Natchez, Miss.
Postings Daily

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

William C. Ashley

Adams deputies arrested William C. Ashley, 27, of Natchez on Monday for one count rape with intent to ravish. No bond has been set. His elderly female victim had to be hospitalized after the attack but has been subsequently released. 

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department is continuing its investigation into the Memorial Day weekend death of a man riding an all-terrain vehicle near Camp Ridge Point. Sheriff Tom Tindle confirmed Brian Hazel, 37, died when the ATV he was riding went off a rural bridge and ultimately fell about 30 feet to the ground below. The accident occurred at 2 a.m.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that targeted a home on Philip West Road on Tuesday around 11:30 p.m. Three adults inside were sleeping. No one was injured and the assailant is unknown.

Demarcus Coleman

Demarcus Coleman, 30, of Wynne Cross, Ark., was driving his 18-wheeler on Hwy. 61 near Woodville, when he lost control of his rig, crossed the median and hit a clump of trees. He was carrying heavy rolls of paper and was killed in the wreck. 

A fire broke out at Woodcrest Manor Apartments in Woodville, damaging several units. One elderly woman had to be rescued and was hospitalized with minor injuries. Firefighters from Woodville, Centreville and West Feliciana responded.

Convicted murderer Joby Duck of Vidalia has filed a motion with Judge Kathy Johnson, asking for a reduced sentence. Duck plead guilty to the 2021 stabbing  manslaughter death of Marday Carr and received a 35-year sentence. His defense attorney said Duck feared for his life and the stabbing was essentially self-defense. That claim was submitted in the initial trial. Surveillance footage of the stabbing at Rainbow Mart in Vidalia clearly shows Duck waiting for Carr inside the store before attacking him and stabbing him in the stomach. Carr later died at the hospital.

Trail ride benefits St. Jude

Double C Ranch on Hutchins Landing Road in Adams County will host a “Tack up for St. Jude Trail Ride” on June 3. A donation of $25 is welcome, while kids 12 and under are free. Participants can arrive at 11 a.m. when gates open. Riders will hit the trails at 1 p.m. and return by 4 p.m. Music from Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie will be played from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be food, drinks and fun included with the $25 donation while a silent auction and raffle will raise additional funds.  

Catahoula Parish Fire District 4 will take over ambulance service for the entire parish starting in January. The service is currently offered by the sheriff’s office, which is filling in the gap left by the departure of Northeast  Ambulance last year. There are about 150 requests for ambulance each month.

Last year at this time, Concordia Parish had 6,838 workers employed. Today, 6,661 workers have jobs, a decline of 177 jobs. The current jobless rate is 4.4 percent.

Richard Gibson, 45, of Meadville, was found guilty in Franklin County Circuit Court for the Sept. 2022 shooting death of Billy Brown, his brother-in-law. The two men had a disagreement over a box of bullets, resulting in the shooting. He received a sentence of life in prison. He had been previously convicted of auto burglary, felon in possession of weapon and a drive-by shooting.

Evan Wilson, 16, of Monterey, was driving his car along Carter St., Vidalia, early Wednesday, when he accidentally lost control of the car, crashed, hitting a large business sign. He did not hit any other vehicles. Wlison was airlifted to the hospital, treated and then released. He has a fractured hip, broken collar bone and bruised lung. Police think he might have fallen asleep at the wheel, as he was tired from the previous night’s work, 

Trinity Medical made a $1.9 profit in April, due in part to a $1.7 million subsidy payment from the state. The actual $200,000 operating profit reflects continuing stability and growth for the hospital.

Natchez man arrested for statutory rape

Natchez police have charged Ladarrius Lowe, 27, of Natchez, with the statutory rape of a 14-to-16-year- old child. He is being held in the Adams County Jail. He was arrested in 2017 for felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm. 

Natchez aldermen are expected to approve a zoning change on June 13 for the Cornerstone Church on  Hwy. 61 South to allow a charter school to operate there. The location is the site of the former Trinity School.

Terrie Lee Champ, 57, of Natchez, was arrested by city police for aggravated assault with extreme indifference to human life. He is being held in the county jail. 

Traffic accident in Roxie

On Tuesday, a mother and one year old infant were airlifted for hospital treatment after a two vehicle crash in Roxie. The accident occurred at the dangerous intersection of Hwy. 84 and Hwy. 33. The present condition of the mother and child has not been released.

Retired Vidalia Police Lt. Huston “Smokey” White has died at the age of 80. He retired just last fall after serving as both a patrol officer and later as an investigator for the department. He is remembered as a kind and dedicated professional who brought extra maturity to a youthful staff. White didn’t become an officer until after he retired from his first career at Entergy at age 66. He was a valuable member of VPD and dedicated to serving the town and its people. 

The Franklin County School District has set June 27 at 4:30 p.m. for its annual public hearing to consider a fiscal year 2024 budget. The hearing will be held the district's Main Street offices.

A fire completely destroyed a home at 29 Saragossa Road in Adams County on Monday. Natchez firefighters responded but by the time they got the call and arrived, it was too late to save the structure. One fireman was slightly injured, but he returned to work the next day.

Hunter Rachal

Ferriday police arrested Hunter Rachal, 25, of Ferriday, for felon in possession of a weapon, possession of a stolen weapon, possession of stolen things and probation hold. 

Ryan Porter has been named interim recreation director for Natchez. Current recreation director Sanora Cole is taking a new job at Southern University. 

Ferriday police arrested Angela Bagbey, 40, of Vidalia, and charged her with burglary, theft, possession of a stolen firearm and convicted felon in possession of a firearm. She has a history of arrests for possession of drugs, DUI, theft, flight from an officer and other charges going back to 2016.

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. natchezwaterworks.com 

Fry Building

Natchez will receive a $1.2 million EPA grant to remove the Fry Building in preparation for the Eola Hotel rehab project. The city will hire an engineer to supervise the demolition of the Fry Building. Aldermen plan to make city taxpayers part owners of the hotel project with perhaps as much as a $4 million investment. Additional tax support may be offered, allowing Eola sales and property taxes to be paid towards repayment of the hotel’s debt instead of being paid to the city and county.

