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Flaggs seeking voter input for new animal shelter; schedules townhall on Feb. 18

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The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Alderman. (file photo)

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has announced a townhall meeting to receive input from the city residents on building a new animal shelter.

The meeting will help determine whether the project has enough support to pass a referendum tax increase to fund the new shelter, estimated at $1 million. Scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m., the meeting will be held in the Robert M. Walker Building (1415 Walnut St.) in the boardroom.

The issue of the shelter was discussed by the Mayor and Alderman in their regular meeting on Monday, where the board passed a resolution to ask the state legislature to allow a one-cent sales tax increase. The increase is for capital improvements in the amount of $55 million.

A new animal shelter was not on the list of projects originally proposed in 2018 for the tax increase. If the legislature approves the tax, it will then go to Vicksburg’s voters in 2021 to put the tax into place.

Vicksburg Animal Shelter Director Kacie Lindsey attended Monday’s meeting, and she has been passionate about the needs of a new animal shelter in the city. It is Lindsey’s hope to have the shelter more centrally located and out of the Kings’ flood zone.

Flaggs and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who is accountable for public works and the animal shelter, believe otherwise.

“To spend $1 million on this project is absurd,” Flaggs said, as the current budget for a new animal shelter is $247,368. At this time, no available land has been located to build the shelter and stay within budget.

In 2018, the city sheltered 1,079 animals, and in 2019, that number dropped to 863.

“I think we ought to contract out sheltering animals in Vicksburg, Mississippi,” Flaggs said. “I don’t think we have enough animals in the city to continue to spend the money and to go spend $1 million. I am for animals. I love animals, but we don’t need to be in that business if it costs you more than the service. We need to re-evaluate that.”

The acquisition of land for a new shelter is an expensive proposition, said Alderman Mayfield.

“This has been long and drawn out. I have gone all the way from Kings, Mississippi, down to 61 South to the airport, and we’ve covered everything in between there. None of it is cheap if you buy a building or build from the ground up. It’s going to cost you,” Mayfield said. “I will meet with the Mayor and Alderman (Alex) Monsour, Jeff Richardson, Kacie and the board attorney about some things and look at something new because everything we do it seems to get more expensive.”

Ronni Mott contributed to this story.

COVID-19

Half of Mississippi’s counties are now under governor’s mask mandates

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Gov. Tate Reeves during a news conference Oct. 19, 2020. (photo via video screen grab)

Tuesday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced a continuation of his county-level attempt to lower the number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi by adding 19 counties to the list of those under expanded restrictions.

Half of Mississippi’s counties — 41 of 82 — are now under mask mandates. The counties added Tuesday are Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union. Click here to see a map showing the rest of the counties under the expanded restrictions and self-imposed mask mandates.

“This is a critical time,” Reeves said of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, asking Mississippians to please be extra cautious and look out for loved ones.

“There is much more COVID-19 around us,” he added, emphasizing that there is a greater risk to unknowingly pass the virus to loved ones as the state experiences a surge in new cases.

“The risk is greater,” he said.

Numerous health officials have called on the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate, but so far, he has resisted taking that action.

“If you issue the mask mandates on a county-by-county basis, based on where the number of cases is the largest, then that is the best strategy to convince the most number of our fellow Mississippians to wear a mask,” Reeves said.

To prove the point, the governor compared other states where mask mandates have been in place for months that now have much higher rates of infection than Mississippi.

He also said that he believes wearing a mask is helpful in slowing the spread of the virus and urged all Mississippi residents to wear masks in public.

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Officials urging comments to support Corps’ Yazoo Backwater statement

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U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith spoke with flood victims at Valley Park, Miss., in 2019. (Photo by David Day)

State officials are urging Mississippians to weigh in on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement in support of finishing the Yazoo Backwater Pumps by the Monday deadline.

“We’ve seen the devastation that the backwater flooding has caused to Mississippi agriculture, farmers, ranchers and wildlife for years now, unnecessarily. The solution is simple, we need to finish the Yazoo Pump Project, which would prevent flood damage to urban and agricultural areas throughout the state for years to come,” said Andy Gipson, commissioner of agriculture and commerce, in a statement.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently accepting comments from citizens through Monday, Nov. 30, on the Yazoo Area Pump Project, and I encourage all Mississippians to take a moment and submit a comment of support. We need to stand up for our friends in the Mississippi South Delta and help them in their time of need. It’s time to finish the pumps.”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann tweeted a brief video Monday in support of the finishing the pumps.

Comments must be submitted by Monday, Nov. 30. Submit comments using one of the following methods:

  • Text PUMPS to 50457.
  • Send a voicemail or text message to 601-392-2237.
  • Go to https://www.forgottenbackwaterflood.com/ or https://finishthepumps.com/ to fill out an online form to send to the Corps.
  • Fill out a postcard available at sites around the state including Valley Park Elevator in Valley Park, Lo-Sto and Yore Convenience Store in Eagle Lake, Mississippi Ag Company and Chuck’s Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, Mississippi Levee Board and Sherman’s Restaurant in Greenville, Toney’s Grill in Vicksburg and the Mississippi Delta Council in Stoneville.
  • Send an email to [email protected]
  • Write to the Corps at the following address:
    District Engineer
    S. Army Corps of Engineers
    Vicksburg District
    4155 Clay Street
    Vicksburg, MS 39183-3435
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Business

Cars line up on Starbucks’ opening day

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Cars lined up down the block on Starbucks' opening day Tuesday. (photo by Thomas Parker)

Cars lined up Tuesday at the new Vicksburg Starbucks drive-thru window to get a first taste of the chain’s coffee beverages and food offerings.

Starbucks, based in Seattle, Washington, announced last year that it was adding a location in Vicksburg at 3405 Halls Ferry Road, and many in the community were eagerly awaiting the chance visit the well-known coffee shop. Before, if a Vicksburg resident wanted Starbucks, they would have to drive about 30 minutes to Clinton for the nearest location.

It remains to be seen how business will hold up after the initial rush subsides. Some are curious how the opening will impact Vicksburg’s coffee shop Cafe Paradiso, a local favorite, which is just a stone’s throw away in an adjacent strip center.

The opening and public opinion on Starbuck’s corporate policies have been hot topics on social media in recent weeks. Tuesday, many locals posted photos of their purchased Starbucks items.

The Vicksburg location will be open six days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Sundays.

Thomas Parker contributed to this story.

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Vicksburg
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