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Coffee Shop Stop – Lost & Found Coffee Company

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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Food Truck Locations for Tuesday 9-8-20

Local Mobile is at TRI Realtors just east of Crosstown.

Gypsy Roadside Mobile is in Baldwyn at South Market.

Taqueria Ferris is on West Main between Computer Universe and Sully’s Pawn.

Magnolia Creamery is in the Old Navy parking lot.

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Stay tuned as we update this map if things change through out the day and be sure to share it.

Food Truck Locations for 9-1-20

Taqueria Ferris is on West Main between Computer Universe and Sully’s Pawn

Local Mobile is at a new location today, beside Sippi Sippin coffee shop at 1243 West Main St (see map below)

Gypsy Roadside Mobile is in Baldwyn at South Market

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Today’s Food Truck Locations

How to Slow Down and Enjoy the Scenic Route

Do you thrive on the unexpected? Are you waiting for the next fire to crop up?

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. 

Slow and Steady

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. 

See you on down the road…take it easy my friend.

Looking for the Text from Tupelo’s New Mask Order? Here you go.

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 covid@tupeloms.gov 

FACE COVERINGS DO NOT HAVE TO BE MEDICAL MASKS OR N95 MASKS. A BANDANA, SCARF, TSHIRT, HOMEMADE MASKS, ETC. MAY BE USED. THEY MUST PROPERLY COVER BOTH A PERSONS 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. 

So ordered, this the 26th day of June, 2020. 

Jason L. Shelton, Mayor 

ATTEST: 

Kim Hanna, CFO/City Clerk 

Restaurants in Tupelo – Covid 19 Updates

Thanks to the folks at Tupelo.net (#MYTUPELO) for the list. We will be adding to it and updating it as well.

Restaurants
Business NameBusiness#Operating Status
Acapulco Mexican Restaurant662.260.5278To-go orders
Amsterdam Deli662.260.4423Curbside
Bar-B-Q by Jim662.840.8800Curbside
Brew-Ha’s Restaurant662.841.9989Curbside
Big Bad Wolf Food Truck662.401.9338Curbside
Bishops BBQ McCullough662.690.4077Curbside and Delivery
Blue Canoe662.269.2642Curbside and Carry Out Only
Brick & Spoon662.346.4922To-go orders
Buffalo Wild Wings662.840.0468Curbside and Tupelo2Go Delivery
Bulldog Burger662.844.8800Curbside, Online Ordering, Tupelo2Go
Butterbean662.510.7550Curbside and Pick-up Window
Café 212662.844.6323Temporarily Closed
Caramel Corn Shop662.844.1660Pick-up
Chick-fil-A Thompson Square662.844.1270Drive-thru or Curbside Only
Clay’s House of Pig662.840.7980Pick-up Window and Tupelo2Go Delivery
Connie’s Fried Chicken662.842.7260Drive-thru Only
Crave662.260.5024Curbside and Delivery
Creative Cakes662.844.3080Curbside
D’Cracked Egg662.346.2611Curbside and Tupelo2Go
Dairy Kream662.842.7838Pick Up Window
Danver’s662.842.3774Drive-thru and Call-in Orders
Downunder662.871.6881Curbside
Endville Bakery662.680.3332Curbside
Fairpark Grill662.680.3201Curbside, Online Ordering, Tupelo2Go
Forklift662.510.7001Curbside and Pick-up Window
Fox’s Pizza Den662.891.3697Curbside and Tupelo2Go
Gypsy Food Truck662.820.9940Curbside
Harvey’s662.842.6763Curbside, Online Ordering, Tupelo2Go
Hey Mama What’s For Supper662.346.4858Temporarily Closed
Holland’s Country Buffet662.690.1188
HOLLYPOPS662.844.3280Curbside
Homer’s Steaks and More662.260.5072Temporarily Closed
Honeybaked Ham of Tupelo662.844.4888Pick-up
Jimmy’s Seaside Burgers & Wings662.690.6600Regular Hours, Drive-thru, and Carry-out
Jimmy John’s662.269.3234Delivery & Drive Thru
Johnnie’s Drive-in662.842.6748Temporarily Closed
Kermits Outlaw Kitchen662.620.6622Take-out
King Chicken Fillin’ Station662.260.4417Curbside
Little Popper662.610.6744Temporarily Closed
Lone Star Schooner Bar & Grill662.269.2815
Local Mobile Food TruckCurbside
Lost Pizza Company662.841.7887Curbside and Delivery Only
McAlister’s Deli662.680.3354Curbside

