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The votes are in – OurMSHome top blog to follow in 2023

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by Our Mississippi Home Staff, Our Mississippi Home

The rankings are in, and Our Mississippi Home has been announced as one of the top 5 blogs and websites in the Magnolia for 2022 and ranked as one of the top 5 blogs to follow in 2023.

According to blog.feedspot.com

Bloggers and Podcast Database – Feedspot.com, thousands of Mississippi blogs are considered and “measured by traffic, social media followers, domain authority and freshness.” Coming in at number five, right after ( Agency), Our Mississippi Home is proud to be where the good news lives in the Magnolia State.

Several of the Our Mississippi Home writers are also ranked as top Mississippi bloggers. These syndicated journalists have also written for the MS Press, Sun Herald, and SuperTalk, in addition to other known…

This article first on Our Mississippi Home.

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Jackson water: Congress calls for probe of spending

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Lumumba, Reeves continue to point fingers as Congress calls for probe of Jackson water spending

About a month from a unified effort to lift Jackson out of its water crisis, city and state officials continue to trade public jabs, with the future of the water system on the line.

Meanwhile, the federal government is now tackling the crisis on multiple fronts, with members of Congress on Monday calling for an investigation into the state’s infrastructure spending.

Gov. Tate Reeves released a statement Monday criticizing Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba for being unwilling to work with the Unified Command Structure, a multi-agency taskforce that the state formed in late August to help diagnose, fund and fix issues at Jackson’s main water treatment plant.

Specifically, Reeves said city officials told his office they were unwilling to participate in the state’s emergency contract procurement to hire staff across the Jackson water system for a year. The posted the “request for qualifications,” or RFQ, on Friday.

“That would be a huge mistake by the city,” the governor said. “They would be communicating through this action that they no longer desire state assistance and insist on going it alone.”

Reeves said in his statement that the Environmental Protection Agency was pressing the state to hire support staff, and to “take the lead” in procuring the contract. The EPA told Jackson officials in late September it was “prepared to take action,” and then two weeks ago the Jackson City Council voted to enter into a confidentiality agreement with the Department of Justice in discussing a settlement.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves greets members of the Mississippi National Guard at a water distribution site located at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, September 1, 2022.

Lumumba disputed that he was unwilling to participate in the unified approach, saying instead that city officials hadn’t had a chance to review the RFQ before the state published it.

“The City of Jackson has made no mention of ending the City’s cooperation with the Unified Command Structure,” the mayor said in a statement Monday. “What the city will not do is agree to a Request for Qualifications, without the entire Unified Command Structure, which includes the city, having had an opportunity to first contribute, revise or approve the language.”

Jackson, as the RFQ states, would be the entity funding the contract. Hence, Lumumba added: “It is only reasonable to expect the City to play a role in hiring that company.” 

The RFQ seeks staffing to operations, maintenance, and management of both of the city’s surface water treatments plants — O.B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell — as well as Jackson’s tanks and well facilities, for a year.

The governor’s statement says Jackson officials had a chance to review the “technical components of the request,” but did not mention any other involvement from the city.

Before the state intervened in late August to take over the O.B. Curtis operations, Lumumba said the city was looking for an operations and management contractor to run the treatment plant.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, with City of Jackson Communications Manager Melissa Payne, fields questions during a community meeting held to update the public on the water system, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at College Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

But at a community meeting on Sept. 13, the mayor said the company he was looking at would no longer negotiate because it was now talking with the state instead. Two days later, WLBT reported, the state awarded an operations contract to Hemphill Construction that lasts two months.

As part of the Unified Command Structure the state established in late August, the state and Jackson officials each agreed to pay half the costs for emergency repairs. President Joe Biden then declared a federal emergency, which included paying for 75% of water system improvement costs for 90 days. That cost-share expires on Nov. 29.

The state’s Emergency Management Assistance Compact, or EMAC, contracts expire on Thursday, said. For weeks, the city and state have relied on the EMAC program to help rehabilitate O.B. Curtis through the work of out-of-state water operators.

Thompson, Maloney launch investigation over state’s role

U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney sent a letter to Reeves on Monday asking for information on the state’s spending of federal drinking water funds. The two Democrats expressed concern over how Mississippi has divvied up historic amounts of federal funding thus far.

