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VHS coach Todd McDaniel’s life has centered on football



Todd McDaniel (photo courtesy Todd McDaniel)

New Vicksburg High football coach Todd McDaniel has a long history of playing and coaching football.

Born and raised in Hazlehurst, Miss., McDaniel, now 42, began playing football in the seventh grade where he was center on the offensive line. McDaniel’s father, Dr. Robert McDaniel, was a offensive lineman coach at Hazlehurst High School so he always felt the pressure of playing in the offensive line.

”All of my brothers played quarterback, but I always wanted to be on the line where my father trained me to be,” McDaniel said with a laugh.

Entering high school in 1991, McDaniel’s switched positions to play defensive end and tight end as he prepared to play on the varsity level. Hazlehurst suffered with a young team in the 1991 season with a 1-9 record but with players such as McDaniel, things got better with hard work and dedication.

By McDaniel’s 1994 senior season, the team reached a 7-4 record, a big difference from his freshman season. Rarely did McDaniel come off the field in high school because of his great athletic ability, and it’s what made him the team captain. He finished his senior season with 14 sacks.

In 1995, he committed to play football at Alcorn State University.

At Alcorn, McDaniel was a solid player, starting all four years for the Braves and still enjoying his time on the field. Years later, McDaniel still recalls some of the great moments he had as a Brave.

“I remember playing against Grambling in my freshman year, where I laid a big hit on the quarterback,” McDaniel said.

After his playing days were over, he became a defensive coordinator at Crystal Springs High School in 2000 where he would stay for a year and a half.

In 2001, McDaniel went back home to Hazlehurst High School to be the defensive coordinator. He was responsible for creating one of the toughest defenses in the state during his five years of coaching there.

McDaniel would get his first head coaching job in 2006 at Wingfield High School in Jackson. Wingfield  was 5-49 before his arrival, but he managed to give them a 6-5 record in his first season. In the 2007 season, he helped Wingfield to a playoff appearance.

”It was like we won the Super Bowl,” McDaniel said.

In 2008, McDaniel was once again called back home but this time it was to be the head coach at Hazlehurst High School. He stayed at the school for another three seasons and had a 27-8 record before heading back to Alcorn to couch in 2011.

Being the defensive line coach only lasted a short time for McDaniel as he was made interim head coach in February 2012.

The following year, McDaniel was head coach at Terry High School for one season before returning to Hazlehurst to be the head coach again in 2014. From 2014 to 2018, Hazlehurst had a 40-10 record under McDaniel. Half of the games lost were in his first rebuilding season.

Earlier this year McDaniel was named head coach of VHS where he plans to build another successful program.

”I am grateful for the opportunity, and I plan on implementing a system of moving the ball and stopping people,” McDaniel said.

He also preaches the importance of academics to the players.

“Grades are more important than athletics,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel credits most of his success to his parents, Drs. Robert and Betty McDaniel. He and his wife, Janet, have five children: Paris McDaniel, 16, Arieyana Young, 18, Jasmine Gibson, 23, Jayla Gibson, 23 and Andrea McDaniel, 23.


Search for two young men on the Mississippi to resume Sunday morning



(photo by Thomas Parker)

The search for the two missing young men on the Mississippi River near the LeTourneau Landing has been called off for the night and will resume at 7:30 a.m. Sunday according to Warren County Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs.

Anyone participating in the search is asked to coordinate their efforts through the incident command which is set up south of LeTourneau Road.

Multiple agencies are assisting in the efforts to locate the missing men. Numerous items that were in the boat and the boat itself have been recovered.

The young men, Gunner Palmer, 16, from Copiah County, and Zeb Hughes, 21, of Wesson, Mississippi, went out on a boat Thursday with their dog to find a good spot for duck hunting near Davis Island. They have not been heard from since Thursday afternoon.

Sunday will mark the fourth day of search and recovery efforts.

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Silver Alert issued for Holmes County man



(photo courtesy MDPS)

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has issued a Silver Alert for Charlie H. Haynes Jr., 61, of Durant, Mississippi, in Holmes County.

Haynes is a black male, 6 feet tall, weighing 260 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen Thursday, Dec. 3, at about 8:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Park Street in Holmes County. He was wearing a blue shirt and gray pants.

Haynes is believed to be in a 2020 beige ES350 Lexus bearing Mississippi license plate HNT1037 and traveling in an unknown direction.

Family members say Haynes suffers from a medical condition that may impair his judgement. If anyone has information regarding the whereabouts of Charlie H. Haynes Jr., call the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department at 662-834-1511.

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U.S. House passes historic bill to legalize marijuana



East side of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (photo by Martin Falbisoner own-work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link)

Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed what is being hailed as an historic bill to legalize the use of marijuana in the country.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act proposes to remove marijuana from the list in the Controlled Substances Act of 1971, which first equated pot with drugs such as heroin and LSD. It also proposes to expunge certain low-level criminal offenses, sets up a 5% sales tax on sales to reinvest in communities disproportionately affected by drug enforcement, provide for more research and other measures.

The MORE act was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee a year ago and is the first of its kind to make it to a vote on the House floor. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), was passed Friday by a vote of 228-164 along mostly party lines: 222 Democrats, five Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian, voted in support of the bill, while 158 Republicans and six Democrats voted against it.

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been upended as a result of convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and the racial disparities in conviction rates for those offenses are as shocking as they are unjust,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), said in a statement after the vote. “That’s why we passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act today.”

A 2020 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union concluded that “Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, notwithstanding comparable usage rates.”

“In every single state, Black people were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or almost 10 times more likely to be arrested,” the analysis continued. “In 31 states, racial disparities were actually larger in 2018 than they were in 2010.”

Democrats in support of the law also cited the growing numbers of states legalizing both medical and recreational uses of marijuana. To date, 34 states have legalized medical marijuana, including Mississippi last month, and 11 have approved it for recreational use.

In response, critics of the bill attacked Democrats for bring the bill up during the COVID-19 pandemic and cited law-and-order arguments.

“Marijuana is one of the most abused substances on this planet,” said Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.). “Yes, legalizing weed would create revenue from taxes, but at what cost? Do we then start legalizing cocaine? Marijuana is a gateway drug, make no mistake about that. It undoubtedly leads to further and much more dangerous drug use.”

It is unlikely the bill will be brought to a vote in the U.S. Senate.

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