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Today's Birthdays – October 30, 2011




Celebrity Birthdays

1735 John Adams, second President of the United States (d. 1826) 1871 Buck Freeman, American baseball player (d. 1949) 1881 Elizabeth Madox Roberts, American poet and author (d. 1941) 1882 William Halsey, Jr, American admiral (d. 1959) 1885 Ezra Pound, American poet (d. 1972) 1886 Zoe Akins, American playwright (d. 1958) 1893 Charles Atlas body builder 1895 Dickinson W. Richards, American physician, Nobel laureate (d. 1973) 1896 Ruth Gordon, American actress (d. 1985) 1897 Rex Cherryman, American actor (d. 1928) 1898 Bill Terry, baseball player (d. 1989) 1906 Hermann Fegelein, German Nazi official and brother-in-law to Adolf Hitler (d. 1945) 1908 Patsy Montana, American country music singer and songwriter (d. 1996) 1911 Ruth Hussey, American actress (d. 2005) 1914 Richard E Holz, American composer (d. 1986) 1915 Jane Randolph, American Actress d. 2009 1916 Leon Day, American baseball player (d. 1995) 1917 Bobby Bragan, American baseball player (d. 2010) 1922 Jane White, American actress and singer 1927 Joe Adcock, American baseball player (d. 1999) 1930 Clifford Brown, American musician (d. 1956) 1935 Jim Perry, American baseball player 1936 Dick Vermeil, American football coach 1939 Grace Slick, American singer (Jefferson Airplane) 1939 Edward Holland, Jr., American singer 1940 Ed Lauter, American actor 1941 Otis Williams, American singer 1945 Henry Winkler, American actor 1946 Robert L “Hoot” Gibson Cooperstown NY, USN/ast (STS 41B, 61C, 27) 1946 Chris Slade, Welsh drummer (Asia) 1947 Timothy B. Schmit, American musician (Eagles) 1951 Harry Hamlin, American actor 1953 Charles Martin Smith, American actor 1957 Kevin Pollak, American actor 1958 Joe Delaney, American football player (d. 1983) 1958 Ramona d’Viola, American cyclist 1961 Scott Garrelts, American baseball player 1963 Michael Beach, American actor 1963 Rebecca Heineman, Computer game programmer 1963 Kristina Wagner, American actress 1965 Charnele Brown East Hampton NY, actress (Kim-A Different World) 1966 Scott Innes, American voice actor 1968 Jack Plotnick, American actor 1970 Tory Belleci, American television personality 1970 Nia Long, American actress 1970 Ben Bailey, American game show host 1973 Adam “Edge” Copeland, Canadian wrestler 1975 Marco Scutaro, American Baseball player 1975 Maria Thayer, American actress 1976 Maurice Taylor, American Basketball Player 1977 Jason Adelman, American actor 1978 Martin Dossett, American football player 1978 Matthew Morrison, American actor 1979 Jason Bartlett, American baseball player 1980 Kareem Rush, American basketball player 1981 Ivanka Trump, American model 1981 Ian Snell, American baseball player 1981 Joshua Jay, American magician 1982 Andy Greene, American ice hockey player 1982 Manny Parra, American baseball player 1983 Trent Edwards, American football player 1984 Eva Marcille, American model and actress 1988 Janel Parrish, American actress 1989 Seth Adkins, American actor 1989 Vanessa White, British singer (The Saturdays) 1989 Jay Asforis, American singer 1992 Tequan Richmond, American actor]]]]> ]]>

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Chris Wells to serve as permanent director of MDEQ



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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MIBEST program at Hinds CC adds up to success for Vicksburg woman



Mayra Gomez (photo courtesy Hinds CC/April Garon)

Mayra Gomez has always felt comfortable with the language of numbers.

“I’ve liked numbers my whole life,” Gomez said, agreeing that they have been something of a security blanket for her since coming to the United States from Mexico with her parents when she was already 20. “Numbers are just universal, plus I just have a square head like that!”

Gomez, now 41 and a working mother of three, attended high school in Mexico, but said an education there doesn’t translate well toward obtaining a good job in the U.S., particularly when a language barrier is factored in.

“For my husband and me, it was hard learning the language,” she said, adding the internet played a big role in her learning the basics of communication to help support her family along with her husband, who works in construction. “I learned English just based on reading, software I could learn by myself and experiences we would have, such as going to the doctor. I would just look up words I was going to say.”