April Lowery, 42, and Becky Lowery, 65, of Vidalia, were charged by Vidalia police for cruelty to an infirm elderly person in their care. When police arrived at a Plum Street home, they found a near naked 73 year old woman moaning, covered in bedsores, feces and maggots. The caretakers were also charged with negligent injuring and exploitation of a person with infirmities. Their victim was transported to Trinity Medical and then to Riverbridge for additional care. 

Charles Buchanan, 31, of Adams County ,was arrested by Adams County deputies in April and released on bond and ordered to wear an ankle monitor for being a felon in possession of a firearm, trafficking of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is a convicted felon for a robbery in 2011 and as a sex offender in 2012. Now deputies have arrested him again, this time for possession of a stolen weapon and possession of firearms by a felon. He had several pistols and a carbine, including a pistol that had been illegally converted to fully automatic. ATF has been notified of the federal firearms violation. 

Old hospital will be demolished

JR Real Property, which owns the old Natchez Community Hospital property, says vandals have significantly damaged the interior of the hospital, including stealing all the copper wiring. The building will be demolished. The office complex in front of the hospital will not be affected, as it is fully rented and in good condition. 

Curtis Moroney won the special election for Natchez Alderman Ward 6 with 86 percent of the vote. A total of 331 votes were cast. 

Matt Lee Mason, Jr ., 43, goes to trial May 31 in Concordia for the Aug. 2022 strangulation death of his ex-girlfriend, Tyberia Bell, at her home. 

Franklin County man killed

The Mississippi Highway Patrol investigated a multi-vehicle mishap that claimed the life of Clifton Ramsey, 71, Smithdale, on U.S. Highway 98 in Franklin County. The wreck happened around 4:38 p.m., Friday, May 19, Three vehicles were traveling west on U.S. 98 when a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, driven by Shaxavier Green, 22, of Meadville, collided with a 1996 Buick Century driven by Clifton Ramsey. After the initial collision, a 2015 Freightliner truck, driven by Nacole Williams, 39, of Brookhaven, then collided with the Buick driven by Ramsey. Ramsey reportedly sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene of the wreck.   

After a dip of several months duration, Adams County employment rose to 10,080 jobs in April, rivaling the better numbers reached in 2022. April, May and June normally see an upswing in jobs. The unemployment rate in Adams remains way below normal at 3.8 percent. 

Centreville officials broke ground on a new state-funded $1.5 million park that will host community events and recreational activities. The park will be located at the intersection of Hwy. 33 and the Gaulden-Clinton Road. 

City will pass ordinance on short term rentals

Natchez aldermen will hold a public hearing June 20 to consider new permitting and restrictions on Airbnb type homes that offer short term rentals. Some restrictions may include quiet hours, limiting two guests to each bedroom, and formal licensing. (Note: the city does not enforce its current noise ordinance.) The mayor and Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith have pledged not to vote on the issue because both have been in the room rental business. However, Mayor Gibson and City Planner Frankie Legeaux have helped pushed the idea of more restrictions through the planning department and the planning commission. Many cities across the USA have adopted similar ordinances, some with good results, others with disastrous consequences. 

The Catahoula Police Jury and the Town of Jonesville plan to ban the sale of Kratom. The herb is used as an over the counter pain reliever that can cause hallucinations, delusions, breathing suppression, seizure, coma and death. The Concordia Police Jury has banned its sale, but shoppers are reporting it’s still available for sale at c-stores in Vidalia, Ferriday and Clayton.

Catahoula narcotics deputies arrested Willie Miller, 33, for possession of meth and synthetic marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm while possessing drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has been arrested before for various felonies, including dealing drugs in Concordia.

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 

Florence Matthews

The Concordia Police Jury voted unanimously to change the name of Bayou Drive to Florence Matthews Drive in honor of Ms. Matthews, who will turn 110 on Sept. 25. 

The West Point Fire Department donated an older fire truck in good working conditions to the Liberty Road Volunteer Fire Department in Adams County. The Liberty Road volunteers had a truck, but it was too expensive to repair. 

Natchez police did arrest the juvenile who attacked a woman police officer in May. 16. The teen is being held in the Natchez juvenile detention center. Police said the officer made a traffic stop when she saw a young person riding on the hood of a moving automobile. The teenage girl put her mouth and body into a confrontation with two police officers, viciously punching Officer Raven Carter. Three people were arrested.

Poll commission dumped

Natchez aldermen and Adams supervisors voted to revoke the authority of the pool commission to run the Natchez community pool. Instead, aldermen and supervisors will run the pool themselves. Current employees will remain in place.

Ferriday police arrested Terryl Brown, 27, for the shooting and killing of Lemontral Sandidge, 42. The shooting occurred Friday evening. Police said Brown may have been defending himself and his family.   

For the first time in Block High history, its track time competed in state qualifiers. Korin Collins finished 8th in the boys 400 meter. Jyinah Alexander finished 5th in the girls triple jump and Zairia Beard finished 9th in the girls 400 meter. 

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, communicating with a minor by way of a social networking site. During the conversation, the subject engaged in lewd and lascivious dialogue and was discovered to be a registered sex offender, residing in a Vidalia mobile home park. The CPSO C.I.D. unit executed a search warrant at the subject's residence, at which time he was taken into custody without incident. Arrested was Robert Chase Stroud, 29, of Vidalia, for indecent behavior with juveniles and failure to notify as a sex offender on social network site. Stroud was arrested for carnal knowledge of a juvenile in 2013. 

City to regulate short term rentals

Natchez aldermen are likely to approve a new ordinance that would require homeowners to get a business privilege license if the homeowners use their properties for short term rentals like Airbnb or similar services. The city will most likely cite those that register for failing to follow the city’s guest house regulations, subjecting them to additional prosecution and fines. The city intends to favor larger and established guest houses and bed and breakfast inns and discourage smaller entrepreneurs. Additional regulations of the smaller owner operators are possible.

The Concordia Parish School Board has given its school bus contract to Eco Ride for a bid of $1,674,000 for the coming school year. The board will spend $780,000 to redo the Vidalia and Ferriday High School football fields with new grass.

