Stories for January 2010


Sunday, January 31

Sundance 2010 Award Ceremonies

I sat in the front row, up close and personal, for the closing night award ceremonies. I reveled in the space created by the amazing force of Sundance volunteers. Only a few hours earlier, I had watched Welcome to the Rileys, the much talked about film starring James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo, in this venue. Draped in black, lit in a neon purple glow, the space was fully transformed into a chic environment for independent cinema's elite.

Friday, January 29

Sundance: Best in Short Filmmaking

Short films invite limitless opportunities for creative exploration, and these films offer some of the best entertainment at the Sundance Film Festival. In this fiercely competitive category, a winning film is beyond formula and the expected.

PSC Asked to Remove Attorney in Kemper County Coal Plant Case

The Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club filed a motion Friday (PDF, 70k) to remove a Mississippi Public Service Commission attorney connected with the second-phase hearing on the workability of a proposed coal plant in Kemper County because her father could benefit from the plant.

Jackson State President: HBCUs' Future At Risk

Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. predicted hard times for Mississippi's historically black universities if the schools don't work together. "When you confront the kind of problems that we're confronting, and when you take into account that we don't have the kind of cushion in our budgets that other universities have to handle these cuts, then you can envision the gap getting bigger and bigger and bigger," Mason said at a press conference this afternoon. "And the bigger the gap gets, the less able we are to survive in an increasingly competitive environment."

Budget Woes Overshadow City's Needs at Low-Turnout Confab

State budget woes cast a pall over the Jackson Convention Center yesterday, when city leaders solicited the support of state lawmakers over lunch. Hosted by the city's state legislative delegation and featuring a presentation by Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen, the event drew roughly 150 people, with few legislators from outside the capital city among the attendees.

House Bill Restricts Sales of Meth Ingredient

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, used the memory of his brother, who died from a meth overdose, to beg the Mississippi House of Representatives to pass a bill that will require cold and allergy sufferers to have a doctor's prescription for medicine containing pseudoephedrine, an important component of illegal methamphetamine, aka meth.

It's the Weekend

The time has finally come for the best party of the year featuring great local food, music and people. The JPF's 2010 Best of Jackson Party is Sunday at 8 p.m. at The South in downtown Jackson. As we've done since the first year of publication, the "Best of" party honors the local businesses and individuals who readers said represent the very best of Jackson. If you want to come, you're invited, but you must register here so that we know to expect you.

Amy Czajkowski

Amy Czajkowski's experiences as a facilitator in peacebuilding goes beyond countries devastated by war. As the program director of Coming To the Table, Czajkowski, 34, is bringing her skills to Tougaloo College for a round table discussion on the impact of slavery on today's society.

Monday: School District Merger Meeting

Monday, Feb. 1, the Commission on Education Structure will hold its second meeting to discuss how best to achieve school district consolidation in Mississippi. The meeting is scheduled for Room 216 in the state capitol building, starting at 1 p.m., and the public is invited to attend.

Where's YOUR Confidence?

A Response to Luke Parrish's Blog on Understanding Self-Worth, Confidence, and "Believing in Yourself"

Thursday, January 28

Money and Marriage

The biggest fight in the Mississippi Legislature still centered on money in week 3 of the 2010 session. The House refused to consider a Senate bill giving Gov. Haley Barbour the power to selectively cut 10 percent of certain state agency budgets while sparing other agencies—namely the Department of Corrections. So Barbour responded with a more constitutional blanket cut.

Fewer Profs, High Tuition

If current state budget cuts stand, Mississippi's eight public universities will have to shed 1,000 jobs and raise tuition over the next two years.

New Farish Businesses Open by September

The first block of Jackson's Farish Street Entertainment District will be ready for new occupants by September of this year, Brad "Kamikaze" Franklin announced Tuesday. Franklin, a local musician and investor in Farish Street, also heads the public-relations department of Watkins Development, LLC.

Politics Not as Usual

As my second pro-Jackson piece was published this week in the JFP, more of my "friends" called me out for not staying true to who I am. Huh? I believe what they meant to say was true to who they think I am. It is true, judge if you want: I was a staffer during Governor Kirk Fordice's second term. I was a gung-ho right winger, well, I was gung at least. Not ashamed to admit it, I did to my boss at the time, that I voted for Bill Clinton in his first bid for president. I am still not ashamed of that. But as a gunger, I voted for Dole the second time around. I was surrounded by those beliefs everyday and, heck, I was able to pay my bills because of it. I did believe it. I did live it but not enough to get the title of being gung ho, just gung.

Charter Schools Advance In Mississippi Senate

The Senate Education Committee just approved a bill that would allow privately operated charter schools to open in Mississippi starting in 2011. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, and has many Republican co-authors. Opposition came primarily from Sens. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, and Alice Harden, D-Jackson, who were both concerned that charters would draw funds and students from regular public schools that have never been properly funded. Jordan also worried that charters could lead to re-segregation. Watson tried to assure him that, under his bill, charter schools would use a lottery system for admissions, but Jordan seemed unconvinced.

Dribble Drive Motion

Starting this Thursday, Ole Miss begins a 12-game run that will determine its seeding in the SEC Tournament. After playing Auburn and Arkansas, a highly anticipated matchup against John Calipari's top-ranked Kentucky team looms for Andy Kennedy's squad. Ole Miss is ranked 22nd and appears to be the strongest team Kentucky will face in their conference.

[Kamikaze] Here's to the Big Dogs

The water crisis of last week is behind us, but the effects may remain for years to come. It proved to be a pivotal moment in this city's Renaissance. We should heed the truths revealed to us during those days of crisis as we move forward.

[Stiggers] Do the Hustle

Brotha Hustle: "At this time of the year, the only thing on poor people's mind is 'Tax Refund.' So, they grab their W2 statements and run to one of those well-known tax-preparation places.

A ‘Local' Business Plan

The annual Best of Jackson reader's choice awards began in the very first issue of the Jackson Free Press.

[Moore] A Love Story

We first met when I was only 3 years young. I had no idea of her deep yearning to simply be loved. Nor did I know the love I would have in my heart for her some day.

Obama's Jobs Focus Meets Resistance

President Barack Obama pushed for more job creation during his State of the Union address last night. Facing the loss of two governor's races and the Massachusetts Senate seat formally held by Ted Kennedy to Republicans, Obama's speech focused on job creation through expanding small businesses.

JPD Battles Church Burglaries

Major crimes in Jackson dropped a whopping 9 percent last week, but Jackson Police officers are concerned about a rash of burglaries at churches across the city. Since mid-December, the city has seen 14 church burglaries, most recently on Tuesday Jan. 26 at New Jerusalem Church on Old Canton Road.

Israel Martinez

Israel Martinez, 24, wants to make a difference in his community. Martinez, owner of Oasis Spanish Learning Center in Ridgeland, believes that a Latin American Chamber of Commerce will help make that difference.

[Slate] The Best In Sports in 7 Days

Men's college basketball, Arkansas at Mississippi State (8 p.m., Starkville, ESPN or ESPN2, 105.9) and Ole Miss at Auburn (8 p.m., Auburn, Ala., ESPNU, 97.3 FM): What idiot came up with this schedule? Bulldog and Rebel fans don't want to watch each other's teams, anyway.

Mississippi Unemployment Tops Double Digits

The average unemployment rate for the Magnolia state was 10.3 percent in December, slightly higher than the national average of 9.7 percent. For Mississippi, that percentage translates into 133,700 individuals collecting benefits from the state, at a cost of nearly $25 million.

