Natchez, Miss.
Postings Daily

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

Adams deputies and state game wardens used ATVs to locate and rescue William Rizzuto, 70, of Natchez, while became lost in the woods in the Homochitto National Forest on Saturday. Rizzuto was found after hours of being lost, tired but in good condition. 

The Miss. PEER legislative report said the Natchez Adams-School district debt service costs to district revenue ratio is 11.8%, significantly higher than the state median and regional peer average. This ratio reflects the proportion of revenue allocated to servicing debt obligations, such as loan or bond interest payments, relative to the overall revenue generated by the school system. A higher ratio suggests that a significant portion of the school system's income covers debt payments, potentially limiting funds available for critical purposes like educational programs, facility maintenance, teacher salaries, and student resources. The district's fund balance ratio is high. The high fund balance is likely influenced by the COVID-19 relief funding. Therefore, the district should conduct an annual review of the fund balance in relation to its strategic plan, ensuring long-term support for the success of educational programs. The district should thoroughly review its budgeting process to enhance the alignment between the initial budget plans and the outcomes, as it needs to improve its budget forecasting in relation to actual revenues and expenditures. The district employs electronic forms and workflow tools, and automated time and attendance management systems. The district has maintained a commendable record of zero payroll errors. The district should review the payroll process and try to bring costs and efficiencies in line with peer districts. If the district could align its performance with that of peer districts it could save on Workers' compensation costs, which were higher than the state median when measured per $100,000 of payroll spending. and employee.

Depot spending approved

Natchez aldermen will spend $247,000 to make improvements to The Depot. The city hopes to have the remodeling done by spring, using Visit Natchez staff to operate a welcome center there, since the Park Service visitor center is closed for repairs and remodeling. 

The Miss. Supreme Court had issued a stay of execution in the case of Willie Jerome Manning. The state had planned to set a date for the execution. Manning was convicted 30 years ago of killing Jon Steckler of Natchez and his girlfriend Tiffany Miller in Starkville. An appeals court affirmed both the conviction and the death penalty sentence. Manning has attracted the support of liberal media and civil rights lawyers who believe he should not have been convicted. But the state maintains there was overwhelming evidence presented at trial that Manning did indeed murder the couple. Manning filed for post conviction relief and the state is expected to respond formally to the petition before the Court makes a final decision.

The State of Louisiana said Catahoula schools have earned a performance grade of C for 2023, with Block High at C, Jonesville Elementary at D, Harrisonburg at B, and Sicily Island at C.

increasing profits

Trinity Medical continues to attract more patients and has increasing revenues. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023, the hospital posted a profit of $2 million. 

Monterey High School has an enrollment of 393 students K-12. The state says it’s performance has improved from a grade of B to a grade of A. 

Adams deputies arrested Bryan Melton,51, of Natchez, in Feb. 2020 for possessing meth with intent. Now he’s been arrested again for selling meth. Bond is set at $100,000.

The Miss. Bandmasters will hold its annual clinic in Natchez Dec. 6-9. Between 800-1200 people are expected to attend or participate.

Natchez woman dies in crash

Brittany Davis, 33, of Natchez, was killed when the car she was driving on Hwy. 84 in Franklin County left the roadway and struck a tree. The accident occurred Wed. morning around 2:30 a.m.  

CPSO detectives arrested a Fayette man, when he traveled to meet a minor after online communications. The Cyber Crime Unit began investigating the adult subject, after he made contact with the minor online, engaging in lewd conversation. He then made plans to meet, arriving to do so on Nov. 27, at which time he was taken into custody without incident. Arrested was Dayquan Banks, 24, of Fayette, for indecent behavior with juveniles. 

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, communicating with a minor online in a sexual manner. During the conversation, the subject transmitted sexually explicit photos of himself, requesting the same in return, while engaging in extremely lewd dialogue. After being positively identified an arrest warrant was obtained. CPSO detectives along with members of the Adams County Sheriff's Office executed the warrant at the suspect's residence and he was taken into custody without incident.  Arrested was Richard Dylan Collier, 21, of Natchez, for indecent behavior with juveniles and computer aided solicitation of a minor.

Natchez deserves 4 more years of successful leadership! Volunteer. Contribute. Support. Re-elect Dan. M. Gibson, Mayor! Visit: http://www.DanGibsonForMayor.com. Paid for by the Dan M. Gibson Campaign • Mac Hazlip, Treasurer: 318-267-6419 • 612 Washington Street · Natchez, MS 39120.

Montebello killing

Terry Lewis, 20, of Natchez, was shot and killed while exiting a car at a home on Ridgewood Rd. Natchez police said the shooter thought he was killing someone else in a case of mistaken identity. Adrian Brown, age not certain, approximately 18-20, will be charged with manslaughter. 

The attorney for Jamal Lee Watson asked for a lower bond to get his perp out of jail at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday. Watson was arrested in April for shooting and trying to kill people inside an RV at the Natchez Market parking lot. This July in jail, Watson tried to grab a deputy’s taser, wrestled with jailers, injuring one of the staff. In July 2022, he was arrested in Tarrant County, Texas for illegally carrying a weapon.  Judge Debra Blackwell denied the request.

Adams deputies arrested Tony D. Chisholm, 43, of Woodville, after he allegedly assaulted a man in Woodville and then tried to escape police by coming to Natchez. Deputies arrested him in possession of a SKS rifle. He had been recently released from custody of MDOC. 

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Aleshia Dennis

The Concordia Parish Police Jury will hold a a regularly scheduled public meeting Dec. 11. Part of that meeting will discuss whether to permit a group home for teenage girls at 242 Freeman Road, called the Blossom Therapeutic Group Home. Aleshia Dennis is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, listed as the company’s registered agent and applicant. She is a native of Vidalia. She will be at the meeting to answer jurors’ questions. 

Junior Derozan, 70, of Vidalia, was originally charged with neglect of an elderly person under his care, when his victim was found with serious burns. Now she has died from her injuries, and he has been charged with negligent homicide.

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating allegations of indecent behavior directed toward a child by an adult subject. A forensic interview was conducted with the victim, at which time it was learned that the adult subject had exposed himself to the child in a sexual manner while outside a Vidalia residence. At the time of the investigation, the subject was already in custody at the CPSO jail on charges of child exploitation from an October arrest and was rebooked accordingly. Arrested was Allen Harris, 38, of Natchez, for indecent behavior with juveniles, with the victim under age 13.

Santa is coming to town

Christmas parades include: Bude-Meadville, Nov. 30, 2 p.m.; Jonesville, Dec. 1, 6 p.m.; Natchez, Dec. 2, 6 p.m.; Vidalia, Dec. 3, 3:30 p.m.; Waterproof, Dec. 8, 2 p.m.; Sicily Island, Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m.; ,Dec. 9, 6 p.m.; and Harrisonburg, Dec. 15, 6 p.m.   

Wilkinson supervisors decided to go with AMR for at least another year. The ambulance service will charge the county $180,000 for the year instead of the prior rate of $80,000 a year. The payment subsidizes emergency and non-emergency service.

In Wilkinson County Circuit Court, Judge Carmen Drake sentenced Deyond Adams to seven years suspended after he plead guilty to breaking and entering. He has been ordered to pay $1032.50 in court costs and restitution and will be placed on post release supervision for five years. Defendant Jeremi Bonds requested a lowering of his bond set at $1.15 million. He has been charged with drive by shooting, conspiracy to murder, shooting into a dwelling and felony malicious mischief. Drake reduced bond to $605,000. D’Vonte Evans plead guilty to aggravated assault and received seven years in jail and five years suspended plus five years on post-release supervision. He is to pay $2182.50 in fines and court costs and $75,000 in restitution. Zychaun Van Norman plead guilty to drive by shooting. He will serve five years in jail plus 15 years suspended, be assessed $4182.50 in fines and court costs and $75,000 in restitution. Braylon McQuirter plead guilty to accessory after the fact and received 10 years suspended, five years post-release supervision, $682.50 in court costs and $75,000 in restitution.  