“The and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made billions of dollars available to Mississippi to address a variety of problems,” the letter says, “However, criteria used by (state legislation) to allocate funding — such as median household income, possible population decline and unemployment rate — may limit the funding Jackson receives to other locales, despite Jackson’s much greater need.”

In the letter, Thompson and Maloney ask Reeves for a of how the state was allocating money from the American Rescue Plan Act. They also ask for details on the extra oversight state lawmakers required for sending matching funds to Jackson.

State lawmakers required that matching ARPA funds provided to Jackson go through the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, a burden placed on no other municipality in the state.

Jackson residents and supporters hold signs as they march to the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Miss. to protest the ongoing water issues in the city on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

The letter also asks about an “arbitrary” $500,000 cap the state established in forgiving loans paid for with money from the Infrastructure Law.

The investigation comes after both the NAACP and the Poor People’s Campaign have in recent weeks called for legal action against the state for depriving the majority-Black city of support for its water system.

The questions over state support to Jackson follow a history of Mississippi lawmakers putting up obstacles for the city to access needed infrastructure funding.

In 2013, lawmakers voted to allow Jackson to add a 1-cent sales tax to help pay for infrastructure. However, lawmakers took the unusual step of creating a commission to oversee the spending and projects, over objections from city leaders, and lawmakers exempted many purchases from the additional tax. So far, most of the projects approved have been for street repairs.

In 2021, lawmakers killed a proposal from the city to allow city voters to decide whether to levy an additional, citywide 1-cent sales tax increase for water and sewerage repairs. The push came after historic winter storms that year left much of the city without water for weeks.

Also in 2021, the city of Jackson unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers for $47 million in funding for drinking water improvements. The Jackson City Council also requested another $60 million to build new water tanks. With the state relatively flush with cash, lawmakers approved spending $356 million in projects statewide, but earmarked only $3 million for Jackson.

In an interview earlier this year with Mississippi Today, Lumumba described the ’s attitude toward Jackson as both racist” and “paternalistic” in terms of how the capitol city is treated compared to other governmental entities.

Mississippi Today reporters Bobby Harrison and Geoff Pender contributed to this report.

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

State of Mississippi seeking to hire a contractor for O.B. Curtis

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-10-15 11:12:32

The Agency is looking for a private company to staff the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant, and other aspects of the water system, for one year under an emergency contract, according to a request for qualifications issued by on Friday.

The request comes one month after the 45-day long boil water notice in Jackson and Byram was lifted, and after and federal partners stepped in to bring the plant, which is owned by the city of Jackson, back online following that overwhelmed the plant.

“MEMA is acting as the coordinating agency for the…

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Timeline: How an NFL star, state officials and a university funded the USM volleyball stadium

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Timeline: How an NFL star, state officials and a university funded the USM volleyball stadium

As more documents and text messages come to light surrounding the Brett Favre volleyball project, Mississippi Today has compiled a timeline that gives a greater glimpse into how officials funneled $5 million in welfare funds to build a new stadium at University of Southern Mississippi.

The timeline shows that Favre discussed the volleyball stadium for months before reaching out to then-Gov. Phil Bryant for help raising donations. When the private funds didn’t immediately roll in, university officials discussed bringing on Nancy New’s nonprofit as a lease partner on the project. The nonprofit had already signed a similar lease to provide upgrades to another building on campus following a hunting trip Nancy New’s sons attended with USM officials. A flurry of activity happened in late July and early August, including conversations between welfare officials, Favre and Bryant.

USM officials expressed apprehension about using grant funds for the project, but eventually, after the deal was modified to include an additional $1 million for improvements to the basketball stadium and the university’s maintenance fund, per Favre’s texts, university attorneys greenlit the project. It was then approved by the ’s Office and IHL. 

Below is a timeline of events compiled by Mississippi Today based on documents and communication gathered in the court process or retrieved through records requests:

Dec. 20, 2016: Conversations began sometime before then between University of Southern Mississippi and Brett Favre about building a volleyball stadium

“I had the impression Brett wanted to keep his involvement quiet,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Daniel Feig wrote in an email to his colleague on Dec. 20, 2016.