Sundance: There Is Always A Mississippi Connection!

You know how this goes. Mark talks to our friend Diana Shows about going to Sundance and Diana mentions that her niece Elizabeth Mims has a short film in the festival. Mark tells me, and I get excited because I'm always proud of the creative talent from our state. Mims produced Jason Tippet's short documentary, "Thompson." I haven't seen the film yet, but the excerpt in the program book sounds promising. It's about two young men who share a bond of "speech impediments, weapons and things that go fast." It won the jury award at the SXSW Festival. I can't wait to see it, and hopefully meet Mims in a crowded cafe, or even better Thai restaurant, on Main Street.

Sundance January 27 - Liftoff

An uber early flight, a last minute gate switcheroo, and a quick transfer between the second and third plane commenced my journey to Sundance 2010. A few years ago, back when Delta would connect flights going west in Dallas, rather than the round-abouting through Atlanta, I meet Peggy Hemus, a filmmaker from Houston, Texas. We've kept in touch over the years. On Monday night, Peggy provided me with a quick guide on what's been going on at the festival, which started last Thursday.

Wednesday, January 27

Super Bowl Update No. 1: Saints Plan To Pound Peyton

Saints defenders aim to bring the pain against the Colts.

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Transcript of President Obama's State of the Union Address

This is the text released to media just before the speech began. Verbatim:


<b>The Royal Treatment<b/>

What better way to honor our local businesses, nonprofits and personalities than with a huge Best of Jackson awards issue every January?

2010: Beyond Jackson

<b>Best Casino for Gaming and Best Casino for Restaurants</b>

The chiming of slot machines welcomed me with their happy mantra: "Win money. Win money." No, I wasn't in Las Vegas, but at the Ameri star Casino Hotel in Vicksburg. Winner of Best Casino for Gaming and Best Casino for Restaurants, Ameristar houses a variety of fun. I was impressed with the number of tables for gaming and the vast array of affordable slots. (I opted for the penny slots myself.) Without leaving the casino, you can have a "N'Awlins" pizza at Bella's Cafe and Bakery, then head to Bourbons for sweet-potato cheesecake. To round out the evening, mosey on over to the Bottleneck Blues Bar for a beer and some live music. The restaurants offer everything from barbecue to Chinese food at extremely reasonable prices. Opting for pizza was a great choice, but next time, I'll have to try the chocolate fountain at the Heritage Buffet. Located only 40 minutes from Jackson, you won't even have to deal with airport security to get there.

2010: Urban Living

<b>Best Locally Owned Business</b>

Jeff Good and his business partner, Dan Blumenthal, know the secret to success in the restaurant business, and it's not rocket science: Provide top-notch service and delicious quality food every day. Jacksonians know that they can count on the three Mangia Bene restaurants—BRAVO!, Broad St. Baking Company and Sal & Mookie's—to be consistently good, which is why you will find these businesses nominated over and over each year in the Best of Jackson polls.

2010; Nightlife

6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502

Best Beer Selection (draft), Best Beer Selection (bottled) and Best College Hangout:

2010; Community

<b>Best Local Visionary</b>

Visionaries are dreamers, but when a dreamer actually makes his dreams reality, watch out. We are beyond lucky to have that kind of a leader in our midst: developer David Watkins. Last year, he gave the city arguably one of the best Christmas presents ever: the reopening of the King Edward Hotel. The ubiquitous "they" said it couldn't be done, but he (and his partners) did it. That achievement might have been enough for some, but not for Watkins, because he sees more. He sees all that Jackson can be. Even better, he has the gift to inspire others to share his passion for Jackson and to become a part of bringing that vision to life. Stay tuned: There's much more to come from this visionary.

Best of Jackson 2010: Food & Drink

<b>Best Restaurant and Best Place to Impress a Date:</b>

If this were a question on the SAT, it might read: "Andre Previn is to the orchestra pit as Derek Emerson is to the (a) kitchen, (b) dining room, (c) menu, (d) all of the above." The answer would, of course, be "d." In order to be the best restaurant in Jackson, you must get it all right. You can't just rely on your food to make up for service and atmosphere.

JSU Advocates React to ‘Jacobs State' Merger

Ivory Phillips, former dean of Jackson State University's College of Education, said he suspected Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr.'s proposal to merge three majority-black state universities into Jacobs State University falls in line with his recent push to downsize the university's curriculum. The Jackson Free Press broke the story here Tuesday afternoon.

Richard Stowe

Richard Stowe, 43, might have his own office but is rarely found there-he'd rather be working with his hands: constructing buildings, restoring old cars, painting landscapes and creating monotype prints.

Dim Prospects for House Plan to Restore Cuts

The Mississippi House of Representatives approved a plan yesterday to restore recent state budget cuts, but the proposal is unlikely to gain much traction in the state Senate or the governor's office. The House voted 73 to 47 yesterday to take $100 million from state reserve funds to shore up agency budgets slashed in Gov. Haley Barbour's most recent round of budget cuts, announced Jan. 22. The measure attracted fierce opposition from House Republicans, however, and House Democrats acknowledged that the plan stood little chance of passing the Senate.

A Federal Grant to Save Education?

In a year when Mississippi's K-12 educational system faces potentially crippling budget cuts, a federal grant program promising up to $175 million has offered a bit of hope to state education advocates. But the Mississippi Department of Education has frustrated some of those advocates by forgoing an early application deadline that many believe would have improved the state's chances.

Filmmaker Behind ACORN Scandal Arrested

The FBI in New Orleans has arrested James O'Keefe, 25, the amateur filmmaker whose film is the basis of the scandal that decimated ACORN last year. O'Keefe and three others allegedly attempted to tamper with Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones, a felony, reports Southern Political Report, gaining entry disguised as telephone repair men.

[Ladd] The Prosperity of Living

Here in Jackson something really special is happening. People are joining hands to face down the naysayers and forge a new future for our city. We're putting our pennies together and investing locally. None of us is perfect, but we know that we are very strong when we put aside differences and work together for the city and her people.

Tuesday, January 26

JSU President Mason Proposes HBCU Merger Into ‘Jacobs State'

Read Jacobs State Proposal

JFP Knows How to Party

On the shelf in my closet, between my Nine West velvet, lace-up wedges and my favorite pin-up style, Mary Jane stilletos, is an empty space. This is where an undiscovered pair of fabulous new shoes for the Best of Jackson party will go.

A Few Jackson Warm and Fuzzies

As the celebratory edition of the Best of Jackson sits on the press as I type, the anticipation of its distribution is at its climax. I must admit this will only be my second edition I will be "aware" of its existence. More on that tomorrow. But the fact that I am aware is a warm and fuzzy.

House May Tap $100 Million of Reserve Fund

The Mississippi House of Representatives is expected to vote today on a plan to use $100 million in reserve funds this year to shore up agency budgets that were slashed in Gov. Haley Barbour's most recent round of budget cuts. The House Appropriations Committee approved the measure yesterday afternoon in a brief meeting.

Matt Casteel

Matt Casteel may claim Mississippi as home, but it's his travel experiences to countries like China and Mexico that motivate him to feed those in need.

Monday, January 25

Horse Trailer: Heavenly Phenomenon - Live @ Sneaky Beans

Musicians are a bit like objects in space. Give them a particular orbit with which to hang around, and eventually they bounce off of each other. Sometimes, these cosmic particles stick together, drawn by gravity into bands. And sometimes, these bands bump into other bands, giving way to an all new creation...bound together by the magic ties of the universe: the "supergroup." Horse Trailer is such a collaboration, formed with members of some of Jackson's most talented groups. And like any supergroup, they succeed most when they are not just individual artists taking turns at the mike, but when common purpose and love...that gravity... slings them forward on the same course like a comet streaking across the sky. Composed of many pieces, but greater than the sum of its to let those individual parts shine brightly, but never more brightly than the whole.

