Natchez, Miss.
Postings Daily

Sheriff David Hedrick    See our CPSO Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CPsheriff.

Legislature gives Natchez $1 million for drainage

The Mississippi Legislature has appropriated $1 million for drainage projects in Natchez: $500,000 for the Concord area and $500,000 for "other" which will be used to address drainage challenges in the West Stiers Lane area and in Roselawn, according to Mayor Dan Gibson.

Mandy Halford, 41, of Natchez, faces nine felony charges in Concordia Parish, for her 2023 sextortion scheme to use sex videos of her victim and defraud him of his money. Her bond has now been set at $111,000. In 2016, she was arrested for stealing another victim’s checkbook and writing $29,000 in bad checks.

Vidalia police responded to 809 Gregory St. after receiving multiple complaints by concerned citizens in reference to the residence being in violation of several city ordinance codes. Upon arrival officers made contact with five subjects near a vehicle that was parked in the drive way. Officers could smell a strong odor commonly associated with marijuana, coming from the vehicle.  Officers were given consent to search the vehicle. As a result of the search officers located synthetic marijuana and methamphetamines. There were also three puppies that appeared to be underweight. One puppy left cheek was severely swollen. Being that there were no running water or electricity and the dogs were not being able to be properly taken care of, Animal control was called to seize the dogs. Also 12 cats were living inside the house and were transported to a another location. The residents were evicted until the living conditions were improved and running water was supplied back to the house as several health hazards were documented. Arrested were: Miranda Alexander, 27, of Vidalia, for drug possession; Porter Goodwin, 28, of Vidalia, for drug possession and a probation and parole hold; and Austin Lord, 27, of Ridgecrest, for drug possession and animal cruelty.

Jefferson County drug dealer sentenced

Boris Ward, 50, sold methamphetamine in Jefferson County on June 1 and June 13, 2018. After the two sales, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and other agencies executed a search warrant at Ward’s residence and recovered 10 firearms and over a half kilogram of 100% pure methamphetamine.  Ward was previously convicted in Cook County, Illinois, of two counts of armed robbery, two counts of attempted murder and distribution of cocaine. He was previously convicted in Jefferson County, Mississippi, of escape from a correctional facility and possession of cocaine. He has been found guilty after a four-day trial and sentenced to 295 months in federal prison for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Damien K. Hayes, 28, of Natchez, has been arrested for felony possession of marijuana, more than 30 grams and less than 250 grams by Natchez police. No bond has been set as yet. He was already out on bond for a 2018 drive by murder. Hayes original bond was $700,000, reduced to $460,000 and then reduced to $50,000 by Judge Sanders.

Natchez will hire a second animal control officer and will fund the construction of a temporary housing facility for animals next to the Humane Society shelter on Liberty Road.

Judge John Reeves denies bond

Seventh District Judge John Reeves has denied the bond reduction request of Lester Jeanette Ratcliff who was arrested for participating in a doping and sexual slavery conspiracy in Adams-Concordia in November. Her bond remains at $155,000. Ratcliff allegedly possessed drugs, used them to make juveniles more pliable sexually and sold the kids’ sex services for drugs and cash, along with six other defendants.

The Mississippi River at Natchez is expected to rise to 50 feet in early April, two feet above flood stage.

Woodville received a clean audit for its fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2021, with no major findings reported by Silas Simmons CPAs.

Dan Dillard passes at age 67

Natchez Alderman Ward 6 Dan Dillard died at his home unexpectedly. For more than 16 years, Dillard brought reason and common sense to the Board of Aldermen, challenging collective thought and a plethora of financial miscues. Dillard routinely fought theft, misappropriation, alarming overspending and borrowing. He was the first and usually the only aldermen to raise these concerns. He was ultimately dedicated that Natchez citizens get good government. Dillard was an early advocate of rehabilitating the police department, city-led tourism, city clerk's office and for fair play and balance between city aldermen and county supervisors. He played a major role in budgeting and oversight management of many city departments. He was 67.

Trinity Medical continues to make financial progress, improving patient care and earning more revmues. In January, the hospital showed a net profit of $320,000.

Merit Health Natchez employees worked together to donate 439 jars of peanut butter to three Natchez food banks. Catholic Charities, Natchez First Assembly of God and Pilgrim Baptist Church will share the food.

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The new high school is nearly complete

The new Natchez High will be dedicated in May and open for classes in the fall.

The 2023 Annual Membership Meeting of Concordia Electric will be held April 1 at First Baptist Church Gymnasium, 103 Pond in Jonesville. Guest Speakers are Cmr. Mike Francis, Sen. Glen Womack & Rep. Neil Riser. Bryce McGlothin will sing beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the business meeting at 2 p.m. Door prizes will be awarded.

The Miss. Legislature has approved a bill to name Adams County bridges in honor of two county supervisors who served together in the 1950s through 1980s. The bridge on Liberty Road crossing St. Catherine’s Creek is to be officially named the James Carter Memorial Bridge. The bridge on Hutchins Landing Road crossing Second Creek is to be named the Boyd Sojourner Memorial Bridge.They both decided not to seek re-election in 1987 after being on Adams County’s governing board in the four decades they served. While supervisors, they were involved in the development of the Natchez-Adams Port facility on the Mississippi River, the upgrades of county byways, including Liberty Road and Highland Boulevard, and the construction of the county-owned Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital.Sojourner died in 1999 at age 87. Carter died in 2004 at age 90. 

Elementary school goes LED

The Franklin County School Board voted unanimously to upgrade traditional outdoor lighting to cost-efficient LED illumination on its elementary campus on Hwy 98. The move will offer better illumination, increased security and lower costs over time.

Terrinka White, 30, led police on a high speed chase through Natchez, eventually ending up in front of the he sheriff’s office. She was arrested for flight and her pending fraud charges. She was a fugitive for allegedly stealing $20,000 in a check and bond fraud scheme. No one was injured in the chase. 

Ferriday police arrested Zhane Green, 23, of Ferriday, for stalking and convicted felon in possession of a firearm. No bond was set. In 2021, Green was charged in 2021 with the armed robbery of a c-store in Ferriday. Police also arrested Richard Jefferson, 24, as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Again, no bond was set.

Michael S. Miller

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, communicating with what he believed to be a minor online, for sexual purposes. During the chat, the subject engaged in conversation expressing his desire to impregnate the minor and take them on road trips. After being positively identified, a warrant was obtained for his arrest and he was taken into custody Monday by the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office. Arrested was Michael S. Miller, 46, of Deridder, for computer aided solicitation of a minor and indecent behavior with juveniles. 

The Natchez-Adams County Airport plans to replace and upgrade its medium intensity lighting and beacons on Taxiway B with FAA grant funds. Bids will be opened April 13.

The Natchez School District will lease 1200 square feet at the Natchez Freshman Academy to Congressman Bennie Thompson for a constituent office.

Natchez firemen fought a mobile home fire at 78 Deer Lake Rd Sunday. No injuries were reported. The home belongs to the Felter Family.

The Henry Watts Family 

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Powwow remains one of the city's major cultural events

Natchez Powwow expected to bring 1500-2000 people to the two-day event March 25-26. This year, the Powwow WAS held on Broadway on the Bluff in Downtown and then moved inside to ACCS because of weather. Sunday events included: gourd dancing and Intertribal dancing.

The Mississippi River at Natchez will rise above flood stage to 50+ feet April 7-8, according to the latest forecast.

Adams deputies arrested Bryan K. Grinnell, 37, of Natchez, on charge of sale of marijuana. He has been held without bond.  They also charged Tavian P. Wiliams, 23, of Woodville, on charge of burglary in an unrelated arrest. He was released without bond. Concordia deputies arrested Kenneth Woods Jr., 24, of Wildsville, for unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, two counts of simple battery (two counts), simple criminal damage to property. Bond was set at $42,500.

Ethel Banta dies in fire at Hope Farm

Authorities confirm that Ethel Banta, 89, has died in a fire at Hope Farm in Natchez today. Banta owned the home and was an avid supporter for the heritage, history and progress of the community. Several firemen suffered minor injuries and one was hospitalized after battling the blaze. The home suffered extensive damage. 

Concordia deputies were called to a residence in Ferriday on a report of two starving pit bull terriers, a mare and a foal. Kelly Roy, Josh Spears and Jeff Dorson, Humane Society of Louisiana's Executive Director, accompanied CPSO deputies in the efforts to rescue and transport the animals to a location where they can receive medical attention and proper nutrition. Arrested was Albert D. Lee of Ferriday for aggravated cruelty to animals.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury audit from last year noted deficiencies that should be corrected by now. Pinell & Martinez CPAs submitted the audit to the jury and Legislative Auditor. A new audit should be out soon, with promises that jury management would improve its accounting procedures. Previous findings included: There was a lack of segregation of duties among the Police Jury's personnel. The secretary-treasurer had unlimited access to the general ledger, cash receipts, cash disbursements, and blank check stock. In addition, the Secretary-Treasurer was able to sign checks on her own. The audit was submitted after the statutory deadline, but before the extended deadline. Audited financial statements were not filed within six months of the close of the fisca1 year. The original trial ba1ance contained numerous inconsistencies within account balances, including: cash, certificates of deposit, receivables, capital assets, liabilities, revenues, and expenses which did not agree to supporting documentation. Revenue transactions were posted to expense accounts and expense transactions were posted to revenue accounts, causing both revenue and expense balances to be understated by amounts deemed material to the financial statements. Several transactions, including inter-fund transfers, were posted to the incorrect fund and/or general ledger account. And finally, $100,361.00 of current year receipts were not recorded to revenue accounts.

Vidalia meth and firearms bust

The Vidalia Police Department CID unit executed a search warrant at 1102 Apple St. This warrant was the result of a narcotics investigation, which began as a result of numerous complaints from residents. As a result of the search, officers located suspected methamphetamine, weapons and various drug paraphernalia. Arrested were Louis F. Tageant for Possession of Sch. II drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia; Perry M. Davis for possession of Sch. II drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia; and Carroll Bryant, possession of Sch. II drugs with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal possession of firearms.

Woodville has completed using its restoration of the exterior the historic Polk's Meat Market and will now do the interior with remaining grant funds. The town received a good audit from its CPA Silas Simmons. Aldermen hired one cemetery maintenance worker and one cop. Each will be paid $12 per hour. A new pump, piping and electrical wiring has been installed on the water well on First St. which will improve water quality and flow. 

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors heard from Hal Graves of FBB Insurance in Meadville that property and liability premiums for county government coverage will rise 25%. The hospital and health clinic cost about $16,000-$17,000 to insure, with a total county premium expected to be close to $25,600.

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Leadership team at Cathedral School

St. Mary Rector Father Aaron Williams said Cathedral School in Natchez has called off its search for a new head administrator, and he will take on some school duties. The current principals, Kimberly Burkley (elementary) and Robbie Branton (secondary), will stay in place. Williams will act as chancellor and have an office both at the school and the rectory.

