Stories for April 2011


Friday, April 29

Record Flooding on the Way

Gov. Haley Barbour warned the state yesterday that the typically languid waters of the Mississippi River could crest the middle of next month at 53.5 feet in Vicksburg, 10.5 feet above flood stage and one and one-half foot higher than the 52-foot crest the river reached in 2008. The news spells trouble for people living near the river in the Delta and Vicksburg area who suffered flooding in 2008. The river stage at Greenville and Natchez could crest at 60 feet, 12 feet above flood stage.

JPS Board Scrutinizing Principal Pay

The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees is considering whether to drop a district requirement that principals be the highest-paid employees at JPS schools. The revised policy could come up for a vote as early as the board's next meeting May 3, board member George Schimmel said.

Judy Barnes

Judy Barnes is planning a church rummage sale tomorrow where everything is free, no strings attached.

TGIF: The Weekend's Here!

It's shaping up to be a great weekend, weather wise. After work is the perfect time to start taking advantage of the outdoors with the Community Bike Crawl, starting at 6 p.m. in Rainbow Whole Foods Co-operative Grocery (2807 Old Canton Road) parking lot. The ride goes through downtown and ends at Sal & Mookie's on Taylor Street in Fondren. Call 601-454-1286 for more info. If you're more of an indoor person, you have lots of options, too. At 7 p.m., head to Jazz Night Live at circa. Urban Artisan Living (2771 Old Canton Road) Admission is $12. Call 601-362-8484. At 9 p.m., stop in at Dreamz JXN for "The Game Changer" for music by DJ Phingaprint and DJ Jonasty, and an appearance by actor Hosea Chanchez from "The Game." Call 601-624-4088 or 601-824-1077 for VIP information. What's the best place to begin looking for things to do in Jackson? The JFP Best Bets page, of course.

New Law Fights Cyber Crime

[Verbatim from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office]

A bill to help fund the Attorney General's fight against Cyber Crime and Vulnerable Person Abuse has been signed into law by the governor.

Thursday, April 28

City Celebrates Metrocenter Milestone

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., developer David Watkins and several city leaders put on hardhats and swung sledgehammers this morning, as they broke down a wall in the former Belk Department Store at Metrocenter Mall.

JRA Demands Farish Development Updates

The Jackson Redevelopment Authority is demanding lease money or updates from Farish Street developers this month.

Gwendolyn Magee

Jackson-based artist Gwen Magee, whose vibrant quilts elevated a traditional craft to nationally acclaimed works of art, died yesterday. Magee, who was intensely private, had been battling a long-term illness, but her death was unexpected, her friend Wendy Shenefelt told the Jackson Free Press today.

City Provides Assistance to Homebuyers

<i>Verbatim statement from the City of Jackson</i>:

Aspiring home owners can turn their dreams into reality with help from the City of Jackson. The city's Office of Housing and Community Development is accepting applications for its Homebuyer Assistance Program.

Wednesday, April 27

Locking Into the Rhythm

Bill Abel stands alone with his blues. The 48-year-old Delta resident (a Belzoni native, now living in Duncan) performs as a one-man band, playing electric guitar, singing, and keeping rhythm by playing drums and cymbals with his feet.

Get Your Art Out!

I've lived in Jackson for 11 years now. I love this city and all it has to offer. I've had many musicians ask me how to get gigs here, as well as information on how they can get their music out to the masses. So, instead of emailing each person individually, I decided to write about it in this week's article.

30-Second Advantage

Just before her junior year in college at Delta State University, around 1999, now the love of my life and bride, Lacey, met a young man while working at a summer job. He offered to show her around because she was new to the area and transferring from Hinds Community College.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doctor S sez: The NBA and NHL playoffs continue this weekend. I could guess who will play when, but it's easier for you to check your local listings.

Tasting Great

For the past four years, Jon Lansdale has been carving out his own chocolate-coated and Panini-pressed niche at Crazy Cat Bakers (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 173, 601-362-7448) in a corner of Highland Village.

Grad Gifts

After all that hard work of studying and passing tests, your grad deserves something great. So why not get them something they could use?

A Gift with Meaning

Artisan Jennifer Taylor, 36, has been designing jewelry since 2008. The "i am ME!" necklace was inspired by a scripture found in Song of Solomon 4:7: "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." Taylor says the necklace symbolizes self-love and self-acceptance. Each component has a special meaning.

The Student-Loan Maze

I distinctly remember when the first wave of payments for my student loans arrived. I cringed at the amount, immediately wishing I hadn't been so shortsighted as a student. Did I really need to borrow that much money?

Commencement Ceremonies 2011 in Jackson

Don't know when commencement starts? Or which school goes first? Check our list to support your graduate(s) (but please, cheer after everyone's name is called).

Project Graduation Runway

It's that time of year once again: graduation! After four years of going to class every day—or at least diligently pretending—you seniors are ready take the next step. Before you start the next chapter of your life, we suggest you celebrate this special day in style.

Letter to a Young Jacksonian

This time each year, I start hearing from young people who want to intern at the JFP over the summer (last year we had 19) and from former interns who need a reference or career advice.

Court: Lampton Not Immune

Former U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton does not have immunity for allegedly disclosing the confidential financial documents of former Mississippi Supreme Court Judge Oliver E. Diaz and his wife, Jennifer.

Going for the Guns

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. says a new Jackson Police Department partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will help get dangerous weapons off the street.

Arena in New Hands

City officials have three proposals from private firms offering to study the feasibility of a sports and entertainment arena in downtown Jackson. That puts the city-led arena effort at nearly the same place as the stalled privately led effort last December.

State ‘Backward' on Transparency?

A new state law could take Mississippi from the middle of the pack among states, in its government transparency and accountability to near the bottom.

Breaking the Pipeline

It's graduation season in Jackson, and it's an excellent time to reflect on what it takes to do the best for the future of our state: our kids.