Board Approves University Tuition Hikes

The state College Board approved tuition increases for Mississippi's eight public universities at a meeting this morning. The increases, which will take place over two years, are necessary to offset current and anticipated budget cuts, state Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said.

Immigrant Group Wants Racial-Profiling Ordinance

Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance legal counsel Patricia Ice will appear before the Jackson City Council Tuesday at 6 p.m., to call for an anti-racial and immigrant-profiling ordinance.

Larry McAdoo

Teaching adolescents to make good choices is what Larry McAdoo says he does best. McAdoo, 58, has been working since 2004 with Redemption Outreach Ministries International, Inc. a non-profit organization that he founded with the intention of teaching local youths about abstaining from sex until marriage. This month, the National Advisory Board of the National Abstinence Education Association appointed McAdoo to serve as a board member. In his new role, McAdoo will help promote abstinence-only education by lobbying for legislation and promoting strategic goals of the NAEA.

Public Meetings and Community Events

The World Through Lou's Lens at Arts Center of Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St.). An exhibit showcasing 80 years of Lou Shornick's photography along with pieces donated by various local artists such as Anthony DiFatta, Tony Davenport and Bill Wilson. All proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to the Kids Fund established at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson to support the launch of Mississippi Music N' Motion, a new music education program for underprivileged students. Call 601-960-1557.

Stokes to Propose Pay Raises

Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes will propose $2-per-hour pay raises for employees of the city's Public Works Department reports WAPT. Stokes is aiming the raises at those who have worked over the past couple of weeks to fix the city's broken water mains in the wake of several days of sub-freezing temperatures.

Sunday, January 24

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Hell Freezes Over: Saints Going To Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 31-28 in overtime, to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in team history. They will play the Indianapolis Colts in Miami on Feb. 7 (5:25 p.m., Ch. 12).

Open Thread: Saints or Favre in the NFC Championships?

Over here at the Jackson Free Press, it's Saints all the way! Tell us your thoughts; we won't hold them against you. Maybe.

Friday, January 22

This is why I'm still here at 8 p.m. Friday night

And I'm not the only one. Ronni is here, Ward is here; Lacey and Adam just left. We are in the middle of our huge annual issue to celebrate all that is great about our city. Someone just *now* dropped fruit and M&Ms. Mark Scurlock showed up earlier with pastries. It's as if so many of y'all are cheering us on as we sort through thousands, no millions, of little Best-of blurbs, trying to get the damn commas right!

Superintendent Responds to Education Cuts

(verbatim statement) State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tom Burnham regarding the additional cuts to the K-12 education budget by Governor Haley Barbour:

Convention Center a Boon for Jackson

Nearly a year after opening, the Jackson Convention Complex has brought in more than $21 million and stimulated the city's economy by providing jobs and tax revenue, according to a report issued by the Capital City Convention Center Commission this week.

Barbour Vows More Cuts, Private Prisons

Unhappy that the Mississippi House of Representatives turned back his move for more budget power, Gov. Haley Barbour today promised to slash most of the state budgets more than 8 percent. The House refused to follow the Senate's lead and grant him power to discriminately cut 10 percent of the budget.

Weekend Happenings

Tonight head on out to the Trunk Show at Dream Beads at 5 p.m. Then you can catch some blues with King Edward at Underground 119 at 9 p.m. If jazz is more your thing, cruise over to Hal & Mal's for Rhonda Richmond, also at 9 p.m.. Pyinfamous, Ulogy, Sycology and DJ Phingaprint will be at Monte's Seafood at 9 p.m., then have breakfast at midnight. None of these grabbing your attention? Check out more on the JFP Events Calendar

Rep. Adrienne Wooten

Rep. Adrienne Wooten, D-Jackson, is a woman of convictions, and she has no problem letting those convictions loose on the House floor. Wooten, 35, prevented the passage of a House bill yesterday that would allow persons convicted for the first time of illegal drug possession to petition the court to expunge their conviction from all public records.

Jackson Water Update

Parts of the city of Jackson served by its well-water system continue to be subject to a boil-water notice, according to a release issued this morning. Pressure has now risen to a point in that system to allow for testing. City crews are collecting forty samples from the system today to send to the Mississippi Health Department, and the boil-water notice will be lifted after two days of testing come back clear.

Thursday, January 21

Reservoir District Bill Back Door to Flood Control?

Control of the Ross Barnett Reservoir is at stake in a bill proposed this week by Sen. Lee Yancey, R-Brandon, that is raising questions over what it really aims to do -- and whether it could be a back-door way to help the Two Lakes river-development plan still see the light of day.

Bounds Predicts Job Losses, Tuition Hikes

State higher education commissioner Hank Bounds said today that Mississippi's public university system will likely shed 1,000 jobs over the next two years due to budget cuts. Speaking today to the state Institutitions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, Bounds delivered dire news about the effects of a more than 8 percent budget cut and recommended that the board approve a series of tuition increases.

Compromise Sex-Ed Bill Moves Ahead

School districts would have to choose between implementing an abstinence-only or an abstinence-plus sex education curriculum by June 2011 under a bill the House Education Committee passed Wednesday.

Phil Reed

Phil Reed, 60, has spent the last 27 years helping people, and in the wake of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the Haiti last week, he is spearheading local efforts to provide aid to the country.

Former Melton Bodyguards to Pay $20K Restitution

by Ward Schaefer January 21, 2010 Michael Recio and Marcus Wright, the former police bodyguards for the late Mayor Frank Melton, must pay $10,000 each in restitution for their roles in the 2006 warrantless demolition of a private home on Ridgeway Street, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

Eric Stringfellow

As a journalism professor, Eric Stringfellow, 49, is never far away from a newspaper. As he works on his computer, a stack of papers accompanies him.

Wednesday, January 20

[Stauffer] Facts, Damn Facts and Opinions

The Jackson Free Press publisher explains why the newspaper does not support Two Lakes or the 1996 Levee Plan. Instead, we need to put politics aside and seek a basin-wide solution.

Bowl of Red

When the weatherman started talking about snow in Jackson, my wife got busy gathering up blankets and throws. Nine-year-old Zak sat by the window keeping a keen eye on the night sky, straining not to blink and miss catching a glimpse of the first flakes, back-lit by the streetlight. Our teenage boys furiously worked the keyboards on their iPhones making plans with girls to drink coco and flirt (as if they need an excuse like snow for flirting).

[Pass the Mic] Plus the Kitchen Sink

If I didn't know better, I would swear there is a secret highway that leads directly from Jackson to Portland, Ore. In the last couple of years, several Jacksonians have made an exodus to Portland—artists, musicians, writers, even a dentist I know. The lane northwest to Portland is wider than the lane heading southward, but some still choose to return to Jackson, bringing with them more creativity than when they left.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 8, no. 19

The 20-year freeze has thawed, and it's time to warm up with good drinks and live music. Nothing eases the stir-crazy-winter blues like a live juke session. Whether you're looking for calm acoustics over dinner, or something livelier to get your dancing shoes moving, we've got you covered.

Where's the Money

The state Legislature is still rumbling over money issues and executive power this week. The Senate passed Senate Bill 2495 last Wednesday, a bill that would grant Gov. Haley Barbour the selective power to cut the budget of some state departments up to 10 percent, without having to cut all departments by 10 percent.