Concordia and Adams deputies worked together to arrest Mandy M. Halford, 41, of Natchez, on nine felony charges in Concordia Parish stemming from alleged illegal activities since early 2023. The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office Cyber Crime Unit began investigating her alleged “sextortion,” when she threatened to share nude or sexual images and videos of a victim unless the victim met her demands. Halford said she would release sexually explicit videos of him unless he deposited money into her bank account.CPSO said Halford had stolen multiple checkbooks from his residence and cashed checks from them at four different locations totaling over $2.300. The victim received text messages from Halford threatening to release sexually explicit videos involving him to both his employer and the general public unless he deposited a certain amount of money into her bank account.  The investigation revealed each location that the checks were cashed and additional funds that Halford illegally moved from the victim’s bank account into her account.Halford has now been charged with four counts of identity theft, four counts of bank fraud and extortion charges. She has been in the Adams jail since Tuesday awaiting extradition to Concordia.In 2016, she was indicted for reportedly stealing a checkbook and writing approximately $29,000 in bad checks. Halford was charged with 14 counts of felony false pretenses and four counts of misdemeanor false pretenses at that time.

The decline in population in Catahoula Parish has been documented not only by thee Census but by state education officials. Catahoula has just 1,003 students, a decrease of 542 students in the past 10 years.

Natchez police arrested Jacqueline D. Scott, 37, of Natchez, on charges of fraud, use of identity, Social Security number, credit card, or debit card number, or other ID to obtain things. Bond was set at $20,000. Adams deputies arrested Jeremy Page, 42, of Natchez, on charges of controlled substance: possession of paraphernalia, license, driving while revoked or suspended, possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.  He has been held without bond. In 2019, he was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance. Concordia deputies charged Artice McCray, 33, of Ferriday, with theft of a motor vehicle, cruelty to juveniles, interfering with emergency communications and domestic abuse battery. No bond was set.

Judge Carmen Brooks Drake

New Circuit Judge Carmen Brooks Drake handled some cases in Wilkinson County. She sentenced Demryon Robinson to a three year suspended sentence, after he pled guilty to burglary of a dwelling. He will enter a ministry recovery program in Moss Point. Also in Wilkinson, Drake sentenced convicted child fondler Alton Day to 15 years in MDOC, with 11 years to serve, four years suspended and another four years on post-release supervision, plus $1922.50  in fines and court costs. He was ordered to jail immediately. Corey Gaines pled guilty to possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Drake gave him five years suspended, one year post-release supervision and fines and court costs of $1645. Dale Jackson Jr. entered a guilty plea for grand larceny. He was sentenced to three years suspended and placed on three years of post-release supervision. The judge said he should pay $622.50 in court costs and $2200 in restitution.

The Angola Prison Rodeo will be held April  22-23. Tickets are $20 each and on sale now at 255-655-2030. For more info, go to www.angolarodeo.com.

The Catahoula Police Jury is tightening up on its supervision of parish barn workers. Jurors feel there has been goofing off and a lack of documentation of work activities. The employees must now account for hours worked, gas used on the job, job descriptions and work details.  Work sheets will be turned in weekly.

Burglary team nabbed

A unnamed Natchez police officer caught a pair of burglars and recovered equipment stolen early morning on Monday from Stine Lumber and Delta Rentals. Corey Latham, 30, and Jon Adams, 51, both of Natchez, were charged with burglary of a business and each is being held on $50,000 bond. Adams was previously arrested in 2008 and again in 2013, In 2013, he was working at Stine and stole $3,000 worth of goods and equipment.

On March 20, The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit received a complaint from a parent regarding an adult subject conversing with their child online by way of social media, in what appeared to be an inappropriate manor. Upon receiving the child's device, detectives took over the chat, which consisted of the subject stating his desire to perform inappropriate acts with the child, referring to them as "wifey".  He made plans to pick the child up in Ferriday to travel to Lafayette with him, where the two would stay in a hotel room together for several days. He arrived in Ferriday , at which time he was taken into custody by detectives. Arrested was John P. Swett, 39, of Columbia, La., charged with indecent behavior with juveniles and computer aided solicitation of a minor.

The deadline to file for homestead exemption in Mississippi is April 1. If you already have the exemption, you don't have to do anything to keep it. However, if you bought or sold a piece of property, tuned age 65, became a widow or widower in the last year, became disable or inherited property, contact the tax assessor's office in your county to see if your new status may entitle you to a discount on your property taxes.

NATCHEZ WATER WORKS:  Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8a-4p, 601-445-5521 . After Hours, Call 601-445-5521, Then Press #8.

We are committed to providing safe, high quality water services to our community, while maintaining a standard of excellence in customer service and environmental conservation. 150 North Shields Lane.


Ferriday hasn't paid retirement monies to state for its employees

Ferriday has not paid its payments to the state retirement system for two months, missing the January and February monies due to cover its employees. The town usually pays $7,000-$10,000 per month to the Municipal Employees Retirement System for Louisiana.The System sent a letter to Mayor Rydell Turner, asking for rectification, including filing the actual reports, as well as paying the money due. Turner half-blamed the town clerk for the problem, but said it is being handled now. Ferriday owes both its employer contributions plus the amounts deducted from employees' checks.

Adams County deputies have arrested Kenyon T. Carter, 41, of Natchez, for allegedly touching a child for lustful purposes and simple domestic violence. No bond has been set as yet.

The Meadville Board of Aldermen accepted a recommendation from Mayor Lane Reed to name Harold Spring as the new chief for the town’s volunteer fire department.

Watson Calhoun

A Saturday fundraiser to benefit Watson Calhoun, 3, and his family, raised $97,000 and is expected to finish at more than $100,000, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of Natchez area donors. Watson is being treated at St. Jude in Memphis.

In 2019, a CPSO inmate Matthew Morgan, was improperly supervised and walked away from a work detail and attempted to kidnap Sharon Tisdale at her car in the Vidalia Walmart parking lot, showing her a box cutter as a threat. Tisdale tried to get away, but the inmate shoved her into the passenger seat. She persisted and was finally able to make her escape. Morgan was soon captured and charged with kidnapping, escape and attempted carjacking. The late Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick was in office at the time, and Tisdale filed a suit and won a judgment for $250,000 against her kidnapper as well as CPSO for physical harm, mental stress, medical costs. The court said the sheriff's office failure to supervise a trustee who was a convicted rapist. At first, the lower court found the sheriff 90 percent at fault and Morgan 10 percent at fault, On appeal and review, the La. Supreme Court has now said that 50 percent of the damages due the woman should be paid by her attacker and the other 50 percent paid shall be by the sheriff's office.

Here are the local candidates in Wilkinson County this year. Independents noted as *: Sheriff: Duke Leahman, Pip Jackson*, Darrell Vannoy*; Chancery Clerk: Nakia Anderson; Circuit Clerk: Lynn Delaney; Tax Assessor/Collector: Jeremy Ephion; County Attorney: David Crawford; Coroner: Ronnie Fisher, O.J. Packnett; Dist. 1 Supervisor: Earnest Newman, Will Seal; Dist. 2 Supervisor: Marvin Tolliver; Dist. 3 Supervisor: Bill Bankston, Terry Sterling, Johnny Horton*; Dist. 4 Supervisor: Sam Jackson; Dist. 5 Supervisor: Bobby Wayne Johnson; Dist. 2 Election Comm.: Tracy Ferguson*; Dist. 4 Election Comm.: Edna Haney*; Justice Court Judge East: Katrina Anthony, Johnny Clark, Ernie Smith; Justice Court Judge West: Lee Dixon; Constable East: Robert Alexander Jr., L. C. Clark, John McKinney; and Constable West: Willie Thompson.

Ferriday horses aided

Ferriday Police Chief Sam King reported he and his officers have been monitoring the health of two horses in town. Residents expressed concern over the condition of the animals. King said he has personally gone by to check on the animals. Concordia Parish Sheriff David Hedrick said the horses now have the proper food and water. A vet will examine the horses Wednesday.

Adams County and the sheriff's office have closed and locked three of the four doors of the courthouse and posting warnings on the doors that the entrances are closed because of Covid. Both the CDC and the Miss.. Department of Health say Adams County is now averaging one new Covid case per day. There is no Covid outbreak here. And the threat of Covid is considered low. The overreaction on the part of county officials is due to the number of people reporting colds, coughs, bronchitis and respiratory infections. There are no deaths reported from Covid or flu in Adams County in 2023.

Supporters of Catahoula Parish continue to meet, planning to open a chamber of commerce as early as this year. Locals see a number of issues worthy of the chamber's attention, including the need for an urgent care clinic, broadband internet access and improved schools.

United Infrastruture, formerly Metro Services, promises to meet its obligations to Adams County

Adams County supervisors Kevin Wilson and Wes Middleton have objected to a proposed final waste contract with United Infrastructure that would increase the cost of garbage collection by more than $600,000, giving Adams County the highest trash pickup rates in the state. Additionally, the company was previously known as Metro Services, did a poor job for the county and went bankrupt, failing to provide any service for weeks. The proposed contract would give the new United an annual rate increase of 4.2 percent annually. The deal has the support of Supervisors Warren Gaines, Ricky Gray and Angela Hutchins. The county is expected to more than double its garbage collection fees charged to residents after the election.

Co-Lin Natchez hosts a talk from Betty Harris, the 2023 Mississippi Humanities Council Instructor of the Year, on March 23 at 12:20 p.m. at the college library Her lecture will discuss the 34 years of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. She is serves as an instructor at the school, teaching World Civilization and American History. Admission to the presentation is free.

Megan Hines, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow of art history at the Mississippi Museum of Art and Millsaps College, will be the guest speaker at the March 28 meeting of the Natchez Historical Society. Her presentation is titled, “What Became of Dr. Smith: Painting A Hidden Mississippi History.” Hines will provide a preview of the solo exhibition of the same name by Natchez native Noah Saterstrom in October 2023 at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Hines is the curator of the show. Dr. Smith is Saterstrom’s great-grandfather. In her NHS lecture, Hines will speak about who Dr. Smith was and the mystery surrounding his disappearance from family history. The meeting will be held at the Historic Natchez Foundation, 108 S. Commerce St., with a social starting at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation at 6:00. It is free and open to the public.

Sparklight suffers outage

A cable-internet outage occurred in Natchez-Brookhaven and McComb for a half-day on Monday.  Sparklight restored service but did not explain the cause for the service interruption.

Joe Robinson,  87, of Sycamore St., Fayette, died in an early morning fire at his home on Saturday. Two other people staying there were severely burned and their prognosis is not known at this time. Prayers for Mr. Robinson, those injured and their families.

The Natchez Planning Commission has approved 719½ Franklin St. for a bar and nightclub. The owners must still obtain state liquor license approval.

