Posts Tagged ‘mississippi’

Man arrested for having sex with animals

June 30, 2009

 

MORTON, MS (KSLA) –   A 23 year- old Morton, Mississippi man is behind bars accused of having sex with animals. 

Police said that Josh Pollard faces an unnatural intercourse charge.

Pollard admitted to taking pictures of himself and a dog.

 He also admitted having a relationship with dogs and goats.

Lesbians’ testimony shows church rift

June 26, 2009

The testimony of a same-sex couple at an annual gathering of United Methodists in Jackson has kindled a controversy over the church’s acceptance of homosexuals.

“If we’d known what kind of firestorm this would cause, we wouldn’t have done it,” said Connie Campbell, 43, of Jackson, who, along with her partner, Renee Sappington, 38, spoke at the June 12 worship service at the Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“At the same time, I’m kind of thankful that we didn’t know, because it’s a conversation that might not have happened.”

The conversation followed a three-day conference that began June 12 and attracted 2,000 attendees, said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, state leader of the denomination that claims more than 1,100 churches and 180,000 members in Mississippi.

“The response has been all over the spectrum,” Ward said. The force of the reaction, in the form of e-mails, blogs or phone calls to church leaders, has prompted her to invite clergy and lay members to a “dialogue” on the issue sometime in early July.

“The witness was not a challenge to the law of the church in any way,” Ward said in an interview this week. “But it was an invitation for us to live faithfully and lovingly with all people with whom our lives are intertwined, … people who may be different from ourselves.”

Although the church does not condone homosexuality, Ward said, “All people are of sacred worth and need the church in our struggle for human fulfillment.”

One critic of the women’s testimony is Donald Wildmon, a retired United Methodist minister and chairman of the Tupelo-based American Family Association, which claims more than 2 million online supporters and operates about 200 radio stations across the country.

In response to the women’s testimony, Wildmon wrote an open letter to Methodists, declaring that “the leadership in our church is promoting homosexual marriage.”

Originally, he wrote that he would no longer give money to the church. In a follow-up letter, he modified that stance, saying he would “designate where my giving to the local church goes.”

He also wrote that Campbell and Sappington’s “clear intent was to promote homosexual marriage in the United Methodist Church.”

In its Book of Discipline, the church states that it considers the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” It also states, “We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends.”

In testifying at the conference, Campbell and Sappington were part of a roster of witnesses invited to speak about their struggles to be accepted by various congregations before finally finding a church home. The speakers included a teen in foster care and an interracial couple.

Videos of the conference’s services are available online at

www.mississippi-umc.org.

Raise Your Pints Inc. – Mississippians for Economic & Beverage Advancement

June 23, 2009

Raise Your Pints Inc. – Mississippians for Economic & Beverage Advancement  

The group formerly known as MEBA has been radically re-organized.  You will see a great deal more from Raise Your Pints as we work toward lifting the gourmet beer ban and beyond.  We have a plan that will take us all the way to that goal. 

The vision of Raise Your Pints: “A Mississippi with a World Class Beer Culture”

The mission of Raise Your Pints: “To promote and enhance craft beer culture in Mississippi by lifting the ban on high gravity beer; clarifying the status of home brewing as a fun, legal and wholesome hobby; promoting Mississippi’s beer, brewpub, and brewing industries and small businesses; and broadening the appreciation of craft beer for all Mississippians.”

We are asking that all of MEBA’s supporters join Raise Your Pints and help us.  You’ll see a lot of us in the coming months and we’ll need you to be a part of that “us.”  We’ve planned a series of beer tastings and beer dinners across MS beginning in Hattiesburg on April 4th to increase awareness of our cause, raise funds, and have some fun.  We will also be hosting Mississippi’s first major Brewfest this summer to expand Mississippian’s appreciation of craft beer.  These and other steps are part of our plan to create the organization necessary to fulfill our vision of a Mississippi with a world class beer culture. 

