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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 State 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 Mississippians, 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 appeared 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 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 appeared 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 video 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 run. 

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, state 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 appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Jay Lee: Community searching for missing Ole Miss student

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Community, family searching for missing Ole Miss student Jay Lee

Jimmie “Jay” Lee, a 20-year-old University of Mississippi student, has been missing since Friday, July 8.

As continue to investigate the disappearance of Jimmie “Jay” Lee – the 20-year-old University of Mississippi student who has been missing for a week – his friends and family are organizing search parties and passing out fliers in Oxford. 

Some of Lee’s classmates have also started a GoFundMe to support his family. 

Lee, a Black student who is well-known in the college town’s LGBT community, was last seen on Friday, July 8, at 5:58 a.m. leaving his home at Campus Walk Apartments, according to the Oxford Police Department. 

He was wearing a silver robe or housecoat, a gold cap or bonnet, and gray slippers. 

Police think Lee may have driven to Molly Barr Trails, a student apartment complex seven minutes away from Campus Walk where his car was towed in the afternoon of July 8. Police found his car at a towing company three days later, and it’s now at the Mississippi State Laboratory for processing. 

The University of Mississippi Police Department, which is working with OPD to find Lee, received the first report that he was missing on Friday, July 8, at 8:28 p.m., according to an incident report. 

The report, one sentence long, shows that officer John Boyd conducted a welfare check at Lee’s apartment that night but there was “negative contact.”  

As the family looks for Lee, they’ve increased the reward to $5,000. Crimestoppers, a nonprofit that supports law enforcement, has pledged a $1,000 reward for finding Lee.

Lee was last seen leaving Campus Walk Apartments at 5:58 a.m. in a silver robe or housecoat, a gold cap or bonnet, and gray slippers.

Lee was spending the summer in Oxford finishing his bachelor’s degree in social work. He is already accepted into UM’s masters program in social work and is scheduled to start this fall. 

The day he went missing, Lee was supposed to go to a donation drive for baby formula that he organized as part of a summer internship with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services in Lafayette County. 

Over the last week, Lee’s family and friends have organized search parties and passed out fliers looking for him.

“This is a loving, caring person that would give you the shirt off his back if you need it,” Tayla Carey, Lee’s sister, told Mississippi Today. “His family is in desperate need of finding him and just making sure he returns safely.” 

When Carey talked with Mississippi Today this Friday morning, she was getting ready to drive to Oxford from Ridgeland for another search party that would meet at the on West Jackson Ave. She said the family needs more volunteers to help pass out fliers and that anyone who wants to help can contact her on Facebook. 

Carey said she found out that Lee was missing in the evening on July 8 when her mom called to ask if she’d spoken to him that day. The last thing the family heard from Lee, Carey said, was at 2 a.m. on July 8, when he’d texted his mom to wish her happy birthday. 

The family’s theory is that Lee had gone to get coffee or visit a friend early in the morning on Friday, because he was last seen wearing sleepwear. It wasn’t unusual for him to be up that early, but he left behind his dog, Lexus Lola. 

“My little brother, he is the type of person, he’s not gonna leave the house unless he is ten-ten,” Carey said. “I’m talking his dress, his make up. He’s not gonna leave his house until he makes sure he looks good. For him to walk out the door in a house bonnet, a housecoat and his slippers – that lets us know he was going to get coffee or he was going to meet someone that he trusted.” 

Lee was an active member of UM’s student government association and served as the director of LGBTQ Outreach. His family and friends describe him as a confident person who often wears acrylic nails and long, blonde hair.

Friends and family say that many people in Oxford, a small-town that revolves around the university, are terrified for Lee. 

On Thursday night, Kristy Durkin, a professor of social work at UM who taught Lee, went to put up fliers with Alexis Parker, one of Lee’s classmates. They printed more than 50 fliers and taped them up at the central bus transit station, at restaurants and inside men’s bathrooms at Lee’s favorite bars on the Square. 

“There was one point I just kind of broke down and cried,” Durkin said. “Everywhere we went, (people asked) have you heard anything, (and said) well put ’em (the fliers) up.” 

At one point in the evening, they put up fliers in a restaurant where three police officers were eating dinner. One of the officers walked over and said they were praying for Lee. 

Parker said she found out Lee was missing on Sunday, July 10, when the university sent out a campus-wide email about his disappearance. She’s driven past Molly Barr Trail every day this week. On Wednesday, she saw Desoto County sheriff officers walking dogs through the complex. She said an officer told her they didn’t find anything. 