[Stiggers] Bird's Eye View

It's time for the 'Rev. Cletus Car Sales Church' morning show radio broadcast. Wake up, get up, and go out. Remember: This is the day the Lord has made. So rejoice and be glad you have a job and you're able to pay your bills and get around in a Rev. Cletus hybrid-hoopty car.

[Kamikaze] Eliminate Vulnerability

Sports fans, the NFL Draft is upon us. If you're like me, you anxiously wait to see which college players will become millionaires on the next level. Of course, I'm particularly interested in how the Cowboys or the Saints are going to help themselves. However, this isn't about football per se.

[Head] The Accidental Bully

The question of whether I'm "good enough" —to whatever extent that can even be measured—is pretty insignificant.

Tease photo

Amazing Teens

We asked the community to suggest young people who have overcome challenges or who are working to make a difference and, thus, influencing other kids as well as adults. Readers nominated teenagers who volunteer, study and persevere. Not all these young people are seniors, but all them are influential leaders and optimistic about their future. Jackson should be proud.

Passions Fulfill

College is a blast, and then you graduate. At that point, what path should you take? Obtaining more education is the safe path and the one that I chose. In retrospect, however, I find that following your passion is the only route to fulfillment.

Now What?

Most parents and college professors can give endless advice about college, but many high-school graduates just won't understand until they learn the lessons for themselves. Besides learning from experience, here are some books that might get the graduate in your life started on the right path.

Coming-of-Age Flicks

Graduation is not closing a chapter. It is not turning one's back on lessons learned. Instead, graduation is a stepping stone to responsibility. Numerous movies capture this transition. These options each offer a slightly different coming-of-age epiphany.

Reppin' Christ

Samuel Roberson, 18, is an average teenager in a blue, yellow and gray polo shirt with a khaki cap on his head and John Hersey's "Hiroshima" in his hand. He wants to go to college and major in sports medicine. He's a football fan, but he's also a local gospel rapper, Sam-U-El, who wants to share the message of the Bible with the world.

Mozart to Motown

Jackson State University music students take a journey "From Mozart 2 Motown" April 28. Featuring the JSU Opera Workshop and the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, the show begins with classical pieces and works up to musical theater numbers and jazz tunes from the 20th century.

‘Something to Think About'

In Barry Gifford's "Sad Stories of the Death of Kings", a book named after a line from a Shakespeare play, first-generation Austrian American Roy walks us through his Chicago neighborhood in the '60s. The short tales are from the perspective of a boy mostly from ages 11 to 15, punctuated by the author's sketch-portraits.

Failings and Desires

"You Think That's Bad: Stories" (Knopf, 2011, $24.95), a collection of short stories by Jim Shepard, speaks to harsh realities about human existence. Almost astonishingly varied settings and writing styles heighten the common ideas the stories share.

‘Gangs' of Fondren?

An April 13 fight involving a group of preteens and young adults in Fondren Park has resulted in a flurry of responses on the OurFondren Neighborhood Association's online community message board, raising questions about how neighbors should respond to safety concerns.

Cuffs at Capital City?

Jackson Public Schools is looking into allegations that security guards at the district's alternative school have been punishing students by handcuffing them to chairs, bathroom railings and a gymnasium pole.

Tori Thompson-Davis

In the stark light of Jackson's spoken-word scene, Scarlette, aka Tori Thompson-Davis, reigns with a silver tongue, hip-hop flair, and sonnets of soul and strife. She speaks in adroit tones and rhymes about love, pain and redemption. She doesn't sugarcoat or soften her words. This is the world as it is, seen through Scarlette's sharp eyes and described through even sharper prose.

Tuesday, April 26

Industry Fears City Zone Change

Industry Fears City Zone Change

Ratliff Fabricating Co. owner Spincer Harrell says his business may not fare well under a proposed zone change slated for North Jackson's Clay Street.

A Food Truck Compromise

A revised food truck ordinance should satisfy local restaurant owners and food truck entrepreneurs, Ward 1 Jackson City Councilman Quentin Whitwell said today.

Tracey Clemons-Frazier

Tracey Clemons-Frazier knows that Jackson's McWillie Elementary School is something special. A 10-year veteran teacher at the school, Clemons-Frazier believes that committed parents, dedicated teachers, a strong administration and an engaging curriculum help make McWillie one of Jackson Public Schools' most successful. This evening, students and staff at the school celebrate McWillie's status as a "Star School," the highest designation on the statewide school grading system.

Monday, April 25

Barbour Not Running for President

<i>Verbatim statement from Gov. Haley Barbour</i>:

"I will not be a candidate for president next year.  This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

Today is Confederate Memorial Day

State offices in Mississippi are closed today in recognition of Confederate Memorial Day, honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. The state House of Representatives passed a bill this year that would have also established a "Civil Rights Memorial Day" on the last Monday in April, but the measure died in the Senate. Earlier this month, the white-separatist Council of Conservative Citizens claimed credit, with the state chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, for killing the bill.

Blacks Lose Under Redistricting Scenarios

Redistricting could cost blacks some political clout as the most of the state's white population continues to embrace the Republican Party.

Brunetta Sarpong

Brunetta Sarpong may not get paid for the work she does, but that doesn't mean she takes her title of volunteer lightly. On April 19, Jackson Public Schools named Sarpong the district's Parent of the Year for the 2010-2011 school year.

Community Events and Meetings

Sports League Registrations, at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). The Department of Parks and Recreation is conducting registrations for the upcoming season. Interested individuals can fill out registration forms between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Call 601-960-0471.

Human Deficit Looms in Wake of Budget Cuts

A financial debt can be paid back. But the debt we'll owe our children if investments in health, nutrition and education are slashed is irreparable. Investment in human infrastructure--providing the human capacity development for optimal economic productivity and innovation through both government and business investments--is essential for success in the post-industrial economy, and this should be our policymakers' guiding economic principle.