Sales tax collections distributed to Natchez from the state dropped slightly, reflecting a slowing of the local economy --- April 2023: $520,182; April 2022: $520,896.

Pool issues to be debated

Adams supervisors and Natchez aldermen are expected to meet Monday at 4 p.m. at the supervisors’ meeting room to discuss their joint management of the community pool. The meeting is open to the public.

Ferriday Police Chief Sam King says Haney’s Big House lessee, Roshonda Brown, has been offered a refund of her rental. The town has decided not to allow her to continue a Sunday brunch. Brown says she doesn’t want a refund and went ahead with her brunch at a Natchez venue instead.

CPSO deputies arrested Christopher Cross, 38, of Monterey, for possession of Schedule 2 drugs with intent to distribute. In 2016, he was charged with possession of meth with intent to distribute.

The Watts Family

HENRY WATTS & CO. Why choose Henry Watts to build your home? The Miss-Lou's most experienced builder, more than 40 years in the building and remodeling business. Has built homes recently in Natchez-Adams County, Franklin County, Jefferson County and Concordia Parish. Ask about his track record. Licensed, bonded and insured in Mississippi and Louisiana. 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. Helps you choose the upscale kitchens, luxury baths, energy efficient doors and windows and heating and air conditioning systems that are best for your home. Can help you secure the best financing, including zero down financing, special financing for low and middle income buyers, veterans and first time home buyers. Watts is your best choice for a builder. Inducted into the Mississippi Homebuilders Hall of Fame in 2019, for his work serving the home building industry and homeowners. Quality, Better Price, Affordability. Henry Watts & Co. 601-660-0265

Felony gun possession arrests

Ferriday police arrested Lakia Weatherspoon, 22, for providing a felon with a firearm. They arrested Shaquille Weather, 30, for aggravated flight from an officer, criminal damage to property and felon in possession of a firearm. Jamal Price, 38, was also charged with felon in possession of a weapon, All three reside in Ferriday. In 2014, Shaquille was arrested for resisting an officer, possession of marijuana with intent, second degree battery and failure to pay a fine.

Revenues to the national forest funds with local communities. Since parts of Wilkinson County are within the Homochitto National Forest, the Wilkinson County schools will get $90,000 and the five Wilkinson supervisor districts will share another $90,000 this year. 

Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel donated 30 cases of chicken, 30 cases of chips and two cases of ham to The Natchez Stewpot.

Parade is May 29

The Memorial Day Parade will be held May 29 starting Vidalia at 9 a.m., cross the Miss. River Bridge, meet up with Natchez participants and continue to the Natchez National Cemetery. 

The Rotary Club of Natchez presented scholarships to four graduating seniors at Natchez high schools. Recipients were Ciera Demby of Natchez Early College Academy, Jack Lewis of Cathedral School and Elizabeth Kate Parsons, and Claire Williams. both of ACCS.

Woodville aldermen received more complaints about maintenance at the town's five cemeteries. Street Superintendent Louis Fosselman asked aldermen to let him hire two part-time and temporary workers to help. Aldermen did not act on his request.

Drones over Vidalia

ULM staffers will be flying drones over Vidalia for two days this coming week, taking photos of roads and bridges. The photos nay be used if FEMA monies are needed following a natural disaster. 

Ferriday is spending $72,000 to fix a few sewer leaks around town. But there are so many broken pipes engineer Bryant Hammett said it would take two to three years to fix them all.   

In 2022, Natasha Fletcher, 42, of Natchez, was charged with possession of a stolen gun, shooting into a vehicle, aggravated assault for trying to kill her enemy, and possession of drugs. She has plead guilty to possession of a stolen gun and all other charges have been dropped. DA Shameca Collins and Judge Carmen Drake agreed Fletcher will pay $682.50 in court costs and reporting fees within a year and report to a parole officer for three years. 

Charles Mason, Lakedra Thomas and Judge Carmen Drake

Charles Mason, 33, was driving drunk along Melrose Montebello Parkway in Natchez in Feb. 2022, when he flipped his car and crashed, killing one of his passengers, Lakedra Thomas, and injuring another. Judge Carmen Drake has sentenced him to 25 years, of which he must serve 20 years for the DUI homicide.

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, communicating with a minor online in a sexual nature. During the conversations, the subject engaged in sexually explicit dialogue, requested lewd photos from the child on numerous occasions and made plans to travel and meet upon completion of his route. In addition, he stated that he had a prior secret relationship with a minor and requested that the same occur during the present time. After positively identifying the suspect, he was located at a truck stop outside Lufkin, Texas and taken into custody without incident. Arrested was Patrick Deville II, 38, of Ville Platte, for computer aided solicitation of a minor and indecent behavior with juveniles.

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors listened to a complaint regarding the tax assessor’s office. Renee Huff of Plano, Texas, addressed the board and Franklin County Tax Assessor Talina King Matthews questioning why her parents’ home and property in Garden City was assessed at a much greater value than its worth. Huff said she repeatedly called the tax office since her father passed away, trying to gain an understanding of the levies on his property, but was put off, deflected and unable to get an answer from anyone, to the point she called the Adams County assessor’s office to get the information she needed.

Sky West interested

Sky West said it is possibly interested in picking up a route that would include Natchez. The airline is a regional carrier that helps United, American, Delta and Alaska airlines service their shorter distance and lower passenger count routes. The FAA and the city and county have pledged a subsidy of $1.25 million for startup costs if a carrier would add Natchez. 

As Adams County supervisors plan to redo Liberty Ball Park’s Chester Willis Field, the first phase of construction may cost $1.9 million instead of $1.2 million. That will push the total project cost to over $3 million. Supervisors want to install artificial turf, new lights, new grandstand, bathrooms, concession stand and fencing. 

Alcorn State’s computer access has been limited and many of its computer systems have been down and totally inoperable for more than a week. Some ASU staff have said the university suffered a ransomware attack. The university has not confirmed the seriousness of the problem. It has issued a series of inter staff memos saying ASU was having “networking problems.” While IHL in Jackson has been informed of the breakdown, Alcorn is responsible for solving its own computer system problems.