Today in class, Parker said her classmates talked about Lee and how they can help his family in the search. They decided to make a GoFundMe to help his family pay for gas and food. 

OPD has put out several press releases over the last week about its efforts to find Lee. On July 12, the department said it was “utilizing all available resources to track tips, potential witnesses, speaking with friends, running search warrants, canvassing areas, and collecting evidence.” 

OPD’s most recent update, on Thursday, July 14, says the department has conducted “numerous” interviews and is waiting for information to be returned from “around a dozen” search warrants it has “executed on both physical and digital entities.” 

Carey said Lee’s family is receiving the same updates from the police as the public. 

“They are doing their part, they are helping us as much as they can,” she said. “It’s a waiting game, we’re playing the waiting game.” 

Meanwhile, Lee’s family and friends are still searching for him. On Wednesday, OPD released a video of Lee’s dad pleading for help finding Lee. He reads from a statement on the back of an aquamarine flier that Lee created to advertise the baby formula donation drive. 

Lee is well-known on campus for his involvement in the LGBT community.

“I can remember my son coming to this college, you know, being willing to face the unknown without a problem. I’m so proud of him for that. I want everyone to know … he was there to help if he saw the need,” he said.

“I’m asking that, if anyone knows anything or sees anything, say something. Call, contact the law enforcement. Just tell them what you know. This is my plea that you help find my child.” 

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

Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport partners with United Way of South MS for ‘Fill the Bus’ supply drive

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www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-07-11 17:31:31

‘Fill the Bus’ has officially kicked off. The Junior Auxiliary of has partnered with United Way of in the annual school supply drive to collect supplies for children in the Gulfport, , , and schools.

People can drop off supplies in collection bins at the Gulfport Highway 49 Supercenter starting today through August 8th and Walmart Pass Christian…

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Navigator Credit Union & WXXV Free Community Shred Day

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www.wxxv25.com – Deidre Pyron – 2022-06-03 13:51:59

Saturday, June 18th, 7a-11a, Walmart Supercenter 3615 Sangani Blvd. D’Iberville

Community members are invited to bring up to two boxes (50lbs) of household documents you’d like destroyed safely and securely to a FREE Community Shred Day on Saturday, June 18th from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. (or when the truck is full) in the parking lot of the Supercenter at 3615 Sangani Blvd. in D’Iberville. The free shred day is not…

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Reproductive health care at Mississippi universities

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A guide to reproductive health care services at Mississippi universities

The ’s expected decision to overturn this summer will impact a broad swath of Mississippians, particularly college students, who have a high need for reproductive

Women in their 20s make up the majority of Mississippians who seek abortions in the state, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Health and the Guttmacher Institute. While it’s unclear the rate at which Mississippi college students in particular seek out abortions, studies have found that the top reasons students stop going to school are pregnancy, the need to care for family, and insufficient access to child care. 

That’s why advocates and public health experts say that colleges and universities should provide students with holistic and inclusive reproductive health care — and, if Roe is outlawed, that access is going to become all the more important. 

Mississippi Today surveyed the reproductive health care services and sexual education resources offered at the state’s eight public universities by calling the student health centers and requesting information from media relations. In general, Mississippi’s three largest universities — University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and University of Southern Mississippi — offer more on-campus reproductive health services than the smaller schools, which typically refer students to nearby clinics for exams.

All eight universities offer free condoms but only one school, Jackson State University, provides students with regular access to free Plan B emergency contraception via appointments. 

This list will be updated. 

Alcorn State University’s Rowan Hall Health Services Center

More info

Lorman campus: 601-877-6460

  • The center does not have an on-campus OB-GYN, but does provide testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Condoms, offered for free, are the only type of birth control available at the center.
  • Once a student has received an initial dose of Depo-Provera, a form of birth control administered as a shot, the center can administer the second dose if the student brings it to the center.
  • The center does not offer emergency contraceptives like Plan B but will advise students to seek over-the-counter options available at in Vicksburg.
  • Free pregnancy tests are available to students.
  • The Child Development and Learning Center is available to Alcorn State employees. Fees are assessed on an income-based scale. Alcorn State University did not answer Mississippi Today’s questions if it provides on-campus child care to students. 