Friday, April 22

Edwards: School Board Micromanaged

As Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards fights for an extension to his contract, he has tried to make the case that the district's Board of Trustees micromanagement hampered his ability to lead. Today, in the third day of a hearing on Edwards' contract, Edwards' attorney, former Jackson Mayor Dale Danks, suggested that the board's consideration of a residency requirement for district employees kept Edwards from assembling his administrative team.

UMMC Continues to Expand, Create Jobs

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is increasing its research capabilities and expansion, UMMC Vice Chancellor Dr. James Keeton said at a community forum this morning.

Josh Evans

Josh Evans just got a kick start for his film project, "Young Bros," a short film about a couple of 10-year-old boys pulling pranks during the summer in Jackson.

Happy Easter and Earth Day!

Today, celebrate the planet and Good Friday. If you're lucky enough to have the day off, grab the kids and head to the Jackson Zoo for the annual Party for the Planet. The fun started at 10 a.m., but it should be a great day. Admission is $8, $5 children 2-12, $7.20 seniors, members and babies free; call 601-352-2580. Later, stop by Farish Street Park for the free Farish Flourish starting at 5 p.m. and includes poetry, music and healthy food in honor of Earth Day. Call 601-291-7381. In the mood for some indoor entertainment? The Russell C. Davis Planetarium (201 E. Pascagoula St.) is screening indie films "Another Harvest Moon" and "Peep World" tonight and tomorrow at 7 p.m. $7 per film. Begin your search for the best in Jackson events on the JFP Best Bets page.

Faith Leaders Call for Death Penalty Moratorium

About 20 Mississippi faith leaders gathered in the rotunda of the state capitol yesterday to appeal for a moratorium on executions in the state. The press conference came one day after the state Supreme Court announced May execution dates for two men on death row in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Thursday, April 21

Grammy Museum Planned for Delta

The Grammy Museum, located in Los Angeles, Calif., will open another location in Cleveland, Miss., Bob Santelli, the museum's executive director, said today. Speaking at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual meeting today in Jackson, Santelli said that like the original location in Los Angeles, the Cleveland museum's mission will be primarily educational.

Are white men in trouble? Newsweek explores their plight.

There's a fascinating feature in Newsweek right now about the effect the recession is having on middle-class, formerly well-off white men. Here's just a chunk; what are your thoughts?

Johnson Counters High Crime Rate Claim

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. worked quickly this morning to tamp down the perception of the capital city as a "hotspot" for crime.

State Has Highest Rate of Unbanked

Limited use of traditional banks threatens the ability of Mississippi's working class to improve its economic situation, a report released yesterday says. The report, issued by the Mississippi Economic Policy Center and the Foundation for the Mid South, finds that Mississippi has the highest percentage of "unbanked" households in the country.

Michael Brown

The past nine months have been eventful for 20-year-old Michael Brown as he has traveled through the state providing emergency assistance to residents and building homes for families in need. The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member is assisting families in Clinton who lost their homes during the April 15 tornadoes.

City Announces Drop in Crime

<i>verbatim statement from city:</i>

Preliminary information released during this morning's weekly Police COMSTAT meeting detailed that overall crime in Jackson has decreased 6.7 percent. Total property crime has dropped by 3percent and violent crime has decreased 27.3 percent year-to-date as compared to this same time last year.

Barbour Requests Federal Funds for Storm Recovery

Gov. Haley Barbour asked President Barack Obama yesterday to declare Greene, Hinds and Kemper counties as major disaster areas so that residents can have access to federal assistance programs.

Wednesday, April 20

Music that Matters

Micah Smith is doing something many want to do. He has shut up, and he has written. He is following his dream. This self-taught guitarist-singer-songwriter is becoming what many adults dream about—a star. He moves people—not in the sense of furniture— but in the realm of telling stories that matter through his writing and music.

On the Water

David Moore is a hard guy to miss. Driving up in his red SUV, the two kayaks on top draw your eyes automatically. Even more striking is Moore himself, who, at 48, is built like a 20-year-old. Moore is a New Jersey transplant who is discovering Mississippi's kayaking and canoeing world.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doctor S sez: Is it time to start paying attention to the NBA playoffs, yet? No. What about the NHL playoffs? Hell, no.

Begin Today

"If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed." —Chinese Proverb.

Carboholics Anonymous

It's hard to admit, but it's true. I love carbs, and I am nearly powerless against them. I need a support group. Carbs are my kryptonite.

The Schwindickermans

First there were Bennifer and Tomkat, and then came Brangelina. And now Jackson has the Schwindickermans, also known as Darren Schwindaman, 27, and Melia Dicker, 30. The playfulness of combining their last names is indicative of the type of couple they are.

Easter Shopping Guide

Springtime is the time for new beginnings, and fashion is one of them. But not only that, this is a time for gift-giving (be it for yourself or someone else). Take a look around Jackson and find your inspiration for style.

An Earth Day Toast

Gone are the days when eco-friendly meant hemp necklaces, rope sandals and patchouli oil. These days, an eco-chick is sexy and cool, flirty and fun all while being conscientious of the environment. From cosmetics to clothing, handbags to housewares, more and more of today's fashions go beyond fads and acknowledge labor practices and carbon footprints.

Hands-On Action

It's a rather poorly kept secret that one reason I'm out and about so much is that I don't cook and, well, a girl's gotta eat. While I am an avid fan of culinary arts, the extent of my fandom is appreciation. As a practitioner, I fail miserably. Case in point: I met a neighbor who needed to borrow some flour with a perplexed look and this response: "Why on earth would I have flour?"

Jackson Superlatives

I'll be the first to admit that I was disappointed when my high school senior yearbook came out and I had not won any superlatives. But I did spend hours pouring over my classmates' photos. Next week, the JFP will publish an issue devoted to high school students. We thought it would be fun to let Jacksonians take a trip back to high school and nominate locals for superlatives. Please send your picks to [e-mail missing] or message JxnFreePress on Twitter with the appropriate hash tag. Please vote on a male and female (can be citizens, public figures, ect.) Here are the categories:

Loving America, and Americans

The continuing national debate over taxation and federal budget policy in this country is good--as is the boldness with which both liberal and conservative elements are stating their positions.

