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2 Mobile shooting suspects charged in Mississippi murder

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2023-01-13 21:34:43, 1673667283

Two men accused of shooting two people at the off I-65 in Mobile are now also accused of murder in D’Iberville, …

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Woman shot and killed during hostage situation in Richland, MS

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-12-22 17:16:52

A woman was shot and killed during a hostage situation Wednesday evening at a store in Richland, Mississippi.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety identified the woman killed as 21-year-old Corlunda McGinister of West Helena, Arkansas.

Witnesses say McGinister got into a confrontation with an employee in the customer service department, pulled a gun on her, and began holding her hostage.

Richland entered the store to try to defuse the situation and McGinister was ultimately shot and killed by police. Richland Police Chief Nick McLendon said,…

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Walmart in Gulfport celebrates new remodeling

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www.wxxv25.com – Jazell Ladner – 2022-11-18 19:04:13

The Supercenter in celebrated their newly remodeled store today with a ribbon cutting.

The remodeled store has improvements that include a 5,000 square foot expansion and several modifications to enhance the customer’s shopping experience

Throughout the store, customers will see more products and new brands hitting the shelves.

They will also see a fashion update in the clothes department.

During the celebration, Walmart also recognized its veteran employees for their dedication over the years — giving out more than $4,000 in grants to local…

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Jackson water: The mystery of what’s next

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The mystery of what’s next for Jackson’s water system

As Jacksonians prepare for the winter, and the ominous possibility of another water system failure, they’re also coping with the looming uncertainty of how their drinking water will be managed in the years to come. 

“I really don’t know what to expect,” said Kathy Sykes, a lifelong Jackson resident and former lawmaker, about the future of the water system. “Problems with our water system are going to be magnified once the cold weather sets in.”

On Monday, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the system remains vulnerable to the winter weather, which last year froze equipment at the city’s main treatment plant and shut off drinking water for thousands of residents for over a month. The cold weather led to a citywide boil water notice in 2018 because of bursting pipes, and caused similar issues in 2014 and 2010 as well. 

For now, the federal government is leading discussions over the long-term plan for the water system, with the Department of Justice negotiating a settlement with Jackson’s lawyers over the city’s drinking water violations. Yet the status of those talks and what potential outcomes they might yield are hidden from the public because of a confidentiality agreement between the two parties. 

Similarly, Jackson has a “very-detailed” spending plan the city has shared with the Environmental Protection Agency, but which it can’t share with the public because of a different confidentiality agreement, city officials said

In the meantime, Sykes and others continue to see abrupt interruptions to their water connections. Since Sept. 15, when the state lifted the last citywide boil water notice, Jackson has issued 30 boil water notices, more than one every other day, to over 2,200 customers because of breaks in the aging distribution system, ranging from a day to nearly a week in duration.  

Jackson recently announced it’s seeking a contractor to manage its water facilities for the next year, which the mayor said he expects to begin Nov. 17, pending city council approval. The governor’s state of emergency is set to end just after on Nov. 22, which would mark the state’s takeover of Jackson’s water operations at nearly three months.

But other than that, there is little foresight for the city’s residents over the future control of their water system. Adding to the uncertainty, Gov. Tate Reeves has expressed growing distrust in Jackson’s ability to manage the system on its own.

Reeves argued recently that the August crisis was a result of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s “absolute and total incompetence,” and said that it’s “not that difficult” to a drinking water system. 

In a September press conference, the governor said that “there is a need” for state lawmakers to “take action” on a long-term solution, and later cast doubt over whether Jackson would operate its own water system “anytime soon, if ever again.” To date, however, Reeves has not pushed for a specific outcome. 

The city’s failures appear in virtually every corner of the drinking water system: operators are underpaid, leaving staffing shortages; miles of undersized water lines need replacing; and equipment at the two treatment plants haven’t been maintained or are so old they can’t be fixed. 

The city has for years planned to decommission one of the plants, the century-old J.H. Fewell, but now can’t because of shortcomings at the 30-year-old O.B. Curtis, which also may need replacing, according to the mayor.

Meanwhile, Jackson city council members have met with Reeves and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann to discuss possible solutions, council president Ashby Foote said. Foote told Mississippi Today that Hosemann proposed creating a “utility district” for Jackson that would be governed by a board, similar to what rural water authorities use. 