April 11, 2017: Brett Favre met with USM Athletics about the volleyball facility

“FYI-Chris and I are meeting with Brett and Deanna Tuesday at 11 am to discuss the layout of the facility,” Athletic Director Jon Gilbert wrote in an email on April 7, 2017, the same day Favre started soliciting donations to corporations in exchange for their name on the facility. “Can discuss naming opportunities further if the group has a direction we should look at exploring.”

April 20, 2017: Brett Favre texted Gov. Phil Bryant for help with volleyball project

“Deanna and I are building a volleyball facility on campus and I need your influence somehow to get donations and or sponsorships. Obviously Southern has no money so I’m hustling to get it raised. We want to start this summer and finish in a year or less,” Favre texted the governor.

Bryant said in his filing that this was the first time he discussed the volleyball project with Favre.

“…We will have that thing built before you know it. One thing I know how to do is raise money,” Bryant responded.

April 20, 2017 – July 21, 2017: Bryant’s communication with Favre and welfare officials unknown

Bryant did not produce any of his text messages with Favre or then-MDHS Director John Davis, Bryant’s appointee to the welfare programs, in the several months after Favre first asked the governor for help with the volleyball project. The messages produced and redacted suggest there could be more communication between the two during this time period.

May 16, 2017: USM Athletics compiled updated donor list

At this point, the USM Athletic Foundation had raised $425,500, including $150,000 from Favre.

May 30, 2017: Nancy New’s sons went hunting with USM athletics staff

On May 23, 2017, USM associate athletic director Brian Morrison invited Nancy New’s sons Zach and Jess New to attend a private hunting event and dinner at Providence Hill Farm with USM President Rodney Bennett and Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert on May 30. They both agreed by email to attend. At this point, MDHS and the ’ nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center were already engaged in grant activities at USM.

May 31, 2017: MDHS wrote letter approving a non-volleyball related lease between USM and MCEC

MDHS writes a letter to Feig that said MDHS is aware that MCEC is leasing space with the university “because we believe it is important to help MCEC accomplish the purpose of their subgrant which is to provide services designed to stimulate employment, support family financial stability, promote literacy, and increase graduation rates while continuing to support positive youth development, impacting teen pregnancy rates, promotion positive father involvement and supporting MDHS county offices through parenting education and parenting/life skills development.”

While John Davis’ name appears at the end of the letter, it is actually signed by MDHS attorney Garrig Shields. This is the first reference to a lease agreement in emails between MCEC and USM Athletic Foundation.

June 1, 2017: AG reviewed USM’s lease with athletic foundation to build volleyball stadium

Special Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Ganucheau emailed Institutions of Higher Learning officials a copy of a lease between USM and USM Athletic Foundation “so that the Foundation can build a volleyball facility, which would then be transferred back to the university.”

Later that day, IHL’s David Buford emailed an insurance professional for advice on insurance terms. He explained the concept of the project: “USM leases the grounds (which is a vacant space and a parking lot next to a USM-insured building) and the Foundation gets financing, builds a new building, and gives the new building back to USM.”

Based on the emails, it appears IHL was unaware where the Athletic Foundation’s funding may be coming from.

June 7, 2017: AG recommended USM lease with athletic foundation for board approval

At this point, the lease does not involve Mississippi Community Education Center, MDHS block grant funds or any mention of serving the needy.

June 15, 2017: IHL Board approved USM leases with USM Athletic Foundation

During its board meeting, the Institutes of Higher Learning board approved two $1 leases with the Athletic Foundation, one for the volleyball project and one for the purpose of renovating M-Club.

June 15, 2017: Nancy New signed a $192,840 sublease with USM Athletic Foundation

Nancy New and Grant Dyess, then-president of the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation, signed a sublease for a building within the Jim and Duff Athletic Center known as the M-Club Room, a space used for USM Athletics meetings and activities. The agreement said the money will be used for renovations and upgrades to the space. The sublease said plainly that MCEC will use the space “for business purposes, educational purposes and for meetings and conferences.”

The M-Club charged membership dues of $50 a year, according to the university’s website.

July 1, 2017: USM signed two leases with Athletic Foundation

USM signed two leases with USM Athletic Foundation, one for M-Club and one for the volleyball project. At this point, MCEC was already engaged on a sublease for M-Club, but not for the volleyball project.

July 16, 2017: USM Athletics reached out to Nancy New about volleyball facility

Gilbert emailed Nancy New, indicating they had met the prior week. He attached a copy of the current volleyball facility design. 

