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Vicksburg natives feel blessed they survived Tennessee tornado



A portion of Troy and Louanne Myers' house and their shed ended up in the neighbor's pool after tornadoes ripped through Cookeville, Tenn., last week. (photos courtesy the Myers)

“It was somewhere around 2 in the morning,” said Louanne Daniels Myers of the tornado that decimated their Cookville, Tenn., subdivision in the early morning hours of March 3. “Very little warning for us. Some said they had no warning. The warning came on our phones and in no time, it was on top of us,”

Vicksburg natives Louanne and Troy Myers.

Eighteen deaths and 88 injuries are associated with the storm system that hit Cookeville, 80 miles east of Nashville where a similar storm did significant damage and caused several more deaths. The National Weather Service rated the Cookeville tornado an EF-4 with winds up to 175 mph and said the twister stayed on the ground for right at 60 miles. It was the strongest tornado in the country since 2017.

In all, 25 people died in Tennessee and more than 300 were injured.

The Myers family left Vicksburg eight years ago for job opportunities. Troy Myers Jr. has worked as a lumber inspector for almost 40 years, and his wife, Louanne, works as a medical transcriptionist. High-school sweethearts, the couple has been married for more than 30 years.

“I work at Tennessee Heart, and they have been so good to me through this,” Louanne Myers said. “We had one employee that completely lost her house, but she is safe, and two of us had damage. They are being so kind to us.”

The Myers’ home has significant damage but can be repaired. A portion of their house and a utility shed ended up in a neighbor’s pool, but the destruction stretches as far as the eye can see. Their subdivision was one of the places President Donald Trump toured in his visit to the area last week.

The Myers’ home is on the far left in this photo showing what’s left of their fence. That’s a piece of their house in the neighbor’s yard on the right.

Adding insult to injury, hosts on a Nashville Radio Station morning show implied the damages were because people in the area were uneducated. IHeart Media owns station 107.5 The River. The “Woody and Jim” show and producer Zac Woodward were taken to task by their audience over the comments.

“While they had to be displaced and try to gain some composure of themselves in a hotel, they were still out in the muck and mire the next day not only trying to salvage some of their own belongings, but also helping salvage things for those who had lost so much more than they had,” said Alice Jones, Troy Myers’ sister.

“Uneducated people don’t do things like that. My very educated brother and sister-in-law with very big hearts are out there today helping their fellow man,” Jones added.

The Myers’ subdivision in Cookeville, Tenn. The Myers’ home is on the far right. What’s left of a neighbor’s house is on the left.

The station has issued a written apology for the comments.

The couple is back home now after living in a hotel for about a week. They had to board their three dogs and two cats because their fencing was destroyed, and they are dealing with contractors and insurance people. The dogs have yet to come home while the Myers have the fence repaired, but they remain grateful that they all survived.

“I’ve talked to them several times over the last few days,” Jones said. “The devastation around them is incredible, yet they were spared.”


Alcorn student leader works to advance other students in STEM fields



Alexandria Williams (photo courtesy ASU)

Last year, Alcorn State University was granted its official charter for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers Chapter. This year, the organization appointed its first student leader.

Alexandria Williams, a junior computer science major from Detroit, Michigan, was named the first Miss NOBCChE for the Alcorn chapter. The organization assists aspiring STEM students in gathering knowledge about the field and becoming STEM professionals.

Solidifying her leadership role in the chapter is significant for Williams because she feels the chapter can achieve excellence. She’s happy to play a critical role in the chapter’s legacy on campus.

“It’s an incredible honor to be crowned Alcorn’s first Miss NOBCChE,” Williams said. “Alcorn’s chapter is destined for greatness, so this is history in the making. To be a part of this history feels amazing.”

Sonia Eley, NOBCChE adviser and chemistry professor, is confident in Williams’ ability to represent the chapter.

“Alexandria possesses the qualities it takes to lead this chapter,” Eley said. “Her intelligence, rapport with her peers and love for STEM make her the ideal selection for the position. I have faith that she will be an excellent leader whose exceptional decision-making skills would move this chapter forward.”

In her decision making, Williams relies on faith to steer her into her purpose. She’s confident that accepting her leadership role is the right path for her.