Hosemann’s office confirmed he has met with stakeholders, but declined an interview for further details. 

Publicly, Lumumba has yet to entertain any long-term solution aside from sending the city more money. For years, the state government has built barriers to Jackson’s ability to raise money, as the NAACP argues in a Act complaint that the EPA has agreed to investigate. Reeves disputed some of those allegations in a letter to Congress

Jackson’s water issues also parallel a decline in the federal government’s share of local water spending, which plummeted from 31% in 1977 to 7% in 2017, according to congressional budget data. 

In that time, the city’s ability to replace federal spending only grew worse, as its population decreased 26% since 1980, and a failed water meter contract with Siemens led to a 31% decrease in water and sewer revenue from 2014 to 2020, city budget records show. 

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But the path to rehabilitation requires more than just money, water system experts and local officials agree.

“Pouring more money into a failing institution does not fix that institution,” said Manuel Teodoro, a public policy scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Teodoro has helped consult water utilities since the 1990s, and served on expert advisory panels for local and state governments, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. 

Jackson, Teodoro explained, is unique only in the degree of its infrastructure failure, but the circumstances the city is facing are “depressingly ordinary” around the United States. 

Part of the issue, he said, is there are “way too many” water and sewer utilities around the country. Teodoro – as well as other water policy experts – is a proponent of regionalization, citing the theory that creating “economies of scale,” or pooling resources together, saves every city and suburb money in the long run. 

Regionalizing can take different forms, whether it’s combining physical infrastructure or combining operations staff. 

“Anyway you slice it, bigger is better,” Teodoro said. “There’s no question, in my mind, that Jackson, just like anywhere else in the country, would be better off with a larger organization running the utilities for the region.”

Cleveland, Ohio, for instance, is a 48% Black city of 368,000, and is part of a regional authority that serves drinking water to 1.3 million people including the city’s suburbs. Cleveland, like Jackson, has seen financial issues amid population loss over the years, but has had relatively few issues with its drinking water, Teodoro said. 

Opponents of regionalizing look at Detroit as a cautionary tale: as part of the city’s bankruptcy deal in 2014, a court forced the city into a regional water authority, GLWA. While the authority pays the city to lease its water facilities, researchers from University of California Berkeley found that GLWA actually underpays Detroit, and in recent years it aggressively shut off water connections for residents in debt. 

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.

Without a push from the state or federal government, Jackson and its neighbors appear unwilling to join forces, Mississippi Today reported in September. 

Regionalization, another expert said, can surface trust issues between communities, especially where there’s a history of racism or marginalization. 

“Whether communities want to cooperate or want to cede decision-making power over their drinking water to a community that they see as not having their best interest in mind, that can be tough,” said Sara Hughes, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who studies water management. “Even if it technically makes a lot of sense or is what looks best on the spreadsheet, I think that can be a big ask for communities sometimes.” 

Jackson losing control is part of why Lumumba is wary of a regional authority, and it’s also why he’s repeatedly shut down the idea of privatization, a model that serves drinking water to 15% of Americans. 

Opponents to privatization usually point to increased costs, which is an accurate assessment, Teodoro said, but one that only paints part of the picture. 

“It turns out you get what you pay for,” he said. “And what you have in the case of investor-owned (or private) systems is higher prices, but consistently higher quality.”

If a private company bought Jackson’s water system, the PSC would regulate any rate increases the company proposes, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley confirmed. 

The costs and benefits of a privatized system comes down to incentives, Teodoro explained. Because they’re investing in the infrastructure – and because they can profit from making upgrades, as a 2017 Washington Post story explored – private companies are quicker to raise rates to fund needed improvements.

The Washington Post story also found, though, that cities dissatisfied with a private company’s service have difficulty trying to buy back their systems because of the high price tag. 

Open fire hydrant flushing water though the system at the corner of Mitchell Avenue and North State Street in Jackson, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.

But regardless of who owns it, a city’s water system is expensive, and whoever runs it will have to be willing to raise rates on residents’ water bills, Teodoro said.  

“People are going to pay for (water systems) with their taxes, or they’re going to pay for them with their health,” he said.