“We have not formally announced this project but expect to do so in the next week to ten days. We have hired Weir Boerner Allin out of Jackson as the architect. The facility will be plus/minus 25,000 square feet with an approximate cost of $4 million. Brett and Deanna have agreed to help with fundraising for the facility. We currently have $1.2 million in hand from a variety of people that have committed to the project … Based on our discussion last week, we are interested in presenting this project as once that will benefit women student athletes. We would be interested in presenting to anyone that you would thing have interest in Southern and women’s athletics. I will find out what Brett’s schedule is Tuesday and coordinate a time he can stop by that works for everyone.”

“I am glad to help and look forward to seeing this project to fruition,” Nancy New responded. “I believe it can be done. I, too, was glad to visit with Brian and you. As soon as we get everything put back together after all the renovations, I want you to come back for lunch and a tour of New Summit and our Family Resource Center. The Center offers a good example of the one that we will be organization on Southern’s campus, hopefully in the near future.”

July 18, 2017: Brett Favre met with Nancy New about funding the volleyball project

Favre met with Nancy New, according to Mississippi Community Education Center’s Sept. 30 filing.

July 19, 2017: John Davis met with Phil Bryant about DHS projects

Davis texted Nancy New, “Been with Gov for last two days. He’s loving what we are doing.”

July 21, 2017: Brett Favre and Phil Bryant texted about volleyball project

Screenshots of texts entered into court show Favre texted Bryant on the evening of July 21, 2017, but Favre’s initial message and Bryant’s lengthier response are redacted.

Favre responded to Bryant’s redacted message: “Not sure how we you can help get this facility built for Vball. But you are the governor and on our side and that’s a good thing. Actually a great thing.”

“We can do that,” Bryant responded. “Just get me some numbers and I’ll find a way. Maybe USM or the Coach can call me and we’ll get on it.”

July 22, 2017: Favre sent Bryant construction proposal

Favre texted Bryant a document containing the construction proposal and building renderings. “Latest plans. I’m trying to get sponsors,donations etc…. if we can find a contractor that would say hey rater that give you money I’ll build for free!! Maybe you know of someone,” Favre texted.

“I all over it,” Bryant texted, followed by a bicep emoji.

“Thanks that would help a ton!!” Favre said.

Bryant’s next text, as well as its date and time, are redacted.

July 22, 2017 – May 8, 2018: Bryant’s communication with Favre and welfare officials unknown

Bryant did not produce any of his messages with Favre or Davis for a ten month period, including the time period in which Davis committed to funding the project and Nancy New paid $5 million to the volleyball project and $500,000 million to Favre.

July 24, 2017: Favre, welfare officials and USM athletic staff met

Two days after texting Bryant the construction proposal, Favre met with Bryant’s appointed welfare director John Davis, Nancy New, USM athletics officials and others at the university. During the meeting, Davis verbally committed $4 million to the project.

“Nancy thank you again!!! John mentioned 4 million and not sure if I heard him right. Very big deal and can’t thank you enough,” Favre texted Nancy New after the meeting.

July 25, 2017: Zach New, MDHS attorney and USM Athletics officials discussed volleyball project

“Are you available for a conference call with Garrig and I tomorrow morning?” Zach New emailed Feig the evening of July 24, after the meeting at USM. “I am open to anytime in the morning that will fit your schedule. We would like to discuss options for the new project. I have also copied Garrig in so you will have his contact information as well.”

July 26, 2017: Brett Favre told Nancy New that USM is uneasy about accepting grant

“Nancy I spoke with Jon Gilbert this evening and between you and I he is very Leary of accepting such a large grant. Got me very uneasy,” Favre texted Nancy New. “He did mention trying to find a way for John (Davis) to allocate money to an entity that could then give to us that would pay for brick and mortar. I passed same info to John and of course he sent back we will find a way to make it work.”

At some point after USM expressed hesitations, discussions changed so that the lease would include not only money for the volleyball stadium, but $500,000 for renovations to Reed Green Coliseum, the basketball stadium, and $500,000 for maintenance, potentially causing a $1 million shortfall for the volleyball project, which was already under budgeted.

