- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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June 1

The Commercial Dispatch on summer jobs programs:

School is out, which means despite what the calendar says, for all intents and purposes it’s summer.

For a lot of young people, that means not only an escape from the tedium of school work and an opportunity to pursue their hobbies and interests, but a chance to make some money.

While there is, in some circles, a sentiment that kids today don’t have the work ethic of previous generations, we see many, many examples of kids who are using the summer months to earn money.

If fewer kids are working today, it may be more a function of a lack of opportunity than a lack of drive.

That’s why we are disappointed to note that this year’s summer jobs program in Columbus has been suspended while the jobs program in Starkville has been scaled back, not because of a lack of interest, but because of a lack of funding.

In both communities, applications for the 15 to 25 jobs numbered in the hundreds. So there is little doubt there are students out there who are eager to work.

This year, the Mississippi Department of Transportation suspended its grant program to help cities fund jobs programs for students ages 16-to-24. The $35,000 grants were matched by city funds. In Columbus, the council set aside $20,000 for the program. In Starkville, the city added $10,000 to the program.

The loss of that grant money means Columbus will not have a summer jobs program for the first time in 24 years. In Starkville, the program will continue on a limited scale, providing part-time jobs for 15 students.

MDOT can hardly be blamed for the eliminated the program, which has seen its budget cut in each of the past two years.

Given the legislature’s stubborn refusal to address the state’s revenue shortages, it is likely that if these kinds of programs are going to survive, other sources of funding must be found.

Should the lack of funding continue next year, we urge our public leaders to call for private assistance on this program. We believe local businesses and our large industries would rally to this cause.

Contrary to popular belief in some quarters, there are many, many kids who want to work and will benefit not only from the paycheck they receive, but from the life skills that are taught and developed through holding a job.

Let’s make sure next summer these programs will not only return, but return better than ever.

Private support can make that happen.

It might be the only way it can happen, given the current climate.

Online: http://www.cdispatch.com/

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June 1

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of Tupelo on combatting drug addiction:

Every resource - no matter how big or small - devoted to helping Mississippians battling addiction is a step in the right direction in our state’s fight against opioid usage and all other types of drug abuse.

Northeast Mississippi received one of those resources with the opening of the Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center in Oxford.

Stonewater is a treatment center intended to serve adolescents ages 12-17 by offering individualized recovery plans ranging from withdrawal management and a 90-day residential program to an intensive outpatient program that can be attended after school.

The facility aims to knock out a serious issue that states across our country face every day. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health cited that more than 2 million adolescents are in need of drug addiction treatment but aren’t receiving it.

As reported by the Daily Journal’s Kaitlin O’Dougherty during a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, the story of how Stonewater came to be is one that might sound familiar to many families across the country.

Stonewater was founded by the Fikes family after it was impacted by addiction.

Bryan Fikes, son of Margaret and Jeff Fikes, struggled with a drug addiction 13 years ago.

Bryan’s older sister and Stonewater’s director of outreach and communications, Elizabeth Fikes, said her brother was once a 16-year-old living in Tupelo who could not get through a day without using hard drugs.

“It wasn’t just recreational marijuana use,” Fikes said.

She said the family was left searching for a treatment center, but there were not a lot of options for adolescents.

That is how Stonewater started, she said.

The center’s goal is to destigmatize the conversation about drug addiction, and help adolescents recover in the process.

Therapeutic activities range from adventure and nature therapy, art expression and sports wellness to evidence-based programming like Biofeedback and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

She said the center, which has been open for seven weeks, hosts children from all over the United States, not just Mississippi.

The second home is dedicated to the outpatient program. This is for those who do not need live-in treatment. It accepts both boys and girls for either three hours a day, three days a week, or five hours a day, five days a week.

The facility provides an outlet young people and families across the region can use to seek assistance when in need. But it also represents a step toward combating the larger problem our state could face if the trends of opioid and other drug use seen across the country reach Mississippi.

Programs such as drug court and rehabilitation treatment facilities are just one piece of the puzzle needed to tackle such a serious issue.

Unified efforts - encompassing health care leaders, law enforcement officials and others - must continue to take place for real progress to take place.

Online: http://www.djournal.com/

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June 3

Picayune Item on the need for economic investments:

Shopping can be seen as an investment.

It’s an investment on the consumer’s part because they are investing hard earned money in whatever item they’re buying.

They want it to be worth the cost, and able to withstand multiple uses.

Commerce is an investment on the seller’s behalf for other obvious reasons. If people don’t like what they’re selling or their customer service, they lose out on profits.

This week the giant online retailer Amazon made a large investment in Mobile, Alabama; a $30 million investment to be exact.

The sorting and shipping center will open later this year and employ more than 360 part-time employees and more than 1,000 seasonally.

That’s quite an investment in Alabama, one that Mississippi residents should be jealous of.

This is exactly the type of investment we need in Pearl River County.

As a central location in South Mississippi, with rail lines and major highways, locating distribution centers in this area would benefit both parties.

For the past several months, county leaders have discussed plans to establish an economic development council.

Once that is established, these are the investments that the future executive director needs to fight for.

Our community needs investments like this to provide residents with opportunities to increase their skills, and incomes, by working for a national company that’s held a competitive edge for a number of years.

When it comes down to it, these investments are really what’s going to make a difference in our local economy.

Online: http://www.picayuneitem.com/

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