Hoodies banned

Catahoula parents went to their school board meeting to complain that the ban on hoodies in schools should be reversed. But the board plans to keep the new policy as a way of improving security. School administrators say hoodies allow kids and visitors to hide who they are. And in case of violence or misbehavior, it’s hard to identify the perpetrator on camera. The policy went into effect this month. The district publicized the change through FB, the Catahoula News Booster and sent a letter home with students. But some parents remained angry over the decision.

A Miss. Legislative PEER review of the Natchez-Adams School District found that the district was purposely inflating grades of students, giving the kids A’s and B’s they did not deserve. The deception led students, families and the public to believe students had achieved proficiency in math and language arts, when performance tests revealed the exact opposite, that students in grades 3-8 did not have the skills they needed, and the district was using the grade inflation to mask the truth about its failures. Only 8-35% of students displayed proficiency, at-grade level skills, depending on the grade and subject matter. On average, proficiency was under 25 percent district wide. The Legislative review did not comment on whether the grade inflation was fostered by teachers themselves or promoted by the administration as a mandate. But the problem was found in all grades 3-8, but especially more severe and widespread in grades 6-8. The school district was informed of the review findings in October, but so far, neither the school board nor the administration has made the state’s criticisms and audit findings public. The PEER report is available online. https://www.peer.ms.gov/.../peer.../rpt693_Instruction.pdf 

Miss-Lou car dealer Brett Oubre plans to move his Natchez Chevrolet GMC to John R. Junkin Drive on the lot next to Dairy Queen. He will construct a new building on the site. 

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. 

Call 318-336 9934 for more information. www.vidaliaconventioncenter.com

Fatal accident

Jesse Lee Reynolds, 47, of Brookhaven, was driving southbound on Hwy. 563 near the Buffalo community in Wilkinson County, when he crashed his rig. Reynolds was killed in the accident. 

Southern Designs has discontinued operations in Vidalia and closed its doors. The owner plans to work with partners to convert his Natchez K-Mart building to a climate controlled storage facility.

Fayette police said Jarvonti Doss, 26, and Kelvion Tenner, 23, both of Fayette, exchanged gunfire at a local c-store Thanksgiving night. Both men were wounded and will be charged with aggravated assault. Doss’ wounds were more serious and he was airlifted out for treatment. Tenner was treated locally at the Jefferson County Hospital and then put in jail.   

Ambulance costs increase

AMR has been charging Wilkinson County $80,000 a year for ambulance service. But the company has not increased its charges to the county since 2008. Effective Nov. 1, AMR will charge Wilkinson $180,000 a year. Supervisors didn’t budget an increase. So they may rebid the service. AMR says it plans to increase the cost another$100,000 in October 2024. This news left supervisors in shock. The big increases had supervisors wondering where they’ll get the money for a $200,000 increase in costs.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has ruled that Marcel Smith’s trial for conspiracy to murder and first degree murder was conducted properly by Judge Al Johnson in June 2022. Smith, of Wilkinson County, shot and killed Carl Newton as part of a revenge killing in 2018 on Natchez Street in Woodville. Smith’s appeal argued that Johnson committed two procedural errors, rejecting a late request for a continuance and allowing an officer to testify. The appeals court disagreed and said the conviction and sentence will stay in place. Judge Johnson sentenced Smith to 20 years for conspiracy and life for the murder, sentences to be served concurrently. 

Adams County deputies now have in jail Gregory Hunt, 35, of Franklin County, after he allegedly beat and raped his ex-girlfriend. Hunt surrendered to authorities. 

Christmas in Natchez begins

Judge John Reeves sentenced convicted murderer Brad Dosher to 40 years in prison for the manslaughter killing of Dosher’s own father and 15 years to be served concurrently for felon in possession of a weapon. Dosher is already in Angola serving 10 years for aggravated flight from an officer. 

Adams County reports 10,070 workers with jobs, up 70 jobs from a year ago. Concordia Parish has 6,626 people employed, down 37 jobs compared to last year at this time.

Chris Kent is returning as Superintendent of Education after Franklin County's School Board voted to hire him as a part-time retiree. The decision came during last week's meeting of the Board, allowing Kent to serve the district while still drawing his retirement from the Public Employees Retirement System. Retired employees have the option of returning to work in the public sector and still draw their retirement as long as the employees works part-time and waits at least 90 days before working back in the public sector. The contract Kent and the School Board agreed to runs from Dec.1-June 30, 2024.

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Collections drop

Natchez sales tax collections declined 6.4% in October compared to October 2022. For the period July-October collections fell 5.2% compared to July-October 2022.

The Vidalia Police Department responded with the Vidalia Fire Department to a home located on Walnut St. Upon arrival, officers discovered there was an elderly female who had suffered burns down the right side of her body beginning at her hairline extending down to her hip. After being evaluated at Trinity Medical Center, the burn victim was airlifted to a burn center for further treatment. After the investigation began, it was found that the victim suffers from dementia and was left alone in the home. This case is ongoing and more arrests are pending. Arrested was Junior Derozan, 70, for abuse and neglect of an adult and cruelty to the infirm.

Adams County Deputy Wes Stroud responded to a call from a home in The Meadows subdivision and performed CPR on a five year old boy who had fallen into a swimming pool nearly drowning. Stroud was able to save the boy’s life. The child is recovering in a Baton Rouge hospital 

Ferriday couple arrested

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating allegations of a child being sexually abused, after being notified by mandated reporters. Based on the evidence, two subjects were taken into custody on Friday, November 17th and booked into the CPSO jail. The child received medical treatment, was removed from the home and placed in the safety of another. The CPSO worked with the Ferriday Police Department on the case. Arrested were Derrick L. Frazier, 38, of Ferriday, for first degree rape of a victim under age 13, and Rebecca Green, 32, of Ferriday, for principal to first degree rape of a victim under age 13, cruelty to juveniles, failure to report felonies and sexual abuse of a child.

The Homochitto National Forest announced that it is temporarily lowering the water levels at Okhissa Lake by approximately 12 feet so workers can make some needed repairs. Workers will be repairing a damaged gate, necessitating the drawdown of the lake. The drawdown should take about three to four weeks to reach the needed levels. The time needed to repair the gate will be determined once the drawdown is complete. With the lower water levels, boaters should expect at some point that they will not be able to use the north boat ramp.

In runoff voting, La. State Representative C. Travis Johnson won re-election with 52% of the vote. In Concordia, Kenneth Wayne Simpson won the Police Juror Dist. 2 battle and Cornell Lewis won the Police Juror Dist. 3, Place B race. Tax measures supporting the local schools and Fire Dist. No. 2 passed. In Catahoula, Micah Hughes won the Police Juror Dist. 2 contest and Donald Myers the Police Juror Dist. 4 race.

Lawsuit settled

Titan Tire closed in 2001, but the company was still obliged to pay rent to the City of Natchez for the property. When Titan stopped paying the rent unilaterally, the city filed suit. Now the parties have agreed to settle the dispute, with Titan paying $725,000 as a final payment.

The Concordia Police Jury heard about a proposed solar farm in its meeting this week. The farm would be approximately 2,000 acres and produce 200 megawatts of energy. No personnel will be located on the solar farm, but the premises will be monitored seven days a week, 24-hours a day from a Florida operational center. If an alarm goes off at the operational center, two or three people will attend to the farm. Those people oversee multiple farms. Audience members and jurors quizzed Ric Morley with Next Era Energy Resources, the company proposing the farm, on the benefits the business venture. The company said the farm would bring the parish as much as $700,000 a year in property taxes. But Assessor Jeannie Archer said such a estimate was way overblown.

Dr. Susan Jenkins and Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson have been honored with Excellence in Government Awards by Gov. Tate Reeves. Jenkins works for the Miss. Department of Health.

Wilkinson principal dies from auto injuries

Wilkinson County High Principal Robert Benson Jr. has died. He sustained serious injuries on Nov. 1 when his vehicle collided with a large semi truck. Benson was well loved by the students, faculty and parents of the Wilkinson County community. He was also known for his outstanding play on the Alcorn State football team. Robert like to pretend he was rough and tough. But he had a heart of gold and loved his students and served as a father figure to many who loved him in return. He was just 34. 

