Stories for August 2011


Wednesday, August 31

Strength from the Old Ways

Music, motherhood, quilts and homemade pickles define Valley Gordon. Her worn guitar case proudly displays a sticker that reads "Old Time Music." Gordon, 34, has played guitar since she was 15.

Festival Fall

As a teacher, I dread the beginning of school because of the whirlwind craziness. Thank goodness it only lasts for a couple of weeks. Then I'm in my routine, and everything is much more relaxed. On the plus side, I get so excited to know that fall—my favorite season—is just around the corner.

New Football Year Resolutions

All that hoopla back at the first of January was just practice. The real new year starts now with the beginning of football season, when everyone is undefeated and hope springs eternal. What better time to make some resolutions?

A Girl's Game-Day Gear

It's time for football, and the men in our lives can hardly contain themselves. Truthfully, the only things I'm excited about are my game-day looks. And although I'm not one to don official team gear, I do fully support wearing your team's colors.

Doc's Thirteen

Only the luckiest among us will get to see all of these 13 must-see games. (A sportsologist can dream, can't he?)

They Said What?

This Football Preview marks my first full year writing for the Jackson Free Press. When I first started, my wonderful editor, Ronni Mott, explained that everything she knew about sports could fit in a thimble. She wondered about some of my first articles, if what I was writing was true or truly dirty.

The First Ever JFP Top 25

The first annual JFP Sports top 25 features nine teams from the SEC, five teams from the Big 12, four teams from the Big Ten, two from the ACC, two from the Pac-12, two from the Mountain West Conference and one independent.

The Best In Sports In 7 Days

College football is back this week, and the games count for real. Every game matters in college with no preseason games.

Conerly Watch List

At the end of every football season since 1996, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum has awarded the Conerly Trophy to the best football player at a four-year university or college. Five quarterbacks, six running backs and four defensive players (linebackers or defensive line) have won the trophy so far.

Football 101

Keeping Your Woman Happy During Football Season

Let me be clear. Women can and do understand the game of football. Furthermore, women enjoy participating in the sport. However, because it's men that mostly play football, many men subscribe to the belief that football is exclusively for men, and they choose to leave the women in their lives out of the sport.

Favre Watch

I believe he's finished playing, but you know, we're just starting to play these (preseason) games," Childress said. "If somebody gets nicked, someone may have a need, and somebody may be a salesman enough to talk him off the ranch.

Flynn's Games Of The Week

Each week of the college football season has at least one must-see showdown. There are in-state rivalries, big conference games and, of course, the annual homecoming games. Here are the college games I would pay to see.

Budget Wars Whimper to a Close

The Jackson City Council's approval of a 75-cent per hour raise for city employees making less than $17,000 per year may not make it into the city's final budget for fiscal-year 2012, which starts Oct. 1.

Putting a Price Tag on Voter ID

The debate surrounding voter ID in Mississippi has focused on political and historical arguments, rather than funding. While its proponents have lauded voter ID as essential for preserving the democratic process, opponents have claimed it is an effort to discourage African Americans and other minorities from voting—especially those old enough to remember Jim Crow-era tactics such as poll taxes.

Getting it Right

Jannette White, 51, has lived on the same plot of land on Smith Robinson Street in the Virden Addition for the majority of her life. In 1987, White built a house next to her mother's house so that she could be her caretaker. Her mother died in 2006.

Pick Better Battles

Jackson city government could be a prime example of democracy in action. The Jackson City Council and the administration of Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. could see their roles as they are designed, working hand-in-hand within democracy's intentional system of checks and balances.

[Stiggers] Hump Day Disco

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to announce Clubb Chicken Wing's Weekly Hump Day Job Network Session and Disco. Every Wednesday night, the hopeless will become hopeful with the Back Room Resume Writing Workshop and Job Counseling Rap Session.

[Kamikaze] Stop Waiting; Start Working

In past columns I've spoken about what has been coined the "savior complex," the tendency of a group, party or race to expect one individual to be the answer to all that ails it. It's the thought that by electing or appointing the perfect person to a position of power, we can sit back and watch as they magically make everything better with the stroke of a hand.

[Garrott] The ‘Other' Fan

Football gives us something better to chat about in elevators other than, 'It's hot' or 'It's really, really hot.'

Chase Meets Otis

Author and illustrator Loren Long created a book with a farm setting and a tractor as a super hero in "Otis and the Tornado" (Philomel, 2011, $17.99), the follow-up to his 2009 book, "Otis."

The Football Fanatics Book Shelf

From Friday nights at small-town high schools to Monday evenings in NFL stadiums, fans around the country are ready for some football.

Ballet Irish

For the first time ever, Ballet Mississippi joins the festivities at the 20th Annual CelticFest Sept. 9-11. The dancers will perform two selections from the Irish-themed ballet, "As An Céilí." The title means "from the céilí," or "from the party with music and social dancing."

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JFP 2011 College Football Preview

Before Sept. 1, every college football fan anticipates the new season with hope and optimism. No matter what any publication says, these diehard fans believe their team will beat the odds and have a great season.

Lewis Prepares for the Future

A party atmosphere filled the Convention Complex Friday night as supporters celebrated the victory of Tyrone Lewis, set to become Hinds County's first black sheriff since Reconstruction.

DuPree Aims to Win

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree proved that grass-roots organizing matters more than cash when it comes to winning the Democratic Party nomination for governor. Now, many voters are wondering about the likelihood of DuPree winning the governor's race against Republican Phil Bryant on Nov. 8.

Rick Cleveland

Rick Cleveland steps out of the melting Mississippi heat and into Sneaky Beans in Fondren. "It was a mistake to walk here," he says. "I hate this heat, and I hate Yazoo clay."

Learning to Win

Near the end of August every year, I start getting jittery. Yes, I'm ready for cooler temperatures. I also like being a Libra and having an October birthday--the big 5-0 this time!--and I love the crispness and smell of Autumn air. Football weather, I call it, just like my daddy did.

Living Out Loud

Pryor Graeber calls herself a "colorist," somewhere between an impressionist and an abstract artist. Her signature paintings of two-dimensional rows of trees burst with large strokes of color within a chosen palette.

Meeting Focuses on Crime Solutions

Local law enforcement officials, justice advocates, clergy members and Jackson residents came together last night to discuss solutions on tackling crime in Jackson.

Tuesday, August 30

Lewis Campaign Manager Arrested Sunday for DUI

Clinton police arrested Aaron Banks, Sheriff-elect Tyrone Lewis' campaign manager, Sunday night for driving under the influence. Banks was charged with first-offense DUI after he was involved in an accident on Clinton Parkway in which alcohol was present, said Don Byington, Clinton chief of police. He has also been charged with contempt of court for failure to appear in court for an earlier traffic citation, Byington said. There were some injuries in the accident, Byington told the Jackson Free Press, although he did not know the extent because the police report was not ready as of today.

Downtown to Get More Sidewalks

By early 2012, downtown Jackson will have additional sidewalks and improved green space, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. announced today.

Fashion and Football

A new boutique, now open in Canton, is bringing more fashionable clothing options to plus-size women in the Jackson area.

David ‘Honeyboy' Edwards

One of the "Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen" has passed. David "Honeyboy" Edwards, 96, died yesterday at his home in Chicago, Ill.