Flaggs Backs Down on Mergers

Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, has changed his tune somewhat regarding Gov. Haley Barbour's budget recommendation for merging Mississippi's historically black colleges and universities.

Sundance Bound

Every year I gripe about the cold that chills my entire being when I'm in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival. Despite the snow drifts and the messy aftermath of a daily freeze-thaw cycle, and even though I am weighed down by clunky fur boots, bundles of layers and a shamelessly ugly babushka wrapped over my head, I have an extreme fondness for Sundance.

[Letter to the Editor] Cedar Point Dumping, Revisited

I took offense to a statement in your Most Intriguing Jacksonians 2009 article from your Dec. 31, 2009, issue. You stated that John McGowan relished taking on "environmentalists in lawsuits over his company's dumping chemicals into the Galveston Bay." That statement is actually a misstatement.

[Stiggers] It ‘BE' That Way

Big Willie 'Shakespeare' McBride: "Welcome to Hair Did University's Language Arts and Across Cultures Series, a subsidiary of the James Brown Say it Loud Ebonics Speech Academy.

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All About Water

The capital city is all abuzz about water, and so are we. This issue, Ward Schaefer writes about the broken water mains in "Singing the Broken-Pipe Blues": why they broke, who gets the bill and more. In "The Lakes Plan That Won't Recede," Adam Lynch looks at who stands to gain the most from the proposed Two Lakes plan.

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The Lakes Plan That Won't Recede

Although both the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the local Levee Board have rejected the Two Lakes development/flood-control plan, its supporters are vowing not to give up.

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Singing the Broken Pipe Blues

When the water in their sinks and showers slowed to a drip last week, many Jacksonians found their thoughts turning subterranean. Following five days of freezing temperatures, water mains across the city began to burst Sunday, Jan. 10. By Friday, the city had seen more than 150 breaks in its water system. Jackson Public Schools and area colleges were closed most of the week, along with state offices and many businesses.

Scaring the Scared

One way politicians get their constituents to vote against their best interests is to play into already existing fears. It's a time-honored, if not somewhat dishonest way of keeping people from even attempting to distinguish a politician's words from reality.

Levee De-certification Not a Corps Decision

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Kavanaugh Breazeale said yesterday that the Corps will not make the decision to either certify or de-certify local levees that protect the city of Jackson from a Pearl River flood.

[Hutchinson] Where Was the World When Haiti Really Needed It?

The heartbreaking and pathetic scene that I and a group of American visitors witnessed at the small beach town in Northern Haiti still haunts me. We had no sooner arrived at the beach when a contingent of Haitian police and local officials frantically waved away a throng of the town's residents who had poured onto to the beach to hawk food, trinkets, carvings and tattered clothing items—but mostly to beg.

Barbour Disavows House Effort to Limit His Power

Gov. Haley Barbour is speaking out against a bill the Mississippi House of Representatives passed yesterday, which exempts budgets of certain state agencies from reduction when state revenues fall below revenue estimates. HB 392 also restricts cuts to agencies beyond projected budget shortfalls.

Eric Stringfellow

As a journalism professor, Eric Stringfellow, 49, is never far away from a newspaper. As he works on his computer, a stack of papers accompanies him.

Single-Minded Purpose

In March 1944, Hannah Senesh, a young Jew from Budapest who had immigrated to Palestine five years earlier, parachuted into Yugoslavia in an effort to make contact with Hungarian Jews, establish resistance movements and carve out routes of escape from eastern Europe. Senesh was single-minded in her purpose, driven by her desperate need to find her mother and spirit her away before the Final Solution would ultimately descend upon the last bastion of Hungarian Jewry.

Ballet Competition Names Mitchell

The USA International Ballet Competition has named Arthur Mitchell as the honorary chairman of the 2010 Jackson competition scheduled for June 12 through June 27, 2010. Mitchell is the founding artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Tuesday, January 19

Deuce Announces His Retirement

After joining the Saints briefly in a "ceremonial" role for last Saturday's playoff game, Deuce McAllister has announced that he's retiring from football.

Bad News and Hard Cuts Embody State of State

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's 2010 State of the State address on Monday fell short on good news. The state is facing a revenue shortfall of more than $350 million, and Barbour has recommended cutting 10 percent of the state's budget in nearly every agency, save the Department of Corrections.

Undisclosed Funders Pay for Consolidation Study

Gov. Haley Barbour's Commission on Education Structure will use funds from an undisclosed private source to pay for a study of school consolidation. At its first meeting yesterday, the Commission agreed to pay a Denver-based consulting firm $72,000 to deliver a report on the potential cost-savings and improvements to educational quality offered by merging some of the state's 152 school districts.

Thelman Boyd

Public Works Director Thelman Boyd has been in the infrastructure business a long, long time. Boyd came on as interim Public Works director and then official Public Works director under the administration of former Mayor Frank Melton, after first serving in the department throughout the Johnson administration. He couldn't help picking up a little innate knowledge during all that time.

[Balko] That Other War

Drug War deaths show that the Verndun mentality continues to thrive in America's effort to protect its citizens from themselves. Law enforcement officials shrug off the deaths of innocents and use paramilitary-style units to bear on suspects in volatile and dangerous manners.

20th Century Boy - A Skin-Deep Appreciation of Glam Rock

You would never know it to look at me, but I love glam rock so much it hurts. Aesthetically, I'm pretty devoid of pigments, opting to wear black 9 times out of 10. But inside, there is a Technicolor 70's NYC hipster with skinny pants and glittery eyeliner, pretending to be an alien from the future. Scratch that...I'd be a British version of that. But the creator did not grace me with the form, temporal placement, or geography to pull it off. And I'm straight. But hey, we all have our cross, right? All of that is to say that it is a subject dear to my glittery heart. So along the next couple of paragraphs, I will touch on some of the things that make it such an incredible era of music which spawned a cultural revolution, particularly for the Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transexual community.

Pickering in Court Today

Former U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering will appear in Madison Municipal Court this afternoon at 1 p.m., along with youth soccer coach Christopher Hester. Pickering and Hester filed simple assault complaints against each other early last month after the two had a disagreement over a soccer game in Madison in which Pickering's son was a player. The charges carry a maximum fine of six months in jail and a $400 fine.

Immigration Reform for Dummies

If passed in its present form, Mississippi SB 2032--charitably titled the "Immigration Reform Act of 2010"--would: Force undocumented immigrants to remain in Mississippi for up to 10 years against their will, at taxpayer expense [see Sections 1(5) and 2(5)];Impair the ability of Mississippi agencies to cooperate in federal immigration law enforcement by giving any racist crank in the state the authority to monopolize personnel time with as many writs of mandamus as their little heart desires [see Section 5(5)]; andUnfairly target family members of undocumented immigrants, forcing legal citizens to rat out their parents, children, or siblings to law enforcement or face imprisonment [see Section 3]. Ordinarily when I see a bill this nasty and punitive, I chalk it up to the race-baiting excesses of the anti-immigrant movement. But this isn't even, strictly speaking, just an anti-immigrant bill; it's an anti-common sense bill. SB 2032 tells us the best way to make immigrants leave is to imprison them here, that the best way to keep immigration paperwork moving through the system is to pile on an indefinite amount of additional immigration paperwork, and that the best way to promote family values is to criminalize them. There is only one conceivable reason why anyone would propose a bill like this: to bait public officials of good will (and good sense) into opposing it, then paint them as "pro-amnesty" by misrepresenting the bill's contents to the press.

