Stories for March 2010


Wednesday, March 31

Easter Bunny

Throughout my childhood, nothing other than Christmas morning made me happier than Easter Sunday. I would wake up to an Easter basket filled with hollow chocolate bunnies and other goodies, and a hunt for eggs in the yard.

Easter Shopping Guide

Photos by Wrijoya Roy

Like an Easter egg, the JFP Flip book has your needs to bring the spring in your step. Open it up, and see what's inside!

Mapping Our Future

Our GOOD issue is not an easy spread to put together, but it is one of the most rewarding features we do at the Jackson Free Press. Among all the positive things we hear after each issue is how much people learn about how they can get involved and make positive change.

Ulterior Motive Behind Lawsuit Threat?

Gov. Haley Barbour may have his own reasons for threatening to sue to stop the Democratically passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, says Dave Levinthal, communications director for lobbyist watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.

Police Department Saves $295,000

A 20-officer shortfall and decreased overtime in the Jackson Police Department are helping offset a $2.3 million drop in sales tax revenue this year.

Taking a Budget Break

The Mississippi Legislature put budget negotiations on pause this weekend, with plans to reconvene April 20, when the state's revenue forecast will be clearer.

Do Good, and Do Better

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

[Stiggers] Too Nasty

Mr. Announcement: "G-SPAN presents live coverage of the Ghetto Science Community Health Care Reform Clinic grand opening. The clinic is the newest addition to the Club Chicken

[Kamikaze] Wrangle the Crazies

OK, I get it. There are varying opinions on the new health-care bill. You have some who are staunchly in favor of the resolution. Others are none too fond of the new plan. This is what America was built on, correct? The right to respectfully disagree.

[Tatum] My Personal Easter

It's easier to gather a breeze in a basket than to totally grasp the mystery of Easter.

Tease photo

Creating a Walkable City & Liveable Streets

Thriving cities take the focus off cars and place it on people. For a city to be liveable, city planning shouldn't solely accommodate gas-guzzling metal boxes, but should also include the people who live there. Ideally, a city should be well organized so people can ride their bicycles or walk to work, school, restaurants and shops. One way to have a more sustainable city is to turn the streets into complete streets—streets that consider the needs of all modes of transportation—to allow motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians equal access to roads.

How We Live

Americans tend to think that bigger is better when it comes to building a home. The average home size in the United States has almost tripled since 1950, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

Learning Spaces

There are more than 132,000 public and private schools in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Creative Space

A city thrives when it creates spaces for artists and the community as a whole.

Change the Room, Change the World

Many people think the only thing is takes to change the world is fire in the belly and a lot of action. Not so fast. Building a sustainable community takes good conversation and planning that lead to best practices and enduring smart actions.

Building Bridges

Gentrification is a term that is often misunderstood, but is an important issue to address as cities go through revitalization.

Change Agents

Here is a listing of our current Agents of Change. If you know of any we missed or need to know, hit us up at Jackpedia.

Biography of a Bomb

On July 24, 1945, President Harry Truman approached Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and told him the United States had developed a "new and powerful weapon." After years of deceiving their Soviet allies, the Americans confessed that they had successfully tested the world's first atomic bomb the week before.

A Compromise Lake Plan?

Read Mississippi Engineering Group's Report (PDF)

Tease photo

Good Space

Whether it's inside our homes, at our workplaces or where we spend our free time, our environments have a big impact on our quality of life. In order to change and improve our city and all the spaces that we touch and inhabit, it's important to evaluate them and seek out innovative ways to improve them.

Say Cheese … Cake, That Is

Every year as the temperatures rise and the Easter baskets start appearing, I find myself obsessing over cheesecakes.

Coping with a Busted Bracket

In the middle of the most exciting March Madness in recent memory, you tipped over your Abita Turbodog and nacho cheese. Your NCAA bracket, patiently researched and completed, is now covered in a gooey coat of Rotel dip. You lovingly scrape away the damage to find … devastation.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball, NIT championship, teams TBD (6 p.m., ESPN): If Ole Miss wins on Tuesday, the Rebels will play North Carolina or Rhode Island in the title game.

Police Foundation Eyeing SafeCity Role

As the watchdog group SafeCity closes today citing financial issues, the police advocacy group Jackson Police Foundation, Inc., is contemplating a more active role in the city.

TALK Dance Goes Global

Eight dancers leap and bound across the floor, hitting the ground lightly before flying up again. A young girl effortlessly launches over the head of her partner.

Phil Reed

The soft-spoken, polite 60-year-old man enjoyed his homemade vanilla ice cream at the Fourth of July picnic in Crystal Springs. With his wry smile and informal stance, it was easy to see him as a former pastor. I had no idea when I met him two years ago that this avid runner is the president and chief executive officer of Voice of Calvary Ministries.

Unemployment Nears 24 Percent in Some Counties

Five Mississippi counties reported jobless rates exceeding 20 percent in February, with Noxubee and Holmes counties edging toward a quarter of their populations collecting unemployment benefits; the counties reported rates of 23.3 and 23.1 percent unemployment, respectively. The other three counties are Winston (22.1 [percent), Clay (21.6 percent) and Tunica (21.1 percent).

Tuesday, March 30

2011 Will Bring New Businesses Near King Edward

A sluggish economy has pushed back a completion date on the re-development of buildings across Capitol Street from the King Edward Hotel, developer Jason Goree told the Jackson Free Press yesterday. Goree said that he had hoped to complete renovations and fill the four buildings by December 2010, but those plans have been pushed back for spring 2011.

Lee Unger

When Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. appointed Lee A. Unger to serve as the director of the city's department of administration last week, the mayor told Jackson City Council Finance Committee members that Unger's experience and strong record of financial management impressed him.

JPD Probing Irby Crash Investigation

The Jackson Police Department is conducting an internal investigation of one of its own officers' work in reconstructing a Feb. 11, 2009, car crash that took the lives of two Jackson doctors. Karen Irby, wife of Jackson businessman Stuart Irby, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter Friday for her role in the collision. Irby admitted that she had drunk two glasses of wine that night before speeding in her Mercedes-Benz down Old Canton Road, where it collided with a pickup truck carrying Dr. Mark Pogue and Dr. Lisa Dedousis. Stuart Irby was injured in the crash and did not testify in his wife's trial.

[Balko] Progress and Challenges in Mississippi

Last week Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour signed House Bill 1456, which would require anyone conducting autopsies in the state to be certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. The bill was a response to an effort last year by the state's coroners to incorporate themselves into independent districts for the purpose of circumventing existing state law when it comes to death investigations. Specifically, several coroners and district attorneys wanted to bring back disgraced medical examiner Steven Hayne to begin performing autopsies for them again.

Jackson Behind on Census

The city of Jackson is behind the curve in returning 2010 census forms to the Census Bureau. Nationally, 46 percent of households have returned the forms, while Jackson is trailing with only 31 percent returned, one of the lowest rates in the country, according to the bureau.

Monday, March 29

House Votes to Expand Unemployment Benefits

More Mississippians could qualify for unemployment insurance under a bill the Mississippi House of Representatives passed Saturday. The Senate adjourned hours before the vote, meaning the Legislature will not bring up H. B. 1755 and 1756 until the Senate returns April 20. But the House vote suggests that both Republicans and Democrats may finally be on board with a bill that re-authorizes the Mississippi Department of Employment Security while drawing down more federal stimulus money.

Mimi's Brings Breakfast to Fondren

The growing Fondren restaurant scene has a new option for breakfast: Mimi's Family and Friends. Jackson natives Linda and Jim Burwell opened Mimi's last Friday. The Burwells live next door to the location, and Linda had eyed the former service station at the corner of North State and Hartfield streets for over a year.

Brent Hendrixson

Millsaps biology professor Dr. Brent Hendrixson's fascination with eight-legged crawling creatures started when he was a child and is now taking him to places like Costa Rica for research.

