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Mississippi National Guard’s Armored Brigade Combat Team welcomes first female battalion commander



Col. Jason Nelson, Commander, 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, passes the 106th Support Battalion "colors" to Lt. Col. Annie Lee during a change of command ceremony at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, July 31, 2020. Lee becomes the first ever female battalion commander in the 155th ABCT. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Needham, U.S. Army)

The Mississippi National Guard’s largest unit, the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, welcomed its first female battalion commander during a change of command ceremony at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Hattiesburg, on Friday, July 31.

Lt. Col. Annie Lee of Hattiesburg assumed command of the 106th Brigade Support Battalion, headquartered in Hattiesburg, from Lt. Col. William Walley of Brandon, during the Change of Command ceremony Friday at Camp Shelby. The 106th BSB is one of seven battalions that make up the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Tupelo.

“I am honored and privileged that the command team here in Mississippi chose me to command the 106th Brigade Support Battalion,” said Lee. “I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I am up to the challenge.”

The Hattiesburg-based unit has approximately 400 soldiers and provides logistics, maintenance, and medical support for nearly 4,000 Soldiers in the 155th ABCT.

“Lt. Col. Lee is poised to take this great organization to the next level,” said Col. Jason Nelson, 155th ABCT commander. “I have supreme confidence in her abilities and I know she will be successful.”

Lee becomes the first female battalion commander in the 155th ABCT since the brigade’s inception nearly 70 years ago. She has served in the Mississippi National Guard for 30 years, 13 of which she spent enlisted before earning her commission as an officer in 2003.

“I am excited and honored to be the first female to command the 106th BSB here in the state of Mississippi,” Lee said.

Lee assumed command from outgoing commander, Lt. Col. William Walley, who successfully led the 106th BSB during their recent deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

“It was an honor and a privilege to command a great organization such as the 106th BSB. The Soldiers are committed to mission accomplishment as evident in the unit’s success during our recent deployment to Kuwait during Operation Spartan Shield. I want to say thank you to the Soldiers for their support and I look forward to their future success at NTC (National Training Center) in 2021 and beyond,” said Walley.

The MSNG is a diverse military force comprised of Soldiers and Airmen representing every county in our great state. We stand ready to respond to any mission in support of our state and nation to protect the citizens and our communities in which we serve.

The 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team is the largest unit in the Mississippi National Guard with approximately 4,000 Soldiers (including Kansas’ 2-137th Infantry Regiment). The brigade’s 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry Regiment is the sixth oldest infantry regiment in the U.S. Army known as the “Mississippi Rifles,” It is a lethal, relevant, and ready force that is fully prepared to complete and support operations in Mississippi and beyond.





Southwest returning to Jackson airport in 2021



(photo courtesy Southwest Airlines)

Southwest Airlines will be returning to the Jackson Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport after more than six years.

The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority announced Thursday that Southwest intends to restore its legendary service to Jackson in 2021. The airline previously served JAN from 1997 until 2014.

Southwest Airlines is the largest domestic carrier with an impressive international route network as well.

“It’s great news for our city and great news for travelers throughout the region who have been missing access to Southwest’s accessible flights and low fares,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba in a statement. “I want to applaud the JMAA Board of Commissioners and CEO for their hard work and vision. JAN has become a strong regional competitor and Southwest’s return is the most recent evidence of their efforts.”

“The JMAA is thrilled to welcome back Southwest Airlines,” said JMAA Board Chairman Robert E. Martin, “and I feel sure that the citizens of Jackson and central Mississippi will find this news very exciting. As U.S. travel recovers in 2021, we look forward to hosting more and more passengers at JAN.”

More details regarding startup dates, fares and routes will be released as they become available.

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Vicksburg among MS communities to see boost in wireless connectivity



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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Chris Wells to serve as permanent director of MDEQ



Chris Wells MDEQ director
Chris Wells (photo courtesy MS Governor's office)

Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that Chris Wells will serve as the permanent executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Wells served as the chief of staff at MDEQ for six years, and the senior attorney for the department before that. He has served as interim executive director since the governor’s inauguration in January. Wells is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the Mississippi College School of Law.

“Chris is a dedicated public servant who has spent the bulk of his career working for the people of Mississippi,” Reeves said. “He knows what it means to put their priorities first, and he has been a steady hand in this vital role since I took office. I have the utmost confidence in him, and I know that he will continue to serve the people well.”

“I look forward to continuing our efforts to protect Mississippi’s air, land and water,” Wells said. “Our mission is to look out for the people of this state and ensure that we can always be proud of our incredible God-given resources. I’m grateful for the governor’s trust in me as we serve this state as a team.”

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