Minority Contracts and C02 Testing

The city should study how well city contracts include minority-owned businesses, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. told the City Council Monday. He proposed a May 1 contract with Atlanta public-policy consultants Griffin and Strong.

The Cheering Section

As Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards makes the case for keeping his job, he has relied on the support of a variety of visible community members.

Creating a Brand

Tripp Muldrow is a busy man. In the past year, he has spent 150 days traveling throughout the country, listening to residents and compressing often-complicated stories into brands that instill community pride.

DOJ Scrutinizing State Mental Health

Mississippi could lose a lawsuit over its mental-health system now that the U.S. Department of Justice supports the suit.

How Would the GOP Budget Affect Those in Poverty?

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released his budget proposal to fund the government for fiscal year 2012 on April 5. If enacted, how would these cuts impact low-income families? What would the GOP's new budget mean for our safety net? And how many people are hungry in Congressman Ryan's district?

Lawmakers: Stop the Foolishness

The political dramas that are playing out in Washington, D.C., these days are so far removed from reality back here in Mississippi that it's shameful. In particular, the Tea Party's ability to get the Republican Party to (at least pretend to) swing even farther to the right has raised the level of gamesmanship to what is perhaps an all-time high.

[Stiggers] The Mean Machine

"It's time for the people to escape the slave plantation of this capitalistic nation and become self-sufficient. It's time to use our talents, skills and abilities to help ourselves. Hair-Did University is here to create and develop an independent Ghetto Science community."

Vol. 9, No. 32

<b><em>'Lest Ye Be Judged'</b></em>

I can identify with Donna Ladd's column, "Lest Ye Be Judged," (Vol. 9, No. 23). There are so many women like your mother just walking around you.

[Rhodes] All Too Human Longing

Humans make myriad decisions that may be conditioned by race and class, but nonetheless emerge from a more complex dimension of human longing.

Capturing Imaginations

If you are ever going to rent a kid, 4-year-old Jackson Andrews is the best deal you could possibly get. He is at the just the right height that I can reach down and run my fingers through his dark brown bowl-cut, and his puckered lips form an "o" as if he is always on the verge of asking a serious question.

Tease photo

Tax Facts Hardly Anyone Knows

For three decades America has conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity—so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates.

Malaco Picks Up the Pieces

Shards of metal, fiberglass insulation and water filled the inside of Malaco Records' recording studio as co-owner Tommy Couch Jr. recalled the notable musicians who have made music in the now-destroyed space.

Tease photo

The CofCC's 'One-Drop Rule'

This question elicited what was probably the most frightening comment of the meeting: "When a white woman has a black baby, baby's still black. Don't forget that," an elderly gentleman in the front declared. Hill then paused for a moment, before looking at the man with a serious face. "We got the one-drop rule in Mississippi," he said.

Rev. Mike Campbell

The Rev. Mike Campbell spends what little spare time he has catching up on movies. Campbell, 46, is senior pastor at Redeemer Church, at 640 E. Northside Drive. After spending more than a decade in Miami, the Bluefield, Va., native moved to Jackson almost seven years ago, with his wife, Keren, and their three children.

The Learning to be 5th Child

Jackson rapper Stephen Brown, aka 5th Child, spends the majority of his time in his bedroom studio making music. When he has a show to rock, you can count on him being there and killing it. The rest of the time, you can count on the 24-year-old staying in Friday nights to dig for samples, make beats and write lyrics.

Updating Emmerich's Chart

I promised this a while ago and immediately began to dread the hours and energy it would take to plow through this. :-)

Dr. Cornel West Criticizes President Obama

According to a article, West pulls his support of Obama, saying that the president has no backbone and does not do enough to uplift the black community:

A Year After the Gulf Tragedy

When the Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 men at sea last April and set off the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the tragedy exposed a number of weaknesses--not least of which were decades-old laws that limited the liability of major players.

Tuesday, April 19

A Look at the 2011 New Orleans Saints Draft

The NFL Draft is going to take place with or without a new labor agreement. In a little over a week the Carolina Panthers will be on the clock with the first pick of the draft.

State Executions Illegal, Attorneys Say

Two Jackson attorneys are asking the state to delay multiple executions to get itself legal on the use of a new euthanasia drug.

Eco-Clothing Store to Open; New Jobs

For years, Jackson resident Gary Morgan eyed the corner of Duling Avenue and North State Street where the consignment shop The Orange Peel was located. After years of searching for the perfect place to have his own eco-clothing store, he jumped at the opportunity to lease the space when it came available last month after the consignment store moved to Mitchell Avenue.

Marcus Burger

Marcus Burger knows his way around the three primordial elements of rock, paper and scissors. Burger, who is the Hinds County deputy director for Young Leaders in Philanthropy, is organizing a tournament of the game to raise money for YLP's signature program, Imagination Library, an early childhood literacy initiative.

City Continues Storm Clean Up

The City of Jackson is continuing to clean up debris after tornadoes hit the city April 15.

Residents should place storm debris at their curbs by Wednesday, when additional city crews will pick up the debris.

Monday, April 18

City of Jackson Releases Preliminary Storm Damage Map

According to a map published by the City of Jackson, last Friday's tornados tore a path across north Jackson, touching down and causing significant damage in at least five large areas.

Edwards Resumes Arguing to Keep Job

A laudatory report that Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards has repeatedly cited as evidence of his good work dates back to 2009 and comes from an organization for which he serves as a board member. Edwards, who is currently mired in a hearing on his three-year contract with JPS, has used the report from the Council of the Great City Schools to makes the case for a contract extension.

