Lost+Found Coffee Company @ 248 South Green Street, Tupelo,MS. inside Relics in Downtown Tupelo. Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am till 6:00pm.
With most any restaurant or coffee house, it’s a balance between atmosphere, menu, and know how. For a coffee shop, Lost & Found has it going on!
You could spend the better part of a day just strolling through both floors of the antique building looking at all the treasures. When your ready for a coffee break, the knowledgeable baristas can help you choose the perfect pick me up!
They have everything from a classic cup of joe to the creamiest creation you could imagine! From pour overs to cold brews. From lattes, mochas, to cappuccino’s, Lost & Found Coffee Company has got ya covered!
So the next time you want to hunt for lost treasures, or find the perfect cup of coffee, Lost & Found Coffee Company has got ya covered! See y’all there!
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Have you ever noticed that you can plan something so intricately and you are still going to catch the glitches when life throws you a curve ball? It is one of the beauties of life that we can never prepare for. The unexpected. The only difference is our response to the unexpected. Do we have a knee jerk reaction that finds us swerving to gain back control of our life? Or do we instead just go with the flow and decide to embrace the scenic route life decided to take us on? Our response to life can cause us more stress or we can just enjoy it for what it is in that moment of time. I used to thrive on the unexpected. It was part of my career for many years. The never knowing what “fire” was going to sprout up that day and how I was going to need to put it out. Even this week as we launched our newest book in my publishing company. I thought I had it all planned out only to run into major “hiccups” within 72 hours of the launch. I could either stress out or take it in stride.
As my dad retired I watched him take a different approach to life than I had ever seen him take before. I mean, all you have to do is climb up in the cab of his king ranch Ford pick-up and see he is a changed man. He drives slower than anyone should even be allowed to drive out on the roads these days. He knows how to drive, so don’t go yelling at him next time you are stuck behind him. Trust me, my mom does enough yelling for all of us at him about that! He just takes life these days. His sentiments are that he lived in the fast lane his whole life. Rushing to be on time to work, rushing to come home to his family, the constant busy we get entangled with as adults…now, he doesn’t have to be busy and he is going to enjoy that. Truth is, I can’t even be mad at him for that. Now that I am an adult out here rushing from one thing to the next, I totally could use some driving twenty miles per hour in my life some days. Took me getting to nearly forty to even be able to say that though.
The lesson in his wisdom can be heard by all. Some things we lose it over won’t even amount to anything five years from now, yet we gave them so much energy in the moment. All the things we think are so important that we must do and do now. Most will not really matter years from now, yet we poured our soul into them. What would change if we took the time to just enjoy life? To just flow with things as they happened? When hit with something we didn’t expect, we embraced it instead of fighting it? What would happen? I dare say we might have more peace? I probably would be a lot calmer. I probably wouldn’t lose my temper near as much. I probably wouldn’t have anxiety or stress on the daily. I would probably take time to enjoy life more. I certainly wouldn’t yell at the slow driver in front of me.
What about you? Next time you get behind someone driving slowly…take back the name calling and curse words. Maybe take back all of the assumptions that they don’t know how to drive. Maybe use it as a reminder to take a moment, roll down your window, soak in the sunshine. I can promise you that wherever the heck you are going, you will still get there. Maybe that person figured out life and you can use their wisdom too. If they are driving a blue king ranch Ford truck, I can assure you that he is just enjoying his day and he would want you to enjoy yours too. Matter of fact, I wish I had listened to his wisdom a lot more in my earlier days instead of waiting until now.
Here is a plain, searchable text version (most other versions we found were Images or PDF files) of City Of Tupelo Executive Order 20-018. Effective Monday June 29th at 6:00 PM
The following Local Executive Order further amends and supplements all previous Local Executive Orders and its Emergency Proclamation and Resolution adopted by the City of Tupelo, Mississippi, pertaining to COVID-19. All provisions of previous local orders and proclamations shall remain in full force and effect.
LOCAL EXECUTIVE ORDER 20-018
The White House and CDC guidelines state the criteria for reopening up America should be based on data driven conditions within each region or state before proceeding to the next phased opening. Data should be based on symptoms, cases, and hospitals. Based on cases alone, there must be a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period. There has been no such downward trajectory in the documented cases in Lee County since May 18, 2020.
Hospital numbers are not always readily available to policymakers; however, from information that has been maintained and communicated to the City of Tupelo, the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center is near or at their capacity for treating COVID-19 inpatients over the past two weeks without reopening additional areas for treating COVID-19 patients. The City of Tupelo is experiencing an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19. The case count 45 days prior to the date of this executive order was 77 cases. That number increased within 15 days to 107, and today, the number is 429 cases. The City of Tupelo is experiencing increases of 11.7 cases a day. This is not in conformity with the guidelines provided of a downward trajectory of positive tests. By any metric available, the City of Tupelo may not continue to the next phase of reopening.