Harrisonburg builds park

Harrisonburg is developing its Steamboat Park. Womack & Sons was the low bidder for a splash pad at $270,650. After the splash pad is completed, the village will construct tiered seating to view the river, an athletic court, clock tower, playground, picnic areas and a trail head for a planned walking trail.

Adams deputies arrested Antonio Smith, 42, of Natchez, on charges of burglary and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He was released on $20,000 bond.  

Ferriday aldermen discussed how Haney’s Big House is not supposed to be used for profit making ventures because USDA monies were allocated for its rehabilitation. Current lessee, Roshonda Brown, offers a Sunday brunch as a small business venture to make a profit. The aldermen and their town attorney aren’t sure what they will do about the illegality of the current lease. Brown has scheduled another brunch for May 21. Brown had her lawyer send a letter to the Town Council threatening a federal lawsuit for discrimination and on racial grounds, if the town canceled her lease. The attorney did not explain how the council, which is entirely composed of black officeholders, could discriminate against a black entrepreneur based on race. Anna Ferguson came before the Council and complained that Brown’s patrons are drunk, disorderly and foul-mouthed, not the image Ferriday needs, she said. Ferguson said the patrons caused four traffic accidents as a result of being intoxicated, which the police chief said earlier had likely occurred. Brown said her patrons are well behaved. The Town Council took no action after hearing from Ferguson and Brown.

$60,000 raised

The Miss-Lou Relay for Life has raised $60,000 this year, with this past weekend's events at the Vidalia Municipal Complex bringing the teams and volunteers together to walk, pray and remember those stricken with cancer,

The Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office said Sarah Peshoff, 41, was found dead in her cell of an apparent suicide. The Jefferson County resident had been arrested for the killing of her husband, Leroy, at their home on April 30.

Shots rang out at Concordia Park Apartments on Kyle Road May 6. The Ferriday Police Department. Cortlin Harden was quickly identified as the perpetrator. He fired approximately six rounds into the air after several juveniles were throwing water balloons in the area. It's believed one of the balloons may have hit Harden's vehicle. This isn't Harden's first interaction with law enforcement as it pertains to the use of firearms. Harden was arrested and charged with the following: aggravated assault with a firearm. illegal use of a weapon, possession of marijuana, possession of Xanax, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, illegal carrying of weapons while in possession of CDS and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $101,000.   

Principal Ronnie Knox

Social media posts documented William Winans Middle School Principal Ronnie Knox choking a 15-year-old student to break up a fight in which a 17- year-old attacked and punched the younger student. Videos from cell phones seem to show the older boy striking and pounding the younger boy but the younger boy not returning any punches. The mother of the 15-year- old says the older teen has been bullying her son for months, even extorting money from her child. The school district has the attack under investigation. The videos appear to show the principal not only breaking up the fight but assaulting the younger boy. However, more details are needed before making a determination of fault. 

Anthony Smith, 43, was arrested by Adams County deputies during a traffic stop on Monday. He had in his possession 100 Ecstasy tablets, marijuana and meth. He was jailed for possession and trafficking on a $26,000 bond. SO says he will be released within 48 hours, posting bond. In 2011, Metro Narcotics arrested for him for possession of $80,000 in drugs, including seven pounds of marijuana, cocaine, packaging materials, a rifle and stolen goods. 

Bude passes dangerous animal ordinance

As a result of dog bites and near-attacks on residents, where dogs were roaming freely, the Bude Board of Aldermen enacted a 10-page comprehensive municipal ordinance dealing with dangerous animals. An owner will be responsible for the actions of his or her dog. The ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash or enclosed within a fence or the owner will face fines if the police department gets involved. If a dog bites someone, the town can automatically take possession of the dog and can result in a fine for the owner. Dogs within Bude’s corporate limits will have to be up to date with their vaccinations, and animals that actually bite someone will be quarantined for two weeks and can possibly be put down. Any person’s dog that attacks, injures or harms an individual, domestic animal, pet or livestock as a result of a violation of or noncompliance with the town’s ordinance will face misdemeanor charges with fines of not less $50 and/or the owner being jailed. 

Vidalia received a $222,000 rebate check from its worker’s compensation insurance premiums because claims for benefits were so low. Workers were not injured on the job, so the town received a big rebate. 

Global Prep wants to open its charter school at the former Trinity School on 61 South instead of LaSalle St. Cornerstone Church owns the Trinity campus now. The Natchez Planning Commission will hear the request for the relocation Thursday. 

Ronnie Fisher

Wilkinson County supervisors appointed Ronnie Fisher county coroner after Special Judge Lamar Pickard ruled that O.J. Packnett was not a resident of Wilkinson County. Packnett could no longer serve not being a legal resident and voter in the county. Supervisors appointed Fisher because he was on the ballot for coroner this year. He will serve the rest of Packnett’s term through Dec. 31 and since Fisher is the only legal candidate on the ballot, he automatically wins election for a four year term starting in 2024. 

The Concordia Parish Police Jury selected Bryant Hammett & Associates to do the engineering for the Brushy Bayou drainage project. The parish has received a $6.2 million grant from the FEMA to alleviate flooding parish-wide, diverting storm waters and runoff into the Tensas River through Brushy Bayou and away from Cocodrie Bayou. The new engineering contract is not a surprise. While other firms were considered, Hammett is already the parish engineer. 

A vehicle was reported stolen to the Jonesville Police Department on Saturday, May 6, 2023. A BOLO, be on the lookout, was given for that vehicle at approximately 7:31 a.m. Sam King, chief of police, spotted the vehicle coming into Ferriday at approximately 7:52 a.m. King attempted to make a traffic stop on the vehicle and the driver fled, refusing to stop for blue lights and sirens. The driver continued at a high rate of speed through the residential area along Seventh Street from Kentucky Avenue to Delaware Avenue. The driver ditched the vehicle on Sixth Street along the bayou and fled on foot. King gave foot chase to the subject as other Ferriday Police Department and Concordia Parish Sheriff Office units arrived in the area to setup a perimeter. The subject was found hiding in a grassy area a short distance from the vehicle. "We're extremely thankful God covered us during this incident and no one was injured, not even the suspect," said King. "This suspect drove with no regards to human life." The juvenile was detained on several charges relating to the vehicle theft and flight from an officer. 

