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Archive for May, 2011

Dennis ahead of Bryant in MBJ poll

May 31st, 2011 Comments off

South Mississippi Businessman Dave Dennis leads Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in a poll on www.msbusiness.com on who Mississippi Business Journal Readers will vote for for Republican nominee for governor.

People will come Ray; they will come for B.B.

May 27th, 2011 Comments off

Hey, I realize it’s baseball season, and the Red Sox are on a roll, but please forgive me because I apparently have the movie “Field of Dreams” on my mind.
I think I even responded to my wife, Sarah, last night, saying, “It’s OK, honey. I… I was just talking to the cornfield.”
Fantasy is fun to play with from time to time. You know, you see a billboard that reads, “Lottery, $125 million,” and you immediately begin to think about what you would do with the money.
Uh, No. 1, buy a luxury suite at Fenway Park.
Oh, sorry.
Dreaming?
Well, I must be, because the Mississippi Business Journal has reported that the Farish Street Entertainment District boondoggle that everyone (I mean everyone) said would never happen, has signed a 15-year lease with an old blues guy.
Maybe you know of him.
He’s from Indianola — a guy by the name of Riley.
No, he’s not my cousin. We spell ours funny.
Anyway, I think his momma was the only one to call him that.
Most folks just call him B.B.
Yep, the B.B. King’s Blues Club, in conjunction with Beale Street Blues Co., has signed a 15-year lease on the former Star Laundry building on Farish Street, putting in place a key element in the plans of Watkins Development to bring life back to a street that once served as a key entertainment and shopping destination for Jackson’s African-American residents.
Build it and they will come, the voice in the cornfield said.
Well, if there were ever time to believe the voice, now may be it.
When I lived in Greenville years ago, there were lots of swirling rumors that representatives of B.B. King were involved to financing everything from a downtown entertainment district to a casino and blues museum.
However, King’s representatives would never comment when we called for confirmation.
So, imagine my level of scoffing when I arrived in Jackson three years ago and immediately led on a tour of the proposed Farish Street project with the dream of having B.B. King anchor the district.
Yeah, well, I had heard that song and dance before.
OK, so now I am on board.
If B.B. King’s Blues Club indeed arrives at the corners of Amite and Farish as the anchor for the entire district, you can begin the countdown on the announcement that success has been realized in the revitalization of downtown Jackson.
There will still be doubters. There always are, but “Ray, people will come.
“They’ll come to (Jackson) for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up (on Farish Street) not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive … as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere … (like) when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch … and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. But (blues) has marked the time. This (place) … it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Sure, I know I am the crazy guy in the cornfield, but I believe that an event like this can be the tipping point for an entire community, a business district and ultimately a city.
People will come.

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

Norquist will not seek re-election in Legislature; Dallas expected to seek position

May 27th, 2011 Comments off

District 28 state representative David Norquist (D-Cleveland) will not seek re-election in order to spend more time with his family, according to a source close to the situation.

Early word is that Cleveland native David Dallas is going to run for the position. Dallas is the former director of the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State Univ

DAVID NORQUIST

ersity and is currently executive director of the HealthCare Foundation of the Tri-State Delta in Greenville.

Norquist has been a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Water Resources, Gaming, Judiciary B, JudiciaryEn Banc and Universities and Colleges committees.

Norquist is also a member of the City of Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department, and he is a member of the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association, the Defense Research Institute and the American Bar Association.

Dallas, meanwhile, is a graduate of Delta State, who went on to Mississippi State, where he helped care for the aging Sen. John C. Stennis.

Stennis, a 1923 Mississippi A&M College (now MSU) graduate, returned to campus in 1988 following his retirement. Nearly 90 at the time, he lived in a university residence for several years before declining health required his relocation to a full-care facility near Jackson.
Dallas was the MSU graduate student who served for two years as personal Stennis’ aide.
Dallas went on to write an award-winning screeenplay and script for a one-man play about his days with Sen. Stennis, named “A Gentleman from Mississippi.” He portrays three characters: himself as a Stennis caregiver; Stennis as a frail and wheelchair-bound former national leader; and Stennis at the height of his senatorial power.

DAVID DALLAS

Stennis died in 1995 and is buried at Pinecrest Cemetery in DeKalb.

After completing his master’s degree in public administration at MSU in 1990, Dallas went to Washington as a Presidential Management Intern in federal service. He also holds a bachelor’s in political science and English literature at Delta State University, where his father is a retired history professor.