Governor Tate Reeves in his Executive Order No. 1492(1)(i)(1) authorizes the City of Tupelo to implement more restrictive measures than currently in place for other Mississippians to facilitate preventative measures against COVID-19 thereby creating the downward trajectory necessary for reopening.
That the Tupelo Economic Recovery Task Force and North Mississippi Medical Center have formally requested that the City of Tupelo adopt a face covering policy.
In an effort to support the Northeast Mississippi Health System in their response to COVID-19 and to strive to keep the City of Tupelo’s economy remaining open for business, effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 29, 2020, all persons who are present within the jurisdiction of the City of Tupelo shall wear a clean face covering any time they are, or will be, in contact with other people in indoor public or business spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distance. While wearing the face covering, it is essential to still maintain social distance being the best defense against the spread of COVID-19. The intent of this executive order is to encourage voluntary compliance with the requirements established herein by the businesses and persons within the jurisdiction of the City of Tupelo.
It is recommended that all indoor public or business spaces require persons to wear a face covering for entry. Upon entry, social distancing and activities shall follow guidelines of the City of Tupelo and the Governor’s executive orders pertaining to particular businesses and business activity.
Persons shall properly wear face coverings ensuring the face covering covers the mouth and nose,
1. Signage should be posted by entrances to businesses stating the face covering requirement for entry. (Available for download at www.tupeloms.gov).
2. A patron located inside an indoor public or business space without a face covering will be asked to leave by the business owners if the patron is unwilling to come into compliance with wearing a face covering
3. Face coverings are not required for:
a. People whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering. b. Those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition. c. Restaurant patrons while dining. d. Private, individual offices or offices with fewer than ten (10) employees. e. Other settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, including when obtaining or rendering goods or services, such as receipt of dental services or swimming. f. Banks, gyms, or spaces with physical barrier partitions which prohibit contact between the customer(s) and employee. g. Small offices where the public does not interact with the employer. h. Children under twelve (12). i. That upon the formulation of an articulable safety plan which meets the goals of this
Executive Order businesses may seek an exemption by email at email@example.com
FACE COVERINGS DO NOT HAVE TO BE MEDICAL MASKS OR N95 MASKS. A BANDANA, SCARF, T–SHIRT, HOME–MADE MASKS, ETC. MAY BE USED. THEY MUST PROPERLY COVER BOTH A PERSON‘S MOUTH AND NOSE.
Those businesses that are subject to regulatory oversight of a separate state or federal agency shall follow the guidelines of said agency or regulating body if there is a conflict with this Executive Order.
Additional information can be found at www.tupeloms.gov COVID-19 information landing page.
Pursuant to Miss. Code Anno. 833-15-17(d)(1972 as amended), this Local Executive Order shall remain in full effect under these terms until reviewed, approved or disapproved at the first regular meeting following such Local Executive Order or at a special meeting legally called for such a review.
The City of Tupelo reserves its authority to respond to local conditions as necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.
Honeyboy and Boots are a husband and wife, guitar and cello, duo with a unique style that is all their own. Their sound embodies Americana, traditional folk, alt country, and blues with harmonies and a hint of classical notes.
Drew Blackwell, a true Southerner raised in the heart of the black prairie in Mississippi. First picked up the guitar at fourteen, he was greatly influenced by his Uncle Doug who taught him old country standards and folk classics. Later on in high school, he was mentored and inspired to write (and feel) the blues by Alabama blues artist Willie King. (Willie King is credited for bringing together the band The Old Memphis Kings.)
Drew has placed 3rd in the 2019 Mississippi Songwriter of the Year contest with his song “Waiting on A Friend” and made it to the semi finalist round on the 2019 International Songwriting Competition with his song “Accidental Hipster.”
Honeyboy (Drew) can also be found belting out those blues notes as the lead vocalist for the Old Memphis Kings and begins everyday with a hot cup of black coffee!
Courtney Blackwell (Kinzer) grew up in Washington State and comes from a talented musical family. She began playing cello at the age of three taking lessons from the cello bass professor Bill Wharton at the University of Idaho. Her mother was most influential in her progression of technique, tone quality, and ear training. Since traveling around much of the South, she has enjoyed focusing on the variety of ways the cello is used in ensembles. When she plays, you will feel those groovy bass lines making way to soaring leads create an emotional and magical connection between you and her music.