AG Unveils Website to Protect Consumers

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood unveiled a new state website yesterday to protect consumers against counterfeit merchandise.

Monday, August 29

County Denies Tax Forgiveness for Company

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors denied an electric-tool manufacturing company's request to not pay more than $1 million in property taxes this morning. The company, Milwaukee Tools, claimed it overestimated the inventory reported to the county last year, and therefore should not be required to pay taxes on an incorrect assessment.

Gov. Calls Special Session, Commemorates Katrina

Gov. Haley Barbour is calling a special session of the legislature Friday to approve one or two large economic development projects.

Abraham Jonathan Ramirez

Abraham Jonathan Ramirez went out with friends to El Jardin, a Jackson nightclub off Gallatin, a couple of years ago. He was 21 then, had a new pick-up truck and wore cowboy boots. He lived in Pearl and had lived there for at least a couple of years where he worked in construction for his girlfriend's brother. He hadn't been getting along too well with her that week, so he went out with his buddies. He was surprised to run into his girlfriend, Mayra Ibarra, at the club that night.

Community Events and Public Meetings

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

Proud to Invest in America

I love America, and have proudly invested in America. I have invested by building successful businesses employing thousands of American workers. And I have invested in our country by paying taxes.

Friday, August 26

Lewis Prepares to Take Office

Even as he celebrates a close victory, Tyrone Lewis is already making plans to develop partnerships with agencies and neighboring counties when he becomes Hinds County sheriff in January.

Racial Reconciliation Helps ‘The Hurt'

Neddie Winters hasn't seen the movie "The Help" yet, but he's encouraging everyone else to watch it, then sit down and have a serious talk about it. "I'm not sure I have the strength to go see it. But you go--go and talk about it."

JFP Dog of the Day: Francis

In February, Francis was fighting for his life after a resident found him in a cardboard box, unconscious and suffering from neglect. The dog's story of recovery has inspired thousands and earned him the winner of Fuzzy Nation's supermodel pet photo contest.

It's The Weekend!

This weekend is jam-packed with community events and festivities, so choose wisely. After work, put your spandex on and head to the Rainbow Grocery parking lot at 6 p.m. to join The Jackson Bike Advocates' monthly community bike ride. The route is six miles at a slow conversational pace and will make a stop at Peaches Cafe on Farish Street for drinks and food. If you'd rather stay out of the heat, attend BBQ & Blues from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. Proceeds from the event go to the Harbor House Chemical Dependency Services. Tickets are $25 for adults and $5 for kids. Afterwards, don't miss Memphis-based John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives perform at Ole Tavern. Check out Best Bets for more options.

Mississippi Leads Nation in Percentage of Same-Sex Parents

Although Mississippi ranks 42nd in the nation for the number of same-sex couples per household, it leads the nation in the percentage of same-sex couples raising children, a study by the Williams Institute released yesterday finds.

Thursday, August 25

Johnny Dupree's Win and ‘Redneck-Blackneck Politics of the Deep South'

In a new piece on, writer Steve Kornacki argues that Democrats are pretty washed up in the Deep South, Johnny Dupree's historic victory notwithstanding. He writes:

End of Times Movement Influencing Politics?

I only heard bits and pieces of NPR's "Fresh Air" episode this week but it brought up some interesting thoughts, especially after I noticed a flurry of Facebook post on Tuesday claiming that Virginia's earthquake signaled the end of times.

Council Offers Few Changes to Mayor's Budget

Jackson City Council members may have voiced concerns over their role in crafting the city's budget for fiscal year 2012, but yesterday's special meeting to add amendments to the budget was anti-climatic with only two proposed changes passed.

‘Urban School District' Challenges Supt. Search

Jackson Public Schools will likely hire a national search consultant experienced with urban school districts to look for a new superintendent.

Miriam Weems

Artist Miriam Weems filled the world with color from her cottage studio in Belhaven, and she reflected what she saw back to the community. This week, her fans, friends and family mourned her death and said good-bye.

State to Receive $8M From Tobacco Suit

Jackson County Chancery Court Judge Jaye A. Bradley issued a ruling yesterday requiring Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. to pay an additional $8 million to the state.

Wednesday, August 24

A New Version of Eclectic

In Jackson, the name "Bruno's" is spoken with revered tones. People will wax nostalgic about the Thai beef salad, paella and pad Thai for hours all while bemoaning the void it left in the city's culinary landscape. So what happened to Bruno's namesake?

Healthy Beauty

It was a muggy Saturday night, and the light rain against the windowpane made me drowsy. I leaned back on my leather couch and kicked my feet up to watch TV. Flipping through channels, I noticed an abundance of anti-acne product commercials.

Take a Bite

"Eat that apple." It's a new catchphrase, coined during what started out as an evening catching up with friends over wine at Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090), but turned into adoption of a new life philosophy. The friends in question wish to remain nameless, so I'll refer to them as B, who is my Only Child Soul Sister, and Mom o' Mia (Mia is a fluffy white dog, not a child).

Washing Our Souls

On a balmy night last month, I was walking along Frenchmen Street in New Orleans with heavy thoughts. Life suddenly seemed like a game show with so many different paths and choices that come with inevitable disappointments and victories. I pondered the best investment of my time and the sacrifices I would need to make in order to meet my goals. Would it all be worth it in the end?

Council Spars with Mayor on Budget

Jackson City Council members and Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. are caught in a power struggle over passing the city's budget for fiscal year 2012.

Bonds Fund Jackson-Area Projects

The state Bond Commission gave several Jackson-area projects the go-ahead last week, paving the way for a much-anticipated civil-rights museum downtown.

Saving Grace

The striking red front door and the bright red and white-striped domed cover above it sets the house apart from others on the street. The building is one of five that makes up Grace House, the largest transitional housing facility in Mississippi for homeless people with HIV/AIDS of three in the state.

Hosemann vs. Dems?

Members of the state's Democratic Party claim they were sideswiped Aug. 16 when Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a press release that the party had failed to file election results from the Aug. 2 primary, which were due Aug. 12.

Small is Beautiful

When Peter Vandorn laid out downtown Jackson's streets in 1822, he designed a checkerboard of alternating green squares. His plan created a public park on every other block. Stores or residences or offices would open doors and windows to green spaces.

[Stiggers] Law of Self-Preservation

During our morning staff meeting, Jojo went into a philosophical mode to address why companies, small businesses and corporations are slow on hiring.

Light a Candle

The killing of Mr. James Craig Anderson in Jackson in June seems to have precipitated a number of questions that can, in my opinion, be answered by revisiting our state's history.

[Outlaw] The Act of Creativity

I found myself neck deep in a community serious about its art.

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Engineering Whimsy

Betsy Bradley stepped into the construction zone in high heels, looking back at a group of curious art lovers. Behind her, more than 30 adults holding wine glasses and beer bottles followed.

Finding a Musical Home

John Paul Keith is not what you'd expect in a Memphis musician. Originally from east Tennessee, the Memphis-based guitarist and singer's music brings together a bunch of roots music styles, including '50s rave-up and honky-tonk. It's a twangier sound more often associated with Nashville.