July 29, 2017: Favre reiterated USM’s fears about taking grant money, suggested including the governor

“Nancy do I need to involve the governor and or Dr.B if need be. Jon made the comment about using money you allocated to athletic dept thus far and although signed off on by all could raise negative concerns etc… with this project and others,” Favre texted Nancy New. “My fear is he doesn’t except all that you and John can allocate even if it is legally signed off on. It’s obvious that you and John are tremendous assets for USM and in order for us to get ahead in the game we have to utilize you guys in every way.”

July 29, 2017: Favre suggested to Nancy New that she pay him for radio spots “and whatever compensation could go to USM.”

“Ok. I could record a few radio spots here initially I’m sure right here,” Favre texted Nancy New. “See how it is received and whatever compensation could go to USM.”

“4 million dollars,” Nancy New responded, followed by three emojis of a face wearing a mask. “Just kidding. The first phase could be $500,000 and after Sept. we can renew. This is a good approach. What do you think?”

“Was just thinking that here is the way to do it!!” Favre responded.

Aug. 2, 2017: Favre texted Nancy New that “the facility is gonna be more than we thought.”

“John said you guys have a big meeting Monday with university. Hope we hit a homerun. Looks as though the facility is gonna be more than we thought which is always the case,” Favre texted Nancy New.

Favre also texted New, “They are scared to death it seems,” and while this text is entered without context, New’s attorney said it referred to university officials’ fears about taking the grant money. 

Aug. 3, 2017: Favre asked Nancy New if the media can find out where the money came from and how much

“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre texted Nancy New.

“No, we never have had that information publicized. I understand you being uneasy about that though. Let’s see what happens on Monday with the conversation with some of the folks at Southern. Maybe it will click with them. Hopefully.”

Aug. 4, 2017: Nancy New informed Favre of Bryant’s support

“Wow, just got off the phone with Phil Bryant! He is on board with us! We will get this done!” Nancy New texted Favre.

Nancy New alleged in a court filing that around this time, Phil Bryant directed her to make this deal with Favre.

Aug. 10, 2017: Nancy New texted Favre sharing message from USM counsel

Nancy New texted Favre a copied message from USM general counsel Gordon Cannon that says “we are moving ahead to get this done.”

“Wow wow wow!! Great news,” Favre responded.

Aug. 14, 2017: Nancy New met with USM Department of Research about volleyball funding

Aug. 19, 2017:  Nancy New texted Favre an update about approval

“Morning. I got a call yesterday from Gordon Cannon that their meetings went well on accepting the money, etc. Next Wed. there is another meeting with MDHS attorney and USM to make sure all the wording is good before it goes to IHL. Still keeping my fingers crossed. I still think it will happen,” Nancy New texted.

“Thanks Nancy. Jon Gilbert said the same thing yesterday,” Favre responded.

Aug. 23, 2017: Nancy New texted Favre USM counsel said “everything is a go.”

“Brett, I just received this info from Dr. Cannon,” Nancy New texted, followed by the copied message: “Nancy, just finished the meeting with Garrig and Jacob everything is a go. Daniel Feig will be in touch with you or Zack to ask for a draft lease. Our target date for having everything complete for board approval is Sept22. I know this a a short time line but that would get us approval 1. October which would not delay bidding the project as currently .”

Sept. 8, 2017: Zach New sent USM athletics and general counsel the nonprofit’s plans for the lease

Zach New sends an email to Feig and USM counsel Truett Roberts outlining several events MCEC claimed it would host at the university as a result of its $5 million lease. The events include Yellow Ribbon Events – meant to assist members of the National Guard and Army Reserves – Reservist Trainings, M-Club events, Healthy Teens Rallies, youth leadership camps by Heart of David, the Christian ministry started by former WWE wrestler Ted DiBiase, and other Families First programming. 

When Mississippi Today requested records from the university in 2020 that described any programming the nonprofit conducted on campus, they provided records for exactly one event: The Healthy Teens Rally of 2018 hosted at Reed Green Coliseum. 

Sept. 22, 2017: USM President Rodney Bennett sent a letter to IHL requesting board approval for the university’s amended lease with USM Athletic Foundation

Oct. 9 2017: AG approved the amended USM lease with the athletic foundation

Oct. 19, 2017: IHL board approved amended lease between USM and USM Athletic Foundation

On the agenda, the item reads: “The IHL Board approved the original Lease Agreement between the USM and Foundation at the June, 2017 Board meeting. Since that time, this project has been expanded in size and scope and the term has also been extended in accordance with the Amended and Restated Lease.”