Community Events and Public Meetings

UMC Blood Drive., at University of Mississippi Medical Center (2500 N. State St.). Mississippi Blood Services will take donations. Please bring ID. Call 888-902-5663. Donate at these locations and times:

Barbour Rips Media over Health Care

It's the "liberal media elite" that is to blame for passage of the health-care bill, according to Gov. Haley Barbour. Speaking on ABC's "This Week" yesterday, Barbour insinuated that media coverage has been uncritical and biased, reports The Hill.

Sunday, March 28

Photos from "Evening of Hope"—PPS and Nicole Marquez

This was a wonderful event, including a poignant dance by Nicole Marquez, who is still recovering from an accidental fall months ago that doctors thought might mean she would never walk. Photos by LoungeList photographer Kip Caven.

Friday, March 26

Jeremiah Wright: Prejudice Evident In Health Care Debate

Protesters shouting racial epithets at black lawmakers illustrates that prejudice against African Americans and the poor persist in the United States, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama's former pastor, said in an appearance at Jackson State University yesterday.

Two-Way Capitol St., Water Line Repairs Closer

A massive state bonds bill, providing $2 million for converting Jackson's Capitol Street and up to $6 million for upgrading city water lines, cleared a major legislative hurdle yesterday and appears poised for passage. The water system improvements, which the bill would fund through interest-free loans, were a major item on Jackson's legislative wish list following a rash of water main breaks in January.

Ellen Bourdeaux

Gallery 119 Director Ellen Bourdeaux wants to foster a place for Jackson artists and improve the community. She is combining those efforts for the "Luck of the Draw" fundraiser this Saturday at Gallery 119.

Entertainment for Good Causes Tops Weekend Events

Barbour Reaffirms Vow to Sue

In response to Attorney General Jim Hood's statement yesterday that his office needed additional time to assess the constitutionality of the health-care reform bill signed by President Barack Obama earlier this week, Gov. Haley Barbour released a statement restating his intention to sue the federal government. To date, 13 states have joined a lawsuit to stop the legislation.

Thursday, March 25

Hood Delays Health-Care Suit

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is waiting to act on Gov. Haley Barbour's request that Mississippi to sue the federal government over health-care reform. "Since the reconciliation bill will remove many of the provisions of H.R. 3590, we must wait until there is a final bill in order to determine the legal impacts of the law," Hood wrote in a March 24 letter to the governor's office.

Departments Provide Temporary Budget Relief

The Jackson Police Department is reporting $684,167 in savings during the first quarter of this budget year--an improvement from the department's fiscal policies under former Mayor Frank Melton and Police Chief Shirlene Anderson, who allowed the department to use half its overtime budget within the first three months fiscal year 2008.

JPD Receives New Cars, Battles Burglaries

The Jackson Police Department will be distributing 53 new marked patrol vehicles to precincts beginning next week, Assistant Chief Lee Vance announced at a command staff meeting this morning, the largest single purchase of new vehicles he can remember. Vance instructed precinct commanders to begin developing ways to encourage responsible use and protection of the cars.

JFP Person the Day: Diana Howell

When more than 40 women showed up to try out for "The Vagina Monologues" last year, director Diana Howell knew Jackson was ready for a production of strong women sharing their stories of empowerment.

Lawmakers Attempt to Extend Session

Tempers have flared at the Mississippi capitol over the past two days as House members attempted to pass a resolution extending the legislative session. Democratic legislators in support of the extension want to wait to see if Congress approves another $187 million in Medicaid funds, reports The Commercial Appeal.

Dr. Susan Love: Be Aware Of Your Body

The Dr. Susan Love Foundation located in Santa Monica, Calif., is a non-profit group working to eradicate breast cancer in our lifetime. Love is known worldwide as one of the founding mothers of the breast cancer advocacy movement and is the author of "Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book," (Da Capo Press, 2005, $22.)

Wednesday, March 24

Breast is Best

Becoming a mother was quite different from what I expected. I anticipated a long labor with special breathing, baths, books, walks, games, massages and music as distractions. Instead, I had a short, intense labor.

What Should I Be Taking?

We all could use a little boost of nutrition in our lives. Between balancing a hectic schedule of work, family and community responsibilities, nutrition is often left to the local fast-food restaurant, leaving us deficient in vital nutrients.

Present to My Presence

"It's a lot easier to ride a horse in the direction that it's going," I said to the seven people sitting across from me. It was my regular Wednesday night gig at Butterfly Yoga on State Street, and all eight of us were on the floor, cross-legged on yoga mats at the beginning of class.

Beauty All Over

On Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008, the superintendent of Nicole Marquez' apartment building in Harlem found her unconscious and bleeding on the bottom of the structure's airshaft. Barely alive, Marquez had broken her neck, her lower back and pelvis, and all the ribs on one side of her body.

Not the Usual Self-Help Book

I am generally not one for reading self-help books, but I loved this one. The book cover for "The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun" (Harper, 2009, $25.99) and its subtitle grabbed my attention.

Dining on Dumplings

The layman's term for gyoza (gyoh-ZUH) is potsticker, those little meat-filled dumplings you can order steamed or fried as an appetizer at your favorite Asian restaurant. Gyoza originated in China and found their way to Japan in the late 17th century.

Taste of Mississippi Benefits Stewpot

The Southeast Tourism Society says it's a Top 20 Event, but for Jacksonians, the 22nd Annual "Taste of Mississippi: Homegrown Hunger Relief" means fellowship and good food from Mississippi chefs, all to benefit Stewpot Community Services.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball, NCAA Tournament (6 p.m., Ch. 12): The Sweet 16 begins with the East and West Regional semifinals

For Those We Love

We buried my cousin Anita last week. She was a beautiful, saucy blonde who used to tag around her brother Martie and me back on Fork Road in Neshoba County. Our mamas--both deliciously loud women married to Ladds--were great buddies, and took turns "keeping" us all. Martie and I were born the same year, and people used to think we were twins.

The High Cost of Calories

A state tax on sodas, sponsored by Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, was effectively dead on arrival at the state Legislature this year, given the difficulty of passing any revenue measure during an economic recession.

Young Gun: Toby Barker

At 28, Toby Barker first-term representative, looks closer in age to the blue-blazered pages ferrying bills across the House floor than he to some of the more grizzled legislators around him.

Bonds, Boards and the School for the Blind

Ah, spring—the season when a state lawmaker's mind turns to money. The Mississippi Legislature spent most of last week considering appropriations bills; lawmakers had until Friday to concur or invite conference on appropriations or revenue measures for the upcoming 2011 fiscal year.

Bluster Isn't Enough, Governor

Earlier this week, Gov. Haley Barbour announced that he would sue the federal government over the new health-care law the U.S. Congress passed March 21. In his usual windy style of political rhetoric, his press release was full of statements guaranteed to scare the bejeezus out of the uninformed while adding nothing substantive to the national conversation.

[Stiggers] Rabid Race Mixers

Mr. Announcement: "On this episode of 'All God's Churn Got Shoes,' members and supporters of Operation White Backlash have organized a Tea Party protest rally and barbeque outside the offices of the Progressive Multi-Cultural Review, World Report and Other Stuff Journal Inc.

[Hutchinson] An Ugly Glare

The throng of angry whites jeered, catcalled and spat out borderline racial insults at the small group of mostly black protesters. The charged racial confrontation happened March 14, 2010, in the self-billed all-American, mostly white Los Angeles suburban bedroom city of Torrance, Calif.

A Story That Deserves Telling

When three white men invaded the home of an African American family in rural Attala County, the nation saw much of the story through the eyes of Billy McMillan, a photographer and reporter at his father-in-law's weekly paper, the Kosciusko Star-Herald.