Monday, January 18

Franks Responds to Barbour's State of the State

[verbatim] Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Jamie Franks today released the following response to Gov. Barbour¹s State of the State address:

Donate Shoes and Help Haiti

Read the press release below.

( and Shoe Carnival have joined forces to provide shoes

Barbour Delivers State of the State Address

(verbatim statement) Mr. Speaker, Governor Bryant, members of the Legislature, distinguished guests and fellow Mississippians:

Protesters: HBCU Merger Cannot Happen

Alumni, students, and advocates for historically black colleges and universities marched to the state Capitol from the Mississippi State Fairgrounds today to recognize the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and to protest Gov. Haley Barbour's recent proposal to merge Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University with Jackson State University.

Ex-Hinds Official Defends Radio Purchase

Larry Fisher, former emergency operations director for Hinds County, defended the city of Clinton's purchase of 19 emergency radios today, challenging the claim by Board of Supervisors President Robert Graham that the purchase violated county policy. Fisher, who retired from the county's Emergency Operations Center Oct. 31, said that the purchase conformed to a policy approved by the state auditor's office and in place since 2008.

Public Meetings and Community Events

Hinds Community College Extended Registration, at all campuses. The Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center on Sunset Drive and the Nursing/Allied Health Center on Chadwick Drive will have registration through Wednesday, Jan. 20. The hours for extended registration at these locations only are 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19 and Wednesday, Jan 20. Students can still register at other locations, including Raymond. Call 1-800-HINDS-CC.

State of the State Tonight

Gov. Haley Barbour will deliver the twice-delayed Mississippi State-of-the-State speech tonight at 6 p.m. The speech, postponed because of water issues in Jackson, will air live on Mississippi Public Broadcasting TV, radio and on the Internet.

Owen Brooks

Few people can honestly say that they have helped to affect a culture like Owen Brooks has. Brooks, 81, born in New York but raised in Boston, participated in the Civil Rights movement that shaped our country's view of racial standing and has worked to further that goal in Mississippi for over 40 years. While participating in the Civil Rights Movement, the Boston native had the honor of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 17

Is it OK to still love Favre this week without fear of dismemberment?

In short, he was my favorite player EV-AR.

Beyond the years when I actually possessed some amount of athletic ability, I've not been that much of a sporto. Unless your sport is going to a sports bar. But back when I did play this or that, I was always drawn to the "riverboat gambler" from Southern Miss. I can recall staying up all night watching a re-run of this bowl game on some UHF channel on rabbit ears. I can't remember who they were playing, but I can remember very clearly this kid conjuring magic from his fingertips. Magic, I tells ya...feats that no mere mortal should be able to pull off with a leather oblong object. When he went on to lead the Packers to improbable playoff victories while building legends of chicken wings and alcohol swilling, he only further endeared himself into my then-sporto heart. Somewhere along the next 16 years or so, dude became honorable too, by winning MVPs, a Superbowl, a host of records that may not be broken for a long time, if ever. Ultimately, he built a lasting legacy by earning a deep respect among his contemporaries and adversaries alike as perhaps the best football player to ever play the position. Certainly, he has been one of the most exciting.

Open Thread: It's New Orleans Saints v. Minnesota Vikings

With the weekend behind us, the championship picture is clear in both the AFC and NFC.

In the NFC, the second-seed Minnesota Vikings -- having heartily knocked the Dallas Cowboys out of their collective saddles to end the Boys' late-season win streak -- are headed to the La-Brees-iana Superdome to face the number-one seed New Orleans Saints.

BREAKING: Boilwater Notice Lifted for Most of Jackson


Mayor Johnson announced during a press conference today that the Health Department reported that water samples taken from the city's surface water system were all clear. The boil water notice for the approximately 175,000 residents on the surface water system is now lifted. The well water system in southwest Jackson's pressure is still building and when it reaches an acceptable level, testing will begin for it. City crews expect that testing should begin Monday. Residents on that system are still on a boil water notice. Please see the details below.

Saturday, January 16

New Year - New, New Me!

G'mornin...technically, I suppose mid-morning or noon. But whatev.

Tons o' folks tracked my crazy progress and boot camp from back in the summer. I tweeted. I FB'd. I even updated MySpace(aww, don't despair little buddy...people still go to you periodically for music or to spam and hawk their latest wares.) If I was even more of an attention whore...I probably would have even sent stuff to Friendster(yes, I still have an account.) I got lots of emails and questions about why. About how. About what. It was an inspirational story of triumph and redemption. Okay, maybe not THAT much of a Jaclyn-Smith-Lifetime-Movie tear jerker. But it was good.

Friday, January 15

The Sound of History Dying

Goodman County - Self Titled - A Review and Farewell

Southern cities have their own brand of soggy desperation. Particularly the small ones. There is a hunger for something more than the immediate surroundings provide, and those with an inclination for satisfaction can get restless. The low-rent apartments can get powerfully small, and we take to the streets with intent of making good on these yearnings. But small cities being what they are, entertainment isn't necessarily had, so much as it is found. Some people find it in creative collaboration. The coming together of minds like a joining of hands and thunderous noise ensues, echoing through those apartment buildings and taverns, carried by the viscous southern air. Tattoo ink and Jameson give it a unique bouquet. A siren song for the southern yearn.

Taylor Hildebrand - Naked and beautiful

A review of Taylor's recent solo performance at Hal & Mal's By Chris Nolen

Barbour Expands State of Emergency to 10 Counties

[verbatim statement] Governor Haley Barbour today expanded the State of Emergency include Carroll, Claiborne, Hinds, Lauderdale, Panola, Quitman, Tippah, Tunica, Warren and Wayne counties. The recent winter weather system has caused parts of the state to experience substantial damage to water and road systems and threatens the safety and well-being of the citizens and property throughout the State of Mississippi.

Commissioner Says PSC ‘Stonewalled'

UPDATED January 15, 2010

The Mississippi Public Service Commission certified an annual audit of state power suppliers for the Legislature, but with reservations. Commissioners Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey voted to approve the audit—a deviation from their historic decision last year to withhold certification on the basis of what they considered the lack of a complete and thorough fact-check of industry power purchases.

Hinds Supervisors Feud Over Radios

Tempers flared at a Hinds County Board of Supervisors work session yesterday, as supervisors debated the activation of 19 radios purchased by the city of Clinton for emergency personnel. The board has delayed authorizing the activation amid concerns that the radios were acquired improperly.

Tease photo

Saints: Deuce. Is. Back.

Maybe it won't matter. It may be tough for him to be a factor as a player, particularly with so little practice time with the team this late in the season.

Grady Griffin

Grady Griffin has his work cut out for him. As director of education and training for the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, Griffin, 39, is the man in charge of providing restaurant owners with support and information during the water crisis this week.

Weekend Events

The water's back on and there's no freezing in the forecast. It's time to get out of the house and enjoy the weekend! Be sure to patronize the local Jackson restaurants and businesses that have taken a hit this past week dealing with the city's water issues. Start your search for dining options on the JFP Restaurant Listings and the Menu Guide. Just make sure to call ahead and make sure your favorite restaurant is open.

Currier Named Top Health Officer

The state Board of Health named Dr. Mary Currier as Mississippi's state health officer on Wednesday. Currier has been fulfilling the role for the Department of Health since her predecessor, Dr. Ed Thompson, died Dec. 1, 2009.

Who's Open for Business (or Closed) in Jackson?

This is an open thread for postings about who is open for business and who is closed in Jackson. Feel free to give us updates as things change. Good luck out there.