Courtney enjoys working in the studio, collaborating with artists and continuing to challenge the way cello is expressed.
They have opened for such acts as Verlon Thompson, The Josh Abbott Band, Cary Hudson (of Blue Mountain), and Rising Appalachia.
Honeyboy And Boots have performed at a variety of venues and festivals throughout the southeast, including the 2015 Pilgrimage Fest in Franklin, TN; Musicians Corner in Nashville; the Mississippi Songwriters Festival (2015-2018); and the Black Warrior Songwriting Fest in Tuscaloosa, AL (2018-2019). They also came in 2nd place at the 2015 Gulf Coast Songwriters Shootout in Orange Beach, FL.
They have two albums, Mississippi Duo and Waiting On a Song, which are available on their website, iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.
The duo also just released their fourth recording: a seven-song EP called Picture On The Wall, which was recorded with Anthony Crawford (Williesugar Capps, Sugarcane Jane, Neil Young). It is now available on Spotify, Itunes, Google Music, and CD Baby.
Who or what would you say has been the greatest influence on your music?
My Uncle Doug, because he began to teach me guitar and introduced me to a lot of great older country music.
Favorite song you’ve composed or performed and why?
“We Played On” because it’s about our family reunions, where we would sit around and play guitar and share songs.
If you could meet any artist, living or dead, which would you choose and why?
Probably Willie Nelson. He’s my all time favorite.
Most embarrassing thing ever to happen at a gig?
A guy fell on top of me while I was performing. I was sitting down. He busted a big hole in my guitar.
What was the most significant thing to happen to you in the course of your music?
Getting to perform at Musicians Corner in downtown Nashville. Probably the biggest crowd we’ve ever been in front of.
If music were not part of your life, what else would you prefer to be doing?
I don’t know, maybe fishing or golf.
Is there another band or artist(s) you’d like to recommend to our readers who you feel deserves attention?
Our friends, Sugarcane Jane. They are a husband/wife duo from the Gulf Shores area. Great people and great artist.
While Mississippians ride down the highway or stream their favorite TV show, they might spot a jarring digital ad with Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’s face connected to an obviously fake body sporting a set of chiseled six-pack abs.
“Show us your six-pack, Tate,” the TV ad’s narrator said. “Our tax dollars paid for it.”
The message is a reference to Reeves’ friend and former fitness trainer, Paul Lacoste, who received over $1 million in federal welfare funds to promote a fitness program that state investigators believe he should have never received.
The first-term governor denies having any role in steering the welfare dollars toward Lacoste, who is also a defendant in an ongoing civil lawsuit filed by the state to claw back the misspent welfare dollars.
The clearly altered image may leave a comical and indelible impression on viewers, but the underlying tone and strategy are larger than the photoshopped image and message.
The group responsible for the advertisement — the first apparent independent ad campaign of the 2023 governor’s race — is the New Southern Majority Independent Expenditure PAC, an affiliate of the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund. The group has invested more than $112,000 in the statewide election this year, making it one of the first outside groups to run ads in the Mississippi governor’s race.
Brandon Jones, a former Democratic Mississippi lawmaker and the director of political campaigns for the SPLC, told Mississippi Today that the legal nonprofit recently decided to launch a PAC in the Deep South to further the organization’s goals of promoting policies that help marginalized communities.
“We’ve just increasingly come to realize that it didn’t matter how good we were at filing lawsuits or how good we were at lobbying … if the elected officials on the other side of that were immovable, we were committing political malpractice by not engaging with that part of the equation,” Jones said.
Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, no relation to Brandon Jones, also serves on the board for the PAC to guide the leaders on how it can support progressive candidates in Southern states.
Since its inception last year, the group has largely focused on local races such as school boards and state prosecutors, but it opted to focus on Mississippi’s gubernatorial race this year, according to Brandon Jones, because it believes the crucial election signals a crossroad for the Magnolia State.
“From our perspective, Gov. Reeves is the perfect example of why groups like ours exist,” Jones said. “He’s done nothing to improve the lives of people who desperately need their government to perform.”
The action fund and its affiliate PAC cannot coordinate their strategies with a particular candidate, but they can run ads to oppose a particular candidate or issue, such as Reeves and the state’s welfare scandal.
The PAC launched a website, tanftate.com, to serve as a central hub for its ads and a source of information on how it believes the first-term governor is connected to the scandal, the group’s central focus so far.
Jones said the organization is creating new ads and plans to use them to interact with voters through the date of the statewide election. Reeves will compete against Democratic nominee Brandon Presley in the general election on Nov. 7.