While Jackson raised water and sewer rates by 20% last December, it was the first rate hike since 2013, WLBT reported, and also a lower increase than what the city’s consultants recommended.  

City officials, who have to spend money and run for elections on issues other than just water, have historically lacked incentive to raise people’s water rates until a catastrophe hits, Teodoro explained.

“That’s not because Jackson’s past leaders were stupid or evil, they were making rational decisions,” he said. “That has nothing to do with the politics of Jackson. That has everything to do with the politics of every local government in the United States.”

While Lumumba has shut down alternatives to the city continuing to operate its water system the way it has for years, some of Jackson’s city council are hoping for a change. 

Councilman Kenneth Stokes called for the state to take over Jackson’s water system, and said if the state doesn’t do it, then the federal government should take control instead. Stokes added that he would also support privatizing the system. 

“We got to make sure that we put citizens first,” he said. “All this, ‘This is my territory, this is mine,’ that’s nonsense when you got children drinking contaminated water.”

Salvation Army workers distribute bottled water at in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, August 31, 2022.

Councilman Vernon Hartley, whose ward in west Jackson regularly feels the brunt of water pressure issues, said that while he wants the city to retain primary control, he would support regionalization. A regional authority, he reasoned, would mean more money and more political influence.

“It’s apparent to me that the way we’ve been doing things is not right,” Hartley said. “We’re going to pressure the federal government into giving (Jackson) more money, and which it needs to (do). But without proper management of that money, we’re going to end up in the same place.” 

Recognizing the obstacles to regionalization, Teodoro mentioned certain measures – such as Jackson paying more to join because of its financial baggage, or the federal government subsidizing suburbs such as Byram and Clinton – to create incentives for regionalization. But one incentive, he said, should already exist: pride.     

“It should be shameful to the people of Mississippi to have that degree of infrastructure failure in your state capital,” Teodoro said. “So, if for no other reason, then I would think state pride would make folks want to participate in regional solutions, sustainable solutions for Jackson’s water.” 

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

Black-owned grocery opens to serve small Delta town

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‘A blessing to the community’: New Black-owned grocery opens to serve small Delta town

WEBB — Marquitrice Mangham didn’t just want to create the grocery store her hometown desperately needed. She wanted to bolster the Delta’s long-struggling food system. 

Enter Farmacy Marketplace: A neighborhood grocer that isn’t just the first store in decades to offer Webb shoppers fresh meat and produce, but also a steady marketplace for small-scale farmers to sell their crops. 

Marquitrice Mangham, owner of Farmacy Marketplace, poses for a portrait inside of her grocery store in Webb, Miss., Friday, October 28, 2022. Farmacy Marketplace is the only grocery store in the town.

“A huge amount of food waste goes on in the Delta because everything is so sparsely populated,” said Mangham, who heads the nonprofit that runs the new Tallahatchie County grocery store. “No supermarket business is going to contract you to buy 20 pounds of tomatoes every couple weeks.” 

But the Farmacy Marketplace can, giving the region’s struggling small-scale farmers a more reliable income and the people of Webb access to produce without driving a half-hour to the nearest grocery store. 

The Mississippi Delta may be known for its fertile soil, but its major farm operations largely grow soy and corn for animal feed rather than produce the food the region’s population actually eats. There are few industries and jobs outside of agriculture. In most Delta counties, the poverty rate is between 30%-40%. 

The Delta is also covered with what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls rural food deserts: low-income tracts where a third of the population lives more than 20 miles from the nearest large grocer. Mangham hopes what she’s creating at Farmacy Marketplace will become a model for other communities. 

Webb is home to just under 400 people and is 97% Black, according to the latest Census data. Before Farmacy, shoppers seeking poultry, steak, fresh fruit and veggies needed to drive 25 miles to in Clarksdale or 18 miles to SuperValu in Charleston.

“It saves people money and instead of investing in gas, they are able to purchase more groceries,” said Webb Mayor Michael Plez. 

The new store is in the heart of the town’s Main Street, meaning many citizens can walk to go shopping. 

Clad in a green apron and wide smile, Mangham’s mother is one of the store’s workers. The community has rallied around the store, desperate for it to be successful and volunteering their time so their neighbors have a reliable place to purchase healthy food. 