Gomez still works a restaurant job by day but will soon be broadening her horizons beyond all expectations. This past spring, she earned a career certificate in Business Office Technology from Hinds Community College after having completed the MIBEST program. The program allows adult students to train for a job skill while earning their High School Equivalency certificate at the same time. Students are prepared to be job-ready in six months to a year, training in high-demand areas and earning national certifications.

“I found the program while online, and I called to find out more about how it helps people get a high school diploma,” she said.

This fall, Gomez is enrolled in classes at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus that will land her a technical certificate, then a full Associate of Applied Science degree. After Hinds, she wants to pursue a career in accounting, a goal she said gained steam while working a seasonal job as a tax preparer with a Vicksburg accounting firm. She also counts membership in the campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society as another plus in her social development.

“I still have to take English Composition next semester, but I’m excited,” she said. “I still need to learn more about the language.

All participants in MIBEST have access to support staff, or navigators, whose job it is to help students focus on their studies by advising them on a wide range of life issues – which often include everything from child care to transportation to ways to find rental assistance for those in such a situation.

“My navigators and instructors are my angels here,” she said. “Whenever I feel lost, they guide me and make me feel welcome.

“I consider them more than just instructors – they’re my friends. I was afraid to come back to school mainly due to language. I was wondering what would happen if I said something wrong or wrote something wrong. But they told me, ‘No, don’t be afraid. Just ask and we’ll see what we do to fix it.’”

Instructors and navigators in the program even go so far as to say Gomez is the best MIBEST student ever.

“Mayra entered into the Adult Basic Education program with definite goals set for herself,” said Vanessa Shiers, navigator in the program at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus. “Upon entering the program, she began working hard and showing a kind of determination that was a delight to see in a student.”

Ramona Latham, her instructor in Business Office Technology, found it refreshing Mayra was willing to help fellow students as she herself needed help with class assignments.

“Mayra is the type of student every instructor loves to have in their class,” Latham said.

“When she required assistance, she reached out so that she could get a better understanding of the subject matter. When her classmates required assistance, she was always willing to help. In her three semesters with me, she proved to be dedicated, diligent and filled with compassion.”

As inspiring as she might be for her instructors, her biggest driving force is her children.

“I want my kids to feel proud of me,” she said. “I want to show them it’s not about age to be successful. You can go out and get something that you really like and dream about it. One of my dreams for me is to finish school, get a good job and show they can do it if they decide to do it.

“Recently, I was working on my school work at home and my kids saw my grades. They were like, ‘Mama, you got a 98 or a 100.’ So, I can say if I can get good grades, you can do it, too.”

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American Lung Association invites Mississippi to join the Vape-Free School Initiative



(Photo by Sarah Johnson, CC BY 2.0,

Tuesday, the American Lung Association announced the new Vape-Free School Initiative, a comprehensive program to help school administrators and educators address the surge of youth vaping across Mississippi.

“In Mississippi, 21.4% of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019. Vaping harms developing lungs and overall health and may place people at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We must do more to protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction to deadly tobacco products,” said Rochelle Thompson, senior manager of health promotions for the Lung Association. “Through our Vape-Free Schools Initiative, the Lung Association is helping schools navigate this public health emergency with tools to protect and support both schools and students.”

The Mississippi Vape-Free Schools Initiative includes a comprehensive toolkit of resources, trainings and guidance for schools, including:

  1. INDEPTH: The Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health is a four-session program facilitated in either a one-on-one or group setting for students who violate school tobacco policies. Instead of focusing on punitive measures, INDEPTH teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction.
  2. Not On Tobacco (N-O-T): N-O-T is a tobacco cessation program designed with teenagers in mind. It takes a holistic approach with each session using different interactive learning strategies based on Social Cognitive Theory of behavior change. This encourages a voluntary change for youth ages 14 to 19.
  3. Vape-Free School Policy Assessment: Through this brief school policy assessment, educators can see how their school can improve their policies to provide students, employees and visitors with clear guidance.

The INDEPTH and NOT facilitator trainings are done virtually, and the programs for students can be held either in-person or virtually through an online meeting platform.

School administrators and educators interested in getting involved in the Vape-Free Schools Initiative can contact Rochelle Thompson at [email protected].

For more information about the Lung Association’s work to end youth vaping, visit

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