For the first time in Mississippi’s history, a runoff election could determine the outcome of the governor’s race.
For more than a century, the state’s 1890 constitution required candidates for statewide office to accomplish two things to be seated: receive a majority of the votes cast in the election and win a majority of the state’s individual House districts.
If no candidate cleared both hurdles, the race was thrown to the state House of Representatives, where House members were under no obligation to vote according to the wishes of their constituents.
The authors of the 133-year-old constitution wrote the provision during the Jim Crow era with the intention of making it harder for Black candidates to win elected office.
But in 2020, after a federal judge strongly suggested the state change the constitutional provision, a majority of state lawmakers and the state’s voters decided to remove it for good.
When Mississippians voted to scrap the provision in 2020, they also replaced it with the requirement that a candidate must earn only a majority of the votes cast to be elected. And now, if no candidate gets 50% of the vote on Election Day, the top two vote-getters move to a runoff election decided by voters.
This year, the first major statewide election cycle since the 2020 constitutional change, a runoff is possible for the current governor’s race.
Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves is running for reelection, and he faces a strong challenge from Democrat Brandon Presley. But Gwendolyn Gray, an independent candidate, will also appear as a third option on the ballot alongside the two major party candidates.
Gray, a resident of the north Mississippi town of Sturgis, is a political newcomer. In her first interview of 2023, she told Mississippi Today this week that she realizes it will be next to impossible for her to win the governor’s race, and she’s concerned about the prospect of a runoff election.
Instead, the 58-year-old candidate said she’s planning to meet with her supporters next month and tell them which type of candidate they should vote, though she remained cryptic about the details of the future meeting.
“I want to tell them how important it is for them to vote and vote their conscience,” Gray said of her supporters. “I will definitely tell them, at this point, it is very difficult for me to win. I do not want to stop anyone else from winning.”
Election candidates, including third-party challengers, typically try to convince voters to elect them to public office. But Gray, instead, appears to be taking a different approach to campaigning.
Making matters even more curious, Gray said in the interview that she recently tried reaching out to one of the two candidates running for governor to share some of her concerns, but she received no response.
She declined to say which of the two candidates she tried to contact or what she specifically planned to discuss with them.
“I want some of my issues to be a concern of theirs,” Gray said.
If Gray’s presence on the Nov. 7 ballot triggers a runoff, it would be a major shakeup in the race for who occupies the Governor’s Mansion for the next four years.
Four years ago, Reeves won a first term as governor with just 52.2% of the popular vote — a few thousands votes more than the 50% threshold he’d need to overcome in 2023. And this year, several public polls show that Reeves, who has battled popularity problems during his first term as governor, is hovering around the 50% mark.
Presley, as the underdog, would undoubtedly attempt to capitalize on the extra three weeks of campaigning and use it as an opportunity to showcase a wounded incumbent to build a case that donors should contribute more money to his race.
And if Reeves, a Republican in a conservative Deep South state, cannot garner an outright majority of the votes cast on the first ballot, it could stand to weaken his political power and force him to burn through more money in his lofty campaign account.
Marvin King, an associate professor of political science at the University of Mississippi, told Mississippi Today that if the race does head to a runoff, it would still likely benefit Reeves instead of Presley.
“A runoff tends to skew toward older voters and more reliable voters, and those voters in this state tend to be Republican,” King said.
And while King believes a runoff would be a good opportunity for Presley to draw down even more fundraising dollars, he believes conservative organizations such as the Republican Governors Association would be willing spend more money to protect a Republican governor in Mississippi than progressive organizations would.
“Brandon Presley needs a knockout because because Gov. Reeves has a money advantage,” King said.
Absentee voting is currently underway for the election between the three candidates, and the general election will take place on Nov. 7. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, a runoff election will happen on Nov. 28 — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Mississippi’s suicide rate in 2021 reached its highest level in 20 years, based on the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System.
“These are someone’s loved ones. Someone’s child. Someone’s sibling. Someone’s spouse or partner,” Meghan Goldbeck, executive director of the Louisiana and Mississippi Chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told Mississippi Today. “Suicide just devastates families, and it’s really horrible.”
The state’s rates remained below 15 deaths from 2016 to 2020. The lowest rate for the state was in 2016 at 12.68, slightly below the national rate of 13.46.
Based on the CDC data, 480 Mississippians took their own lives in 2021 an increase from 410 in 2020. Deaths by suicide increased nationwide, as well, with over 48,000 people taking their lives in 2021 compared to nearly 46,000 the previous year.