Open to Local

"Spacewolf," released in May 2011, is the first album of the band Spacewolf, made up of guitarist-vocalist Drew Mc­Kercher, bassist Don Hawkins and drummer Murph Caicedo.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Sure, summer is not officially over. In fact, it is nowhere near being over in any real sense of the word. As those of us who have spent sizeable amounts of time in Mississippi know, our relief will not come until October—if we're lucky.

Walk for Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Mississippi hosts the 8th Annual NAMIWalks on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Winner's Circle Park (100 Winners Circle Drive, Flowood). NAMI Mississippi is a non-profit organization that strives to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, as well as their families. Money raised goes to NAMI branches.

Good Time Irish

Boasting Irish brews and Scottish bands, CelticFest is Jackson's annual celebration of Celtic culture. As the Celtic Heritage Society's largest Mississippi event, CelticFest has taken place the weekend after Labor Day each year since the festival's inception in 1992.

The Zoo Says ‘Thanks'

Do you think you have to be stuck in the house all day on Turkey Day? You may think that everything's closed on Thanksgiving, but no. If you and the kids get restless, go visit the animals on Thanksgiving Appreciation Day at the Jackson Zoo.

Cycling Safely

Instead of your kids watching television and playing videos games Saturday mornings, take them to be a part of the Youth Cycling Group. Personal trainer Tammy Thomas of MS Fitness Pro will lead the group every Saturday beginning Sept. 3 to teach the proper and safe way to ride a bike.

A Community LoveFest

Rev. Keith Tonkel considers WellsFest a love-fest for the community. Tonkel, Wells Memorial United Methodist Church pastor since 1969, says the 28-year tradition is a "gift of love" to the community and to the nonprofits that WellsFest benefits

Have A Crafty Autumn

The Mississippi Craft Center, (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland) will host a variety of creative classes in the coming months. Prices, dates and availability of classes vary; to check the details, visit If you do not see a date listed for a class, registration for that class will take place once there is sufficient interest to begin the class.

Fresh Produce in Byram

The Byram Farmers Market (20 Willow Creek Lane, Byram, 601-373-4545) has been open for seven years and is off Siwell Road behind BankPlus. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. until late October and reopens every year in March.

Untangling Knots

On Sept. 22, Lemuria Books (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202) will hold a book signing for Diana Abu-Jaber, author of the new novel, "Birds of Paradise." Abu-Jaber is an Iraqi-American author who has already published three novels "Origin," "Crescent" and "Arabian Jazz," and the memoir, "The Language of Baklava."

Be Our Guest

One of the most famous love stories ever told comes to Jackson in October: Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." W. Kessler Ltd. brings the musical, based on a French fairy tale, to Thalia Mara Hall (225 E. Pascagoula St.) Oct. 18 to 20.

Urban Jazz at circa

If you're looking for a soothing and entertaining evening, enjoy the sounds of Pam Confer and Jazz Beautiful at circa's Jazz Night on the last Friday of every month. The smoke-free and "urban artisan" environment is the perfect substitute for any bar or club.

A Gem in Vicksburg

Hidden above the Highway 61 Coffeehouse in Vicksburg, the Attic Gallery is an artistic wonderland. In October, Lesley Silver will celebrate her 40th year collecting artwork for the gallery, located in the room above Daniel Boone's (her husband's) café.

A Special Invitation

The 2011 Mississippi Invitational, hosted by the Mississippi Museum of Art, will include work by contemporary artists around the state. The upcoming exhibit marks the eighth installation of the showcase, which began in 1997.

Jail-to-Streets Conundrum

Kenosha "Giggles" Johnson has become a staple in Fondren. Often with a blanket in tow, Johnson hangs out in front of businesses along State Street and occasionally receives strange looks from people who walk by.

Mississippi Takes Sex Ed

Monica Cannon, who has a daughter in a Jackson high school, is part of a teen-pregnancy prevention coalition in the Jackson area. During a Jackson Public Schools board meeting Aug. 18, Cannon told the board she feels that JPS could adopt a policy on sex education quickly because people and coalitions in the area have already been researching possible curricula for quite some time. She offered her group's services as part of a task force or committee to explore the district's options.

Marcy Nessel

When Marcy Nessel recognizes the man walking into her gallery, she greets him with a hug. "Hey Don! I'm so happy you stopped by today," she says.

DuPree Makes History

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree won the Democratic nomination last night for Mississippi Governor—making him the first black to receive a party nomination for governor since Reconstruction.

Tuesday, August 23

Tease photo

Chairman Bryant

Will Mississippi Elect a Radical-Right Governor?

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant 56, took his place on the far right of his Republican opponents on stage and thanked his wife, mother-in-law and voters for making his campaign possible. He was dressed neatly, without overdoing it, for the lively Republican debate backed by the Mississippi Tea Party June 25.

Bluntson Threatens Legal Action Against Mayor

Jackson City Council President Frank Bluntson said yesterday that he would take legal action against Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., if necessary, to obtain the names and salaries of all city employees. Bluntson cited several failed attempts to get the information from Johnson in preparation for passing the city's budget.

University Place Thriving; Job Money

Mississippi is restarting a job program that gives businesses subsidies to hire new employees. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds the STEPS 2 program, which stands for Subsidized Transitional Employment Program and Services.

Raha Maxwell

Raha Maxwell is taking the traditional summer lemonade stand to the next level. The 10-year-old student at Adhiambo School turned his culinary talent into a full-fledged business.

Runoff Elections Today

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m today for state and local runoff elections.

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and Clarksdale businessman Bill Luckett, both Democrats, face each other in the governors race while Republican Lynn Fitch, of Madison, and state Sen. Lee Yancey, of Brandon, face each other in the treasurer's race.

Monday, August 22

Runoffs Prolong Primaries

As voters head to the polls for runoff elections Tuesday, several Hinds County positions are up for grabs, and incumbents are under fire on the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

Rankin County Paper Snubbing Dems?

If you are a Rankin County resident and read the Rankin County News or the Rankin Leader, you might not be aware that Johnny DuPree and Bill Luckett face each other in tomorrow's run off election.

Suit Against Mental Health Waits on Ruling

Read the complaint.

Lan Diep

Lan Diep has spent the past year helping the Vietnamese-American community on the Gulf Coast deal with the impact of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010. An Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow with the Mississippi Center for Justice, Diep is sorting out the problems allowing many to file or to receive claims.

Community Events and Public Meetings

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

City Co-Sponsors Housing Conference

The city of Jackson is partnering with the city of Hattiesburg to host a three-day conference on community development.

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The JFP Interview with Johnny DuPree

Johnny DuPree makes clear that he is a city man. DuPree, 57, has served as Hattiesburg's mayor for almost 10 years and wants to take his municipal know-how to the state level. He is one of two Democratic candidates, so far, who have announced their desire to run for the Mississippi governor's office this coming November.

Friday, August 19

The Power of Wheaton

"Touch this mother tonight, father God, who must deal with the loss of her son. Touch this family, this sister, this brother, who has lost a dear loved one to them all," Rev. Gregory White said to Jim Hill High School students, family and staff. White was invited to help celebrate the death and homecoming of Tommy Wheaton with a candlelight vigil on Aug. 18. During his prayer, a lady stood and called out "Alright now" as if she were in a church service.

Doctor Promotes Health Care Tech

By performing robotic surgeries and using technology to educate patients, Jackson obstetrician and gynecologist Samuel Brown hopes to revolutionize health care in Mississippi.

