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On the First Day of Christmas…

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And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with Child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were, in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the LORD came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His Name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Jesus is the reason that I celebrate Christmas.  He told me that He is “the way, the truth and the life.”  The Christmas story is one of faith, belief and morals.  We give gifts to each other as a remembrance of the gifts that the three wise men brought to the Lord Jesus.   Those gifts were, according to The Gospel of St. Matthew, gold, frankincense and myrrh. My celebration includes Santa Claus.  It includes elves and reindeer and lots of other secular things.  You CANNOT have Christmas without Christ, though.  That’s the reason that HE is the focus of MY celebration!]]]]> ]]>

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Southwest returning to Jackson airport in 2021

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(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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Corps recommends finishing the Yazoo Pumps in its newest report

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Eagle Lake Shore Road before and after the 2019 flooding. Finishing the Yazoo Pumps would prevent flooding in the overwhelming majority of homes in the Yazoo Backwater.

A version of this article first appeared on the Finish the Pumps blog authored by Ann Dahl. It is reprinted here with permission.

The long awaited Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to the Yazoo Area Pump Project was released Friday, and as expected, it recommends completion of the project and the pumps.

The advantage of this study over the original EIS is that it is based on hard facts and scientific evaluation gathered over the past 13 years of the actual damage that continued backwater flooding is doing to the environment and the wildlife in the study area. It also includes 13 years’ worth of wetland studies that support the more stable and beneficial environment the pumps will provide. It does not rely on conjecture, outlandish assumptions and scare tactics that the pump opponents continue to tout.

For those of you that want to read all 92 pages of the SEIS, you can find it here: Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The entire report, including supporting appendixes, can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.

For those of you that have trouble digesting government documents, engineering data and studies, here are the highlights in laymen’s terms:

Environmental enhancements and improvements

One of the biggest changes to the project is moving the pump location from the Steele Bayou site, 6 miles northeast to the Deer Creek site. This move will allow the backwater to be pumped from the larger Sunflower Basin, which is 82% of the total Yazoo Basin, before it inundates the smaller Steel Bayou Basin, thereby slightly reducing flood levels.

The second big change is the inclusion of 34 Supplemental Low Flow Groundwater Wells. These wells will be located on the west side of the main Mississippi River Levee from Clarksdale to Greenville. They will pump water into Delta streams during low-water season in the fall to provide critical habitat for fisheries, aquatics and freshwater mussels. This water will also help recharge the ground water aquifer.

Other environmental enhancements to the project include a net gain in all environmental resource categories (wetlands, terrestrial, aquatic and waterfowl). The proposed pumps will be fueled by natural gas instead of diesel, greatly reducing their carbon footprint. And finally, removing significant acreage from future flooding will provide critical habitat for wildlife.

Structural component (pumps) enhancements and improvements 

As with the original pump design, the pumps would have a capacity of 14,000 cfs and would only be operated when the backwater levels exceed 87 feet. Having the pumps in operation will reduce the Base Flood Elevation from 100.3 feet to 95.2 feet. This will remove most homes in the area from the BFE and significantly reduce flood insurance premiums, and no highways would be flooded. This 5 foot reduction of the BFE will also prevent potential flooding on more than 100,000 acres of farm land.

Mitigation and reforestation enhancements and improvements

The new project includes the offer of a reforestation easement on 2,700 acres of farmland below 87’, as well as the compensatory mitigation acquisition of an additional 2,405 acres of low-lying farmland for conversion to forestation. The new plan also includes a Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan to ensure the project meets environmental, social and economic goals.

The continued flooding over the last 10 years — and especially the unprecedented flood of 2019 — clearly have demonstrated the dire need to finally complete this project. There is no price that can be put on the loss of wildlife and their habitat or the damage already done to the environment, but 2019’s agricultural losses alone are expected to exceed $800 million. For those of you who don’t think that flooding in rural Mississippi affects you, consider that it is your tax dollars at work unnecessarily.

The release of the SEIS opens a new 45-day comment session. Submit your comments by using the direct submission form on Finish the Pumps homepage. As with the previous comment sessions, personal comments reflecting your experiences are the most meaningful.

You can also email comments to [email protected] or maicl them to the following address:

District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Vicksburg District
4155 Clay Street
Vicksburg, MS 39138-3435

Comments from within Mississippi as well outside of the state are needed, so please share this message and encourage your family and friends to submit comments. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 20, 2020.

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COVID-19

Mississippi Rental Assistance grant applications being accepted

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(Photo by Photo Mix from Pixabay)

Applications for the Mississippi Rental Assistance Grant Program are being accepted by the Mississippi Development Authority as of Thursday.

The program is designed for landlords with tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to COVID-19. The program will cover rent going back to March for tenants who have been unable to pay because they lost their job or have reduced income due to COVID-19.

Landlords are eligible for up to $30,000 and must credit grant funds to their tenants’ past due rents. Renters cannot apply directly for this program and should contact their landlords about applying on their behalf. Both small and large landlords can apply for the program.

Landlords should visit www.mississippi.org/mrap to learn more about the program and apply. The application deadline is Nov. 15.

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