The Commercial Appeal
A shooting victim’s account, water safety issues and more
The Saturday night of violence in downtown Memphis June 4, which left police officer Verdell Smith dead and three other people wounded, touched many throughout the Memphis metro area in one way or another — none more than Chris Dickens of Olive Branch.
The Northwest Mississippi Community College student was one of the three shooting victims. Dickens, 21, was shot as he was gathering shopping carts in the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, where he works.
Justin Welch has been charged with shooting Dickens, along with two other victims outside the nearby Westy’s restaurant, before the car the suspect was driving struck and fatally injured Smith.
Dickens, recovering at home, talked about his harrowing experience with reporter Daniel Connolly. If you haven’t already done so, take the time to read Dickens’ account at commercialappeal.com.
PROBLEMS IN THE CLASSROOM
The jury is still out on whether a civil-rights complaint lodged against DeSoto County Schools over its disciplinary practices will find wrongdoing.
In any event, federal education officials leave little doubt there’s a problem in the nation’s schools. Data released by the Department of Education last week shows African-American students in grades K-12 are nearly four times more likely than white students to receive out-of-school suspensions.
As soon as the findings were out, a coalition of groups called for changes in disciplinary practices at schools nationwide to address the disparity. One of the groups was the Washington-based Advancement Project, which worked with DeSoto County parents over the local complaint.
Judith Browne Dianis, Advancement Project’s executive director, said the new report shows “persistent racism” in schools.
It’s easy to turn the argument to a need for discipline in homes and a better family structure, which in many cases is certainly true. Still, the evidence seems too clear and too widespread to simply dismiss all charges of inequitable treatment.
All indications are that we can do better.
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite wasted little time responding to an investigative newspaper report that questioned the safety of the city’s water supply.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, said more than 30 U.S. cities used various methods in water testing that could have potentially led to false readings on the amount of lead in the water. Southaven is one of the cities mentioned, the only area city on the list.
Shortly after the report circulated online, Musselwhite issued a statement strongly denying the charge.
“It is very disheartening, at the minimum, to see a media organization paint a misleading picture with inaccurate information,” Musselwhite said, “but it is unacceptable to make a completely false assertion.”
Musselwhite said Southaven has not been required to submit a water test since changes recommended by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to state officials were instituted. He said the city’s next test will be 2018.
“Therefore,” Musselwhite said, “the suggestion that we ‘cheated’ the sampling process is completely false.”
Musselwhite says he’s confident no problem has developed in the city’s water since the last test, and he doesn’t think the “minor change” suggested by EPA will alter the results.
In the meantime, Musselwhite said he wants it made clear the city has followed the state’s testing guidelines — the same ones used by other Mississippi cities, even though Southaven seemed to have been singled out.
Speaking of Musselwhite and Southaven, he was able to check a major item off his mayoral to-do list last week with the opening of a senior citizens center at Snowden Grove Park.
The opening finally brings to a conclusion a loose end from former Mayor Greg Davis’s tenure, giving the city’s senior population the center for which it had been lobbying hard.
And it didn’t hurt that Musselwhite was able to brag about getting it done at considerably lower cost.
Using revenue from the city’s Penny For Your Parks tourism tax, Southaven was able to renovate existing space in the Parks Department building for about $2 million — only a fraction of the $9 million estimated for a stand-alone facility Davis had proposed for city-owned property on Getwell.
“We made a commitment, and we’ve met it,” Musselwhite said during the center’s opening Thursday, smiling for obvious reasons.
July 4: It’s not too soon to start thinking about July 4. Southaven has announced its annual Independence Day celebration will begin with music at 7 p.m. at the BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Park. Fireworks should begin about 9 p.m.
Pharmacy opening: Baptist Memorial HospitalDeSoto will open a retail pharmacy at the Southaven hospital at 10 a.m. Thursday, offering what the hospital says are some unique benefits.
The idea, the pharmacy says, is “to reduce hospital readmissions by allowing patients to leave the hospital with prescriptions in hand along with several options for continuing treatment.”
For more information, visit ProxsysRx.com. Crossing the Line is compiled by Ron Maxey, suburban team editor for The Commercial Appeal. You can also find it on commercialappeal.com and our mobile apps. To suggest DeSoto stories, you can contact Ron at ronald. maxey@commercialappeal. com, 901-333-2019 and follow him on Twitter @rmaxey1.