Tease photo

‘Killing Ourselves with Convenience'

On a Sunday afternoon at Lumpkin's BBQ on Raymond Road, a predominately African American crowd dressed in formal suits and dresses fill their plates from a buffet line. The restaurant's Sunday dinner features southern staples including fried chicken, beef brisket, ham hocks, collard greens, green beans and cabbage.

Tease photo

How to End Obesity: Components of the "Let's Move" Program

How do you think we could solve the obesity problem? Here are some ideas that could help with the fight.

Health Reform: What's In It?

President Barack Obama enjoyed rising approval ratings Tuesday as he signed a historic health-care bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed late Sunday without a single Republican vote--the same health-care bill the Senate approved last December.

MIRA Leading Census Effort

Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance President Bill Chandler says his organization will be working full time to make sure Mississippi's Latinos are counted in the 2010 census.

John Yu

When John Yu was a student at Jackson's Chastain Middle School, he witnessed firsthand the effects that bullying can have. A boy in one of his classes brought a revolver to school to defend himself from bullies who had threatened him consistently that year. Yu, now 28, still vividly remembers the fear he felt on that day.

Building to be Named for Slain Civil-Rights Workers

The Mississippi House debated yesterday over naming the new FBI field office building in Jackson for three slain civil-rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, reports the The Commercial Appeal.

Tuesday, March 23

School Board Violated Lesbian Student's Rights, Judge Says

A federal judge ruled today that the Itawamba County school board violated Constance McMillen's free speech rights when it canceled a prom after she asked permission to bring her girlfriend as her date. U.S. District Court Judge Glen Davidson denied McMillen's request, filed by the Mississippi ACLU, for a preliminary injunction forcing the school board to hold a prom, however.

Council Mulling JATRAN Consent Decree to Help Disabled

The Jackson City Council may approve an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on making city buses more accessible to the disabled at its 6 p.m. meeting tonight.

[Balko] Pre-Crime Policing

To hear them tell it, the five police agencies who apprehended 39-year-old Oregonian David Pyles early on the morning of March 8 thwarted another lone-wolf mass murderer. The police "were able to successfully take a potentially volatile male subject into protective custody for a mental evaluation," announced a(Medford, Ore., police department.) press release. The department had recently placed the subject on administrative leave from his job, was "very disgruntled" and had recently purchased several firearms. "Local Law Enforcement agencies were extremely concerned that the subject was planning retaliation against his employers," the release said. Fortunately, Pyles "voluntarily" turned himself over to police custody, and the legally purchased firearms "were seized for safekeeping."

Legislators Want Session Postponed for Education Funds

The Mississippi Legislature should suspend negotiations on the 2011 budget for three weeks until lawmakers know whether the state will receive an additional $150 million in federal money, Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said today. Speaking at a rally in support of education funding, Brown said that the U.S. Congress is poised to pass an extension of the Medicaid assistance in the 2008 federal-stimulus package. This additional money, which would increase the federal government's contribution to state Medicaid expenses, would free up funds for education.

Angela Stewart

Angela Stewart knows that preserving the past through sharing stories---especially about women and civil rights--is essential for changing the future.

Jeff Weill Announces Run for Judge Seat

Ward 1 Councilman Jeff Weill, who turns 53 tomorrow, is announcing this morning that he will run for the seat of Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger this year. Yerger, 75, announced his retirement last year, and Weill said he believes his 28 years of legal experience has him ready for the job. "I've been an assistant DA, an investigator for the DA's office, I've handled public safety issues on the city council, and I'm a mediator," said Weill, who has served on the city council since winning a special election in 2007 after Ben Allen stepped down suddenly, citing health reasons.

Barbour to Challenge Health Care Reform

Gov. Haley Barbour yesterday asked Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to challenge the constitutionality of the health-care reform legislation passed by the U.S. Congress on Sunday. If Hood refuses to sue, however, Barbour intends to file suit himself, according to a statement from his office.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

College baseball

Southern Miss vs. Ole Miss (6:30 p.m., Trustmark Park, Pearl, 97.3 FM)Men's college basketballNIT, Texas Tech at Ole Miss (6 p.m., Oxford, ESPN, 97.3 FM)Women's college basketballNCAA Tournament, Mississippi State vs. Ohio State (6 p.m., Pittsburgh, ESPN2)

Monday, March 22

Mal's St Paddy's Parade Photo Gallery #2

The second gallery by Kip Caven of the St. Paddy's Parade features nearly 100 photos of fun-loving Jacksonians.

Mal's St Paddy's Parade Photo Gallery #1

Album #1 of photos taken on Saturday March 20, 2010 in downtown Jackson by Kip Caven for

Lawmakers to Rally for Education Funds Tomorrow

House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, will lead a rally in support of education funding tomorrow in the rotunda of the state Capitol at 11 a.m. The rally comes in the wake of further budget cuts to K-12 education by Gov. Haley Barbour and in anticipation of budget negotiations between the House and Senate.

Show to Go On Without Sweet Potato Queens

Mal's St. Paddy's Parade founder Malcolm White told the Jackson Free Press today that he has not spoken to Sweet Potato Queens founder and author Jill Conner Browne about her plans to move the Queens' part of the annual parade to Ridgeland next year. "She's totally in charge of that: she made the announcement; she made the decision," White said. "I know probably less than you do. I have not talked with her; I don't have any details."

Mosque Construction Planned in April

The Mississippi Muslim Association will break ground on a mosque off Highway 51 in Madison next month, following the approval of a 3-to-2 vote by the Madison County Board of Supervisors today.

Community Events and Public Meetings

11:30 a.m., Stress Presentation, at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.), in the Community Meeting Room is presented by the Jackson State University chapter of the Master of Social Work Sorority, Inc. Free; call 601-982-8467.

Martha Bergmark

When Martha Bergmark left a turbulent Mississippi in the 1960s, she had no plans to return. But at the top of a successful law career in Washington, D.C., she decided to return to her home state and improve the lives of others.

Thompson Provides State's Only Yes on Health-Care Reform

Of Mississippi's three Democratic representatives to the U.S. House, only Bennie Thompson of the state's second congressional district voted for H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rep. Travis Childers, district 1, and Rep. Gene Taylor joined 26 other Democrats voting no. The bill was passed solely by Democrats in a 224-to-206 vote, reports The New York Times.

Sunday, March 21

Haley Barbour: Heath Reform ‘Crammed' Down Americans' Throats

Also see: Immediate Effect of Health-Reform Bill

Shortly after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic health-reform bill, Gov. Haley Barbour released the following statement, verbatim:

Saturday, March 20

It's Easy Being Green

Knowing that I am a soon-to-be true Jacksonian and Fondrenite is truly a dream come true. The excitement and anticipation running through my veins has been like a shot of espresso chased by a Red Bull and followed by a 12-pack of Pixie Stix! What a rush! As you may know, I was a fool and tried to keep up with the Jones' and the Naysayers until recently. My change in scenery is a dream I did not realize I wanted at all. But, education makes boys into men and the ignorant (that was me) wise.

Friday, March 19

Barbour Leads Anti-Health Reform Rhetoric

Gov. Haley Barbour and other opponents of health-care reform are making final efforts to derail an upcoming House vote on the Senate health-care package this Sunday.

St. Paddy's A Boon for the City

The roughly 70,000 visitors who will descend on Jackson this weekend for Mal's St. Paddy's Parade will bring more with them than green clothing and a strong thirst. The parade, now in its 28th year, has an overall economic impact of $6.8 million for the city, according to the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau. The crowds that gather downtown for the parade also spend money on hotels and food and other goods, giving many city businesses some of their most lucrative days of the year.

Events: Green and More Green This Weekend

It's time for Jackson's biggest citywide party, all centering on Mal's St. Paddy's Parade, which steps off at 1 p.m. Saturday at State and Court streets in downtown Jackson. Even if you're not a parade kind of person, venues all over are stockpiling their green beer and other Irish favorites. Fenian's is holding its annual two-day indoor-outdoor St. Patrick's block party, for example, Underground 119 is having a street party, and then there's the after-parade street party at Hal & Mal's. If you can still keep going, F. Jones Corner is hosting a late-night party until 4 a.m. Start your search for weekend goings-on with the St. Patty's Sched and if you don't see what you're looking for head to the JFP Events Calendar for even more options.