Mangham lives in Atlanta part-time and is regularly in Webb to manage the shop and a 150-acre family farm. Her nonprofit, In Her Shoes, aids women experiencing homelessness in Georgia and offers farm training in Mississippi. The shop is operated under the nonprofit using USDA grant funds. 

Farmacy Marketplace had its soft opening on Oct. 7 — timing that couldn’t have been better. The local Dollar General, which may not have had fresh food but plenty of essentials, burned down the week before.

The only store that provided groceries in Webb, Miss. was lost during a fire. Marquitrice Mangham decided to open Farmacy Marketplace to fulfill the need for a grocery store in the town.

Dollar General said in a statement it was still assessing the store’s future. Mangham has added more household essentials to the store’s inventory to help make up for the loss of the community’s only major retailer.

Feeding America, a national food bank organization, reported that 31% of Tallahatchie County’s Black community was food insecure in 2020, the latest data available. That rate measures access to food between finances, transportation and physical grocery stores. 

The easiest food to get in Webb — before Farmacy opened — was frozen dinners or pizzas, chips and candy. 

Mangham’s vision isn’t only about giving Delta communities a more reliable food system and , but also making them healthier with access to unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Demetrice Starks, 54, was browsing the new grocery store with her 86-year-old mother. Starks grew up in the area and now lives in Memphis. She hadn’t been to a neighborhood grocery like Farmacy in the area since she was a child. They had all closed up as people moved out. 

Much of Webb’s population is aging, and it gives Starks peace of mind that her mother no longer has to drive so far to get items for supper. 

“It’s a symbolism of growth and rebuilding the community,” Starks said. “It’s helping bring some type of stability.” 

Lonzell Wright is in and out of the shop regularly, able to easily get supplies for his burger-and-fries restaurant called Zell’s that’s down the street. When Plez, the mayor, has a taste for steak, he can just walk a few minutes to the store and buy what needs that night for dinner. 

“Since the day it opened it has been a blessing to the community,” said Plez. 

Mangham has other goals in mind: a local poultry processing facility Delta farmers can use so the store’s poultry is coming from the community and further creating jobs. She’s busy writing proposals for more grants. 

She is partnering with a nearby community college’s workforce training program so students can get retail job experience at the store, earning $10 an hour. There are three participants so far.

The store is open seven days a week. On Nov. 1, it began accepting Electronic Benefit Transfers, or EBT payments, for those on food benefits. It’s another big step that will help the community, Mangham said.

People want to shop and work where they live. It’s simple, yet not the norm across the Delta’s rural towns. People want to see the program succeed, she said.

It’s not just a grocery store; it’s the town’s quality of life. 

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

Walmart, Target begin holiday early to ease inflation sting

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-09-22 16:38:34

Target
FILE – People shop at a Target store in Clifton, New Jersey, on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — and Target plan to begin offering deals and price matching offers earlier this year to keep up with Americans pressed by soaring inflation and looking for ways to ease the potential sting of shopping.

For two years now, shoppers have started preparing for the holidays early but last year it was because the global supply chain had been scrambled as nations began to emerge from the pandemic. This year, experts believe it is a…

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JSU: Jackson water crisis highlights limitation of government

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‘The wall people are running into’: For JSU student, city water crisis highlights limitation of government

Maisie Brown pulled her aunt’s army green Ford Edge onto I-55, heading north past the port-a-potties outside the Hilton on County Line Road. 

The Jackson University junior was on a mission last Wednesday – two days after Gov. Tate Reeves declared a water emergency in Jackson – to deliver water to elderly and disabled people in the capital city. Her first stop was Academy Sports and Outdoors, a retailer in the plush city of Madison, to pick up nearly two dozen 24-packs of bottled water. 

That Brown had to trek outside the city limits to buy water is indicative of one of the many systemic issues at the heart of Jackson’s water crisis: The whiter, wealthier suburbs – recipients of population growth post-integration – aren’t dealing with the same crisis today.

“People look down on Jackson, but give it a decade,” Brown said before applying a light-pink shade of Victoria’s Secret lip gloss. “This is going to be everyone’s reality soon.” 