Concordia schools will award bus contract

The Concordia Parish School Board has indicated it does not want to renew its bus contract with Durham School Services. It has received three bids to consider: Durham at $1.404 million, Eco Ride at $1.674 million and Jones Student Transportation $1.488 million. The bids have been taken under advisement. The current contract expires July 2.

A Miss. Highway Patrol officer stopped Marcus Marsaw, 18, of Natchez, for speeding on Hwy. 84 in Adams County. Marsaw assaulted the officer during the traffic stop and was arrested for simple assault. Neither the officer nor Marsaw was injured.

The Bude Community Foundation will sponsor its first-ever “Earth Day Festival and Community Clean Up Day” on April 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vidalia will sell 48 more acres to Syrah

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen plans to sell 46 acres near Syrah Resources to the company to allow it more room for a planned third phase $440 million expansion. The expansion will include the hiring of 120 more employees.

George Rice, 48, welcomed an 18-month sentence for cruelty to juveniles for his participation in an Adams-Concordia sex trafficking ring that used underage girls for sex and plied the teens with drugs to make it easier to sexually assault the girls. The Seventh District Court sentence allowed him to plea bargain to escape trafficking for commercial purposes and sexual battery charges. Six other defendants who participated in the scheme are awaiting trial.

Natchez businessman Leslie Floyd has died at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. He and his wife, Brenda, own BB’s Fish Fry, Crawdaddy’s and The Brandin’ Iron restaurants in Vidalia, as well as The Woodlands Event Venue and Wedding Barn in Natchez. He was active in the oilfield services business for many years and was a U.S. Marine.

Mayor Rydell Turner

Ferriday Mayor Rydell Turner sent town hall employees home last Thursday and Friday with pay to think their responsibilities to their jobs and the citizens. The mayor said the employees were often late for work and had may unexplained absences. 

Gregory Thompson Tindle Sr., who served as Meadville’s mayor for more than two decades and who was also a teacher and coach in the Franklin County School District for almost 30 years has died. He was 81. 

Concordia Parish police jurors discussed problem with sewage and sewer lines on Roundtree and Eagle Roads, as well as Crestview Drive. Jurors agreed to send a letter to the parish sewer district to repair the problems as soon as possible.

Asphalt project will be rebid

Natchez aldermen decided to bid their $6 million streets repaving project. But only one bid came in from a contractor who said the large list of streets that need work would cost $9 million, not $6 million to accomplish. Aldermen will pare down the scope of the work of what streets will be done and will rebid the work.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury has granted an occupational license to Dr. Tina Bruce for her group home on Hwy. 84 outside of Vidalia. Bruce said she houses 10 children at the facility.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said the body of Donny Mitchell, 50, was found in the river today, near the Adams County Port. Mitchell fell into the river and drowned while working at the port in early February.

Walking parade in downtown Natchez

The Natchez St. Patrick's Day walking parade will be held Mar. 17 at 5:30 p.m. starting at St. Mary Basilica on Main St..The event is sponsored by the Krewe of Killarney, which will donate $2,000 in scholarships to students this year.

Retired Judge John D. Crigler filled in for Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Kathy Johnson, and passed sentence on Johnathan Mace, 31, who was originally arrested for computer-aided solicitation of a minor, indecent behavior with juveniles, aggravated assault on a police officer and felony criminal damage to property. Mace was given one-year hard labor with 35 days credit for time served, convicted of the lesser charge of indecent behavior with juveniles. Mace had been living in Vidalia at the time of his arrest.

The Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Gaushell Young, 49, and Derrick S. Bullits, 50, for second-degree murder of Talesha Thrasher, 44, of Jonesville, in July 2022. Bond was set at $300,000 for each man.

Tyler D. Gaines

Adams County deputies arrested Tyler D. Gaines, 23, on charges of burglary and parole violation. In Oct. 2022, city court remanded to the files his charges for disorderly conduct and failure to comply. In Feb. 2022, he was given 15 years suspended and and put in an offenders' program by Judge Debra Blackwell. In 202, he was arrested for felony possession of marijuana and possession of a scale used for weighing drugs. In 2018, he received six months suspended and a $550 finee. Also in 2018, he was arrested for credit card fraud.

The U.S. Forest Service reopens Okhissa Lake in Franklin County March 15.

Natchez Little Theatre presents Noel Coward’s comedy hit “Blithe Spirit” March 16-26. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays show times are at 7:30 p.m. and  on Sundays at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $25. Seniors 65+, students, and military with ID are $15. Purchase tickets at thenatchezlittletheatre.com. Or reserve tickets by calling 601-442-2233 or write natchezlittletheatre@gmail.com.

Sales tax collections reflect taxable retail sales

Mississippi sales tax is collected by the state and some of it distributed to cities and towns, including Natchez, based on local sales tax revenues. In Jan. 2023, Natchez received $535,183, as compared to Jan. 2022's figure of $541,986, down -1.2%. For July 2022-Jan. 2023, collections and distributions  for Natchez increased +1.6%.

Tracy L. Sullivan, 52, of Brookville, Fla., died in a two car crash on La. Hwy. 425 in Concordia Parish on Wednesday. Sullivan accidentally drove her vehicle into the back of a moving SUV and trailer. She was not wearing a seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Vidalia will offer a reward for turning in the individual or individuals that cut some of the wiring for the decorative lights at the old courthouse. Officials are reviewing video, looking for suspects.

Paul Dawes arrested for molestation

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation in reference to allegations of molestation (touching a child for lustful purposes). It was reported to the ACSO that on or about August 1, Paul L. Dawes, 75, of Natchez, had touched a child at his residence. Further investigation led to discovery of extensive evidence supporting probable cause which led to the issuance of search warrant and an arrest warrant for Dawes. Investigators were able to locate and safely take Dawes into custody without incident. At the time of the arrest, investigators were able to recover potential evidence. After his arrest, Judge Eileen Mayer set bond at $25,000.

The Vercher CPA Group has decided not to do audits and accounting reviews for Ferriday in the future. The CPAs said they found the town difficult to work with because council members kept requesting documents immediately and were unreasonable. Additionally., the town refuses to follow accepted bookkeeping and accounting practices, which made Vercher's job more difficult. In its latest audit, Ferriday was again cited for not handling and recording checks and deposits properly, not paying the state past due safe drinking water fees, not submitting financial records to the state on a timely basis, not adjusting budgets for revenues and expenses within allowable variances and not following the state's Budget Act.

A Jonesville ordinance and a state statute restricts hours minors may be on the streets at night. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed out without an adult past 10:00 p.m. Minors traveling to and from work are excluded from the curfew. Violations of the ordinance carries the potential for penalties for both the minor and parents/guardians. Jonesville Police Chief Richard Madison noticed five juveniles between the ages of 13 and 15 at 2:00 a.m. out this weekend. Not only were the teenagers in violation of curfew, but one of the teens was driving without a license. The responsible adults were notified and cited for improper supervision of a juvenile. 

LSU ag agent Kylie Miller

Concordia ag agent Kylie Miller said local farmers have gotten an early start on planting corn and some soybeans, due to unexpected good spring weather. Despite the difficult year soybean farmers had last year, she said soybeans will remain the parish's top crop.

The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen canceled a special meeting for March 9 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The Board was expected to go into executive session to discuss possible litigation concerning the recreation department.

A formal announcement could be coming soon from the Forest Service regarding the anticipated reopening of Franklin County’s Okhissa Lake, which has been closed since Nov. 2021, for a series of improvements. The man-made lake has approximately 1,100 acres with 47 miles of shoreline. he lake was scheduled for numerous projects, including efforts to improve the quality of the fishery, reduce the biological and recreational impacts of an invasive species and improve the experience for lake visitors.

Marcus McDonald charged with drug dealing

Adams County narcotics agents raided a Hampton Court, Natchez residence and arrested Marcus McDonald, 47, for the sale of schedule II drugs with methamphetamine. Agents recovered approximately 89 grams of suspected MDMA, also known as Ecstasy), approximately 42 grams of marijuana and false Pringles containers that can be used to hide contraband. The Ecstasy tested positive for Fentanyl. The accused has a history of arrests for drugs, robbery and assault.

The Mississippi Historical Society honored the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture, and the City of Natchez as winners of the 2023 Award of Merit on March 3, at its 2023 annual meeting in Jackson. The award was given for the city’s presentation of 27 historical markers for African American sites throughout Natchez in February. Bobby Dennis, museum director, and Marla Gibson, wife of Mayor Dan Gibson, received the award that was presented by MHS President Daphne R. Chamberlain. The award is given by MHS each year to individuals or organizations for outstanding work to promote and preserve local history.

Franklin County’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade, sponsored by the Lions Club, will be held March 21 at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Meadville.

Chester Willis Field

Adams County supervisors will remodel Chester Willis Field at Liberty Park, with a combination of artificial turf and new grass, new seating, fencing, LED lighting and more. The cost will run $2.1-$2.6 million. Supervisors also voted 3-2 to award United Infrastructure Services the service for rural garbage collection. The company was the low bidder. Service will remain at twice per week. But the service will cost $26.66 per month per household, more than doubling of the old contract rate. The increase will cost the county another $600,000 per year that is not budgeted. Supervisors are expected to double the rates to residents and pass on the increase billed through Adam County Sanitation after the election.

Natchez firemen responded to a house fire on Briel Avenue and another fire in one unit at Holiday Apartments on Sunday. Both fires were small and easily contained. There were no injuries. 

Adams deputies arrested Kendall W. Christmas, 41, of Natchez, on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of promethazine liquid, possession of alprazolam, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of black metallic knuckles. No bond has been set as yet. He was arrested on felony child abuse charges this past June by Natchez police, after he was accused of causing injury to three children left in his care. The children were aged three, four and eight years old. 

The Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Department has arrested a man who is accused of second-degree attempted murder in relation to a shooting incident that happened in February. The Jonesville Police Department responded to a shots fired call on Feb. 19, at around 8 p.m. JPD says the incident happened in the Early Drive apartment complex. Officials say one black male was shot multiple times at the scene of the incident. JPD says the victim and suspect had left the scene prior to their arrival and CPSD was called in for assistance. The investigation led officers to find that the victim had allegedly been in an argument that escalated into a shooting incident, resulting in the victim being shot several times. The suspect, Maurice Arnvellous Bachus, Jr., was arrested on a charge of second-degree attempted murder and is currently being held without bond.


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News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

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Natchez Taxpayer's Hero Remembered

Janet and Dan Dillard

by Peter Rinaldi

It's been a shock to many of us that Alderman Dan Dillard passed away unexpectedly this week. He was a good man.

Natchez city government is always beset by the fuzzy thinking and goofy ideas of its leaders. Several times in recent memory, city government has tried to spend its way into some utopia, like it's doing now.