Natchez sales tax collections have increased 2.5% for the period July 2022-March 2023. The state has distributed $4.4 million in collections to city government for those months.

Brushy Bayou engineer selected

The Concordia Parish Police Jury selected Bryant Hammett & Associates to do the engineering for the Brushy Bayou drainage project. The parish has received a $6.2 million grant from the FEMA to alleviate flooding parish-wide, diverting storm waters and runoff into the Tensas River through Brushy Bayou and away from Cocodrie Bayou. The new  engineering contract is not a surprise. While other firms were considered, Hammett is already the parish engineer. 

Natchez police have arrested Kadeem Conner, 25, of Natchez, and Mark Jordan Mitchell, 32, of Natchez, with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder stemming from Friday night’s shooting and killing of Travione Jones and Devon Winchester. Police also have a warrant for Jamionte Davis, 22, also for two counts murder and three counts attempted murder for his involvement. Davis is not in custody and is suspected of having fled the area. Officers have recovered the weapon probably used in the killings as well as other weapons. In 2016, Conner was arrested for killing a Natchez man. He was arrested in 2017 for arson. In 2022, he allegedly did two drive-by shootings. Earlier this month, Mitchell was charged with shooting into a motor vehicle, aggravated assault with extreme indifference to human life and for discharging a firearm in the city limits for another shooting.

A unique, four-day community revival celebration, "Franklin Awakening," will be held at 7 p.m., nightly Tuesday, May 30 through Friday, June 2 in the Franklin County High School Auditorium in Meadville. Coordinated through the Franklin County Baptist Association and its director of missions, Wes Arnold, the outreach seeks to bring people from all walks of life together for a chance to worship, fellowship and embrace God’s unconditional love.

Juvenile robbers arrested

CPSO arrested two juveniles who committed an armed robbery today at a Ferriday c store. They’ve been jailed but their names have not been released. The two are suspects in a Ridgecrest business burglary last week in which $1400 in cash was stolen. 

Curtis Moroney and Chris Jackson have qualified to run for Natchez Alderman Ward 6. The election is May 25 at the Duncan Park Canteen.

Treyon Kelly, 27, pled guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter for the murder of Wilbert Henderson, 43. He was given a maximum sentence of 40 years. He pled guilty to the charges of aggravated battery and battery of a correctional officer receiving a maximum sentence of 10 and 5 years on those charges. His sentences will run consecutively for a total of 55 years. Kelly shot and killed Henderson outside his residence at 1305 Fifth Street in Ferriday in December 2020. 

Montrell O'Neal

Adams deputies arrested Montrell O’Neal, 36, for fleeing law enforcement, possession of a weapon by a felon and possession of a stolen weapon. Bond was set at $45,000. In 2020, he was arrested for possession of a stolen weapon. 

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, who made contact with a minor online, by way of social media. Over the course of several months, the subject engaged in inappropriate conversations, expressed his desire to be with the minor by writing multiple love poems and transmitted sexually explicit images of himself. Upon positively identifying him, an arrest warrant was obtained and he was discovered to be residing in a West Monroe apartment complex. Contact was made with the West Monroe Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, who were able to locate the suspect and execute the arrest, along with a search warrant at the residence. Arrested was Joe H. Simmons, 31, of West Monroe, for indecent behavior with juveniles and computer aided solicitation of a minor.

Dr. Frank Smith, founding director of the African American Civil War Museum, recently visited Natchez to show his support for the Natchez U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) monument, which will be called, the Natchez African American Civil War Memorial. Smith and Mayor Dan Gibson signed an agreement for the 8,000 names the Museum provided of the USCT based at Fort McPherson. These names will be listed on the proposed monument. Smith and his team from Washington, D.C., met with representatives of the Natchez National Historical Park to discuss a grant approved for the creation of a virtual USCT trail. “Inspired by the freedom trail, the USCT trail would be a series of virtual markers across the country at National Park Service sites,” according to Dr. Dawn Chitty, the Museum’s director of education.

Two killed and two wounded outside Natchez club

Travion Jones, 19, and Devin Winchester, 19, were shot to death Friday night outside the Club Legacy and in front of Cash Savers on D'Evereux Drive in Natchez, Two others wee wounded and taken to Merit Health for treatment. Police are investigating. The club was the scene of another shooting in 2021, when two were wounded. 

The CPSO Narcotics Unit executed a search warrant at a Ferriday residence, regarding the street level distribution of narcotics. Upon arrival, numerous subjects were observed outside the location gambling, with narcotics in plain view and multiple vehicles blocking street traffic. As a result of the warrant, four subjects were arrested with the following being seized: 180 grams of suspected marijuana, packaged for sale, 45 grams of suspected synthetic marijuana, 9 grams of suspected crack cocaine, 73 dose units of suspected Ecstacy, suspected oxycodone, 14 cell phone devices, scales and packaging material. Arrested were Jatayius Johnson, 22, of Ferriday, Session Bosley, 43, of Ferriday, Frederick Saulsberry, 39, of Jena, all charged with possession of drugs with intent to sell. Joseph White, 41, of Ferriday was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Neighbors in the 800 block of North Union St. in Natchez said at least eight shots were fired last night from an unknown perp. A resident was walking her dog in the area and one of the bullets wounded the dog in the leg.  

Godbold declines plea offer

A May 10 status hearing has been scheduled for former la enforcement officer Tony Godbold, 35, after he declined a District Attorney’s offer of three years imprisonment for alleged distribution and drug possession. The D.A. made the offer April 26 during a Seventh Judicial District Court session with Judge John Reeves presiding. Godbold has been charged with malfeasance in office, introducing or possessing contraband in a municipal parish jail, distribution with possession and intent to distribute CDS I, II, III. The former Concordia Parish deputy is also charged with three counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and two counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The charges are unrelated to the previous charges. 

The Miss-Lou Relay for Life will be May 6 at the Vidalia Municipal Complex. The Relay will begin at 6 p.m. with A survivor reception is  set for 4-6 p.m. and the Relay runs from 6-10 p.m. 

