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"Get Out of My Way!!!"




Story submitted by Traci Duncan of Kosciusko, MS You have no doubt heard of  Murphy’s Law.  We have all have given him credit for our life’s mishaps.   Well, one day recently, I found myself defending my whole day to Murphy and his co-council, Finagle & Hofstadter.  Their mottos are “if it can go wrong, it will and at the wrong time and relief will take its sweet time coming to the rescue.” My experience is now one of their exhibits.   The hijinks of these three figurative counselors can bring a person’s day to a screeching halt like a stern faced career patrol man staring you down as you scramble to prove who you are… making you wince like you just ate a piece of sour candy.  These guys will put your day on trial in a heartbeat!  Why, the other morning they had their law books out methodically and purposely seeking to convict my every move. They began their case early as I was getting out of bed.  I woke up happy for all of about 2 seconds until I rolled over on Jo Jo, my little long haired Chihuahua, who screamed and jetted out from under the covers to escape… flinging herself off the top of my high rise king size bed and landing on the carpet chin first.  Watching her was like watching the TV show “Wipe Out!.”  I was her audience gasping and feeling all the pain of her slow motion fall.  The look on her little face said “Get out of my way! You nearly killed me!”  That’s when I first realized Murphy was taking notes. My guilt and I watched my now untrusting dog sulked off to recover.  “This way”, the sarcastic counselor led.   I put on my housecoat and followed Murph to the kitchen, where the first and most important button in the house was waiting to be pressed. Yeah, you knew it…the coffee pot.   While it was brewing, I let Bootsie, my cat, in the front door and went to press the second most important button… the remote control to my HDTV.   As I adjusted my glasses, instantly – well, not really instantly, cause I have satellite – there they were…my Fox Friends.   I am as addicted to listening to their take on the day’s news as my grandmother was to watching “Days of Our Lives” everyday of her life.    So, there I was, propped in the doorway, trying to decide if I could look like Gretchen with my wardrobe when I heard the coffee pot pop its final perk. As my cup and the lip of the coffee pot met I realized that something was missing…but, what?  Oh no! There was no good to the last drop aroma!  What had happened to the best part of waking up? And there was only clear, hot water flowing into my “May the Force be with You” coffee cup!  One of the Barristers whispers in my ear “Now, would you look at that.  How do you suppose that happened, Einstein?”  If I had been more flexible I would have kicked myself  because I cannot stand stupid mistakes.  But, my Foxy Friends inspired me to be cheerful so, I reminded myself that there were many folks overcoming far more serious problems.  I had this.  But, I only needed to take two steps toward my cupboard and the Plaintiff’s Counsel was on me, slamming down their 100 page brief to counter my positive attitude.   For, as I reached for the loosely closed coffee bag, Bootsie suddenly noticed me and did his best footwork to encourage me to pick up the kitty food.   As he did figure 8’s between my ankles I lost my grip on the bag of coffee and wham!…to the floor it went! Ah, well now, there was that missing aroma!  And, this is the part where I, the Defendant,  lost my cool under the pressure. I screamed at my cat, “Would you please get out of my way?!”   As I watched his orange tail fly around the corner I angrily turned to survey the mess I had made.  It was scattered from one corner to the other over my vinyl imitation tile floor.  I distinctly heard one of my  prosecutors smart off statistical banter “There must be at least 2 million individual grounds in half a bag of gourmet coffee”   I was in no mood to argue the point.  I stood there pondering whether I should use the broom or vacuum but realized that either way I was going to have to walk on the coffee to get to my tools.   At $7.00 a bag, that was an expensive little stroll.  Oh, well, I thought, comforted by the sounds of Brian and Steve’s conversations in my living room… I can fix this. After I cleaned up the mess I fed the cat and decided that I would just get a cup of coffee on the way to work.   Work!  Oh, my gosh!  I flew through the motions of getting myself ready!  Finally ready, I grabbed my purse and cell phone.   The front door slammed behind me and as I reached my car I stopped abruptly.   Where were my keys?  I heard Murph mumbling.  What did he say? Murph’s partner, Finagle, snickered. “He said your problems are becoming more serious.”   Really.  I hadn’t noticed.  What I needed was one of those apps on my phone that you click and it opens any door for you like a genie. My prepay phone doesn’t do that. I flipped it open and scrolled down to my daughter’s name and paused a second realizing that she was going to have to dress and haul her two little children with her and drive her mini van clear across town just to let me in my house.  She would be smiling at my senility.   She would be yelling at my grandchildren.  They would be crying to get out and play with their Mimi.   Reluctantly, I pressed the call button.   “Thirty minutes at the most,” she promised.  I sighed and pondered calling my boss to explain why my dependable self was here instead of there.  No excuse would have been good enough for being late, so I just called in sick and sat down in the rocking chair on my front porch and started imagining what it would be like to have a TV show come improve my curb appeal. Suddenly, I realized that 45 minutes had zoomed by.  Where was she?  I picked up my cell and it rang. “I’m behind some moron, Mom!”  Then, in a voice so loud that it left my ear ringing, she yelled at the car in front of her “Would you please get out of my way?!” Hofstadter’s laughter and applause was almost deafening.   I prayed to the kangaroo court to please adjourn and began to strategize that once back inside my home I would restart my day with a cup of Swiss Mocha and some instrumental music. Murphy, Finagle and Hofstadter had thrown the book at me.  I wish they would get out of my way!]]]]> ]]>