For more than 16 years, Dan Dillard brought reason and common sense to the Board of Aldermen, challenging collective thought and a plethora of financial miscues. Dan routinely fought theft, misappropriation, alarming overspending and borrowing. He was often the first and the only aldermen to raise these issues. He was ultimately concerned that Natchez citizens get good government. Dan was an early advocate of rehabilitating the police department, city-led tourism, city clerk's office and for fair play and balance between city aldermen and county supervisors. He played a major role in budgeting and oversight management of many city departments. 

In the many years he served, he had a couple of good mayors and some good aldermen. He also had a bunch of stinkers, low-lifes and corrupt jerks to work with, too, which made his job as a conscientious aldermen much more difficult. 

I've been following the aldermen since 1978, when I moved here. I would say without hesitation that Dan was the best alderman we had. A few other notables come to mind, Al Graning, Tom Middleton, Lou Salvo Jordan, but Dan was the best of the best. 

He was like the little Dutch Boy of legend, putting his finger in the dyke, saving the community and government from being awash in a flood of red ink and haplessness. You could count on Dan to be honest, work hard and follow through. 

What a tremendous loss for his family and our city! I should have said this to him when he was alive. "Dan, you did a spectacular job. Thanks so much for your leadership and hard work to make Natchez the city it should be." 

In recent years, he suffered a great tragedy, the loss of his good wife, Janet. He recouped from her death somewhat, and resumed a normal work schedule. But the burden, loss and grief and were ever-present. He loved her so.

I would ask you to remember Dan and Janet and their kids in your prayers, as well as their extended families. God care for Dan and Janet. We miss them both. 

Dan Dillard was 67.

Three Amigos: Bias Plays Role in Waste Contract

by Peter Rinaldi

Adams County Supervisors have once again bungled their waste collection contract. Although county leaders Warren Gaines, Ricky Gray and Angela Hutchins quickly gave an OK to United Infrastructure, both Kevin Wilson and Wes Middleton objected to the high price that would saddle Adams County with the highest trash pickup rates in the state plus a guarantee of a 4.6 percent cost increase annually. That means supervisors will most likely double the trash pickup bills of residents after the election. 

Gaines, Gray and Hutchins are anxious to award the final contract to United, a New Orleans area based minority contractor, that formerly went bankrupt as Metro Services. Metro failed to pickup the trash for several weeks and did a terrible job before that, as its cash flow worsened. The Three Amigos of Trash, Gaines, Gray and Hutchins, believe they will get more brownie points with the folks if they award the final contract to a black owned firm, regardless of the price or quality of service. 

Wilson and Middleton both believe the price and service are most important and it doesn’t matter what ethnic group, black, white, or whatever gets the contract. Wilson and Middleton were in the Metro camp at first, because the company offered good service at a low price. But they soured on Metro when the company wouldn’t and couldn’t perform. 

The Amigos did the exact same thing when they dumped Jordan, Kaiser and selected a black-owned engineering firm that charges a higher price and gives much worse service than Jordan, Kaiser. 

It seems The Amigos believe many issues concerning “green” money can be solved by going “black," when the real issue is the “red” ink that the county will face as a result of their stupid decisions. 

The choice should be made based on price and service. Trying to award trash or engineering services or any other contracts based on equity, reparations or race bias is ridiculous and against the interests of ALL the people of Adams County. Especially if citizens end up paying more than double the price for garbage pickup.

Solving the Crime Problem

Downtown Burlington, Vermont

by Peter Rinaldi

Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, with 44,700 residents. It is the home of the University of Vermont, generally high income, next to Lake Champlain, pretty and probably the most liberal town in America. Socialists are welcome here. While just 4.4 percent of its citizens are black, it is the state’s most black city. 

 What Burlington has in common with Natchez and other cities across the US is growing violence, shootings committed by black males. Three in the last week alone. Doing the research on recent shootings, I found a similar pattern to what has happened in Natchez. Perps who commit felonies are given suspended and light sentences, only to come back soon to shoot up the neighborhoods and wound or kill their enemies. For Burlington, this is a new circumstance, a shock to the fiber of the community. 

For us old hands in Natchez, we’re used to black teens and young adults shooting the heck out of each other. So in Burlington, they’re talking about new social programs to curb black violence because they can’t blame the economy or poverty for a cause. Merchants are talking about hiring armed security. To Burlington’s credit, shooters are not given bond. But like Natchez, most folks don’t know why the violence is out of control. 

Of course, Natchez’s solution to the wave of black violence is easy: no bond for felony offenders who have been convicted of felonies before; no bond ever for shooters. 5 years extra sentence for use of a firearm in a crime, as provided for by law; maximum penalty for shooters and second time felony offenders; maximum penalty for possession of a stolen weapon. 

You can clean your streets and keep your community safe by putting all the thugs in jail for a long time. Or you can opt for new social programs like Burlington or say it’s just bad everywhere and put up with it like Natchez. Or you maybe accuse The Democrat of insensitive news coverage that highlights crime too much or call me a racist for pointing out the obvious truth.   Whatever option you choose and no matter how you spin the facts and theories, if you don’t put the thugs in jail for a long time, they will come back to do more and worse. And of course, the criminals will destroy your community, just like they have done in little Natchez.

Natchez Renewal

City overspending is self-destructive

by Peter Rinaldi

Part of a Natchez renewal should include a dedication to careful spending of tax dollars, proper management of city employees, a lowering of the tax burden on our generally poor population and proficient supervision of accounting and bookkeeping practices. Of course, we have seen little of the aforementioned practices in recent years. What we have witnessed is joyful and exuberant spending and excessive borrowing, surely requiring an increase in taxes now and in the future, when the grants end and the city is stuck with higher operational costs it can’t fund. 

Some proof of this error-filled approach can be seen by just a casual review of the city budget, which had long remained in the $25-37 million range. Now aldermen will spend $51.2 million this year on $49.3 million in revenues. As homes and businesses have their assessed values massively increased, the city bleeds those residents and business people for more taxes. Local government ensures that families have less money to pay their monthly bills. Government does better, much better. But families and businesses are doing worse, unless they completely sell off their property assets. This is not progress. 

Realistically, there has been no growth in the local economy but continued deterioration since 2016. Already the post pandemic recovery has ebbed, with a drop in the number of jobs and taxable retail sales up only 2 percent, far less than inflation. 

Free for all spending will not make the city better in the long term. The mayor and aldermen have taken the posture that liberal Democratic government is just what we need, that crime and poor quality education can be ignored and that a blizzard of spending will cure most evils. 

There is no escape from such philosophical foolishness, only self- destruction. Living within your means and providing sound and practical management are not just lofty ideals but extremely necessary in light of our diminishing stature in the state’s economy.

Win-Win or Lose-Lose?

Eola Hotel

by Peter Rinaldi 

Natchez aldermen have discussed in private meetings their planned roles in financing the reconstruction of the Eola Hotel project. Virginia immigration attorney Robert Lubin still owns the hotel and is working with Mississippi developer Hayes Dent and Wisconsin developer Randall Roth. Who will own what portion of the stock is unclear, as is whether ownership stakes in the hotel will be sold to foreign investors. Foreigners who invest in blighted communities can get easy access to U.S. visas. 

What is certain is that the city is moving forward on the idea of using TIF bonds to help the developer-owners. Additionally, the investment proposal would direct the Eola's sales and property taxes (except school taxes) toward repayment of the development bond. That means Natchez-Adams County taxpayers would subsidize both the construction and operation of the rebuilt hotel. While the total cost of renovating the hotel could be as much as $32 million, when finished, the hotel might only be worth $18 million, calling into question whether the investment could stand on its own feet without taxpayer subsidy and foreign investor dollars.

While Mayor Dan Gibson and the aldermen haven't discussed publicly the risks of another failed Eola project as a possibility, they have touted the scheme as a way to make the hotel a centerpiece for development downtown Natchez. No owner of the hotel has made money on its operation since the 1970's, and so far, no evidence has been presented that the new owners will make money either. Whether the Hotel would generate enough revenues to pay off its bond plus its operating expenses cannot be realistically determined, putting local taxpayers at some risk. 

Conceivably, the primary U.S. partner-developers could make money through developer, management and consulting fees, either paid in cash or as stock options, while the foreign investors would not see a return on investment and face hefty losses, while still getting their prized U.S. visas.

Mayor Gibson has been pushing and leading the discussion about the Eola within the aldermanic meetings. Alderwoman Valencia Hall has said, the project is a "win-win" for Natchez, though she did not say specifically what she meant in this case. Neither Hall nor Gibson nor the rest of the aldermen have any experience in hotel redevelopment projects. But they all understand that even an unsuccessful project could still have re-election benefits, even if the investment is a financial catastrophe. The reopening of the hotel could be touted as a political success to voters, prettying up the Natchez skyline, even if the numbers don't work. 

Aldermen voted 5-1 to begin the process of participation in the project, committing an initial $4 million. The city may also provide additional funds later on through a TIF bond.  

The mayor and aldermen are not required by law to discuss real estate projects publicly and can keep their negotiations secret, until it's time to formally commit Natchez taxpayers to the financing plan. At that time, a series of public notices would be required and open meetings for public input would be held. But by that late date, the project would be a done deal and little could be added to change the course of the city's involvement or mitigate its risk. 

For more information, go to https://www.bcbsms.com/

Hosemann's War Against Adams County 

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann

by Peter Rinaldi

With redistricting led by Delbert Hosemann, Melanie Sojourner was purposely cut out of her state senate seat, put in a Democratic district she could not win. 

The result means Adams County no longer has a senator or representative that actually resides in Adams. Robert Johnson actually lives in Hinds County and rarely comes to Natchez. That's why you never see or hear from him.

Not only does this make our political efforts in Jackson more difficult, I cannot understand why Mayor Dan Gibson continues to praise Hosemann publicly, telling him how wonderful Delbert is as a leader and how Natchez loves and respects him, when Delbert was obviously trying to hurt our community by destroying Melanie's district. 

It's good to be courteous to any political enemy of Adams County, especially a Lt. Gov., but to publicly fawn all over him is a waste of time. He will give you only the minimum of attention, a minimum of money, because he has shown you already what he thinks of your community. You are poo-poo to him and throwing Adams into the Port Gibson based district of a Democratic senate non-entity proves that he thinks you belong in Siberia, without power, money, influence or improvement.

Delbert thinks you are nothing, worthy of nothing, so butt kissing won't do you any good. As a matter of pride and honesty, you should politely, kindly and directly tell him you know perfectly what he did to hurt us. And you don't like it or respect that behavior. And in return, you promise to be a loyal Adams County resident and Mississippian and can only support the re-election of those who actually support us, versus those who try to hurt us. The door remains open to future conversation, but the underlying principal must be that we expect state government and the Lt Gov. to help Adams County and not harm our community.


Note: When I posted this little commentary without the stirring headline on Del's FB page that invites public input, it was immediately deleted by his staff. Shows you, doesn't it?