Like most people from the Jackson-metro area, Brown was rarely fazed by the city’s boil water notices, as typical as the crater-like potholes. The 22-year-old grew up seeing stacks of plastic water jugs in her grandparents’ house off State Street – “not because they like to drink water like a fish,” she said, “but sometimes you never know when it’s going to be on the and they tell you to boil water.” 

But Brown’s attitude changed on Aug. 29, when Reeves announced in an evening press conference that the city would be without clean, running water “indefinitely.” The pressure had dropped so low that many of Jackson’s 150,000 residents weren’t receiving water at all. 

In the coming days, the Mississippi National Guard would be staffing water distribution sites across the city – but getting there would require a car, a significant barrier in a state that has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country. 

That night, Brown realized it was unclear how, if at all, the state was planning to bring water to elderly and disabled folks who wouldn’t be able to drive to the distribution sites. So the student activist, known for her role in helping to coordinate the city’s largest protest since the movement, decided it was time to mobilize. She posted a call-out on social media for volunteers to help her deliver water. 

“The state has consistently ignored Jackson’s asks for help,” she said. “We are not high-priority for the people in power, because of the Black, poverty-stricken population that we are.”

Within 24 hours, Brown raised over nearly $2,500 (it’s more than $6,000 now) and assembled more than 20 JSU students to start the “MS Student Water Crisis Advocacy Team.” Together, they’ve delivered about 1,000 cases of water to more than 200 homes, organizing drop-offs via a shared spreadsheet.  

Marquise Hunt delivers water to a Jackson, Mississippi resident Tamela Davis on September 1, 2022.

Brown’s iPhone hasn’t stopped ringing since. That Wednesday morning, she got 14 calls: A representative asked if she could include Brown’s number on a list of water distribution resources; a stranger requested a delivery for a friend with multiple sclerosis; several journalists from national media reached out for an interview.

Most calls were from Jacksonians who couldn’t get to the city and state distribution sites. Whether they offered an explanation or not, Brown delivered water. 

“If the government could do everything, then there’d be no nonprofit or grassroots organizations,” she said. “The whole structure of government, the way it’s built today, is not enough to help people. That’s the wall people are running into.” 

As Brown exited I-55, a 917 area code popped up on the Ford Edge’s dashboard. 

“Who is this from New York calling me?” Brown said. 

It was a producer from CNN – the first of five media calls Brown would receive that day on the temporary number she had created for the hotline. Before the producer could finish pitching Brown on a segment, she was interrupted by a Jacksonian who called the hotline for a water delivery. (Brown got so many calls from reporters last week that she had to post on Twitter asking them not to use the hotline.) 

“This is my phone all day long,” Brown said when she hung up. 

A few minutes later, she pulled into the shopping plaza where Academy was located and checked her phone, hoping they wouldn’t cancel her order like the in Byram had the day before.

Brown spotted two Academy workers wheeling cases of water on a blue platform dolly. She hopped out of the car to greet them, then popped the trunk. One of the workers stared at it for a second and frowned. 

“I know y’all are probably like who the f— is ordering 20 packs of water?” Brown said jokingly. 

“No, I get it,” he replied. “Y’all are good.” 

For Brown, a political science major, the water emergency has sparked big-picture questions about the role of government in a democratic society and who it really serves. The one-party state government doesn’t serve everyone in Mississippi, Brown said, because it was not elected by everyone. Black , more likely to vote Democratic, are also disenfranchised at higher rates than white people. 

“We’re a red state, but we’re a Black state too,” Brown said. “People forget that part.” 

This perspective has led Brown to push for change on an array of systemic issues in Mississippi, including the state flag that held the Confederate battle emblem, the “pink tax” on menstrual products, and the disproportionate impact of abortion bans on Black and low-income people. 

Brown said she views this work as a way of building a better world – an outlook she adopted after reading the “Faces at the Bottom of the Well,” a book by Derrick Bell.

“The work you’re doing is not in vain, but will be a model for a new society – a better one,” Brown said, paraphrasing the introduction by the lawyer Michelle Alexander. “That keeps me motivated.” 

On her way back from Madison, Brown stopped at her first drop-off, an orange-and-red apartment complex behind a car dealership on South Frontage Road. Two young men helped Brown carry the 29-lb packs of water cases to the front door. 