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Someone you know has experienced domestic violence



(Image by Tumisu from Pixabay)

The circumstances weren’t extraordinary: We were just a group of friends having lunch together, sitting at a big round table, chatting about the yoga workshop we were doing and catching up on each other’s lives. There were six of us at the patio table of an unassuming Greek joint in Jackson just off the highway.

My friend Dierdre asked if I was working on any interesting stories. I was writing about a woman killed in a domestic violence incident, I said, and it was tough going.

All six women at the table got quiet. And then, as if a spigot had been turned to the left, one by one, my friends started sharing their experiences of domestic violence.

Five of us at the table had been in abusive relationships. All of us knew other women who had been abused or were being abused as we sat and talked. I think one was in an abusive relationship that day, although she never said it aloud.

In researching the story I was working on that day and the dozens I would write over the years since, I found out that our little group wasn’t all that unusual. One in three women and one in four men has experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner, according to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Here are some other things I learned over the years:

  • If you’re asking, “Why doesn’t she leave him?” you’re asking the wrong question. To find solutions, try asking “Why does he abuse?” instead.
  • DV doesn’t care about the color of your skin, the neighborhood you live in or how much money you have in the bank. It doesn’t matter how smart you are either. It affects women, men and children from all socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. In fact, those with resources get away with abuse more often than poor folks. They can more easily cover it up.
  • One or more of your friends, family members and neighbors have experienced violence in an intimate relationship.
  • Not all abusers are men, and not all DV victims are women, but that dynamic is true for the most part.
  • Drugs and alcohol don’t cause DV; they exacerbate it.
  • Abusers groom their victims. They almost always begin by quickly paying an exorbitant amount of energy telling you how dazzling you are and how they just can’t help but fall in love with you. In fact, displaying deep affection in record time is a red flag for future abusive behavior. Things shift little by little.
  • DV comes in several flavors:
    • physical violence, including sexual assault and rape
    • stalking
    • psychological and emotional abuse. (These were my abuser’s weapons of choice. He never failed to take the opportunity to belittle me, whether it was my choice of music, the tiniest mistakes, my friends and family, my education — you name it. I was just never good enough.)
    • Verbal threats and public humiliation come hand-in-hand with all forms of abuse. Abusers will often threaten to kill their victims or themselves, say they will take their children away from them or threaten to throw them out of the home with nothing.
  • DV is about exerting power and control over another human being. It’s not about anger, although abusers frequently display anger. It’s definitely not about love.
    • Typically, abusers will try to control their victim’s time and money, down to every minute and every penny.
    • Abusers will isolate their victims from family and friends.
    • Abusers will gaslight their victims, telling them that what’s happening is all in their heads and really never happened at all. Gaslight someone long enough and they will begin to question their sanity.
    • For these reasons, many victims are frequently left with little to no resources to leave their abusers.
  • If he hits you once, the saying goes, he’ll hit you again. Abusers frequently apologize for their behavior, sometimes in tears. If the victim forgives them, the cycle begins again.
  • Abusers frequently believe the abuse is their victim’s fault and that they have the right to do what they do. “Look what you made me do” is a familiar refrain.
  • Leaving an abuser is harder than you know, and the point of leaving is the most dangerous time for victims. If abusers catch their victims in the act, the abuse can be exponentially worse at that moment.
  • Regardless of how bad it gets, it takes most victims an average of seven attempts to make the break permanent. Sometimes the devil you know is preferable to the one you don’t, and victims weakened by months and years of abuse and fear may have an especially difficult time adjusting to fending for themselves.
  • Children who grow up in abusive homes frequently become abusers or victims themselves. Without intervention, they may never understand that abuse isn’t normal.
  • Scars from DV run deep, even with a lot of help. Some time I’ll let you know how much I’ve spent on therapy. Still, my stomach is in knots just writing this.