Suicide deaths in the state totaled 10,007 years of potential life lost in 2021, according to the CDC.
“In our state, we know we are not immune to the challenges faced by people who wrestle with thoughts of suicide. Yet, we also know we are a community that honors the values of compassion, resilience and the unshakeable belief in brighter tomorrows,” Wendy Bailey, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, told Mississippi Today.
Bailey said the department has a suicide prevention training initiative called “Shatter the Silence.” Training is offered to youth, older adults, military, law enforcement and first responders, postpartum mothers, faith-based youth, faith-based adults, correction officers and general adults.
Trainings vary from topics about stigma related to mental illness, resources to help someone with a mental illness, warning signs for suicide, and what to and not to do when someone has suicidal thoughts.
Over 10,000 people were trained in Shatter the Silence during fiscal year 2023, with two-thirds of participants involved in the youth training.
Bailey said the department wants to bring suicide discussions and resources to the forefront to provide hope for those impacted, for “hope is the lifeline that can save lives.”
Firearms accounted for more than 70% of all suicide deaths across various age groups in the state. The next most common methods were suffocation (including hanging) at about 23% and poisoning (including drug overdose) at nearly 5%.
Mississippians aged 30-34 had the highest numbers of suicides at 47 in 2020. Forty-six people aged 25-29 died by suicide.
Third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24 with nearly 75% of deaths by firearms.
Third leading cause of death for people ages 25-34 with almost three-fifths of deaths resulting in fatalities by firearms.
Sixth leading cause of death for people ages 35-44 with almost 70% of deaths due to firearms.
Eighth leading cause of death for people ages 45-54 with over half of suicide deaths resulting in firearms.
Goldbeck said the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and its chapter in Mississippi aim to spread suicide prevention education on risk factors and warning signs across the state.
She said it is necessary to reach people in all demographics because “suicide affects every single on of us.”
In the state, Black individuals’ suicide numbers slightly increased from 70 in 2019 to 73 in 2020. White people experienced a drop from 360 to 333 deaths in 2020.
For American Indians/Alaskan Natives and Asains, the data was recognized as “unstable values,” meaning the number of deaths was less than 20.
“I think we are moving toward a society that is expanding their knowledge about mental health, but it’s really going to take the community coming together for each other,” Goldbeck said.
From the Mississippi Department of Mental Health: If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide or mental distress, call or text 988, or chat online at 988lifeline.org. Communications are confidential, and a trained counselor can connect you to resources.
It was a dark Saturday for Mississippi’s Big School football teams. Ole Miss, State and Southern Miss all lost, but Todd Cooley’s Delta State Statesmen won again to move to 4-0, headed into the meat of their Gulf South Conference schedule. Patrick Shegog leads the way for the high scoring Statesmen.
A federal judge ruled late last week that Southaven, Horn Lake and some unincorporated parts of DeSoto County have eight years to redirect their wastewater after relying on Memphis for nearly 50 years.
The sections of DeSoto County, represented by the Horn Lake Creek Basin Interceptor Sewer District, have argued with Memphis officials for years over when Memphis could stop treating the north Mississippi suburbs’ wastewater. Memphis has treated the Mississippi towns’ sewage since 1975.
Memphis notified the sewer district in 2018 that it wanted to end the relationship so it could focus resources on its own residents. Since then, the two sides have battled in court over how much longer the sewer district could send sewage to Memphis before building its own new infrastructure, which the district estimates costing $230 million.
The district’s consulting engineer, Tim Verner, said it would take a minimum of eight to 10 years for it to build its own sewer treatment facility, but could take up to 13 years if the district runs into permitting issues, according to court filings.
U.S. District Judge Mark Norris, in his ruling last Friday, explained that he was giving the sewer district only eight years because it’s been five years since Memphis first said that it would not renew the contract.
Keith Turner, an attorney for the sewer district, told Mississippi Today that there are still some obstacles that need addressing.
“As we’ve told the court, there are a lot of variables that are out of our control,” Turner said.
He listed funding as the primary concern. In June, Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite told Mississippi Today that the district plans to get about half of the $230 million from state and federal funding, and then procure the rest of the funds from bonds and low-interest loans. Turner also said that acquiring property and easements to run new sewer lines through could also be a challenge.
