- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

July 20

The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi on proposed new stadium in Jackson:

Out with the old and in with the new may sound tempting, but at some point it’s prudent to quit buying new things and take care of what’s already here.

Such is the case with a proposed $10 million stadium for downtown Jackson.

True, the economic potential that might come with an updated venue for various events could be just what the Capital City needs.

But it’s a risky bet - one that already costs $25,000 a pop for each phase of the feasibility study that Tim Bennett of Overtime Sports has been tasked by the City Council to complete.

Mayor Tony Yarber said the 2,500-fixed-seat stadium with a capacity for 5,000 visitors could work wonders for downtown, an area he said is ready for revitalization.

Ward 4 Councilman De’Keither Stamps said a new stadium could be a draw to bring visitors to the area and potentially keep them downtown overnight.

They are both correct. A new stadium could be an outstanding catalyst for change downtown.

And Bennett is the one to do it, having successfully been involved with courting the Atlanta Braves to place its double-A affiliate in Pearl. He’s also owner of the Biloxi Shuckers, a minor league team that relocated from Huntsville, Alabama, after a new stadium was built for them on the Coast.

But why rush to throw out old ideas with the same good intentions in order for a newer, shinier goal?

The Jackson Convention Complex is up and running, but attempts to establish a convention center hotel repeatedly stall.

Who’s to say a stadium will draw the interest of any hotel developers once the $10 million has been spent? Where would downtown keep those visitors once they came while waiting? Those questions aren’t meant to throw cold water on the stadium idea but hopefully to cause officials to pause and take a few breathers before pushing forward.

Thalia Mara Hall hosts concerts and off-Broadway shows, and after the city spent $2.8 million to assist with an upgrade unveiled just last summer, it would be nice to protect that investment with better parking facilities and additional facelifts to get more people interested in coming downtown.

Not to mention, the current seasonal temperatures would drive most people away from an outdoor stadium concert, all looking for an air conditioner - an amenity that Thalia Mara happens to have.

Then there’s the idea of using the stadium for sporting events, but again that seems a little rash.

What about the Veterans Memorial Stadium where Jackson State University plays?

Or Smith-Wills Stadium that hosts Belhaven’s baseball games? The two stadiums admittedly aren’t updated but still are a huge part of Jackson’s identity and likely better avenues to throw some of that $10 million at for upgrades.

The one-stop shop notion of a stadium is alluring. It’s a great idea.

But if Jackson feels like throwing out so many of its “old” things to chase this newer goal, it’s a dangerous gamble that could backfire and hurt the venues that are working - or trying their hardest to draw crowds.

Perhaps put the stadium on hold for now, and focus on the slightly used but still viable options the city has. Give those venues the hotels, the parking, the facelifts.

Otherwise, we could be looking at some other shinier goal 10 years from now, while the once-desired stadium slowly crumbles away from neglect.




Aug. 5

The Commercial Dispatch, Columbus, Mississippi, on funding for state’s public schools:

By the calendar, there are still seven weeks of summer remaining, but for roughly 10,000 kids in Columbus and Lowndes County, the season ended Tuesday.

Today is the first day of school for public school children here, a day accompanied by all the things you typically associate with a new school year - jitters, excitement, new challenges and opportunities. New students in new classrooms with new teachers.

Soon, the novelty of all these new things will diminish and the school year will take on its familiar rhythms and routines.

As students begin a school year full of new possibilities, it seems an appropriate time to offer our encouragement to the students, teachers, staff, administrators and parents.

In one way, this school year stands apart from previous years.

In November, Mississippi voters will go to the polls to vote on Initiative 42, which will require the Legislature to adequately fund all Mississippi’s K-12 public schools based on the Legislature’s own funding formula, also known as Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The Legislature has met those funding requirements just twice in its 18 years.

The Legislature has offered an alternative ballot measure, called Initiative 42A that many contend is merely a means of confusing the voters.

Will regular Mississippians demand schools be adequately funded? That issue lies in the voters’ hands

Money, as it has often been said, won’t solve all the problems the state’s school system faces, but it will remove many of the barriers as our children compete with children of other states in an increasingly competitive world.

It is true our children need tools that only adequate funding can provide. But of no less important to a child’s educational success is something that requires no popular vote to attain - the support, encouragement and involvement of parents committed to their children’s education.

Even when resources are limited, every child can succeed if there is a parent at home, who is invested in that child’s progress. Teachers have no greater ally than a parent who is there to make sure that child does his or her homework and arrives at school on time and ready to learn.

The best students are not always the brightest. Often, the best students are those for whom the lessons they learn at school are reinforced at home by supportive parents.

Now, as the routines that shape the school year are being formed, we encourage every parent to make engaging with the child, monitoring his or her progress, holding the child accountable for his or assignments part of the routine as well.

Beyond that, join your school’s PTA, participate in school activities with your child and make it a point to stay in communication with your child’s teachers. We have yet to meet a good teacher who does not welcome that sort of collaboration.

A new school year has begun.

Let’s make it the best one ever.




Aug. 3

The Delta Democrat-Times, Greenville, Mississippi, on Mississippi Delta Dragon Boat Festival:

The much anticipated Mississippi Delta Dragon Boat Festival has come and gone.

We’ll be frank, last year’s festival was new and saw a few of the growing pains necessary to get an event off the ground. This year’s festival has reached its maturity level.

Following last year’s inaugural fest, community members had a better idea of what this year’s two-day festival was to entail, and it showed with a significant increase in attendance.

The festival began Friday with a Chinese Gala at Harlow’s Casino Resort & Spa, which was beautifully decorated with Chinese decor.

The event saw marked improvements from last year’s gala, but the focus of the festival is still on the dragon boat races - and it showed.

While the gala featured wonderful performances, from ballet dancers to a long fan dance, the food was far from exceptional. The portions were small, and the food was nothing to write home about.

Very small plates of fried rice, green beans, orange chicken and pepper steak were brought to each table for 10 people to share. After passing the plates around, there was enough meat for each person to get one bite-sized piece and a single spoonful of rice and veggies. It was unclear which servers were tending to which table, leaving an air of confusion for people even just needing refills.

For a $60 ticket, the dinner left many people feeling underwhelmed - and underfed. Some people were even heard saying they would be making a fast food run on their way home because they were still hungry.

It seems as if all the effort went into Saturday’s boat racing.

The set up of tents on the end of Trop Casino’s new parking area was a perfect venue. The weather was ideal for Aug. 1 in the Delta. The attendance was larger than expected.

The event is surely a highlight marking the end of summer and the start of the upcoming school year. We hope it will see many returns.

The event is one to which we continue looking forward for years to come, and we hope there will be a small addition in the future: We need to find a way to actively encourage boat owners to launch their boats and park them on the shore near the tent set up area so the waterfront sees its full use.

We applaud Main Street Greenville and the Chinese Citizens Alliance for ably administering the event and ensuring its continued success. However, when planning begins for next year’s event, some of the focus and efforts need to be shifted to the gala to ensure folks return. For such a high-priced ticket, folks shouldn’t leave the event hungry.



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