Mobile Food Ordinance in Dispute

Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell is trying to orchestrate a deal between downtown food suppliers and advocates of a new city ordinance that will allow restaurants to bring food to the downtown lunch crowd or Fondren on the back of a truck or van.

Beneta Burt

Beneta Burt knows it can be a challenge to change people's behaviors when it comes to healthy living. As project director for the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity, Burt promotes systemic, incremental solutions and programs to help fight obesity in the state.

Community Events and Meetings

Sports League Registrations, at Jackson Medical Mall (350 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave.). The Department of Parks and Recreation conducts registration for the upcoming season. Interested individuals can register between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Call 601-960-0471.

JPS High School Graduation Schedule

If you plan to attend one of the graduations for a friend or family member, here is a schedule that I got from the Jackson Public Schools newsletter.

Saturday, April 16

Tease photo

Tornado Victims Pick Up the Pieces

view photos of damage from Friday's tornado &raquo

Friday, April 15

City Begins Clean Up

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. urged residents to drive with caution and stay clear of debris resulting from tornadoes during a press conference today at the Hinds County Emergency Operations Center in Jackson.

Free Speech Showdown at Soldier's Funeral

Hundreds of motorcycle-riding veterans will assemble tomorrow to shield mourners of a slain Brandon Marine from an extremist anti-gay hate group that protests military funerals. Alan "Dragonslayer" Smith, a regional ride captain for the Mississippi chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders, said he expects more than 200 riders to show up Saturday for the funeral of Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, who died serving in Afghanistan earlier this month.

City Responds to Storm

Verbatim statement: City of Jackson announces that emergency crews have been assessing storm damage. Preliminary reports indicate that portions of west and northwest Jackson have experienced storm damage including down power lines, fallen trees, roof damage, and scattered property damage.

McMillin Talks Jail, Firings

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said today that he rightfully fired nine county-jail employees.

Millsaps Hosts Latin American Studies Symposium

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War, Millsaps College hosts "Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juarez," during its second annual Latin American Studies Symposium today.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Last Sunday, my partner, Todd Stauffer, and I set off on another of our weekend road trips that take us wherever we end up. This time, we landed in Ruleville, northwest of Greenwood, at the grave of Fannie Lou Hamer and her husband, "Pap" Hamer.

Weekend Events

This weekend is packed with live entertainment and fun events, so plan your time wisely. After the storms clear this evening, head to the Mississippi Museum of Art at 7 p.m. for Operation Shoestring's annual Spring Fling fundraiser. The event raises money for Operation Shoestring's after school programs and features food and drink as well as live music by The Chill. Admission is $20. For some late-night fun, attend Mr. Kid & The Brothers Fox CD release party with Spacewolf and Mark Roemer at Hal & Mals. For more live entertainment options, check out the JFP Music Listings.

Barry Bonds vs. Kobe Bryant: One Story Matters A Lot More

Two sports stories dominated the landscape yesterday.

One was the non-conclusion/conclusion of the Barry Bonds steroids trial. The other was the non-apology/apology by Kobe Bryant for a homophobic slur.

Thursday, April 14

Understanding Mr. Melton: Go See 'A Soldier's Play' at New Stage

Last night, Todd and I went to New Stage Theatre to see "A Soldier's Play" (the play that the film "A Soldier's Story" was based on). Folks, this is a remarkable production with a line-up of just incredible (mostly black) male actors. It is serious, it is funny, and most importantly, it is seriously thought-provoking about the multiple levels of race, racism and the self-hatred that has inflicted some African Americans (and white oppressors) due to the history of oppression in our country.

Hood Praises Crime Victim Assistance

Mississippi's victims and survivors of violent crime have a wide network of support available to them, including a state compensation fund, Attorney General Jim Hood said today, speaking at an awards ceremony and rally to commemorate National Crime Victims' Week.

Men ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' at Capitol

They came marching down President Street with bulgy, muscled arms, shaggy chest hair and hard, narrowed eyes. You could almost see the testosterone sloshing from their ears as they swaggered in time. They chanted a militant marching tune as their footsteps drummed aggressively on the street:

Martha Foose

For Martha Foose, cooking isn't just about the food. It's about the company, the memories and the art of eating well.

SBA Sets Record for Loans

For the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, the Mississippi Small Business Administration has set a record of approving 460 loans totaling $198,448,900.

Wednesday, April 13

Papaw's Crafts

Mention "farmer's market," and thoughts of fresh fruits and vegetables mingled with farm-raised eggs and honey spring to mind. These days, however, markets welcome other local vendors who want to sell their wares, from handmade jewelry to photographs to pine needle baskets.

Don't Bogart That Gig, My Friend

Back in the fall, a musician friend of mine asked me to give him my contacts for different venues locally and statewide so that he could try to get some gigs. Long before I became the music listings editor for the JFP, I was already honing my chops at booking and promoting shows for Clinton and me.

Is Age the Problem?

Fans of fall and winter sports might enjoy the current NFL and NBA seasons, but next year that all could come to an end. Both leagues face potential lockouts after the current seasons end.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doctor S sez: If you go to the Grove Bowl at Ole Miss, for God's sake don't Tweet. They will throw your ass out. On the other hand, it might not be all bad.

If You Can Read…

One of my nieces, who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons that will soon become clear, started showing up at family functions with amazing homemade pies. I admit that I was skeptical of her baking at first. This is the niece who recently caught her kitchen on fire while making French fries; she claims she just forgot she left the stove on.

Work at Home Clinic

One of the greatest advantages to working from home is the opportunity to fully customize your home office to reflect your style. Gone are the days of corporate-office gray cubicles or cinder-block white walls.

Fresh and Local, Every Day

One night a few weeks ago, Todd and I left the office at our too-usual time of 8 or 9 p.m. We ran through McDade's to pick up dinner supplies.

Now Comes the Hard Part, Again

Mississippi's lawmakers may have approved $20 million in bonds for a state civil-rights museum last week, but the project still has major hurdles to clear before becoming a reality. Chief among those is a private fundraising effort, the same thing that doomed an earlier incarnation of the project.