Mi Michocana662.260.5244
Mike’s BBQ House662.269.3303Pick-up window only
Mugshots662.269.2907Closed until further notice
Nautical Whimsey662.842.7171Curbside
Neon Pig662.269.2533Curbside and Tupelo2Go
Noodle House662.205.4822Curbside or delivery
Old Venice Pizza Co.662.840.6872Temporarily Closed
Old West Fish & Steakhouse662.844.1994To-go
Outback Steakhouse662.842.1734Curbside
Papa V’s662.205.4060Pick-up Only
Park Heights662.842.5665Temporarily Closed
Pizza vs Tacos662.432.4918Curbside and Delivery Only
Pyro’s Pizza662.269.2073Delivery via GrubHub, Tupelo2go, DoorDash
PoPsy662.321.9394Temporarily Closed
Rita’s Grill & Bar662.841.2202Takeout
Romie’s Grocery662.842.8986Curbside, Delivery, and Grab and Go
Sao Thai662.840.1771Temporarily Closed
Sim’s Soul Cookin662.690.9189Curbside and Delivery
Southern Craft Stove + Tap662.584.2950Temporarily Closed
Stables662.840.1100Temporarily Closed
Steele’s Dive662.205.4345Curbside
Strange Brew Coffeehouse662.350.0215Drive-thru, To-go orders
Sugar Daddy Bake Shop662.269.3357Pick-up, and Tupelo2Go Delivery

Sweet Pepper’s Deli

662.840.4475
Pick-up Window, Online Ordering, and Tupelo2Go Delivery
Sweet Tea & Biscuits Farmhouse662.322.4053Curbside, Supper Boxes for Order
Sweet Tea & Biscuits McCullough662.322.7322Curbside, Supper Boxes for Order
Sweet Treats Bakery662.620.7918Curbside, Pick-up and Delivery
Taqueria Food TruckCurbside
Taziki’s Mediterranean Café662.553.4200Curbside
Thirsty DevilTemporarily closed due to new ownership
Tupelo River Co. at Indigo Cowork662.346.8800Temporarily Closed
Vanelli’s Bistro662.844.4410Temporarily Closed
Weezie’s Deli & Gift Shop662.841.5155
Woody’s662.840.0460Modified Hours and Curbside
SaltilloPhone NumberWhat’s Available
Skybox Sports Grill & Pizzeria (662) 269-2460Take Out
Restaurant & CityPhone NumberType of Service
Pyros Pizza 662.842.7171curbside and has delivery
Kent’s Catfish in Saltillo662.869.0703 curbside
Sydnei’s Grill & Catering in Pontotoc MS662-488-9442curbside
 Old Town Steakhouse & Eatery662.260.5111curbside
BBQ ON WHEELS  Crossover RD Tupelo662-369-5237curbside
Crossroad Ribshack662.840.1700drive thru Delivery 
 O’Charley’s662-840-4730Curbside and delivery
Chicken salad chick662-265-8130open for drive
Finney’s Sandwiches842-1746curbside pickup
Rock n Roll Sushi662-346-4266carry out and curbside
Don Tequilas Mexican Grill in Corinth(662)872-3105 drive thru pick up
Homer’s Steaks 662.260.5072curbside or delivery with tupelo to go
Adams Family Restaurant Smithville,Ms662.651.4477
Don Julio’s on S. Gloster 662.269.2640curbside and delivery
Tupelo River 662.346.8800walk up window
 El Veracruz662.844.3690 curbside
Pizza Dr.662.844.2600
Connie’s662.842.7260drive Thu only
Driskills fish and steak Plantersville662.840.0040curb side pick up

Honeyboy & Boots – Artist Spotlight

Band Name : Honeyboy and Boots

Genre: Americana

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.


Interested in seeing your own artist profile highlighted here on Our Tupelo?

Simply click HERE and fill out our form!

Mississippi Stories: Michael Guidry, new managing editor of Mississippi Today

Mississippi Today Editor-at-Large Marshall Ramsey sits down with Michael Guidry, the new Mississippi Today managing editor. Michael comes to Mississippi Today from Mississippi Public Broadcasting where he served in the same role (he is currently hosting their show, @Issue). Michael talks about how he got to Mississippi, his background as a coach and teacher, and his plans for the news coverage at Mississippi Today.


