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The Junius Ward Johnson YMCA on Clay Street today: a photo tour



In the early 1920s, Mrs. Fannie Vick Willis Johnson donated funds to the Young Men’s Christian Association to build a new YMCA facility in Vicksburg to be called the Junius Ward Johnson YMCA in honor of her recently deceased husband.

The building, located at 821 Clay St., was originally dedicated in 1923. The then-new brick structure featured a red clay roof in a central location in the bustling river town. The original building was constructed with three floors but early on, in 1925, another floor was added with 33 more residence rooms.

The building had bathrooms on each of the residence floors, a gymnasium with a stage and a swimming pool. Later, a racquetball court was added.

The entrance to the Racquetball Court, which was added many years after the original construction in 1923.

Since about 2006 the building has been empty. Several investors have looked at the facility with a dream to restore it. One such investor gave the Vicksburg Daily News a tour of the challenge before them.


We hope you’ll have pleasant memories revived from this pictorial journey through this 96-year-old local bit of urban history and decay.


The Main Floor


The view as you enter the building from Clay Street.


These slotted mail boxes were kept full back in the times everyone wrote letters and sent postcards. A long distance phone call was expensive and only used in the most extreme of circumstances by most people.


The beautiful old fireplace on the main floor says, written in stone “Go put your deed into your creed nor speak with double tongue” – Emerson


This archaic electrical panel is worthy of being placed into a museum for it’s functional beauty.

The lights for the common areas throughout the building could be controlled from a central location. This was high tech at the time.


The Swimming Pool


The pool tile remains in incredibly good condition considering its age and wear. This pool was heated and considered therapeutic in its time.

The tiled steps into the shallow end of the pool.

A sign cautioning swimmers to not swim alone.

The deep end of the pool.


This balcony overlooking the pool. One can only guess at the number of people who were reprimanded for jumping from the balcony to the pool.

The Sauna Room

The Sauna Room.

The Basketball Court and Stage


The basketball Court and Stage need just a little work before the game can begin.


The detail of the decorative plaster trim surrounding the stage.


An alcove in the wall with water supplied.


The architectural details of a simple exit from the basketball court from 1923.

The Rest of the Building


Sliding wooden doors in this room created different areas for activities.


This area under that staircase looks oddly familiar.


A child’s artwork is still attached to a mirror in the basement.

The view from a room with a balcony. These rooms went for $30 a month in 1968.

The Playground


This view of the Old Courthouse from the south part of the playground.






Flaggs asks judges to assist in curbing crime



Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in a May 15, 2020 interview with the Vicksburg Daily News. (Photo via video screen grab. Video by David Day)

In a letter sent to Vicksburg and Warren County judges Monday, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. asked for help to curb crime in the River City.

Flaggs wrote that crime is “running rampant” in Vicksburg, and he “prayerfully and humbly” requested the judges consider adding two criteria to bails for anyone arrested on firearm-related offenses: GPS monitoring devices and a 7 p.m. curfew.

“I believe the only exceptions to the curfew should be for travel to or from work or to seek necessary medical treatment,” the mayor wrote. “These conditions of bail will help in protecting the public from future violence and assist our law enforcement officers in reducing and preventing crimes in our city.”

He added that he believes the measures are “imperative for the safety and future of our city.”

Read the entire letter below.

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Mississippi’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases remains over 600 Monday



Sunday and Monday saw the expected weekend drop in reported new COVID-19 cases and deaths. Mississippi’s seven-day average remains above 600.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported three new COVID-19 cases Sunday in Warren County and no new cases Monday. No new deaths were reported either day. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,470, and the county’s death toll is 53.

Statewide, MSDH reported 294 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 296 cases Monday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 105,228. The seven-day average of new cases is 646, higher by 197 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Sunday that five additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. No new deaths were reported Monday. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,101. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 3%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

MSDH reported Sunday that five deaths occurred between Oct. 5 and Oct. 10 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Sunday
Lafayette 1
Leflore 1
Marion 1
Montgomery 1
Tate 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They continued to drop through Oct. 3; however, they began showing a definite rise last week.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, is 600, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 491 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 109 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 136 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 59 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 90,577 through Sunday, Oct. 4. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 86% of the cumulative 105,228 cases reported Monday, Oct. 11.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Monday, Sept. 21, was 1,381, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,328, or about 90.3% of the 1,470 cumulative cases reported as of Monday, Oct. 11. The county has an estimated 89 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Sunday, Oct. 3, is 863,957 or about 29% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 6.3% Sunday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 126 Monday. About 40.1%, or 1,258, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Blackburn Motors hit by car thieves



Blackburn Motors, 2135 North Frontage Road, was the scene of a business burglary and auto theft Monday around 7 a.m.

Vicksburg police have issued a regional be-on-the-lookout alert for a 2020 black Dodge Challenger that was driven off the showroom floor through a door. Witnesses reported that the vehicle fled eastbound on Interstate 20. It was later reported that the vehicle was spotted near Flowers.

A 2020 blue Dodge Ram pickup truck and a gray 2011 Dodge Charger were also stolen.

Anyone with any information on this incident is encouraged to contact the Criminal Investigation Division of the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511 or Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS.

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