Former Southern Miss coach Turk dies at 71

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — Former Southern Mississippi basketball coach M.K. Turk died on Friday morning. He was 71.

Turk led the Golden Eagles for 20 seasons from 1976 to 1996 and finished with a school-record 301 victories, two NCAA tournament appearances and six NIT appearances, including one NIT championship. The school confirmed Turk’s death on Friday.

He’s the only Southern Miss coach to lead the program to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.

Turk was also the athletic director and basketball coach at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College (Miss.) and an assistant coach at Memphis before coming to Southern Miss.

Current Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall said Turk “is by far and away the best basketball coach to have ever graced Southern Miss and always will be. But more than that, he was an amazing friend and person.”

Byram announces plans for new Walmart

walmart-logoBYRAM, Mississippi — Richard White, Mayor of Byram, has announced Walmart’s interest in coming to the City of Byram.

The proposed project would be an 185,000 SF Walmart Supercenter located at the southwest corner of Siwell and Terry Roads on a 68-acre site known as Byram Town Center. Walmart will incorporate their new storefront design at this location. The closest other Walmarts are south Jackson and Richland both 10 miles away.

More businesses are expected to build on outer rim around Walmart.

“We have been hoping that a major retail anchor would locate in Byram as it would bring more people and shoppers to our great city,” White said. “We realize that our citizens do not have a lot of shopping options and are therefore forced to go to neighboring cities—this results in a loss of sales tax revenue to the city of Byram.

“Assuming Wal-Mart makes its entrance into our city, we feel this will be a great attraction for additional retail businesses and restaurants,” he continued. “In addition, this will create new jobs for citizens of Byram. With the increase in people and shoppers coming to Byram, I believe the local small business owners will benefit from this activity. We would also welcome Walmart as a great community partner as they typically support area schools, civic and charitable organizations.”

Walmart Statement “Walmart continues to focus on seeking better ways to serve our loyal customers. This holds true in growing communities such as Byram, MS where access and convenience to a full assortment of quality merchandise and healthy affordable grocery options are important to our customers. We also take pride in knowing that Walmart can be part of the solution in a community by creating hundreds of new quality jobs, stimulating economic development and by serving as a committed community partner,” said Walmart spokesperson Tice White, Director of Public Affairs. “At the current time, we have entered into the site evaluation phase regarding potential growth opportunities in Byram, MS. This key process has just started and we expect it to take several months to complete. Until this process has been concluded we have no additional information to share. However, once this phase is finished we will provide a status update concerning future development plans in the City of Byram,” said White


GOP Sen. Thad Cochran to run for seventh term

Thad Cochran

Thad Cochran

WASHINGTON — Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 1978, set up a generational and ideological clash in the state’s Republican primary when he announced Friday that he would seek a seventh term in 2014.

While Cochran, who turns 76 on Saturday, has the support of many leading Republicans in the state, he is already facing opposition from Chris McDaniel, 41, a state senator aligned with the Tea Party who announced his candidacy in October and has won the support of some conservative groups.

Cochran, who has raised less than $1 million for his re-election, had been thought to be leaning toward retirement. But Mississippi Republicans said they believed McDaniel’s challenge and pleas from powerful figures across the state that Cochran seek another term prompted the senator to mount what will probably be his final campaign.

There is also the prospect of Cochran reclaiming the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee if Republicans win back the Senate.

The primary could be the toughest race of his career. Cochran has faced little opposition in his 34 years in the Senate, routinely winning re-election by large margins over little-known Democrats. But the primary could offer insight into fundamental questions about the Republican Party: whether longevity and clout in a Deep South state that has traditionally venerated such qualities are enough to overcome national trends toward limited-government conservatism.

With some conservatives determined to replace Republicans like Cochran, he must appeal to elements of the primary electorate that prefer a more ideologically pure senator.

McDaniel has sought to seize on the new anti-spending fervor, casting Cochran — who has delivered billions of dollars in federal spending projects to his impoverished state — as an avatar of a bygone political culture

“The national debt is the greatest moral crisis of this generation,” McDaniel said in announcing his candidacy in October. “So, let’s go forth from this place making it perfectly clear that the era of big spending is over. The age of appropriations must end.”

McDaniel has already gotten help in making this case from some conservative groups like the Club for Growth, which is already airing ads in the state praising him as “the new strong conservative leader Mississippi needs in the U.S. Senate.”

But Cochran is a formidable figure in a state that has long relied on federal largess and that rarely turns over its Senate seats. He will have the support of Mississippi’s political and business establishment, which are deeply worried about what losing Cochran would mean to a state that, without him, would have little seniority in its congressional delegation.

Leading Republicans in the state have already begun training their fire on McDaniel.

“Senator Cochran’s opponent’s record as state senator and his trial lawyer practice are something that the voters of Mississippi will want to take a closer look at, because it’s very different than the commercials that are being funded by out-of-state special interest money,” said Henry Barbour, a well-connected state lobbyist and member of the Republican National Committee. “I certainly will do all I can to help make sure Senator Cochran is re-elected.”

Officials, residents hunkering down as winter storm approaches

Officials are urging residents in North Mississippi to be prepared for an approaching winter storm that could bring significant icing to the region.

Emergency crews were at the ready today and residents have been stocking up on groceries, buying electricity generators and gassing up their cars in advance of a winter storm that forecasters predict will bring freezing rain and ice into northern Mississippi and West Tennessee.

The National Weather Service said winter storm warnings and watches and an ice storm warning were in effect for northern Mississippi and West Tennessee today. Forecasters were anticipating precipitation that could remain frozen on streets, highways and sidewalks due to temperatures in the 30s or below.

Tennessee officials declared a state of emergency for the western and middle parts of the state yesterday, warning residents of potentially hazardous road travel and the possibility that downed trees and power lines could knock out electricity to homes and businesses. County officials advised residents to prepare to be without power for a few days.

Schools in the West Tennessee counties of Carroll, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood and Tipton will be closed toay.

In Dyer County, Tenn., emergency management director James Medling said residents were taking the storm seriously. One shelter was on standby, and farmers were also ready to protect crops and livestock.

“We’re looking at ice and snow and sleet and freezing rain, just the whole gambit,” Medling said.

In Shelby County, Mayor Mark Luttrell was reminding residents to check on family and friends who are elderly, disabled or live alone. The county, which includes Memphis, had eight trucks equipped with salt and cinders to spread on icy roads as needed. Three tree crews were on standby for downed limbs, officials said.

The Tennessee Valley Authority said crews were being pre-positioned in five staging areas to allow a quick, coordinated response with workers from local power distributors. TVA’s emergency operations centers in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville were on stand-by, prepared to provide additional support, the company said.

Memphis Gas Light & Water, the city’s main utility, also had crews preparing to fix power lines.

“We’re ready to roll,” spokeswoman Jackie Reed said.

Shipping giant FedEx, which has its worldwide hub in Memphis, was monitoring the situation with its team of meteorologists and was prepared to make contingencies such as moving package volume to other airports in its network, company spokesman Scott Fielder said.