The post Mississippi Stories: Michael Guidry, new managing editor of Mississippi Today appeared first on Mississippi Today.

Bill to shutter most of Parchman passes first committee hurdle

After facing initial pushback, a proposal to close most of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman passed its first hurdle in the Senate Corrections Committee Friday morning. 

Senate Bill 2353 by Committee chair Juan Barnett, D-Heidelberg, proposes shutting down most operations at the state’s oldest and most infamous prison by sending incarcerated people, staff and programs to other facilities. 

The vote comes days after the U.S. Department of Justice released a report slamming unconstitutional conditions at three Mississippi prisons. Parchman was not the focus of the report, but Barnett said two years after the DOJ’s initial report about Parchman, conditions there have not improved much.  

“I know this bill is not the fix-all but we have to start somewhere,” he said. “… Even yesterday was too late and tomorrow will definitely be too late.” 

A key point of the phase down plan is for the state to gain operation of the Tallahatchie Correctional Facility, which is located less than 10 miles away in Tutwiler and run by CoreCivic. 

Earlier this week, committee members asked for more information about how much it would cost for the state to gain operation of the Tutwiler prison and how that compares to the cost to repair Parchman. 

On Friday, Barnett said there is not a contract or memorandum of understanding between the Department of Corrections and CoreCivic in writing yet, but the prison prison company gave an estimate of $14 million a year to lease Tallahatchie Correctional, including the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the facility. 

Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, said problems with violence and gang control are present beyond Parchman and failure to address staffing won’t get the prisons under control. 

“Moving the inmates seven miles up the road is not going to solve our problem,” she said before the committee approved the bill. 

Barnett agreed, but added that the reason why the prisons are that way is because money hasn’t been invested to make sure they are secure

He noted that during the riots at the end of 2019 and early 2020, about 1,000 inmates were transferred from Parchman to Tallahatchie Correctional, and there were no problems. 

A committee substitute version of SB 2353 passed, including a name change for Parchman. In the meeting, Barnett said he consulted with members of the Delta delegation about renaming the prison because of its current and historical negative association. 

As of Friday morning, a copy of the committee substitute was not available online. 

The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday. Appropriations Chair Briggs Hopson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After reporting on prison conditions in 2019 by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica, the U.S. Department of Justice, at the urging of U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and others, began an investigation into four Mississippi prisons, starting with Parchman. It concluded in April 2022 that those imprisoned at Parchman were being subjected to violence, inadequate medical care and lack of suicide prevention.

In a 60-page report released this week, the Justice Department found the state is also violating the constitutional rights of those held in the other three prisons: the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, the South Mississippi Correctional Institution and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.

The post Bill to shutter most of Parchman passes first committee hurdle appeared first on Mississippi Today.

Trump endorses Roger Wicker for Senate reelection 

Former Republican President Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker’s bid for reelection on Thursday, likely giving the incumbent senator a major boost weeks before Mississippi’s party primaries. 

“Senator Roger Wicker is a fantastic Senator for the Great State of Mississippi,” Trump wrote on social media. “As the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Roger is working hard to Strengthen our Military, Defend our Country, and Support our Veterans.” 

Wicker, a 72-year-old Tupelo resident, has represented the Magnolia State in the U.S. Senate since 2007. Before the Senate, he served several terms in the U.S. House and in the Mississippi Legislature. 

He is currently the top Republican serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over matters involving the U.S. military. If the GOP gains a majority in the Senate this year, Wicker could be the first Mississippian to lead that committee since former U.S. Sen. John Stennis.

“We are proud to have President Trump’s support for our campaign and re-election efforts,” Wicker campaign manager Jake Monssen said in a statement. “Republicans across Mississippi are excited to take back the Senate and the White House in 2024 and put an end to the radical Biden-Harris agenda.” 

Wicker will compete against state Rep. Dan Eubanks of DeSoto County and retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Ghannon Burton in the Republican primary on March 12. Civil rights attorney Ty Pinkins is the only candidate who qualified in the Democratic primary. 

The winner of the Republican primary will compete against Pinkins on November 5.