Battling Crime in Natchez 

by Peter Rinaldi

Why would the mayor and aldermen believe that by simply changing police chiefs violent and property crime will decrease? Unless you change the way you police and the way you manage the department, you will get the same failure over and over again. There are many towns and cities across the US that have effective policing. And a lot of communities are very safe. But Natchez is not. 

We all know that the increase in crime and violent offenders is complex in nature, having to do with home life, immorality, evil, even wayward judges and prosecutors. But the job of police is simply to arrest perps. They’re not educators, social workers or ministers to the soul. Their job is simply to deter crime by having a large enough presence on the street, to use pre-emptive investigations to keep the criminals huddled down and afraid, and to arrest every felon who commits a serious crime. A big task. But some communities do this very successfully. 

If your mayor and aldermen do not have a solution to the police and crime management problem, then new officials are needed. If we don’t change the current situation, Natchez will have a future but a future worse than it is now. 

It’s pretty obvious that gangs, drugs, violent and property crime are out of control in Natchez and law enforcement and the politicians are unable or unwilling to deter this crime. Is it time for armed citizens to patrol their own neighborhoods? I think so. To be effective, neighborhoods would have to form their own security districts, equip and pay armed security, an expensive proposition. But if law enforcement won’t do the job, you have only two choices: armed protection or surrender to the criminals.

The Change

by Peter Rinaldi

In 2022, I noticed a significant change in the direction of the Natchez-Adams County School Board and its management. In past, the district tried to highlight its successes, while acknowledging its need to do better, especially in things like test scores and the state’s evaluation. This past year, school leaders changed direction and overblew modest improvements post Covid, trumpeting somewhat dishonest A/B/C evaluations and ignoring that only 15-35 percent of students performed at or above grade level in various subjects such as math, language arts and reading.

This change marks a reinforcement of the earlier dishonest policy when the district built a new high school when voters specifically told the bosses they didn’t want one. There remains a strong constituency within Natchez-Adams County for the repair and upgrade of our local schools, including improving the quality of teaching and student performance.

It’s strange that our nearby school districts in Catahoula and Wilkinson are engaged in lengthy discussions on how to improve their schools, discussions that include board members, administrators and the public. Weaknesses are openly discussed and hotly debated. Those districts, with far less money and resources than Natchez Adams, are dealing with these problems. They’re not lying to the public.

While Natchez-Adams supervisors and aldermen dropped the issue of an elected school board because of Philip West’s opposition, it’s now pretty obvious that he is the obstruction to change and should be removed and a new honest superintendent chosen.

In the end, the lack of positive outcomes for learning in the Natchez public schools harms the students and impairs the economic future of the community. The schools are a reflection of the community they serve. And the downhill slide of both over the last 30 years is obvious to all except the blind and corrupt insiders.

You cannot reverse outward migration of the population and a decrease in economic activity by continued poor schools, lots of crime, low-paying jobs, dilapidated housing and inferior community aesthetics. However, lying, misleading the public and failing to follow public mandates only make a bad situation much worse.

It’s sad that some black political leaders say they want our black schools to do better. But their actions reveal the truth. They want the power and money for themselves and their friends and the black kids can go to hell, if changes threaten who is at the top.

These leaders are not the champions for racial justice but the purveyors of racial injustice. So the rich and upper middle class black kids and white kids and their parents flee the Natchez public schools for AC or Cathedral or play ‘the where does the parent/kid live? game,’ and try to slip the child into the Vidalia or Franklin County schools. The failure of Natchez public schools will drive a parent manic and/or broke to save his or her kid.

Like all of us, I have more questions than answers, and solutions are easier to spout than actually enact. But I know the schools will never, ever get anywhere and succeed with dishonest leadership in charge. They will always fail and miserably so. That is inevitable.

Short Story: A Kiss from 1992

by Peter Rinaldi   

My wife and I decided to give a New Year's Eve party back in 1992, when we lived in Village Green in Natchez. 

I've never liked parties much. And whether I'm the host or a guest, I get so nervous, I can't enjoy myself. But we lived in the Village Green neighborhood for more than a decade by then, so I succumbed to my wife's request-command that we sponsor a drop-in party from 6-9 p.m. and invited neighbors and their kids and told them to bring a dish or snack or whatever.

We still had the Christmas tree up, of course. I went to Piggly Wiggly and loaded up on snacks, cheese, sandwich meats, cookies, beer and Dr. Pepper and Coke. I called Domino's and asked them to deliver four cheese pizzas at 6:30 p.m., figuring people would be just a bit late in arriving. And I stopped at the liquor store to pick up two one-gallon bottles of Gallo wine. As my wife stated and against my better judgment, it's Natchez, and alcohol is a mandatory party favor.

The party went well. Lots of families came. I had a roaring fire in the fireplace. It got so hot inside the house, I had to turn on the a/c. The kids were having fun. My older son sat at the kitchen table enjoying a card game of Uno with his friends. My younger son and his friend playfully argued over a Chinese checkers game in front of the fireplace. More kids were in the TV room in the back playing the video game Tetris. The adults were milling around, drinking very little but eating a lot and talking a lot. I had a Dave Brubeck jazz cassette playing softly on the stereo. Perfect. My anxiety lessened. About 8 p.m., I noticed our neighbors Pam and Frank sitting on the couch together. They were both in their mid 70's, and many years before, they had been married to each other and had kids, though they had been divorced at least 20 years by 1992. They still lived in the area. Pam lived on Sun Court and had remarried a guy who was a semi-professional gambler, which meant they were always broke. Frank had moved over to North Temple and married fishing. No spouse. Just he, the dog and fishing. 

I heard parts of their conversation that New Year's Eve. Pam was doing most of the talking and Frank was mostly listening. Pam was talking about her cake business, who she was making cakes for, what kind of cakes, the kind of icing and the decorations she put on the cakes. Back in those days, she was known for her made-from-scratch cakes. She had a little bakery in the Morgantown Plaza for a few years, where UMB is now, When they tore down the shopping center and built the bank, she moved her cake business to the house and never missed a lick, if you'll pardon the joke.

Pam was in the middle of her cake dissertation to Frank, when Frank gently reached for her hand and leaned over to Pam and kissed her on the lips, passionately and romantically. Pam started kissing him back enthusiastically. Then they hugged and kissed just a bit more. Frank then stopped and just held her hand. And I could tell she was getting emotional, and she started tearing up. They didn't talk. They just sat there on the couch, and Frank held her hand. 

No one noticed the couple kissing, other than my wife and me. All the adults and kids at the party were talking, eating and playing and didn't notice the couple at all. 

The party broke up about an hour later. People had a good time and everyone wished each other Happy New Year and went home. Pam and Frank went their separate ways to their respective homes. 

After the party, I asked my wife what she thought. "Do you think they still love each other?" I asked. "I don't know," my wife replied and added, "It was a beautiful kiss, a beautiful moment." 

Many New Year's Eves have come and gone since 1992. As the years went by, I never heard of Pam and Frank reconnecting. Pam stayed married to the gambler and Frank stayed married to fishing. Sadly, they have both passed on. Pam's husband did eventually gave up gambling. Pam did cakes until her early 90's, And Frank actually died of a heart attack while fishing at Lake St. John. A good way to go. 

I think about Pam and Frank often. I think of that party, how nervous I was in advance of the party, and how they were so affectionate with each other. Almost every New Year's Eve, the memories return. I can remember their conversation, how they looked on the couch. It seems like just a few years ago not three decades. 

There were two things I learned from that New Year's Eve party in 1992. First, Domino's cheese pizza is always popular and appreciated at a party. And second, no matter how old you are, you need love, caring and emotion in your life. The touch of a hand and a kiss can be so very important.

Top Stories of 2022

by Peter Rinaldi

Crime: Violent and property crimes continue to plague Natchez-Adams CountyConcordia Sheriff's Office arrests several dozen cyber perps and sex offendersFerriday rebuilds police department with Chief Sam KingNatchez hires Commander Cal Green as its police chiefVidalia daycare workers get long terms in jail for child abuse; Adams prosecutors and judges criticized for plea bargains, low bonds and light sentences Economic development: Miss-Lou employment rebounds from pandemic lows; Syrah Technologies announces major expansion; Vidalia pays utility customers 50% rebate, pays off entire city debt; Jordan Carriers to build new HQ; Magnolia Bluffs Casino and The Markets get new owners; Residents still moving away to get better jobs, population drops since 2020Eola Hotel rehab project stalls Infrastructure and facilities: Adams supervisors and Natchez aldermen borrow more than $12 million to fix roadsMorgantown Road repair funded though not started; Adams supervisors-sheriff struggle over jail plans without resolution; Natchez aldermen repair parks and will update convention center, auditorium; Natchez-Adams County to issue bonds for major recreation improvements; Ridgecrest ties into Ferriday water system; Natchez-Adams politicians drop the ball on E911 relocation Culture: Balloon festival one of the more successful in its history; Natchez becomes solid new venue for live concerts; Natchez aldermen will spend $1 million on Civil War troops statue Top 2 Stories: Jessica Aldridge finally gets sentenced to 20 years for shooting and killing boyfriend Joey Cupit; Accused killer Semaj Jackson indicted for shooting Jamesia Brown and Cameron Jones

Short Story: The Christmas Mailbox

by Peter Rinaldi

Mabel and Howard Smith of Franklin County gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Christmas Eve, 1951. They named their only child, Howard Jr., but everyone in the family called him “Beau.” He was simply one of the prettiest, cutest babies anybody ever saw. The Smiths live just off Hwy. 33, down one of those dirt roads in a little white frame house. Howard worked cutting timber and Mabel stayed home taking care of little Beau.        

As Beau grew, he became an avid reader. He would look at the picture books and pronounce words, asking for his mother’s approval each time he got a word right. His mother would smile and say, “You’re my smart boy!” And Beau would beam with pride. His dad would spend evenings reading the newspaper to his son, telling him truths about the world, why it’s important to be hard-working and to be good to your neighbors. 

When Beau was just shy of his sixth birthday, he said, “Momma, I want to send a letter to Santa and put it at the mailbox.” So Beau and his Mom sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a short letter. The boy asked for a baseball glove for himself, a work shirt for his dad, and a sweater for his mom. Mabel put the letter in a white envelope and wrote on the front, “To Santa – North Pole.”             

Beau and his Mom walked out to the roadside and the pipe iron mailbox to send off the letter. The boy cried, “Momma, Santa won’t see it in the mailbox. Put it on the outside between the box and the red flag.” So Mabel did as her son requested, and they walked back to the house, talking about what they could do to surprise Dad on Christmas. Mabel shared the story of the ‘letter to Santa’ with the aunts, uncles, and cousins at the Christmas dinner table.             