The approved meeting minutes : “This lease and subsequent sublease are being funded through the lease of athletic department facilities by the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC), a SO1(3)3 organization designed to provide schools, communities and families with educational services and training programs in . MCEC will use the subject facilities to support their programming efforts for South Mississippi. MCEC’s funding for the project is via a Block Grant from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The funding from MCEC shall be prepaid rent to the Foundation in the amount of Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000) for the leasing of certain USM athletic facilities including but not limited to the to be constructed Wellness Center, Reed Green Coliseum and additional athletic space as agreed upon by USM and the Foundation.”

Oct. 19, 2017: Nancy New texted Favre about approval; Favre said USM is using part of the money for other projects

“It’s a go. All approved by IHL!” Nancy New wrote.

“Finally and thanks Nancy. I hope it’s enough now. Jon said 500k has to go to renovations for reed green and another 500 to maintenances fund,” Favre responded.

“We will still fundraiser, etc. we will get the rest,” Nancy New texted.

Nov. 2, 2017: Nancy New told Favre she saw the governor

“I saw the Gov last night. We will still plan the fundraiser as well when we can get another date from him that works with your time, too. Surely, Southern folks won’t say to postpone it again. At any rate it’s all going to work out,” Nancy New texted Favre.

Nov. 6, 2017: Nancy New made first payment of $2.5 million to USM Athletic Foundation

Nov. 14, 2017: Athletic Foundation received update from USM athletics about volleyball project

“Wellness and Volleyball Facility has received significant gift and also gift in kinds. A partnership with MCEC will make the facility useful to make groups once it is completed,” the meeting minutes read.

Dec. 5, 2017: Nancy New made second payment of $2.5 million to USM Athletic Foundation

Dec. 27, 2017: Favre thanked Nancy New for $600,000 payment

“Nancy Santa came today and dropped some money off,” Favre texted Nancy New, “thank you my goodness thank you. We need to set up the promo for you soon. Your way to kind.”

Mar. 28, 2018: Favre texted Nancy New, telling her the construction bids came in larger than expected

“Nancy I wanted to update you on facility. The bids all are in and shockingly the lowest is 6.9. The architects were confident it would come it lower than what we have saved. Really frustrating. Jon said he wanted to go back to lowest bed and talk to them about getting it down to 5.9. I’ll keep you updated,” Favre texted Nancy New.

“…We can still have the fundraiser at the Governor’s mansion, too. We can use Phil’s business list that he offered earlier. I will be thinking and hopefully there will be something in the new budget for Families First to offer.”

April 19, 2018: USM Athletics shared an updated list of volleyball facility donors

USM Athletics staffers shared by email an updated list of 23 volleyball donors for a total of $6,045,325. There is an entry for a $4.4 million donation labeled from the donor “CMEC”—presumably a typo for MCEC. The line item for MCEC does not contain any more identifying information, such as the date of donation, the donor’s address or contact information, as it includes for all other donors.

The email also said Favre’s original gift of $500,000 was reduced to $250,000 after he instructed the university to transfer $250,000 to the beach volleyball project.

April 25, 2018: Architect sent updated cost sheet for volleyball facility to USM

In the spreadsheet, the total projected construction cost is $6.3 million, the amount needed to begin construction is $500,000 and the amount needed to finish construction is $1.4 million.

Gilbert sent the document to Favre.

April 30, 2018: USM Athletics sends Favre a donor agreement totaling $1.4 million

“Thank you very much for your generous support of this project and your commitment and loyalty to Southern Miss,” Gilbert wrote to Favre.

Mississippi Today did not find a signed copy of the agreement.

May 9, 2018: Favre reaches out to Bryant for help building lockers at the volleyball facility

“Governor this Brett. I’m still trying to save money on Vball facility,” Favre texted Bryant. “We have visitor and Home lockers yet to build and Warren Hood is donating any lumber. If someone would build them on there spare time. Poncho mentioned the prison industry as a builder. The architects can provide all specs.”

“Let me get on it. Turkey hunting in Nebraska. Will be back this P.M.,” Bryant responded, attaching a picture of his kill.