The new sewer system, which would be operated under the DeSoto County Regional Utility Authority, would require significant expansions to the already-existing Johnson Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Norris’ ruling also requires the sewer district to increase its rates. Under the previous agreement, the district only pays Memphis 96 cents per 1,000 gallons. Norris sided with Memphis officials, who argued that the DeSoto County towns should pay the wholesale $3.32 per 1,000 gallon rate that other suburbs — such as Collierville, Lakeland, and Millington — pay. The judge’s order gradually increases the rates for the DeSoto County customers until the sewer district disconnects from Memphis’s infrastructure.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley called for fully funding public schools and increasing teacher pay as he laid out his education policy priorities in a Monday town hall.
Presley, who is challenging Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves in the November election, laid out his proposals in a Jackson town hall hosted Monday evening by the Mississippi Association of Educators.
Presley, who was endorsed by the association in June, and MAE President Erica Jones spoke to an audience of about 25 people, answering questions about teacher retention, equity in school funding and their goals for education in Mississippi.
“The most important thing we can do as a state is educate our children,” Presley said. “Not only for their wellbeing, but for economic development, for our workforce and for moving our state forward.”
Here are some of the major issues Presley covered:
Fully funding public schools: Presley’s top proposal of the night was fully funding public schools, as he said it would help address many of the other issues schools face. The public school funding formula, known as the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, was established by the Legislature in 1997 and has been consistently underfunded every year since 2008. There was a push to fully fund the formula during the legislative session this spring, but it did not prevail.
Community schools: Presley repeatedly discussed his desire to see more districts in the state adopt wraparound services offered at schools in a model known as “community schools.” The services can include health care, a school-based food pantry, or after-school programs depending on the needs of the community. Presley said this model prioritizes a local community solving its own problems, but added he would be open to state funding to help implement these new programs.
Teacher pay and retention: Presley floated multiple policy proposals regarding teachers including incentivizing experienced teachers to stay in the classroom longer to mentor new teachers, giving bonuses to teachers who work in areas with teacher shortages, and increasing teacher pay across the board. Presley said teachers have not been able to feel the impact of the historic teacher pay raise in 2022 because of health insurance costs. Other reports have also linked the diminishing of the pay raise to record inflation.
School infrastructure: Presley decried the state of school buildings in Mississippi, saying the state needs to assemble a list of the oldest school buildings and appropriate a grant fund each year that goes towards renovating or replacing all of them. The Legislature created a program with a similar aim in 2022, but made the program a loan instead of a grant and did not include any provisions that required prioritizing the state’s oldest buildings first.
Appointments to the State Board of Education: Presley said all of his appointments to the State Board of Education, the governing body that oversees actions taken by the Mississippi Department of Education, would either be public school teachers or the parents of public school students.
The vote was unanimous, according to The Greenwood Commonwealth.
The money should be enough to keep the hospital, which has long financially struggled, open until next year, by which time it expects to hear a decision on its application to become a critical access hospital. The federal designation would allow the hospital to be reimbursed at a higher rate from Medicare.
Interim CEO Gary Marchand said the $10 million line of credit was established earlier this year in order to pay one of the hospital’s two monthly payrolls until it hears a final decision about its application. It costs about $2 million to pay the hospital’s nearly 600 employees every month.
The hospital is currently losing about $1 million a month, Marchand said.
The board approved the hospital’s first two requests earlier this year, which totaled $4.3 million, but denied its request on Sept. 13. Their decision came after the hospital’s application to become a critical access hospital was denied by the regional Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services office in Atlanta, citing the hospital’s proximity to other hospitals.
The hospital has long hinged its survival on achieving critical access designation. Critical access hospitals must be located at least 35 miles from another hospital — Greenwood’s nearest is just 28 miles away in Indianola.
However, Marchand maintains that decision was expected, and that the hospital still expects approval on the federal level.
After the board’s last vote, hospital leadership said it was unclear how they were going to make payroll. Marchand, in a recent interview with Mississippi Today, walked the comment back and said the hospital would prioritize paying its employees, even if it meant forgoing other needs.
According to the newspaper’s report, board president Reginald Moore, who voted to deny the hospital’s previous request, changed his vote to ensure the hospital’s employees were paid.
Moore previously told Mississippi Today he’d like to see a more comprehensive plan that ensures the hospital’s survival, regardless of its critical access status.
“We’re up against the clock right now,” he said. “Come January 2024, if we’re turned down again, then what’s the alternative?”
Most school districts only used the state’s new telehealth program a few times in the 2022-23 school year, but program administrators say they are working to increase participation and have already seen positive results.
The school-based telehealth program was created by the Mississippi Department of Education, which gave $17.6 million of pandemic relief money to the University of Mississippi Medical Center to administer the program. The grant, which expires in Sept. 2024, covers laptops for video conferencing, rapid strep and flu tests, and specially equipped stethoscopes and otoscopes that transmit information to the doctors or nurse practitioners on the other end of the call.