Charly Abraham

Charly Abraham knows how to throw a party and for the past 22 years, he has proved just that as the main organizer for Mal's St. Patty's Parade.

Bill Adds Teeth to Stalking Law

Sitting on Gov. Haley Barbour's desk this morning awaiting his signature is a bill designed to give Mississippi's stalking laws some bite. House bill 1309 revises and strengthens the definition of stalking and creates more appropriate penalties.

Thursday, March 18

City Works to Cover $2.3 Million Shortfall

The city will look at savings within each department to cover a potential $2.3 million *shortfall in sales tax estimates for fiscal year 2010, Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. told council members today.

Mims: Budget Holds No Cuts to City Services

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. will deliver a presentation to the city council at an afternoon committee meeting today that will entail a plan to cover budget shortfalls without cutting city staff or services, city spokesman Chris Mims said.

Jackson Police Battling Burglaries

Jackson police reported 226 crimes last week, up from 177 the previous week, according to crime statistics released at a Jackson Police Department command staff meeting this morning. Officers reported 190 property crimes, up from 144 the previous week, and 36 violent crimes, a slight increase from the 33 reported the week before. Auto burglary increases occurred in Precincts 2, 3 and 4 while house burglaries rose in Precincts 1, 3 and 4.

Keisha Varnell

When Keisha Varnell walks down the hallways of Lanier High School, she remembers what it was like to face peer pressure but admits today's students have it a lot harder. "The issues now are so much more intense and severe," Varnell says. "When I was coming through, we were worried about which shoes matched what pants, but now you have technology, cyber stalking and venues on Web sites that make it hard for students."

Mississippi to End HIV Segregation in Prisons

State Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps announced yesterday that Mississippi will end its practice of separating male HIV-positive prisoners from other inmates beginning in May, reports WDAM. Mississippi currently houses 152 HIV-positive prisoners in a segregated unit in Parchman.

Wednesday, March 17

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Men's college basketball: CIT, Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech (7 p.m., Ruston, La., 1180 AM/103.3 FM): You knew that if they kept creating postseason tournaments, the Golden Eagles would finally get into one of them. … NCAA Tournament, matchups TBA (11 a.m., Ch. 12): You might as well take off of work on the first two days of the Big Dance. No work will be done, anyway.

Irish I was in the Land of Malcolm

In 1983 Jacksonian Malcolm White was the manager of the George Street Grocery (now Ole Tavern) when he had the idea to start a fun, anything-goes parade for the community. White says he called a few of his friends, got a permit from the city and started marching in downtown Jackson during rush-hour traffic.

Steer Clear of the Clover

With St. Patrick's Day upon us, I found myself asking the same question I ask every year: At what point did St. Paddy's become a green Mardi Gras? By the time you add throwing beads, extensive alcohol consumption and a national excuse for pinching women, you have two identical holidays separable only by their color schemes.

Go Green: Help the Kids

Being more Irish than the Irish themselves isn't the only reason for thousands of people in Mississippi to make their way to Jackson for the 28th annual Mal's St. Paddy's Parade on Saturday. Some of the proceeds from the event benefit the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, the only children's hospital in Mississippi.

Makin' a List

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the '02 Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. I went against my better judgment and wore the two-inch platform flip-flops I had ordered from the Delia's catalog.

The Perfect Reuben

Swiss cheese melts atop the chunks of roasted corned beef. Under the buttery grilled marble-rye bread, Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut mingle majestically. I take the first bite. Sweet tangy dressing balances strong sauerkraut. Chewy chunks of salty meat complement the nutty sharpness of the cheese.

Guinness and Grits

For the past 13 years, I have marched with the O' Tux Society in Mal's St. Paddy's Parade, save for one when I had to attend a Boy Scout camping trip with my son, Stuart. It is a high point of my year and something I impatiently await like a kid marking the calendar as Christmas morning approaches.

What's a Throw?

I have family all over Louisiana, so Mardi Gras usually happens for me every year. It has trained my hand to only procure the best of the throws.

Mal's St. Paddy Primer

If you're new to the Mal's St. Paddy's Parade, here are a few facts about the main players.

The Beerin' O' the Green

This March 17, as Americans once again celebrate a foreign holiday with more gusto than the originating country, Jackson will run amok with green clothing, green food, green clovers, green men stealing cereal, and most importantly, the green beer of Saint Patrick's Day.

Acting Sweet Potato Queenly

Natalie Long, a 33-year-old unofficial Sweet Potato Queen wannabe, is geared up and excited about this year's Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. The Mississippi State grad and Bogue Chitto native has been attending the parade for 10 years now.

Medical Examiner Bill Sent To Barbour

The Mississippi Legislature has passed a bill that would require state medical examiners to be certified forensic pathologists. The House of Representatives today approved Senate changes to House Bill 1456, and the bill now awaits Gov. Haley Barbour's signature.

He Drank, She Drank

Follow the opinions (and amusement) of two connoisseurs of fine liquor and spirits.

Thinking ‘Locals' First

It's hard to believe Mal's St. Paddy's Parade—and the attendant celebrations both downtown and elsewhere—are already upon us. It doesn't seem like it's been long enough since the Great Snowman Contest of February, even if daylight savings time is here.

One Lake Instead of Two?

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board is pressing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take seriously a lake plan to coincide with a Corps-preferred levee expansion the board approved in December.

Strangulation, Security and Suffrage

Both chambers of the state Legislature spent the past week considering bills from the opposite chamber. The House amended Senate Bill 2923—a bill that expands domestic assault to include strangulation and requires a "cooling off" period between parties—to create the offense of attempted murder.

Free Speech or Bad Behavior?

A recent Jackson Police Department internal investigation is a prime example of the wild world of free speech in the Internet era. On March 10, the department released a statement acknowledging the investigation of an employee for "conduct unbecoming of an officer," during first lady Michelle Obama's March 3 visit to Jackson.

‘Good Enough' Isn't

Mississippi has not had a state medical examiner for the past 15 years. To fill that hole, the state has relied mainly on Dr. Steven Hayne, a decision that has often proved unwise.

[Stiggers] Vicious Whack

Boneqweesha Jones: "Live from the new Hair Did University television studio, it's time for 'Qweesha Live: 2010 Edition.'

[Kamikaze] A Work in Progress

You'll have to excuse me. I'm writing this column in somewhat of a sleepy haze. You see, sleep has devilishly escaped me for the past few days. I wish it would return. But alas, I'm a new father again so there are miles to go before I sleep.

[Moore] My Life as a Tree

My life was as normal as it could be my first half-century.

Tease photo

St. Paddy's Party Plan

St. Patrick's Day is officially March 17, but in Jackson, the party only starts then, with goings-on around town right through Sunday.

The Secrets of War

In "The Surrendered" (Riverhead, 2010, $17.79), Chang-rae Lee tells a story of love, loss and sacrifice with a deceptive ease that will hook readers from the first sentence and hold them to the last page.

[Pass The Mic] Auto-Tune: A Rant

There once was a local television commercial with cute children singing "This Little Light of Mine." One of the cutest things about children singing is the fact that they are children, and therefore they may not hit every single note spot-on. But this commercial was so far from cute I had to mute it every time it came on.

[Herman's Picks] Vol. 8, No. 27

It's spring break in Jackson, and that means the Sweet Potato Queens are here, ready to show off their greenery for Mal's St. Paddy's Parade on Saturday. After the dreary winter we've had, everyone's ready for a little spring green—even if you're not Irish.