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Thanks to the Super Six, there’s now a shiny, gold ball in Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain coach Regina Chills (left) and Keyauna Foote hoist the Class 1A State Championship trophy. Credit: Keith Warren/MHSAA

For most of this made-for-Hollywood season, the remarkable Blue Mountain girls basketball team has been known as the Super Six. That’s because for most of the season there were only six players, three with the last name of Foote. 

Rick Cleveland

That explains the Six. The Super? The Blue Mountain Cougars brought a 28-1 record into Thursday night’s Class 1A State Championship at Mississippi Coliseum, known as the Big House throughout Mississippi high school basketball. Rarely, if ever, has there been a smaller team in the Big House.

The opponent this night was 26-6 Lumberton, and nothing came easy for Blue Mountain. Nothing ever has for the Cougars, who represent the fourth smallest public school in Mississippi. The three smaller: The Mississippi School for the Deaf, the Mississippi School for the Blind and Piney Woods.

But basketball is big in small schools across northeast Mississippi’s Hill Country, and that’s especially true in Blue Mountain where there aren’t enough boys to field a football team. The school also recently has dropped baseball and softball due to the lack of players.

Keyauna Foote (right) with her proud daddy, Dominique Foote.

“We’re a little school in a little bitty town,” said Dominique Foote, a former Blue Mountain Cougar and proud father of Keyauna Foote, the team’s star player and Miss Basketball for Class 1A.

About 800 folks live in Blue Mountain. There are 66 students – boys and girls, combined – in grades 7 through 12. The Cougars play their home games on a gym floor that is roughly about three-quarters the size of a regulation basketball court. Put it this way: A player with big feet can’t shoot a three-pointer from the corner because the three-point line extends just six inches short of out of bounds.

And even that’s not all that’s small about the Tippah County town about 34 miles northwest of Tupelo about six miles southwest of Ripley, the county seat.

“Nope, we don’t have any traffic lights in Blue Mountain,” said Regina Chills, the team’s coach.

But the town without a traffic light now has one gleaming, gold state championship trophy. Despite many scary moments – and a dogged effort from Lumberton – Blue Mountain prevailed 38-36 in a defensive struggle that turned into an offensive barn-burner in the fourth quarter.

As usual, only the original Super Six played for Blue Mountain, while two more youngsters, promoted from the junior high team late in the season, watched and cheered from the bench. The three Footes, Keyauna and her first cousins A’rare and Beiga, made play after play after play, especially in the fourth quarter.

Keyauna scored 14 points, grabbed seven rounds, blocked two shots and passed out two assists. A’rare scored 11 points and made two steals. Beiga scored seven points and stole the ball three times. So, the three Footes provided 32 of the team’s 39 points.

The bench is a lonely place for the Blue Mountain girls basketball team. Credit: Keith Warren/MHSAA

There were some tense and anxious moments, like when Beiga Foote went down hard after a collision midway through the first quarter and had to leave the game. The Super Six was suddenly down to five. Thankfully, Beiga returned after a short rest to recuperate. Another starter and key player, Ahkeeah Lipsey, drew her fourth foul in the last minute of the third quarter and sat for much of the fourth. But the Cougars kept hustling, kept answering every Lumberton challenge –  and there were plenty of those.

“We’ve done that all season,” Coach Chills said afterward. “Plus this was a championship game. No matter what happens, you have to stay in the game and keep playing.”

Mission accomplished. Baskets were cherished like rare gems through the first three quarters. Blue Mountain led 21-19 heading into the fourth quarter when both teams started scoring almost at will. Keyauna Foote scored three straight baskets to give the Cougars a five-point lead midway through, but Lumberton fired back and kept firing back until Keyauna scored what proved to be the winning basket on an in-bounds play with 20 seconds left.

As is always the case in the Big House this time of the year, a wild celebration ensued. If 866 folks live in Blue Mountain, nearly all were present and dancing in the stands.

Hard to say what comes next for Blue Mountain basketball. Four of the Super Six are seniors and won’t be around next year. This year’s junior high team was winless. 

“What are you going to do?” someone asked Coach Childs.

She held up her hands as if to dismiss the question. “Right now,” she said, “I’m going to go celebrate.”

No doubt, all of Blue Mountain, bursting with pride, will celebrate with her.

The post Thanks to the Super Six, there’s now a shiny, gold ball in Blue Mountain appeared first on Mississippi Today.