When Beau was almost 19, he and his mom sat at the kitchen table and remembered the time when they wrote the letter and placed it on the side of the mailbox instead of in it. They both laughed. But it was a somber Christmas that year for the Smiths, as Beau had just enlisted and was scheduled to enter the army the first week in January. “It’s my duty. Whether I end up in Vietnam or not, I’ve got to do what’s right,” Beau said quietly. He could have gone to college, gotten a deferment, but chose to serve his country instead. And both his parents were worried.             

It was early in September 1971; a rocket attack hit just north of Saigon. Beau was sitting on the edge of his jeep, talking with a buddy. In a second, it was over. Beau was killed. There wasn’t much to send home to bury, according to his platoon sergeant.

After Beau’s death, the family never seemed right again. Howard Sr. began drinking and was injured on the job. Mabel suffered from a deep depression over the loss of her son and her husband’s problems. Eventually, the couple moved away from Franklin County and the little frame house fell into disrepair. No one ever lived there again. The dad died of a heart attack in Dallas in 1980. Mabel died in nursing home in 1992.            

If you ride down Hwy. 33 and look off that dirt road where the Smiths lived, you’ll still see the mailbox standing. The house is pretty much gone. But that old rusty mailbox is still there. And every year on Christmas Eve, you can see a fresh, white envelope stuck between the red flag and the mailbox itself. Neighbors aren’t sure who tucks the envelope there, but figure it could be a relative or someone close to the family who knows the story.   

If you happen to see that person this Christmas Eve, please stop and thank him for remembering the Smith Family and Beau, even though so many years have gone by. The family has passed on, but there are still more than a few folks around who remember them, the good times they had, and the love they shared.             

This short story originally appeared in Miss-Lou Magazine in 1996.

Tracetown Shopping Center Has Seen Better Days

by Peter Rinaldi 

The decline of Tracetown is not a new thing.

When I moved our Miss-Lou Magazine offices there in 1995, the center was already in decline, as Sears had closed and about 20% of the shops were vacant. When I moved out in 2017, there were about a half dozen tenants and today maybe three or four. 

With its Winn Dixie and Sears anchors gone and excessive vacancies, the center was hugely unprofitable, with insurance, minimal maintenance and property taxes much greater than annual revenues. There was little hope of a turn around. 

Tracetown also suffers from antiquated construction design, a rolling hills parking lot and would require at least $3 million for the parking lot, lighting, a/c and roof repairs. So nothing will be done to change this. Realistically, the center has practically no market value, other than for its few rentals. Post office, rehab, nail salon...maybe $200,000-300,000 in value tops, less considering the maintenance and operational problems.

Add to that, flat and leaking roofs and overhangs, antiquated ac systems and the general decline in the Natchez economy, the center just hemorrhaged money. Many of the units are so severely damaged because of the catastrophic roof leaks. The Mobile, AL owners had also sold off their frontage lots to the bank, McDonald's and Ruby Tuesday's to get some operating cash. But selling off the front doomed the Sears property. The former Sears location had no parking left. And the building itself was in such poor shape, no smart tenant would rent it. the owners then tore down the Sears building, After thieves stole all the copper and wiring out of the theater, that building was demolished, too. 

 The Lazarus Arts-Dr. Kumi complex is separately owned and not part of Tracetown. 

The owners gave away their shopping center in Ferriday to the town to get rid of that property and operational costs. And I expect, sooner or later, the owners will approach Natchez about the same kind of deal, like the Fry Building. Politicians would tell you what a great deal it is to get a donated center or building. What they don't tell you is that the donation takes the property off the tax rolls, relieves the owner of the high maintenance costs, transfers those to taxpayers and nets the politicians some tidy campaign donations during the next election cycle.

Good Garden Clubs

by Peter Rinaldi 

One of the puzzling things about our community is how the Pilgrimage Garden Club, Natchez Garden Club and Auburn Garden Club get a bad rap on occasion. 

Most of the members of these clubs are very interested in the economic vitality of Natchez Adams. They understand that history preserved can mean more tourist dollars, more conventions, more hotel stays, more restaurant visits and more jobs. Well maintained historic properties not only bring tourists but have brought a new generation of well to do out-of-towners who have spent millions of dollars upgrading their antebellum and Victorian homes. And that investment has paid off in many jobs for people of all economic groups and all races. 

There was a time in Natchez, when some connected to the clubs used their platform to try to cement their social position above others, but the time of the so called landed gentry is long gone. I’ve often heard how the garden clubs killed off IP and Armstrong. In fact, the those closures had nothing to do with the clubs. The factories were losing so much money and had serious union problems that meant making a profit unlikely. So the factories closed and the jobs were lost. And many garden club members mourned that economic downturn like the rest of us. 

Remember that some of the old homes are not owned by garden club members. Some are also owned by men. And many of the new generation of old home owners continue to run their properties at an economic loss and do so because they have the extra money to do so and/or are committed to a better Natchez even if it costs them mega cash. Whether you’re a garden club member from downtown, Morgantown or Kingston, all share the same goal: a better city and county with more prosperity for all. Also, you’d might be surprised to know that many garden club members are actually very middle class and some less so. But regardless of wealth, the members share an interest in exterior and interior design, flowers, gardens, architecture, history and historic preservation. 

We should be proud of their contributions to our community. Some also own businesses that have little to do with history. But they understand that successful maintenance of homes and gardens and the marketing of that history and beauty to the outside world is a necessary and important task, even more so because of the decline of our industrial base over the last 35 years. 

Thank you, ladies of the Pilgrimage Garden Club, the Natchez Garden Club and the Auburn Garden Club. When you think of the garden clubs, think of the economic contributions of their members which is so vital to our present and future.


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Mayor Fibs About 2021 Audit

by Peter Rinaldi

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson recently said the city CPA audit for 2021 showed much improvement for 2021 compared to 2020. He did not tell the truth, as the CPA's negative findings for 2021 continue to show that the city was not following acceptable accounting and bookkeeping practices. Of course, the failure to follow such good standards led to the theft of $36,000+ in funds by two city clerks. 2021 was the Gibson administration's first full year in office. You can't blame former Mayor Grennell for these errors. The responsibility lies with the city clerk and staff, the current mayor and aldermen. They are supposed to follow accepted accounting and bookkeeping principles and regulations. They did not. 

Of the 2021 City of Natchez audit, CPA Silas Simmons said: Bank Reconciliations: Bank Reconciliations were not being properly reconciled to the general ledger or in a timely manner. Accounting Records and Financial Statement: Preparation transactions were not being recorded to the city's general ledger in a timely manner. Interfund Transfers: Due To/From, and Advances lnterfund transactions were not being recorded timely or accurately. Segregation of Duties: During the process of obtaining an understanding of internal control in planning the audit, assessing control risk, and assessing fraud risk, a lack of segregation of duties was noted. Documentation of Adjusting Journal Entries: Adjusting journal entries posted to the general ledger lacked proper and adequate documentation. Single Audit The City's Single Audit was not filed with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse in a timely manner. CPA Silas Simmons then when into detailed analysis and recommendations as to how these re-occurring problems from both 2020 and 2021 should be remedied. 

Several pages of details on what to do were enumerated. If you doubt the truth as presented by both the CPA or myself, you can read the audit findings and make your own judgment. I am used to politicians lying and bull throwing. From a news point of view, I should try to verify the mayor's future claims on all subjects, as those assertions may or may not be truthful. https://www.natchez.ms.us/DocumentCenter/View/1246/2021-Audites 
See pages 85-92.

Stinking City 2020 Audit

by Peter Rinaldi

When completed, the City of Natchez 2020 audit showed that the city did not meet its legal obligation to provide sound and professional accounting of revenues earned and expenditures made. The audit findings reflect the gross incompetence of the city clerk's office under Servia Fortenberry and the lack of care Mayor Grennell and the aldermen showed for their legal responsibilities. That lack of care and oversight allowed Fortenberry and another clerk to steal more than $36,000 in funds during the Gibson administration, according to the state indictment of two clerks. Aldermen discussed this lack of competence during both the Grennell and Gibson administrations but took no action to remedy the illegalities. 

Gibson says the 2021 audit is much better and should be posted online soon. I will report on the 2021 audit as soon as its posted. The 2020 audit reflects activity during the Grennell administration through July 2020 and the Gibson administration from July-September 2020. While the onus falls on Fortenberry, Grennell and the aldermen mostly, the audit did not show any improvements made during the first three months of the Gibson administration. 

2020 Financial Statement Submission to State Auditor: The City's audited financials were not submitted to the Mississippi State Auditor's office by the statutory date required. Bank Reconciliations: Bank reconciliations were not being properly reconciled to the general ledger or in a timely manner. Accounting Records and Financial Statement Preparation: Transactions were not being recorded to the City's general ledger in a timely manner. Interfund Transfers, Due To/From, and Advances: Interfund transactions were not being recorded timely or accurately. Segregation of Duties: During the process of obtaining an understanding of internal control in planning the audit, assessing control risk, and assessing fraud risk, a lack of segregation of duties was noted. General Fund Expenditures Over Budget: The City's General Fund expenditures exceeded its budgeted amount by $1,015,773. Casino Annual Lease Fund Expenditures Over Budget: The City's Casino Annual Lease Fund expenditures exceeded its budgeted amount by $350,490. Compliance with Reporting Requirements of OMB - Single Audit: The City's Single Audit was not filed with the Federal Audit Clearinghouse in a timely manner.

Ferriday's Big, Bad Mess

 by Peter Rinaldi 

Town of Ferriday finances have been in a mess for years, mostly because the town's tax base is not adequate to meet the obligations of minimal government. Additionally, town management, through several mayors and clerks, has not done a very good job of bookkeeping and accounting, with many deficiencies and adverse findings. The town was again late submitting its records to its CPA to publish an annual audit for 2021.

 Some of the more recent problems include: 1) Old past due and non-collectible water accounts were still on the books. 2) Financial statements were not submitted to the state on time. 3) Customer utility deposits were short $22,000. The cause could be inaccurate bookkeeping, stolen or embezzled funds, or deposits may have been used illegally to pay town bills. The CPA noted the shortage but did not conduct a review to determine the exact cause or causes. 4) The town was not in compliance with state safe drinking water standards for more than 10 years, including a failure to pay state mandated fees, which amount to more than $45,000. 5) Town bookkeeping staff did not maintain reserve accounts required by issued bonds. Ferriday should have a debt service fund, reserve fund, and depreciation and contingencies funds noted in its books and balances kept as required by the bond covenants. 

Ferriday's latest audit for the year ending 6/30/21 has not been released. But Mayor Rydell Turner pledged in the last audit that the five major deficiencies noted above would be corrected. The era of bad management continues to plague this poor town. Its citizens deserve better.

Facing Our Obligation

 by Peter Rinaldi 

I have always loved writing news and working on ads for my clients. I enjoyed 35+ years of publishing Miss-Lou Magazine in print and online. In more recent years, I’ve talked to many families, mostly moms and grand moms, who have lost kids and grandkids shot to death by vicious criminals. These tearful conversations have happened far too often since 2010. 

