not using or trafficking illicit drugs.

Spoken Word in the City

The chatter in the colorful, dimly lit back room at Cultural Expressions in West Jackson hushes to a whisper as Mariama Guice calmly approaches the vintage microphone. The audience leans forward, captivated by Guice's unapologetic, in-your-face delivery.

[Rob In Stereo] Movie Star Moonlighting

There are many reasons for She & Him's "Volume Two" to be terrible. To begin with, the face of the group is Zooey Deschanel.

Shhh ... It's Top Secret

They're out there—the aliens. You may not want to believe, but I have seen proof.

Eminent Domain Petition Circulating

After Gov. Haley Barbour vetoed a bill last year to limit the state's use of eminent domain, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is circulating a petition to put the issue to the state's voters on the 2011 ballot, reports WLBT. The bureau wants to limit government takeovers of private land to public use projects, such as roads and bridges.

Monday, April 5

A Decoy Prom for Lesbian Teen?

When Constance McMillen attended her school prom on Friday at Fulton Country Club in Fulton, Miss., only seven students were in attendance. The majority of Itawamba Agricultural High School students held another prom at alternative location, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

Johnson To Appoint New School Board Members

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. is expected to appoint two new members to the Jackson Public School Board of Trustees at Tomorrow's city council meeting. The April 6 council agenda reveals Johnson nominated Jackson resident Monica Gilmore-Love from Ward 1 and former Jackson administrator Otha Burton from Ward 2.

Homeless Shelter Closes Due to Lack of Funding

Opportunity Center, the only daytime homeless shelter in Jackson, closed Friday. The shelter, which was operated by Stewpot Community Services, offered a variety of social services. On daily basis about 175 homeless men and women could use laundry and shower facilities, receive mail and phone calls, and seek day-labor work.

Community Events and Public Meetings

Mustard Seed Book Drive at Borders (100 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood). Donate books in good condition to the residents of The Mustard Seed. Donations welcome; call 601-992-3556.

Sam Gleese

Reverend Sam Gleese is determined to educate people with disabilities. A soft spoken and humble man, he is the president of The National Federation for the Blind in Mississippi and coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act. "When I took over the federation in '86, there were only two chapters. As of right now, we have eight chapters across the state," Gleese says.

Nearly Half of All Mississippians Not Connected

About half—45 percent—of all Mississippi residents are unable to do what many of us take for granted: read this, or any other Web site. They're unable to send e-mails to family or friends, search for jobs, find news and information, or do any of a myriad of tasks on the Internet, according to the U.S. Census Current Population Survey. The state has the lowest number of people connected to the Internet in the country, reports The Sun Herald.

Saturday, April 3

Final Four Preview

There are four teams left, and I didn't have any of them in my Elite Eight. Go figure. Two five seeds, Michigan State and Butler, face off at 6:07 pm on Saturday. At 8:47, the last remaining 1-seed, Duke, takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers. So far, the Tournament has been fantastic, with the Xavier-Kansas State classic in my Top Five College Basketball Games Ever. From the two Saturday games, who would you take? How many of the Final Four did you pick on your bracket? Did you have any of these four teams remaining?

Friday, April 2

NAACP President: Segregation Still a Problem

One example of how state and local government continues to attack public education in Mississippi is a bill that would allow charter schools, said NAACP President Derrick Johnson during a community meeting at Koinonia Coffee House today.

Downtown Restaurant To Bring Local Focus

Craig Noone is nervous these days. The Jackson native is opening his first restaurant, Parlor Market, in June, and he spends his days overseeing renovations at the 115 W. Capitol St. location.

Dani Mitchell Turk

Even though she never went to culinary school, Dani Mitchell Turk has enough skill in the kitchen to earn herself a spot on national television. Turk will appear on the Food Network's "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" Sunday, April 4 at 8 p.m., where she will compete in the show's burger episode contest.

Easter Weekend Events

Start the weekend off by supporting Jackson's art scene. TALK dance Company presents Handel's "Messiah" and Copeland's "Rodeo" tonight at 8 p.m. at Jackson Academy's new Performing Arts Center. Proceeds from the performance will go toward "Merging Musical Worlds," TALK's international tour of Russia in May. To start your search for the weekend's best entertainment, visit Best Bets.

Downtown At Dusk Photos

Two words: Awe-Some!

Downtown At Dusk was a phenomenal success -- so much so that they ran out of crawfish and had to get more -- and the bar at Underground 119 was slammed because the beer truck outside was overrun. Donna and I got a chance to talk to Mike McCree (Underground 119 owner) after the event had died down and morphed into a Jesse Robinson blues jam inside. Mike was exhausted from running around trying to solve problems due to the unexpected crowd, but told us he was very pleased at the turnout.

Barbour Signs Tougher Stalking Law

Also: Listen to Rep. Brandon Jones and Sen. David Blount talk about the stalking bill on JFP Radio.

Thursday, April 1

Chaney Critical of Second Allstate Rate-Hike Request

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said he has no intention of approving a 44 percent rate increase request by Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company on more than 50,000 homes statewide.

Barbour Still Waiting to Sue Feds

Gov. Haley Barbour will wait for the Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum to file a multi-state suit against recently passed national health-care reform before joining in, his office said today.

Vic Sexton

Vic Sexton bridges the gap between small businesses and city government. A senior planner for the city of Jackson, Sexton handles the city's outreach to small businesses. He provides some technical assistance and educates business owners about the city's grant programs for storefront improvement and small business development. Funded by the U.S. Department of House and Urban Development, the programs offer reimbursements of up to $15,000 for qualified businesses.

Personhood Initiative Approved for 2011 Ballot

The Mississippi Secretary of State's office approved an initiative today for the 2011 ballot asking voters to decide whether the constitution should designate that life begins at fertilization.