Then it was off to west Jackson, where Brown had two stops to make. The first was at a house with red trim on Maple Street near Lanier High School, the first high school built for Black kids in Jackson. The woman who lived there wasn’t home but worried someone might take the water cases, so she asked Brown to leave them behind the bushes next to her doorstep. 

Even though Brown is from Madison, she’s well acquainted with this part of the city – her dad’s side of the family used to own a restaurant here, but now it’s boarded up. Brown also went to school in the city, because her dad is a principal in Jackson’s school district. On the weekends, he’d go to block parties to meet the community, and she’d tag along. 

“It’s very rare that people who don’t live in Jackson try to go to school here,” she said. “It’s always the opposite way.” 

Indeed, the phenomenon that Brown is getting at – white flight – is another contributing factor to Jackson’s water crisis. The overgrown bushes and derelict buildings in west Jackson are an above-ground symptom of the billions in lost tax dollars as 71% of white residents have left since 1980. Beneath the city, the water lines are deteriorating just the same. 

Marquise Hunt (left) and Maisie Brown deliver water to a Jackson, Mississippi resident on September 1, 2022.

The temperature was starting to get hot and muggy. Outside the yellow duplex where Brown made her next delivery, a man was blowing cut grass off the sidewalk. Brown thought about delivering water to the next-door neighbor, but decided against it – a pitbull, panting in front of a silver water bowl, guarded the porch. 

As Brown turned to leave, he asked if she had enough cases for the neighboring house – if so, he’d call the man who lived there to ask. 

“How long y’all doing the water?” he asked.

“As long as the money comes in to keep doing more,” she replied. 

Brown’s last stop for the day was in North Jackson at a red brick house in a subdivision near Hope Spring Missionary Baptist Church, one of the oldest churches in Jackson, established in 1865 to serve freed slaves. A woman answered the door, revealing a large painting of a white, fluffy cat in the dim entryway. 

“You brought me some water,” she remarked. “I didn’t have any water. Thank you.”

Sitting in her car in the woman’s driveway, Brown took a moment to pause. She turned up the volume on “America Has a Problem,” her favorite song from Beyonce’s latest album, and thought about preparing for a TV interview that night. 

“Alright,” she said, “let me figure out some things while I’m at a stopping point.” 

Then her phone rang.

The images in this story are from Deep Indigo Collective, a visual storytelling resource supporting news outlets reporting on the local impacts of environmental threats and the climate crisis. As a 501(c)(3) organization, Deep Indigo is proud to produce original visual journalism on behalf of our editorial partners across the United States.

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

Biloxi Fire Department applies for grant to improve outreach program

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www.wxxv25.com – Rick Gogreve – 2022-08-24 17:28:04

After a meeting at City Hall on Monday, the has been approved to apply for a $2,500 grant from the Foundation.

If chosen for the grant, the fire department will use the funds to improve its outreach program to help improve mental health of the firefighters.

A few years ago, the department received a grant from Friends of Firefighters through Homeland Security, but did not include benefits for the outreach program.

This new grant would give the counselors the benefits to purchase new equipment, food, or other items to provide a more…

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ALDI grocery store in Ocean Springs sets soft opening for Aug. 24

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by Cherie Ward, Our Mississippi Home

ALDI is not your mama’s grocery store.

The $4 million store will have a soft opening on Aug. 24 followed by a and 9 am ribbon-cutting on Aug. 25 in .

The 21,000-square-foot store at 3801 Bienville Blvd. is near Navigator Credit Union and just west of Supercenter and Whataburger on the east side of the city, and is the first ALDI opened on the Gulf Coast. Another ALDI will open later this year in on Miss. 49 and a Meridian location is set to open on Aug. 31 at 131 S Frontage Road.

The opening of the Ocean Springs ALDI comes as part of a national expansion of 150 stores across the United States, 20 of which are set for the Southeast. In February, the retailer announced it would open a new distribution center in Loxley, Ala. to support its…

This article first on Our Mississippi Home.

