Frustration continues at Popp's Ferry Bridge
Wow, so what's up with this Popp's Ferry Bridge, besides the span? The bridge has had four traffic-detouring issues in the past nine days, frustrating many of the 20,000 motorists who travel the West Biloxi roadway on an average day. The bridge caused traffic detours in two instances today, once for a span stuck in the up position for 90 minutes at lunchtime and once for 10 minutes with traffic bars stuck in the down position this afternoon.The issues with the 41-year-old bridge were amplified weeks ago when, as part of a $1.3 million project to install a new underwater electrical cable and other components to power the bridge, the bridge's operating system was converted from a decades-old analog system to the current digital standards."The digital system is far more sensitive to any electrical issues," said City Engineer Christy LeBatard, "and that's what you're seeing. What are we doing about it? We met on Monday with our engineers and we're awaiting a change order from MDOT, which funded the original project, to upgrade the necessary electrical components."
Three dozen Mississippi counties are now under burn bans. The Natchez Trace Parkway is banning campfires. And the State Forestry Commission has issued a statewide wildland fire risk alert, encouraging all Mississippians to postpone any outdoor burning until further notice as the dry weather continues. The drought is also helping to ramp up temperatures across the state. Meridian's high yesterday was 101, six degrees hotter than the previous record. Greenwood, Tupelo and Vicksburg also had record highs. And records were tied in Jackson, Hattiesburg and Greenville. In Jackson, it was the hottest start to October in a hundred years.
Much of state government is not doing a good job of protecting your personal information. That's what State Auditor Shad White says. He sent out a survey to see how well the state could protect itself against hackers and found that eleven state agencies, boards and commissions don't even have a cyber security plan - and 38-percent don't encrypt sensitive information about Mississippians on their computer servers. And the situation could actually be worse. The auditor got no response to 54 of those surveys.
A fifth Mississippian has been diagnosed with a vaping-related lung illness. The State Health Department says, just like the others, the latest case involves someone between the ages of 18 and 34. There's been one death in Mississippi linked to e-cigarette usage.
The Mississippi Lottery Corporation says it still has a few key positions that need to be filled. Leaders say as they work toward a December 1 launch date, they have to hire additional personnel for a number of jobs. MLC president Tom Shaheen says the organization now has around 40 employees. Interested applicants should contact the Mississippi Lottery Corporation.
A Jackson County Grand Jury has found no evidence of criminal conduct on the part of a Moss Point police officer in the shooting death of Toussaint Diamon Sims on August 8th. The decision came after reviewing the body cam video of the incident and hearing testimony from 25 people. Attorney's for Sims' family had claimed wrongful death on the part of the officer. But the Grand Jury's report said Sims had a firearm with an extended magazine in his hands at the time of the fatal shooting.
The Salvation Army in Hattiesburg has launched a fundraising drive to help with the operating cost of its soon to be reopened homeless shelter. The facility suffered heavy damage from the 2017 tornado. The non-profit organization's Brian Hicks says it will take around 200-thousand dollars a year to cover cost. The Salvation Army plans to provide shelter to around 30 individuals in and around the Hattiesburg area. For more information visit the Salvation Army's website.
Mississippi high school seniors who want to attend college can start filling out their Free Application For Federal Student Aid forms. The FAFSA application is the first step a student must take in order to qualify for federal aid through the Pell Grant Program. Federal funding is limited. Students and families are urged to complete their FAFSA applications as soon as possible.
For a more in depth discussion of the days top local AND national stories, here's behind-the-scenes video of this Oct 2 edition of "Gulf Coast Mornings with Kelly Bennett and Uncle Henry":