Jackson County

Health Care: New program aims to fix worker shortage


Singing River Health Care Workforce Academy allows participants to work while advancing their careers

Working on the front lines of the pandemic was a challenge for staff at the system — a challenge only made harder by staffing issues.

Singing River is hoping to tackle the statewide health care worker shortage directly through its new apprenticeship programs. 

The Singing River Health Care Workforce Academy is a community-centered program on the Gulf Coast that aims to create more opportunities for people to become qualified health care professionals. 

The academy offers apprenticeships, such as a surgical tech internship and a certified nurse assistant internship, to create opportunities for people to continue working while they learn and accelerate their careers. 

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is working with Singing River on the licensed practical nurse (LPN) apprenticeship program, which hospital officials say is the first of its kind in the state. Jessica Lewis, director of human resources at the hospital, hopes that other hospitals will soon adopt the apprenticeship model to generate more career opportunities for Mississippians interested in working in the medical field. 

“We’re putting a huge investment into really training (people) and filling those gaps. The critical piece is making sure that we develop and build pipelines, because we’re going to continue to have staffing crises,” she said. “We have to go out there teaching and training our own.”  

The Singing River Health Care system will create more than 220 jobs while educating more than 1,000 students as a result of the program, according to the hospital.

Students can start in the academy as early as high school so that young people can get exposure to the medical field and make informed decisions about their career paths. Singing River has partnered with the and high schools to engage 11th and 12th grade students to participate in pre-apprenticeship programs and plans to expand to schools in Hancock County. 

Singing River will offer immediate employment to qualified graduates in high-demand critical specialties such as certified nurse assistants, surgical techs and licensed practical nurses.

Kellie Powell, a 33-year-old mother of three originally from Texas, has worked at Singing River as a medical assistant for nine months. She will graduate from the LPN program Sept. 2023. 

Prior to joining Singing River, she lived in New Orleans and worked for Ochsner Health System. After being displaced by Hurricane Ida, she describes coming to Mississippi as “a blessing in disguise.” 

“My children’s father and I packed for three to four days to evacuate and discovered that we couldn’t go back home after the storm,” she said.

She went to Gautier with her family. Her employers at Ochsner told her to find a branch in the Gulf Coast area and start working. 

“I found Singing River in Pascagoula and they hired me on the spot … I didn’t have any interview clothes or a car.” 

She hopes completing the program will help her pay off her student loan debt from when she attended college.  

“This program is the golden ticket. When I graduate, I will be debt free.” 

After graduating, she will sign a contract agreeing to work at Singing River for at least two years after completing the program.

The hospital plans to build a new facility to house this program, which is currently operating in a temporary location, in addition to a community health education center.

Construction for this facility near Hospital will begin soon and is being paid for with a $7 million grant from the state, Lewis said. Topics explored in the community health education center will include tobacco cessation, first aid, parenting, breastfeeding and childbirth. 

There will also be an emphasis on mental health, Lewis said. All of these programs will also be offered virtually through their digital medicine program, a program made by Ochsner Hospital System, that allows individuals to manage one’s high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes insulin from your phone and provides telehealth visits.

Eric Shelton contributed to this report.

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

Jackson County Board of Supervisors holds redistricting public hearing


www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-06-29 17:21:15

The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing to give citizens of the county an opportunity to provide input into the process of redistricting for the board of supervisors, election commissioners, justice court judges, and constables.

The boardroom was packed with concerned Jackson County citizens interested in viewing the proposed layouts and comment on the redistricting process. District 2 Supervisor Ennit…

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Steven Palazzo loses to Mike Ezell


rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-06-28 22:22:53

It was a narrow race, but Sheriff Mike Ezell pulled ahead of six-term incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo to become the Republican candidate for Mississippi’s Fourth District.

The district represents most of .

The Associated Press on Tuesday also called District 3 incumbent Michael Guest the winner of his race against Michael Cassidy.

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) stands with son Patton before voting in the Mississippi Republican Primary Runoffs at Brandon Baptist Church, Brandon, Miss., Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

Early results show Guest taking a…

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Ezell unseats Palazzo, Guest fends off Cassidy in Mississippi midterm runoffs


Ezell unseats Palazzo, Guest fends off Cassidy in Mississippi midterm runoffs

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, representing Mississippi’s 4th District, became the first incumbent congressman to lose in a party primary in recent state history when he was defeated Tuesday by Sheriff Mike Ezell in the Republican primary runoff.

Another incumbent congressman, Michael Guest of the 3rd District in central Mississippi, easily survived a runoff challenge from former Navy pilot Michael Cassidy in the Republican primary.

