Fisheries and Parks

Senior-only draw hunt for deer coming to prime Mississippi WMAs

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rssfeeds.hattiesburgamerican.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-09-27 21:02:52

If you’re a senior deer hunter in Mississippi and want to hunt some of the state’s prime wildlife management areas for big bucks, you’re odds of doing that just got better.

The Commission on Wildlife, in its September meeting approved a new draw hunt in the South Delta for hunters 65 years and older and more senior-only opportunities are expected in the future..

“The hunts are January 19th and 20th,” said , Fisheries and Parks Wildlife Bureau director Amy Blaylock. “You’re going to have the opportunity to hunt Mahannah or any unit of Phil…

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Lynn Posey appointed as executive director of MDWFP

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-09-23 14:36:45

Gov. Tate Reeves announced Friday his appointment for executive director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks along with appointments for two other positions.

In a Friday press conference in Hernando, Reeves named Lynn Posey as the new MDWFP head.

“He’s long been a supporter of outdoors and he’s done an incredible amount to further conservation efforts in the great state of Mississippi,” Reeves said. “I am confident in his leadership and I know he will lead this organization exceptionally well.”

Posey served in the state Senate from 1988 to 2007. During that time, he…

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Reeves appointments Posey, Beckett – Mississippi Today

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Reeves names Posey to head MDWFP, Beckett for Public Utilities

Gov. Tate Reeves on Friday named his picks to run the state Public Utilities Staff and the , with both choices drawing the ire of one of the state’s largest environmental groups.

Reeves named State Rep. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, as Public Utilities Staff director. He named former state senator and former Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey to run MDWFP, where he has been serving as interim director.

Reeves praised Beckett and Posey and said, “Each have a long track record of distinguished public service.”

Beckett replaces Sally Doty, appointed by Reeves in 2020, who left that agency earlier this year to run the state’s new broadband expansion office.

Beckett has served in the Legislature for 19 years, including an eight-year stint as chair of the Public Utilities Committee.

“Affordability (of utility bills) is going to be a challenge for our citizens, but we will make every effort to do so,” Beckett said.

Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller said he believes Beckett is too cozy with the large utility companies he will now help regulate. He called both Beckett and Posey “political hacks” and said the governor should have chosen more qualified directors.

“All you have to do is look at Jim Beckett’s campaign contributions and the legislation that he has sponsored to know that he is a wholly-owned subsidiary of out-of-state, multi-billion dollar utility monopolies doing business in Mississippi,” Miller said. “We know what he’s about, and it’s not protecting the consumer or advancing clean energy.”

The Public Utilities Staff was created in 1990 to provide technical assistance and make recommendations to the elected, three-member Public Service Commission. The independent staff office was created in an effort to remove politics and corruption from oversight and rate setting of public utilities.

The elected Public Service Commission is required to submit a list of at least three people to the governor for a utilities staff director. The governor’s choice is subject to approval by the state Senate. The people the PSC had submitted for consideration were: Beckett, former Texas lawmaker and Texas Railroad Commission Chair Elizabeth Ames Coleman, David Boackle, an engineer on the Public Utilities Staff and state Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln.

Elected Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley on Friday said: “Although a political appointment, the actual job of executive director is very non-partisan and should be based on good regulatory policy as an advisor to the PSC. At the end of the day, decisions are made by the three elected commissioners, but I’ve seen these two agencies work best in the past when the goal has been to work together in pursuit of the public interest. I certainly hope Mr. Beckett shares that same philosophy.”

Posey replaces MDWFP Director Sam Polles, the longest tenured director in the agency’s history, who announced his retirement early this year after 29 years. Polles was appointed by Gov. Kirk Fordice and had served under five governors.

Reeves said Posey has “a long legacy of commitment to the outdoors and … has helped protect our natural resources.” Posey in the state Senate served as chairman of the Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Committee. He later served as Public Service Commissioner from 2008 to 2016.

“The touches lives in all 82 counties every day,” Posey said Friday. “Outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing is what Mississippi is all about.”