We need your help to do this.  We can’t do this with a handful of people, and we can’t do this with a few hundred people.  Modernizing our beer laws is going to take thousands of us.  Please go to www.raiseyourpints.com and sign up as a member.  Recruit your friends who love craft beer or oppose government intrusions into our liberty.  Participate in RYP fundraisers around the state.  It’s our time.  This is our chance to be part of history, stand up for individual liberty, and create a Mississippi with a world class beer culture!

Sincerely,

Butch Bailey

President, Raise Your Pints

Miss. teen swept out to sea

June 23, 2009

New Albany resident missing off Costa Rica

NEW ALBANY — A Mississippi teenager is missing off Costa Rica after a Pacific Ocean wave washed him out to sea Sunday night hours after he arrived with others on a mission trip.

Marshaun Braxton, 17, was one of 15 members of First United Methodist Church in New Albany. He and several friends decided to take a walk next to the Pacific after they had arrived in Villa Briceno.

The teens stopped on a rock next to the ocean. A wave crashed down on them, taking several into the ocean, said the Rev. Jerry Beam, district superintendent of the United Methodist Church.

“They tried to hang on to Marshaun but just couldn’t do it,” Beam said.

After the teens were swept into the ocean, someone showed them how to get back to shore, but Braxton, who can swim, couldn’t fight the tide, said his aunt, Vera Braxton.

“They told us there’s little hope after 24 hours. I just hope they find the body,” she said.

Braxton’s legal guardian and grandmother, Elenora Howell, did not want to talk about the accident. Rather, she talked about how her grandson was a churchgoing football player who stayed out of trouble.

“He tutored schoolchildren at the church … he was on the football team and ran track,” Howell said Monday.

The Costa Rican navy was combing the area in search of Braxton.

The Methodist church group was in Costa Rica to help build a gymnasium and a sanctuary. Beam said all but two who went are scheduled to fly back today, while the others will remain to attend to legalities.

Kim Day, a Sunday school teacher who had mentored Braxton for several years, said the rising high school senior was an “exceptional person.”

“He was musically gifted, smart and a fine churchgoer,” Day said. “He was a leader in our church.”

Braxton had saved up at least $1,500, working at a movie store, to afford the trip to Costa Rica, Vera Braxton said.

Beam reported his office had been in contact with Sen. Roger Wicker for help dealing with the logistics of an American missing outside its borders.

“Gayle and I were deeply saddened to hear the tragic news from Costa Rica regarding Marshaun Braxton,” Wicker said in a news release.

Report: Miss. ed rate lagging

June 23, 2009

Mississippi is making some progress in key education areas but is still lagging behind most states in the region, shows a report from the Southern Regional Education Board scheduled to be released today.

Mississippi still ranks toward the bottom in the rate of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, retention figures and faculty salaries, according to the SREB’s 2009 Fact Book on Higher Education.

But two areas SREB leaders are looking to for the region’s future – minority graduation and tuition prices – appeared to be the silver lining in Mississippi’s report.

“The main theme this year is that SREB states need many more young adults to complete four- and two-year degrees and career certificates, but demographic changes and rising tuition and fees will make that a challenge,” SREB spokesman Alan Richard said in an e-mail. “These issues deserve much more attention from all SREB states, and many leaders who are involved with SREB know it.”

In Mississippi, 40 percent of black and 46 percent of Hispanic students graduated with a bachelor’s degree within six years – figures in line with national and regional trends.

At $4,700 a year, Mississippi’s average tuition rate is lower than the regional average but still is higher than states such as Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. All have higher per-capita income rates.

In-state tuition has gone up at Mississippi’s eight public universities in 11 of the past 12 years, but state College Board members said last week they felt the recession made it unreasonable to sign off on another hike, even though universities had sought further increases.

In the past 20 years, in-state tuition has nearly tripled from about $1,672 a year.

During last week’s College Board meeting, members discussed the rising cost and its effect on Mississippians’ ability to go to college.

“We’ve never faced an economic situation like this,” College Board President Scott Ross said. “I just think this is a different time, and we can’t expect people to pay more in this economy.”

The board still voted 6-4 in favor of increasing on-campus housing fees at all universities – at the request of the presidents, which will add to costs to attend.

Today’s report shows Mississippi still falls behind all states in the region except West Virginia in the percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher but has seen some growth in recent years.

In 2007, 19 percent of adults 25 and older had bachelor’s or higher degrees – up from 17 percent in 2000.

And much of the growth in recent years has been in key demographics – women and minority students, according to the report.

Women have jumped from 58 percent of Mississippi’s bachelor’s degree holders in 1997 to 62 percent in 2007. The percentage of black and Hispanic graduates jumped from 27 percent in 1997 to 32 percent in 2007.

“Keeping college affordable will be a major factor in removing participation and completion gaps,” SREB President Dave Spence said in a statement released with the report. “We also need to continue to change the culture of many public colleges and universities into an environment that supports students’ pursuits of degrees.”

As for retention, Mississippi saw a one-point gain in the percentage of full-time freshmen in 2001 who had not dropped out of college.

About 54 percent of those who enrolled in 2001 had graduated, were still attending or had transferred to another school by 2007, the report shows. That average is the lowest in the region; the SREB average was 73 percent.

The gain over the same figure for 1996 also was significantly lower than Mississippi’s neighboring states. Louisiana improved its progression rate by seven points, and Alabama went up nine points.

The SREB report, which compares states in several areas, also shows faculty salaries are lagging, with pay at Mississippi’s schools near the bottom of the region.

Only West Virginia and Arkansas were below Mississippi’s $62,700-a-year average.

But Mississippi’s average rose 5 percent in the past 20 years – a rate close to the national average as well as the SREB average, according to the report.

Strategy Memo: The Barbour Tour

June 23, 2009

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) continues his out-of-state travel in Washington, D.C., where he’ll appear with House Republican leaders at an afternoon press conference to discuss health care. After stops in Virginia yesterday for gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, Barbour heads to New Hampshire and Iowa later this week — leading to speculation that he’s gearing up for a 2012 presidential bid.

Turbines in Mississippi River potential alternative energy source

June 9, 2009

The Mississippi may in a few years be laced with giant underwater turbines using the force of the river’s flow to generate power if Free Flow Power Corp, a Massachusetts-based hydropower developer, is allowed to install hydrokinetic turbines at as many as 55 sites along the Mississippi River.

The turbines would have a diameter of 10 feet and be installed below navigation depth. Each turbine spins to generate roughly 1,600 megawatts of power which would then have to be transmitted ashore to the power grid or to industry sites, according to the Vicksburg Post.

However, some of those who work on the river are concerned that the turbines could cause navigation problems. These worries were aired during a public meeting held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Baton Rouge last month, according to the New Orleans-based Times Picayune.

Z. David DeLoach, owner of the towboat company DeLoach Marine Services, told the newspaper that he was concerned about what would happen if low water conditions forced barges into the deep-water river bends where the turbines may be installed.

The American Waterways Operators, the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, and the Gulf States Maritime Association told the newspaper that they want to help plan for this potential energy source to ensure that the turbines do not increase shoaling, delay vessels, erode levees or cause other navigation problems.

Jon Guidroz, who is director of product development at Free Flow, told the newspaper that navigation’s concerns were “on our radar screen. We understand that this is a river that is first and foremost for navigation. It’s a number one priority for us to make sure that we are safe with our turbines. It wouldn’t make economic sense for us to get hit by barges.”

According to Guidroz, if Free Flow installs turbines in the deep river bends below Baton Rouge where the water flows fastest, that will generate the most electricity and will also ensure that the turbines, affixed to posts in the river bottom, will be below the 45- to 55- foot draft of the largest deepwater vessels and will also be out of the way of Corps dredging.