In the west Mississippi 2nd District runoff Tuesday, Brian Flowers defeated Ronald Eller and will run in the November election against incumbent Democrat Bennie Thompson, the state’s only African American U.S. House member. 

Incumbents Guest and Palazzo were forced to runoff elections because neither garnered a majority vote in the first primary earlier this month.

Guest, a former district attorney representing Madison and Rankin counties in suburban Jackson, actually trailed Cassidy, a campaign novice, in the first primary vote.

But in the runoff, the Republican establishment and the Guest campaign, which apparently had underestimated Cassidy, waged an intensive campaign, easily outdistancing Cassidy. Late Tuesday with results still coming in, Guest had a commanding 67% to 33% lead over Cassidy.

Palazzo did not have similar success in the runoff. In late results, Ezell had a 54% to 46% lead over the incumbent.

The Associated Press called both races late Tuesday.

Ezell in his campaign had hit Palazzo on a long-running complaint the 12-year incumbent has faced: That he is inaccessible to constituents and often absent from the district or in Congress. Palazzo also has been under a House ethics investigation over allegations he used campaign and congressional funds for personal expenses.

In 2010 Palazzo was a member of the state House representing when he was a surprise candidate against incumbent Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor. Most gave Palazzo little chance of upending the long-time incubent Taylor, viewed as a fixture in Gulf Coast politics.

But Palazzo took advantage of the historic Republican wave in 2010 to upset Taylor.

Palazzo’s loss appears to be the first time an incumbent U.S. House member has lost a party primary election in Mississippi since 1962. In that year incumbent Jamie Whitten defeated fellow incumbent Frank Smith in the Democratic primary after they were placed in the same district after Mississippi lost a House seat.

In the 3rd District, Cassidy ran as a Donald Trump conservative, but Guest attacked his conservative principals in late campaign ads. Cassidy, a Lauderdale County resident, had touted on his campaign web page various social spending programs, such as a universal proposal. Cassidy later renounced those programs, but not before giving Guest campaign fodder.

Cassidy attacked Guest as a “Republican in name only” and for for the proposed Jan. 6 Commission to investigate the attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Trump opposed the commission.

In the November general election, Guest will face Democrat Shuwaski Young. Ezell will face Democrat Johnny DuPree and Libertarian Alden Johnson.

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

Cassidy, Guest, others face off in Tuesday election


Vote Tuesday: Hotly contested Republican runoffs in Mississippi

Mississippi voters return to the polls on Tuesday to decide three Republican primaries in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th congressional districts.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Any voter who voted in the June 7 Republican primary or who was registered but did not vote can cast a ballot on Tuesday. Only those who voted in a Democratic primary on June 7, or were not registered to vote before the deadline for the primary, are prohibited from .

In the 3rd and 4th districts, incumbent Republican congressmen face challengers who forced them into runoffs, and the races are hotly contested for seats expected to remain in GOP control. In the 2nd District, a crowded field of Republican primary candidates brought a runoff, although the seat is not expected to flip from Democratic in November.

In the 3rd central Mississippi district, Rep. Michael Guest faces challenger Navy veteran Michael Cassidy. Any voter registered before the June 7 primary deadline can vote in this runoff Tuesday, since there was no Democratic primary then.

READ MORE: Guest, Cassidy sharpen attacks ahead of 3rd District GOP runoff

In the 4th southern Mississippi district, 12-year incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo faces challenger Sheriff Mike Ezell.

READ MORE: Videos: Where do Ezell, Palazzo stand on the issues?

In the 2nd District, Republicans Ronald Eller and Brian Flowers face off, with the winner challenging longtime incumbent Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson in November.

The general election for Mississippi’s midterm congressional races will be Nov. 8.

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

Where do Ezell, Palazzo stand on the issues?


Videos: Where do Ezell, Palazzo stand on the issues?

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo faces challenger Sheriff Mike Ezell in Tuesday’s runoff for the GOP primary for the 4th District House seat, serving .

Palazzo, facing a crowded field of Republican challengers in the midterm primary, received about 32% of the vote; Ezell about 25%, forcing a runoff.

The two candidates spoke with Mississippi Today ahead of the runoff and a scheduled Friday debate on Coast television station WLOX.

Here is some background on the candidates, what they believe the top issues are and what differentiates them from one another.

The candidates

Ezell, who grew up in , is a 42-year veteran law enforcement officer in South Mississippi.

He started his career with the Pascagoula Department, working his way from jailer to chief of detectives, then served as chief of police for the city of . He was elected sheriff of Jackson County, a post he has held since 2014.