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors discussed the replacement of an aging and structurally deficient, one-lane bridge inside Bude’s corporate limits. Bude municipal representatives had requested help from the county in replacing the structure, which is adjacent to the Franklin County School District’s bus barn and leads into the new River Ridge Forest Product site. River Ridge has expressed concerns about the volume and weight of wood-hauling vehicles that will eventually access the plant site and the stability and safety of the bridge that crosses a nearby drainage ditch. The board agreed that, as Bude is ultimately financially responsible for the bridge, the town should be leading the way on any bridge replacement. 

Job declines appear permanent

In Adams County, the decline in jobs parallels the decline in population. In 2023, Adams is averaging 9800-9900 jobs monthly, down from 11,580 jobs in 2011 and 10,380 in 2017. 

Pike Construction has submitted a bid, which totaled $339,000for repairs, plus $28,700 for work on the drains and downspouts of the Franklin County Courthouse. Supervisors may rebid the project, as they have only allocated a $144,000 MDAH state grant towards the work.

Jefferson County deputies arrested Sarah Jo Peshoff, 41, for shooting and killing her husband Leroy, 43, at their home in Jefferson County on Sunday.

Travis McCready

Travis McCready 35, of Natchez, has been arrested for sending a pornographic image to a Concordia inmate (introducing contraband into a penal facility). He was formerly the lead singer of Bishop Gunn. 

Brandy Spears has been appointed victims assistance coordinator for CPSO. She has previously worked as public information officer for CPSO and director of marketing for Riverland and Trinity Medical.

Natchez aldermen will open bids June 1 for the rehab of the Duncan Park Canteen. The city will use the building for office space for its employees.

Local jobs picture mixed

Adams County reports 9,940 jobs, up 100 jobs from a year ago. Concordia Parish has 6,555 people employed, down from 6,741 people working last year at this time, a decrease of 186 jobs. 

In Concordia Parish voting April 29, only the redirection of $1.6 million health unit monies passed 52 to 48 percent. Extra millage for the coroner and Fire District millage failed by wide margins.

Adams County deputies have arrested Ronald T. Jenkins, 21, of Vidalia, and charged him with possession of a stolen weapon and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He remains in the county jail. 

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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

Stolen Firearms and Cute Judge Tricks

Judges should wise up

by Peter Rinaldi

One of the aspects of our local crime problem is that guns are stolen from homes and vehicles during break-ins are then sold to juveniles and young adults for prices of $35-$100. Stolen guns aren’t often traceable to the offender but often traceable to the original owner of the gun, who has usually purchased the firearm legally through a store backed by paperwork. 

Unless the perp leaves good fingerprints on the stolen gun and has a felony record, the stolen gun is the perfect tool to use in a crime, shooting, a drug deal, confrontation with an enemy or another break-in. 

Mississippi Legislators know gun trafficking and illegal possession of guns contribute to an explosion in crime. So the law says selling or transferring a stolen gun or possessing a stolen gun can earn the perp up to five years in jail. And any crime in which a gun is used can carry a five year enhancement or five year additional penalty. 

What are Natchez-Adams County judges doing? Repeatedly, they are letting those who possess stolen guns go free, no jail time, sometimes a suspended sentence, sometimes a small or moderate fine. So do the perps learn their lesson? No, what they learn is the court is weak, the judge is a fool and the felon gets away with the illegal possession. The criminal is saved from justice to commit crime at a future date. 

Another cute trick pulled by a Natchez judge occurred this week. The 18-year-old before the court did indeed possess a stolen gun. Instead of finding him guilty or binding the accused over to the grand jury, the judge retired the case to the file for one year. At the end of a year, if the young man keeps his record clean, then the case will be dismissed. 

This kind of judicial malfeasance if repeated many times over has the same result as a suspended sentence or small fine. It guarantees the criminal knows he has played the game and won and escaped justice. 

We acknowledge that repeat felony offenders are the primary cause of the death and destruction, the violent and property crime scourge destroying Natchez-Adams County. But we also admit that our judges are contributing to the continuation of our crime wave due to light sentencing. 

Those convicted of transferring or possessing stolen guns should always get jail time of up to five years as the law provides and the circumstances of the offense dictate. 

Every person who is convicted of a felony gun crime has earned jail not hugs and kisses or a stern warning from the court.

Where Are We Heading?

Natchez remains in crisis

by Peter Rinaldi

I have a great love for Natchez. But the incredible ignorance of its citizens always alarms me. The lack of good education, lack of skills and widespread drug and alcohol dependency help determine our future, and especially when you consider our lack of capital for growth and our isolated location. The growth of crime is a direct result of these negative characteristics. 

We’ve spent millions extra on our local public schools, but overwhelmingly 25-50 percent of Natchez students fail to meet grade level expectations. And 21 percent of our adults have not even graduated from high schools. Household incomes are 40 percent below state averages. We are poorer now as a community than we have been since the 1960’s. And poverty and ignorance work hand in hand. 

Thinking and analytical skills are not our strong suit, especially among our so called leaders. Our citizens elect officials who are incompetent and themselves poorly skilled and educated. You can’t expect dumb people to lead you out of a mess. They will only make it worse. 

The school system is spinning out of control. The number of jobs has declined 15 percent in a decade. And the population continues to flow outward. As almost a symbol of these manifest problems is our warped view of politics. Right now, we have only three realistic presidential candidates. And similar to 2020, who would Natchez Adams County vote for? Biden, of course. 

This love-worship of liberalism is reflected in local politics as well. The voters love big spenders and bull throwers. The politicians use reassessment of properties to move their city, county and school budgets above $130 million. Spend and take on debt. And while government gets bigger, the community gets smaller and poorer. 

Despite this sad assessment, I like you, hope for and wish for great gains and achievements that are always on the horizon but never seem to arrive. 

For me, my only recourse is to continue to write the local news and comment when things are going well or poorly. And when you are lied to or misled by the politicians for their own personal gain, those actions must be pointed out as well. 