On one of my bookshelves, I display a purple rubber bracelet inscribed with “No Excuse for Abuse.” It was one of many items in a goody bag from seminar on domestic violence I attended. I keep it around to remind myself I’m a survivor and will never to be a victim of DV again.

So, what can you do about domestic violence?

If you are in an abusive relationship, get help. Yes, I know it can be dangerous. Yes, I know you’re not sure where to turn. Yes, I know you’re scared. Make a plan and do it anyway. Your life may depend on it.

If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.

For short and long-term assistance, in Vicksburg, call Mountain of Faith at 601-501-4508 or Haven House at 601-638-0555. Other resources include Pastor Troy Truly of Truly Ministries, 601-218-1323, and Deputy Chief Eric Paymon of the Vicksburg Police Department, 601-218-1495. Community activist Gina Hendrickson can also provide assistance. Call her at 914-522-4692.

If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, be supportive. Don’t ask what they need because chances are, they won’t know what they need. Suggest specific things you’re willing to do such as offering to cook or clean or providing the victim with transportation or a place to stay. Maybe offer to call the police for them if they’re afraid of doing it themselves. Maybe what they need right now is a warm embrace and shoulder to cry on. Don’t push and try not to be impatient.

If you’re an abuser, get help. Talk with a trusted relative, your pastor or even a legal or law enforcement professional. Anger management can help, but you will need to do some hard work to find and dismantle the belief system that has you be an abusive man or woman.

It’s never too early or too late to end the cycle of abuse. The life you save could be your own.

October is domestic violence awareness month. To learn more, visit the NCADV website or contact the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence (, or call 601-981-9196).

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Letter to the Editor

The importance of YOU completing your 2020 census questionnaire



The following is a letter to the editor from Debra Robinson Goodman in the Vicksburg Mayor’s office. Opinions and views expressed in letters to the editor are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the Vicksburg Daily News.

Every 10 years we, as citizens, are called upon to complete the census; but, for some reason, this year seems more crucial than ever to actively participate in the count. Could it be the current issues facing our country — a global pandemic, raging fires, rampant flooding, heighten racial injustices, threats of global warming and mitigating climate changes to name a few?

The 2020 census is by no means the cure-all for these issues but completing the questionnaire will certainly allow us to make a difference in how they are addressed. By being part of the count, we can participate in deciding where federal monies are spent and how we are represented.

Vicksburg has a population of fewer than 25,000, which limits the city from competing for grants and monies to enhance our city. Census data will directly affect fund distributions for health initiatives, educational programs, disaster recovery as well as other critical programs for the next 10 years! We certainly want to ensure that these programs in Vicksburg and Warren County are fully funded — we don’t want to leave any money on the table.

The 2020 census will determine Warren County’s congressional representation, ensure that a portion of hundreds of billions in federal funding are allocated to our county and provide vital statistics that will impact Vicksburg and Warren County for the next decade. Additionally, the 2020 census data will be used to draw congressional and state legislative districts, which will directly impact our city and county.