Ezell has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Mississippi and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Mississippi Today Senior Politics Reporter Geoff Pender interviews Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

Palazzo, a Coast native, is a certified public accountant who ran his own business before taking his current office. He is a former state legislator, and has held the 4th District U.S. House seat since 2011.

Palazzo is a Marine Corps veteran and serves in the Mississippi National Guard.

Mississippi Today Senior Politics Reporter Geoff Pender interviews U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

Voters’ issues

Both candidates said inflation — particularly soaring gasoline prices — is the top issue they hear from 4th District residents as they campaign.

“The cost of energy is off the charts,” Palazzo said. “It was to be expected — when he was on his campaign said we would end our reliance on fossil fuels. Well, guess what? Now we have $5 a gallon gas. He cancelled Keystone pipeline on day one, killing hundreds of thousands of jobs, and many of those were in Mississippi, where we have pipe manufacturers.”

Ezell said he hears from constituents: “Gas prices, grocery prices, not having groceries in some stores. I’ve talked with some of our trucker friends and they said the fuel prices are killing us, making it hard to get our goods to the stores. People are very upset about this.”

Palazzo said illegal immigration, with attendant human trafficking and drug smuggling is another major issue for South Mississippi.

Ezell said high taxes and overregulation are also major issues.

Policies and proposals

Both candidates said they would push for deregulation, particularly on the energy sector.

Ezell said he would work to get fertilizer and other costs down for Mississippi farmers “so they can make a profit.”

“There are so many regulations out there right now,” Ezell said. “… We need to work with like-minded conservative people in Congress to get some policies in place to make life better for people, like getting grocery prices down … We need to see about cutting the gas tax, for the truckers who get the goods to the stores … We’ve just got to remove some of these regulations so that we can help people earn a living.”

Palazzo said: “As someone who’s worked offshore, I know the importance of American energy — drill here, drill now. We need to unleash American energy resources and get America back to being energy independent, and I think we can do that.”

Palazzo said he would also push to re-start plans to build a U.S. southern border wall and increase military spending, and protect tax cuts and jobs legislation passed in 2017.

Candidates list accomplishments

Palazzo said his accomplishments as a congressman include, “I was able to secure $1.4 billion for the border as the homeland security negotiator on the Appropriations Committee in 2019, and we were building the wall two years ago and securing America.”

“With the ships we build at Ingalls (shipyard) we’ve been able to secure $26 billion for 26 different ships in 10 years, and that is so vital to our national security, but also to our quality of life here, because of the dependence we have on those jobs created locally,” Palazzo said. He said he has also worked to keep federal flood insurance affordable for homeowners on the Gulf Coast and worked to support the state’s military installations, including for upgrades at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg to expand training.

“The number one driver of the in South Mississippi is federal spending,” Palazzo said. “We have to admit that to ourselves, but it’s good federal spending — national security, NASA programs, NOAA to help predict storms — and every bit of that goes through my committee where I sit on Appropriations.”

Ezell said: “Some of my greatest accomplishments are being a husband and a father and a grandfather … I started working in the jail, and worked my way all the way up to chief of detectives at Pascagoula. During that time, I was a competitive shooter, and got to travel all around the southeastern part of the country to compete and shoot and learned a lot of techniques from other officers. I also graduated from the FBI’s national academy, where I excelled in all fields of training and received an award for physical fitness and attention to duty. I am also proud of that. During my time at the Pascagoula Police Department, I went to night school at USM and got a degree in criminal justice. That was a big thing for me. I was only the third person in my family to get a college degree.”

Ezell said that as sheriff, Jackson County was the first in the state to open its own lab, to avoid backlog problems faced by the state lab and “to save taxpayers money and help all the surrounding agencies in our county have a crime lab.” Ezell said under his tenure his agency has also recently opened its own shooting range and training facility.

“When I first took over as sheriff, the former sheriff had been indicted and removed, and all the police chiefs came to me and said, ‘Mike, help us rehabilitate and get this (narcotics) task force back together,’ which we have done and now have a highly respected organization,” Ezell said. “We have our own budget, and don’t have to depend on seizures or anything like that for funding.”

What differentiates them?

Ezell said one thing that differentiates him from Palazzo is, “I will be available. You won’t have to look for me.”

Palazzo has for years faced criticism for not being very visible or accessible in his district.

“What I’ve heard so many times around this district is we don’t know where (Palazzo) is at,” Ezell said. “Where is our representative? We don’t know where he’s at, we can’t talk with him, he won’t call us back. I will be available. I will be in the district and I will return your phone calls … General rule 101 with the sheriff’s office is if you call, somebody better call you back and if not, I’m going to be asking you why did you not call that person back. That’s just a common courtesy, be it a sheriff or police officer or state representative or congressman.”

