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Archive for January, 2010

Saints underdogs again, but we are used to it

January 29th, 2010 Comments off

There is a photo of me when I was five or six years old at an art show holding a rock.
The photo actually appeared on the front page of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.
What’s so special about a kid with a wry grin, cutting his eyes at the camera while holding a rock?
On the rock was painted, “Our Archie, That’s Who!”
I don’t remember exactly when I first started watching the New Orleans Saints, but when I look back at that photo, I know it was a long, long time ago.
And in those days, it seems all we had was hope.
Being a Saints fans in this part of the country is akin to being a Red Sox fan in New England. The difference being the Red Sox have actually won seven World Series titles.
While the Saints are being called America’s team these days, they have always been Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama’s team.
I can remember back when my father would take the family out on Sunday drives through the Delta.
My mom would fix a cooler full of sandwiches and chips and drinks, and we would ride the roads of the flat land and listen to the Saints games on a Drew (Archie’s hometown) radio station.
Those were the days of Archie and Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath and Wes Chandler.
Later, it was the Dome Patrol of linebackers Ricky Jackson, Vaughn Jackson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling.
Yeah, the Saints were bad a lot of times, but there were times when there was real hope.
When Archie was QB, there was the season back in the late ‘70s when the team went 8-8 and just missed out on the playoffs. The team had four or five near misses and could easily have been one of the two or three best teams in te NFC. Manning was also the offensive Player of the Year that season.
While they never went to the Super Bowl, for a wide-eyed Delta boy that lived and died with every snap of the ball, Archie and Saints were a thrill a minute. And we had hope.
So, this week, as the current edition of the Saints make their maiden voyage into the Super Bowl against Archie’s boy, my mind’s eye takes me back to my youth when winning would have been great, but the experience of being a fan with hope was just as good.
Yes there will be a winner and loser this week, and our Saints are underdogs as they have been for their 43-year history.
But, from where I am sitting, that’s not such a bad place. It’s a place we are familiar with. And we have hope.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

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A look at bamboo and labeling for fish products

January 20th, 2010 1 comment

Labeling for catfish and seafood products is a no-brainer.
The Mississippi Legislature this year is likely to debate a bill that would require Mississippi restaurants to notify customers of the country of origin of their seafood.
Steve Bosarge of Pascagoula, a commission member and shrimper, said the menu labeling requirement would help shrimpers expand the market for their catch.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about country of origin labeling for catfish not produced in the United States.
We should require restaurants to either have a sign posted stating that the catfish or seafood served there is U.S. farm-raised catfish or, if the restaurant serves imported catfish, it must state on its menu which country the catfish was grown and processed in.
There have been growing concerns over the last couple of years about catfish imported from China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The poor water quality where catfish are grown prompts growers in those countires to use antibiotics in production, but some of those drugs are not approved for use in the United States.
Growers in the United States follow stricter standards than catfish producers in Asia, Whittington said, and U.S. consumers should know what they’re getting when they eat catfish at a restaurant. Grocery stores already are required to label catfish products with country of origin, and we believe that no less should be expected of Mississippi restaurants.
Mississippi catfish growers have taken a huge financial hit from the import of catfish products, according to statistics from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Any bill for labeling protects not only consumers but producers by forcing restaurants to let customers know where they are getting their product.
The bamboo state?
It appears bamboo fields could start popping up all across Mississippi, beginning this spring.
Just a year or so ago, Ed Johnson at the Delta Economic Development Center was touting bamboo as a possible source of income in the Delta.
In a recent conversation with Johnson, he believes the first plants could be in the ground in 8 to 12 weeks.
There are literally thousands of products that can be made from bamboo and while the United States can’t compete with fart east countries on labor costs, Mississippi can win on fuel and shipping costs.
The main markets for bamboo are:
•  Hard goods – flooring, cabinetry, fencing
• Pulp and paper
• Textiles – clothing, bedding, towels
• Bio-mass – bamboo could make an excellent candidate for fuels due to it’s low moisture content, and low ash/chlorine contents.
• Carbon credit opportunities – moso bamboo is the largest carbon sequestering plant in the world
• Eco-tourism – where folks could tour groves of 75 feet tall grasses?
There is still a lot of work to do. However, what appeared to many to be a pipe dream just 15 months ago looks like it is going to become a reality.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

City water line map nearly useless

January 14th, 2010 Comments off

The Mississippi Business Journal applauds the city of Jackson for making use of the Internet and posting an interactive map of water line breaks on its web page (http://64.66.68.250/parcelsearch3/).

Despite their thinking in the right direction, the MBJ hates the fact that the city has wasted tax dollars on the endeavor, because the map is essentially useless.

One has to zoom in no more than 392 feet off the ground to be able to read a single street name. And then the screen only displays a small portion of a neighborhood at a time.

In other words, unless you have an aerial view of the city of Jackson memorized, it could take hours to find your location: You have to scroll through the entire 125-square mile Jackson area at a very low elevation to be able to read where the heck you are.

The “Find Address” search box in the upper left-hand corner would help with or maybe solve this problem – if it worked.

One can only wonder how many duplicate calls the Jackson hotline at (601) 960-1111 has gotten reporting the same water main break.

One also wonders why tax payer dollars are being spent on employees who are answering the Jackson information hotline: They don’t know much of anything.

A later afternoon inquiry on Monday regarding whether or not the city was under a boil-water alert yielded an “I don’t know, but you should probably go ahead and take that precaution anyway” response. This was after the Mayor had given a press conference earlier that day recommending citizens boil water. A late morning inquiry today about whether or not the Mayor would be giving a press conference today yielded a “We haven’t been told yet” answer. A call 20 minutes later to a local news station confirmed that there would indeed be a press meeting at 11 a.m.

City spokesman Chris Mims has not yet returned an MBJ phone call asking for information about the map.

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