High school welders compete for scholarship prizes

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Students from across the state competed in the 2024 High School Welding Competition held at Delta Technical College in Ridgeland. Every competition participant will receive a $500 Delta Tech scholarship plus an opportunity to enroll in one of the college’s welding programs.

“All of you are being offered an opportunity to have a career, not a job,” the students were told during orientation. “You have a job doing fast food. This can be a career for where you make over $100,000 a year.”

The winner of the competition will receive a $5,000 scholarship to Delta Technical College. One thousand dollars will be donated to his or her high school welding department. Second and third prize winners will receive DTC scholarships towards welding training at the college.

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Justice Department warns Lexington to end ‘two-tiered system of justice’

0

Justice Department officials sent a letter Thursday to the Lexington Police Department, raising questions about its use of force, fines, arrests and “discriminatory policing.”

“Lexington must stop jailing people for outstanding fines without assessing their ability to pay,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Todd Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi wrote in a joint letter.

City Attorney Katherine Riley responded Thursday, “We welcome the Justice Department’s presence, and we think it’s going to be a positive to the city of Lexington, to the police department and to the people. We are working to make better changes.”

Last April, Justice Department officials put out a letter explaining that courts needed to determine a person’s ability to pay before putting them behind bars.

On June 10, Lexington police arrested attorney Jill Collen Jefferson, who was filming a traffic stop from her car, and she spent the weekend in jail. The arrest came after she filed lawsuits against the city of Lexington and its police department for allegedly abusing its Black residents.

She was convicted, and a judge has since rescinded those misdemeanor convictions.

Jefferson called the Justice Department’s actions Thursday “a step in the right direction, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. The police department targets, harasses and violently abuses Black and brown residents. The extremely egregious behavior of these officers should not only be acknowledged, but we need action so this abuse comes to a full stop. The people of Lexington need justice.”

She said she looks forward to what else Justice Department officials find “as they continue their investigation.”

In November, Clarke announced that the Justice Department had opened a civil rights investigation to determine whether the Lexington Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violated the Constitution and federal law.

“Specifically, we will assess whether the police department uses excessive force; violates people’s civil and constitutional rights during stops, searches and arrests; engages in discriminatory policing; or violates people’s rights to engage in speech or conduct protected by the Constitution,” she said in a press conference.

In Thursday’s letter, she wrote that the Lexington Police Department “may not force people to remain in jail because they cannot afford to pay a fine or processing fee. LPD may not require payment as a condition of release unless it has conducted an appropriate assessment of the person’s ability to pay. If the person cannot afford to pay the fine, LPD may not jail them unless there are no alternatives that would satisfy its interests in punishment and deterrence.”

In a statement, Clarke said, “It’s time to bring an end to a two-tiered system of justice in our country in which a person’s income determines whether they walk free or whether they go to jail. Unjust enforcement of fines and fees is unlawful, and it traps people and their families in a vicious cycle of poverty and punishment. There is great urgency underlying the issues we have uncovered in Mississippi and we stand ready to work with officials to end these harmful practices and ensure the civil and constitutional rights of Lexington residents are protected.”

Gee noted that a third of those residing in Lexington “live below the poverty line. The burden of unjust fines and fees undermines the goals of rehabilitation and erodes the community’s trust in the justice system. Each step we take towards fair and just policing rebuilds that trust. Lexington and LPD can take those steps now, while our investigation is ongoing.”

In the joint letter, Justice Department officials warned police against seeking unlawful arrest warrants for people who owe fines.

These bench warrants “are not predicated on any ability-to-pay analysis,” the letter says. “They do not demand that the person come before the court. Instead, they order LPD to arrest the person and jail them for a certain number of days unless they pay the outstanding fine that they owe.”

Justice Department officials asked Lexington officials “to assess the serious concerns” identified in the letter and share how they plan to remedy them.

“We will continue to examine whether there is a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives people of their rights related to the collection and enforcement of fines and fees in violation of federal law,” the letter said.

UPDATE 2/29/24: This story was updated to include the comments of civil rights attorney Jill Collen Jefferson,

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Q&A with Rep. Zakiya Summers on Right to Contraception Act

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Note: This Q&A first published in Mississippi Today’s InformHer newsletter. Subscribe to our free women and girls newsletter to read stories like this monthly.