To date, the response rates for Vicksburg and Warren County are 60.9% and 58.3%, respectively, noting that the national response rate is 65.9% and Mississippi’s response rate is 59.5%. There are five states that are in the 99th percentile — we want to help our state reach that goal!

The deadline for completing the nine-item questionnaire is Thursday, Sept. 30, 2020. There are three ways to be counted:

  • Mail in the paper copy, which must be postmarked by the Sept. 30 deadline.
  • Dial in to the toll-free number, 844-330-2020.
  • Or complete the survey online at

Additionally, there are census enumerators in Vicksburg and Warren County, ensuring that the hard-to-count areas are included. These trained enumerators are identifiable by distinctive 2020 census badges and U.S. Department of Commerce insignia.

For more information or assistance in responding to the 2020 census, please contact the City of Vicksburg Mayor’s Office or the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

It is important to mention that census responses are safe, secure and confidential. By federal law, the responses will not be shared and may only be used statistically.

Finally, when we respond to the census, we help Vicksburg and Warren County get its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on education, medical care, infrastructure, public works and other programs. For example, developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods which we desperately need in our communities.

We all benefit when YOU complete the 2020 census questionnaire!

Debra Robinson Goodman
City of Vicksburg/Mayor’s Office
2020 Census Liaison

Opinions and views expressed in letters to the editor are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the Vicksburg Daily News.

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Letter to the Editor

If we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always gotten



(Photo by Steve Minor)

The following is a letter to the editor from Sam Andrews, assistant to Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Opinions and views expressed in letters to the editor are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the Vicksburg Daily News.

To use the phrase “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” as the primary justification for staying the course may sound risk-free, but it isn’t. And in 2020, there’s no place for complacency, at least not in a community that’s committed to attracting new residents, new offerings and new revenues.

During a time where investors are competitively sought, courted and ultimately convinced that a community is worth taking a chance on, it’s never been more important for us, and especially our elected leaders, to keep open minds and imagine what is possible instead of only what has or hasn’t been done in the past.

Last week, Mayor George Flaggs Jr., proposed what he believed to be a practical accommodation for restaurants located within the recreation and leisure district in downtown Vicksburg in light of indoor seating capacity restrictions due to COVID-19. The mayor’s proposal included rerouting vehicle traffic to one-way travel during spring, summer and fall on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight. Only a two-block area of Washington Street, from Clay to South Street, would be temporarily converted to one-way.

The proposal was a simple attempt to assist restaurants in making up lost revenues by allowing seating on sidewalks and in parking spaces in front of their businesses. The proposed change to one-way traffic for 10 hours per week in a two-block area of downtown for a portion of the calendar year is not uncommon — many cities across America have chosen an identical model to expand outdoor dining and entertainment offerings long before COVID-19 ever existed.

During a public hearing last week, a small group voiced their disapproval of the mayor’s proposal, saying one-way traffic had been tried in the past and hurt downtown businesses.

I ask, when we last tried one-way traffic, was it in place 24-hours a day, 7-days a week or only during evening hours during a portion of the calendar year on Friday and Saturday after retail merchants were closed for the day? Was one-way traffic in place for a large portion of Washington Street or only for a 2-block area? Had we seen nearly $6 million in new investments in downtown in the last year? Were we in the middle of a global pandemic with indoor seating capacity restrictions?

Perhaps the street closure would have worked with today’s transformed downtown environment or perhaps it would not have worked. But looking beyond an issue as simple as additional outdoor dining — if Vicksburg is ever to grow, or even allow ourselves the opportunity to grow, we must dare to dream, dare to open our minds to new possibilities and then create pathways for those possibilities to take root.

We are not an island but, instead, a city well-positioned to compete against other cities all across the United States as a thriving and dynamic center of culture, creativity and innovation.

I’m grateful that our mayor continues to imagine what is possible for our community’s future even though he knows he’ll likely be met with resistance. And although not every attempt will be successful, we certainly won’t succeed if we don’t try; moreover, we absolutely won’t succeed if we don’t allow our elected leaders the opportunity to try on our behalf.

Sam Andrews

Opinions and views expressed in letters to the editor are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the Vicksburg Daily News.

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