Lesbian Teen Fights for Prom

Constance McMillen unwraps a Super Sonic Burger from a bag full of tater tots at her kitchen table in Fulton. Her long, dark hair is curled, and her face is made up. She's wearing a new black T-shirt that reads "I (Heart) NY."

Revenue Estimates Down, Barbour to Announce Budget Cuts

With newly revised revenue estimates projecting a slow recovery for the state economy, Gov. Haley Barbour is preparing to cut an additional $41 million from the state budget for this fiscal year. The Mississippi Legislature's joint budget committee today adopted revised revenue estimates predicting a 6.3 percent drop in state revenue for the 2010 fiscal year and a 0.4 increase in 2011. Barbour told reporters that he thought the minimal growth predicted in 2011 was over-optimistic.

St. Patty's Sched

St. Patrick's Day is officially March 17, but in Jackson, the party only starts then, with goings-on around town right through Sunday. Make sure to check for lots more fun.

Stan Leflore

When defining his role in the renaissance of downtown Jackson, Stan Leflore, 56, feels he is as much a pioneer as his great, great, great-grandfather, Louis LeFleur, the French-Canadian explorer who discovered the bluff that would later become Jackson.

Barbour Signs Strip Club Bill

Gov. Haley Barbour signed a bill on March 15 giving rural counties authority to regulate strip clubs. House Bill 170 demands supervisors publish and post notice of any proposed ordinance change impacting strip clubs at least 20 days prior to the holding of a public hearing on the ordinance.

Baria: Barbour's Wind Pool Veto Raises Rates

Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, successfully added an amendment to a bill by voice vote yesterday that continues the state's annual $20 million payment to the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association Reinsurance Assistance Fund, also called the wind pool. The measure passed the Senate unanimously, reports The Sun Herald and is on its way to the House.

Tuesday, March 16

Jackson Chamber Eyeing Independence

The Jackson Chamber of Commerce, a subsidiary of the metro-area Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, is planning to become an independent body to better advocate for the city's economic interests. A move to complete autonomy is probably more than a year away but the leaders of both organizations are working to develop a plan for separation, current Jackson Chamber Chairman Jonathan Lee said, this week.

[Balko] The Other Broken Windows Fallacy

One of the central themes of the critically acclaimed HBO series "The Wire" was the pressure politicians put on police brass, who then apply it to the department's middle management, to generate PR-friendly statistics about lowering crime and increasing arrests. The show, based in part on co-creator Ed Burns' experience as a narcotics cop at the Baltimore Police Department, was a running narration of the chasm between what politicians and the public consider to be effective crime-fighting techniques and what measures actually make cities safer.

Roderick Holmes

When Jackson Police Department Officer Roderick Holmes responded to an alarm call at Calvary Baptist Church in January, his training and skills came into play in apprehending a man who had broken into the church. As the intruder tried to flee the property, Holmes called for backup and with the help of other officers, he apprehended the suspect in a wooded area behind the church.

Horne LLP Under Fire Again

Jackson accounting firm Horne LLP faces criticism for the second time in two months after a Feb. 18 audit by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General reported that the company billed Mississippi Emergency Management Agency an excessive amount of $7,751,445 for services that included paying employees up to $109 an hour to scan documents.

Silver Alert Legislation Awaits Barbour's Signature

Keeping our parents and grandparents safe is the goal of a Mississippi House bill creating a Silver Alert system. The system, based on Amber Alerts for children, will allow family members to report an elderly missing person quickly, ensuring that law enforcement gets into action before an older person runs into trouble.

Monday, March 15

Eddie Fair Requests Pay Raises; Supes Deny

With budget concerns in mind, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors denied pay raises requested by county Tax Collector Eddie Fair in a meeting this morning, while approving the hiring of another county position.

Evelyn Gandy

When Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, considered running as the state's first female African American representative in the late 1980s, she received encouragement and advice from Evelyn Gandy.

Engineers Want Lower Lake Plan on Table

An engineer urged the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board last week to press the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve a lake plan to coincide with a Corps-preferred levee expansion the board approved in December.

Community Events and Public Meetings

8:30 a.m., Stimulus Funding Opportunities Conference, at River Room Conference Center (100 Ridge Drive, Flowood). The Mississippi Development Authority will host a conference to explain opportunities for Mississippi-based certified minority contractors associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Registration is required. Free; call 601-359-6678.

Seale Conviction Upheld Again

Also see: JFP investigative archive/timeline of Dee-Moore case

Hinds Officials Seeking Pay Raises

Two Hinds County officials are requesting salary increases for selected employees, despite a tight county budget. Tax Collector Eddie Fair and County Attorney Sherri Flowers are scheduled to request the raises for their employees at this morning's meeting of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

Friday, March 12

ACLU Fights Prom Cancellation

To help protect teen Constance McMillen's decision to bring her girlfriend to the prom, the Mississippi ACLU will file an injunction next week to prevent the Itawamba County School District from canceling the school's prom. The district's school board announced the cancellation of the dance, previously scheduled for April 2, on Wednesday, March 10.

Can Cannon Nissan Revive I-20 Corridor?

Michael Joe Cannon sees opportunity to revive business in the Interstate 20 corridor that parallels Raymond Road in Jackson, recently backing up his beliefs by opening a new Nissan dealership near the former Deuce McAlister Nissan, which closed last year.

Weekend Events

Start the weekend off by heading to the Jackson Community Design Center at 5:30 p.m. for "Cross-Pollinate: A Speaker Series." Shahid Buttar, of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Washington, D.C., and a Huffington Post columnist, will speak about government accountability in relation to the war on terror. Afterwards, stimulate the local economy and fill your stomach by heading to one of the city's fine restaurants. Check out the JFP Restaurant Listings and menu guide to plan your evening.

Derek Emerson

Of all the dishes that Walker's Drive-In serves to its customers, Chef Derek Emerson says that tuna is his personal favorite. "It has to do with the way I created it," the James Beard Best Chef nominee says. "I like tuna, and I love working with it."

Luckett Touts Bio-Fuels, Education at Jackson Forum

Investments in early childhood education and alternative energy can spur Mississippi's economy, Clarksdale attorney and 2011 candidate for governor Bill Luckett said during a speech at Koinonia Coffee House in Jackson this morning. Luckett, who announced his candidacy in September, was the featured speaker at the Friday Forum, a weekly series sponsored by west Jackson social entrepreneur Bill Cooley.

Ceara Sturgis' Mother Speaks Out on Prom Cancellation

Veronica Rodriguez, the outspoken mother of Wesson Attendance Center student Ceara Sturgis, a lesbian, says that the Itawamba School District is mistreating senior Constance McMillen by cancelling the high school prom rather than allowing her to attend with her girlfriend. "They knew what they were doing when they canceled the prom," Rodriguez said Thursday about the Itawamba school district's decision. "They're trying to make that girl some kind of exile. They're trying to turn her whole class against her so they'll pressure her to drop her case."

Luckett to Speak in Jackson Friday

Clarksdale attorney and 2011 candidate for governor Bill Luckett will speak at Koinonia Coffee House in Jackson Friday morning. Luckett, who announced his candidacy in September, is the featured speaker at the 9 a.m. Friday Forum, a weekly series sponsored by west Jackson businessman Bill Cooley.

Thursday, March 11

Clarion-Ledger Drops Stringfellow Column After First Lady Flap

Eric Stringfellow, who has worked with The Clarion-Ledger as a writer or editor since 1982, revealed today that the executive editor of the paper, Ronnie Agnew, has dropped his column. In an e-mail to Agnew, pasted verbatim below, Stringfellow accuses Agnew of dropping his column because he revealed that the paper had killed his column about first lady Michelle Obama's visit to Jackson. Agnew's short e-mail dismissing Stringfellow is also pasted below verbatim.

Gov. and Dems Play Blame Game

Gov. Haley Barbour and House Democrats are blaming each other for the Legislature's failure to re-authorize the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, an agency that provides workforce services and dispenses unemployment benefits.

