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Vicksburg man says he chose safety over his job; employer says his claims are false



Dimitri Fevrier said he could not continue to work in a place where he did not feel safe. (Photo via video screen grab)

A disagreement over working conditions at a Vicksburg store has resulted in one man being unemployed and a public spat on social media.

Dimitri Fevrier managed the CPR cellphone repair store on Halls Ferry Road for roughly 18 months. Fevrier claims that the store’s owner, Jerod Welch, would not supply the necessary disinfecting supplies, gloves or masks necessary to keep himself, his employee, Dwight Hunter, and customers safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Not being willing to work in what he considered unsafe conditions, Fevrier chose to leave his job about a month ago.

“We didn’t have the necessary (personal protective equipment). We didn’t have the equipment that we needed,” Fevrier said. “I told my employer that I did not feel safe.”

Fevrier and Welch went back and forth over cleaning supplies in this message thread. Click to expand. (Image courtesy Dimitri Fevrier)

Prior to Fevrier leaving, Welch asked him in a message if he had looked for the necessary supplies.

“I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to find any of these items,” Fevrier said. “It’s his responsibility.” Regardless, Fevrier said he attempted to purchase supplies at Walgreens and CVS pharmacies without much luck, a fact supported by a message to Welch.

“I have attempted several times to obtain all of the above,” Fevrier wrote, referencing Lysol, wipes and hand sanitizers.

“My safety, my employee’s safety, my newborn’s safety, my 4-year-old daughter’s safety, my employee’s mother’s safety … none of that was a priority,” he said. “The only thing that was a priority was making sales.”

Fevrier locked the door and put up a sign that he was offering service but not inside the store. He claims that they had one of the best days ever, even with the lobby closed. When ordered to reopen the lobby, Fevrier and Hunter both decided to put their safety ahead of their employment and left.

Welch, who owns five CPR stores in the area, says the disagreement centers strictly around Fevrier refusing to keep the lobby of the store open in direct defiance of Welch’s orders. He characterized Fevrier’s claim that the store had inadequate supplies “absolutely false.”

After Fevrier decided to leave, Welch said he manned the store for a few days before putting someone else in charge. He claims all the supplies in question were already in the store.

“There were unopened boxes of gloves. There were masks. There was plenty of antibacterial spray,” he said. He also said that as store manager, it was Fevrier’s responsibility to ensure the items were available.

“What was not in the messages that he decided to share with everyone are the conversations prior to that,” Welch said. He told Fevrier repeatedly that the lobby was not to be closed, a claim supported in Fevrier’s text message.

“For the 3rd time, WE ARE NOT CLOSING THE LOBBY,” Welch wrote.

“In none of the previous conversations did he ever mention being low on cleaning supplies,” Welch said, including on a conference call that morning where Welch says he offered to get any needed supplies for any store. “It was after the fact that he closed the lobby” that Fevrier brought up the supplies, Welch said.

Welch did not speculate as to why Fevrier is making his claim. “Maybe he did feel that was a safer option,” he said.

“What I have to look at is kind of overall what I feel is best for my business, my employees and my customers,” he said. “I generally did not feel that we could do an adequate job by having customers shut out of our lobby.”

CPR and similar stores are considered essential under state and federal COVID-19 guidelines, as they provide communication services and repairs. That means the stores did not close during the recent statewide shelter-in-place order.

Welch insists that his store guidelines go beyond what authorities recommend. He limits the number of customers at any one time to three, for example. Along with two employees, that is half the 10 people allowable in his stores. The stores followed all CDC, state and local guidelines pertaining to the spread of COVID-19, Welch said, including stocking “a more than adequate supply of antibacterial spray, masks and gloves.”

“We look at as a blessing that we’re able to continue to stay open during this time,” he added.

“If he did not feel safe—I addressed it with all of my employees—if they did not feel safe then it’s 100% their right to not work. But in this particular case, he closed the doors not allowing my business to do business,” Welch sald. “We couldn’t do the job we needed to do. That was impeding my business.”

For Fevrier’s part, he said his motive in bringing the story to light is to protect other employees of the CPR stores and ensure they have what they need to feel safe during the pandemic. He has yet to find a new job or collect unemployment.

“I’m just trying to figure this thing out day by day,” he said.

See our live interview with Fevrier on our Facebook page.


Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp



Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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Fun Lanes bowling alley has reopened



(photo by David Day)

Fun Lanes bowling alley in the Uptown Vicksburg mall has reopened.

The bowling alley closed earlier this year after former General Manager Patrick Belden unexpectedly died as a result of a car crash. While the bowling alley has the same owners, they have made some improvements. A statement on the Uptown Vicksburg Facebook page explained:

“Fun Lanes Bowling has made renovations and is now under new management. Fun Lanes wants to let everyone know that they have a renewed goal of being a family-friendly, safe location for the people of Vicksburg and the surrounding area to come out and enjoy the sport of bowling. Fun Lanes at Uptown Vicksburg, come on out and check us out. You will be glad you did.”

(photo by David Day)

The bowling alley had become a hotspot for police activity due to the large crowds that gathered there for late-night, weekend DJ parties. While the parties were a major success and there were almost no problems reported inside the bowling alley, the large crowds outside sometimes became disruptive.

Tony Lemus, Fun Lanes acting general manager (photo by David Day)

“We are committed to a family friendly atmosphere and look forward to providing Vicksburg with a great, fun and family friendly atmosphere” said acting General Manager Tony Lemus.

The hours of operation have changed. Fun Lanes is now open Mondays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon until 9 p.m.

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Wingstop coming to Vicksburg



A job listing on an internet job site indicates a Wingstop will be coming to Vicksburg soon. has listing for all positions, including a general manager, for a local store.

Wingstop is a chicken wing restaurant with a wide selection of side items including VooDoo fries. It was started in Garland, Texas, in 1994 and has expanded to over 1,500 restaurants according to the website. The chain has locations worldwide including in the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

The closest Wingstop to Vicksburg is in Clinton. The Starkville location is owned by a franchise called Boss Wings. The staff at that location could not confirm the Vicksburg location and calls to corporate management were not returned.

Jeff Richardson, city planning director, confirmed Wingstop had applied for a building permit earlier this week.

“I believe it was Tuesday,” he said. “It seems like they are going into an existing structure.”

Richardson did not disclose the location but indicated the new Wingstop would be in a strip mall area. There is no indication of the opening date but the job listings would indicate in the next three to five months.



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