The pain and suffering of these families never ends. And they often have to struggle against a justice system that really doesn’t care whether the murderers are punished or not. There are many things to love or dislike about our communities. But the tragedy of our young men, women and teens shot and killed (nearly all are black young people) is so troubling. I am haunted by the pictures of these kids and their families’ pleas for justice. I find myself going back to the stories and the photos of the murdered kids and again asking God to care for these victims and their crying families. There should be a special place in this universe reserved for the killers with plenty of extra seating set aside for the uncaring law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges who do such harm to our victims’ families. 

This is one reason why I have been so adamant about politicians facing the facts about our crime wave. The politicians are supposed to be in charge of public safety. All shooter killers should get life without parole or the death penalty. We should continue to advocate for no bonds and no suspended or light sentences for shooter killers. No exceptions. Justice demands that we take these crimes seriously. We can’t bring the victims back to life. We can’t end the suffering of the families. But we can do what Mississippi and Louisiana law calls for. It is our obligation to do so.

Questions Worth Asking

by Peter Rinaldi 

If Natchez police took 150 illegal or stolen guns off the street in just six months, just how many people were arrested as a result? I haven’t noticed even 50 arrests for such. Did those with two or more guns get arrested on trafficking charges with a more serious penalty as provide by state law?  

While overall incidence of crime in Natchez reached a peak in the early 90s due to the crack epidemic, the city became more violent in recent years again. In 2018, Natchez had 12 murders in the city and 6 in the county. Property crime also increased dramatically. Since then, overall crime has lessened. In 2018, Natchez was in the bottom 1% of safe communities. Today, it is in the bottom 4%. Did Natchez actually solicit its safety award rather than get the award for community safety? The answer to this question is yes. Natchez submitted an application for the award category to the Miss. Municipal League. The award was not given out of the blue because officials around the state overwhelmingly recognized how Natchez was doing so well with safety. The city filled out an application highlighting its success. And the League awards committee then chose Natchez.

I received info from law enforcement last year, that city crime stats had been sanitized and improved at the direction of the former police chief. If true, that would mean the violent and property crime stats submitted to the FBI DOJ could be suspect. At this point, I have no way of verifying whether the allegation or stats are true or untrue. But the whole affair with seizures, the award, and crime statistics makes me somewhat wary. The mayor has already announced that new crime stats will show Natchez is much safer. Are we supposed to accept this announcement as truth or just more political bull throwing? I don’t know. 

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* Knowledge of the latest construction techniques and best materials to use for both quality and price. 

* Attention to detail. As Watts' workers build your house, he examines every part of the construction to make sure it meets his high standards for workmanship. 

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News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

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Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Stanton Hall

The Vidalia Conference and Convention Center is the optimal location for the event to remember. Located along the bank of the Mississippi River in Vidalia, La., directly across the river from historic Natchez, Miss., adjacent to the Clarion Suites Hotel and just north of the Riverfront RV Park. 20,000 square feet of rental space for conventions, parties, exhibits, weddings and special events.

For more info, call 318-336 9934.  www.vidaliaconventioncenter.com 


Historic Downtown: Between Main and Franklin streets is the hub of Old Natchez with tree-lined streets, old homes, plenty of places to walk and view restored historic properties. Restaurants, antique and gift shops, banks, bars. Very visitor friendly. Call the Chamber of Commerce for specific sites worth visiting, 601-445-4611.

Vidalia Riverfront: A mile-long river walk and the best views of the Mississippi River highlight this spectacular collage of scenery of new facilities including restaurants, hotels, convention center and amphitheater. The river walk is the perfect place to unwind, relax and get a touch of exercise. 

Delta Music Museum: A restored post office in downtown Ferriday offers a glimpse into the lives of Ferriday's most famous musical natives: Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart, and PeeWee Whittaker. Free admission, 318-757-9999. 

Natchez Visitor Reception Center: Offers an orientation to the area through exhibits, maps, brochures and displays. Located next to the Mississippi River Bridge, the center features The Natchez Story, a good cinematic introduction to the history and culture of the region, 800-647-6724. The Visitor Center and the Convention Promotion Commission operate a tourist-oriented website at www.visitnatchez.org

Duncan Park: Nice tennis facilities and 18-rounds of golf, picnic tables, driving range, handicapped accessible playground, nice biking and walking. Golf just $29 ($24 seniors), cart included. Inexpensive recreation, 601-442-5955. 


Longwood and Rosalie: These homes offer the best of the best tours of pre-Civil War mansions. Longwood, an unfinished octagonal house (800-647-6742), and Rosalie, with its original furnishings and beautiful gardens (601-445-4555), have great family histories. 

Antebellum Home Touring: Natchez Pilgrimage Tours offers individual and group tickets to antebellum mansions year-round. Fall and Spring Pilgrimages offer more than 30 homes on tour, all restored, beautifully furnished with priceless antiques, art and collectibles. Many homes feature exquisite gardens and landscaped grounds, 800-647-6742. 

Magnolia Bluffs Casino: This downtown casino offer Las Vegas-style gambling, dining, and entertainment. Call the 1-888-505-5777 for info. 

Downtown Carriage Ride: The guides know just about every story about every building and the people who lived there during Natchez's historic past. Get tickets from the drivers themselves at the Canal Street Depot. Carriage rides are just $20 per person, $10 for children ages 3-10, a real value when you consider the quality and beauty of the tour. 

Grand Village of the Natchez Indians

Grand Village of the Natchez Indians: A historic site and museum commemorate the Natchez Native American culture. Mounds rebuilt, nature trail, picnic tables, tree-covered grounds. Free admission. School and civic groups welcome, 601-446-6502. 

Natchez in Historic Photographs: Nearly 100 years of Natchez history is captured in photos hung on the walls of Stratton Chapel of First Presbyterian Church. More than 300 photographs from the 1850's-1950's. Free admission, donation requested, 601-442-4751. 

Natchez Museum of African-American History: This museum on Main Street offers more than 600 artifacts that interpret the life, history and culture of black Americans in Mississippi from the 1890's to the 1950's, 601-445-0728. 

Natchez National Historic Park: The park includes two properties, Melrose and the William Johnson House. Melrose is a stately antebellum home built in 1848, situated in a lovely park-like setting. Outbuildings are preserved. Tours are offered. The William Johnson House is a three-story townhouse, once owned by a free black businessman, 601-442-7407. 

St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge

St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge: This 25,000 acre refuge, located along the Mississippi River from Cloverdale Road to the Homochitto River, offers a nature trail, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching opportunities, 601-442-6696. 

Natchez City Cemetery: This cemetery was established in 1821 and contains graves dating to the 1700's. Many of Natchez's historic figures are buried here. Tours are available, 601-445-5051. 

Beau Pré Country Club: 18 holes of beautifully landscaped golf, $50-$60 with cart. One of the best courses in the state, grill and lounge, tennis, swimming. Open Tues. through Sun., www.beauprenatchez.com, 601-442-5493.

 Beau Pre Country Club


Contact Us 

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

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Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Do Conservatives Oppose Change? by Dennis Prager

If you Google “what is conservatism?” this is the definition you will receive: “Commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation.” 

This is but one more illustration of the lack of objectivity wherever the Left is in control.  

The idea that conservatism means, by definition, “opposition to change or innovation” is nothing more than how liberals and leftists see conservatism. Why? Because the farther left you go, the greater the commitment to change and innovation. “Change” and “Innovation” are left-wing gods. That is why, for example, the mantra of the Barack Obama campaign and presidency was “hope and change.” 

Because the Left is so committed to change (for its own sake), people on the Left assume that anyone who opposes leftism opposes all “change and innovation.” 

Unfortunately, the Left’s misapprehension of conservatism is almost equaled by conservatives’ inability to define the term. For that reason, just as I recently defined another widely used term — “Judeo-Christian values” — I think it important to do the same for conservatism. 

Conservatives conserve.  If you want a good definition of conservatism, don’t Google “conservatism.” Google “conserve.” You will then find this definition: “To protect from loss or harm; preserve.”

The first and most important characteristic of conservatism is that it conserves what is best from the past. Conservatives have no issue with change or innovation — when warranted or harmless. The American Revolution, which conservatives seek to preserve, ushered in a radically innovative blueprint for liberty and self-government. Our problem is with jettisoning past greatness and replacing it with mediocrity — which is precisely what has been done for at least a century. 

What could be more noble, uplifting, beneficial or altruistic than giving every generation the best that humans have ever created? A generation that deprives the next generation of Beethoven, Shakespeare and Da Vinci is committing a combination of child neglect and civilizational suicide. 

Why, then, isn’t everyone — at least as regards conserving the best of the past — a conservative? Here is why: Since so few people in any generation can equal, let alone excel, the greatest of the past, conserving the past does not allow almost anyone living at the present time to shine. 

Therefore, if I can’t compose great tonal music, I won’t even bother trying. I might shine, however, if I write “atonal” music. If I can’t paint like a great classical artist, I will jettison all rules of art. I’ll throw paint onto a canvas or place a crucifix in a jar of my urine and call such things “art” — and demand that you, too, jettison all standards. 

If I can’t hope to match Shakespeare, I will dismiss Shakespeare as just another Dead White Male and replace him with living nonwhite females who possess exponentially less talent. 

The same holds true for teachers. Many of them are bored at the thought of teaching Shakespeare every year. So, they, too, opt for “change” and “innovation” over excellence — but thereby deprive their students of the best.

Likewise in the moral sphere. Why would I teach the moral roots of our society — the Bible, the Ten Commandments, Aristotle, the American Constitution, the Founders? That would mean I have nothing particularly important to say regarding morality and society. Again, I won’t shine. So, I will ignore or even reject those moral codes and devise a new moral system. 

That’s what Karl Marx did, quite consciously — which is why he hated Christianity and Judaism. Only if he could overthrow Bible- and God-based morality could his new morality be taken seriously. So, he replaced God with man, and he replaced good and evil with rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed. Today we are witnessing another rejection of God- and Bible-based morality, replacing the moral categories of good and evil with racial categories — white and black. 

And talk about innovation. What could be more innovative than “men give birth”? While conservatives are boringly conserving the fact that men are men, women are women, and one cannot become the other, the believers in change and innovation insist that sex/gender is completely subjective. 

A couple of weeks ago, Time Magazine inadvertently gave the game away. In the introduction to its hundredth anniversary edition, the CEO and editor of Time described the purpose of the magazine. 

You probably think they would write something like, “to report the news as truthfully as possible.” But you would be completely wrong. 

Here is what the CEO and editor wrote: “As we begin our second century, that spirit of innovation and disruption inspires us every day.” “Innovation and disruption.” There you have it. 