May 18, 2018: Favre and Bryant texted about lockers

“Hey Governor [redacted]…. Any luck with lockers?” Favre texted, followed by a long block of redacted text.

“I think I have some guys in the lockers. Will know more today. They are in Summeral a,” Bryant wrote.

“And do this type of work,” Bryant texted, followed by a long block of redacted text.

Favre’s response is also redacted.

Bryant responded with a thumbs up and “where can I sent a donation for the Volleyball Complex?”

Favre sent Bryant the USM Foundation’s P.O. Box. Bryant then told Favre that he had found a cabinet maker to construct the lockers. “I am also going to reach out to Poncho and see if we can’t get a fundraiser in Hattiesburg put together,” he added.

May 18, 2018 – July 15, 2019: Bryant’s communication with Favre unknown

For this 11-month period, Bryant did not produce any of his texts with Favre, with the exception of one Jan. 12, 2019 text Bryant sent Favre asking him to retweet a post about the HGTV star who helped connect Bryant with the cabinetmaker.

June, 2018: Nancy New paid Favre an additional $500,000 under advertising contract

June 21, 2019: Bryant received and relayed a tip about suspected fraud to auditor

In communication after this point, which includes Bryant advising Favre on how to reword the proposal to get accepted by the welfare department and has been heavily reported, Bryant is aware of the auditor’s investigation into spending at the welfare department.

July 16, 2019: Bryant said he learned for the first time that MDHS was involved in funding the volleyball project

Favre texted Bryant with concerns that Nancy New wouldn’t be able to “fund her part” of the volleyball project. Favre told Bryant that he paid for three-fourths of the construction. Bryant said in his recent court filing that July 16 was the first time he learned about MDHS’s involvement in funding the stadium. Bryant promised to help, and consulted Favre and Nancy New on how to rewrite the proposal to get MDHS approval, but with the ongoing auditor’s investigation, the welfare department ultimately turned them down.

Editor’s note: Mississippi Today Editor-in-Chief Adam Ganucheau’s mother signed off on the language of a lease agreement to construct a University of Southern Mississippi volleyball stadium. Read more about that here.

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

Jackson restaurants making move back to using city water

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-09-15 16:44:11

Restaurants in Jackson are ramping up and are ready to roll now that Gov. Tate Reeves has announced that Jackson’s boil-water notice can be lifted.

Recent testing indicates water is safe to drink and the will continue to monitor the water and conduct additional testing.

A press release from the announced the boil-water notice for all City of Jackson is lifted.

Here’s what you need to know:Jackson’s boil-water notice is over.

More:Governor, FEMA, give statement on Jackson’s Ongoing Water Crisis Response

Restaurant owners immediately reacted to…

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Clean water restored for Jackson, Reeves hints at city losing control

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Clean water restored for Jackson, Reeves hints at city losing control


by Alex Rozier,
September 15, 2022

After a month and a half of Jacksonians needing to boil their water for consumption, the Mississippi Health Department finally lifted the advisory at 1 p.m. on Thursday.


Gov. Tate Reeves announced the shortly after, cautioning there’s a long road ahead to ensure similar water system failures don’t occur again in Jackson.


”While we have restored water quality, this system is still imperfect,” Reeves said. “We cannot perfectly predict what may go wrong with such a broken system in the future.”


When asked by reporters about the next steps for managing the capital city’s drinking water, Reeves laid out the possibility that Jackson will not regain control of the system after the state declared a public health emergency and took it over.


“To the residents of Jackson, I would simply say, I don’t think it’s very likely that the city is going to operate the water system in the city of Jackson anytime soon, if ever again,” the governor said.


Reeves reiterated that any decision to the water system from city control would have to go through the state .


State officials first took control of operations and emergency repairs at Jackson’s primary treatment plant, O.B. Curtis, after the governor’s announcement on Aug. 29 that the plant was on the verge of failure.


The state is also taking the next steps to contract a project manager to handle equipment issues at O.B. Curtis, Agency executive director Stephen McCraney explained. The request for qualifications window closed Thursday at noon, and will review applications before it picks a vendor.


The goal for the contractor, Reeves said, is to increase redundancies at the plant in the case of future equipment failure.


Before Jackson residents return to drinking water straight from their taps again, the says they should first their faucets for three to four minutes to allow clean water to recirculate. Residents can visit MSDH’s website for a full list of next steps after a boil water notice.