Major Crimes Down; Up in Some Precincts

Major crimes in Jackson dropped 13.6 percent last week, according to statistics released today at a Jackson Police Department command staff meeting. Officers reported 142 total property crimes, down from 168 the week before, and 29 violent crimes, down from 30 the previous week.

Shahid Buttar

As a college student in Chicago, Shahid Buttar sometimes would fish his next meal out of a trashcan. Often sleeping on the streets or couch surfing, Buttar found solace in the electronic rhythm of house music.

Unemployment Tops 20 Percent in Four Counties

Nearly 155,000 Mississippians received unemployment benefits in January, with the state's unemployment rate for the first month of 2010 exceeding the national average. Four counties reported jobless rates in excess of 20 percent: Holmes and Noxubee counties both reported rates of 23.1 percent unemployment; Clay County reported 21.2 percent and Winston County 20.3 percent. The state's average rate is 12 percent, 1.4 percent higher than the national average of 10.6 percent.

Luckett, Candidate for Gov., to Speak in Jackson Friday

Clarksdale attorney and 2011 candidate for governor Bill Luckett will speak at Koinonia Coffee House in Jackson Friday morning. Luckett, who announced his candidacy in September, is the featured speaker at the 9 a.m. Friday Forum, a weekly series sponsored by west Jackson businessman Bill Cooley.

Wednesday, March 10


Chrissy Valentine, 31, grew up in south Jackson and graduated from Wingfield High School in 1996. Valentine was a serious tomboy growing up, and her grandfather was her best friend in the world.

It's Your Party

Other than the props, traditional bachelor or bachelorette parties are essentially the same for men and women. Women have tiaras and tacky boas, and the guys have … well, the guys have dollar bills.

Eating in the Moment

Eating healthy means different things to different people. My wife and I, for example, cook nearly every meal using as many fresh ingredients as possible. For us, this is ideal, but it can't work for everyone.

Records, Records, Records

"I always turn to the sports section first," Earl Warren, the 14th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court once said. "The sports page records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures."

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

MLB baseball, exhibition, Atlanta vs. N.Y. Yankees (6 p.m., CSS): The Braves battle the defending champ Yankees, who should implode any minute now.

[Ladd] Ain't That Something

Not long ago, Todd and I were downtown to see "Groovaloo" at Thalia Mara. As we walked to the car, an obviously homeless man walked up and respectfully asked us for money. Todd did what I've watched him do so many times when we lived in New York City and when visiting San Francisco and other cities. He paused for a split-second in decision and then reached into his pocket. He pulled out a $20 bill, glanced at it and handed it to the man who was holding the bucket he uses to wash windshields. The man looked surprised.

Appropriations and Pole-Dancing

The House and Senate agreed on a major appropriation bill last week, when negotiators came to terms on appropriations bill SB 2495, which restores $82 million to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, including $37 million slated for K-12 public education. House and Senate negotiators reached an accord after Gov. Haley Barbour sliced more than $450 million from the 2010 budget.

Public Works, Private Profit

If Mississippi hadn't provided $15 million in bonds and another $20 million in loan guarantees last January to Schulz GMBH to build its pipe factory, some other state would have. In today's economic market, "tax incentives" is the game state and local governments must play to lure big corporate players to put roots down within their borders.

Bring Development to Earth

Tea-partiers and fiscal conservatives make a lot of noise about how much citizens pay in taxes—income, property, sales and so forth—decrying any effort toward increased spending on health care or social programs.

[Stiggers] Whooty Whoot Time

Mr. Whooty Whoot Man: "Good morning! And welcome to the 'Mr. Whooty Whoot' television show. This program is brought to you by a tiny grant from the Poor Ghetto Children's Television Network. Additional funding is brought to you by the Ghetto Science Team's Community Stimulus and the Let Me Hold Five Dollars National Bank (L.M.H.F.D.N.B.).

A Yankee Reporter in the Bible Belt

I drove 19 hours to get from New York to Mississippi. Nearly a dozen cans of Coke kept me from falling asleep and drifting into oncoming traffic. The only company in my Volkswagen was a bamboo plant sitting on the passenger seat. Each time I shifted gears, the plant's green leaves jolted forward.

[Collier] The Sweetest Taboo

This past Valentine's Day I got two things: a single white rose–which every woman older than 18 received at church that day–and a card from my mother. That's it. No more. It's virtually impossible for it to have been less. That's the way things work when you're unattached.

Tease photo

Trust In Me

It's bitterly cold and almost 11 p.m. when the white van stops under the highway bridge in South Jackson. Fifty yards from the road, there's a small campsite lit by the flames rising from an oil drum. For nearly 20 years, David "Twin" Womack has lived here, with a tent, a sleeping bag and a pair of shopping carts that he used to use to collect aluminum cans in the daytime.

Charters and Quasi-Charters

The Mississippi Legislature's wrangling over charter schools intensified yesterday when the House of Representatives passed a bill that would authorize "innovative schools" but voted down a provision for actual charter schools.

Banking Locally

Joe Magee, 59, is a third-generation poultry and cattle farmer. His farm, located just outside Mendenhall, produces a little more than half a million chickens and around 100 head of beef cattle a year. Magee operates the farm with the help of his son and one employee.

Colin Blanchard

Colin Blanchard loves cycling so much that despite being hit by a car twice, he rides his bike every morning from his Belhaven home to his job at The Bike Rack on Lakeland Drive where he does bike repair and maintenance. Blanchard, 23, says that cycling is a huge part of his everyday life.

Talent in Full Bloom

Caroline Herring labored to be heard over the garbled intercom chatter of an Atlanta lawn and garden store. It seems that she has a green thumb, and it's time to get seeds in the ground. Gardening, she says, is a treasured respite from the requirements of her career, the pressures of motherhood, and the hectic cycle of recording and touring.

[Rob In Stereo] Growing Prince's Sound

Prince recently released his newest single, "Cause and Effect," (Youtube link) which is predictably tame and in keeping with the trend of his singles in recent years. It is appearing more and more that Prince's glory days are behind him. We haven't gotten a signature catchy, ribald single in the vein of "Little Red Corvette" or "Sexy MF" in years. Luckily, the market for Prince imitators remains ripe. It seems every year an album comes out striving to be the great, lost Prince album.

JPD Investigating Officer for Michelle Obama Comments

The Jackson Police Department is conducting an internal investigation of one of its officers for "conduct unbecoming of an officer" during First Lady Michelle Obama's visit last week, according to a department statement released yesterday.

Monsanto Breaks Ground on Corn-Breeding Station

Flora, Miss., was the site yesterday of a groundbreaking ceremony for the Monsanto Company, producer of 90 percent of the world's genetically engineered seeds. The new $2.4 million, 26,000-square-foot facility, a corn-breeding station, will eventually employ 10 full-time and 50 seasonal workers, Monsanto said in a release.

Tuesday, March 9

Council Steps Sideways on Civilian Review

The Jackson City Council approved a resolution today that represents an intermediate step toward establishing some form of civilian oversight of the Jackson Police Department. After months of deliberation in committee, the resolution calls for the creation of a "an independent community advocacy review process for police matters."

Entergy Customers Facing Rate Increase

Mississippi Public Utilities Staff Executive Director Bobby Waites says Entergy customers can expect a $10 million to $12 million rate increase this year.

[Balko] 4.5 SWAT Raids Per Day

During the last six months of 2009, police deployed SWAT teams oyed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times per day. In Prince George's County alone, with its 850,000 residents, a SWAT team deployed about once per day. According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, 94 percent of the state's SWAT deployments to served search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent in response to the kinds of barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings and emergency situations for which SWAT teams were originally intended.

Beau Phillips

A former Tupelo police officer, Beau Phillips knows how difficult it can be to support a family. After working a 12-hour night shift, he would often change his uniform and go straight to his second job as school security officer.