Delta State University’s O.W. Reily Student Health Services

More info

662-846-4630

  • The nurse practitioner offers basic services like scripts for cough medication but does not provide lab testing or blood work.
  • The center will recommend students seeking pap smears go to the local health department. 
  • The center does not offer emergency contraceptives like Plan B.
  • Condoms and diaphragms are offered for free in the center’s resource room.
  • The center has partnered with a mobile clinic to offer sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing. 
  • Delta State has hosted sexual wellness seminars.
  • The Hamilton-White Child Development Center is available to students with kids up to five years old. Tuition costs $5,928 and can be paid in 10- and 12-month installments. 

Jackson State University’s Student Health Center

More info

601-979-2260

  • The center offers a variety of birth control options, including pills and the Depo-Provera shot, for free to students. 
  • Students can get free Plan B from the center by making an appointment with a nurse practitioner.
  • Offers free STD testing and treatment, including HIV testing.
  • Pregnancy tests are available to students without an appointment.
  • Provides referrals for students seeking prenatal care to local OB-GYN clinics if they do not have access to their own private physicians. 
  • The Lottie W. Thornton Early Child Care Center is available to students, faculty and community members with children ages 3 to 5 years old. Tuition costs $375 a month. 

Mississippi State University’s Longest Student Health Center

More info

662-325-6780

  • The center offers free sexual health exams for students. 
  • Free condoms are available in the dorms, and different forms of free birth control are offered at the center.
  • Free pregnancy tests are available at the health center.
  • The pharmacy offers over-the-counter Plan B for about $30. 
  • The Health Promotion and Wellness Department offers free STD testing, including free HIV testing. 
  • Tuition for the Child Development and Family Studies Center, which MSU calls “an experiential child study laboratory,” costs $585 per month and is available to infants and kids up to five years old. 

Mississippi University for Women’s Campus Health Center

More info

662- 329-7289

  • The nurse practitioners do not provide gynecological or urological exams, but they can write prescriptions for birth control. 
  • The nurse practitioners can prescribe Plan B, but rarely do, according to the health center.
  • Free condoms are available at the center.
  • The center does not provide services to pregnant people or children under three.
  • The center offers pregnancy tests for $10. 
  • The Child and Parent Development Center is available to children older than one until they start kindergarten. The center costs about $6,240 for the school year, but MUW students qualify for a 10% discount. 

The Delta Health Center at Mississippi Valley State University

More info

662-644-4865

  • The nurse practitioner can do pap smears but will refer students seeking more in-depth care to an OB-GYN in Mound Bayou.
  • The center can write a prescription for birth control, which students will need to pick up at Walmart or a nearby pharmacy. 
  • If a student brings Depo-Provera, the center can administer it. 
  • The center does not offer Plan B but the emergency contraceptive is occasionally available for free at on-campus health fairs.
  • Condoms are offered for free. 
  • Free pregnancy tests are provided. 
  • The Child Development Center, operated by Delta Health Alliance, is available to students, faculty and community members with children between 2 and 5 years old. The center is free based on income. 

University of Mississippi’s University Health Services

More info

662-915-7274 (students)
662-915-6550 (employees)

  • Students can access annual exams, including pap smears and breast exams, but health services cannot implant IUDs. 
  • The center can write prescriptions for birth control, but it is not provided for free. 
  • The center offers urine pregnancy tests for $38 and blood pregnancy tests for $40. 
  • The pharmacy sells Plan B for about $30. 
  • The Willie Price Lab School is available for children between 3 and 5 years old from “university-affiliated families.” 

University of Southern Mississippi’s Moffitt Health Center

More info

601-266-5390

  • The Office of Health Promotion offers a free sex education training for instructors who request it.
  • The health center offers free, walk-in HIV testing. Other forms of STD testing are not offered for free but at a reduced rate that can be billed to insurance. 
  • Free condoms are available in the pharmacy lobby and in patient rooms at the health center
  • The Center for Child Development is offered for children 8 weeks to 5 years old. Students with children can request financial assistance from the university through a U.S. Department of Education award called the “Child Care Access Means Parents In School” grant.

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

Formula shortage is ‘scary’ for Mississippi mothers

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‘It’s scary’: Mothers scour stores, social media to find baby formula

As Mississippi parents of babies who are formula-fed grapple with the national shortage, parents on government assistance and those who have babies with allergies may face extra challenges.

The formula shortage is having a major impact in Mississippi, which has the second-lowest rate of breastfeeding in the nation. Parents are taking to social media to swap formulas and post about available products that are in stock at stores. Some are even attempting to start breastfeeding again – a difficult and time-consuming process – and doctors have had to issue warnings about homemade formula.