Polles had been praised by many for expanding wildlife management areas and the state’s lakes system, providing more hunting and fishing opportunities, and construction of the new Mississippi of Natural Science. But he had also been criticized for allowing state parks to deteriorate and pushing plans to privatize them.

Posey on Friday thanked the governor and lawmakers for providing more money this year to rehabilitate state parks, and vowed to “make our park system one that every citizen of this state can be proud of and enjoy.”

But Miller said that so far during his time as assistant director and interim director at MDWF, Posey has supported privatization.

“He has shown he has no interest in keeping state parks public, so Mississippians can afford a vacation,” Miller said. “He’s proven that with wanting to privatize several state parks in Mississippi. That speaks volumes about where his interest is, rather than trying to rebuild this park system with monies that have come down from Washington.”

Miller said that as PSC commissioner, Posey also voted approval for Co.’s failed Kemper County coal gassification plant — one of the largest energy boondoggles in U.S. history.

“He was a consistent yes vote for the $7.5 billion boondoggle,” Miller said. “I don’t think his track record serves him sell as somebody who would be a steward of our public natural resources.”

MDWFP is governed by a five-member commission, with members appointed by the governor. The commission sends a list of at least three people for the governor to choose, subject to approval by the state Senate.

Also on Friday, at the same press conference in Hernando, Reeves announced his appointment Robert “Bob” Morris III as district attorney for the 17th Circuit Court District. Morris will finish the term of longtime DA John Champion, who died earlier this month.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Here’s where to take deer heads

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rssfeeds.hattiesburgamerican.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-09-22 21:02:49

The , is urging hunters to have their deer tested for chronic wasting disease and to make it more convenient, changes have been made in locations where freezers are located to drop off deer heads.

“Mostly, we added some,” said Russ Walsh, MDWFP Wildlife chief of staff. “We added 12.

“We have 63 locations. We moved some around. Some were just not getting many heads so we moved them to more convenient locations.”

Walsh said not only is testing important in CWD management zones, but also in deer management units where the disease has not been…

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Jackson water: Law enforcement groups provide water for Jackson area officers

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Law enforcement groups provide water for Jackson area officers amid crisis

Law enforcement officers with several associations have raised money and provided bottled water to fellow officers serving in the Jackson area during the city’s water crisis.

The Mississippi State Troopers Association, Mississippi Association of Chiefs of , Troopers Coalition and Mississippi Wildlife Foundation have provided about $2,500 worth of bottled water to officers with the Jackson Police Department, troopers serving in Jackson, the Capitol Police and MDWFP game and fish officers in Jackson.

Master Sgt. Scott Henley, vice president of the Troopers Association, said: “I thought about how hard it would be for law enforcement officers trying to work and take care of their families during the water crisis, so we wanted to show our support for them and their families.”

Besides state and federal government emergency crews supplying Jacksonians with drinking and non-potable water, many local and nationwide organizations have supplied and distributed water. While most of Jackson now has flowing water again, a boil-water warning continues into its second month for the city system.

READ MOREMississippi Today’s complete coverage of the Jackson water crisis

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Biden appoints U.S. attorney who will inherit welfare investigation

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Biden appoints new U.S. attorney who will inherit welfare scandal investigation

has nominated Todd Gee to serve as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, a post that has been vacant since appointee Mike Hurst resigned in January 2021.

Gee, a native of Vicksburg, has served as deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice 2018. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., from 2007 to 2015, and before that as counsel and policy advisor for the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

Gee, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will take office as the federal government is reportedly investigating the massive welfare scandal in Mississippi, where his background in the Public Integrity Section of DOJ might come into play. The Public Integrity Section, created in 1976 after the Watergate scandal, prosecutes criminal abuses of public trust by government officials. It investigates and prosecutes alleged misconduct of public officials in all three branches of federal government, plus state and local public officials.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs said he was pleased Gee received the appointment.

“He is a great person for that job,” Flaggs said. “He has always been an intellectual young man. Todd Gee will adhere to the law.”

