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Pressure mounting to reopen salons and barbershops in Mississippi

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(Photo by Bengt Nyman - originally posted to Flickr as IMG_3278-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10743096)

Pressure to reopen salons and barbershops in Mississippi is growing.

Gov. Tate Reeves closed all personal-care businesses in the state, along with numerous other businesses deemed non-essential, in his shelter-at-home order on April 3 due to COVID-19 concerns. Many businesses voluntarily closed their doors before that.

Last week, the governor started loosening restrictions for retail businesses, and Thursday, restaurants will reopen for dine-in services but with numerous limitations. Some outdoor recreation areas such as lakes and beaches have also been reopened.

Personal services where person-to-person contact can’t be avoided continue to stay closed other than curbside pick-up, drive-thru, or delivery for retail sale of their products. Those businesses include gyms, nail and hair salons, and barbershops.

The governor also kept closed places of amusement or entertainment, like movie theaters and museums.

Wednesday, Secretary of State Michael Watson weighed in on the side of reopening personal care businesses.

“I’ve heard from numerous hurting hair salon owners, beauticians, barber shops and nail salons over the past few weeks,” Watson wrote in a Facebook post. “Most are some of the cleanest places in which you’ll ever walk, and just like every other small business, they take risks every time they open their doors. By coupling those thoughts with the long-held conservative principle of personal responsibility, I believe it’s time to let them reopen. … I trust them. Their customers trust them. Texas is opening theirs this Friday. If they can do it, we can do it. It’s time.”

Lindsay Cash, owner of the Vamp Salon in Jackson, Miss., wrote and letter to the governor and also started an online petition on change.org to push Reeves into rethinking his position on opening salons.

“Why are we being singled out?” Cash asked in her letter to Reeves reprinted on the petition site. “We have been given no concrete reason(s) as to why our businesses are being forced to remain shuttered. While we more than understand we are a ‘personal service’ industry, we are also well trained and educated as to hygiene, sanitation regulations, and our role in protecting public health. We have not been given a factual basis of valid reasons as to why we are not allowed to open our doors and get back to work in a safe manner, when almost every other industry has their hands untied.”

“Salons are at an almost total loss of revenue and stylists at a complete loss of income,” Cash added. “Our ability to provide for ourselves and our families has been stripped from us. Governor, this is our livelihood. It is more than ‘essential’ to us and our families. It is our lifeline and it has been severed.”

Cash set out a set of guidelines under which her salon and others should be allowed to reopen. They include taking employees’ temperatures, limiting the number of people in the salon and curtailing some services, such as blow-drying, to limit the amount of time a customer may spend in the business.

As of this writing, about 1,800 people have signed the petition.

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Alcorn student leader works to advance other students in STEM fields

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Alexandria Williams (photo courtesy ASU)

Last year, Alcorn State University was granted its official charter for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers Chapter. This year, the organization appointed its first student leader.

Alexandria Williams, a junior computer science major from Detroit, Michigan, was named the first Miss NOBCChE for the Alcorn chapter. The organization assists aspiring STEM students in gathering knowledge about the field and becoming STEM professionals.

Solidifying her leadership role in the chapter is significant for Williams because she feels the chapter can achieve excellence. She’s happy to play a critical role in the chapter’s legacy on campus.

“It’s an incredible honor to be crowned Alcorn’s first Miss NOBCChE,” Williams said. “Alcorn’s chapter is destined for greatness, so this is history in the making. To be a part of this history feels amazing.”

Sonia Eley, NOBCChE adviser and chemistry professor, is confident in Williams’ ability to represent the chapter.

“Alexandria possesses the qualities it takes to lead this chapter,” Eley said. “Her intelligence, rapport with her peers and love for STEM make her the ideal selection for the position. I have faith that she will be an excellent leader whose exceptional decision-making skills would move this chapter forward.”

In her decision making, Williams relies on faith to steer her into her purpose. She’s confident that accepting her leadership role is the right path for her.