Redistricting Goes to Court

The courts likely will decide Mississippi's redistricting maps after the state Senate voted to end the session last week without adopting a new redistricting map.

Changing the Lobbying Game

Cities will have a more difficult time pulling down federal money in Congress' continuing war on earmarks.

JPD Too Slow on Theft?

On Monday, March 14, Jackson resident Torri Parker and her boyfriend returned to her car parked at Parham Bridges Park after a workout there and discovered the passenger-side window knocked out and her purse missing from the vehicle. So began a spring break spent doing her own detective work.

Put It in the Mall

Watkins Development LLC Vice President Jason Goree is promoting the Metrocenter Mall as the potential new home for the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

Let the Private Sector Work

Jackson developers are pushing for the state government to move the Mississippi Department of Revenue into privately owned property somewhere in Jackson, and we can't blame them.

[Stiggers] Operation ‘Cover Your Butt'

"Congressman, last week, the government was like a falling cat able to land on its feet in a nick of time. Whew! A lot of folks were glad that the government avoided a shutdown. You and the Ghetto Science Team's Government Task Force had plan weeks before the shutdown. Tell the viewers about it."

[Kamikaze] Political Drama

The federal government was able to avert shutdown. Whether or not you actually believed it would happen, it stands to reason that all of us should take pause at how close a shutdown actually came.

[Polen] Learning from Austin

"This is how a city should feel," I thought to myself.

Integrating Nature

Neither could conceive of existence that doesn't include being active in nature and working with their hands. Gayle, a mixed-media artist, and Lee, a ceramics artist, spin wilderness into their work. But as children, neither of the two, thought they could shape anything more than mud piles.

Vanity of a Writer

Smoke clears to reveal Barcelona, Spain, in the early 1900s, the city's heart pulsing with unrest under the fiery shadows of a black-and-red cobwebbed sky. Or at least this is the pulpy-fictitious mood Carlos Ruiz Zafón sets, by repeatedly conjuring those colors and ominous symbolism, in "The Angel's Game".

Don't Go Around Breaking Young Girls' Hearts

Giselle's heart is so broken, after she dies from the pain of it, she haunts her lover with a vengeance. Stephen Wynne, founder and artistic director of TALK Dance Company, presents the classic ballet, "Giselle," Friday.

Biz Book Shelf

For all you future business leaders of Jackson (and even some established ones), running a business is never easy. Hard work and determination are the keys to victory. But every now and then you will need advice, whether to start a business or to continue running one. Here are some books that just might help you out.

Singular Sensation

If you were around during the '80s, chances are you remember spandex, tube socks and a limber group of big-haired dancers from "A Chorus Line."

Tease photo

Taking A Chance

Pride and Peril of Doing Business in Jackson

When Mitchell Moore was 4 years old, his parents gave him an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas and changed his life. He was fascinated by the way batter could turn into a smooth, fluffy cake and would spend hours perfecting his creations. The 38-year-old has been baking ever since.

Philadelphia to Host National Civil Rights Conference

The city of Philadelphia, Miss., will host the inaugural National Conference on Civil Rights June 19 through June 21.

House Polarizing, Report Card Says

The Mississippi House of Representatives is becoming as politically polarized as the Mississippi Senate, says political and community activist Rims Barber. Barber released a 2011 political report card grading legislators based on their votes for up to 10 progressive bills that writhed their way through the 2011 legislative session before it adjourned this month.

Fondren Strip Safe for Now

David Watkins' plans to replace a 1938 strip of Fondren businesses on North State Street with his Whitney Place development are on hold after more than 300 residents signed a petition against demolition of the strip.

Darrell "Doc" Cousins

Darrell "Doc" Cousins doesn't care about making a few extra dollars. All he sees is a pair of brown leather boots in need of some polish. "Care for a shine?" he asks in the middle of our interview. With the motto, "When you look good, you feel good," Cousins opened The Shoe Shine Doctor and Company in Jackson about a year ago.

Tuesday, April 12

Council Agrees to $1.8 million Contract, Rehires Lobbyist

The Jackson City Council reversed its opposition to a $1.8 million contract with international corporation Johnson Controls Inc. yesterday after hearing evidence that the company had no role in bad air-conditioning at Thalia Mara Hall.

Small Biz Boon; City Art Funds; Leadership Webinars

The city of Jackson ranks 27th out of the 100 largest U.S. markets for having the best climate for small businesses to thrive, the national media outlet, The Business Journals reported yesterday.

Johnnie Hawkins

Johnnie Hawkins wants to help young people in the Jackson area with the same entrepreneurial desires that drive her. Hawkins, 48, is executive director of the Perico Institute for Youth Development and Entrepreneurship (PRIYDE), which collaborates with a number of area organizations on a citywide strategy for educating aspiring business owners.

[Balko] A History of Paternalism

Government-sponsored public health campaigns have given us many memorably mockable moments, from talking crash-test dummies to "I learned it by watching you!" Now, courtesy of the federal government's National Institutes of Health, you can relive those campaigns (or at least the print versions of them) via a searchable, browsable online archive.

Ward 5 Meeting Tonight

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and city department directors will host a community meeting for Ward 5 residents tonight.

Monday, April 11

McGowan Hopes to Design ‘One Lake,' New Flood Control

by Adam Lynch April 11, 2011 The Two Lakes Foundation is proposing both a name change and a new partnership with the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District.

JRA Refinancing, Renovating

The Jackson Redevelopment Authority took initial steps toward lightening its debt burden today, with a vote to authorize the refinancing of $9 million in debt. The vote also paves the way for renovations to the future home of JRA's offices, the Richard Porter Building downtown.

Don Poythress

Don Poythress' childhood piano teacher knew his talent was going to take him places. When he was 4 years old, his instructor told the Meridian native that he was going to grow up to be a country musician and perform in the Grand Ole Opry.