The program, which is free to students, began under the direction of former State Superintendent Carey Wright, with the goal of increasing access to medical care and keeping children in school more hours each day. Over half of the counties in Mississippi have no practicing pediatricians according to the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce, something this program aims to help address by decreasing the amount of time families spend traveling to access care.
The program was open to all 145 school districts in the state, and 100 signed up. Of those 100, data from UMMC shows only 34 districts had at least one visit in the 2022-23 school year. However, some visits were not assigned to a school district, making it possible that more participated.
Dr. Saurabh Chandra, the hospital’s chief telehealth officer, said he is very proud of the speed at which his team has been able to successfully roll out the telehealth program. This is the largest school-based telehealth program in the country he is aware of, adding it was implemented faster than many others. While he was pleased that connectivity did not end up being a major issue, he said the shortage of school nurses has been a challenge.
After spending the first year focused on implementation, Chandra said the goal is now increasing participation. He said nurse educators are communicating regularly with school districts to understand their concerns. UMMC has already made at least one change – allowing school nurses to call and schedule an appointment instead of doing it in the computer software – based on the feedback.
The outreach already seems to be helping: the program averaged about 150-170 visits a month last year, but August and September of this year have seen about 275 visits each month.
“(The program) is in a stage of infancy,” he said. “You have to implement the program, you have to understand the barriers, you have to do the engagement, this is a continuous work, but we are seeing good trends.”
Lauren Hunt, the nurse at Stone County Elementary School, is a regular user of the program. Stone County does not have any practicing pediatricians, but there are several in neighboring coast counties, according to the physician workforce data.
Hunt brings up the service to parents when she thinks a student could benefit and said she has had very few parents refuse. She said she “has not been able to brag on it enough” and expressed a desire for more school nurses to start using it so it can be a greater benefit to the state.
“The school nurse is really the keyholder – she is the one that has to want to implement it and use it,” Hunt said.
She also emphasized the importance of outreach to parents so they’re aware they can request visits and don’t automatically take their children to the doctor on their own. Hunt said she has seen this be effective in action, particularly for children without health insurance who have used it for ear infections and other small issues.
Parent outreach is also a priority for UMMC, but Chandra said his team depends on school districts to spread the word. He hopes as parent awareness of the program increases, their trust in it will rise as well leading to increased participation.
Jana Miller is one of two nurses covering five rural schools in the Greene County School District. Her favorite part of the program is the convenience: appointments are usually available within 30 minutes, and students are not required to check out and wait to be seen, saving parents time as well.
Miller said her district has also utilized the teletherapy portion of the program, which provides mental health services to children. The school identifies students for it based on parental requests, school staff’s knowledge of difficult circumstances, or a child reaching out for someone to talk to. She also schedules these appointments but does not participate in them like the telehealth visits.
“I was really apprehensive (of the telehealth program) at first because I just didn’t know how it was going to work, but I’m very glad we took the leap of faith and went through with it,” she said.
One district hopes to use the program more now that technical issues have been resolved. There are no pediatricians in Chickasaw County, where nurse Dawn Vance works in the schools.
“I think with a little push, maybe the nurses get a little more training and the IT stuff gets all worked out, I think it would really pick up, especially in an area like ours where there’s not many options,” she said.
Other districts have said they don’t have as much of a need for the program because of existing school-based clinics or parent preference for local pediatricians.
Hunt, the Stone Elementary School nurse, said she hopes more schools start using it so the state will have an incentive to keep funding the program after the federal pandemic relief money expires.
UMMC is looking for other grants to continue funding the project or considering turning it into a program that takes insurance, Chandra said.
“We know that there’s a need for it out there,” said Scott Clements, director of healthy schools for the Mississippi Department of Education. “We have a lot of rural areas … and in those rural areas you oftentimes don’t have the services you have in a metropolitan area.”
No state in the contiguous United States has had more rainfall than Mississippi over the last five years. But even the wettest parts of the country are seeing their crops dry up due to unrelenting drought this summer.
A variety of plants, from cotton to soybeans to peanuts, are taking a hit in Mississippi. Livestock farmers, faced with dried up pastures, are either having to sell their cattle or feed them hay that’s supposed to be saved for the winter.
“Normally, we don’t start feeding hay to cattle until November usually,” said Shelby Bearden, Mississippi State University’s Extension agent for Copiah County. “And there were people feeding hay in August this year.”
Experienced farmers, like Louis Guedon in Jefferson County, said it’s been decades since Mississippi has seen conditions like this year.