Flaggs said Gee’s grandfather, Nathaniel Bullard, served as mayor of Vicksburg from 1973 until 1977 and also was a chancery judge. He had another relative who was a district attorney.

“He comes from a family of lawyers,” Flaggs said.

The Vicksburg mayor said U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of the 2nd District of Mississippi, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee where Gee previously served as lead counsel, supported the nomination and recently announced the pending nomination at a civics club meeting in Vicksburg.

Earlier Thompson wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice following Mississippi Today’s series The Backchannel, which broke new details on the welfare scandal. In the letter, Thompson asked federal authorities to specifically investigate the role of former Gov. Phil Bryant in the welfare misspending or .

READ MORE: Congressman asks feds to investigate former Gov. Phil Bryant’s welfare spending influence

“My understanding is all of the allegations that have been made are currently under investigation,” Thompson told Mississippi Today Friday when asked if the U.S. had responded to his letter. “Actually there’s a report in the press that the FBI has already engaged some of the people … When the neediest citizens are compromised by what happened with the TANF (welfare) funds, we have to make sure that those perpetrators of that illegal activity are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

Thompson continued: “I don’t care if you’re a quarterback on a football team, if you are governor of the state of Mississippi, or if you like volleyball — those things shouldn’t be spent and supported by TANF dollars. I have a very vulnerable district in the state. Those dollars were intended to make life better for families in need. I don’t know how those individuals who took that money can sleep at night knowing they took resources from the neediest people.”

READ MORE: Gov. Phil Bryant directed $1.1 million welfare payment to Brett Favre, defendant says

Biden also announced two nominees for U.S. Marshal for the Northern and Southern districts of Mississippi. Michael Purnell, who has served many years with the , was nominated for the Northern District. Dale Bale, a professional protection officer for a private security service in Hernando, was nominated for Southern District Marshal. Bale previously served with the and the Sheriff’s Department.

All the appointments announced Friday require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Other key federal posts remain open in Mississippi. Biden has not announced a nominee for U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Plus, a federal judgeship remains open in the Northern District. Judge Michael Mills of the Northern District announced in November he was taking senior status, creating an open judgeship.

READ MORE: Phil Bryant had his sights on a payout as welfare funds flowed to Brett Favre

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

South Mississippi creek alligator bites teenager

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rssfeeds.hattiesburgamerican.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-07-06 21:00:04

A Mississippi teenager was recently bitten by an in a creek in .

According to Ricky Flynt, Alligator Program coordinator for the , , two boys were at a popular recreational spot on Red Creek at MS 26 in on June 13.

A 4-foot alligator swam toward them and one of the boys was able to get out of the water,…

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MDWFP sets early, bucks-only deer season dates

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-05-21 05:01:41

Deer hunters in Mississippi will have a chance to harvest a buck in velvet during the state’s first early archery hunt in September.

The season is set for Sept. 16-18. Russ Walsh, wildlife chief of staff for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said that time reaches a balance between allowing bucks to reach their maximum antler growth for the year and giving hunters a…

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Alligator hunts proposed for Pelahatchie Bay at Barnett Reservoir

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-03-18 21:00:18

The , has proposed an alligator hunting season in Pelahatchie Bay on the Ross Barnett Reservoir to reduce the population through recreational hunters.

“We’re trying to control the adult breeding population,” said Ricky Flynt, MDWFP Alligator Program coordinator. “The adult females are what we’re trying to get out.

“This is a population…

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After another major deadline at the Capitol, here’s what bills survived and died

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After another major deadline at the Capitol, here’s what bills survived and died

Tuesday, March 1, was the deadline for committees in the House and Senate to pass out general law bills that originated in the other chamber — a major “killing deadline” that resulted in hundreds of bills dying with or without a committee vote.

The next major deadline for the Legislature is March 9, for the full chambers to take action on the other chamber’s general bills. Most spending and tax bills face later deadlines than general bills. Although bills might have died, there is a possibility some might be revived by inserting language through the amendment process into bills that remain alive.

The 2022 Mississippi legislative session began Jan. 4 and is scheduled to end on April 3.