Support Your Community By Supporting High School Football

Over 15 years ago on a day like today, my excitement would be at an all-time high. Why, because 15 years ago, I would be getting ready to start my final season of high school football.

Andre Brown

Andre Brown, 40, by all accounts was a man of good character, some would even say cool. He was a leader, a lover, a devoted father and one of the best people you will ever meet, friends say.

Film Industry Work Force Training Begins

A film industry work force training program begins classes next week at Hinds Community College, Rankin Campus.

Thursday, August 18

Alert: Trees Down and Traffic Lights Out; Use 3-1-1 to Report More

The city just issued this verbatim statement:

Motorists are urged to proceed with caution in the areas where trees are down and residents should stay away from any downed power lines. Motorists should treat intersections where traffic lights are out as a 4-way stop.

Mississippi Scores Low on ACT

ACT scores for the class of 2011 show Mississippi high school students lagging behind the rest of the country in preparing for college.

Why Looming Budget Battles Might Still Shut Down the Government

The Securities and Exchange Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health and Human Services could face partial shutdowns this fall, as a politically polarized Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to approve a new federal budget.

Dunn Lampton

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jim Kitchens was impressed with Dunn Lampton's drive and intelligence when he hired him to work as his assistant district attorney for Mississippi's 14 Judicial District in 1976, although he was fresh out of Ole Miss law school and had little trial experience.

Downtown Business District Reauthorized

Also see: Measuring Progress: The Evolution of Downtown Jackson Partners

Wednesday, August 17

Love and Life

Soulster Keeshea Pratt has been singing since she was 5 years old. Nothing less can be expected from a child who grew up in the church and is the progeny of two Jackson State University music majors. Pratt has sung everything from gospel, blues, R&B and soul to show tunes.

Mississippi and the Grammys

On Aug. 8 at Hal and Mal's, I had the chance to attend a meet-and-greet with the Memphis chapter of The Recording Academy, whose members decide who receives Grammy awards each year. It was an opportunity for those in the local and state music scene to pitch ideas and attain career advice from some heavy hitters in the industry.

Family Time

When I was little, I wanted to be just like my older brother Shawn. I come from a large family—I'm the middle child of seven children—filled with strong personalities.

Breakfast of Champions

I love breakfast. Eggs over easy, waffles, blueberry pancakes, mmmm—good, hearty food that will get you moving. But even though I love it, it's not one of the meals I cook frequently. During the summer, I get up too late and might as well fix lunch, and during the school year, I get up too early to "fix" anything other than pre-packaged cereal bars.

Among African Drumbeats

When you meet Kiwana Thomas Gayden, and Lorenzo Gayden, both 36, you can feel the vitality and energy the two create and pour into their interests, talents and their life together. When the two decided to get married, they pooled this energy and performed an exotic and vibrant wedding ceremony not normally seen in the United States.

Man Shoes

Women. Love. Shoes. But we don't just love our own. We take notice in a guy's shoes, too. We get it when a fella is concerned about his kicks. I mean, who wants to be seen around town as best dressed, but only from the ankles up?

Hundreds March to Heal and Denounce

Community organizers and leaders see the Aug. 14 vigil for James Craig Anderson as the first step toward community healing and racial reconciliation.

Creativity Grows the Economy

Some people, such as visual artists, already know they are part of the creative economy. But many people have never heard the term before, Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, said.

Welcome to the Cluster Pluck

It's been a busy summer for Craig Dubow, CEO of Gannett Co., the parent company of The Clarion-Ledger and the Hattiesburg American.

Simulation Builds Respect

It's almost the end of the month, and a family is trying to decide how to stretch their money to buy groceries. One family member doles out a few bills, explaining that they have to spend it a little bit at a time, otherwise they won't have any food at the end of the week.

Will Killing Legislators' Perks Work?

If elected governor, Bill Luckett says he will end the states' Supplemental Legislative Retirement Program and use those savings to fund education.

Yancey Looks Toward Treasurer's Office

Lee Yancey, District 20 state senator, is running for state treasurer. He will be in a runoff election Aug. 23 against Lynn Fitch for the Republican nomination. As treasurer, Yancey has promised to lower taxes and reduce government debt.

An Open Letter to the Greater Jackson Community

We, the members of the board of Jackson 2000, extend our hearts and thoughts to the family and friends of James Craig Anderson, and we join the rest of the community in sharing the pain and sadness they must feel, and offer to them our comfort and resources. Indeed, we are concerned for all of those involved and touched by this tragedy.

[Stiggers] Throw Up Your Hands

From my perspective, the world is a ghetto dealing with the inner city blues. It makes you want to holler, weep, wail, scream and throw up both your hands, right?

[Kamikaze] I'm Angry

I try not to write when I'm angry. They say some of the best writing comes out of emotion. But some of the most regrettable pieces have come when penned emotionally as well.

[Head] One Mississippi, Two Mississippi

This is not a new disease. This is an acute symptom of a very old chronic disease.

The Convention Hotel Race

City leaders are racing the clock to make a decision by the end of this month on whether to finance a convention center hotel.

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Put to the Test

Where the Candidates Stand on Education

Along the roads that yellow school buses are just beginning to frequent, red-and-blue campaign signs are reminders that this is also a political season. Many of the signs are for Johnny DuPree or Bill Luckett, Democratic candidates for governor who will face each other in a runoff election Aug. 23.

Making Amends

The Aug. 2 Republican primary for Madison County sheriff was a fierce race with five candidates vying for the post. Madison County Sheriff Toby Trowbridge will retire this year. One of the candidates, Mark Sandridge, caught the most media attention this spring after his campaign portrayed Jackson in a negative light.

Lynn Fitch

Lynn Fitch, 49, is from Holly Springs, but has lived in Madison for 26 years. She attended the University of Mississippi for her undergraduate degree and for her law degree. She has two daughters and one son.

Left Brain, Right Brain

Natchez inspires Vidal Blankenstein. She says that growing up around all the visual art there molded her as an artist. "Art was never anything that anyone talked about, but it was always there," she says. "It was everywhere."

Diary of a Dad

Patience. It's a word that has a lot of meanings for fathers. Whether it's for our careers or with our children, patience is a difficult skill to develop. Author Jeff Kinney, a self-described "failed cartoonist," worked to become a comic-strip artist; however, that career eluded him.

For One Moment: A Black-White Role Reversal

This morning, I woke up to more of the usual-suspect comments under this story: Crime Perception Hurts Jackson Economy. Apparently, I had wigged out the white-guy chorus that always wants to point fingers the other direction when it comes to crime. How? By talking about how our racist, terroristic history against African Americans has led to today's crime situation. They no like that:

State Universities to Get Broadband Boost

Mississippi's research universities and other state research centers will be able to communicate much more efficiently, thanks to expanded broadband technology.

Republican Cat Fight for District 25

When it comes to their platforms, there aren't many differences between the Republican candidates for the state senate's district 25. Will Longwitz, a Madison attorney, and Charles Barbour, a businessman and former Hinds County supervisor (and nephew of Gov. Haley Barbour), both preach limited government and fiscal responsibility, and both share conservative values. Perhaps that's why the District 25 race has been an endless political tug-of-war between the candidates as they try to gain votes in this close race. Whoever wins the Republican runoff election Aug. 23 will face Democrat Cecilia Sampayo in the Nov. 8 general election.