Thursday, January 14

Mayor: Most Residents Have Water

Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. reported at a late-afternoon press conference that the city's water supply is now up to a sufficient level to supply every resident with water.

MEMA Reports 12-Hour Shifts; Tankers of Water from Coast

The following is a list of actions being made by state and voluntary agencies:

[Verbatim statement] PEARL –The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency continues to help cities and counties with the ongoing water emergency. The State Emergency Operations Center in Pearl is under partial activation, which brings in members of certain state agencies to provide emergency support. At this time staff specializing in public works and engineering, logistics management and public health are working 12 hour dayshifts.

Projacks: THIS should make you mad!

Received this as via email today. Forwarded to me by some other outraged Jacksonians. Seems our Metro "friends" *sarcasm off* are using our crisis as a a means to drum up business. Having a good laugh at our expense. Or is it biting the hand that feeds you? Here is the info below. Several emails in response have been sent and in his replies this guy stands defiant with his "We're better than you" attitude. Two Rivers Restaurant. Im sick of this!

Stringer Says Toyota is ‘New Beef Plant'

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, compared the state's potential loss in the delayed Toyota plant, near Tupelo, to the failed Mississippi Beef Processors LLC plant, today.

‘Encouraging News' on Water, But More Breaks Likely

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said today that the city has made significant headway in returning water service to the city, but he warned that more breaks will appear as water pressure rises citywide.

Senate Grants Barbour More Budget Power

The Mississippi Senate passed a bill yesterday that would give Gov. Haley Barbour greater leeway in cutting state agencies to balance the state's budget. The bill, Senate Bill 2495, would allow the governor to cut agency budgets by up to 10 percent at his discretion. Current state law requires Barbour to make across-the-board 5 percent cuts to all agency budgets before cutting any individual budget by more than 5 percent.

Dylan Montgomery

Today, Terry High School junior Dylan Montgomery's biggest wish will come true, thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation of Mississippi and the Hinds County School district.

How to Help Haiti; List of Supplies Needed; Where to Donate

Please support the people of Haiti through your generous medical supply donations. It is with great sadness and responsibility that we reach out to you. As you may well know by now, the earthquake that took place on January 12th of the present year has devastated the country of Haiti. The Latin American and Caribbean Community Center, Project South and the Georgia Hunger Coalition have joined efforts and are personally seeking your support in gathering the following donations in an effort to provide much needed relief supplies.

Two Lakes Letter About JFP ... in the Northside Sun

John McGowan's company is definitely obsessed with the JFP's comprehensive coverage of their concept—so much so that they sent a letter to the Northside Sun about it that appeared today. The letter complains, rightly, that we (I, actually) used the word "chemicals" instead of "wastewater" in the Most Intriguing 2009 write-up about Mr. McGowan (which I have already corrected both in the paper and in the online story here). However, the paper is not pointing to Adam Lynch's original story about the Galveston Bay incident, or to Mr. McGowan's statements about environmentalists, which were in this story in the JFP last fall. I apologize again for using the wrong word in the Intriguing write-up, and I encourage everyone to read Adam's story for a fuller picture.

Local Restaurant Openings - New Updates

The Wizard of Oz will take place tonight and tomorrow at Thalia Mara Hall. For those of you wondering where to have lunch today (or dinner tonight before the show), the following is partial list of restaurants reported open today by Grady Griffin of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association:

Here's Why I Adore Jeff Good

Jeff's e-mail, verbatim:

The water problem this week has created inconveniences, both minor and major for many residents and businesses, but this e-mail from Jeff Good this morning put it all in perspective for me. We are very fortunate, and let us give thanks for what we all have, even as we send prayers and whatever money possible to the people of Haiti.

Barbour Again Reschedules Speech

Gov. Haley Barbour has rescheduled the annual state-of-the-state speech, originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12, for Monday, Jan. 18. The governor postponed the speech last Monday for tonight due to the capital city's water situation, making this the second postponement. Mississippi Public Broadcasting will air the speech live on TV and radio.

Wednesday, January 13

200,000 Jacksonians Without Water; MEMA Opens Emergency Center

Water Crisis Hotline: 601.960.1111

What businesses are open, closed? Post yours.

Tease photo

The Hitched Issue

Getting married in 2010? Or, are you just a wedding groupie? Either way, enjoy the JFP's annual Hitched issue: featuring three weddings and lots of fun tips. Oh, and some alternative vows.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball, Arkansas at Mississippi State (6 p.m., Starkville, ESPN, 105.9 FM): The Dogs face the Hogs in MSU's SEC home opener.

Why Chess Still Matters

Chess has an unusual place in the American sports imagination. It's a reliable sports cliché spouted by almost every commentator: Don't you know that every game of baseball, basketball, and football is really a "chess match"?

Demetria Robinson and Christopher Thomas

"Someday, Demetria, you and Chris will be married." Virginia Williams spoke these prophetic words to her granddaughter, Demetria Robinson, in the fall of 2004. Demetria, however, snickered at the comment because she had just started dating Chris Thomas.

Katie Shelt and Mason Stewart

Katie Shelt knew she was going to marry Mason Stewart after he told her he identified with Faramir, a charcter from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy—among her favorite books. Katie has always identified with the character Éowyn, and the two characters get married after the War of the Ring.

For the Love of Tea

I am a lifelong tea lover. My love affair with tea started when I was a child with sweet sun tea, and as an adult I love the way a cup of tea warms my entire body on cold winter days or soothes me when I'm sick.

Something Green

If you're serious about reducing your carbon footprint, your wedding is one of the best ways you can practice environment friendly and sustainable living while making a statement to family and friends. Here are a few tips.

Old, Borrowed, New and Blue ...

The traditional saying is:

In honor of this Hitched issue, we polled some folks to get their suggestions for the modern-day bride on something old, borrowed, new and blue.

Water Crisis Forces Closures, Cooperation

A water emergency gripped Jackson this week, as more than 100 water-main breaks left many parts of Jackson with low or nonexistent water pressure. The crisis forced the closure of state offices, schools, colleges and private businesses.

[McLaughlin] A Woman's Role

Over the weekend, I ended up at the last place I would have thought I'd spend a Sunday afternoon: the Premier Bridal Show at Jackson Convention Center. I filled in as a writer, and accompanied freelance photographer Meredith Norwood for the event's bridal fashion show.

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Winter was at its nastiest since 1989 this past week in Jackson, according to Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. The freezing cold attacked water pipes, causing more than 100 water line ruptures.

[Stiggers] Bombs for the Poor

Inspector "Beat Down" Lipscomb: "Welcome to the Ghetto Science Team Counter Terrorism conference. Terrorism has become a reality around the world.

[Kamikaze] Crap In a Pretty Box

They are all exactly the same.

[Public Eye] Sunshine in the 2010 Forecast?

Although we're still mired in winter, the new year has brought a couple rays of sunshine: some promising developments in government transparency.

Entergy Misses Audit Deadline

Mississippi Public Service Commissioners predicted last week that they may have difficulty approving an audit of Entergy's fuel purchases prices.

Build a Cozy Nest

In their new book, "The Comfortable Home: How to Invest in Your Nest and Live Well for Less" (Clarkson Potter, 2009, $35), co-authors Bob Williams and Mitchell Gold, business partners and owners of the home-furnishing company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, give easy-to-follow ideas on how to decorate or redecorate your home. They place a lot of focus on the planning that goes into creating functional, comfortable and budget-friendly rooms. According to Gold and Williams, before you can decorate a room appropriately you need to know the function of that room and how it is going to be used. Once you know that, decorating becomes much easier.