Hood Warns of IRS E-mail Scams

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood issued a consumer alert yesterday warning taxpayers of an e-mail scam where the perpetrators pose as official Internal Revenue Service e-mailers to obtain personal and financial information. Hood said that the IRS does not send e-mails to taxpayers to inform them of refunds or to request financial information.

Monday, March 8

Voter ID Poised For 2011 Vote

Mississippians will vote next fall on a constitutional amendment to require photo identification at the polls. In a press conference this afternoon, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann accepted petitions for a ballot initiative on voter ID for the Nov. 2011 statewide general election. Voter ID proponents collected approximately 131,000 signatures in support of the initiative, Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, told the Jackson Free Press today. State law requires at least 89,285 signatures to place an initiative on the ballot.

Court to Review Panel Decision on Global Warming Suit

A recent U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision could undermine Gulf Coast resident's efforts to hold oil companies responsible for causing global warming and contributing to Hurricane Katrina's damage.

Daniel Fuller

Forest Hill High School teacher Daniel Fuller was teaching Advanced Placement literature last week, when Jackson Public Schools District Superintendent Lonnie Edwards, faculty members and several TV camera crews entered his classroom to deliver some unexpected news: The district named Fuller, 34, JPS teacher of the year.

Community Events and Public Meetings

8:30 a.m., MINCAP Business Session, at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). The group will meet in the Community Meeting Room. Open to the public. Call 601-982-8467.

Lawmakers Debate Alternate Education Track

General classroom goals for high-school students, in Mississippi and elsewhere, emphasize pushing kids toward four-year college degrees. Some Magnolia state lawmakers are now looking at introducing a career-track curriculum for the many teens who may not be college bound, reports The Sun Herald.

Sunday, March 7

White Sorority Wins Step-Off

This year, Zeta Tau Alpha won a step-off that was sponsored by Sprite. The footage was taken by an audience member, so the camera angle is a little off, but take a look at the video (almost 10 minutes):

Friday, March 5

Open Meetings Law Facing Death

Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, said he is disappointed with House members for weakening his open meetings act this week. In its original form, Senate Bill 2373 would have increased fines for violations of public-meetings laws up to $1,000 and placed the fines on individual violators. Currently, state law places a $500 fine on governing bodies for open-meetings law violations.

Heather Henson

When Heather Henson was a young girl, she would spend her time creating art projects inspired by her father Jim Henson's magical creatures and movie sets.

Neighborhood Grill to Replace Tye's

For the past two years, Tye's Restaurant and Bar in the Plaza Building on Congress street served as an after-work meeting place for professionals and fine-dining favorite among locals.

Help Youth Media Project! Here's PayPal link for Friendship Ball!

It's time for another huge party in downtown Jackson. And this time, you can help the Youth Media Project grow and bring kids from throughout the metro together in a positive way. Just click here to buy your ticket(s) for the Jackson 2000 Friendship Ball Saturday night, and every dime you pay goes to help the young people have a room to work in, get supplies, buy videotapes and other equipment, and even buy snacks for their after-school and Saturday meetings. Jackson 2000 chose the Youth Media Project one of three Friendship Ball receipt recipients this year, and they work in an office (previously donated) connected to the JFP. This is an incredible group of young people, and you can read more about them and their goals on their Web site here. The group is sponsored by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, the Mississippi Youth Justice Project, the Jackson State Mass Communications Department and the Jackson Free Press.

Jackson Kicks Off the Great American Cleanup

Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., and representatives from Keep Jackson Beautiful and Transformation Jackson kick off a campaign to beautify the city this morning. Great American Cleanup volunteers will meet tomorrow at Jackson State University to participate in day one of the three-month event.

Thursday, March 4

Social Media Mayhem

As a 38-year-old, I am fairly new to this social media craze. MySpace was first and that was ok, but I still didn't understand what was so addictive about social media. Then I was introduced to FaceBook while, of all things, I was on vacation. You know, at the beach, clearing my head, getting away from it all. Well, the friend I was on vacation with introduced me to the Facebook game that is a takeoff (cheap word for copyright infringement) of Scrabble®. The exact name escapes me because of my age. This is where my fascination, errr, addiction began. If we weren't lying out on the beach, we were waiting on the next move from each other. I was hooked.

Fondren Crime Meeting Turns to ‘Healing'

A standing-room-only crowd gathered at Sneaky Beans coffee shop on Tuesday evening to voice concerns about crime in the Fondren neighborhood and to hear crime-prevention tips from law enforcement officials. The community meeting, sparked by fears of crime, has morphed into an effort to organize the surrounding community.

Wins, Losses for School Appropriations

The House and Senate agreed to restore about $37 million to K-12 education in a this week following Gov. Haley Barbour's veto of a budget reconciliation bill that would have restored $79 million in cuts to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and district attorney's offices.

Mary Hill

When Mary Hill found out first lady Michelle Obama was coming to Jackson, she rolled up her sleeves and started getting ready.

Lawmakers Attempt to Restore $82 Million to 2010 Budget

The Mississippi Legislature has sent a second budget reconciliation compromise to Gov. Haley Barbour, this time restoring $82 million of the cuts the governor has made this fiscal year. Barbour vetoed a previous attempt to reconcile $79 million, saying the proposal took too much from the state's savings and restored too little to the Department of Corrections.

Tease photo

Anita's 2010 Oscar Picks

The red carpet rolls out on Sunday, which happens to land smack dab in the middle of the International Documentary Challenge ( For me, that means it will be a weekend of multi-tasking like a champ, and for most women, particularly those with a brood of kids, we do this with relative ease. (That's my mantra and I'm sticking to it.) If the editing system breaks down or there are other snafus on the doc front, I know I can kick back on Sunday and enjoy Oscar time.

Wednesday, March 3

Obama Energizes Students

For several hours the students at Brinkley Middle School waited anxiously inside their school's auditorium for First Lady Michelle Obama to enter the building this afternoon. When Obama arrived, along with Gov. Haley Barbour and his wife Marsha, the students--many waving handmade signs--cheered widely.

Happiness Worth Celebrating

In my own relationship with an abusive man, "You're the best" turned fairly quickly into "I'm the only one who loves you," along with overt attempts to demonize my friends and isolate me.

Friendship Ball Promotes Dialogue, Helps Kids

This Saturday, Jackson 2000, a nonprofit established to improve race relations will host the 10th annual Jackson Friendship Ball, a celebration of the work of non-profits and individuals working to better the city by creating and expanding interracial dialogues.

Nursing Homes and Overrides

Last week was all about passing budget bills, with the House and Senate considering a huge list of appropriation legislation funding various state agencies.

Barbour Blames Media for Toyota Woes

In 2007—before the economy tanked—Mississippi lawmakers and Gov. Haley Barbour approved a $293.9 million incentive package to persuade Toyota Motor Corp. to build a factory in Blue Springs, Miss., near Tupelo. Proposed improvements to the 1,700-acre site plan include infrastructure upgrades to water and sewer lines, and new roads.

Get Serious About Flooding

The area got good news last week when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it is recommending that FEMA certify existing Pearl River levees as capable of withstanding most of the flooding that the metro experiences.

[Stiggers] Future Paradise

Rudy McBride: "This may sound weird, but an epiphany came to me. It happened while I was doing some paperwork and listening to the 'Good Morning Ghetto' Drive Time Morning Crew on the Serious Ghetto Science Team Radio Network."

[Kamikaze] Take It Back

Being a born and bred Jacksonian, I can say I've lived on every "side" of this city. I've seen the good and the bad up close, met some treasures, and met some trash.

[Eady] Our Students Deserve Better

Three young boys waited on a wooden bench in a brown-paneled office on the hot May day. Anton stretched his legs out and slouched back, his face blank and eyes flashing with anger. Next to him sat Reggie, whose brown eyes darted around the room nervously. The third boy, Derek, was crying.