“I try to align everything I do with God’s purpose in my life,” she said. “I joined NOBCChE last school year and served as the social media and graphic design chairman. Through my experience, I learned more about my field of study, gained community service hours and made new friends. I had such an amazing experience that when I was presented with the opportunity to represent the organization, I couldn’t resist accepting the position.”

The chapter showcases the talent of Alcorn’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors. Williams applauds NOBCChE for providing a platform for aspiring Black STEM professionals.

“I believe that Alcorn’s NOBCChE chapter is important because the world needs to recognize the power of talented Black STEM students,” she said. “We are capable of being great in this space, and we possess the ability to change the STEM profession’s landscape. NOBCChE is one of many platforms that showcases our talent and worth.”

Ever-changing technological advances inspired Williams to become a computer science major. Watching these advancements fuel her desire to be one of the future’s leading engineers.

“We witness technological advances often. The world is transitioning to a new technological age,” she said. “We have autonomous vehicles, face detection in the palm of our hands and scientists are equipped to reverse paralysis. During this change, the world is searching for people to develop new technologies and introduce them to the world. Those professionals are engineers, and for some time, I’ve been dreaming about becoming one.”

Encouraging younger students to pursue STEM programs and careers also excites Williams. Last summer in her hometown, she created Coder Gals, a four-week program that introduces girls in grades three through five to STEM and coding concepts. Williams prepares a curriculum for the students, hosts workshops, trains mentors and distributes newsletters to parents. The lack of women engineers was Williams’ motivation for starting the initiative.

“I started a chapter in my community because of the lack of female representation in STEM fields. We strive to spark young girls’ interest in coding through fun, creative, and collaborative projects and create the foundation for their future success. We instill in them that they can succeed in any male-dominated field that they choose.”

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USACE publishes mainline levees Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement



Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published its Final Supplement II to the 1976 Final Environmental Impact Statement, Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, Mississippi River Mainline Levees in the Federal Register.

Through evaluation of information and data obtained from levee inspections, seepage analyses, research, studies and engineering assessments, the USACE Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans districts collectively identified 143 additional work items along various reaches of the Mississippi River mainline levees  feature of the MR&T project. These work items are remedial measures to control seepage and/or raise and stabilize deficient sections of the existing levees and floodwalls to maintain the structural integrity and stability of the MRL system.

The 143 work items constitute the proposed action for this Final SEIS II and are located across portions of seven states: Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. This document is intended to supplement and, as necessary, augment the 1976 FEIS and 1998 Supplemental EIS to achieve USACE’s primary goals for the MR&T:

  • providing flood risk reduction from the Project Design Flood; and
  • being an environmentally sustainable project.

The Final SEIS II is available online at the USACE Vicksburg District website. The 30-day review period begins Friday, Nov. 13, and ends Monday, Dec. 14.

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VPD reports a string of burglaries from Tuesday through Thursday



The Vicksburg Police Department reports that several burglaries occurred this week from Tuesday through Thursday.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:58 a.m. officers responded to 1601 North Frontage Road in reference to a residential burglary. The victim advised he discovered the lock on his trailer was broken and multiple power tools valued at $5,000 were missing.

Tuesday at 11 p.m., officers responded to Parts Supply, 2406 South Frontage Road, in reference to an auto burglary. The victim stated he saw a white male wearing a camo jacket run from the cab of his truck carrying his lunch box while the driver was making a delivery to the store.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, a victim came to the police department at 11:59 a.m. to report an auto burglary. The theft occurred on either Bridge Street or Evans Alley, sometime between Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. A Taurus 9-mm handgun was taken from the unlocked vehicle.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, at 8:41 a.m. a victim came to the police department to report an auto burglary. A black, white and lime green Scott bicycle was stolen off the back of the victim’s 2017 Nissan Altima. The bicycle is valued at around $3,000.

Also on Thursday, officers responded to Tri-State Tires, 2209 Washington St., at 10:19 a.m. for a business burglary. The complainant stated one of the U-Haul transports valued at $9,000 was stolen Tuesday, Nov. 10.

If you have information on any of these incidents, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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