“I try to align everything I do with God’s purpose in my life,” she said. “I joined NOBCChE last school year and served as the social media and graphic design chairman. Through my experience, I learned more about my field of study, gained community service hours and made new friends. I had such an amazing experience that when I was presented with the opportunity to represent the organization, I couldn’t resist accepting the position.”

The chapter showcases the talent of Alcorn’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors. Williams applauds NOBCChE for providing a platform for aspiring Black STEM professionals.

“I believe that Alcorn’s NOBCChE chapter is important because the world needs to recognize the power of talented Black STEM students,” she said. “We are capable of being great in this space, and we possess the ability to change the STEM profession’s landscape. NOBCChE is one of many platforms that showcases our talent and worth.”

Ever-changing technological advances inspired Williams to become a computer science major. Watching these advancements fuel her desire to be one of the future’s leading engineers.

“We witness technological advances often. The world is transitioning to a new technological age,” she said. “We have autonomous vehicles, face detection in the palm of our hands and scientists are equipped to reverse paralysis. During this change, the world is searching for people to develop new technologies and introduce them to the world. Those professionals are engineers, and for some time, I’ve been dreaming about becoming one.”

Encouraging younger students to pursue STEM programs and careers also excites Williams. Last summer in her hometown, she created Coder Gals, a four-week program that introduces girls in grades three through five to STEM and coding concepts. Williams prepares a curriculum for the students, hosts workshops, trains mentors and distributes newsletters to parents. The lack of women engineers was Williams’ motivation for starting the initiative.

“I started a chapter in my community because of the lack of female representation in STEM fields. We strive to spark young girls’ interest in coding through fun, creative, and collaborative projects and create the foundation for their future success. We instill in them that they can succeed in any male-dominated field that they choose.”

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USACE publishes mainline levees Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

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Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published its Final Supplement II to the 1976 Final Environmental Impact Statement, Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, Mississippi River Mainline Levees in the Federal Register.

Through evaluation of information and data obtained from levee inspections, seepage analyses, research, studies and engineering assessments, the USACE Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans districts collectively identified 143 additional work items along various reaches of the Mississippi River mainline levees  feature of the MR&T project. These work items are remedial measures to control seepage and/or raise and stabilize deficient sections of the existing levees and floodwalls to maintain the structural integrity and stability of the MRL system.

The 143 work items constitute the proposed action for this Final SEIS II and are located across portions of seven states: Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. This document is intended to supplement and, as necessary, augment the 1976 FEIS and 1998 Supplemental EIS to achieve USACE’s primary goals for the MR&T:

  • providing flood risk reduction from the Project Design Flood; and
  • being an environmentally sustainable project.

The Final SEIS II is available online at the USACE Vicksburg District website. The 30-day review period begins Friday, Nov. 13, and ends Monday, Dec. 14.

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Crime

VPD reports a string of burglaries from Tuesday through Thursday

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The Vicksburg Police Department reports that several burglaries occurred this week from Tuesday through Thursday.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:58 a.m. officers responded to 1601 North Frontage Road in reference to a residential burglary. The victim advised he discovered the lock on his trailer was broken and multiple power tools valued at $5,000 were missing.

Tuesday at 11 p.m., officers responded to Parts Supply, 2406 South Frontage Road, in reference to an auto burglary. The victim stated he saw a white male wearing a camo jacket run from the cab of his truck carrying his lunch box while the driver was making a delivery to the store.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, a victim came to the police department at 11:59 a.m. to report an auto burglary. The theft occurred on either Bridge Street or Evans Alley, sometime between Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. A Taurus 9-mm handgun was taken from the unlocked vehicle.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, at 8:41 a.m. a victim came to the police department to report an auto burglary. A black, white and lime green Scott bicycle was stolen off the back of the victim’s 2017 Nissan Altima. The bicycle is valued at around $3,000.

Also on Thursday, officers responded to Tri-State Tires, 2209 Washington St., at 10:19 a.m. for a business burglary. The complainant stated one of the U-Haul transports valued at $9,000 was stolen Tuesday, Nov. 10.

If you have information on any of these incidents, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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