At the meeting, the Corps said that the company has to file an environmental impact statement before it can consider what impact the turbines might have on levees or other factors, the newspaper reported.

Towns and developers from Alaska to Florida have filed with FERC for preliminary permits to develop hydrokinetic energy projects. These projects are in their initial stages; approval and licensing is expected to take up to four years.

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, immediate past president of the Mississippi River Commission and former commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District and the Mississippi Valley Division, is now chairman of Free Flow, according to the Vicksburg Post.

We’re No. 1! … at Using Cocaine

June 5, 2009

WASHINGTON — A new report finds that a higher percentage of D.C. residents are using cocaine than in any state in the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services‘ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration developed the report based on 2006 and 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The report breaks down substance abuse and mental health problems on a state-by-state basis.

D.C.’s best showing in the report was a 5.1 percent rate of usage of cocaine in the past year — among residents 12 and older. That topped the country.

We argue the fairness of such a distinction, considering we just have a city and none of those rural areas that conveniently lack clubs full of hipsters and yuppies doing bumps in the bathroom and abandoned building that serve as urban crack castles.

Mississippi had the lowest rate, 1.6 percent, but its largest city has about 175,000 people, as of July 1, 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We’d like to compare meth abuse in Mississippi to meth abuse in the District.

Furthermore, we’d like to see the percentage of New Yorkers, Los Angelinos or Chicagoans that have used cocaine in the past year. That would give us a much better idea of how polluted our population really is.

EPA: Miss. companies sold illegal Chinese engines

May 29, 2009

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three Mississippi companies are accused in a federal lawsuit of illegally importing and selling more than 78,000 small engines made in China.

The engines did not meet federal air pollution standards, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice said Thursday in a joint news release.

The lawsuit marks the government’s first court action in an effort to enforce emissions standards for portable generators, water pumps and other small engines, the EPA said.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against PowerTrain Inc., Wood Sales Co. Inc., and Tool Mart Inc., all based in Golden, a northeast Mississippi town near the Alabama state line.

A search of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Web site found Oneal Wood of Golden listed as president of all three companies.

Wood did not immediately return a phone message left at his home.

“That’s just the government for you,” a Wood Sales spokesman told The Associated Press about the lawsuit. He did not give his name and immediately hung up the phone.

A phone listing could not be found for PowerTrain Inc. and a message left with a spokeswoman for Tool Mart was not immediately returned.

EPA spokesman Dave Ryan said the engines were sold across the country online and through telemarketing. EPA estimates the 78,000 engines have contributed to excess emissions of more than 150 tons of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides and more than 5,000 tons of carbon monoxide.

The complaint says the “non-road” engines were imported and sold by the companies from September 2002 through at least May 2007. The engines emit carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, that contribute to smog.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and for the companies to remedy the violations.

Bittle sits

May 29, 2009

Bianco decided to take his ace off the board. He kept Scott Bittle off the 25-man roster this weekend because of a shoulder injury. While Bittle has been tossing the ball with no pain, Bianco believes he’s not ready to pitch from the mound. Bittle, who’s been both a starter and closer this season, has been unavailable to the team since May 3, a stretch of nine games.

“His rehab this week has been more promising and we hope if we make it to a super regional he will be available,” Bianco said.

The top-seeded Rebels (40-17) will send Drew Pomeranz (6-4) to the mound against Monmouth (32-23). He’ll face a challenge from the Northeast Conference champions, who scored 35 runs in three games to clinch the league title.

Ole Miss’ starters haven’t been that impressive since Bittle’s injury and the Southeastern Conference co-champions are just 5-4 in that stretch. That includes two quick losses in the league tournament that left the Rebels disappointed and without a coveted national seed.

Bianco believes the team’s ready for the regional, though.

“We’ve had a good week of practice and a lot of energy,” Bianco said. “The kids have realized they have to put that behind them. If you play well this weekend, many folks will forget about the SEC tournament.”