Reporting news as truthfully as possible is not just boring. It is worse than that. It is conservative.

You can read more of Dennis Prager's writing at https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager.


Contact Us

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Baldcypress by James L. Cummins

For the record, the official state tree of Mississippi is the magnolia but a baldcypress tree, draped with Spanish moss and growing around an old bayou or along one of our many scenic rivers and streams, seems symbolic of the South.

Baldcypress, (Taxodium distichum), commonly referred to as “cypress,” is a Southern conifer most often found in wet sites, in pure stands or mixed with tupelo gum. The fibrous, scaly bark of baldcypress is reddish brown in color and turns gray near the surface. The leaves of baldcypress are 1/2" to 3/4" long, linear to lancelate and two-ranked along branchlets that are deciduous along the leaves. 


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The tree can reach heights of up to 150 feet and diameters of up to 12 feet. Dendrological cross-dating has confirmed baldcypress at up to 1,700 years of age, and there are unconfirmed ages reaching 2,000 years. Baldcypress trees growing in water usually have a fluted trunk. The roots produce cone-like projections above the water or soil surface known as cypress knees.

Baldcypress is best suited to nutrient rich sediments typical of the soils found around streams and river systems. Baldcypress grows slowly in the less fertile soils of black-water swamps and bayous. Baldcypress seeds will not germinate under water, and on drier sites, competition from more shade tolerant species limits baldcypress numbers. 

It is widely distributed throughout the Southeastern United States. Along the Atlantic Coast, baldcypress can be found from Delaware to Southern Florida and along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Southeastern Texas. Inland distribution includes the Lower and Upper Coastal Plains of the Mississippi Valley up into Southeastern Oklahoma, Southern and Eastern Arkansas to the Missouri Bootheel and into Southern Illinois and Indiana. The tree's heartwood is well known for its great durability. Wood duck boxes and other bird houses that are subjected to weather are commonly made from baldcypress because no other wood can withstand such harsh elements. 

Baldcypress is a favorite tree used in landscaping and is being introduced into many parts of the world. In the wild, the seeds of baldcypress are eaten by numerous species of birds, as well as the black bear. Eagles and osprey often use older trees as dens and nest sites. 

At the Sky Lake Wildlife Management Area, located in Humphreys and Leflore Counties near Belzoni, you can find one of the few large remaining tracts of old growth baldcypress on earth. Some of the trees are more than 1,000 years old with the oldest tree measuring nearly 47 feet in circumference and 70 feet tall. This tree and another slightly smaller one nearby are likely come of the oldest living things in the state. More information about Sky Lake can be found by logging onto www.skylakemississippi.org.

James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi.


Contact Us

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

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Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Amy Alkon

Tales from the Lopside by Amy Alkon

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship (for almost four years) that works very well, talking daily and seeing each other every two months. The problem is that it feels like he has much more love for me than I have for him. (He's totally head over heels and expresses this constantly.) I absolutely do love him, and I tell him frequently. But my love intensity just does not match his. Additionally, I should mention that I've tried to leave him in the past. I didn't think the relationship was serving me. He is married and technically unavailable. (He is working toward dissolving the marriage.) Also, he works hard but has no financial resources. I do want to stay in the relationship, but I'm not sure how to deal with the imbalance in expressiveness. I don't want to be inauthentic. -- Pressured

Dear Pressured: You're dating a man who not only is still married but needs to crowdfund his divorce. Many women believe it's somehow nobler if they love a poor dude, telling themselves (and often the guy) that they don't really care about money. But as I often point out, because women are the ones who get pregnant, female emotions evolved to make women feel bad -- resentful, angry, screwed over -- when they get involved with men who are (for example!) still "married and technically unavailable" and have "no financial resources."

Boyfriend: "Hey, honey...got ya a great birthday present, and you won't even be charged for it till your next credit card statement!" And even if a woman is a staunch feminist, all "I don't care who the earner in the relationship is," the psychological operating system driving us right now is adapted for ancestral times and the problems that arose then. So it just keeps on keepin' on, pushing a woman to go for men who can "provide," even when she's on the birth controlliest birth control (like a copper IUD -- basically bioterrorism for sperm, backstopped by a Ukrainian nightclub bouncer). In other words, you are not getting the long end of the stick here, financially or commitment-wise, and evolution has programmed you to be nagged by feelbad emotions until you do something to change that. Your boyfriend, meanwhile, surely has some feelbad of his own.

Because men coevolved with women, male psychology leads men to anticipate that female romantic partners who feel shorted on cash flow and/or commitment will soon be conducting their exit interview. In light of this, your boyfriend's expressing love in the manner of a burst water main may be a form of "mate guarding," evolutionary psychologists' term for attempts to fend off mate poachers and keep one's partner in the relationship. Because we humans have an evolved motivation to reciprocate -- to give back what we get in equal measure -- it's possible that the more romantically expressive your boyfriend is, the more you're led to feel you're shorting him on what he seems to be owed.

But is the apparent emotional asymmetry here actually a problem? Many people do make the assumption that romantic partners' love should be 50-50 and that there's something wrong with the relationship when it isn't. However, what really matters is whether there's enough love on each side to keep the partners together -- especially in the face of any costs imposed by a partner or the relationship.

Accordingly, consider whether the long-distance aspect might be staving off feelings and conflict that could come out if you two were living together. Research repeatedly finds that women tend to resent male partners who aren't their equals or betters in job status and earnings. For example, a study by business school professor Alyson Byrne finds that a woman's having higher job status (and the money that comes with) often leads to marital instability and divorce. She and her colleague even find that women experience "status leakage," finding the status they've earned through their work diminished by virtue of their having a lower-status spouse.

As for you, you say you want to stay in the relationship, presumably because you love your boyfriend. However, it's also possible that your being in the relationship for a while -- almost four years -- is keeping you in the relationship. Consider what economists call the "sunk cost fallacy," the human tendency to keep investing in a project based on the time, energy, and/or resources we've already "sunk" into it. Of course, the rational approach is deciding to continue based on whether the investment will pay off sufficiently in the future.   Looking at your situation that way should help you make a decision. At the moment, as I see it, there's nothing standing between the two of you riding off into the sunset together...pulling a wagon carrying his current wife, their couples therapist, a divorce mediator, and several collection agents.    

JACK LAZARUS, PLLC: Finances got you down? Divorce, job loss, medical bills, credit card debt. What can you do? There is a way out. There is help. STOP those nasty phone calls from creditors. STOP the harassment. STOP credit card debt, foreclosure or repossession. Attorney Jack Lazarus has helped people and businesses turn their finances around. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be the best answer. Call for a FREE initial consultation. Get a fresh start in life! Call 601-445-8899106 South Wall St., Natchez, Miss. jacklaz45@gmail.com  www.jacklazarus.com  Hablamos Espanol. Helping people is our only business. 

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News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.


15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage with Anna Kotova

 Prep Time: 30 mins  Cook Time: 25 mins  Additional Time: 10 mins  Total Time: 1 hrs 5 mins  Servings: 


1 ½ tablespoons olive oil 

1 cup sliced onion

 1 cup sliced bell peppers, any color

 1 (12 ounce) package Italian-style chicken sausage links, or more to taste, casings removed 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1 (26 ounce) jar marinara sauce 

3 cups water 

3 cups chopped fresh spinach, or more to taste

10 ounces penne pasta 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 

1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend 


Turn on a multi-functional pressure cooker (such as Instant Pot) and select Saute function. Add oil and allow to heat. Add onion and peppers to hot oil; cook until they begin to get tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sausages and cook, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add marinara sauce, water, spinach, pasta, basil, and Italian seasoning; mix to combine. Cancel Saute function. Close and lock the lid. Select high pressure according to manufacturer's instructions; set timer for 5 minutes. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for pressure to build. Release pressure using the natural-release method according to manufacturer's instructions, 5 minutes. Then release pressure carefully using the quick-release method according to manufacturer's instructions, about 5 minutes. Unlock and remove the lid. Stir in 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese until combined. Serve with remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

REGIONS: There's an ATM at each of our branches. www.regions.com. Member FDIC. An Equal Housing Lender.

Anna Kotova has been cooking and baking European and American dishes for more than 40 years.


Contact Us

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

OLD SOUTH FEDERAL CREDIT UNION: If you live or work in Adams County or Concordia Parish, enjoy the benefits of membership in our credit union. Free checking for seniors (age 62 and older) & students. Free checking for adults with $100 minimum balance Debit cards linked to checking accounts. Savings (share) accounts, Christmas Club accounts, IRA accounts. Personal loans, Share loans, Signature loans, Secured loans for new and used autos, RVs, motorcycles & boats. 24-hour banking. Electronic statements, direct deposit, notary, payroll deduction services, ATM on premises. Checking accounts subject to ChexSystems approval. Loans subject to credit approval148 North Shields Lane, Natchez, 601-442-4382 www.oldsouthfcu.com 


Contact Us 

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus



Financial Planning: Personalized plans from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to help you reach your financial goals

Investment Management: Custom built investment strategies developed to maximize return depending on your desired risk level.

Tax Strategy: Explore the different ways to manage, reduce, and defer your taxes. 

Business Consulting: Let us help set up the right retirement plan for you and your company. 

Financial Planner

After working for a large bank and a large brokerage firm, Dustin felt these institutions put shareholders before clients. As a result, he opened his own boutique wealth management firm more than 10 years ago, vowing to always put his clients’ needs above all else. This guiding principle was a key to success. Today, he provides wealth management services for more than 200 families. In his spare time, Dustin loves being with his family. Dustin’s wife, Lauren, is a corporate accountant, and his daughter, Jane, is a ball of sunshine. Dustin’s mother, father, brother, nephews, aunt, and uncle have all made Southwest Florida their home. 

  • Accredited Wealth Management Advisor
  • Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor
  • FINRA Series 7, 63, and 65 registrations
  • Former adjunct professor for Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Former Enrolled Agent tax advisor recognized by the Department of Treasury
  • Former expert witness for tax and investment litigation
  • Life, disability, and long term care insurance registration
  • National Social Security Advisor Certificate Holder
  • Certified Notary Public
  • Yale CIMA online program Investment Management Theory & Practice
  • Florida Gulf Coast University CFP® program
  • University of Southern Mississippi bachelor's degree in business
  • College of Financial Planning AWMA® and CRPC® programs
  • Community involvement includes Super Kids, Kiwanis, Toastmasters, and the Chamber of Commerce 
  • Enjoys spending time with family, reading, traveling, boating, golfing, and watching documentaries

Rinaldi Wealth Management 

24311 Walden Center Drive, Suite 100, Bonita Springs, FL 34134

Office: 239.444.6111   Fax: 239.444.6112 

Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm 

Visit our website: https://rwmadvisor.com


Contact Us 

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

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Miss-Lou Magazine

News for Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana, including Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and Concordia and Catahoula parishes.

15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus