Other General News Stories


A few examples of general news stories I have written over the years.


Canton alderman opposes annexation

Dr. William Truly, alderman at-large, opposes the city's recent vote to proceed with annexation plans for a 300-plus acre tract of Madison County property. He says plans are in the works to develop the property with golf courses and high-priced multi-family residences that will eventually attract non-white residents and weaken black voting power in the city.

The Challenger disaster 25 years later

Jane Merchant grew up in Huntsville, Ala., where her father worked for NASA as an Ordnance Guided Missle School instructor. Those early childhood experiences led her to shoot for the stars in an attempt to become the first teacher in space. Merchant, a ninth-grade social studies teacher at West Point Junior High School in 1986, applied for the position that was later awarded to Christa McAuliffe. It's been 25 years since McAuliffe and six astronauts died during the Challenger disaster.


Daycare fingerprint program, reviews mixed

Jackson resident Jessica Purnell, 29, rises at 5 a.m. every morning to get her four children, Camaurice, 10; Maurico, 8; Carlisha, 6; and Kierra, 3, ready for school and daycare. Before driving across the city to work as a cashier at Richland's Walmart, the single mother drops Kierra off at Jamboree Child and Development Center off Northside Drive in Jackson. Lately, it's taken longer to get in and out because Jamboree is a pilot site for a new (E)ChildCare fingerprint scanning system that Mississippi has been implemented in some daycares for parents using the federal Child Care Voucher Program.


Dog fighting is 'epidemic' in parts of Madison County

Debra Boswell, director of the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, has a thick folder of reports and numerous packages of photographs featuring bloody, scarred dogs - some with missing ears, others with deep gashes in their necks. Some are pictures of lifeless naimals that are evidence of an underground crime, a secret blood sport. Boswell said dog fighting has reached "epidemic proportions in the area.

Graveyard Boys terrorize Canton neighborhood

The Graveyard Boys - it sounds like the title of an upcoming Halloween horror film. and for the residents of Adams, Fulton and East Academy Streets, the name evokes the same emotions. It has been attached to a group of young men (some in their 20s, some younger) who have made a pastime of harassing area residents.

Nuclear blast from the past part of landscape

He was 7 years old when U.S. government representatives came to his Lamar County home, boarded it up and evacuates his family three miles away to protect them from a nuclear blast that would both shake his body and the earth in a 30-mile radius of the Tatum salt dome. "We were probably about a mile and a half from ground zero," said Kevin Saul, now 55. "They evacuated us to my grandmother's house in Baxterville. It was just like an earthquake came through. The house was shimmering and shaking. The ground had a buckle effect to it. It would knock you off your feet."


Showing support for marriage equality: Supporters rally for same-sex marriage

TTina Frizzell and the love of her life spent 15 years together before they were married last January in California. This month marks their first wedding anniversary, and January could be a game-changer in lives of gay Mississippians like Frizzell and her partner. On Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments that could lift a ban on same-sex marriage in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. That would mean Frizzell’s California marriage license is valid in Mississippi.

UM Chancellor listening sessions: Alumni, faculty and staff voice opinions on next chancellor

Dozens of alumni and faculty Tuesday let a search committee know what they want in the next University of Mississippi chancellor. They want a chancellor who graduated from Ole Miss and understands Ole Miss culture. They want a unifying figure with a broad understanding of the world who, perhaps, currently lives in a different region of the United States. They want someone unconnected to and uninfluenced by Mississippi politics, someone who understands education globally and a person who can repair trust that some feel was broken following former chancellor Dan Jones’ departure.



Supreme Talk: Justices share the stage at the Ford Center: Scalia, Kagan discuss professional life

Two of the world’s biggest decision-makers were seated together on stage at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Monday as part of “A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Elena Kagan.” The two Supreme Court justices, who were introduced by I. Richard Gershon, a law professor and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law, answered a series of general questions posted by moderator Jack Wade Nowlin, a law professor and associate dean for faculty development.


Barack Obama's election affirms 'promise of American life'

In the past, Jackson's Spann Elementary School students often chose to portray sports figures during the school's black history living was museum. Now, they're aiming for a different goal. Principal Nikki Menotti said this year everyone wanted to be President Barack Obama.


Purple Drank: Prescription cough syrup key in drug abuse trend

Mississippi authorities say a drug commonly known as "purple drank," "Lean," or "sippin' syrup" is becoming more visible in the state. The main ingredient of the drink is prescription-strength cough syrup that contains promethazine and codeine. Abusers mix it with another liquid such as a soda and hard candy.Though popularized in Houston, Texas, the recreational use of purple drank has spread to other Southern states. The drink is a recurring theme in Southern rap culture, with songs discussing its use.


Mississippi, Clinton native battles sex trafficking

In 2006, while working in an impoverished area in the South African country of Swaziland, Clinton native Alli Mellon met a little girl who had been sold for sex.



Mississippi interest renewed in storm shelters

Kisha Jeanes, her husband and their two young daughters piled into a closet when the bad-weather sirens went off in Benton County. They waited nervously.Then Jeanes, 36, put Sydnee, 11, and Kaitlyn, 9, in her car and drove through the storm to the county's only community storm shelter, a structure Jeanes said has been around since she was a child. "It was full of people," she said, "probably 100 to 200." They were safe, but when the storm cleared last Sunday, numerous homes a mile from her own were destroyed and two people were dead.


Response mixed to Mississippi texting while driving bill

His last text message was "Jeremiah. Come to my hosue. We're going swimming." Drew Denney, 17, sent it a moment before he lost control of his vehicle about a mile between his house and Lamar School in Meridian. He was three days shy of becoming a high school senior. His father, Darrell Denney, daily passes a memorial cross erected at the site of the May 6, 2003, crash. He said his son was a good student and standout football player who was liked by all.


Campus mourns Tougaloo student killed in crash

In a third-floor dorm room on the campus of Tougaloo college, decorated with a youthful pink theme and a painting of Audrey Hepburn hanging above her bed, Sacramento native Alexia Pickett was reminded Thursday that adulthood isn't always promised. Just the other day, like good friends sometimes do, she had gotten miffed at her dear friend Joshua Robinson for something ridiculous and petty, something she could have easily gotten over. The next day, he was gone — killed in an automobile accident on I-55.



Duplex symbol of blight: Some surprised suspected drug house remains

The dilapidated blue duplex at 1305 W. Ridgeway Street in Jackson has become an iconic symbol of government intrusion, community blight and city crime. Some find it hard to believe the damaged structure at Ridgeway and Sears Streets is still standing. Aug. 26 will mark the fourth anniversary of the night then-Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, accompanied by two police body guards and a group of young men, used sledgehammers to raid and partially demolish the suspected drug house.



Jackson seeks movie theater: City-private partnership may be ticket

For almost 100 years, Jackson was a city with movie theaters. The Century, Garden, Hippodrome, Dixie, Alamo, Istrione, Majestic, Paramount, Buck, Pix, Ray, Joy and Ritz were just some of the establishments that once drew patrons to silent films, talkies and drive-in movies from the early 1900s until their final demise before the turn of the 21st century. Now there are serious efforts under way to bring a movie theater back to Jackson. Bennie Hopkins, director of Planning and Development for the city of Jackson, said it's a topic frequently talked about in his office "because we hear our clients and constituents asking why we don't have a theater."


Fleeing from Katrina: A port in the storm

Yvonne Hookfin abandoned Redemption for salvation. The former St. Bernard Parish resident escaped the New Orleans Redemption housing complex, where she has lived for nine years and sought safety with her best friend Dionne Cole. the two are now Broadmoore Baptist Church shelter residents. Hookfin, a New Town, Miss. native, said her shelter stay has been a positive aspect of the Katrina tragedy. "I will hate to go and leave the people I have met, but I will be glad to find a house to live in," she said Thursday, while sitting outside the shelter. "I have met some people I will never forget."







Charge upgraded after death of baby: Jackson man held without bond in Madison County Detention Center

AJackson man faces a capital murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend's 23-month-old daughter. Sean Arlandis Alexander, 35, of Jackson initially was charged with felony child abuse, but the charge was upgraded Wednesday after the child died.


Canton suffers another homicide

Canton Police have one suspect in custody charged with murder and are searching for another following the city's third shooting death of the year. Police Chief Luke Gordon said Jeremy Luckett, 20, of Johnson Street was killed Tuesday on Northwest Street. Lt. Earl Taylor said police received the call at 11:53 p.m. and Luckett was taken to
University of Mississippi Medical Center. Jemarcus Taylor, age 20, of Northwest Street, is in custody.


Fatal fire breaks hearts: School principal calls child killed in blaze delightful, bright

She wore a white coat and a stethoscope on career day at Wilkins Elementary School because she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. But 9-year-old Tirysha Taylor's life was cut short 15 days before Christmas when she died from smoke inhalation following a south Jackson house fire. There were two adults in the house with her Thursday when the fire erupted. While officials have not released the names, multiple sources have confirmed that Tirysha's father, Rakeem Muhammad, and her stepmother, Debra Riley, were living in the 2048 Monaco St. home that was destroyed.