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Brian Darden remembered as one of the best running backs in Mississippi

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Brian Darden (Photo courtesy Gold's Gym)

Brian Darden is remembered for his time on the gridiron, being the the top-ranked running back in the state of Mississippi and leading Warren Central to a state championship.

Born and raised in Vicksburg to Shirley Darden and Carl Jackson, Darden began playing football at the Vicksburg YMCA in third grade where he played running back and linebacker. By the the time he entered seventh grade at Vicksburg Junior High School, Darden was a great defensive player. He switched over to Warren Central Junior High when the school zones changed.

In 1991, Darden was a freshmen at Warren Central where he was a rising star as a young athlete preparing to play on the varsity level for legendary coach Robert Morgan. At the time, Darden’s key position was still on defense, but he would soon create his name on offense.

In his 1992 sophomore season, Darden was the starting outside linebacker for the Vikings while playing heavily on offense at running back. He led the state in rushing touchdowns that year, leading the Vikings to a 10-2 record.

The following season, Darden started on the offensive side of the ball, rushing for over 1,700 yards and 27 touchdowns. He proved to be much more effective on offense in the 1993 season despite what the outside world thought he should play.

”I wanted to play on defense but all of the scouts wanted to see me at running back,” Darden said.

Darden led the Vikings to the state championship his junior year. The team had a 14-1 record and only lost to state champs South Panola. Darden managed to gain 195 rushing yards and four touchdowns against South Panola, which put him on the map for being the No. 1 running back for his upcoming senior season.

Newspaper clip from the Clarion Ledger.

In 1994, Darden would get what he worked hard for, leading the Vikings to a state championship win. He finished his senior season with over 2,300 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns.

Wrapping up his senior year, Darden broke Marcus Dupree and Carl Blue’s rushing record in Mississippi. Darden finished his high school career with 78 touchdowns and 4,919 rushing yards.

Soon after his senior season, Darden committed to play for the University of Tennessee. He had considered staying in state, but some universities were placed on probation which forced him to choose otherwise.

At Tennessee, Darden quickly realized he was undersized compared to players such as former star NFL running back Jamal Lewis who was also playing at Tennessee.  Darden eventually transferred to Jackson State University where he finished out his football career.

Darden then moved to Dallas, Texas, where he has been a fitness trainer at Gold’s Gym for the past twenty years. He also has a personal training company, Darden Fitness.

He credits plenty of people for his success including his parents; grandparents, Octavia and Lamont Harris; Robert and Kathy Morgan; his best friend, Thad Bridges Jr., and his parents Thad Bridges Sr. and Betty Bridges; and his guidance counselor Mrs. Jackie.

Darden has a daughter, Taylor Darden, who recently graduated from Ole Miss and is now in medical school at the University of South Alabama.

 

Crime

Woman in custody for Friday’s shooting over a parking space

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The woman is in custody in connection with a shooting that occurred Friday, allegedly over a parking space.

The shooting took place around 3:30 p.m. Friday at an apartment building at 2230 Grove St. in Vicksburg.

Akeyah Daniels, 26, turned herself in to Vicksburg police officers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. She was arrested at the police station.

Three men were also briefly detained and released in connection with the shooting, according to the Vicksburg police.

Daniels faces one count of drive-by shooting is being held without bond until her initial appearance, which is taking place Saturday.

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Business

Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp

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Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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COVID-19

Vicksburg Warren School District reports 14 new COVID-19 cases and 46 quarantined

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The Vicksburg Warren School District reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 last week (Nov. 16 through Nov. 20) among students and staff, and 46 individuals newly quarantined due to possible exposure in the same time period.

Cases and quarantines in individual schools:

Beechwood Elementary School 

  • 1 new positive case – staff
  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 6 quarantined – students

Dana Road Elementary

  • 1 new positive case – staff
  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 1 quarantined – staff

Sherman Avenue Elementary

  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 5 quarantined – students

South Park Elementary

  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 8 quarantined – students

Vicksburg High School

  • 3 new positive cases – students

Vicksburg Intermediate School

  • 1 new case – student
  • 8 quarantined – students

Vicksburg Junior High School

  • 2 new cases – staff
  • 2 quarantined – staff

Warren Central Intermediate School

  • 2 new cases – staff
  • 5 quarantined – staff
  • 16 quarantined – students
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