Natchez aldermen approved a contract for $699,000 with Smith Painting and Contracting as the only bidder for Phase 1 of the renovation of the Natchez Convention Center. The entire cost of the convention center renovation is expected to be approximately $3 million.  Aldermen also approved the bid of $299,000 from Hope Enterprises for renovations to the Natchez Civic Center. Aldermen plan to meet with MDOT soon. The state wants the city to consider building at roundabout near John Quitman Parkway.

The Vidalia Police Department received a phone call concerning shots being fired in the area of North Magnolia and Florida Tuesday evening, Nov. 14. Officers quickly arrived and began investigating this matter. During this investigation, the police department received another phone call concerning people running from North Oak towards the old ball fields. With the assistance of the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office and Ferriday PD Chief of Police, Sam King, officers were able to apprehend the subjects running by the old ball fields. Three juveniles have been arrested.

Live camel at nativity

Meadville Methodist Church once again plans to add more life to its live nativity scene with the guest appearance of Frank the Camel. Frank starred in the church's live nativity scene last December, in addition to taking part in the local Christmas parade. This year, the camel can be seen at Meadville Methodist's live nativity scene on Nov. 30, immediately following the Christmas parade. The nativity, which will be located in the church's outdoor pavilion area, will also feature the Franklin County Elementary School's Honor Choir and a petting zoo.

The Bude and Meadville Christmas Parade will be held Nov. 30, at 2 p.m.   

Jonathan White, 29, of Baton Rouge, was arrested at a Maples St., Natchez, home, wanted in Louisiana on kidnapping, auto theft, aggravated flight and other charges. He fled from La. State Police at high speed and was captured by Adams County deputies. He will be extradited to Louisiana.

Wilkinson criminals sentenced

Judge Carmen B. Drake sentenced several defendants in Wilkinson County Circuit Court. Renicia Green plead guilty to two felonies. Green received 10 years with 5 years suspended for introduction of contraband into a penal facility plus 1 year for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the second sentence to be served concurrently. He will be on 5 years post release supervision and pay $2172 in fines and court costs. Kenneth Gibbs was allowed to plead down from felony aggravated assault to misdemeanor simple assault. He will participate in an anger management course and pay $450 in fines and court costs. Derrick Jones plead guilty to forgery. He was sentenced to 5 years with all 5 suspended. He will be on 5 years post release supervision and pay $1200 in fines and court costs and $1500 restitution by Jan. 6, 2024. 

The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce 2023 award winners are Ben Hillyer for Man of the Year and Nicole Harris for Woman of the Year. Businesses of the Year recognized are Magnolia Bluffs Casino and Silver Street Gifts.  

Vidalia residents and businesses should receive their electricity rebate checks next week.   

Supervisor Angela Gibson

Adams County supervisors voted to fill a vacancy at justice court. The court has three clerks now but normally operates with four. Supervisor Angela Hutchins said the court has previously operated with three satisfactorily, and due to budget constraints, should continue to operate with three. Supervisors Gaines, Wilson and Middleton voted to hire the fourth clerk. Gray was absent. 

Weston Sparrow and Ryan Porter and Natchez Disc Golf sponsored a weekend competition at Duncan Park that drew 80 participants. Fundraising efforts were successful, with $4,500 raised. An additional $1,500 is needed to bring the 9-hole course to North Natchez Park.

Tuwona Lollis, 41, of Woodville, was arrested and extradited to West Feliciana Parish, after she allegedly stole almost $20,000 from Fred’s Travel Center, where she worked as a clerk. Deputies said she stole the money from fuel and lottery ticket sales from July-October of this year. Charged with felony theft, she was released on a $25,000 bond.   

Concordia schools improve

The Concordia Parish Schools have improved their school performance scores, resulting in some schools earning a higher overall grade. The 2023 grades included: Monterey A*, Concordia Education Center A*, Vidalia High B, Vidalia Upper Elementary B*, Ferriday High C*, Vidalia Junior High C*, Vidalia Lower Elementary C, Ferriday Upper Elementary D*, Ferriday Lower Elementary D* and Ferriday Junior High F (*schools earning a higher letter grade than last year). 

The Vidalia Fire Department will begin flushing fire hydrants on Nov. 27. This may cause the water to be discolored in the area where the flushing is taking place. The water will be safe for consumption at all times. This procedure will take approximately four (weeks to complete. 

Christmas in Natchez runs Nov. 25-Dec. 25. For events, go to christmasinnatchez.org or visitnatchez.org. 

Missing school

The Miss. Department of Education says chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more (18 days) of a school year for any reason. Any student who misses 50% or more of a school day is considered absent. Natchez-Adams School District has 3004 students, and 554 were chronically absent in the past year, 18.44%.

Concordia deputies arrested Bill A. Graham, 44, of Ridgecrest, for possession of and intent to distribute drugs as well as possession of drugs in the presence of a minor. In 2022, he was arrested for possession of drugs, felon in possession of a weapon, and obliteration of a serial number on a gun. He remains in the parish jail.

The Nov. 18 Concordia ballot includes three local races: Representative District 21 (C. Travis Johnson, Jamie Davis), Police Jury District 2 (Kenneth Wayne Simpson, Raymond T. Riley) and Police Jury District 3, Place B (Scottie Whittington, Cornell Lewis).

No arrest yet

Ferriday police said a student left a message of a bomb threat on the campus of Ferriday High on Friday morning. Police Chief Sam King said the threat was “non-electronic.” The school was evacuated. No bomb was found. 

Natchez sales tax collections for July-September 2022 were $1.52 million and for 2023 $1.45 million. 

Adams County is advertising for a county administrator again. Chancery Clerk Brandi Lewis has been serving as interim. The county is also hiring an IT person.

The Miss-Lou Military Museum and Veterans Welcome Center, 107 Jefferson Davis Blvd., Natchez will hold a grand opening and ope house Nov. 12 from 12-2 p.m. The event is organized by the Home With Heroes Foundation and Natchez Mayor’s Veterans Task Force. Call Mark LaFrancis 601-442-0980 for info.

Missing teen

Catahoula Sheriff’s deputies say Mallory Nations, 15, has been reported missing. She was last seen in Clayton on Nov. 9 at 7:15 a.m. Nations may be in Concordia. If you know of her whereabouts, contact law enforcement. 

Northeast La. Substance Abuse agency provides drug counseling, parenting and anger management therapy, drug screening for teens and adults. The non profit works with the courts and the Dept. of Children and Family Services. The agency will soon open an office in the Catahoula courthouse in Harrisonburg. 

Franklin County native Robert James Washington was inducted into the Alcorn State University 2023 Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet and ceremony held on Oct. 27. Washington, a graduate of Franklin County High School, played football at FCHS, Alcorn State University as well as with the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Rapper's conviction and sentence upheld

A La. appeals court has ruled that Natchez rapper Jordan Johnson did in fact shoot and kill Da'John Mitchell in 2018 at a Jonesville Club. The court confirmed both the conviction and the sentence of life plus 20 years without DA Bradley R. Burget, Seventh District said, “Serving on a jury is never easy. When the trial involves a homicide, the responsibility for weighing the evidence is of the utmost importance. The jury seated in defendant Jordan Johnson’s case, did their job with distinction. I’m pleased the 3rd Circuit affirmed their unanimous verdict,” said Seventh Judicial District Attorney Bradley R. Burget. “I’ll leave the more frivolous, obviously unfounded, aspects of the appeal for others to consider. We’re satisfied that justice was served and now there can be closure for all.” Johnson was performing at the Suga Shak when Mitchell allegedly bumped into a member of his entourage. Johnson reportedly drew a .380 and shot Mitchell in the back then four more times after the initial shot. 

CPSO Jail Warden Michael Brescher used CPR to save the life of an unresponsive person at the parish correctional facility on Oct. 17. Sheriff David Hedrick has recognized Brescher for his heroic aid. 

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has introduced a bill that would bring Historic Jefferson College and the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians under the auspices of the National Park Service and the Natchez National Park. The National Park Service has not said whether it favors the idea. The transfer would also need the approval of the Mississippi Legislature. 

Just 10 bears can be harvested

Louisiana took a very conservative approach when establishing its two week black bear hunting season this December. The state will allow only 10 bears to be harvested. This low limit has upset farmers who say there are so many bears in places like Tensas Parish, the bears have become a pest. Officials have identified four distinct bear populations in the state. Those populations are large enough now that they can reproduce within their own groups without outside help from nearby groups. The bear habitat has been expanded through conservation and small numbers of Louisiana black bears have been noticed even in Wilkinson County and Northwest Mississippi. Scientists are tracking the movements of the bears with radio collars and wildlife cameras. While the bear population dropped to 80-120 bears statewide in the 1950s due to hunting, the scientists believe that the statewide population is now more than 200, with the largest numbers in Tensas Parish and the Atchafalaya River Basin. While farmers and hunters are reporting sightings of many bears, wildlife officials believe the total number of bears is small and many of the sighting reports are a single bear seen multiple times. They base this conclusion on the tracking data of both males and females with cubs. 

Vidalia Methodist Church will begin rebuilding soon. The church burned to the ground in 2021. The new church will be built in several phases. Some of the new furnishings have been donated to Vidalia Methodist by a church in Shreveport that closed. Those furnishings are currently in storage. The Methodists will continue to use Vidalia Presbyterian until their new church is built. 

The Roxie Fire Department will purchase new gear after receiving approval to spend up to $25,000 of its rebate funds during this week's meeting of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors. The department plans to purchase seven sets of turn-out gear, as well as two spotlights to go on top of one of the fire trucks. 

Cotton, Patten and Givens win 

With all three counties reporting in the District Attorney's race, Tim Cotton won with 9223 votes and Shameca Collins received 6960 votes. Adams County election returns included: Sheriff (Travis Patten 5132, Curtis Davis 3352), Circuit Clerk (Eva Givens 4979, Daye Dearing 3327), Dist. 2 Supervisor (Kevin Wilson 1288, Francis Ransom Jr. 497), Dist. 4 Supervisor (Ricky Gray 1293, Jacquetta McCranie 283), Justice Court Judge South (Danny Barber 1966, Jack Blaney 1157. Timothy Blalock 948, Mary Francis Willard 295). 

In 2022, Congress awarded 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion its Gold Medal for meritorious service in 2022 honoring the Black servicewomen who served in Europe during WW2 organizing and delivering military mail and packages to our armed forces. The Natchez National Cemetery recently held a ceremony to honor Louise R. Bruce, a member of the 6888th, who was posthumously recognized. The group laid a wreath on her grave with a small sign that reads: “6888: Congressional Gold Medal.”

The Roxie Fire Department will purchase new gear after receiving approval to spend up to $25,000 of its rebate funds during this week's meeting of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors. The department plans to purchase seven sets of turn-out gear, as well as two spotlights to go on top of one of the fire trucks.

William S. Maxie

The CPSO began investigating an adult subject, who transmitted unsolicited lewd communications to multiple Vidalia minors by way of social media. Detectives took over the chat, which lasted most of the day, with him engaging in extremely sexually explicit dialogue and making plans to meet the child Friday. During the chats, he also expressed his intent to engage in sexual activity with the minor, even if they weren't willing to. He arrived in Vidalia, at which time he was met by detectives and taken into custody without incident. He was found to be in possession of a hatchet, filet knife and suspected methamphetamine. Arrested was William S. Maxie, 55, of Natchez, for attempted second degree cape, four counts of computer aided solicitation of a minor, four counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and possession of drugs. 

Dr. Ronnie Nettles retired as president of Co-Lin in 2018. But now he’s taken an interim post as head of the Natchez campus, while the college looks for a permanent Dean. Nettles and his wife live in Brandon, but they still own a lake house on Lake Concordia, which they will use while he’s doing his fill-in work. 

Catahoula Deputies Dewain Littleton and Chris Ahmed followed up on a driver speeding through the parish to make a drug bust on Shannon Butler for possession of 21 hydrocodone pills, 13 grams of meth and $5,000 in cash. Butler was charged with speeding, driving under suspension, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia and introduction of contraband into a penal facility. 

Supervisors hear residents' concerns

Several Adams County residents showed up at the supervisors’ meeting to ask questions and raise issues about a proposed oilfield waste disposal site planned for land near Sibley owned by Supervisor Kevin Wilson. The residents expressed health and safety concerns, worries about truck traffic and noise. Supervisors have no role in the permitting process other than to acknowledge there are no zoning problems with the proposal. The county does not have zoning. The Miss. Department of Environmental Quality actually does the permitting. Supervisor Wilson did not participate in the discussion, as he was advised by Board Attorney Scott Slover to leave the meeting room to avoid any conflict of interest. Supervisor Ricky Gray then criticized Wilson for sitting through an earlier meeting and answering questions on the subject. Gray said Wilson should not use a public meeting or his supervisor’s post to promote Wilson’s private interests. Wilson could not respond to Gray’s charges because he was no longer in the room. 

Natchez State Park has completed updates to ten cabins in Natchez that should be ready for reservations in early 2024. Park staff have a short punch list to finish and furniture to set up. 

Harrisonburg has received a grant to build its Steamboat Park adjacent to the river. A splash pad has been installed. Next will be a slip resistant play surface, additional playground equipment and restrooms. A seating area is planned to view the river. There will be a multi purpose athletic court, signage, picnic areas, nautural grass and a walking-hiking trail. The village expects to do the work in phases. The state has allocated up to $300,000 for the project and Harrisonburg must allocate a like amount to fulfill the grant specifications. 

Thomas Luckett

Thomas Luckett has been chosen to be the grand marshal of the 2023 Natchez Christmas Parade on Dec. 2. He is a Mississippi Special Olympics Athlete of The Year and known fort his outgoing personality. 

La. Fire Marshal deputies arrested two Vick, La. men after they set multiple fires at a Larto farm and its equipment over eight months. The pair had been employed at the farm and had been fired. Jacob Cooper, 20, and Dylan Dauzat, 24, were charged with arson and conspiracy. Cooper is also charged with burglary. They may face additional charges. Both were initially booked into the Avoyelles jail to be transferred later to the Catahoula jail.   

The Natchez Police Department is in possession of numerous bicycles which have been recovered, turned in, or found. If you have filed a stolen bicycle report since 2018, please email tbutler@natchez.ms.us with the description and an approximate date when the report was filed.

Miller arrested again

Austin Randall Miller, 28, formerly of Gloster but now a Natchez resident, was charged with statutory rape in Jan. 2023 and placed on a $250,000 bond. Disposition of that charge unknown. Now he’s been charged with aggravated domestic violence by Adams deputies. The new felony carries a penalty of 2-20 years if convicted. He has also been previously arrested for burglary.

Replacing the Jackson Point Road bridge has begun, with the contractor taking down the old span before building the new as part of the $11 million project.

Brittany Lee Anders 43, of Ridgecrest, was arrested in 2017 for embezzling $100,000 from Danny Smith Construction. Now she has been arrested for forgery. Bond was set at $50,000.

Holiday music show

The Natchez Festival of Music presents Christmas Cabaret Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Natchez Civic Center. Over the years, the Natchez Christmas Cabaret has become one of the most anticipated musical events of the holiday season. Each year, there is a different theme for the show and this year’s theme is Rock the Halls, a high-energy Christmas show featuring original Christmas rock songs as well as rock treatments of traditional holiday selections. Experience great holiday songs sung by our great Christmas rock band and singers, as well as some fun comedy numbers. You will hear fun tunes like “Rock and Roll Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Underneath the Tree,” “The Santa Boogie,” “Blue Christmas,” and many more. There’ll be music, lots of dancing, audience participation. General admission tickets are $40, or reserve a table for 10 for $350. For tickets, go to www.natchezfestivalofmusic.com.

Wilkinson County Chancery Clerk Thomas Tolliver Jr. died in 2018. State and local officials discovered he had embezzled $673,000 from the county while in office. The State Auditor was able to recover $298,000 of the stolen monies from his estate. The county CPAs have been trying to assemble missing audits that are supposed to be done each year. Bridgers, Goodman of Greenville says they cannot do an audit for 2017-2018, because the proper records and ledgers were not kept. The county has been missing out on state and federal grants, because so many of its annual audits were not completed. 

Michael Arnaud won the 2023 Natchez Open Championship and a $6000 winner's check at Duncan Park Golf Course.

Community college lauded

Copiah-Lincoln Community College has been recognized for the fourth time as one of the top 150 community colleges among 1000 community colleges nationwide by the Aspen Institute.

A Natchez inmate being held in the Concordia jail was charged with aggravated assault after he severely beat another inmate in early October. Keyshawn Wiley, 28, has now been charged with murder because his injured victim has died. CPSO did not release the name of the man killed.   

LeMichael Floyd shot at a woman in Sept. 2021 and Natchez police arrested him for aggravated assault. He was later released on bond and then arrested for domestic violence and rejailed. DA Shameca Collins never indicted him on the original charge nor did she bring him to trial. Now Judge Debra Blackwell has released him as his defense attorney submitted that Floyd has been denied a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Constitution since he’s been in jail nearly a year and the aggravated assault charge occurred two years ago. Adams County has more than a dozen accused shooter killers, rapists and other serious violent offenders in jail who were arrested a year to two years, even three years ago. Some have recently had charges renewed and refiled in August. But they have been incarcerated so long without trial, they are entitled to their freedom. It’s possible they would all have to be released.

Devonte Jackson gets 20 years

District Attorney Shameca Collins offered Devonte Jackson a plea deal for murdering his girlfriend Devoncia Hammett in 2021. Judge Debra Blackwell told Jackson that it would be wise to accept the plea offer, which he accepted. He plead to reduced charges of imperfect self-defense manslaughter. Blackwell sentenced him to 20 years in jail.  

Natchez aldermen will open bids for interior repairs and improvements to the Depot on Nov. 28. The city has budgeted $192,000 in grant and local funds for the work.

The population of our nearby parishes continues to drop: Catahoula -- 2010 10,407, 2020 8,906, 2023 8,456; Concordia -- 2010 20,822, 2020 18,687, 2023 18,045.

Former jailer arrested again

Fakhrun Nisa, 32, was an Adams County jailer arrested in June for introduction of contraband (tobacco, meth and marijuana) into the jail. Bond was set at $250,000. Now she has been arrested for scamming the elderly in Vidalia. Investigators with the Vidalia Police Department launched an investigation into potential fraud. Once the investigation began, it showed that the victims would receive unsolicited phone calls offering to upgrade their existing cable/satellite TV reception as well as lowering their monthly bill by a company called Planned Upgrade LLC. In exchange for this remote upgrade service, the victims would mail a check to a PO Box in Vidalia. Upon receiving the check, the check would be deposited locally then a large portion would be wire transferred to a subject in a foreign country. One victim was found to have her original check counterfeited approximately 200 times with the total loss and damages totaling near $14,000. As a result of the ongoing investigation, a search warrant was obtained and executed for a residence located in Vidalia. Evidence obtained as a result of the search warrant, along with the interview of the suspect involved, detectives determined there was enough to place the suspect under arrest. Detectives learned as a result of the investigation that the targeted victims are the elderly and retired. Arrested was Nisa, this time for criminal conspiracy, felony theft, identity theft, access device fraud, illegal transmission, issuing worthless checks, bank fraud, forgery, monetary instrument abuse and computer fraud.

The Nov. 18 runoff for La. State Rep. Dist. 21 will feature C. Travis Johnson and James “Jamie” Davis. 

Catahoula farmers planted 132,400 acres this year, with 75,800 acres in soybeans, 36,500 acres in corn, 12,000 acres in cotton, 1,600 acres in grain sorghum, 3,200 acres in wheat and 2,800 acres in rice.  

Nov, 7 ballot

Local races on the Nov. 7 Adams County ballot include: Sheriff (Curtis Davis, Travis Patten), Circuit Clerk (Daye Dearing, Eva Givens), District 2 Supervisor (Frances J. Ransom Jr., Kevin Wilson), District 4 Supervisor (“Ricky” Gray, Jacquetta McCranie), Justice Court Judge Southern District (Danny Barber, Timothy Blalock, Jack Blaney, Mary Francis Willard) and District Attorney (Shameca Collins, Tim Cotton).

Adams deputies have arrested Sandra Latham, 55, of Natchez, for house burglary. She was arrested in 2012 for distributing drugs. Deputies have also charged Larry L. Stampley, 21, for house burglary. His bond was set at $100,000. 

Concordia Parish grows the most soybeans in the state with 121,476 acres. Kylie Miller, LSU AgCenter agent, informed police jury members of the local farming acreage. The second largest crop in Concordia by acreage was corn, coming in at 19,000 acres, which was up from the previous year. Acreage for cotton was down from last year at 5,900 acres, while 5,376 acres were planted in rice. Wheat was planted on 3,417 acres.

Bear hunting

Louisiana will soon allow black bear hunting. The population of bears has increased dramatically since the 1970's. The state believes limited hunting will not adversely affect the population. 

The Silver Street project has received $380,000 in federal funds to repair and stabilize a brick wall. Natchez will add another $127,000 in matching funds. 

The CPSO arrested and charged an adult subject with indecent behavior with juveniles, after traveling to meet a child he had met online. At the time of arrest, he was found to be in possession of suspected methamphetamine, prescription pills and a firearm. As part of the investigation, his personal cell phone device was seized for forensic analysis, which resulted in child sexual abuse material being recovered. He was rebooked accordingly and the matter remains under investigation. Arrested was Chris Custer, 51, of Hazlehurst on 62 counts of pornography involving juveniles with intent to sell or distribute.

Bridge work starting

Work on the Homochitto River Bridge on Highway 98 appears to be getting started earlier than planned. Work was projected to begin in January 2024 to remove and replace the bridge. Signage along the road and around the bridge posted this week indicate that work will begin on Monday, Nov. 6. That means traffic will be re-routed around the work area and new speed limits will be put in place in Franklin County on roads that will be used for detours. 

On October 25, at approximately 8:22 p.m., the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives went to 243 Mason Rd., Jonesville, where they took into custody, Rachel Hathcock, 39. She has been charged with second degree murder of Jonesville resident Tia Renee Wiley Adams, 55. Hathcock is the second arrest in connection to Adams’ death after her body was found in a trash container in Jonesville on October 17. Sheriff Toney Edwards stated, “My detectives have been working diligently to bring this case to a close. I would like to thank Jonesville Police Chief Richard Madison and his staff for their assistance in this investigation. Our office will continue to work with area agencies in order to fight crime in Catahoula Parish.” Hathcock's bond was set at $500,000.

Franklin County Interim Superintendent of Education Dr. Selma Wells tendered her resignation during the October meeting of the Board of Education. Wells has been serving in an interim role since Chris Kent announced his retirement and stepped down. The Board went into executive session to discuss superintendent and performance but took no action on the matter.

Lawsuit filed

Rickey Banks and David Haywood, as owners of the Truth Lounge, have filed suit against Mayor Dan Gibson. Chief Cal Green and 14 other Joe Does, alleging the group engaged in a conspiracy to damage the bar and the livelihood of the owners. The allegations are filed against the defendants as individuals, not the city, seeking an injunction and possible damages from those persons. The suit was filed in Adams County Circuit Court Oct. 23. 

The first piece of property for a railroad running from Tallulah to Vidalia is currently in the process of being purchased, according to Bryant Killen, deputy director for Lake Providence, Vidalia, and Tensas Port commissions. The process of buying land could take many years and it could be more than a decade before any railway is built.

Approximately 50 people attended the Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting to complain about the current garbage contract and the proposal to raise rates to $35 per month. Supervisors listened but in the end voted to increase the fee to $35. Supervisor Ricky Gray tried to deflect criticism of the actions of Gaines, Hutchins and himself, telling those in the room they needed to be better Christians. The rate increase is not quite over. The five year garbage contract calls for a 22 percent increase in the amount United Infrastructure will receive over the five years.  

Judge gives tough sentence to kidnapper


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

Enshrined Failure

Public school kids deserve a better education

by Peter Rinaldi

In the past two years, nearly 20 states have dropped testing requirements for graduating students, including Mississippi. Why? Because the students would fail the tests if forced to take them. Mississippi has moved to a phony grading system where school districts that are failing their students can still earn a B or C. Natchez has a grade of B, but only 10-35 percent of its students are proficient in math or language arts, depending on the grade and subject. 

The real purpose of our public education system and our government schools is to reward employees with good pay, benefits and retirement not educate students. 

If you want a quality education in Natchez, especially if your kids are in elementary or middle school, choose ACCS or Cathedral. If your kids are smart enough to get into Natchez Early College at Co-Lin, they’ll get a good education. Otherwise, put your kids at ACCS or Cathedral. Don’t be foolish and believe the lies told by the Natchez School District as to quality. It has enshrined failure.

Treating the Mentally Ill

Mississippi's mental health treatment crisis

by Peter Rinaldi

Finding the mentally ill appropriate healthcare has always been a problem in Mississippi. Most of these patients lack good medical insurance or financial resources to pay for appropriate care. They need specialized care for their drug, alcohol and other mental illness problems. As a result, the underfunded in-patient care state system almost always has a waiting list. Chancery courts sometimes order the mentally ill to be housed temporarily or not so temporarily in jail, waiting for an opening at a state funded or private care facility. 

The cost for 30 days of in patient care can run $50,000-$100,000 per patient. And the support system needed to start an-inpatient center is more than $2-4 million minimum. So it’s impossible for small counties to start a new in patient mental health care facility. The only county that could actually afford a new center would be Hinds. So we’re more or less stuck with the system we have. 

The Legislature has never properly funded mental health care, either in-patient or outpatient. It never will. 

And mental health is differentiated just like other healthcare. We don’t treat cancer patients the same way we treat diabetics or those with kidney failure. Likewise, the treatment for alcohol and drug addicted persons is different than those with schizophrenia or patients suffering from what we used to call a nervous breakdown. This differentiation increases costs. 

Without proper funding from the state for facilities and programs, continuing inadequate private insurance coverage and the low to moderate incomes of most Mississippi families, it is a problem that simply won’t be fixed. 

I am reminded of the example of a family very close to me, whose mother suffered from both alcohol and drug addiction. The hospital in-patient and outpatient treatment costs out-of-pocket to help the mom regain control of her life and restore her mental and physical health was more than $200,000. 

The problems are great and the resources less so. The Legislature would need to appropriate $100 million a year to begin to tackle this problem. And insurance companies would have to pay more than 80 percent of a 30 day treatment plan less deductibles. Neither is going to occur. 

So some mentally ill patients will end up in jail.

Did the Trash Contract Include Bid Rigging?

Supervisors Warren Gaines Sr., Angela Hutchins and Ricky Gray

by Peter Rinaldi

Adams County supervisors wanted to award their civil engineering and trash contracts to minority contractors. Political decisions. When they did so, the cost to taxpayers rose dramatically.

It turns out that the effort by Supervisors Gaines, Hutchins and Gray to “do the good deed” and help a black contractor backfired when they chose Metro Disposal from Metairie for trash pickup, Metro did a lousy job here and in other communities they served, like Slidell and New Orleans. While other black contractors did a good job in New Orleans, Metro trucks were not maintained and broke down frequently. The company did not pick up trash as scheduled, often skipping some residences for two weeks or more. It was the same story here in Adams County. 

Eventually, service in Adams completely came to an end when Metro ran out of money, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Reorganized as United Infrastructure, the former Metro owners were given a 90 day emergency Adams County contract, but this time at more than double the normal monthly price. 

There was also the question of whether the bid was rigged by the three majority supervisors to give Metro the emergency contract. Supervisors could have offered a long term contract to attract many more potential bidders and to lower the price per month to households and the county. But they purposely offered a short term contract, so that Metro-United could be the winning bidder. 

And of course, the company is still doing a mediocre job, not running complete routes and missing pickups. 

Supervisors Middleton and Wilson have tried to point out to their fellow supervisors that the current approach to trash pickup is costing way too much, as Adams County now has the highest trash pickup rates in state plus the service issues. 

Supervisors Gaines, Hutchins and Gray haven’t dealt with budgeting the extra cost either, deferring the issue to after the elections. But the extra $600,000 has to be budgeted and paid. Trash bills to homeowners should have been more than doubled by now. But no change in billing has been made because four of the five supervisors have election opponents. 

Right now, the majority three seem perfectly content to allow both county and city residents and taxpayers to pay for this error. As of now, city residents are paying for their own trash pickup through their water bills. And city residents are also subsidizing their neighbors out in the county trash pickup through property taxes. Talk about unfair. And probably illegal. 

In past, the state and courts have ruled that utility and trash services had to be paid by the people who actually get those services. 

Please explain to me why in-city residents on Pearl or MLK Street should pay their own trash pickup and also subsidize out-in-the-county trash pickup in Cloverdale, Kingston and Cranfield. 

This whole rotten mess shows how foolish the black majority supervisors are. In an effort to bend over backwards to help a minority contractor, the three supervisors are actually harming thousands of black homeowners in Adams County by providing the most expensive and lousy trash service available. 

All three, Warren Gaines, Angela Hutchins and Ricky Gray, have made statements in the past about how difficult it is to be poor in Adams County. Well, the three are really putting it to those poor folks now. Big time.

Expect the Possible

Mayors Butch Brown, Darryl Grennell and Dan Gibson

by Reter Rinaldi

Natchez mayors and their citizens are always caught in the same trap: expecting a newly elected mayor to lead the community to the prosperity that never happens. What does happen is that by the end of the mayor’s term, many citizens become fed up with the lack of progress and the mayor loses support. This was undoubtedly true during the terms of Mayors West and Middleton as well as the more current Mayors Brown, Grennell and perhaps even Gibson. 

Here’s what occurs. The candidate wants to be elected. So he offers hope, the promise of positive change and economic revival. When the economic revival fails to arrive, the mayor tries to convince his subjects that things are in fact moving forward economically. But citizens quickly notice the mayor’s mistakes, crookedness and lies, and sooner or later, he is overwhelmed by his errors. Revival doesn’t occur and support evaporates.

The biggest error occurs right in the beginning of the campaign, when the mayoral candidate promises to turn around the course of 40 years of history that includes the decline of the wildcat oil industry, the destruction of our manufacturing base, population outflow and a demographic shift from a majority middle class white community to a majority poor black community.

None of our mayors are God or Moses. The Israelites are not being led to a land of milk and honey. 

Instead, citizens should be looking at whether the mayor does a good job running city government as an administrator. Is he wise, careful with money, hard working, honest and ethical? 

Past, current and future mayors face the same core problem. Natchez does not generate enough tax revenues to meet the basic needs of the city, including police, fire, public works, streets, lights, landscaping, tourism, seniors, transportation, facilities maintenance, city employees and community development. 

Unable to meet these needs, many mayors choose to borrow excessively and lie profusely to maintain their position. The result is always the same. The mayor is ejected from office and a new mayor chosen. The cycle begins anew. 

Perhaps Gibson will break this trend. His supporters are counting on his political skills, hard work, energy, bull throwing, butt kissing and borrowed money for big projects to change the course of events. 

To me, Gibson is the agent of change, meaning he is the mayor most likely to give us the management expertise we want to run the city bureaucracy better than it has been in the last 40 years. But I do not expect a successful economic revival led by him. 

And if he and his supporters insist on such revival, he will ultimately fail and lose his seat. 

What Natchez needs to stabilize and grow is a population that increases because there are more jobs paying higher wages than in past. That’s not going to happen. No mayor can make that happen. And actually, recent history of the last 10 years shows Natchez rapidly declining and the gap increasing between our low household incomes and the state average. 

Through the last five mayors, we’ve declined precipitously as a community. And hopes, promises, bull throwing, schemes, scams or good projects are not going to counter the path we’re on. 

So if we want to save Dan and Dan wants to save Dan, then we must adjust our unrealistic aims and concentrate on the things we can actually do with our very limited means. I’m saying we should break the cycle of failure that actually goes back to Tony Byrne’s last term, when the economy started to get shaky. 

The obvious questions are, “What should we do now and in the short term to improve city management and services without breaking the bank and borrowing huge sums? How can we, through our modest means, improve government and quality of life in town for a community that is increasingly majority black, poor and lower middle class?” 

We should break the cycle of disillusion and failure. We should change the way we think and the way city government is led.

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

Searching for the Truth

Crime numbers should be reported

by Peter Rinaldi

Incidents of crime are normally reported to the DOJ annually on a voluntary basis. Participation in crime reporting makes it more likely a city will get crime fighting grants from the feds.

Natchez PD had been tallying the numbers on violent and property crimes since the 1990s. For whatever reasons, the city stopped submitting those statistics at the end of 2020. There is no public info available from DOJ on Natchez for 2021 and 2022. And the PD has not made public any info it might be keeping privately.

I received repeated information from inside NPD that the 2019 and 2020 statistics were adjusted to make the city look safer. However, I was unable to confirm whether the stats were lies or truthful and simply decided to use the phrase “could be incomplete, subject to confirmation.”

It’s unfortunate that the city has decided to keep citizens in the dark. I use crime mapping software to mark where felonies occur and are reported. But I don’t have access to all the info the city and county have on calls and arrests. 

For 2022-2023, it appears that violent crime is increasing once again and that property crime may actually be decreasing a bit. But I’m not sure-sure and would need more police and sheriff’s data to come to a firm conclusion. 

When stats aren’t readily available, it allows law enforcement and politicians to lie about what’s happening. For example, Chief Daughtry claimed he had taken 150 guns off the street. But there was no arrest record to back up that wild claim. Fantasy and baloney. Bull. 

Since citizens pay for their government with taxes, they have a right to know what’s going on. Keeping accurate crime stats, participating in DOJ reporting is normal and necessary for cities of our size and larger. We should know precisely where we stand. 

Of course, if crime is getting worse or much worse, then it’s in the interest of law enforcement and the politicians to hide the facts, so they can keep their cushy jobs and mislead the peons. But it’s not in the community interest to obscure or fail to disclose the truth.

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.


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. 

The Henry 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 homebuilding industry and homeowners. 

Quality, Better Price, Affordability.     

Henry Watts & Company 601-660-0265


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Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Cook a Steak on the Stovetop with Anna Kotova


To begin, pat the steak dry with paper towels. (Any moisture on the exterior of the steak must first evaporate before the meat begins to brown.) 

Season the steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper; the seasoning will stick to the surface and help create a delicious crust. 

Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it’s VERY hot. The best pans for pan-searing are stainless steel or cast-iron since they can withstand high temperatures. 

Add the oil to the pan. You’ll know it’s hot enough when it begins to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan. Carefully set the steak in the pan, releasing it away from you so the oil doesn’t splatter in your direction. It should sizzle. (Use a pan that is large enough that it’s not such a tight fit or the pan will cool down and your food will steam instead of sear.) Leave it alone! 

Avoid the temptation to peek or fiddle or flip repeatedly. The steaks need a few minutes undisturbed to develop a brown crust. (Don’t worry about sticking; the steaks will release easily when they are ready to flip.) 

Flip the steaks when they release easily and the bottom is a deep-brown color (usually about 3 minutes). Continue to cook the steaks for another 3 to 4 minutes on the bottom side for rare or medium-rare. 

During the last minute of cooking, add 1 tablespoon of butter and a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan with the steaks (this is optional but delicious). 

If you are serving the steaks unsliced, transfer them to plates and serve hot. If you plan to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes; then slice thinly against the grain. (Resting allows the juices to redistribute from the outside of the steaks; if you slice them too soon, the juices will pour out of them.)


 2 (12-oz) New York strip or ribeye steaks or 4 (6-oz) filet mignons, about 1½ inches thick 

1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt 

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

A few sprigs fresh thyme leaves 


To begin, pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Season the steaks all over with the salt and pepper. Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan (preferably cast iron or stainless steel) over medium-high heat until it's VERY hot. Add the oil to the pan and heat until it begins to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan. 

Carefully set the steaks in the pan, releasing them away from you so the oil doesn’t splatter in your direction. The oil should sizzle. Leave the steaks alone! Avoid the temptation to peek or fiddle or flip repeatedly; the steaks need a few minutes undisturbed to develop a golden crust. 

Flip the steaks when they release easily and the bottom is a deep-brown color, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook the steaks for another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side for rare to medium-rare. (For medium, cook 4 to 5 minutes on second side; for well-done, cook 5 to 6 minutes on second side). 

During the last minute of cooking, add the butter and thyme sprigs to the pan with the steaks. If you are serving the steaks unsliced, transfer them to plates and serve hot. 

If you plan to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes; then slice thinly against the grain.

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.


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Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Falconry in Mississippi by James L. Cummins  

NATCHEZ COLLISION CENTER: Nights are cooler and the deer are running. Slow down! If you do get in an accident, we're your best choice for expert paint and body work. Bubba and Ben Wroten and the crew will do excellent work for you! 24-hour towing. Climate-controlled paint booths. Free insurance estimates. Reputation for honesty and fair prices. 386 Liberty Rd., Natchez, 601-445-0473. www.natchezcollision.com

Falconry, or hawking, is a sport involving trained raptors (birds of prey) to hunt or pursue game for humans. Traditional views of falconry state that the art was started in Mesopotamia with two standard terms used to describe such a person involved in this art: Falconer was one flying a falcon, and Austringer was the term used for those flying a hawk (traditionally an Accipiter). Though these two terms now fall under the general label of falconer, there are several of these volatile birds used in this sport today. 

Falconry has been used for centuries on end. It was a highly favored sport 1,000 years B.C. and was highly refined for use in the military campaigns of the Great Kahns, who also practiced falconry to acquire food. By the age of Marco Polo, over 60 officials managed over 5,000 trappers and more than 10,000 falconers and falconry workers. 

The first accounts of falconry in the New World date back to 1622 when an attorney named Thomas Morton arrived in New England and wrote of his dealings with hawks and falconry. Later, in the 1650s, Jan Baptist sent back to Holland for his falcon and flew her at a quarry in the Hudson Valley. There are even accounts further south, in the Valley of Mexico, that one of Cortez’s captains had a trained hawk. 

Colonel R. L. “Luff” Meredith is credited as the “father” of falconry in America. Others joined him, and in the 1940s, they formed the Falconers Association of North America, which ceased due to World War II. Today, falconry is legal in every U.S. state except Hawaii. 

Each state adopts federal regulations on the capture and possession of protected raptors, and they may also implement stricter regulations of their own. Mississippi encourages the sport of falconry, but it takes seriously the requirements that must be met to be licensed.  

Falconry is a very demanding and tedious sport. There are a few things you should consider before becoming involved in this glorious sport. Falconry is extremely time-consuming and requires serious dedication. Because of the amount of devotion needed, there are three levels to achieve in falconry. Apprentice falconer–you are required to work with a master falconer for a minimum of 2 years. General falconer– requires extensive experience with raptors and hunting. Master falconer–to achieve this level, you must have dedicated a minimum of 8 years to falconry.  

Falconry requires a strong ethical conviction because you must be dedicated to the training and the protection of your raptor. Anyone not totally committed to the sport should step away as soon as possible because the haphazard handling of these powerful creatures can harm the bird. This neglect, in turn, can put a blight on the sport in general. It is because of this that most falconers strongly encourage a high level of dedication from potential falconers.  

If you are interested in learning more about falconry, contact the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi.


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Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Capitalism Smeared by John Stossel

You must be lonely. The media say loneliness is everywhere in America. A Los Angeles Times columnist says, “There’s a mass loneliness crisis going on.” “Capitalism is Making You Lonely,” says Jacobin Magazine. Vox claims, “Capitalism makes us feel empty inside.” 

As usual, the media are just wrong. 

In my new video, historian Johan Norberg points out that, “There’s no empirical data that actually shows that we feel more lonely now than we did in the past. … When researchers compare people with previous generations at the same stage of life, they don’t find evidence of increased loneliness.” 

“But more people live alone now,” I say. “I would think that would make people lonelier.” 

“What they never tell you in the reports,” Norberg replies, “is that people who live alone and spend less time surrounded by other people are also more happy with those relationships.” In addition, “When people around the world are asked, ‘do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you?’ People in countries (like America) where more people live alone, usually say, ‘yes.'” 

But in India and China, more people say they have no one. 

“It’s the complete opposite of what people expect,” Norberg says. “In less market-based societies, 20% to 40% say they have no one to count on if they need help. In the richest and most individualist societies, it’s in the low single digits.”

On a YouTube channel with 1.7 million subscribers, a socialist says, “Material incentives of capitalists isolate us from nature, each other and ourselves.” Norberg replies, “I understand why those charlatans get an audience, because at times we all feel lonely.” But his new book, “The Capitalist Manifesto,” points out how capitalism makes life better, including making people less lonely. “Every poll shows that people say that they’re less lonely in the most market-oriented societies.” 

I push back. “Under capitalism, people compete. Sounds divisive. Sounds like it would pull us apart.” 

“Feudalism, communism, fascism, that’s divisive,” he replies. “All are based on getting resources by taking them from somebody else. Capitalism forces us to think, ‘What does the other guy want?’ The most important aspect of capitalism is cooperation. (It’s) why every time you buy something, you hear this double, ‘Thank you.'” 

It’s true yet kind of odd. When I pay, both the salesperson and I usually say, “Thank you.” It’s because I get the product I want, and they get my money. I want their product more than the money. They want my money more than whatever they are selling. We both feel we win. 

“In the market economy, we do each other services constantly. That’s how we get richer,” adds Norberg. “No deal ever happens unless both parties think that they benefit.” And here’s another twist to that. He says capitalism makes us generous. “It sounds surprising (but) for many years, lots of researchers around the world have looked at how generous people are when they’re playing different economic games.”

In one such game, the experimenter gives a person a sum of money and tells them to divide it with a stranger any way they choose. The only condition: the stranger must accept the offer. If the other person refuses, nobody gets anything. 

In capitalist economies, writes Norberg, “the most common offer is to split the amount fifty-fifty; the recipient is so offended by bad offers that they usually say no if offered less than 30 per cent.” Researchers have now done this test all over the world, and to their surprise, they discovered that, “People are most generous in capitalist societies.” In fact, on average, they offer twice as much as those in the least capitalist societies. 

“The closer people live to marketplaces, the more generous they are,” Explains Norberg. “If they constantly buy and sell and negotiate, they begin to take other people’s interests into consideration. That’s what markets do. They do affect our character, but not in this way that the critics say. They don’t make us more divisive and aggressive. They make us more generous.” 

Capitalism is good in many ways.

You can read more of John Stossel's writing writing at www.johnstossel.com.

ONE 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. 24-hour banking at www.oldsouthfcu.com. Electronic statements, direct deposit, notary, payroll deduction services, ATM on premises. Checking accounts subject to ChexSystems approval. 70 years of service and still growing! 148 North Shields Lane, Natchez, 601-442-4382.


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Peter Rinaldi, publisher
Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus

Amy Alkon

The Litter Mermaid by Amy Alkon 

Dear Amy: I'm not the best housekeeper or the tidiest person. I've got papers everywhere, dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, and an unmade bed. I have a very long-haired cat who leaves fur everywhere. I joke to men that "fighting entropy is a losing battle," but I'm starting to wonder whether my messy place is keeping me single. Obviously, if somebody's coming over, I'll make an attempt to clean up. But it occurred to me that maybe men see my place and think either I'm lax in my own personal hygiene (I'm not) or I'd be a bad girlfriend/wife. -- Sloberella 

Dear Sloberalla: When a guy you're dating wants to buy you something, it shouldn't be a vacuum. 

That said, there's being dirty (that is, unclean) and there's being untidy, and they're two different things. In research looking at relationship deal breakers by evolutionary psychologist Peter K. Jonason and his colleagues, 63 percent of men named a "disheveled or unclean appearance" as the single biggest turnoff in a potential partner. However, it's important to note that this measure was about personal hygiene, and you apparently don't have mossy teeth or BO that sets off CDC scanners. 

As for your apartment, the real problem comes if the place crosses over from cluttered to disgusting. To understand why, consider the apparent function of getting grossed out. Evolutionary psychologist Joshua Tybur explains that disgust seems to have evolved to help us avoid pathogens -- and the providers of their ground and air transportation, like boogers, vomit, dead bodies, and co-workers who like to celebrate "take your flu to work!" day. In light of this, priority areas to address would be the bathroom (especially the throne) and the kitchen. Also important would be policing the cat hair and rounding up any encrusted plates or week-old chow mein containers still loitering on surfaces. 

Regarding whether you should also be spending more time tidying up -- that is, organizing mere clutter -- living life can be seen as a series of decisions you need to make about trade-offs. Economists explain this in terms of "opportunity costs" -- the benefits you have to sacrifice when you choose one option (one way to spend your time, energy, or money) over another. 

For you, for example, time you spend tidying up is time you aren't spending going out and meeting men (or just lying on the couch smoking a doob and watching the Apple TV screen-saver images floating by). Now, maybe TV 'n' toke time sounds frivolous. However, time spent relaxing isn't unimportant. If you work like a beaten dog, your body and mind are likely to take note and hammer you into taking a pause -- through illness or depression.    

To decide the level of cleaning and tidying you need to do, ask yourself how much of a luxury and how much of a necessity a boyfriend is to you. Depending on your answer -- because even just clutter could put some guys off -- you might decide that it's worth it to you to begin a daily cleaning routine, simply by picking up or wiping up 10 things every morning before you start your workday. 

This advice is inspired by psychologist Karl Weick's insight into the motivational power of "small wins." Consider that being faced with massive, seemingly insurmountable problems -- like "end world hunger," "get the Israelis to hug it out with the Palestinians," and, in your case, "keep the apartment spotless" -- breeds dread in us ("aversive feelings," in psychologist-speak) and drains our motivation. 

However, you could probably be kind of "yeah, okay" about doing 10 small tasks. (Some of these might be as minor as "pick up the sock that's spent the week vacationing on the living room floor.") Recasting the need to clean as a small set of daily tasks would yank away its power for dread production. In fact, chances are, through the "small win" of completing your daily 10, you'd end up feeling you accomplished something -- which other research finds seems to have motivating effects throughout the day. 

Finally, there is another factor to consider: truth in cleanliness. If you're likely to fall back into your old ways (at least somewhat), your home should not be so spotless and organized that you appeal to the wrong guy -- the sort who measures so his decorative geode is in its rightful position on the coffee table. Should you attract a guy like that, it'd be best to confess to your sloberella-hood and give him time to see (and decide whether he can stomach) the real you. However, with guys with more moderate standards, by doing your daily 10, you should hit the mark -- giving them the impression that you're holding off on sex because you're done with hookups, not because you probably haven't washed your sheets since mid-2016.

IMPORTANT FINANCIAL INFORMATION FROM ATTORNEY JACK LAZARUS: STOP those nasty phone calls from creditors. STOP the harassment. STOP credit card debt, foreclosure or repossession. Jack Lazarus has helped people and businesses turn their finances around. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be the best answer. Call for a FREE initial consultation: 601-445-8899. Get a fresh start in life! 

ATTORNEY JACK LAZARUS, PLLC, 106 South Wall St., Natchez. jacklaz45@gmail.comjacklazarus.com. Helping people is our only business. Hablamos Espanol. 


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Clarisse Washington, editor emeritus


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

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. 

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, 601-653-0919.

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

Melrose of the Natchez National Historic Park


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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


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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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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