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Vicksburg honors a man who embodied caring: Tommie Lee Williams Sr.

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The historic marker honoring Tommie Lee Williams Sr. was unveiled March 13, 2020. [All photos by Thomas Parker]

“He was a trailblazer,” said Mississippi Rep. Oscar Denton (D-Vicksburg) in his remarks at the unveiling of a new historic marker in the city on Thursday.

“From a small home on Hannah Avenue, Tommie Lee Williams touched lives throughout the world. He met with presidents, senators and congresspeople. If we would all do half as much as he did, this city, state and nation would be a better place,” Denton said.

A group of more than 100 people gathered as the Mississippi Department of Archives and History unveiled the marker in Williams’ honor. It is located in the grass median at the intersection of Jackson and Walnut streets, half a block from the We Care Community Center, which Williams founded.

American Legion Vice Cmdr. Alonzo Stevens at the podium with Tommie Lee Williams Sr.’s widow, Frances Pearline Williams, and his son, retired Lt. Col. Tommie Lee Williams Jr.

Members of the Tyner-Ford American Legion Post honored their comrade and saluted the veterans in attendance, including Williams’ son, retired Lt. Col. Tommie Lee Williams Jr. who served in the Air Force. Vice Cmdr. Alonzo Stevens told the crowd of Williams’ life following his military service, which included attending then Alcorn College to become a master plumber. He told of his success in that line of work which included installation of the plumbing in the U.S. Post Office on Crawford Street. Stevens recounted how Williams lost his eyesight in 1967 and traveled to the Veterans Hospital for the Blind in Illinois to learn how to function in a sightless world.

Williams’ daughter, Dr. Adena Williams Loston, recounted the story of how her father set pricing for his plumbing services by how the customer treated his children. Her remarks brought laughter from the mostly African American gathering when she explained how he had “special pricing” for those who chose to speak in a racially insensitive way to his family, yet the customers still believed they had truly gotten a great deal.

Williams’ daughter, Dr. Adena Williams Loston, speaks to the assembled.

Loston also honored both of her parents when she said, “My mother wanted us to have an education. My father insisted that all of his children learn a trade.” A former NASA executive, Loston serves as president of St. Phillip’s College in San Antonio.

At one point, Loston asked for those in the crowd who had been helped by her father to stand or raise their hands and more than half responded.

Sheriff Martin Pace, Judge Ceola James and longtime family friend Elijah Johnson all offered Walk of Life tributes to Williams. Alcorn State University Vice President Marcus D. Ward presented a tribute on behalf of the University.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. proclaimed March 12 as Tommie Lee Williams day in the City of Vicksburg. “He was a true servant,” Flaggs said. “He loved his family and this community.”

We Care Community Services was founded by Williams in 1972, converting the former Etta O’Neal Library into its headquarters at 909 Walnut St. Through the years, We Care has helped countless residents of Warren, Washington, Issaquena, Sharkey and Yazoo counties. We Care’s wide spectrum of social programs continue to this day.

Attendees gather around the newly unveiled historic marker honoring Tommie Lee Willams Sr.

 

 

COVID-19

Reeves puts seven more counties under mask mandates

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Gov. Tate Reeves providing a COVID-19 update from home Nov. 12 (image from video screen capture)

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced Monday that seven additional counties have qualified to be under more restrictive conditions due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The conditions, listed under his “Safe Recovery” executive order in effect through Dec. 11, include wearing masks in almost all public places.

Counties added to the list Monday are Hinds, Madison, Pontotoc, Tate, Winston, Itawamba and Montgomery. Added to the 15 counties already under more restrictive conditions, Mississippi now has 22 of its 82 counties included in the executive order.

“Let’s keep fighting COVID. Let’s protect ourselves and protect our neighbors,” Reeves said in a statement. “Let’s also keep praying. I believe if we work together, we can make a difference. We can slow the spread and bridge the gap between now and when this vaccine becomes readily available and protect the integrity of our health care system.”

The seven-day average of new cases in Mississippi is currently over 1,000. The state is part of a nationwide surge that is averaging more than 150,000 new cases daily from coast to coast.

Two vaccines have recently shown great promise in early testing. Neither is expected to be available to the general public until the spring of 2021.

The governor and his family are self-isolating after his youngest daughter tested positive for the virus.

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COVID-19

Three Vicksburg police officers test positive for COVID-19

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(Image by Felipe Esquivel Reed, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87846813)

Three officers of the Vicksburg Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division have tested positive for COVID-19.

Monday, the department announced the results of tests completed earlier in the day.

The officers, who will not be named, will be quarantined for up to 14 days.

The department reminds the public to wear masks when conducting business at the police station.

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VIDEO – Capt. Randy Rippy honored at his retirement from the Vicksburg Fire Department

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Left to right: Pat “PatMan” Scallions, Doris Rippy, Capt. Rippy, Brittany Eaves, Cooper Eaves, Daniel Eaves and Colton Eaves (photo by Thomas Parker)

The Vicksburg Fire Department honored retiring Capt. Randy Rippy Monday.

Family and current and former co-workers gathered at Station 3 to honor Rippy, whose retirement becomes official at the end of his shift Tuesday morning.

Rippy has been a member of the department for 29 years. Chief Craig Danczyk spoke about working with Rippy as a young firefighter and how Rippy set the standard for public service with his work ethic.

Although Rippy is retiring from the Vicksburg department, he will continue to work with the fire department at Continental Tire where he has been working part time since March.

He becomes the third Vicksburg firefighter to retire and accept a position with Continental.

Left to right: Chief Craig Danczyk, Captian Rippy, Deputy Chief Trey Martin, Deputy Chief Derrick Stamps and Battalion Chief Carl Carson (photo by Thomas Parker)

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