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USACE employee receives 2020 Paralegal of the Year award



Vincent “Vince” Farrell (photo courtesy USACE)

An employee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District received the 2020 Paralegal of the Year award from the Mississippi Paralegal Association in Jackson Friday.

Vincent “Vince” Farrell was recognized by MPA for his “continuous example of professionalism and excellence in the legal community.” He serves as a paralegal specialist for the USACE Vicksburg District’s Office of Counsel and provides support for contract, environment, labor and employment, and litigation attorneys with a variety of specializations.

Since joining the district in 2018, Farrell has supported its vital investigations and litigations and has tracked over 500 contracting actions worth a combined total of over $500 million. Farrell also took the initiative to manage and coordinate the Office of Counsel’s administrative needs while simultaneously overhauling the law library and overseeing all training metrics for his colleagues.

In addition to his work as a paralegal, Farrell serves as an alternate district liaison officer to the state of Mississippi on behalf of USACE during severe weather events. He also serves as a district fire protection section monitor and assumes responsibility for the accountability and safety during fire-related drills and emergencies for the Office of Counsel, the district’s command suite and the chiefs of the district’s Operations Division.

He credits his success and accomplishments to support from his wife Ariel, their son Vincent and his parents, Vincent and Briceland Farrell, as well as the numerous colleagues and educators he has known throughout his life.

In addition to his award, Farrell was elected to the association’s board of directors as the central region director for 2021. He will serve as the voice of paralegals across 25 counties, establish and direct continuing legal education events, promote MPA membership within the region, and formulate activities to strengthen the paralegal population and relationships within central Mississippi.

“We are extremely proud of Vincent’s achievement and his continued dedication to USACE,” said David Dyer, USACE Vicksburg District head of the Office of Counsel, in a statement. “He has been invaluable in helping to achieve the district’s mission, and we are lucky to have his broad skill set and incredible work ethic.”

An alumnus of the U.S. Army’s Adjutant General School, Farrell has also earned certificates at Kansas State University, Boston University and an associate degree from Southern New Hampshire University. He is working toward his Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security and counterterrorism from Southern New Hampshire University. A decorated and honorably discharged veteran, Farrell previously served as a paralegal supervisor at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His service awards include two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, two Army Good Conduct Medals, a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Medal and an Army Service Ribbon.

MPA was founded in 1980 by Mississippi paralegals who aimed to encourage a higher order of ethical and professional attainment and promote the profession of paralegals statewide. The organization supports, encourages and maintains high standards for the service, conduct and ethics of paralegals.


‘Check Your Charity’ helps you be an informed giver



(Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

Mississippians are known for their generosity, especially during the holiday season. During the last reporting year, Mississippi charities brought in roughly $1.7 billion. As we creep closer to Christmas, it’s important to remember the wisest giver is an informed giver. The annual “Check Your Charity” campaign encourages Mississippians to check the validity of a charity or organization on the secretary of state website before making a donation.

“Our Check Your Charity campaign aligns with one of our agency’s missions to make government more transparent,” said Secretary of State Michael Watson in a release. “We are committed to providing as much information as possible to shield Mississippians from scammers, not just during the holiday season but all year-round. This has been an incredibly challenging year for many families, and I am incredibly proud of the work our Charities Division is doing to protect Mississippians’ hard-earned money.”

All charitable organizations are required to register with the secretary of state’s office and renew yearly. Certain types of organizations are exempt from registration but are nevertheless required to file a notice of exemption with the secretary’s office.

Each year, the secretary’s office publishes a “Report on Charitable Organizations in Mississippi” to provide transparency and keep citizens informed of critical financial information regarding Mississippi charities. The annual report includes information such as total revenue, fundraising expenses and charitable purpose expenses.

Click here to view the 2020 Report on Charitable Organizations in Mississippi.

Mississippians should keep the following in mind when making decisions regarding charitable donations:

  • Check your charity. Use the “Charity Search” portal on the secretary of state website to verify the charity is registered with the State. Ask questions before giving and be sure to ask for answers in writing. Legitimate charities will always welcome your inquiries.
  • Avoid pressure tactics. You do not have to make a donation immediately; take time to evaluate the information provided by the charity.
  • Watch for similar names. Many charities have similar names. Often, scam artists intentionally use names resembling those of respected groups. Take a few extra minutes to research the charity online so you can be sure your donation goes to the right place.
  • Be wary of telephone calls. Always get the name of the person calling and the exact name and spelling of the charity. Ask if the caller is a professional fundraiser, and if they are, ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity.
    • Consumer organizations recommend at least 65% of a charity’s total expenses be spent on program activities directly related to the charity’s purpose.
  • Verify mail solicitations. Be wary of mail containing novelty items you can keep “if you contribute.” Federal law states that unless you ordered the item, you can keep it without contributing.
  • Always get receipts. Receipts are vital for tax deductions and provide a tracking mechanism for donations. To be safe, always donate by credit card or check (directly to the charity).

Taking these extra steps will not only protect you, it will also ensure your donation goes to those who need it most. For more information, contact the Charities Division at 601-359-1599, or click here to send an email to one of the Charities team members.

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MS Health Department: Avoid social gatherings



Due to the rapidly rising burden of COVID-19 cases, excessive hospitalizations and the high risk of COVID-19 infection in the community, the Mississippi State Department of Health  is issuing the following Public Health Guidance.

All residents of Mississippi should avoid any social gathering that includes individuals outside of the nuclear family or household. MSDH recommends that Mississippians only participate in work, school or other absolutely essential activities.

MSDH recommends that all Mississippians protect themselves and their families by avoiding public or social gatherings such as the following:

  • Social events or parties
  • Family gatherings outside of the household or nuclear family
  • Weddings
  • Funerals (other than close family and preferably outdoors)
  • Sporting events
  • In-person church services

MSDH reported nearly 2,500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with 28 in Warren County. Cases and hospitalizations are setting new records daily in Mississippi, with a new spike in deaths sure to follow.

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Alcorn State earns award for high rate of graduating student athletes



(photo courtesy ASU)

Alcorn State University received the David M. Halbrook (traveling) trophy in the men’s division from the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities for its achievement in posting the highest percentage of graduating student athletes, marking the third consecutive year it has earned the distinction.

“It is an honor for Alcorn to receive the David M. Halbrook (traveling) Trophy award for the third consecutive year,” said Derek Horne, director of athletics, in a statement. “Alcorn strives to help all our student-athletes succeed athletically and academically, setting them up for future success in their respective fields.”

In addition to the Halbrook trophy, student-athletes Troymain Crosby and Jada Hargrove were recognized with the David M. Halbrook Certificate Award for Academic Achievement Among Athletes. The individual honors are given to student athletes who excel in academics, leadership and service.

“Receiving the Halbrook Award is an outstanding recognition of the hard work and efforts of Alcorn’s student-athletes,” said Cyrus Russ, assistant vice president for athletic compliance and academic services. “This recognition represents the dedicated efforts of Alcorn’s faculty, academic counselors and staff that work so diligently to ensure student success.”

The Halbrook Award for Academic Achievement Among Athletes was established in 1984 as a result of the passage of House Concurrent Resolution No. 88. The awards program is made possible through endowments from former Rep. David M. Halbrook of Belzoni, Mississippi, and his brothers, John C. and James G. Halbrook of Belzoni, and J. A. Halbrook of Beaumont, Texas, in honor of their parents, John C. and Ernestine McCall Halbrook.

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