Here’s a look at general bills that lived or died with Tuesday night’s deadline:

ALIVE

House Bill 530: Teacher pay raise. After a political game of cat-and-mouse, the House killed the Senate’s teacher pay bill on deadline and the Senate, after much fear and loathing, passed the House bill — amended with its own language — to keep a teacher raise alive. Either version would be the largest teacher pay raise in recent history, at more than $200 million.

HB 770 and SB 2451: Equal pay bills. Both bills survived the March 1 deadline. Mississippi is the last state to not provide state legal recourse for employees paid less for the same work based on sex. However, women’s equal pay groups have criticized both the House and Senate bills as having glaring flaws and called for them to be amended. The Senate also amended the House equal pay bill to keep a proposal to reform divorce laws alive.

READ MORE: Will Mississippi continue to short-change women on equal pay?

SB 2113: Prohibiting teaching of . This bill has divided lawmakers along racial and party lines. Supporters say it would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in kindergarten through 12th grade schools and on the university level. State Department of Education officials have said critical race theory, which strives to explore the impact of racial discrimination on various aspects of society, is not being taught in the . Some say the bill is so vague that it is not clear what the impact of the legislation would be.

READ MORE: House committee advances anti critical race theory bill along racial lines

HC 39: Reviving the state’s initiative process. This proposal would revive the process where citizens can bypass the legislative process and place issues on the ballot for voters to decide. The legislation is needed because the state Supreme Court ruled the initiative process invalid because of a technicality in May 2021.

HB 606: Creating an outdoor stewardship . This measure, a source of debate between House and Senate for two years, would create a conservation fund to use state dollars to draw down federal wildlife conservation grants — as many other states do. The Senate opposes the House’s plan to use diversion of sales taxes from sporting goods to fund it, and stripped that language and said the Legislature would fund it each year. Proponents of the measure say such a fund needs a steady stream of revenue.

SB 2164: Creating a standalone Department of . It would be its own department instead of a division within the Mississippi Development Authority. It would also create the Mississippi Department of Tourism Fund and divert a portion of sales tax revenue collected from restaurants and hotels there instead of to MDA.

SB 2273: Allowing employers to vouch for people on parole, The bill allows employs of people convicted of crimes to provide reports to probation officers to prevent the need for the employee to leave work to report to a probation officer.

HB 1029: Increasing broadband access. This bill provides grants for entities willing to expand broadband in rural areas.

HB 1367: Removing racist language from property deeds. This bill provides property owners an easy, inexpensive way to go to chancery court to remove old language found in property deeds that is no longer enforceable and offensive. Language, for instance, forbidding Black families from owning a piece of property can be found in deeds.

DEAD

SB 2643: Divorce law reform. This measure would have brought Mississippi a step closer to having a unilateral no-fault divorce like most other states. Mississippi’s antiquated divorce laws make getting a divorce difficult and expensive, often allows one spouse to delay a divorce for years and leads to spouses and children being trapped in bad family situations. The bill died in House committee without a vote. But the bill’s author, Sen. Brice Wiggins, said the divorce language was inserted into a House equal pay bill that is still alive.

READ MORE: Mississippi divorce laws are irrevocably broken. This Senate bill would help.

SB 2634: TANF savings accounts. This bill would have provided matching money to help recipients of welfare benefits create savings accounts, and the savings would not affect their eligibility for TANF benefits. The goal of the program, similar to ones most other states have, is to help recipients become financially stable and get off TANF rolls.

SB 2504: Creating state parks division. This measure would have made a state parks division of the , , with its own director. Advocates say the state’s dilapidated, ill-maintained parks have languished under MDWFP for years.

HB 630: Restoring right to vote. This bill would have clarified people whose felony conviction is expunged under existing law would be eligible to vote.

SB 2261: “Buddy’s Law.” This law, named after a dog who barely survived being severely burned and tortured by a 12-year-old in Mississippi. It would require children who torture dogs or cats to receive psychological evaluation, counseling and treatment.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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