Tease photo

The Commons: Continuity of Love

Under the quiet gaze of an oversized bronze statue of Eudora Welty, a friendly but insistent workman keeps asking Jonathan Sims what to do about the dishwasher. Sims can't answer right away. He looks down at the brick-imprinted concrete covered with wet leaves and concentrates.

A Legendary Tribute

"Ain't Got Long to Stay Here" is a 90-minute one-man show in which actor Barry Scott plays 12 characters with varying perspectives about the Civil Rights Movement.

Dysfunctional Splendor

New Stage Theatre brings theater-goers another southern comedy with "Dividing the Estate" by Horton Foote. Set in Harrison, Texas, the play portrays the Gordon family and its struggle to hold on to privileged lives.

Collection of a Lifetime

Art lovers Herb and Dorothy Vogel celebrated their engagement by purchasing a vase by Pablo Picasso. Soon after they were married, the couple acquired a metal sculpture by American artist John Chamberlain.

A New Kind of Fabulous

Lynn Nottage's "Fabulation or The Re-Education of Undine" is a dark comedy about an African American businesswoman, Undine, who falls from the New York City high life back to Brooklyn and the family she has tried to forget.

Bartered Souls and A Crooked Brow - Furrows' Debut Album Review

To Furrow is to, generally in a pained manner, wrinkle one's forehead. This expression is so pronounced that the bunched skin resembles the parallel farming trenches, from which, the verb derives: furrows. While digesting the lyrics presented in Furrows' self-titled debut, you imagine that Cody Cox, lead singer and songwriter, has heard that description before. It isn't hard to suppose that, after living some of the experiences described here, the topography of one's brow would be altered. It is a credit to the songwriting that these experiences are felt, with the mind, just as acutely as the physical expression would be noticed by the eyes.

Lessons of the 1979 Easter Flood

Part 3 in a series

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended last week that FEMA re-certify the levees protecting the Hinds and Rankin County edges bordering the Pearl River, despite the fact that the levees cannot stop a 200-year flood event similar to the 1979 Pearl River flood.

Target: Dating Violence

When Brittany started dating Jack (not their real names), she was involved in her high school's athletic program, spent time with a large group of male and female friends, and had a personality that radiated happiness.

No Overnight Sensation

It's unfair to call The Overnight Lows' "City of Rotten Eyes" a debut. It's more a culmination--a mail bomb packed tightly with a decade's worth of hand-scrawled show flyers and tallboy cans. The Lows are a Jackson musical institution, albeit a subterranean stronghold.

[Mott] Happiness Worth Celebrating

For too long in Mississippi, the legal community--police, lawyers and judges--have seen domestic abuse as a problem best dealt with at home. Women bring violence on themselves, the thinking goes; they should just do what their men tell them to. That's changing in this state, albeit slowly, and only after a lot of work by smart and dedicated people.

Hate Groups Up by 244 Percent

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has documented extremist groups in the United States for decades, yesterday released its annual report on the number of active hate groups in the country. Calling the figures "alarming," Morris Dees, founder of the Montgomery, Ala.-based organization, says it has documented a 244 percent increase in just the past year.

Jason Goree

At first sight, Jason Goree looks as if he is all about business. As he flops in his brown executive chair, a picture of his wife, Khylah, and 3-year-old son Isaiah rattles on his desk. Goree, a real estate and business developer for 3G Management and Development Group, is involved in several projects to improve the city of Jackson.

A Place for Everyone

My husband Ray and I have been looking for ways to get involved in our community for quite some time now. It has not been an easy task. I am a full time student, Ray sometimes doesn't get home from work until after 8 in the evening, and we have two school-age children and not much money to pay a babysitter. Luckily we found St. Alexis Episcopal Church and have been able to get involved in family friendly things there. As far as community events go, we have not been able to attend due to timing, no babysitter, or other things, so when Ray heard about the community meeting last night at Sneaky Beans he got excited and attempted to get home from work in time. Ray has a degree in criminal justice, works in loss prevention, and has a lot of practice at taking down an armed shoplifter. There is no doubt he could be of use to a community concerned with defending themselves against crime and looking out for each other. Unfortunately, Ray did not make it home from work in time and couldn't attend the meeting, but even without attending there were just a few things that irked me a bit.

Tuesday, March 2

Fondren Shooting Spurs Community Meeting

A recent armed robbery and shooting in Fondren has some area residents up in arms. A community meeting, advertised on Facebook as "Take Back Our Neighborhoods," is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at Sneaky Beans coffee shop on North State Street.

Johnson Attending Obama Visit

City of Jackson Spokesman Chris Mims confirmed today that Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., was invited to attend first lady Michelle Obama's personal visit to the city on Wednesday. Obama is visiting the city tomorrow as part of her "Let's Move" campaign, which emphasizes healthy diet and exercise for youth.

[Balko] Is Texas About to Execute Another Innocent Man?

Henry Watkins "Hank" Skinner was supposed to be executed tomorrow, but last Tuesday a Gray County, Texas, district court judge pushed the date back one month, to March 24. Skinner has been on Death Row in Texas since 1993, awaiting execution for the murder of his girlfriend and her two sons. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest, and investigators from the Northwestern University Journalism School's Medill Innocence Project have shot numerous holes in the prosecution's case. But Texas officials refuse to conduct a simple DNA test that could point to the condemned man's innocence or cement his guilt.

Helen LaKelly Hunt

Women's activist Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt believes that Christianity and feminism go hand in hand, and is using that idea to advance women's rights.

Animal Cruelty Bill to Die

Today is the last day committees in the Mississippi Legislature can act on bills presented by their colleagues across the hall. Effectively, that means any bills stuck in committees not scheduled to meet today are dead. That includes SB 2623, a bill proposing to make torturing or maiming cats or dogs a felony.

Monday, March 1

BREAKING: Writer Barry Hannah Dies of Heart Attack

The Jackson Free Press has learned from sources in Oxford, Miss., that author Barry Hannah, 67, died of a sudden heart attack in his home there today. He was working with a graduate student, sources say. Hannah was born in Meridian, Miss., and raised in Clinton. He is the acclaimed author of eight novels and currently directed Ole Miss' MFA program in creative writing.

Fisher: Hinds Supes ‘Hiding' In Executive Session

Hinds County Supervisor Phil Fisher accused his fellow supervisors today of evading public scrutiny by relegating two potentially inflammatory decisions to executive session. In a closed session during its meeting this morning, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to fire County Administrator Vern Gavin. Supervisors also rejected a proposal from Fisher to dissolve the county's agreement with the Mississippi Youth Justice Project, a juvenile-justice watchdog group.

Obama Appoints Mason to Federal HBCU Board

President Barack Obama announced Friday that he wants Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. on the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The board exists to strengthen the nation's list of HBCUs, many of which suffered financial cutbacks as the economy tanked and attendance declined. Even prestigious Spelman College in Atlanta cut more than 30 staff members and announced plans to restructure its Education Department last year.

Community Events and Public Meetings

"Support Haiti Relief" Show at Bryant Galleries (3010 Lakeland Cove): 50 percent of all sales from the Haitian collection will go to the American Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund. Free admission; call 601-932-5099.

Bill Ellison

Bill Ellison remembers the excitement and energy he felt when he played trombone in the band at Bailey Junior High School. That passion propelled him to spend his career performing and broadcasting music.

First Lady to Visit Jackson

Earlier this month, first lady Michelle Obama announced a campaign to solve childhood obesity in America. It only makes sense, then, that she would visit the capitol of Mississippi—the most obese state in the nation—as part of her "Let's Move" campaign.

Tease photo

Shutter Island: You Can Never Leave

Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese's suspense thriller, begins with the blast of a fog horn. It's a warning, and I jumped in anticipation of sinister horrors. The loud thrumbling of music escalates the foreboding sense of doom and gloom.