Ruthie Taylor

Ruthie Taylor teaches middle-school classes in theater production where she helps students from fifth to eighth grade find themselves through the characters in plays and through the different functions needed to bring a production to the stage. "Middle school is a tough time to grow up," she says. "I want to give the students an outlet for their energy."

Of Anger and Alternative Endings

When I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to be a civil-rights attorney. I had visions of righting the kinds of wrongs done in my hometown of Philadelphia, Miss. I only learned about the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner by people my family knew when I was 14, even though they happened when I was 3.

Tuesday, August 16

Simulation Builds Respect for Poor People

It's getting close to the end of the month, and the "Chen" family is trying to decide which bills they can afford to pay. The utility company tells them their phones and electricity are about to be shut off. They try negotiating.

Ablene Cooper to Appeal ‘Help' Decision

Attorneys for Ablene Cooper claim Kathryn Stockett used their client's name and image without permission in "The Help." Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green threw out her case this morning, however, saying Cooper did not file her complaint against the author within a one-year statute of limitations. Cooper's attorneys say they will appeal Green's decision.

Millsaps Ranks High; Auto Plant Expands

The Environmental Protection Agency has chosen Jackson to be part of the Greening America's Capitols initiative.

Lucio Miele

Dr. Lucio Miele of University of Mississippi Medical Center is the newest member of the American Cancer Society's Mid-South Division Board of Directors.

Ward 3 Community Meeting Tonight

The city of Jackson hosts a community meeting today at Cherry Grove Baptist Church (1296 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) at 6 p.m.

Making your move: How to find off-campus housing

Living on campus can be fun, but if you're tired of putting up with late-night study sessions in the hall and always being at school, off-campus housing can be a convenient and cost effective alternative.

Monday, August 15

Internology 101

As I turned the silver knob on the wooden door with the words "JACKSON FREE PRESS" placed neatly on it, I started to wonder what I was getting myself into. I immediately noticed a bright, lime green room and thought to myself, "I want to work in there."

Community Stands Against Racial Injustice

As more than 500 community leaders, families and public officials held candles and sang "This Little Light of Mine" last night, they walked in unison along Ellis Avenue to honor the life of James Craig Anderson and take a stand against racial injustice.

Simpson Criticizes AG for Not Debating

Steve Simpson, candidate for state attorney general, is criticizing Attorney General Jim Hood for refusing to participate in town-hall style debates before the election.

Amber Thomas

Around 9 or 10 p.m. last Monday, an emotional Twitter conversation was brewing, and student Amber Thomas joined the discussion. Earlier in the day, CNN released the video of the June 26 attack and hit-and-run incident that left 49-year-old James Craig Anderson dead in the middle of the night.

Community Events

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

Jackson Teen Killed on Bike

Jim Hill High School student Tommy Wheaton died last night from injuries sustained from a hit-and-run driver.

Friday, August 12

Attend a Vigil this Sunday to Denounce Murder of James Craig Anderson

Here is the verbatim press release:

We're thrilled to hear that a diverse group has come together in the metro—include Pine Lake Church, the NAACP, Beth Israel and New Horizon Ministries—to honor James Craig Anderson, who was allegedly murder because he was black by a group of white Rankin County teens. They will hold a vigil this Sunday night at New Horizon International Ministries, one block from where the murder took place, to "call for forgiveness and peace for our city" and to "denounce hates brought to this neighborhood." Let's all show up.

Bringing Civility Back to Online Conversations

Here is what the Des Moines Register told readers today:

It was predictable. Allowing anonymous free-for-alls in online newspaper comments—in a way papers never would do in print—is about to go the way of the Hummer. The Des Moines Register, a Gannett-owned paper whose site looks just like the Clarion-Ledger's announced today that it has started allowing only comments from people logged in through Facebook. This somewhat-extreme measure comes after Gannett papers, and many other websites, operated at the other extreme for way too long: allowing just about anything anybody with a fake name wanted to post on their sites. They clearly thought, for a minute, that this was good for page views. And maybe for a minute it was. But, nowadays, all you hear is how nasty the comments are, and readers are flocking away from sites that allow this level of anonymous vitriol and nasty personal comments. People increasingly are only going to such sites for negative entertainment value—the same reason people watch Jerry Springer or pick up Star Magazine. Real news outlets have to have better sense.

Crime Perception Hurts Jackson Economy

Jackson misses out on booking conventions because of a false perception that the city has a high crime rate, Rickey Thigpen says. Thigpen, executive vice president of the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke this morning at the Friday Forum gathering at Koinonia Coffee House.

Back to School

Students began arriving at Timberlawn Elementary School before 7:30 a.m.--early for some older children whose brains were still on a summer schedule. Younger children in brand new, oversized backpacks looked apprehensively at the school's doors, but special education teacher April Washington greeted them with a smile. "Hey! Are you ready?" she asked enthusiastically before directing children and parents to the right classrooms.

Derrick Smith

Derrick Smith has always believed that a haircut can yield a completely changed person. For him, a haircut represents a new outlook, a different way of seeing the world. That is why the 36-year-old barber is hosting Cutting for Confidence, a back-to-school event for young boys.

It's the Weekend!

It's Friday, and this afternoon would be a good time to view an art exhibit. Before you head home from work, take a walk through Anne Dennis' "Despair to Destiny" exhibit at Jackson Municipal Art Gallery. To find other local places to browse art, go to the Gallery Listings. For more ideas on how to start your weekend in a variety of ways, see what the JFP Best Bets are for the weekend.

Thursday, August 11

McMillin Concedes Sheriff's Race

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin is conceding the Aug. 2 primary election to his challenger, Tyrone Lewis. Read the statement here.

Get Yours

The majority of high schoolers don't seem to know it exists.

"I get it once a week." That is the JFP marketing slogan. It's true; some people do pick up a copy of the paper every Wednesday. However, I'm disappointed by how few of those people are my peers.

JRA Hires Consultant for Convention Hotel

By the end of this month, city leaders should have an independent study to determine whether the city of Jackson should help finance a long-awaited convention center hotel.

Mary Sterrett

Well-wishers are posting birthday greetings on Facebook for the first baby born at Baptist Health Systems, Mary Ormand Heald Sterrett, who turns 100 today.

Blues Heritage as a Way to Boost the Economy

A new Mississippi Blues Trail marker was unveiled Wednesday to commemorate Jackson's contributions to American culture. The marker is in front of the King Edward Hotel, formerly known as the Edwards Hotel, where blues artists recorded and performed music in the 1930s.

What do you think of ‘The Help'? About race progress in the state and Jackson?

Now that "The Help" has officially opened, it's getting massive national attention. (Just follow hashtag #thehelp on Twitter to see responses.) We're also getting calls from national media wanting to know how it's being received and, inevitably, how Jackson has changed, or if it has. Of course, this is happening the week that CNN reported that a group of Rankin County teens are accused of coming into Jackson to find a black man to "mess with" and then killed him. Like it or not, we are in the national race spotlight again.

Hinds Candidates to Inspect Ballots

Two Hinds County candidates have confirmed that they will inspect ballots from the Aug. 2 primary.