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Jay Lee case: Timeline, what we know so far

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Police investigation into Ole Miss student killing: Timeline, what we know so far 

On Aug. 9, Oxford testified for the first time to the evidence used to charge 22-year-old Sheldon Timothy Herrington Jr. for the murder of Jimmie “Jay” Lee. During a preliminary hearing, Ryan Baker, an OPD detective, laid out the steps that police took before arresting Herrington for killing Lee.

A Black student who was well-known in Oxford’s LGBTQ community, Lee’s body is still missing more than a month after he disappeared on July 8. Herrington has not yet entered a plea in the case, but his uncle Carlos Moore has said he believes Herrington did not kill Lee.

To help the public understand how police investigate missing persons cases, Mississippi Today has recreated the timeline of OPD’s investigation into Lee’s using Baker’s testimony and publicly available documents.  

This post will be updated as more information is released about the investigation. 

July 8 

Around 8:30 p.m., the University of Mississippi Police Department receives a call from Lee’s mom, Stephanie Lee, requesting a wellness check. Stephanie tells police her son’s location isn’t showing up on her iPhone and that it’s alarming for Lee to let his phone die. 

About 15 minutes later, according to UMPD’s initial incident report, an officer checks on Lee’s apartment at Campus Walk, a university-owned student housing complex. The door is slightly ajar, and Lee’s dog is inside. 

UMPD starts pulling surveillance footage from Campus Walk. The footage, Baker testified, shows Lee leaving his apartment a little after 4 a.m., coming back about 40 minutes later, then leaving again at 5:58 a.m.

July 10 

UMPD posts on social media asking for information about Lee’s whereabouts. The post includes a description of Lee’s car, a black Ford Fusion with a gold stripe on the front hood and a Mississippi license plate reading “JAYLEE1.” 

UMPD then receives a call from Bandit Towing, a company in Oxford. Bandit Towing tells UMPD that it towed Lee’s car from Molly Barr Trails, an apartment complex in northeast Oxford, at 1:52 p.m. on July 8, and gives UMPD a picture of Lee’s car parked in the back of Molly Barr Trails, near a wooded area that stretches to the airport. 

The Oxford Police Department gets involved in the case and receives a call on its tip line from one of Lee’s friends who says they had talked over Snapchat early in the morning on July 8. Lee’s friend tells OPD that Lee was in the car on the way to meet someone “he had previously hooked up with,” Baker testified. 

Lee didn’t say who he was going to meet, Baker testified that the friend recalled, but said he had blocked the person on social media following a fight they’d had a few hours earlier. The person then reached out on Snapchat “under a username Jay Lee didn’t recognize,” Baker testified Lee’s friend said, and “offered to do something to Jay Lee they’d never done before” that was implied to be sexual in nature. 

July 11

To trace how Lee’s car ended up at Molly Barr Trails, Baker testified that OPD starts obtaining video surveillance from businesses along Jackson Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Oxford, and the front office at Molly Barr Trails. 

Footage from the front office shows Lee’s car arriving at Molly Barr Trails at 7:25 a.m. Nine minutes later, Baker testified that the footage shows a “Black male running from Molly Barr Trails” wearing dark shorts, a gray hoodie and black-and-white sneakers. Baker noted during his testimony that the video does not show this same person running into the complex. 

Around 7:38 a.m., footage from a gas station on Molly Barr Trails showed the same person – who officers will later determine is Herrington – jogging into the parking lot and meeting a white Kia Optima with an tag.

July 13

OPD searches Molly Barr Trails with help from K-9s from the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office and releases a video of Lee’s father pleading for more information. 

July 15

Lee’s family organizes a search party at Clear Creek Lake, a conservation area north of Oxford near where the body of Ally Kostial, a UM student who was murdered by her boyfriend, was found in 2019.

July 20

OPD announces the FBI and ’s Office are assisting in the investigation. 

July 21

OPD receives Lee’s Snapchat data – including his messages and blocked contacts – and identifies Herrington as a person of interest. 

Lee’s Snapchat data corroborates the account his friend gave to OPD on July 10. Snapchat’s location data puts Lee in the vicinity of Herrington’s apartment for the last time at 6:12 a.m. on July 8. 

Starting at 5:17 a.m. on July 8, Lee’s Snapchat messages show a conversation with an account named “redeye_24” that Lee doesn’t recognize. OPD determines “redeye_24” is Herrington by identifying the phone number associated with the Snapchat account, a Google Voice number registered to an email for Herrington’s podcast, “Dirt 2 Diamonds.” An account belonging to Herrington is also among Lee’s blocked contacts. 