Rep. Zakiya Summers, D-Jackson, is a second-term lawmaker who has been outspoken on the need for Medicaid expansion and on a number of women’s health issues. Summers authored House Bill 1154 this session to ensure access to contraception. 

After the fall of Roe v. Wade in June of last year, the federal constitutional right to contraception became a topic of national discussion. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called on the Supreme Court to review Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark decision in which the court ruled that married couples have the right to access contraception. 

Soon after, 195 Republican members of the U.S. Congress, including every Mississippi Republican in the House, voted against the “Right to Contraception Act,” which would have codified the right to contraception under federal law. Since then, some state legislatures have introduced bills to restrict access to contraceptives or allowed health providers to refuse to provide or cover contraception. 

The Dobbs ruling made access to contraception more critical in Mississippi, which has among the country’s highest rates of unplanned pregnancy and maternal mortality and the highest rate of infant mortality.

Gov. Tate Reeves has been unclear about his stance on contraception, refusing to rule out contraceptive bans or define what he considers contraception versus “abortion-inducing” pills and devices. 

Mississippi Today spoke with Summers hours before the House passed a Medicaid expansion bill and the day before a presumptive eligibility bill, co-authored by Summers, was sent to the governor for approval. 

Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

Mississippi Today: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What have you been focused on in past sessions and what’s on your agenda this session?

Zakiya Summers: I am Zakiya Summers. I serve as state representative for House District 68, which covers Hinds and Rankin counties. I’m in my second term, so this is my fifth session. The first term was a bit of a learning curve even though I had been a part of the policy advocacy table for a number of years, it’s different when you’re in the belly of the beast. I really prioritized five issue areas: education, election reform, increasing access to health care, infrastructure and economic development. We were pretty successful during the first term – we got a few things passed through our work with colleagues across the aisle. 

My proudest moment has been to be in a position where I was able to cast my vote to take down the Confederate flag and put up a new flag. It was very personal for me because the flag was a very traumatizing symbol, even for my husband. I was honored and privileged to be able to do that after many, many years, decades, of a lot of different people who were working on that issue for a long time. 

Another bill that I’m really proud of is a law that now implements computer science curriculum in K-12 education. I thought that was extremely important because I understand that in order for us to do some of the things that Gov. Reeves talked about in his State of the State around really helping to build wealth and prosperity in the state of Mississippi, we have to prepare young people for the jobs of the future. And I know that jobs of the future will be heavily technology-based. I mean, we saw that in the huge economic development deal that we did at the beginning of the session with Amazon web services. 

This year, I’m pushing the Right to Contraception Act. I’m also pushing a bill called the Crown Act which would prohibit hair discrimination in schools and I think it’s gaining some momentum. 

MT: Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind the Right to Contraception Act?

ZS: The Right to Contraception Act is really an effort to be proactive and to raise the bar, elevate the message around preventative health. We’ve received so many dismal reports from health experts, from our medical health officer, from out chief health officer about the really negative, unfortunate health outcomes and health disparities we have in the state of Mississippi. Mississippi is 50th on the list in the entire country with those health disparities. And we know that when families have access to the things they need they can make the best decisions for their lives and for their families and for their future. And so we see the Right to Contraception Act as an opportunity for Mississippians to have unfettered access to contraception if they would like to have that and it will help them to make the best decisions for them. 

MT: It might seem far-fetched to some people that Mississippians could lose access to contraception. But we’ve seen with recent events – IVF in Alabama, for instance – that liberties we take for granted aren’t always guaranteed. Why is it important in the Legislature to predict what may happen down the road and get ahead of it with policies and laws that preserve the liberties we take for granted?

ZS: It’s so important, especially when you see what’s happening across the landscape. We never would have thought that Roe v. Wade would be rolled back but elections have consequences. And when you don’t vote or you don’t vote for your best interests, you end up getting people in positions that can make these appointments to these courts and they end up rolling back precedents that we’ve had for decades. And it becomes more than just partisan politics – it becomes a matter of life and death. 

We’ve seen with the overturning of Roe v. Wade that individuals no longer have the ability to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies. And then we also saw as a result of that decision an opinion by Supreme Court Justice Thomas that even hinted at removing the right to contraception. And then, when our governor was questioned about it, he was not clear about how he would move or what he would support or oppose around the issue. 

