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Mississippi Wildlife Federation denies flood victim a booth at its event

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Randy and Victoria Darden

Flood victim and farmer Victoria Darden planned to put up a booth at next week’s Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s annual fundraiser to raise awareness of the historic Backwater Flood. She collected more than $3,000 in donations to print handouts. She had 16 people committed to work the booth and share information with those who would attend the annual MWF “Extravaganza” fundraiser in Jackson.

Friday, the MWF told Darden she would not have a booth at the event.

Bad blood between South Delta residents and the MWF began a few years ago when the MWF came out against completing the Yazoo Backwater pumps. Most flood victims feel those pumps could have prevented, or at least minimized, the impact of this year’s flood that inundated more than 550,000 acres across six Mississippi counties. Backwater flood victims have organized and are working to educate people while trying to influence lawmakers. U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican, has been the most vocal supporter of finishing the pumps, appearing at numerous events and giving real hope to those affected by the flooding. The MWF now says it will revisit its stance against the pumps.

US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks with flood victims at Valley Park, Miss., earlier this month.

Darden, who normally would be farming 1,100 Delta acres with her father, Randy, called the MWF earlier this week to ensure they processed her request for a booth. Her family’s acreage is among the more than 220,000 acres of prime cropland that won’t be planted this year. She received a response from MWF Executive Director Lindsey Lemmons that her request was received and under review. Darden moved forward with organizing the booth. Her goal was to make people aware of the impact of the flooding, especially on wildlife.

Hundreds of human lives have been impacted by the flood. The impact on wildlife has been devastating as well. Predator and prey were forced together onto small patches of land. Starving deer became a common sight, causing the state to approve unprecedented measures including emergency feeding of the stricken animals.

Darden received word Friday that the MWF would not welcome her efforts to educate the public..

Asked why, Lemmons told Darden that it was “… the discretion of the promoter of the event to make those selections.”

Darden challenged Lemmons. “When we talked Friday it seemed all I really had to do was pay my money and send in my application, and y’all only had a few booths left, and it wasn’t a big deal,” Darden recounted to the Vicksburg Daily News.  Tuesday morning, “all of a sudden you had a big wait list,” she said.

Randy and Victoria Darden

“You seemed to mislead me,” Darden said she told Lemmons. “We already raised over $3,000 dollars and (organized) people to come in there and work these shifts.”

In responding to Darden, Lemmons claimed 11 other people put in requests for booths that same day, and she apologized to Darden for making her feel like she was good to go. Lemmons also said she couldn’t sign any contract without approval from the board.

“I’m … highly disappointed that I was turned away. because I was trying to educate the public on the backwater flood affecting the wildlife and the people of the state,” Darden said. “I’m just not sure where Mississippi got so money-driven and political that we can’t stand up or speak out for what’s morally right any more.”

Calls to Lemmons for a response had not been returned at the time this story was published.

A previous, unedited version of this story was published in error.

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Louisiana to begin I-20 Mississippi River bridge work in January 2020

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Photo by Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76201376

A nearly 50-year-old major interstate crossing over the Mississippi River will soon be receiving a face lift and modern structural improvements, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced Nov. 15.

The project to rehabilitate the two-mile-long Interstate 20 bridge over the Mississippi River is set to begin in the next couple of months.

Built in 1973, the bridge connects Madison Parish, La., to Warren County, Miss., and provides one of the few interstate roadway crossings over the river.

The $27.7 million project will provide a number of significant repairs including the bridge deck, electrical system, and roadway lighting components.

“Ensuring these integral crossings over the Mississippi River are properly maintained and modernized is crucial to growing the state’s economy,” said Louisiana DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson in a statement. “This project will extend the service life of this bridge for decades to come, an example of strategically investing in our existing infrastructure with our available funding and maximizing the use of those dollars.”

The old deck will be resurfaced with new concrete to improve traction and preserve the structural aspects of the bridge flooring. The current electrical circuits will be replaced, in addition to the replacement of nearly 100 roadway lighting fixtures with a modern LED system.

Roadway fiber optics will also be replaced with new cameras and radar, which will integrate the system into Mississippi’s IT network.

Additionally, selected bridge bearings will be adapted to provide the ability to re-position the bridge truss upriver as necessary. The steel structural connections at certain locations on the bridge will be modified to improve resilience against all loads and conditions.

New navigational lighting and aerial beacons will also be installed, along with improvements to the bridge monitoring system and enhancements to the inspection access walkways.

During construction, single-lane closures will be required, though there will be no lane closures conducted in both directions at the same time in order to maintain traffic flow as much as possible.

Work on the project is expected to begin mid-January 2020 and is anticipated to wrap up in early 2021, with progress dependent on weather conditions.

 

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Korean War casualty comes home to Greenwood after 69 years

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Cpl. Joe T. Avant of Greenwood, Miss. went missing in 1950 during the Korean War. Photo from the DPAA.

After 69 years, the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Joe T. Avant will come home to Greenwood, Miss.

On Nov. 30, 1950, during the Korean War, Avant went missing in action after his unit was attacked. He was 20 years old at the time. Three years later, Avant was declared dead, reports the Greenwood Commonwealth.

His funeral is scheduled for Dec. 13.

“He will have the same military honors of someone who is killed in war today,” Delores Moore, Avant’s younger sister, told the paper.

Avant’s remains will be in Jackson a few days before the funeral. From there, the family and a group of retired and active military motorcycle riders, the Patriot Guard Riders, will accompany his body back to his hometown.

In 2018, the North Korean government gave 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members lost during the Korean war to the U.S., according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Avant’s remains were among those identified from those remains through DNA and other methods.

Some 7,600 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War.

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Crime

Vicksburg Police seeking help in locating William Taylor

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The Vicksburg Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating William Alexander Taylor.

Taylor, 30, is wanted for discharging a firearm in the city limits and for weapon possession by a felon.

If you have any information on Taylor’s whereabouts, please call the Vicksburg Police at 601-636-2511 or Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS (8477).

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