Community Events This Week

Free Tax Counseling and Filing. IRS/AIM or AARP volunteers will do electronic filing. Bring all necessary documents. Joint filers must come together. Free.

Freedom Riders Honored Tuesday

The Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University hosts four Freedom Riders in a panel discussion Tuesday night during the Robert Clark Symposium "50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides.".

Friday, April 8

Poll: Many Blacks Undecided About Voter ID

Nearly 40 percent of African American voters are unsure how they feel about a voter-identification initiative on the 2011 statewide ballot, a new poll shows. Speaking at Koinonia Coffee House's Friday Forum this morning, pollsters Pam Shaw and Brad Chism said that one of the more surprising findings from a series of polls they conducted in the first quarter of 2011 was the high degree of uncertainty about voter ID among younger African Americans.

Senate Flubs Redistricting

The Mississippi Senate voted to end the session yesterday without taking up a new redistricted map.

Rob Mies

Taking a 16-hour road trip from Michigan to Jackson with four live bats doesn't faze Rob Mies who has spent his career promoting bat conservation and education.

It's the Weekend

Despite Mercury being in retrograde (with its attendant communication, transportation and technical hijinks), you'll find plenty to do in and around Jacktown this weekend. If you're lucky enough to have the day off, head to Jackson State (1400 John R. Lynch St.) for the free Creative Arts Festival that begins at 1 p.m. The festival continues tomorrow, with featured luminaries like Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. Call 601-979-3935 for information. If you can't make the festival, Sanchez and Baraka read their poems and sign books at Afrika Book Cafe (404 Mitchell Ave.) at 6 p.m. Email [e-mail missing] for info. If you're in the mood for drama, we've been hearing good things about the New Stage Theatre production of "A Soldier's Play." Call 601-948-3531, or visit for times and ticket information. Where's the best place to start when you're looking for things to do and places to go? The JFP Best Bets page, of course.

[Chaney] State ‘Model' Health Exchange Law Dies

I would like to take a little of your time today to talk about something that has dominated national news coverage for the last several years. It has also dominated a lot of time in the Mississippi Insurance Department.

Thursday, April 7

Critics Oppose Mega-Building on Lakeland

Some Jackson leaders and developers don't want the new home for the Mississippi Department of Revenue at the corner of Lakeland Drive and Ridgewood Road.

Survey Finds Some Republicans Oppose Mixed Marriages

Read the poll here. (PDF)

Dirk Dedeaux

Dirk Dedeaux knows the cost of obesity to Mississippi taxpayers. Dedeaux, a Democratic representative from Perkinston, chairs the House Medicaid Committee, giving him a front seat to witness the economic toll obesity takes on the state, which some projections put at nearly $4 billion annually by 2018.

Do you know an amazing teen? Tell us for Young-Young Influentials!

Do you know an amazing high school aged student?

Someone who demonstrates characteristics of high personal character and integrity, perhaps using this strength of character to be resilient in the face of extenuating family circumstances, or in overcoming significant obstacles.

Wednesday, April 6

The Whole Person Matters

"The side effects of this medication may be difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, constipation..."

College Sports vs. Academics

When people find out I'm a sports writer, they tend to ask similar questions. Most ask my opinion about this team or that player. But, every now and then, someone asks me about what I think is one of the most intriguing subjects in sports: the effect of college sports on academics and economics.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

Doctor S sez: It was sad to see Ben Ingram go after three years as the M-Braves announcer. But we can still hear him on the A-Braves postgame show.

It's All Gravy

Mention "biscuits and gravy" to anyone who grew up in the South, and the popular breakfast staple will more than likely evoke fond childhood memories.

Comfort From The Rain

One of the easiest comfort foods to serve is steaming hot, baked spaghetti squash.

Old School vs. The New Kids

When we're young, we learn important life lessons through play and fun: A big yellow bird on TV shows us friendship; the story of a rabbit and a turtle helps us understand the importance of persistence; a singing frog teaches us about compassion because, well, it's not easy being green. This week, I noticed that even as an adult, having fun can still teach us things.

Who's Fooling Whom?

No one likes to be fooled.

The 411 on City's 311

Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. finally made good on a campaign promise of increased government transparency earlier this week. On Monday, Johnson announced the launch of the city's "311" system for receiving and tracking service and information requests from citizens.

Reaching Agreement

The Civil Rights Museum and a Mississippi history museum live on after all. On Monday, legislators approved $20 million for construction of a proposed civil-rights museum and another $18 million for a Mississippi-history museum in Jackson.

Finding Foul Play

The Mississippi NAACP isn't using the "L-word," yet, but the civil-rights group has its doubts about the Dec. 2, 2010, hanging death of a Greenwood man.

Waiting on Transparency

The past week was a decent week for transparency in Mississippi, at least compared to most weeks in these parts. For one thing, the city of Jackson launched its 311 service so that residents can both log inquiries and requests and track the progress of the response.

[Stiggers] Controlling the Masses

Cockeyed Chicken Lady: "I'm your former spokesperson for Cockeyed Chicken here to inform the Ghetto Science community about my resignation from Cockeyed Chicken Inc. During my three years as spokesperson for Cockeyed Chicken, I studied and learned a lot about marketing techniques used to convince consumers in the Ghetto Science community to buy and eat Cockeyed Chicken."

[McLaughlin] Giving Time

The worst thing is for a child to expect you and then you not show up.

[Balko] Failing Upward in Criminal Justice

When the SWAT team came for Richard Paey in 1997, officers battered down the front door of the Florida home he shared with his wife and their two children. Paey is a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair after a car accident and a botched back surgery. He also suffers from multiple sclerosis. Paey was accused of distributing the medication he used to treat his chronic pain, even though there was no evidence he had sold or given away a single pill. Thanks to Florida's draconian drug laws, he was eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The Go-To Guy

Every town has that guy, the one you go to who gets things done. He's the man everyone turns to when they have problems. In Seville, he happens to be the barber.

