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City of Vicksburg institutes hiring freeze for 60 days

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Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Left to right, South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield. (Photo via VTV screen grab)

Returning city workers were high on the agenda in Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

Non-essential city workers were sent home for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 starting April 3 and returned to work today, bringing city services back up to full strength.

To ensure employees are not laid off or furloughed, the City of Vicksburg is putting a hiring freeze into place for at least the next 60 days.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said that the city will do everything it can to avoid furloughing city employees, and at the moment, new hires are not in the budget. Some city workers may find themselves moved to different positions to ensure uninterrupted service to residents.

The city has undertaken unexpected expenses during the COVID-19 crises, among them is paying police and fire department first responders hazard pay.

“It is no longer business as usual with the City of Vicksburg,” Flaggs said, adding that if policies need to be rewritten, they will be. “Social distancing will be a part of the norm,” he said.

Some cities have furloughed and laid off employees due to budget strains from COVID-19 measures, Flaggs said.

“We’re trying to make sure to minimize that or not get to that,” he said, adding, “We can assure you we’re trying to save your job.”

The city is providing masks for those who request them and has upgraded its cleaning procedures to ensure surfaces are sanitized. Employees are also being checked for fever. To date, no city worker has tested positive for the virus.

During the meeting, Flaggs also read a city proclamation in appreciation those working on the front lines of the crisis. The proclamation declares April 20 to April 26 as Health Care Workers and First Responders Appreciation Week in Vicksburg.

On Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mayor Flaggs will be hosting a Facebook live event to address questions from the public.

News

City says gas smell poses no danger

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(Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay)

Numerous Vicksburg residents have reported a strong odor similar to natural gas in the city.

City officials say the smell is apparently due to a release on the harbor, and that it poses no danger.

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News

Update on the woman connected to high speed chase and crash

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The end of the chase. (Photo by David Day)

The high speed chase and crash that began at the Waffle House on Pemberton Square Boulevard in Vicksburg Saturday night originated with a domestic dispute.

The driver of the rented Nissan Rogue that eventually crashed and burned, Bonjara O’Quin, and his unnamed passenger were arguing for some time on Saturday.

One Vicksburg Daily News reader said they noticed them on the Natchez Trace earlier in the day. O’Quin was walking down the road and the female was driving slowly next to him trying to convince him to get back in the SUV. His distinctive pink shoes are what made our reader link the couple to this story.

Later in the day, the couple’s disagreement escalated, and a caller to 911 described a “rolling disturbance” in a blue SUV with Illinois plates near the Waffle House on Pemberton. Officer Michael Battle went to that scene but didn’t see the suspect vehicle. Shortly thereafter another call came into the 911 call center that the vehicle fitting that description was involved in a physical altercation at the Shell located at 4747 U.S. Highway 61 South. The man in the SUV was pulling a pregnant female from the vehicle by her hair.

The Shell Food Mart, 4747 U.S. 61 South. (photo by David Day)

Officer Battle drove to the scene with his lights and siren on, and O’Quin fled south on U.S 61. Battle immediately reported the blue SUV was not responding to his blue lights and siren and was accelerating away from the marked unit. Battle radioed the chase in and the channel was cleared of other traffic so Battle could report at will. The Mississippi Highway Patrol was notified and several units responded. As the chase continued south with speeds in excess of 100 mph, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the call.

O’Quin lost control of the vehicle as he attempted to turn west onto Shiloh Road just inside Claiborne County resulting in a fiery wreck. He received minor injuries and was treated and released to police custody.

U.S. Highway 61 South where it meets Shiloh Road in Claiborne County.

The unidentified female was treated by a Vicksburg Fire/Medic unit and refused further medical care or transportation to Merit Health River Region.

Bonjara O’Quin and an unidentified law enforcement officer. (Photo by David Day)

O’Quin has been charged with domestic violence and felony elude.

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Events

Mississippi Boy Choir’s annual Christmas Concert will be online Friday

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(photo from MBC Facebook page)

The Mississippi Boy Choir will present its annual Christmas Concert virtually this year, meaning everyone can enjoy the choir for free.

The concert is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the choir’s website from the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

2020 marks the 26th season for the choir, which stems from a 1,500-year-old tradition of boys singing in the great cathedrals of Western Europe. The organization has two choirs: a training choir that consists of young boys in second grade up whose voices have not changed, and a concert choir with both changed and unchanged voices. The concert choir generally consists of boys from the fifth through the 12th grade.

The Vicksburg branch of the Mississippi Boy Choir meets on Mondays at the Church of the Holy Trinity on South Street.

Friday’s performance is funded by the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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