The Commercial Appeal

A shooting victim’s account, water safety issues and more

- By Ron Maxey


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 commercial­


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 Crossing the Line is compiled by Ron Maxey, suburban team editor for The Commercial Appeal. You can also find it on commercial­ 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.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States