Andrew McMillin, son of the Sheriff Malcolm McMillin, confirmed that the sheriff filed an inspection notice with election officials yesterday. He said any further comments would come from the sheriff.

Wednesday, August 10

Liquid Themes

Maybe it's all those lit classes in college, but theme is important to me—whether it's in writing, in one's wardrobe for the season or for a party. The past few weeks offered plenty of opportunity for Jacksonians to submerse themselves in a theme-based activity for a night (or day), and I happily joined in.

Think First, Bark Later

Fights about election results in tight races aren't unusual, but the committee's public-relations errors cast a negative image on Hinds County.

[Stiggers] Hustle Mode

If you're mad as hell and not going to take it any more, come to the east wing of the Clubb Chicken Wing Multi-Purpose Complex and join the Hustle family, the Ghetto Science Franchise Association and the 'Lord, I Don't Have a Job Center for Unemployment' staff at the 'Hustle for Survival and Sanity in a Bad Economy Future Entrepreneur Expo.

[Mott] Shine On

In his classic work on creativity, "The Gift," Lewis Hyde likens artistic output to the gift giving of indigenous people. Creativity is a sacred thing to be shared and passed on, like a fine pipe of tobacco among some Native Americans, not something to be squirreled away or used up for personal gain. "Whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away again, not kept," he writes.

[Mamoon] We Are Jackson

Living in Jackson, we have the power to touch lives and change things, and I don't think there is anything more interesting than that.

Burn Calories, Not Cash

In my recent search for the right gym, I found that many of the gyms in the area expect you to burn more cash than calories. I just wanted a place where I could work off all the leftovers I've been stealing from my roommate, not some extravagant fitness complex.

Lunches for Less

Feeding yourself on a college budget can sometimes be tricky. In Jackson, however, finding great, affordable food doesn't have to be a hassle and you don't have to resort to fast-food chains. With the city's selection of wholesome but cheap eateries, you won't have to go hungry or empty out your piggybank.

College Town: What's Here

Belhaven University

Break Out Your Biking Gear

Did you bring your bike with you to Jackson but don't know what to do with it? The city and surrounding area have plenty places with beautiful designated biking trails. Only a few roads have bike trails, so be careful when riding in the street. Jackson motorists can be scary.

Day Trippin'

When I was younger, my parents would take me to the beach every school break. Dragging towel-laden plastic bags, we'd make the five-hour trip to Pensacola, Fla. The sea and the sand were great, but by about the 10th trip, I was so bored with the beach.

Jackson's Best Date Spots

You've been thinking about that special person for days. Hands shaking, sweat beading on your upper lip, you've managed to ask him or her out. In spite of the nervous laughter and blotchy, discolored skin tone, you feel good.

Bringing out Your Inner Kid

Sometimes it can be freeing and fun to think like a kid when looking for things to do. Various health experts suggest kid-like activities to relieve anxiety and open up the mind.

Recognize These Words?

Southerners, especially Mississippians, have our own language. When I went away to the University of Southern Mississippi, non-residents of Mississippi were always looking at me sideways when I said certain things.

Car Repair for Less

As college students, we frequently experience periods of extreme sleep deprivation and high stress levels. Times like these render us a bit harried, when it comes to day-to-day activities such as careful driving and vehicle maintenance. Luckily, a couple of auto-repair shops in the Jackson area are willing to work with college students on the cost of repairs to fit within the budget of those striving for a higher education.

14 Songs for Summer's End

Summer's quickly coming to a close, and many of us are busy settling back into our roles of responsibility. Whether you're going back to school or starting your career, every moment of your life deserves a soundtrack.

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Welcome, New Jacksonians

Fact: Jackson is a college town. The metro area is home to eight colleges and universities plus a few technical schools. Despite the popular (and false) saying of "there's nothing to do in Jackson," people flock here for their education, swelling the city's population by 30,000 to 40,000 people. There are plenty of places to go and things to see, some of which are free.

Where the Sewage Ends

For the past year and a half, residents on Edmar Place in east Fondren have heard the continuous rumblings from a generator as it pumps sewage out of the ground and sends it to the city's sewage treatment facility.

Coast Builds Green Grade School

Cities and counties around Mississippi are "going green" with earth-friendly schools. The buildings may not have futuristic solar panels or space-age architecture, but they do have technology that can save money and the environment.

Brent Hendrixson

He may not be able to shoot webs out of his wrists, but Brent Hendrixson is a real-life "spider man." When he was a child, his mother would be hard-pressed to find him inside the house. Hendrixson spent almost his entire childhood neck-deep in the abundant ponds and marshes of his native Thornton, Colo. He loved being outdoors, looking for critters.

Stop Being a Regular

Everywhere I go, I see people who are not satisfied with where they are. My friends in New Orleans can't wait until they can move to New York or Japan, but people in Jackson are anxious to go to the Big Easy. Even folks in Chicago think it's a boring place to live. Various people whom I meet or know always ask me where I want to live when I'm older or where I would like to travel.

Teachers Take Fitness Challenge

After waking up before sunrise, nearly 200 teachers--and others who work in schools--arrive at Jackson State University at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. It's the 2011 Paul Lacoste Fit 4 Teaching Challenge that began May 30, sponsored by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

Creating a Spectacle

At 7:05 a.m. Aug. 2, Republican Executive Committee Chairman Pete Perry received an urgent call from a poll worker at the Wynndale Precinct in Terry. The poll worker told him that candidates' names for certain races were not appearing on some of the electronic voting machines, and he needed more paper ballots quickly.

Tuesday, August 9

My Exciting NABJ Trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!!!

Yesterday was my first day back home from the 2011 National Association of Black Journalists Conference, and although I am just recovering from jet lag, I am bursting with energy and excitement! This was my first NABJ national conference, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the host city this year. From Wednesday to Saturday, I met journalists and aspiring journalists, attended seminars and panel discussions, and had a great time enjoying Philly!

'Trickle-Down' Explained In About 1:30

Warning, NSFFNW. (Not Safe for Fox News Workplaces.)

Stokes to Resign from City Council

Jackson Ward 3 City Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he plans to resign from City Council in order to serve as Hinds County's new District 5 supervisor.

Downtown Gets More Housing

Adrian Turner, president of the home-building company Major Associates, said last week that her company will renovate its office at 207 West Amite St. to include residential units.

Linda Liddell

Linda Liddell has become one of the community's leading activists. The west Jackson resident, 51, coordinates barbers who give free haircuts to local elementary students. The only requirement for the children to participate is a signed permission slip from their parent. Liddell initially started the group for west Jackson students.

Monday, August 8

Should Sheriff McMillin Challenge Election Outcome?


Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said on his Facebook page today that he is challenging the outcome of the Democratic primary, which Tyrone Lewis has now officially won:

McGowan Funding Initial One-Lake Study

The Pearl River Vision Foundation is paying for the initial study of a one-lake flood-control development along the Pearl River, the group's founder John McGowan said today. "We're going to fund it up until the point it becomes a Corps project," McGowan said after the monthly, Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, or Levee Board, meeting at Flowood City Hall. "Me, mainly, with maybe some funding from other private entities," McGowan said.