You mentioned the IVF decision that came out of Alabama just last week. And now we’re talking about if an embryo is a person. So we’re beginning to see these – I really think they’re unintended consequences. Because I really don’t think that when the fight was around getting rid of Roe v. Wade that they even had the thought that these kinds of things would begin to roll out. And so what we want to do in Mississippi is we want to be pro-life all the way. And I actually see the Right to Contraception Act as a pro-life measure, because if we want to make sure that our boys and girls, men, women, families, are set up in the very best situation that they can possibly be in, where they can remain in a state that’s their home, but provides the conditions by which they’re not just surviving but thriving, then we should support the Right to Contraception Act because that is an important piece to this equation for them to be able to make those healthy decision for themselves. 

MT: You helped author House Bill 539 on presumptive eligibility for pregnant women. It passed the House a few weeks ago now – quite early on in the session. Are you feeling hopeful that it will have more success this year than last year?

ZS: I am feeling incredibly optimistic this session. We have a speaker now, Speaker Jason White, that has encouraged and urged all of us to work on a bipartisan level. We are seeing our colleagues across the aisle actually bring us into conversations on legislation that we have been introducing for a number of years that are finally getting some light and attention. I think the energy has changed in the House and I really appreciate the Speaker, as well as the chairmen and chairwomen we have on committees right now, wanting to work with the Democrats. Because, I mean, let’s face it, we are in a super minority – we get that, we understand that. But we believe that Mississippians want us to work together, because the best ideas and the best solutions to the problems many of us face come from when we can get together and hash it out. 

We know that we may not get everything we want. But let’s try to build some consensus and at least commit to working together as we move forward. And then Speaker White has also been very adamant about working with leadership in the Senate, as well. So that we can build a positive force on both ends of the Capitol and hopefully get some stuff to the governor’s desk that will be historic for the state of Mississippi. 

MT: There are a couple of bills on chemical endangerment this year, which would allow for prosecution of pregnant women who take drugs during pregnancy. The author of one of the bills says it would not prosecute women for taking the abortion pill – that abortion pills are protected because they are prescriptions. But the author of the other chemical endangerment bill said that could be open for debate. What do you make of the obscurity in this legislation and do you think that obscurity is dangerous?

ZS: I think with any bill where you’re getting one perspective that’s different from the other, it’s something that we need to watch. Because it could put our autonomy at risk. And we need to know how is this going to impact the folks that live in our communities on whether or not they can access the things they need. 

And, you know, we don’t represent the demographics of our state here in the Legislature. Our population, we have more women than we do men, but the percentage here, in the House as well as the Senate, is very, very low. I think we have a total of 17 women who serve as legislators. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that because you’re a woman and you serve as a legislator that you’re going to do what’s best for women. But what I will say is that a man that has never had a uterus and has never carried a child and doesn’t understand the risks and also the fear that surrounds the ability and process of getting pregnant and having a child, it’s a real thing. When you look at the rates of our maternal mortality and infant mortality in the state, it’s something that our young women have in the back of their minds. And they want to be able to survive this pregnancy and also have a healthy child as an outcome. And then in addition to that be able to raise a child in a healthy environment. And so what we shouldn’t be doing, especially coming from a man, a man should not be telling women what to do with their bodies. I mean, that’s just the bottom line. And we should be able to get together, work with women, and work with experts that can give us the knowledge and the facts around what is good and what’s available for women and their families. Instead of doing everything we can to be punitive against women, we should be trying to help them be successful in the state. 

MT: Are there any other bills you’re keeping an eye on? How are you feeling about Medicaid expansion this year?

ZS: I am so overwhelmed with Medicaid expansion. It passed out of committee yesterday and it’s going to come up in the House today. This is the first time in 10 years that we’ve even seen Medicaid expansion be put on the table. It’s a huge deal for the state of Mississippi for all the reasons I’ve talked about today with the health disparities and the negative health outcomes we have in the state. So I’m very excited about that. I am hopeful that our colleagues in the Senate will stand strong and also support this legislation and if, and I say if, a veto were to happen, that we also stand united and override that veto. Because the working families in our communities and our districts across the state are depending on this. They’re depending on us to do the right thing, to give them a chance to work, be healthy, take care of themselves, take care of their families, and achieve that dream of prosperity that Gov. Reeves talked about this week.