“It ain’t been this dry in thirty-something years,” said Guedon, adding that he’s grown just a fifth of the number of corn bushels he gets under average weather conditions. “It’s a bloodbath.”
About a third of the state is experiencing “severe to exceptional” drought, according to the state’s agriculture department, and over two-thirds are seeing at least minimal drought. Over the last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared emergencies for 24 counties in Mississippi to help farmers in those areas access federal assistance.
While most of Mississippi is seeing at least “abnormally dry” weather, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the worst conditions are concentrated in the southern half of the state, especially in Amite, Pike, Walthall, Lawrence, Lincoln, Copiah and Simpson counties.
“It’s the worst drought we’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson in a Sept. 8 news release. Gipson later told Mississippi Today that it’s too early to know where this year’s drought ranks versus previous ones, but that it’s so far comparable to one the state had in the late 1980s.
Hazlehurst farmer Walter West Jr. said the dry conditions have lasted since mid-July. At his family’s farm, he said they were able to plant corn early enough to get a good yield, but have lost about $100,000 from reduced cotton output. A third-generation farmer, West said the variance in weather conditions is just part of the job.
“That’s the risk you take,” he said, adding that some years the crops suffer from too much rain. “It’s just a big gamble I guess. Mother Nature, she’s the ultimate determination of what you do, and you’re at her mercy year in and year out.”
West said he could potentially tap into his crop insurance to stabilize the farm’s finances for next year, but hopes to not have to go that route. Gipson encouraged farmers to contact their local USDA office to report their losses and to see what types of federal aid they can access.
Guedon, whose farm has been in his family for over 150 years, emphasized that the issue is the combination of the lack of rain with the intense heat.
This summer, Jackson saw its hottest August ever, with an average temperature of 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service. This July was the third-hottest ever in the city.
“If you don’t think that doing nothing in 100 degree heat will exhaust you, just go put your chair out in the middle of the parking lot and just sit in it for eight hours,” Guedon said. “Your clothes will be wet with sweat, you’ll be able to wring water out of your underwear.”
He said in addition to drying out crops, the high temperatures affect his cows’ reproductive cycles.
“They’re less likely to ovulate when it’s hot, hot, hot,” he said. “And the bulls… they don’t breed the cattle as well when it’s hot, hot, hot.”
Gipson said livestock farmers are having to make tough decisions to survive financially.
“It truly is a disaster, that’s the only word for it,” the commissioner said. “A lot of the (livestock producers) are being forced into a position of having to sell out because they can’t afford to hold these cows through these conditions.”
As of Sept. 14, Mississippi farmers in 32 counties were eligible for the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program, which provides compensation to livestock producers who suffer grazing losses due to drought.
Gipson said the tough year for Mississippi farmers goes back to March, when a winter freeze took out much of the state’s blueberry production.
Despite the trying conditions, he hopes those who can will try again next year.
“I encourage every one of our farmers to get back in as soon as possible because we really need every farmer in this state,” Gipson said. “We already have fewer farmers than we’ve ever had.”
Mississippi State and Southern Miss men’s basketball teams will play an exhibition game this fall, and tornado victims in the Mississippi Delta will benefit.
The game will be played at USM’s Reed Green Coliseum on Oct. 29 at 2 p.m.
It will mark the first time Mississippi State has played in Hattiesburg since 1995, the same season State later won the Southeastern Conference Tournament and then later advanced to the Final Four under Coach Richard Williams.
“This is something both schools are excited about. It will be great preparation for the season and at the same time raise some money for some Mississippians who really need some help,” Ladner said.
Much of the southern part of the Mississippi Delta is still reeling from the March 24 tornado that devastated Rolling Fork and Silver City with winds that reached 195 mph, killing 17 people and injuring scores of others.
The MSU-USM charity game began with discussions between Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner and State’s Chris Jans about playing a regular season game. When that didn’t work out, the two coaches first talked about a closed scrimmage but then landed on the idea of an open exhibition to help tornado victims.
“We’re excited about State coming to Hattiesburg and thankful to Coach Jans for helping make this happen,” Ladner said.
Southern Miss, defending Sun Belt Conference regular season champions, will be coming off a 25-8 season. State will be coming off a 21-13 record in Jans’ first season in Starkville. Mississippi State advanced to the NCAA Tournament. USM played in the NIT postseason tournament.
State leads the all-time rivalry 16-4 and won the last meeting between the schools 70-64 in December of 2017. They last played in Hattiesburg on Dec. 16, 1995, when Williams’ Final Four team defeated M.K. Turk’s last Southern Miss team 72-69 in overtime.