Dallas spent five years at Delta State as Executive Director of the Bologna Performing Arts Center, where he was selected as “Delta Innovator” in 2008.
He nearly 20 years of professional experience, which includes developing, monitoring, and evaluating grant projects along with successful strategic leadership. After graduating from MSU, he was selected by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for a Presidential Management Fellowship and later received a Legislative Fellowship with the U.S. Senate through the Office of Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott. He served six years with the United States Information Agency’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs where he administered a $40 million dollar grant program with the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union under the FREEDOM Support Act. He was selected by the Japanese Prime Minister’s office as the lead U.S. Delegate on the Prime Minister’s Ship for World Youth in a three-month tour of the Pacific. He then served as the Director of International Programs at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

If you are reading this, you are still here

May 23rd, 2011 Comments off

One of the great movies of all time is “Inherit The Wind.” It’s all about the Scopes Monkey Trial, but there is one courtroom scene where Matthew Harrison Brady is pushed about his strict belief in the Bible and the beginning of time.
“A fine biblical scholar, Bishop Usher, has determined for us the exact date and hour of the Creation. It occurred in the year 4004 B.C.,” Brady said, and went on, “It’s not an opinion. It’s a literal fact — which the good Bishop arrived at through careful computation of the ages of the prophets, as set down in the Old Testament. In fact, he determined that the Lord began the Creation on the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C. at, uh, 9 a.m.”
Well, now that we have that settled, we can move on to more important issues, like the end of time. According to a group of loyal listeners of Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting network based in Oakland, Calif., Saturday marked the Day of Rapture and the start of Judgment Day (which, they say, will last five months).
A Facebook page titled “Post rapture looting” offers this invitation: “When everyone is gone and God’s not looking, we need to pick up some sweet stereo equipment and maybe some new furniture for the mansion we’re going to squat in.” By Wednesday afternoon, more than 175,000 people indicated they would be “attending” the “public event.”
The prediction is also being mocked in the comic strip “Doonesbury” and has inspired “Rapture parties” to celebrate what hosts expect will be the failure of the world to come to an end.
What I know is that if you are reading this column, it is likely May 21 or after. Therefore, you are still here and my bet is the rapture hasn’t come, or if it has, reading my column likely isn’t on your to-do list.
In the unlikely event that the Rapture has come and you are not here, I am sorry you have missed out on what would have been my last column.
So, here’s to hoping I write another column next week, and the week after that.

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

Cochran position not based in fact

May 10th, 2011 Comments off

South Delta flooding can be controlled and the environment can be the better for it if the Yazoo Backwater Project is funded and undertaken by the federal government.

However, when Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) drew comparisons between the current Mississippi River flooding and the flooding that would be controlled by a pump system in the south Delta, he was comparing apples and oranges.

A pump system, as I learned not that long ago, would do the south Delta no good right now, and we hope Sen. Cochran isn’t playing political games and misleading the public for the sake of getting this project approved.

If we must resort to misleading statements to take care of business, the business isn’t worth it.

When I spoke with someone at the Environmental Protection Agency in January about about why it is against the project, a representative told me the pure and organic state of the Delta would be ruined by inserting pumps into the ecosystem.

That was false and misleading too.

The only way to take the Delta back to a pure and organic state would be to blow up all of the levees and allow the Mississippi River flow across the land as it did hundreds of years ago, when most of what we see now were cypress swamps.

Cochran could be saying that by judging how the corp of engineers makes decisions on the current flooding could be compared to decision making in conjunction with the pump project. It’s still a reach but that argument could be made.

All should make this decision based on the merit of project, not misleading statements.

Sad to see Shriver’s separation

May 10th, 2011 1 comment

I was sad to see this morning that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger has separated after 25 years of marriage, especially since I was at the wedding on that beautiful spring weekend in 1986 on Cape Cod.

Well, sort of.

I was in Cape Cod as a 19-year-old college student in Massachusetts for the summer.

And I was there to see all the guests and happy couple as they were seen for the first time as husband and wife.

Yep, that was me, sitting on the curb across the street eating chinese food with a few other friends watching the festivities.

You see, I was working at a resort on Cape Cod and most all of the streets had been shut down for the wedding, effectively shutting down the resort for a couple of hours.

So, what better to do than take the back way to pick up Chinese and relax and watch the show.

It was impressive to be able to watch an event like that unfold as the Kennedy family is the closest thing to royalty that we have in the US and that wedding was likely as close as we will have to the Royal Wedding.

So, I have always kept an ear up through the years to hear how they are doing.

They are both successful people and they will be fine, but it’s one of those stories that just won’t be the same for me to tell anymore.

