- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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April 27

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on the anniversary of a major, deadly storm:

Five years ago today one of the most powerful tornadoes ever registered in Mississippi all but swept away the town of Smithville in Monroe County.

Winds calculated at 205 mph by the National Weather service left a distinct path of devastation visible amid debris on the ground and was even more pronounced in aerial photos.

Today, Smithville marks not only its survival of that EF-5 storm but its ongoing rebuilding involving houses, its schools, churches and other structures either destroyed or heavily damaged.

A ceremony at 3:15 p.m. today in Smithville Memorial Park behind Town Hall will unfold five years to the hour after the giant twister (three-quarters of mile wide at its widest) scoured a linear track 35.1 miles through Monroe and Itawamba counties into Alabama, where it finally dissipated.

Fifteen people died as a result of the storm in Monroe County, but the giant Smithville tornado was only one of a swarm of storms on the day now identified as a “tornado outbreak.”

Today’s observance is expected to be appropriately muted but decidedly optimistic.

Many of Smithville’s 900 residents, despite the grief of human loss and the shock of material destruction, started immediately cleaning up and looking to the future.

Within the hour, volunteers began arriving to help in whatever way they were asked, and then waves of state and federal relief were empowered by Gov. Haley Barbour, President Obama, the congressional delegation and many other people in the federal and state emergency management agencies. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, church groups and neighbors from across Northeast Mississippi joined the clean-up and recovery by the hundreds.

In Smithville, official reports place injuries at 40, with 18 homes destroyed, the Post Office and police station destroyed, two businesses put of business, eight homes with major damage and the water system destroyed. The weather service reports a truck parked in front of one destroyed home was never found, plus all appliances and plumbing fixtures in the most extreme path were shredded or missing.

In total, the storm in Mississippi and Alabama caused 137 injuries and 23 deaths. Other huge tornadoes the same day struck the Wren community and parts of Chickasaw County, plus deadly hits on Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Advancing technology has provided more advance warning of tornadoes, but the ferocity of the storms regularly visiting Mississippi an other Deep South states is not abated.

Recovery is harder than abandoning sites, but it remains a choice because of generosity from individuals and government aide within its guidelines.

Overwhelming assistance from the private sector, from friends and neighbors and people of good will from far away make staying at home possible and worthwhile.

Online:

https://djournal.com

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April 27

The Oxford Eagle on funding for local school districts:

With education funding being in a critical state in Jackson and many schools seeing cuts in their budgets, local school districts are forced to make up for the loss of those funds.

The Oxford School District Foundation recently awarded $51,000 in grants to 28 teachers to use in their classrooms.

The teachers can use the funds to help create new and inventive programs or continue to help fund existing, successful activities.

The largest grant was $17,000 and went to the OSD’s new STEM program, which will help local students compete in growing technology fields.

Lafayette County School District has recently kicked up efforts for fundraising through its Lafayette County School District’s Endowment Fund for Education. Both schools have raised funds through various projects including car tags, where community members can purchase a car tag representing their school district. About $24 of each tag goes back into the schools.

All the funds raised through both foundations stay in the classrooms and the district.

Lafayette County’s foundation will use funds to build a new playground at the upper elementary school.

Legislators often seemingly create unfunded mandates for schools and funding for our schools is weakening. We commend the parents and concerned residents in our community for stepping up to the plate and helping to bring needed equipment, supplies and new programs to our schools, and helping to keep our local schools some of the best in the state.

Online:

https://www.oxfordeagle.com

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April 21

The Sun Herald on The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport:

More of the United States is learning what we’ve known for some time: The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport is a jewel.

The center will receive the 2016 Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in June.

It’s a wonderful and deserved honor and great national exposure for our expanding tourism market. Since 1998, Lynn Meadows Discovery Center has given the Coast a valuable family attraction to keep visitors here one more day.

“This year’s National Medal recipients show the transforming role of museums and libraries from educational destinations to full-fledged community partners and anchors,” said Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Countless children, and many adults, have learned to cook, to act, to have a good time in a wholesome environment. And, a $200,000 interactive outdoor classroom will be open soon.

“The shouts and giggles we hear every day are confirmation enough for us, but it sure doesn’t hurt to hear that we have been selected as a national winner in recognition of exceptional service to our community,” said Cindy DeFrances, executive director of Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children. “Our visitors know that we offer an experience like no other children’s museum in Mississippi or along the Coast, one where we inspire children, families and communities through interactive educational experiences and exploration.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Online:

https://www.sunherald.com


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