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MDOC resumes prisoner transfers but not visitation

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The Mississippi Department of Corrections is resuming prisoner transfers “in a limited, controlled and safe manner,” however visiting is still prohibited, according to an MDOC statement released Friday.

Inmates who have been classified and are ready to transfer from the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days before being moved to other facilities. Inmates moved from the county jails to an MDOC facility will be handled similarly.

Visitation at all institutions remains suspended, other than visits with attorneys, and telephone reporting for parolees, probationers and others on community supervision will continue for the June reporting period.

“We realize that family members want to see their loved ones, and counties are ready to move inmates to our facilities, but we must proceed with caution because we want everyone to be safe,” Commissioner Burl Cain said.

Cain said the low number of COVID-19 cases in the prison system is largely because the department restricted movement, suspended visitation, and increased cleaning and disinfection practices. Since early March, the department has limited visitation, except for legal visits. The department reports 45 confirmed COVID-19 inmate and employee cases, of which 28 are inmates and 17 are employees.

Mississippi has about 18,000 prisoners in custody, The Associated Press reports. Advocates for inmate safety have questioned whether Mississippi is doing enough COVID-19 testing.

MDOC said that routine screenings and temperature checks will be performed daily before each inmate leaves the facility on or after June 12. If the inmate does not clear the screening process, the transfer will be delayed and the protocol for a suspected COVID-19 case, including medical isolation and testing, will be followed.

Transportation employees will wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and transport vehicles will be cleaned before and after each transport.

The department is reviewing plans from sheriffs requesting that the state inmates in their joint county-state work programs be allowed to return to work.

As for those on supervision in the community, they can call between Monday, June 1, and Wednesday, June 17, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. The person answering the call may not be the assigned agent. Individuals also can email their agents or use technology portals, such as Skype and FaceTime, to communicate.

Other MDOC actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Screening employees daily when they report to work
  • Requiring employees to wear masks
  • Conducting extra cleaning and disinfecting high-touched surfaces, such as dining tables and light switches
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Providing masks, gloves, and antibacterial soap to inmates
  • Isolating any inmate tested or presenting symptoms of COVID-19
  • Making hand sanitizer available
  • Quarantining any housing unit where sick or potentially sick individuals have had direct contact
  • Sharing and posting COVID-19 information throughout MDOC facilities and providing handouts to inmates listing the symptoms of COVID-19 and informing them of ways to protect themselves.

Crime

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

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UPDATE: Akeyah Daniels, 26, of Vicksburg, appeared before Judge Penny Lawson on Saturday in Vicksburg Municipal Court. Lawson set her bond at $50,000 and bound her over to the Warren County grand jury.

Original story:

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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