Some of the top stories we discussed on this May 23rd edition of "Gulf Coast Mornings with Kelly Bennett and Uncle Henry":
Thousands of Mississippi third-graders are at risk of being held back next year after failing their reading tests. Yesterday, the education department said more than a quarter of third-grade students didn't pass the state's literacy promotion test this year after more difficult grading standards were implemented. In all, nearly nine-thousand students flunked the exam. They now get two more chances to pass. The higher standards are part of a 2013 law known as the third-grade reading gate, which requires a certain score to move on to fourth-grade. Governor Bryant has called the law the single most successful reform to public education in Mississippi history.
According to new report by Triple A (AAA), about 42.8 million Americans plan to travel this upcoming holiday weekend -- with 1.5 million more people than last year hitting roads, railways and airports. That’s an almost 4 percent jump from last year. 88 percent of those traveling this holiday weekend will be traveling by car. According to AAA data, the worst times to hit the road will be late afternoon on Thursday, May 23rd and Friday, May 24th -- as people leave work early to get a jump on the holiday weekend. And don’t head home after dinner on Monday. If you can, wait until Tuesday to hit the road, or leave early Monday morning to beat the traffic.
Mississippi is the most dangerous state in the country for motorcyclists. That's according to a new study that found for every 10-thousand bikers, nearly 15 were killed on the road. In 2017, 40 motorcyclists died after being struck by cars in Mississippi, with the drivers of the cars usually the ones at fault. Police say motorists should always be on the lookout for bikes, which can be much harder to spot than cars. It's also important to watch for hand signals indicating a biker intends to turn or change lanes.
State leaders say flooding in portions of the Mississippi Delta could continue through the summer. At a press conference yesterday, the state's emergency management agency said more than 500 homes have been impacted by the historic flooding, with 200 of those in the Warren County and Eagle Lake areas. Officials are now trying to assess the scope of the damage in hopes of securing federal funding. Residents forced out of their homes can apply for financial reimbursements to cover hotel costs.
Missouri's capital is apparently shutting down government offices after a large tornado tore through the city. About a hundred people were injured after a half-mile wide tornado rolled through downtown Jefferson City late last night. Missouri's Department of Public Safety has posted a statement to government employees, saying "all non-essential Missouri state employees who work in Jefferson City should NOT report to work today."
Connecticut Police are waiting for a suspect who said he'd turn himself in if his wanted poster got enough likes on Facebook. Jose Simms and Torrington Police corresponded online and settled on 15 thousand likes as the amount to bring his surrender. His online wanted poster for several outstanding warrants now has over 21 thousand likes. Torrington Police say they will post an update if Simms follows through and surrenders.
A college baseball marathon in Hoover, Alabama. Mississippi State and LSU played 17 innings - a game that lasted six hours and 43 minutes and wasn't over until 3:03 this morning - before the Bulldogs finally won 6-to-5. It was the longest game in Southeastern Conference tournament history. State plays Vanderbilt tonight. Ole Miss takes on Texas A&M this morning in an elimination game after losing to Arkansas 5-to-3.
And in Biloxi, Southern Miss plays Marshall today after a dramatic 10th inning 6-to-4 win over Rice in the Conference USA tournament.
Game of Thrones executive producer Bryan Cogman is joining Amazon's production of the Lord of the Rings. Amazon has announced that it's making a Lord of the Rings series set about 34-hundred years before Bilbo and Frodo. No cast or release date has been announced.