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Mississippi lawmakers to return to Jackson Monday to address unfinished business

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Mississippi legislators plan to return to the state capital Monday to complete two items of unfinished business.

The first is the state’s education budget. On July 9, Gov. Tate Reeves vetoed the $2.2 billion budget submitted by lawmakers because it did not renew a teacher bonus program he favors, in spite of lawmakers insisting the program funds had been shifted, not repealed. Some also attempted to mollify the governor saying they would fix the bill in his favor if he did not veto it.

Their appeals fell on deaf ears. At the time, Reeves indicated he would call the Legislature back into session to modify the budget.

“We have to veto this so that they can come back and fix it—otherwise 23,157 teachers will get a pay cut,” he wrote in a social media post; however, the governor has refused to call a special session citing the dangers of COVID-19.

An outbreak at the Capitol following the end of the regular session resulted in about 50 lawmakers and staff members testing positive for the virus, including Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Phillip Gunn.

Wednesday, Gunn and Pro Tem Jason White filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Reeves’ veto. That move prompted the governor to strike back, calling it a power grab over pet projects. He also said the Republican-led House was run by liberals.

“There’s a small group in the House that only wants to pick fights with me—some liberal Republicans who’ve joined forces with liberal House Dems,” Reeves wrote in a Facebook post. They run the show these days: Democrats and some left-leaning GOP politicians.”

It is not clear if the House has the necessary two-thirds majority to overwrite Reeves’ veto.

The second item on the agenda for the special session is the budget for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. A dispute over $50 million the agency receives from oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico left its budget unresolved. House leaders said the Legislature should have more oversight of the funds.

Under normal circumstances, only the governor has the power to call a special session; however, a resolution passed earlier in this legislative session allows lawmakers to return for up to six days to deal with COVID-19 related issues. Other issues can be addressed with a two-thirds majority vote.

Fire

Leaf fire spread to neighboring wooden fence in Openwood Plantation Tuesday

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Culkin Deputy Fire Chief Bobby Rufus operates the pump control panel on Engine 209 while firefighter McKinley Skipper extinguishes the Fire. (photo by Thomas Parker)

A fire in the Openwood Plantation subdivision was quickly extinguished by Warren County firefighters Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was located at a wooden fence at 102 Plantation Drive, and a passerby alerted firefighters to the scene shortly after 4 p.m. The adjacent homeowner was burning leaves and the fire spread catching the fence on fire, according to Warren County Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs. A classic pickup parked near the fence was not damaged and no one was injured.

Culkin Engines 204 and 209 responded to the scene.

See our live on-the-scene report on our Facebook page.

(photo by Thomas Parker)

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Announcements

Vicksburg among MS communities to see boost in wireless connectivity

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Vicksburg is among many communities in Mississippi that will be seeing a big boost in wireless connectivity, AT&T announced Tuesday.

AT&T said in a statement that it has added dozens of new sites already this year to enhance coverage and help give residents and first responders faster, more reliable wireless service. These investments will help customers get the most out of their mobile devices.

“As we all continue to recognize the growing importance of connectivity in our daily lives, these type investments help us stay connected to the world around us, and they also help us remain competitive and make us more attractive to outside investment and job creation,” said Gov. Tate Reeves in the statement. “While we all recognize that there is more work to be done to connect Mississippians, we applaud AT&T for doing that work.”

Without question, it is essential that our customers stay connected in today’s environment, the company said. That’s why we’re boosting network reliability and capacity as we expand our network. This helps residents in communities across Mississippi to get the best possible experience over the AT&T network wherever they live, work and play, including the following areas:

  • Ashland
  • Braxton
  • Canton
  • Carthage
  • Coila
  • Collinsville
  • DeKalb
  • Ethel
  • Gloster
  • Grace
  • Grenada
  • Hazlehurst
  • Iuka
  • Leakesville
  • Magee
  • Morton
  • Mount Olive
  • New Albany
  • Ovett
  • Parchman
  • Perkinston
  • Pontotoc
  • Poplarville
  • Port Gibson
  • Sandy Hook
  • Shaw
  • Silver Creek
  • St. Louis
  • State Line
  • Starkville
  • Swiftown
  • Union
  • Utica
  • Vicksburg

“We are committed to enhancing connectivity for businesses, residents and first responders in communities across Mississippi, and these network expansions are good examples of the work we’re accomplishing as a result of the hundreds of millions of dollars we’ve invested in Mississippi,” said Mayo Flynt, president, AT&T Mississippi.

The upgrades will also benefit public safety and first responders on FirstNet – public safety’s dedicated communications platform — and giving Mississippi’s first responders access to the nation’s fastest overall network experience. FirstNet is bringing public safety communications into the 21st century with new, innovative capabilities to help those users stay safe and save lives.

At many of these new locations, our enhancements also bring Band 14 spectrum to the areas. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. When not in use by FirstNet subscribers, AT&T customers can enjoy Band 14’s added coverage and capacity.

From 2017 to 2019, AT&T invested nearly $750 million in wireless and wired networks in Mississippi. These investments boost reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and their businesses, the company said.

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Crime

Early morning armed robbery on Speed Street Tuesday

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The Vicksburg Police Department reports that an armed robbery and assault occurred Tuesday on Speed Street.

At 3:24 a.m. Tuesday, a victim entered the police station at 820 Veto Street reporting that he had been robbed.

The victim said he had given a Black male who he knew a ride from the Kings community to an address on Speed Street. When they arrived, the male struck him several times on his head with a handgun, causing minor injuries. The suspect then fled on foot with the victim’s Glock handgun.

If you have any information on this incident, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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