Rachel Hicks

Rachel Hicks will not be ignored. The Belhaven resident is co-founder and executive director of Mississippi First, a fledgling non-profit organization focused on education policy that will move the state from last—where it often lands in national measures for education—to first place.

Bills That Ain't About Money

All eyes at the state Legislature are on how politicians will handle the state's nearly $400 million revenue deficit, but other bills outside of money issues are creeping their way into committees.

[Rob In Stereo] Music Worth Hearing

Band reunions are invariably letdowns. They are greeted with massive amounts of hype, only to result in tepid records. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones is flying counter to this.

To Thine Own Self Be True—Transcending Your ‘Types'

Let me guess. You're the shy, silent type—a wallflower standing at the edge of the party, happier to observe than participate. You're a worrier, too, aren't you?

Tea Time

It may be surprising to learn that one of the more widely consumed beverages on the planet—second only to water—came about by accident. According to legend, as Chinese Emperor Shen Nung boiled his drinking water over an open fire, a leaf from a nearby plant fell into his cup and turned the water brown.

Jackson Water Crisis: Day 3

Gov. Haley Barbour extended the state of emergency for Jackson in the wake of more than 100 water-main breaks in the city, spilling roughly 22 million gallons of water. Parts of Jackson remain without water this morning, and some schools, businesses and government offices remain closed, although about 70 percent of the breaks have been repaired.

The Groom's Turn

The Groom's Turn

Recently my friend Tonnell Holloway announced he was getting married to his long-time companion in May. When we discussed his groomsmen plans for his wedding, he said that other than his Las Vegas bachelor party, he didn't have any other pre-wedding festivities planned.

Anna Kline and Walter Biggins

A love of art and culture brought book editor Walter Biggins and singer-songwriter Anna Kline together. In 2008 Anna was working as the coordinator for the Crossroads Film Festival when she met Walter, who volunteered at the festival to screen films.

Honeymoons, Mississippi Style

After the blissful chaos of a big wedding, why travel far and away for your honeymoon? Consider exploring the state of Mississippi and staying in a cozy bed and breakfast.

Vows for the Modern (Wo)Man

"To have and to hold … for richer, for poorer … to love and to cherish …"

Tuesday, January 12

Council Mulling Budget Consultant

The Jackson City Council is looking into the idea of hiring a year-round budget inspector to act as a liaison between the city council and the administrative branch.

Businesses, Hospitals, Schools Feel Pinch in Water Crisis

Due to more than 100 water-main breaks, parts of Jackson continued to suffer from low or nonexistent water pressure today, forcing area businesses to close or otherwise adapt.

[Balko] ‘Sugar Daddy' Shakedown

In May the FBI arrested cardiologist Roger Weiner at a Mississippi gas station for violating the Mann Act, a century-old law prohibiting the transport of women across state lines for "immoral purposes."

Beth Smith

Beth Smith will puncture holes in any preconceived notion you might have about women who serve in the Mississippi Army National Guard. Pretty, petite, bursting with energy, a non-stop smile on her face, she's also a major who just returned from nearly a year serving in Afghanistan.

Water Emergency Closings

Numerous schools and businesses will close early or remain closed throughout the day due to water main breaks around the city of Jackson. Call ahead to find out whether your destination is open today. Closings include:

Monday, January 11

Water Emergency in Jackson

Gov. Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency for the city of Jackson today due to water main breaks that have disrupted water service across the city. Speaking at a noon press conference after Barbour's announcement, Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said that the city has suffered roughly 70 water line breaks since Wednesday of last week, when freezing temperatures began taking their toll on the city's infrastructure.

The Game Has Changed

Good evening, frisky amigos.

You think life is a freeze in Jackson? Trudge 2 hours north to Oxford. It's so cold here- the students can't even open their mouths to sing, "The South Will Rise Again."

Board Asking for Federal Money for Levees

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board approved discussions with Mississippi's U.S. delegation, including Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Bennie Thompson over how to draw down a portion of the $133 million federal allotment for flood control for the Pearl River between Hinds and Rankin counties.

Gloria Williamson

A former Democratic state senator from Philadelphia, Miss., Gloria Williamson has devoted countless hours over the last 10 years to improving the status of women in Mississippi.

Public Meetings and Community Events

Hinds Community College Registration, at all campuses. Extended hours: 8:15 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday. Classes begin Monday, Jan. 11, but students can still register late through Jan. 15. Call 1-800-HINDS-CC.

Legislature Slows Its Roll

The Mississippi Legislature got off to a productive start last week, with the passage of an economic incentive package and an extension of workforce training funds, two measures that Gov. Haley Barbour had requested. That spirit of compromise seems to have waned, though, as the House and Governor's office remain locked in a standoff over Barbour's budget-cutting authority.

Barbour to Deliver State of the State

Gov. Haley Barbour will deliver the annual Mississippi State-of-the-State speech tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. from the state capitol. The speech will be broadcast live by Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Friday, January 8

A Step Toward Bike Safety

For the past 15 years, Mississippi has averaged about six cyclist deaths per year, which makes it difficult to understand why last session, the state Senate did not receive enough support for a bill that would have guaranteed safer roads for cyclists.

City Issues Boil Water Notice

[Verbatim from the City of Jackson] The City of Jackson Water/Sewer Utilities Division has issued a precautionary boil water advisory until further notice for all customers on the City's well water system located in the western part of the City and Hinds County. Numerous water line breaks on the water system have caused the system to lose its pressure, resulting in this precautionary boil water notice. The system should recover as breaks are repaired.

State Workers Forced to Furlough?

Mississippi Sen. Alice Harden, D-Jackson, said she will submit a bill this legislative session forcing all state employees not directly connected to essential services, like hospital care, to accept a one-day-a-month furlough.

Bounds: Universities Will Have To Cut Programs

State Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds told legislators Tuesday that funding cuts will force Mississippi's eight public universities to eliminate programs and consider raising tuition. Speaking to the House Universities and Colleges Committee, Bounds warned that the state's universities would not be able to recoup lost state funding solely by increasing efficiency in areas like administration, purchasing and energy usage.

Weekend Happenings

For intrepid souls, this weekend's big thing is the third annual Mississippi Blues Marathon, kicking off at 7 a.m. Saturday at Capitol and State streets. Come out and show your support for the runners, but wear a hat, scarf, mittens and lots of layers. High temps should be somewhere south of 40 degrees. Warm up Saturday night with the Blues Crawl at local venues, including Fire, Underground 119, Martin's, Ole Tavern and F. Jones Corner.

Commission Denies Allstate 65 Percent Hike

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney sent a letter yesterday denying a request from Allstate Property and Insurance Co. to more than double rates for 51,000 residents state-wide, reports the Associated Press. Deputy Commissioner Mark Haire told the Associated Press that the commission did not find justification for the increase.

Thursday, January 7

Net-Metering Advocates Push for Support

Advocates for net metering pressed legislators this morning to submit and pass laws during this legislative session making the consumer-based electricity policy a reality in Mississippi.

Jackson Sees Sharp Drop in Major Crimes

Major crimes in Jackson decreased 18.1 percent last week, according to statistics (PDF) released at a Jackson Police Department command staff meeting this morning. Officers reported a 14.2 percent decrease in property crimes and 35.7 percent drop in violent crimes from the previous week.

JFP Giraffe of the Day: Ruby

Dec. 8, 2009, was a banner day for the Jackson Zoo and for its resident reticulated giraffes, Diamond and Casper. On that Tuesday, Diamond gave birth to her seventh calf, a 104-pound healthy female.