Hinds Officials Point Fingers

After five days of tension and confusion over the results of Hinds County Elections, the Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee expects to return to the county courthouse tomorrow and certify Tyrone Lewis as the official winner of the sheriff's race.

Joseph Muller

Joseph Muller got a great opportunity after he graduated from Millsaps College in May. He got a job as an editorial assistant in acquisitions at University Press of Mississippi. Now he has to give up that great opportunity that English majors dream about for another one--a Fulbright Award.

Community Events

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

White Rankin Teens Accused of Race Murder

CNN has a shocking report today, including surveillance video of Rankin County teens accused of killing James Craig Anderson in a race murder in June. Warning: Video contains disturbing scenes.

Lewis Poised to Win Sheriff's Race

Hinds County election officials unexpectedly returned to the Hinds County Courthouse on Sunday afternoon to finalize votes.

Friday, August 5

Hinds County Officials Spar, Returning to Courthouse Sunday

After more than two days of resolving conflicts over the Tuesday's elections, election officials and campaign supporters will head back to the Hinds County Courthouse at 9 a.m. Saturday to continue counting ballots and resolving voting issues.

[Breaking News] Mass Confusion at Hinds County Courthouse

News editor Lacey McLaughlin reports mass confusion at the Hinds County Courthouse as officials disagree on how to count absentee ballots.

SPLC Attacks State's School-to-Jail Pipeline

Jody Owens shared this morning an upsetting example of what's wrong with juvenile justice in Mississippi. A child suffering from depression, he said, cried out while in custody at Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center. "Shut the hell up," the guard told him. The child later cut his wrists.

Pups Promote Self-Esteem

Looking at the squat brick building on Bailey Avenue, with its barred windows and dreary outside decor, one wouldn't imagine that it houses one of the most spectacular organizations in Jackson. The moment you step through the double doors, though, it is readily apparent that you are in the midst of something special.

Robert Barbour

Jackson businessman Robert Barbour saw an empty lot in Midtown as an opportunity to engage with the community. Barbour, who owns Star Grocery on Bailey Avenue, will turn the space into a family festival Saturday during "Mid-Town ThrowDown."

City to Host Energy Savings Program

The City of Jackson will host an Energy Efficiency Program Aug. 10 and 11 at the Mississippi Arts Center (201 E. Pascagoula St.) from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 4

Election Confusion Results in Unknowns

The Hinds County Sheriff's race wasn't the only primary race contested yesterday. Gay Polk, Democratic candidate for state representative of district 73, says she received several calls from voters in her district who were not able vote for her because she wasn't on the ballot.

Democratic Candidates on the Road Again

Candidate of the Day: Cindy Hyde-Smith

Now that state Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith won the Republican primary Tuesday in her bid to become Mississippi's agricultural commissioner, she's helping her daughter start a new school year.

Crime: How to Prevent It?

Last night on Facebook, I saw some folks posting about the awful crimes we've seen in Jackson of late, including the Lanier High School student, may he rest in peace. Some of the comments seem to be headed the direction we often see a year or so before mayoral elections kick in: blaming the chief and mayor for not speaking out more. Having covered—or been mired in—the Frank Melton campaign and then mayoral tenure, that kind of language makes me nervous, and just sounds political even if it's not meant to. We're gearing up to do a special issue here on big ideas about crime: how to prevent it, respond to it, talk about it, debate it in a more intelligent, proactive way that doesn't devolve into fingerpointing and the kind of sensationalism that makes it harder to actually prevent crime. As we shape that issue, I want to hear your thoughts and big ideas, as well as see any links to best practices and such that we should incorporate into our issue, and the city's approach.

City Issues Boil Water Notice

The city of Jackson issued a boil-water notice for residents at Dorothy Lake and Pine Cove yesterday due to a water line break.

Wednesday, August 3

Tales of a First-Grade Rocker

As my siblings and I were growing up, my daddy turned us on to The Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers and for balance, the gospel group The Happy Goodman Family. I knew the words to "Elvira" long before learning "Jesus Loves Me," but we enjoyed all types of music.

Grow Your Own Garden

Much of the food we eat has poor nutritional quality, and many of us value the quantity of our food supply more than its quality. For the sake of convenience and cost, we limit our consumption of whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and turn instead to refined, processed, pre-packaged and pre-made foods.

Back to School Goodies

Back to school means a new grade with new teachers, new uniforms and sneakers. Best of all, it means new accessories and supplies. Up your cool factor a little this year with items that have character and express your personality.

Education Update

Mississippi Curriculum Test 2 scores for the 2010-2011 school year show that for the first time in Mississippi more than 50 percent of students in each grade scored proficient or above in language arts. Each year, students in third through eighth grades take the tests, meant to measure school and district performance.

Buying the News

Everybody does it. That's essentially the explanation ABC broadcaster Chris Cuomo gave for the television network's practice of paying for photographs—a tricky way of paying sources to speak.

Searching for Dems at the Fair

As Democratic governor hopeful Johnny DuPree took the stump at the Neshoba County Fair, he looked at a majority-white crowd waving signs supporting Phil Bryant and Gov. Haley Barbour.

Time for Justice

"The wheels of justice grind very slowly, but sometimes they grind in the right direction." Hinds County Circuit Court Tomie Green spoke those words to Cedric Willis March 6, 2006, as she was exonerating him of all charges against him, setting him free 12 years after his arrest.

[Stiggers] Loosen the Screws

Sometimes events in life force you to make adjustments, just like that company did when it laid you off. It's time for you to loosen those screws. Rise up and move forward. Hijacking a plane won't help you.

[Kamikaze] What We've Learned

It's frustrating. Those of us who preach progression, who practice tolerance, see it daily. Despite the Herculean efforts of most of us, we still have some among us who are not willing to embrace diversity.

[Purvis] Dealing with the Devil

DeeDee didn't attend church much, but he was a man who believed in a day of judgment.

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Measuring Progress: The Evolution of Downtown Jackson Partners

Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen resembled a proud father during a presentation to downtown property owners at the Mississippi Museum of Art on May 26. A video displayed images of a vast cityscape, streets filled with smiling young professionals and renovated lofts.

Work as Inspiration

Anthony DiFatta got the first art show of his career at Nunnery's Gallery after he donated some of his paintings to a HeARTS Against AIDS fundraiser. Mike Nunnery saw his work and proposed the exhibit. The popular Jackson artist, who now has shows all over the country, still helps arts organizations.

Inside Their Skins

Tate Taylor instinctively understood what he had in common with the characters in "The Help." Like his childhood buddy Kathryn Stockett, who wrote the bestselling novel, and the film's producer Brunson Green, Taylor grew up in Jackson.

Mississippi's Creative Economy

The Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Arts Commission host a summit on Mississippi's Creative Economy Aug. 10 at the Jackson Convention Center.

Carnival Folk

Multiple voices filled the pale green room at a rehearsal for "Assassins," a Stephen Sondheim musical about presidential assassins with a carnival theme. Five people with open notebooks sat around the piano at the Warehouse Theatre on Monroe Street, New Stage Theatre's new space in Belhaven.

Extended Hours for Sisters

The Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, 528 Bloom St, Jackson, is extending its Freedom's Sisters exhibit to Aug. 22.

Field Trip, 2.0

Gosh durn it. I should have known this would happen again. One learning experience doesn't cure you of inanity.