Supply-chain issues related to the pandemic are one cause of the formula shortage. Manufacturers are struggling to obtain certain ingredients, and labor issues have affected distribution. 

The shortage has also been exacerbated by a recent recall of three major baby formula brands manufactured by Abbott Nutrition after a probe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found bacterial contamination at one Abbott facility in Sturgis, Mich. At least four babies were hospitalized and two died after consuming contaminated formula, the Food and Drug Administration said.

At retailers across the country, 31% of the top-selling baby formula products were out of stock in April, according to an analysis from Datasembly, which tracked baby formula stock at more than 11,000 stores. 

In contrast, the national out-of-stock levels for baby formula were at 11% in November.

Lauren Bolsinger and her husband have been struggling to find formula for their 7-month-old baby girl, Vivianne, for several months, sometimes traveling to 10 different stores in a day and only finding one can of formula. They’ve switched formulas twice due to the shortage, and are now using a generic brand that upsets their baby’s stomach. 

“Every single day, we’re going to multiple stores just hoping that it’s restocked, but it’s completely out,” Bolsinger, who lives in Madison, said. 

Ashlee Wallace of Brandon has struggled to find the formula her 7-month-old son needs due to a cow’s milk protein allergy. 

“It’s scary to think about,” Wallace said. “What happens if we can’t get it? What do you do?”

Bolsinger has seen other moms in similar situations. She once ran into a young mom who was crying because the store didn’t have the formula she needed. The mom told her she had been to five stores that day searching for a specific formula her baby needs due to her child’s allergies. 

“Being able to get formula for your baby is not something a mom should have to worry about, at any point,” Bolsinger said. 

Some mothers who have relied on formula are attempting to restart breastfeeding after previously stopping, according to retired lactation consultant Nell Blakely of Brandon.

A notice warning customers of their infant formula purchase limits hangs on the shelves at Walmart in Ridgeland, Miss., Thursday, May 5, 2022. The U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage in infant formula.

Blakely helps run a Facebook support group for breastfeeding mothers. She said she has seen an average of two inquiries a day from moms looking for help with relactation.  

Blakely has been helping walk them through that difficult process with limited success. One method is for the mother to let her baby use her breast as a pacifier, which encourages the mother’s body to produce milk. 

Another method is using a breast pump in several minute increments 10 to 12 times per day.

“It’s doable, but I would never say that it isn’t a whole lot of work,” Blakely said. 

And for mothers on government assistance, finding the right type of formula can be uniquely challenging. The Women, Infants and Children’s Nutrition Program (WIC) only covers four formula types unless an infant gets an exemption through a medical diagnosis. 

There were 84,000 women, children and infants who participated in WIC in Mississippi in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

WIC centers are telling parents who can’t find formula to contact their pediatricians and look into direct shipping from manufacturers if breastfeeding is not an option, said Liz Sharlot, director of communications at Mississippi Department of Health.

Dr. Anita Henderson, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician at The Pediatric Clinic in Hattiesburg, said her clinic has received many calls from concerned moms over the last few weeks because they’re having trouble finding the formula they use. 

“We’re encouraging them to check in different stores, because smaller pharmacies and grocery stores may get restocked more quickly, or just be utilized less than the large chains like Walmart.”

Some parents are making their own formula at home, a practice that health departments and doctors warn against.

 “Babies need those nutrients in the right combinations and the right concentration, and that’s impossible to guarantee if parents try to make it themselves,” Henderson said. 

Henderson also said it’s important that parents don’t dilute the formula they’re using to try and make their supply last longer. That not only cuts down on the nutritional value of the formula but can cause water intoxication in babies that results in major health problems like seizures.

Health officials are also asking parents not to hoard formula once they find it. Hoarding exacerbated shortages of items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer when those items became hard to find due to supply chain shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 “Please be cognizant of the fact that there are many moms and dads out there and we all want to keep our babies fed,” Henderson said. 

The formula shortage has necessitated large multi-person hunts for the products. Facebook groups for moms are full of people asking where they can find a certain formula, while others alert the group to where they can find formula when they see it.

For Gina Lovette of Hernando, the hunt for formula has “become kind of gamified in a sick way.” She and other moms in the area have created a group chat where they go over their finds, sharing and trading cans of formula when they find the brands another is looking for.

“Moms know we have to look out for each other, but it’s ridiculous that we have to do this at all,” Lovette said. 

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

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