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Lawmakers consider restoring suffrage, gun rights to those convicted of some nonviolent crimes

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For the first time in more than a decade, the House of Representatives will consider legislation to restore voting rights and Second Amendment rights to people convicted of some nonviolent felony offenses.  

The House Constitution Committee on Wednesday afternoon advanced House Bill 1609, a bipartisan proposal to automatically restore suffrage to people convicted of nonviolent disenfranchising felonies after they’ve completed the terms of their sentence.  No committee member voted against the legislation.

“I’m very excited about this bill,” Democratic Rep. Cheikh Taylor of Starkville said. “In my opinion, this is one of the greatest bipartisan bills we’ve passed since changing the state flag.” 

Under the Mississippi Constitution, people convicted of any of 10 types of felonies lose their voting rights for life. Various opinions from the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office expanded the list of disenfranchising felonies to 23. 

The House measure would allow people convicted of nonviolent offenses such as bad check writing, perjury, and bribery to obtain their suffrage if they have not been convicted of another felony for five years after completing their sentence and paying any outstanding fines. 

But people convicted of murder, arson, armed robbery, carjacking, embezzling more than $5,000, rape, statutory rape, and voter fraud would still lose their voting rights for life. 

Constitution Committee Chairman Price Wallace, R-Mendenhall, told Mississippi Today that while he has never been convicted of a felony, he tried to look at this issue by placing himself in the shoes of someone who has had their voting rights taken away for life because of a prior mistake they made.  

“They don’t have pride and citizenship anymore,” Wallace said. “They can’t go vote. They can’t voice their opinion. That’s why I feel that this is important.” 

About 37,900 names are on the Secretary of State’s voter disenfranchisement list as of Jan. 29. The list, provided to Mississippi Today through a public records request, goes back to 1992 for felony convictions in state court. 

That number, however, may not be fully accurate because no state agency tracks people once they are struck for the voter rolls. Studies commissioned by civil rights organizations in 2018 estimated between 44,000 and 50,000 Mississippians were disenfranchised.

For someone to have their suffrage restored, a lawmaker must introduce a bill on their behalf, and two-thirds of lawmakers in both legislative chambers must agree. A person can also seek a gubernatorial pardon, though no executive pardon has been handed down since Gov. Haley Barbour’s final days in office in 2011.

READ MORE: Few options remain for Mississippians convicted of certain felonies to regain voting rights

The House proposal would not amend the Mississippi Constitution because the constitution already grants lawmakers the authority to restore suffrage to people who have been disenfranchised. 

Wallace said he intends to present the bill to the full House chamber next week. Because the plan essentially creates a process to restore suffrage to a group of people in perpetuity, two-thirds of House members, the Legislature’s highest bar to clear, must approve of the plan. 

If the proposal passes the 122-member House, it would head to the Senate for consideration, where its fate remains uncertain. 

The Senate Judiciary B Committee on Wednesday passed a separate proposal to restore the right to own a firearm to people convicted of nonviolent felony offenses after they’ve completed their prison sentence.

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Bill to offer timely prenatal care in Mississippi sent to governor

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Presumptive Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the governor. 

House Bill 539, authored by House Medicaid Chairwoman Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg, allows pregnant women whose net family income is 194% or less of the federal poverty level to be presumed eligible for Medicaid and receive care before their Medicaid application is officially approved by the Mississippi division of Medicaid. 

The bill does not introduce an additional eligibility category or expand coverage, McGee has explained. Rather, it simply allows pregnant women eligible for Medicaid to get into a doctor’s office earlier. 

READ MORE: House passes bill to allow pregnant women more timely care under Medicaid

Under the bill, pregnant women will be able to receive care under presumed Medicaid eligibility for 60 days after their first doctor’s visit. The hope is that by the end of the 60-day window, they will have submitted their paperwork and been fully determined as eligible for Medicaid – since a regular Medicaid application only takes 45 days to process. 

Presumptive eligibility would cost the state roughly $567,000, compared to the $1 million it can cost the state to care for just one extremely premature baby receiving care in a neonatal intensive care unit – “a minimal investment for a tremendous benefit to women in our state,” McGee said in committee.

Only four Senators voted No on the bill. They were: Angela Hill, R-Picayune; Kathy Chism, R-New Albany; Michael McLendon, R-Hernando and Mike Seymour, R-Vancleave.

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