Palazzo said his experience and seniority in Congress, and relationships he’s built over years are needed for the 4th District.

“Most importantly, I have a proven, conservative record,” Palazzo said. “My opponent has no record where he has ever cast a vote on issues that matter most for South Mississippians, whether it’s pro-life, whether it’s pro gun, pro military or pro business. For 12 years I’ve been serving South Mississippi and I have a proven record of delivering for them on all those issues.

“… Seniority is important in the military and it’s important in Congress,” Palazzo said. “That’s how you get on the key committees and get key assignments.”

He said that should Republicans retake the House this midterm, he would be in line to be the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee of Appropriations where he can push for building a border wall.

Recently, all other Republican challengers in the first primary vote threw their support behind Ezell. U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in a trip to South Mississippi endorsed Palazzo.

The two candidates have agreed to a televised debate, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday on WLOX-TV on the Coast.

“I’ve been to multiple debates, Steven Palazzo has not been to any of them,” Ezell said of this election cycle.

Palazzo said: “I think it’s important for voters in South Mississippi to see the contrast.”

The winner of the June 28 GOP runoff will face Democratic former longtime Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and Libertarian Alden Patrick Johnson in the Nov. 8 general election.

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

Ocean Springs mayor gives updates at Jackson County Chamber ‘Meet the Mayor’ event


www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-06-21 14:40:24

Chamber of Commerce hosted a ‘Meet the Mayor’ event with Mayor Kenny Holloway this morning.

Mayor Holloway has been in office for about a year and this morning he shared updates on improvements and new facilities coming to the area.

Holloway touched on the 1515 Government Street project which will include a parking garage, boutique hotel, restaurants, and retail spaces.

The first Aldi…

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Golfers tee up to help Home of Grace


www.wxxv25.com – Lorraine Weiskopf – 2022-06-17 12:55:31

Golfers headed to the fairways of The Preserve Golf Course in Vancleave this morning for the annual Home of Grace Classic.

And they’re teeing off with a purpose, as the the tournament raises money for the ministry that helps men and women struggling with addiction.

Home of Grace has two facilities in and helps between 5oo and 600 men and women from across the country overcome addiction each year.


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Will Trump endorse in GOP midterm runoffs?


Trump coming to Mississippi. Will he endorse in GOP midterm runoffs?

Former , headlining his “American Freedom Tour,” is scheduled to be in Southaven on June 18.

This visit comes ahead of Mississippi’s June 28 GOP primary runoffs, with two incumbent Republican congressmen struggling to keep their seats. With Trump remaining popular with Mississippi Republicans, his endorsement in either race could be a deciding factor for incumbents or challengers.

Incumbent Rep. Michael Guest trailed Republican challenger Michael Cassidy in unofficial results from Tuesday 46.6% to 47.8%, forcing a runoff with no candidate breaking 50%. Cassidy, a former Navy pilot, tried to run to the right of Guest, including criticizing Guest for with Democrats to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by those trying to overturn Trump’s loss to .

Incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo is headed to a runoff with Sheriff Mike Ezell. Palazzo led Ezell 31.6% to 25.2% in unofficial results, with the two topping a crowded field of Republican challengers to Palazzo. Palazzo drew numerous challengers in part because he has faced an ethics investigation over allegations he misspent campaign and congressional money and misused his office.

Trump’s only endorsement in Tuesday’s Mississippi midterm primaries was for incumbent 1st District Rep. Trent Kelly, who handily won his primary with 90% of the vote.

Trump carried Mississippi with 58% of the vote in 2020, and to date, candidates he has endorsed and campaigned for here — including Gov. Tate Reeves and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith twice — have won. On Tuesday, all 16 candidates he endorsed for midterm primaries held by seven states won, although most were, like Kelly, strongly favored to win.

Trump’s American Freedom Tour event is billed as being for Memphis on the group’s website, but is set to be held at the Landers Center in Southaven on June 18 from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event includes some free access with pre-registration required, but also includes special paid access and seating ranging from $1,295 for the “chamber” level to $3,995 for the presidential level.

The daylong event schedule includes roundtable discussions, meet-and-greet and photo ops and speeches. Speakers include Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, conservative commentators and authors Candace Owens and Dinesh D’Souza.

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

See Mississippi primary election results


rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi Clarion Ledger – 2022-06-08 07:44:22

Two of Mississippi’s incumbent congressmen are advancing to the November general election. One is headed to a runoff June 28. The fate of the fourth is still uncertain as of Wednesday morning.

Fourth District Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo, who in the past has dominated at the polls, will face a challenger in either Sheriff Mike Ezell or retired banker Clay Wagner in the June 28…

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