Our Haley Barbour: The 'Anti-Obama'?

Newsweek has a story this week asking if Haley Barbour will be the next president. The story starts:

Jackson Prepped for Frigid Temps

The Jackson area will see temperatures drop below freezing by around 6 p.m. today, according to the National Weather Service, and won't see anything above 32 degrees until Sunday. With this morning's rain, expect ice on the roads after dark. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. has urged motorists to use caution and to stay off the streets as much as possible during the wintry precipitation.

Wednesday, January 6

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Women's college basketball, Vanderbilt at Mississippi State (8 p.m., Starkville, CSS): The Lady Bulldogs (10-4) play their SEC home opener.


Ethical standards in college athletics are plummeting. The BCS is a cartel. NBA age requirements are leading to corruption in college basketball. How much longer will fans tune in to the booster-driven world of premier athletic programs?

[Mott] Not One More Victim

The bad economy and shrinking budget is not an excuse for failing to add teeth to laws protecting women.

The Billion-Dollar Levee Question

Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen came out last week as an avid opponent of a levee expansion, saying it is too expensive. His choice, Two Lakes, is also expensive, and perhaps more so.

James C. Thompson

James C. Thompson is the co-founder of the Jackson political consulting firm Blue Dot Group, which he says was named because the group's political affiliations make them "a little blue dot in a big red state."

Running the Blues

The third annual Mississippi Blues Marathon will start and end at the intersection of Capitol and State streets in downtown Jackson this Saturday, Jan. 9. Event organizer John Sewell said about 2,000 runners from 46 states and four countries are expected to participate in the marathon and half marathon, sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and kicking off at 7 a.m.

City Attorney: More Accountability, Less Drama

Jackson City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen officially adopted his job in October, although in truth he had been filling the role in some capacity for more than five years. Teeuwissen, 43, was the city's legal defense attorney until former City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly-Evans left her post after the 2009 municipal election.

Mental Health Ripe for Cuts?

Reform and belt-tightening will collide when state lawmakers consider mental-health services in the 2010 legislative session.

Tell Whole Story on Levees and Lakes

Now that the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District has officially agreed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' levees-only plan for flood control, expect the Two Lakes war machine to kick in full throttle to disparage levees.

[Stiggers] A Mass Choir In Denial

Boneqweesha Jones: "It's time for the 'Qweesha Live Television Magazine Movie Preview for 2010'! My movie pick for the new decade of the new millennium is 'The Bottom Line is Money,' a documentary film by Kunta 'Rahsheed X' Toby, the Gordon Parks of the Ghetto.

[Collier] Resolute Resolutions

A new decade has started, and I'm still trying to figure what that means for me. You're supposed to be excited about the start of a new year, but I can't say I am. Not yet, at least.

Tease photo

Mississippi Legislature Faces a Dire Task

Mississippi legislators skulked back into the state capitol Jan. 5, keeping their body movements at a minimum and their heads low in case somebody noticed them and asked them questions containing the words "budget shortfall."

A Fun World

More than 130 brightly colored puppets and Jim Henson's original sketches for the television show "Sesame Street" and the film "The Dark Crystal" line the new exhibit "Jim Henson's Fantastic World."

Ice Cream Sandwiches for Grover

"Sesame Street" used to have a segment in which über-friendly voices sang a little song about a group of objects.

Mississippi Madness

After four years of effort, local musician and public school teacher Mary Ann Henry, better known by her stage name, Emma Wynters, released "Mississippi Madness." Wynters and a hodgepodge of Jackson-area performers and vocalists collaborate on her fourth album, which features a wide array of instrumentation.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 8, No. 17

After the holiday hustle and bustle, many of us find ourselves buckling down and paying off a little holiday debt. For your pleasure, many low or no-cost musical options can ease your woes.

Devil's Dream

At first glance, a novel on the life and times of Nathan Bedford Forrest may seem like a polarizing tale, but in "Devil's Dream" (Pantheon Books, 2009, $26) Madison Smartt Bell, a Nashville native, weaves an insightful story that reveals two sides of the controversial Confederate lieutenant general, slave trader and skilled cavalryman.

Hood Offers Census Cautions and Tips

Attorney General Jim Hood is cautioning Mississippians to take care when revealing information in the upcoming 2010 census. Although he urges everyone to cooperate with census takers—the census determines levels of federal program funding and number of U.S. House seats, for example—he says citizens should be wary of identity thieves impersonating census workers.

Tuesday, January 5

Barbour/Palin Ticket Could Carry 2012 GOP Primary

Mississippi State University political science professor Marty Wiseman predicted that a Sarah Palin/Haley Barbour ticket could easily win the Republican presidential primary in 2012, if the two came together long enough to form a united front. Palin, the former governor of Alaska who abandoned her office last year for a career in public speaking, has been making a big name for herself over the last few months. Barbour, meanwhile, will be unable to run for Mississippi governor after this term, and may be fishing around for another political post, providing he does not dedicate his full efforts to being chairman of the Republican Governor's Association and a high-powered Washington lobbyist.

Scalia Defends Gay, Abortion, Gun Rulings at First Baptist

The United States should not look to other countries when interpreting its own Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said yesterday in a speech at First Baptist Church of Jackson sponsored by Mississippi College School of Law.

[Balko] The Criminalization of Protest

Police and politicians ignore the First Amendment when we need it the most.

‘Chopper Bob' Rall

"Chopper Bob" Rall, Mississippi's only helicopter traffic reporter, and the "Skycopter" have been staples in the Jackson skies since 1997. Rall was 12 when he moved to Jackson in 1954 with his family from Pittsburgh, Pa. Four years later, he was on the airwaves, disc-jockeying at WJXN radio. Rall died in his sleep early this morning.

German Manufacturer Coming to Tunica

At a press conference yesterday, Gov. Haley Barbour announced that German company, Wilh. Schulz GMBH, has selected Tunica, Miss., just south of Memphis, for a new pipe manufacturing facility. The plant is estimated at $300 million, creating 500 new jobs over the next five years. The company will make an initial investment of $80 million and 200 jobs.

Monday, January 4

Money to Dominate Legislative Session

Money is on the mind of every legislator entering the state Capitol tomorrow for the start of this year's Mississippi legislative session. Officials predict a shortfall of about $360 million in revenue by the end of fiscal year 2010 in June, and everybody holding an elected job will be nervous that the cuts they agree on this year could impact them in the 2011 elections.

Supervisors Push Forward on Byram-Clinton Corridor

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors today approved taking another early step forward in the Byram-Clinton corridor road-construction project. Supervisors voted unanimously to advertise for engineering consulting services on the project, which Supervisor Peggy Calhoun called "vital to the future economic development of Hinds County."

Public Meetings and Community Events

Hinds County Community College Registration, at all campuses; extended hours: 8:15 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday. Go to or call 1-800-HindsCC.

Sen. David Baria

A Mississippi lawmaker and attorney, Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, arrived to the Senate after beating back conservative Democrat Scottie Cuevas in the Democratic primary in 2007. Since his arrival, the frequent insurance-industry critic has become a champion of insurance reform, pushing time and again for an insurance policy-holder's bill of rights, which includes new laws regulating the insurance industry's use of anti-concurrent causation clauses in home-protection policies.

DeLaughter Begins Prison Term

Bobby DeLaughter, former Hinds County prosecutor, rocketed to national fame in 1994 when, 31 years after the crime, he put Byron De La Beckwith behind bars for the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers.