- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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May 3

The Sun Herald on Mississippi cutting food inspector positions:

Robert Travnicek had a more than 20-year run as the head of the local Health Department, so we listen when he issues a warning.

Reporter Mary Perez contacted Travnicek for her front-page story Tuesday about budget cuts at the Mississippi Department of Health. The state is cutting 20 food inspector positions, which will result in some restaurants being inspected only once a year.

“Food inspection, if I was there, is the last thing I’d cut,” said Travnicek, who can speak more freely now that he’s no longer employed by the state. “Who knows what could happen in a year? You are going to have food outbreaks.”

Two positions were cut on the Coast and three Coastal inspectors were moved to wastewater-related duties.

The decision is troubling for our health, our businesses and our tourism industry in South Mississippi.

Restaurants want to put out a quality product. We get that. But the fear of frequent restaurant inspection ensures there are no corners cut. For comparison purposes, say you knew there were no highway patrolman on the interstate. Would you then drive well above the speed limit?

The inspection process protects you, the consumer.

Fewer inspectors also means restaurants are going to have a more difficult time getting open. Previously, inspectors would typically go out several times to a new facility and help the owner work through the process, Perez reported.

Now, a health department spokeswoman said, “we’re just not funded to do that because of the budget cuts.”

And what if there was a Chipotle-like outbreak from a restaurant in South Mississippi?

The damage to our tourism industry, deserved or not, would have harmful effects that would be difficult to overcome.

We urge the governor and our legislators to find the money needed to reverse these budget cuts.

Bad food and bad business is nothing to mess around with.

Online:

http://www.sunherald.com

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May 3

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on career exposition for students:

Planning for a second “Imagine the Possibilities” career exposition for students in Northeast Mississippi is strongly advanced, with promotion of the October event at BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo spreading to many schools.

The expo, which will be October 4 through 6, features expensive training technology allowing students to visualize and inform themselves. The showy, intriguing devices include a $2.5 million surgical robot, a Boeing 747 cockpit and moon buggies.

Supporting the expo is an “investment” and a “seed in someone’s life,” CREATE Foundation’s Larry Anderson said last week in a speech at the Corinth Kiwanis Club.

More than 120 companies were involved last year and more are expected this year. Not surprisingly, the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund at CREATE is the lead sponsor of the career expo. CREATE is a regional not-for-profit foundation strongly invested in advancing education and human development. The Wellspring Fund is a $50 million commitment from Toyota.

Children will get to meet professionals from 18 career pathways. The pathways are aligned with the Mississippi Department of Education’s planning for career development.

One of the more important aspects of the career expo is that it connects young people with community career leaders, Anderson said.

Last year, the expo reached more than 3,000 eight-grade students. For 2016, the expo will be available to an additional 14 counties in the CREATE Foundation service area and include public and private schools.

Toyota likes to help education and announced in 2007 a gift of $50 million as part of the construction of the plant in Blue Springs, Anderson said. CREATE was the entity chosen to handle those funds, and money has been put into an endowment.

The career expo started with the three counties the Toyota money was designated for - Pontotoc, Union and Lee, known as the PUL Alliance.

The new, enlarged version this year will embrace 17 counties.

A rising high school graduation rate in the region and state adds urgency and energy to the expo. Statewide, 78.4 percent of students graduated high school in 2014, just below the national average of 82 percent. The Booneville and Holly Springs school districts had the highest graduation rates in north Mississippi, at 90 percent.

Rates for the Tupelo Public School District and Oxford School District stayed level at about 79 and 87 percent, respectively.

Several districts made big gains between 2013 and 2014, including the Pontotoc City School District, which jumped from 74 to 81 percent. The Itawamba County School District grew from 76 to 88 percent.

The Mississippi Department of Education has expanded diploma options, which helps students remain interested and graduate.

In addition, CREATE maintains its emphasis on dropout prevention and recovery.

CREATE Vice President Lewis Whitfield said moving forward he sees linking education to careers as a big factor in building on the gains shown by the latest dropout data.

The way forward must include all the positive programs for educational attainment working together toward shared goals.

Online:

http://djournal.com

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May 3

The Oxford Eagle on a decrease in teen birth rate:

Fewer teens are having babies nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control reported last week.

More than 40 babies are born every day per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19 in Mississippi. Mississippi, Arkansas and New Mexico round out the worst for teen birth rates. The states with the fewest babies born to teens have a rate of 11 per 1,000.

While that many children being born to teens here in our state is not ideal, the CDC did report declines in the rates in every state and among every racial and ethnic group.

The Hispanic birth rate fell 51 percent (now 38 births per 1,000), the black birth rate fell 44 percent (now 35 per 1,000) and the white birth rate fell 44 percent (now 35 per 1,000).

The focus on preventative measures across the country is working. Experts attribute the rate decline to more teens both waiting to have sex and using birth control.

The more teens that get an education, find employment and wait to have children until they are full-fledged adults, the better Mississippi will fare, because it all goes back to education and getting as much of it as possible.

Online:

http://www.oxfordeagle.com

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