While I respect The Democrat’s role as cheerleader for the community and a recorder of all things good and positive, I would not ever feel comfortable in the role of a pom-pom girl. I’m a conservative social, political and economic reformer. Unfortunately, I can’t change. So I remain a pain in the butt for some. But if you read my FB and website posts, you will know more about our community even if you disagree with my conclusions. 

My love and affection for Natchez-Adams County demands that I point out and analyze problems, make suggestions for improvement and be a taxpayers’ advocate. 

I invite you to follow my news and writings on FB and miss-loumagazine.com. Weigh in when the mood or issue strikes you. I always welcome comments and opinions that differ from mine. 

When I started this “news journey” more than 40 years ago, I expected our community to make significant progress. That has not happened. But I am unwilling to give up. As long as I can breathe and type, I must write what is both informative and entertaining for Natchez-Adams as well as Vidalia- Ferriday-Concordia. I’m stuck like hamster on its wheel. But it’s a good stuck. 

Your input is always appreciated.

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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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

This Pride Stuff Isn't Healthy by Dennis Prager

I’ve never understood ethnic, race, gender or sex pride. Even as a kid. For my bar mitzvah, someone gave me a book titled “Great Jews in Sports” or something like it.   

Aside from the usual jokes — it was not a long book; the print and the photos were very large — what I remember best was that I had little interest in the book. I loved sports. And I strongly identified as a Jew — I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home and attended yeshivas until the age of 19. So, my disinterest in the book didn’t emanate from either disinterest in sports or disinterest in Jews. I was keenly interested in both.  

But even at the age of 13, the idea of ethnic pride meant little to me. As far as I could tell, my friends — and, of course, the relative who gave me the book — considered the book quite meaningful. They were proud of Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, of the great Cleveland Indians third baseman Al Rosen, of the lightweight boxing champ Benny Leonard, and the other Jews who were featured. 

I apparently marched to the beat of a quirky drummer. It turned out, however, that my attitude at 13 wasn’t a quirk. Though I didn’t realize it then, it was actually the dawning of a conviction — that maybe group pride wasn’t a great idea. 

The next time that view hit me was when I was in college and the slogan “black is beautiful” was becoming popular. This time I did more than not relate to group pride; I objected to it. How could a race be beautiful? Isn’t the idea of a beautiful race itself racist? When I raised these questions in my college and graduate school years, I was given one of two answers: After being put down for so many years, blacks needed to bolster their self-image. And since blacks — especially black women — had suffered greatly because white beauty was the normative standard of physical beauty, “black is beautiful” was a much-needed corrective. These were entirely understandable explanations. But I still recoiled. Perhaps being a Jew born only a few years after the Holocaust rendered race-based pride scary.   

It turned out my instinct was right: It is scary. “Black is beautiful” soon morphed into “black power,” a phrase that, often accompanied with a raised clenched fist, was meant to be scary. And then, in an echo of Aryan racism, terms like “race traitor” were thrown around to describe any black who wasn’t into “black power” or “black solidarity.” Soon, feminist women joined the group solidarity bandwagon with “girl power”; “I am woman, hear me roar”; “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”; “Any job a man can do, a woman can do better” and other puerile celebrations of “sisterhood,” a term which applied only to women who shared feminist views. Women who didn’t share those views were not just gender-traitors; they weren’t even women. Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem famously called conservative Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a “female impersonator.” Group pride is a characteristic of all left-wing thought and activism. The most recent incarnation of group pride is LGBTQ pride. Every company, every professional sports team, every Democratic politician, even the armed forces and American embassies around the world are expected to celebrate Pride Month, Pride Night and year-round LGBTQ Pride.    

This is problematic for at least two reasons. 

First, what exactly is one proud of? What accomplishment is involved in being gay, lesbian or bisexual? Even trans is allegedly built into one’s nature. Isn’t the entire premise of the LGBTQ movement that one does not choose one’s sexual orientation or sexual identity? Wasn’t anyone who argued that homosexuality is a choice declared a hater and a science denier? So, then, if no choice is involved, no effort on the part of the individual — let alone no moral accomplishment — what is there to be proud of? Maybe I couldn’t identify with Jewish pride over great Jewish athletes, but at least they all actually accomplished something. The other problematic element has to do with why the LGBTQ movement does everything possible to bludgeon every institution into celebrating Pride Nights, Days, Weeks and Months. The reason is the totalitarian nature of all left-wing movements. Unlike liberal and conservative movements, every left-wing movement is totalitarian. Therefore, it is not enough for people to tolerate or even show respect to LGBTQ individuals. We must all celebrate lesbianism, male homosexuality, the transgendered and queers. No left-wing movement is a movement for tolerance. They are movements that demand celebration.    

For the first time in any of our lifetimes, the Left may have met an immovable obstacle. Americans are prepared to tolerate just about everything and everyone. But at least half of us will not celebrate girls who have their breasts removed — or the therapists and physicians who facilitate it. At least half of us will not celebrate men dressed as women, especially those who dance in front of 6-year-olds. And while some medical schools have been cowed into saying “birthing person” rather than “pregnant woman,” at least half of us will hold the cowards who run these medical schools in contempt. 

I return to my opening point. I have devoted much of my life to helping my fellow Jews. It started when I was 21 years old, and the Israeli foreign office sent me into the Soviet Union to smuggle in Jewish items and smuggle out names of Jews wanting to leave the Soviet Union. I have brought many disaffected Jews back to Judaism. And I have constantly fought for Israel’s security. I am very happy to be a Jew. But I don’t quite relate to being proud of it — it was not my achievement; it was an accident of birth. That is equally true of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and orientation. You don’t get credit for, shouldn’t be proud of and have no right to demand others celebrate something you had nothing to do with.  

Finally, if you’re honest, group pride must be accompanied by group shame. Yes, a disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners were Jews. But a disproportionate number of Western spies for Stalin were also Jews. If you’re not prepared to be ashamed of your group, don’t take pride in it. That rule applies to blacks, gays, women, Christians and every other group in the world.

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

Truth is a liberal value, and truth is a conservative value. It is not a left-wing value.