In the messages, Herrington asks Lee to “come back” to his apartment, but Lee initially refuses, calling the way Herrington treated him earlier that night as an “asshole move.” Lee then says that he thinks Herrington is “just tryna lure me over there to beat my ass or something.” Herrington replies, “you trippin,” adding, “I do feel bad because we cool so I ain’t trying to end it like this.”  

Lee replies the only way he will go back to Herrington’s apartment is if Herrington reciprocates oral sex, and Herrington agrees. Lee tells Herrington it won’t “end up good” if he tries to “hurt me or some shit.” Herrington replies “I know.” 

July 22

OPD pulls the car tags of the white Kia Optima – the car that Herrington met at the gas station parking lot – and realizes an officer pulled the car over during a traffic stop on the morning of July 8. OPD looks at the officer’s body camera, which shows a Black male in the passenger seat wearing clothes that match the video footage from Molly Barr Trails. 

Mid-morning, officers knock on Herrington’s door at DLP Oxford, a luxury student housing complex. Baker testified that Herrington opens the door, answers “a few general questions about knowing Jay Lee” and asks officers to “excuse the mess … because he was moving to Dallas soon.” Baker recalls that clothes and towels were lying on the couch, as if Herrington had just done laundry.

OPD detains Herrington and takes him back to the precinct for questioning. At 2:44 p.m., officers read Herrington his Miranda rights, and he signs a waiver agreeing to give up his right-to-counsel in the interview with Baker and a lieutenant. Herrington acknowledges that he had a casual relationship with Lee and says that on the morning of July 8, he went to to buy duct tape before going on a

As Baker and his lieutenant are interviewing Herrington, other officers execute a search warrant on his apartment, obtaining several items including his MacBook, keys, and a pair of dark-colored shorts. Officers also seize a Walmart receipt that shows Herrington bought duct tape at 6:41 a.m. The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office walks its “cadaver dogs” – K-9s trained to identify the smell of a dead body – through Herrington’s apartment. The dogs “alert” three times in Herrington’s bedroom and once in the living room area.

During the preliminary hearing, Herrington’s attorney, Rep. Kevin Horan, repeatedly asked Baker if OPD had reviewed the training DeSoto County gives its cadaver dogs or checked to see if the dogs had ever before identified the smell of a dead body. Baker said that he had not. 

The dogs also alert during a search of Herrington’s car, and an OPD technician finds blonde hair near the driver’s seat and back passenger seat. In the trunk, Baker testified that an OPD technician found bodily fluid in the shape of a footprint but did not specify what kind.

Police also bring in for questioning the driver of the Kia Optima who says that he was driving on Molly Barr Trails the morning of July 8 when he saw Herrington jogging. The driver says that Herrington told him he was “gassed” from a run and needed a ride back to his apartment. 

Baker gets an affidavit for Herrington’s arrest, and he’s booked into the Lafayette County Detention Center around 8:15 p.m. 

July 25 and 26

OPD expands its search for Lee’s remains to Grenada County and takes possession of Herrington’s box truck in Oxford.

July 27 

OPD receives a forensic copy of Herrington’s MacBook that shows his Google search history. The forensic copy shows that on July 7, Herrington had googled flights from Dallas to Singapore. That night, he looked at a Twitter profile titled #TransLivesMatter that posts pornographic videos of trans people. 

The copy also showed that Herrington was looking at Lee’s Twitter page at 5:21 a.m., a few minutes after he first messaged Lee on Snapchat. At 5:56 a.m., minutes after Lee messaged Herrington he was on his way, the copy shows that Herrington searched “how long does it take to strangle someone gabby petito,” then “does pre workout boost testosterone.” 

OPD also obtains video from Walmart showing Herrington viewing garbage cans shortly before purchasing duct tape at 6:41 a.m. 

July 29

Police search Herrington’s parent’s house in Grenada after getting a search warrant. Officers also obtain video footage of Herrington retrieving a long-handle shovel and wheelbarrow from his parent’s house and putting it into the back of the box truck. 

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

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