- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Aug. 9

The Commercial Dispatch on attending college:

Something very important is happening this week, even for those of us who aren’t directly involved.

This week, thousands of students are beginning classes at Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women and East Mississippi Community College.

For these students, their success in college is likely to dramatically affect their futures. We have long understood the link between a college education and financial security. The best study, a 2015 University of Kansas study that, for the first time, used personal income tax data from the Social Security Administration, shows that the lifetime earnings gap between high school and college graduates, including those with a graduate degree, is around $1.13 million for men and $792,000 for women.

While earlier generations of non-college graduates could rely on an abundance of factory jobs, today’s manufacturing is moving quickly toward automation, using robotics to perform work that was generally the domain on unskilled labor. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that by the time the freshmen who begin classes this week graduate, two-thirds of all jobs will require a college degree or post-high school training.

The future will belong to the educated and the options of those with only a high school diploma or less will be extremely limited. It is, in fact, a pathway to poverty.

Yet the value of an education is not limited to earning potential. A New York University study indicates increased college graduation rates correspond to a significant decrease in the crime rate. A 5-percent increase in the college graduation rate, for instance, produces an 18.7-percent reduction in the homicide rate, for example.

College graduates even live longer, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Based on its data, at age 25, U.S. adults without a high school diploma can expect to die nine years sooner than college graduates.

The personal benefits cannot be ignored. Neither can the benefits a community reaps for an educated populace. Communities with a high percentage of college graduates are more prosperous, healthier and safer.

So we salute all the students as they begin their classwork, not only for what it means to their futures, but what it means to ours as well.

Online:

https://www.cdispatch.com/

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Aug. 7

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on state library funds:

As predicted, the Legislature’s slashing of important state budgets has cascaded down to local and regional programs, like the Tupelo Lee County Library and Itawamba County Pratt Memorial Library.

As reasonably anticipated, the two systems are asking county and city governing boards to cover the lost revenue imposed by the state. The amounts, while not huge, are essential in maintaining what the libraries can offer in services to patrons, especially in the face of rising use.

The two are asking their respective city and county officials to cover the slashes.

Tupelo Lee library officials seek $7,873 from the city of Tupelo and Lee County Board of Supervisors for a total of $15,746. Itawamba library officials have asked for $3,855 from the city of Fulton and Itawamba County Board of Supervisors for a total of $7,710.

Jeff Tomlinson, director of the Tupelo library, and Jeffrey Martin, library manager in Fulton, work in a partnership to craft the libraries’ budgets. TLCL operates on a $1.23 million budget, while ICPML has a budget of $214,202.

The Tupelo Lee library, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has seen state funding cut by 20 percent since 2010. Patrons have increased by 15 percent since 2012.

The Itawamba library has seen an 18.5 percent increase in patrons during that time.

The libraries, which are joined as a regional system, added new digital magazine and e-book program in the last three years to increase patronage. More than 6,000 people have used their digital magazine software, Flipster. The e-book program is three times as popular now by the circulation figures as it was when they first implemented it.

The Itawamba library had 2,000 more children’s books checked out compared to the previous year.

Both libraries are on course with their main mission: Increasing literacy through the dissemination of knowledge in traditional bound volumes and advancing digital technology.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said he is confident the city can cover its share of the lost state revenue. The City Council must approve the 2017 fiscal year budget by Sept. 15.

We hope the county is also able to cover what the state should have done but failed to do.

It appears the people in legislative and executive leadership positions simply don’t understand an essential service when they see one. They seem responsive only to an inexplicable urge to cut state revenue for political gain with powers operating outside the real world of Mississippi citizenship.

The constituency the state leaders need to fully engage is patrons like library users in places such as Tupelo and Fulton.

Political action committees, special interests and too many elected officials do nothing to increase Mississippi’s quality of life and everything to enhance their own power and influence.

We need to keep our efforts focused on increasing literacy rates and encouraging reading throughout our communities because that’s a goal that will have tremendous payoffs down the road for all of Mississippi.

Online:

https://djournal.com/

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Aug. 6

The Sun-Herald on hurricane preparedness:

We are heading into the peak of hurricane season. If, God forbid, we are hit by a big storm, it will probably be in the next 60 days.

Now is the time to make sure you are ready, to decide whether your family will stay or go.

Whether in Harrison County, Jackson County, or Hancock County, if you are close to the beach or in another low-lying area, plan to go. Then, decide where you’ll go.

If you have pets, you have to plan for them as well. Too many people died because they wouldn’t leave pets behind. Times have changed. There are pet friendly shelters and hotels/motels.

Have a plan for contacting family and friends to let them know you are OK. If you have older friends and relatives, make sure they have a plan. If you have friends or relatives who have never been through a hurricane, help them get ready.

If you stay, remember you and your family could be on your own for days. Make sure you have plenty of food and water. Power will be off for days. So don’t plan on living out of the refrigerator or freezer. Canned goods and other nonperishables will make up your menu.

If you need to board up windows, this afternoon would be a good time to go to the lumber yard or DIY store. Stock up on batteries and flashlights while you’re out. Think of everything you might need to survive 10 days or more without electricity, and get it.

This is the voice of experience: You don’t want to be in any of those stores when there is a hurricane in the Gulf. Unless, of course, you like long waits and short tempers because there will be plenty of both.

The vast majority of us will survive anything Mother Nature throws at us in the next few weeks. There is no need to panic. But we do need to prepare.

Online:

https://www.sunherald.com/

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