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Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

What Are Trees Worth? by James L. Cummins

Ask anyone about the value of a tree and you can expect such answers as: trees give us oxygen and purify our air; trees beautify our surroundings and provide valuable wildlife habitat; or trees provide valuable lumber and wood products that people use every day. It is important to remember that the value of some trees is not simply measured by the dollar value of its wood or other products, but also by its aesthetic value or the non-market benefits it can provide. No, money does not grow on trees, but many people do not realize that trees have a dollar value of their own that can be measured by competent foresters and tree appraisers. 

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Here are some factors used to determine the value of trees: 

Current Market: Current market demand is generally based on housing trends, new home starts, and the paper market. The higher the demand, the higher the prices paid for trees. 

Distance to Market: Obviously, it is less expensive to drive 30 miles than it is 60 miles, so trees nearer the market could receive higher value than those further from the market. Buyers typically work within a 90-mile radius of their mill but often go further when market prices are high. 

Tree Variety: The value placed on certain trees varies by their species and location. For instance, pine trees are a top dollar producer in the southern half of Mississippi, whereas they are less valuable farther north. Hardwood tree values often depend upon the species and quality. 

Quality: High-quality trees are straight, tall trees with few branches on the lower portion of the tree. Defects and bends in the trunk can significantly reduce the value.

Size: Generally, larger trees contain more wood-volume and earn more money for the landowner. Trees are measured by diameter and height to estimate volume. So wider, taller trees make the most money–unless, of course, it is hollow and then it would be valuable only as a wildlife tree. 

Pulpwood Trees: Pulpwood can come from any commercial tree species that does not have the size or quality to make higher quality wood products. It mostly comes from small diameter trees (at least 5 inches dbh), but also includes large trees with defects or low branches that eliminate sawtimber possibilities. Pulpwood is used to make paper products, oriented strand board (OSB), and several other useful goods. 

Chip-and-saw: This is a common product of Southern pine stands with trees between 9 and 14 inches dbh. These trees are used to create a small amount of good boards and lumber, while the rest is chipped and used like pulpwood. This can bring 2 to 3 times the price of pulpwood. 

Sawtimber and Veneer Size Trees: Trees that are 14 inches dbh with at least 16 feet of clear trunk can be used as sawtimber or veneer. These are the high-quality wood products that make harvestable trees valuable to the landowner. 

If you have a stand of trees you would like evaluated, contact your local forester.

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.

15044 Blue Marlin Terrace, Bonita Springs. FL 34135


Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Aunt Olga's Famous Chicken Salad with Anna Kotova

Hands On Time: 25 mins Total Time: 2 hrs 25 mins Yield: 4 to 6 servings 

This old-fashioned recipe harkens back to our great aunt's day when a well-seasoned mix of chopped chicken and celery were bound together with homemade mayonnaise and a generous splash of fresh lemon juice. Boiled eggs and pickled relish were optional. Large hens, simmered until tender, yielded both white and dark meat for maximum flavor


4 cups chopped cooked chicken 

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped 

1 cup chopped celery 

1/4 cup chopped onion 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon celery salt 

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper 

Dash of ground red pepper 

3/4 cup mayonnaise 

1/2 teaspoon paprika 

Fresh parsley, for garnish 


Gently toss together first 9 ingredients in a bowl. Fold in 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise; cover and chill 2 hours. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Spoon chicken salad into a serving dish; sprinkle with paprika.

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

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


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

Amy Alkon

Social Notworking by Amy Alkon

Dear Amy: My 40-something younger brother has been "friending" my hot female friends on Facebook, women I have befriended in real life whom he's never even met! I said nothing at first. Then, one of these women posted a photo of herself, and I commented on it in a flirtatious way. Up pops my brother, commenting on my comment in a way that killed her ability to respond to me and adding a personal message to me: "Hey, bro, call me when you're up." I was upset that he'd butted into my conversation with her, and I don't think her page is a place for him to leave messages to me. I asked him to remove his comment, and he was upset and insulted. Shouldn't etiquette standards apply online, too? If I'm having a face-to-face conversation with someone, it's considered rude to just walk up and butt in. And, isn't it a little creepy that my brother trolls my Facebook page and "friends" women he's never met? -- Invaded 

Dear Invaded: Facebook brings a lot of people closer, like the hot women you've gone to the trouble of developing friendships with in real life and your brother, who's gone to the trouble of paying his electric bill and turning on his computer.             

Hot women on the Internet -- those who don't take credit cards for their friendship -- can be pretty guarded. Luckily, your brother shares your last name, so instead of your hot friends seeing his friend request and thinking "Eek, who's this perv?" they probably think something like, "Oh, how adorable. Joe Blow has a little brother, Bo Blow." As unfair as it seems that your brother logged in to Facebook and sat there in his underwear helping himself to a salad bar of your female friends, you seem to have misunderstood something about the nature of Facebook conversations. "Facebook" is not the name of a romantic restaurant where you've booked a table for two. You're having these flirtatious exchanges at a "table" for, oh, 547 of a woman's closest friends -- along with any "friends" she might've made through those friends. This might explain why they call it "social networking" and not "social isolation."   

No, your brother shouldn't turn some woman's Facebook page into the digital version of the write-on/wipe-off board your mom used to have by the kitchen phone. Because he got to this woman through you, this makes you look bad by association. So, you aren't wrong to want him to change his message-leaving behavior, and you can call dibs if there's one particular woman you're putting the moves on. But telling someone what to do, even when a demand is phrased as a request (to remove the comment, in this case), generally doesn't inspire him to say, "Right, I was a jerk. I'll change, pronto!" It makes him angry, hurt, and defensive. A more effective approach is telling him you feel bad about something he's doing, evoking his sympathy. That's probably your best bet for getting him to back off a bit from your Facebook harem, considering it's a little late to put your privacy settings on lockdown and way late to take the age-old approach to brotherly conflict resolution: "Maaaaa! Bo's stealing all my hotties -- just like he stole my firetruck 45 years ago!"

The reality is, once he's more established, his priority may shift from needing a signal to wanting a partner. At that point, he may come to see the beauty in the sort of woman who has something on her mind — uh, besides a $200 double-process blond dye job and $600 in hair extensions.

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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

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.

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