Live blog to highlight MBJ’s coverage of the Mississippi Bankers Association convention in Destin, Florida

May 9th, 2011 Comments off

Mississippi Business Journal banking writer Ted Carter will be reporting live this week from the Mississippi Bankers Association annual convention in Destin, Fla. Look for his reports on the “Business Blog” on this site.
Ted looks forward to personally meeting bankers from across the state and learning about the issues and trends of importance to them. Mississippi’s banks have experienced historic challenges in recent years and must now gear up for meeting significant new challenges that are part of the nation’s financial reform law. Some of the new law’s mandates must be met by mid summer. Ted will be especially interested in reporting on the preparations Mississippi’s banking sector is making to meet the mandates.
He will be interested as well in news about your bank, including new services, new technology, new partnerships, new customer-recruitment or or anything else you think the MBJ’s readers would like to know about your bank.
Ted looks forward to making the acquaintance of the the people who make it possible for Mississippi’s banks to serve their communities.

MC’s Eduardo a rare individual, truly kind and honest

May 9th, 2011 Comments off

If you get the opportunity, read Martin Willoughby’s column on our website about Marcelo Eduardo, who is Mississippi College’s dean of its school of business.

I won’t repeat the column here, but Eduardo was born in Lapaz, Bolivia, and found his way to Mississippi through a tennis scholarship at Delta State in Cleveland.

Marcelo and I went to school together at DSU and lived in the same dorm, Noel Hall. He was a little older than I, but we became great friends, and despite not seeing each other that often any more, I still think of him as a great friend.

There are a couple of things that stick out to me about Marcelo. First, I have never heard anyone say anything bad about him. Well, I have heard students be critical of him because he is, apparently, a tough instructor and professor. Those I know who have worked with him have told me he is the most prepared and knowledgeable professor they had ever run across.

But Marcelo is truly one of the kindest and gentlest souls you will ever run across. He is as honest as the day is long and if he says he will do something, you can write it in stone.

Now, I am sure he has his faults. We all do, but he is a great guy and deserving of the accolades he is given in Martin’s column.

He is the best tennis player I have ever seen in Mississippi, and having spent many years as a sports writer who covered professional tennis from time to time, I feel like my evaluation skills are pretty good. … If I remember correctly, as a teen, he played in the Junior Orange Bowl Tennis Championship in Miami and beat former World No. 1 and nine-time Grand Slam title winner Stephan Edberg.

He doesn’t play, really, anymore because of a bad back he has had since his days in college, but when he stopped playing tennis, he picked up golf. He became of one the best scratch golfers in Mississippi, having placed in the top 10 of the Mississippi Amateur several times.

Basically, anything that required great hand-eye coordination, he was really good at — ping pong, racquetball, badminton — seriously.

However, I have never seen him try to hit a baseball or softball.

Maybe he really sucks at that. It would be just about the only thing.

Take a look at Martin’s column, it is a good read.

Don’t screw this up Canton

May 6th, 2011 Comments off

In a published story Friday, Canton officials are seeking a state court ruling on annexing the nearby Nissan Motor Co. plant.

Yet, according to the story, before the plant was built near the city, the city had wanted to annex the land, but Nissan threatened to back out of the deal.

What makes Blackmon think Nissan doesn’t feel the same way today. It seems Canton’s needs are served much better with Nissan being where it is.

Would Canton be better off annexing the land with an empty Nissan plant on it?

Just something to think about.

Doiron prepares for flooding with new event

May 5th, 2011 Comments off
Runners take off at the beginning of a recent Cotton Classic 10K road race in Greenville, including a much bigger and slower me on the far right.

Runners take off at the beginning of a recent Cotton Classic 10K road race in Greenville, including a much bigger and slower me on the far right.

I was chatting with my buddy, Phillip Doiron, this morning via text.

Phillip is the CEO if the Hodding Carter Memorial YMCA in Greenville, and we have been friends for several years dating to my tenure as editor of the Delta Democrat Times.

Phillip Doiron, CEO of the Hodding Carter Memorial YMCA in Greenville.

Phillip Doiron, CEO of the Hodding Carter Memorial YMCA in Greenville.

••• Learn more about the Cotton Classic 10K in Greenville…

Anyway, I was texting him this morning to give him a hard time about one of his biggest events of the year, the Cotton Classic 10K road race.

I missed last year’s event and have felt bad about it. So, this year is a must. This Saturday is a must.

But word from MDOT is that U.S. 61 is going to be closed due to flooding as are parts of U.S. 49W, the two main routes to Greenville from Jackson.

I asked him if I am going to be able to make it Friday night. After a couple of serious comments back and forth, Phillip suggested I might need to bring a swim suit with me for the event.

Sure, I said. Maybe we can make it a biathlon.

“Amen brother,” Phillip replied.

Amen, indeed.