Hinds County Sheriff's Race Not Over

Candidates and concerned citizens filled the basement of the Hinds County Courthouse this morning as they waited for the Hinds County Election Commission to certify remaining ballots that could determine the winner of the sheriff's race. After reports of polls opening late, and candidates left off ballots at the Wynndale precinct in Terry, supporters of Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin are questioning the validity of the ballots.

City Offers to Settle With Cedric Willis

After 17 years, Cedric Willis may get some measure of compensation from the city of Jackson for a wrongful conviction that cost him 12 years of his life. In 1994, Jackson police arrested Willis, then 19, for murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green exonerated him of all charges in 2006. Willis did not commit the crimes for which he was imprisoned.

JRA Questions Parking Garage

Jackson Redevelopment Authority board members want to determine the feasibility of two high-priced developments that the quasi-government agency may help finance.

Shae Goodman-Robinson

Shae Goodman-Robinson's life is centered in west Jackson. She was born and raised in the area. Her parents, Alex and Lula Goodman, still live in her childhood home, and her children (son, Cornelius, 17, and daughter, Tori, 16) attend Jim Hill High School, her alma mater.

Second Best Ideas

I vividly remember the day when Ward 1 City Councilman Ben Allen bounded into my office at the Jackson Free Press. During the Frank Melton mayoral administration, it wasn't unusual for Allen to pop by; we didn't agree on everything and fought like banshees on the Internet from time to time, but we were on the same page when it came to some of the crazy coming out of city hall. We found common ground on the need for Jackson, and particularly downtown, to get its groove back.

Bryant Wins GOP Primary; Dems to have Runoff

Phil Bryant won the Republican primary last night and Democratic governor candidates Bill Luckett and Johnny DuPree face a run off.

James Ford Seale Dead in Prison; Helped Kill 2 Black Teens in 1964

James Ford Seale, 76, has died in prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where he was serving three life sentences on federal kidnapping charges in 2007, the Associated Press is reporting. In 1964, he was a Ku Klux Klansman who helped kidnap and murder two teenagers, Henry Dee and Charles Moore. The Jackson Free Press accompanied Moore's brother, Thomas, and a cameraman from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in 2005 back to Meadville and Roxie, Miss., where the team discovered that Seale was still alive and living openly next to his brother in a trailer in Roxie. Other media, including the Associated Press and The Clarion-Ledger, had reported him dead.

Best in Show

The Neshoba County Fair has a Ferris wheel, deep-fried food, livestock shows and 4-H exhibits, but the best entertainment is the political theatrics that take place under the pavilion in Founder's Square.

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The JFP Interview with Bill Luckett

In Clarksdale, Miss., Bill Luckett may as well already be governor. An attorney by training, he seems to have a hand in nearly every significant activity in town. Down the road from his law office, a revitalization effort is afoot in downtown Clarksdale. Ground Zero Blues Club and Madidi Restaurant, two ventures Luckett owns with actor Morgan Freeman, are central to this progress.

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The JFP Interview With Tyrone Lewis

Tyrone Lewis, former Jackson Police officer (1983-2010), police chief and Democratic candidate for Hinds County Sheriff, is not a small man. He stands about 6 feet, but his barrel chest is like a cowcatcher on a 19th-century steam locomotive. When he flexes his arms, the muscles beneath the skin tumble over one another like a bag of basketballs.

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The JFP Interview with Malcolm McMillin

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin's office is home to several porcelain and ceramic pigs. Asked about his collection, the sheriff points to a Winston Churchill quote on his wall. "A cat looks down upon a man, and a dog looks up to a man, but a pig will look a man in the eye and see his equal," the quote reads.

Tuesday, August 2

Last 24 Hours: Governor Hopefuls Do It Their Way

Republican candidate for governor Phil Bryant said he had no regrets at a cookout he hosted for supporters and volunteers Monday evening at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson. He called the last days before the primaries the most exciting time in his political experience.

City Celebrates Biz Openings; Green Building

Jackson will see grand openings for a day care, Mexican restaurant, animal clinic and an online college this month.

Laketia Marshall-Thomas

Laketia Marshall-Thomas never intended to be a teacher. She went to Tougaloo College and then to Clark Atlanta University, where she graduated with a master's degree in organic chemistry. She planned to be a chemist, but a professor from Tougaloo College recommended her for a position teaching 7th grade math.

Monday, August 1

Barbour Declares Budget Victory for ‘Both Republicans and Tea Party'

Gov. Haley Barbour just issued a verbatim statement about the debt deal: "The Budget Control Act is a major victory for conservatives both Republican and Tea Party. It is not perfect, but it is a big step in the right direction, which is all you can ask for when you have a Democrat Senate and a Democrat President. While there will be much left to do after this passes, this is a big step forward."

Will the Debt Deal Spell Disaster for the U.S.?

Paul Krugman explains in his New York Times column why we could be facing economic disaster as a result of the obsession over slashing spending:

WaPo: Who ‘Wins' With The Debt Ceiling Deal?

Some say the debt deal announced this weekend helps Obama claim centrist cred and position him for re-election:

JRA Questions Old Capitol Green Garage Plan

Jackson Redevelopment Authority board members are questioning the first phase of the Old Capitol Green development while they wait on the developers to submit a proposal for JRA to help to finance a $27 million parking garage with adjoining commercial space.

A Reading List for Following the Debt Ceiling Drama

Congress has until Aug. 2 to raise the debt ceiling, the cap on the amount of money the Treasury can borrow to pay the government's bills. As the clock keeps ticking, you may still have unanswered questions. How dire could the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling be? What are the possible solutions? Here's a reading list to help you keep up.

Candidate Sandridge Says Jackson Threatens Madison ‘Way of Life'

Here is the full write-up:

In his bought campaign write-up in The Northside Sun this week, Madison County Sheriff candidate Mark Sandridge amps up the anti-Jackson rhetoric that brought him massive criticism in May when he ran this campaign ad. This write-up, which the Sun gives candidates who also buy advertising in the paper, goes even further than calling Jackson one of the "most violent cities in the nation" (which is inaccurate). In this anti-Jackson diatribe, Sandridge borrows from segregationist language of old and says that Jackson—now a majority-black city—actually "threatens our schools, businesses, property values and way of life."

Candidate of the Day: Lee Yancey

Sen. Lee Yancey, R-Brandon, claims to be the only candidate for state treasurer who has a voting record to study.

Mark a Ballot

"Are you voting in the primary elections?" I asked him. I knew I was marking a ballot Tuesday.

I was riding with my friend back home after seeing Cowboy and Aliens at Malco Theaters. I looked at the election signs that seemed to multiply overnight.

Community Events and Public Meetings

Parents & Kids Magazine's Back-to-school Pajama Parties. Children in kindergarten through second grade enjoy music, bedtime stories, goody bags and refreshments. Parents must accompany children. Pre-registration required. The first 100 registrants receive a surprise gift. Free; call 601-366-0901.

Field Trip, Indeed

"It'll be like a field trip," said Lacey McLaughlin, while instructing me to retrieve the Hinds County Sherriff campaign contributions from the Circuit Court Clerk.

Water Boil Notice Still in Effect

The city of Jackson issued a precautionary boil-water notice after two water lines broke this weekend.