However, the department also warned Thursday that pregnant people and young children are still advised to follow precautions before using or consuming tap water.


The state’s announcement on Thursday that it was lifting the boil water notice suggested a lack of communication with City of Jackson officials.


On Wednesday, the city said in its daily update that full sampling required to lift the notice had not yet started, and that officials were still investigating when sampling could begin. Per state health requirements, the state health department has to record two straight days of clean samples to lift the notice.


When asked by a reporter for clarification, Reeves said, “I don’t read the city’s daily reports and I don’t think you should either.”


After another reporter asked what he meant by that, Reeves refrained from further criticizing the city, only saying that he recommends people use MEMA’s updates for the latest information on the water system.


MSDH Director of Health Protection Jim Craig also reminded Jackson residents, particularly young children and pregnant people, to take precautions consuming and using tap water because of the potential for lead in the water system until the city finishes the necessary corrosion control in the distribution system.


”Although the majority of home lead testing performed to date identified no lead or lead below the action level set by the (Environmental Protection Agency), the health department is continuing its recommendations as a special precaution, especially for households with young children or pregnant women,” Craig said.

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

 

Boil-water notice remains, Jackson water pressure remains steady

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-09-09 12:40:21

Officials with the City of Jackson said Friday that the O.B. Curtis Water Plant remained at a steady pressure over the past 24 hours and is currently working at 87 PSI. Pressure should be stable throughout the city. 

Overall, water production continues to improve, according to a statement from the city. Yesterday, the O.B. Curtis membrane plant increased from 14.1 million gallons to 15.4 million gallons. The conventional side remained steady. This is the type of capacity increase the team has been working toward. 

More on Jackson water crisis:Governor, FEMA, give statement on…

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Jackson: Drinking water emergency declared

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State health department declares drinking water emergency for Jackson

The health department declared a public drinking water supply emergency for Jackson on Tuesday, the morning after Gov. Tate Reeves announced that the city’s treatment system had begun to fail.

The release listed the following reasons for the declaration:

• Insufficient number of certified operators at J.H. Fewell and O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plants
• Insufficient number of maintenance staff at all water treatment plants and to support the distribution system
• Failure of multiple raw water pumps at O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant
• Low levels of water in storage tank
• Low water pressure impacting proper sanitation and education opportunities

The statement also said that disinfection levels are not reliable enough to prevent the potential of disease-causing organisms in the drinking water, including E. Coli, cryptosporidium, and giardia.

As part of the declaration, the Mississippi State Health Department is ordering that City of Jackson employees “cooperate with state response teams and contractors deployed to augment current staffing and to take remediation actions deemed necessary by the State Incident Commander.”

In his announcement on Monday, Reeves said that the state was deploying health department staff to O.B. Curtis on Tuesday to evaluate the plant’s ability to produce water.

In a tweet Tuesday, the instructed Jackson residents on what to do and not do during the current boil water notice. wrote not to drink the water, although neither MEMA nor MSDH have clarified since yesterday whether or not the water is safe to drink after boiling it.

Yesterday, State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney instructed residents to boil water for three minutes before using water to drink, brush teeth or cook.

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

Six Hurricane Preparedness Hacks – Our Mississippi Home

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by J.T. Mitchell, Our Mississippi Home

It’s that time of year again, , and it’s up to us to be prepared. Here are six hurricane preparedness hacks to help with that.

The first 72 are on you

According to the , it could take up to 72 hours before first responders are able to assist you in the case of a hurricane. Therefore, suggests you have a supply kit that can last you for…

This article first on Our Mississippi Home.

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Fun Patriotic Cocktails for the Fourth of July

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by Kathryn Winter, Our Mississippi Home

Red, white, and boozy, these July 4th-inspired cocktails will get your Independence Day rockin’…

This one is like a grownup rocket pop! (sugarspiceandglitter.com)

For the Blue Slush Layer: 2 cups ice, 2 oz. Blue Curacao, 1 cup homemade lemonade

For the White Slush Layer: 2 cups ice, 2 oz. Smirnoff Red, White & Berry, 1 cup homemade lemonade

For the Red Slush Layer: 1 ¼ cups…

This article first on Our Mississippi Home.

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