No Easy Answers

When a black sergeant dies at Fort Neal, La., near the end of World War II, a complicated murder mystery begins. Was it a lynching or something more? The segregated Army of 1944 is the backdrop for Charles Fuller's 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "A Soldier's Play."

‘A Natural Thing'

Let's start with a little history lesson. Back in the mid-1990s, hip-hop was at a crossroads. Groups like Company Flow and Anticon were pushing the boundaries of the genre into avant-garde directions that challenged the foundations of what could even be comfortably considered hip-hop.

Coal Plant Cost Painful

The Mississippi Public Service Commission is taking its time approving rate increases funding a $2.88 billion coal-burning plant already under construction in Kemper County.

Sharing Spaces, Building Community

While studying in Denmark in the 1980s, Charles Durrett noticed a housing community different from the typical condos and homes he passed during his 20-minute walk to the train station. He saw people drinking tea together on a porch and neighbors helping each other, and he felt a strong sense of community.

Chloe Garth-Elkins

Chloe Garth-Elkins' Saturday Upward Bound class at Jackson State University is learning about the word rastaquouere. The students begin to grasp the true meaning of the word through application of its technical definition: "social intruder; upstart." Garth-Elkins patiently guides students through the lesson, inviting them to enter the world of scholars in constant pursuit of knowledge.

Poets Changing Human System

Like Halley's Comet, it might happen at most twice in a lifetime, where two of the most widely recognized names in poetry come together at the same time and place to enlighten and inspire. That time is this weekend. Get outside, because the stars are shooting: Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka are coming. This year marks Jackson State University's Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center's fifth Creative Arts Festival, and nationally and internationally acclaimed authors Sanchez and Baraka are two of the special guests.

Tuesday, April 5

Puppy Mills, JATRAN, Power Savings Before Council

The city will restrict roadside animal sales after a 6-to-0 vote in favor of a new ordinance today.

Jackson Business News: Fondren Food, Young Entrepreneurs

Several new restaurants are opening their doors in Fondren. The most recent is Petra Cafe, formerly of Clinton. The Mediterranean restaurant closed its second location (the first is in Hattiesburg) last month and relocated to the former Jerusalem Cafe site on Old Canton Road, opening officially last week. The new Petra boasts an entirely renovated interior. Owner and operator Ayman Albataineh says a remodeled outdoor seating area, with a roof, should be complete in one week. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Petra offers a lunch buffet for $9.99. The restaurant serves dinner seven days a week.

Shelley Johnson

When Shelley Johnson started researching the American foster-care system 10 years ago, she was shocked to discover that 500,000 children did not have stable homes.

Lawmakers Pass Civil Rights Museum Bill

Construction of a civil rights museum and a history museum for the state of Mississippi is a go after lawmakers passed a bill moving it forward yesterday.

Monday, April 4

City Rolls Out 311 Call System

A new 311 call system offers Jackson citizens and business owners improved access to city services, Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said today. Speaking at a press conference this morning, Johnson hailed the technology as an advance in making city government more open.

Health Centers Fare Better Under Agreement

The state's mental-health facilities may be open another year, now that Democrats in the Mississippi House of Representatives agree with Republican Gov. Haley Barbour on a new $5.5 billion state budget.

Gene Young

In the last year of his life, Gene Young was a regular at the Eudora Welty Library. The civil rights activist would bring a briefcase full of newspaper clippings and photos showing his arrests, speeches and involvement in the Civil Rights Movement that started when he was a child.

Community Events This Week

Free Tax Counseling and Filing IRS/AIM or AARP volunteers will do electronic filing. Bring all necessary documents. Joint filers must come together. Free.

City Calls for Businesses to Hire Youth

The success of the city's Summer Youth Employment Program depends on the number of local businesses who hire young people, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said at a press conference Friday.

Friday, April 1

Protesters Seek Full Pardon for Scott Sisters

Paroled sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott deserve a full pardon for their alleged 1993 crime, protesters argued today. A crowd of more than 100 marched this morning from Farish Street Park to the Governor's Mansion to the state Capitol today, chanting, "Off parole / On with the life." Attorney Chokwe Lumumba, who has represented the sisters since their 1996 appeal, called on Gov. Haley Barbour to issue a full pardon for the sisters, who have been on probation since Barbour indefinitely suspended their life sentences for armed robbery in December.

Ben Allen: Jackson Needs ‘Cultural Investment'

In what appeared to be a cross between a stand-up comedy routine and passionate pro-Jackson monologue, Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen presented an inventory of the city's recent developments and touted the city's cultural capital during a community forum this morning.

It's the Weekend

With three days of Crossroads Film Festival action, you'll have plenty of chances to view independent films. One we highly recommend you see is "Dante," a short film by Anita Modak-Truran of Jackson. Think teenage hell. Read style editor Natalie Collier's review before you see the screening during the Mississippi Showcase starting at 11:20 a.m. Saturday at Malco Grandview Theatre in Madison.

Marie Owen

Marie Owen wants to spend more time with her Fondren neighbors and build a stronger sense of community. After attending a national co-housing conference in Boulder, Colo., last year, the event inspired her to bring the co-housing concept to Jackson.

Barbour to End Death Penalty in Mississippi (SATIRE)

In an exclusive interview with the Jackson Free Press, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has broken with the Republican Party's tough-on-crime stance to press state legislators for an end to the death penalty in the Magnolia state.

Jackson Council Seeks ‘Pro-Gay' City (SATIRE)

Fresh off its victory at creating a Latino-friendly city-wide police policy, the Jackson City Council is considering marketing a section of Ward 3 as "pro-gay."

Crossroads Film Review: ‘Dante'

The 20 minutes the Crossroads audience gets to see of Anita Modak-Truran's film-in-progress, "Dante," will undoubtedly leave them wondering, "What's up with Dante?"