Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, Miss.)
Top Stories of 2022
By Staff Reports
The top stories of past year include a vice-presidential visit, a ground-breaking for a new federal courthouse and the shooting death of a Greenville City Police Officer.
Courthouse construction begins
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of Mississippi, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson and Mayor Errick D. Simmons joined for a groundbreaking event to announce the start of construction for the new U.S. Courthouse in Greenville’s historic downtown area. The kick-off event, signified by the shoveling of dirt at the project site, represents their collaboration in bringing the construction start to fruition.
“GSA is proud to partner with our colleagues in the judiciary branch, congressional leaders and the Greenville community to deliver a state-of-the-art facility for the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of Mississippi,” said GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Nina M. Albert. “Upon the completion of construction, the courthouse will be a compelling piece of architecture that reflects the dignity, enterprise, and vigor of the United States and will serve as a source of community pride for the City of Greenville, Mississippi.”
Vice President Visits Greenville
An unprecedented moment unfolded in the Mississippi Delta Friday at E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center as the first black male mayor of the City of Greenville welcomed the first black vice president of the United States.
Mayor Errick Simmons declared it was a “great day” for small businesses in rural communities as Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Queen City and one of its long-standing establishments to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to “supporting and uplifting America’s small businesses.”
Harris was joined by U.S. Homeland Security Chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-2), who said of the Biden-Harris Administration, “They don’t forget the people who made it possible for them to serve.”
Thompson asserted this administration’s investment in communities, cities, counties, school districts and even the state of Mississippi has yielded opportunities that are not often presented.
Greenville Police officer shot, killed
An officer with the Greenville Police Department was killed Tuesday in the line of duty.
Greenville officer Myiesha Stewart was shot the night of Tuesday, Oct. 11, during a shooting near Reed and Rebecca streets. Gunshots and police activity were reported in several locations in Greenville on Tuesday. Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons issued a statement Tuesday night about an officer-involved death as a result of the shooting.
“I have learned of an officer-involved shooting that occurred this afternoon near Reed and Rebecca Streets in Greenville. Several people were injured by gunshots, including an investigator with the Greenville Police Department who has unfortunately passed away as a result of the incident. Department of Public Safety
Commissioner Sean Tindell has been notified and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter. Greenville Chief of Police Marcus Turner Sr. and I have visited with family of the deceased officer and we asked on behalf of the family for your continued prayers, condolences, and support during this very difficult time."
Hospital faces financial woes
In the wake of a report on Delta Health System’s financials, which indicated a net income of negative $13.2 million in the year to date, the Washington County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to adopt an order declaring DHS to be in financial distress and to employ senior policy advisor Samuel Odle and Bose Public Affairs Group to conduct an investigation and analysis of DHS’ financial condition.
The report included all DHS facilities and medical groups and was submitted by DHS interim CEO Iris Stacker during last Monday’s regular meeting of the BOS.
Prior to Stacker’s report, there had not been one submitted since February 2022 by her predecessor Scott Christensen, which encompassed the months of October, November and December 2021.
Of the negative $13.2 million, DHS–The Medical Center has a net income of negative $334,000; Northwest Regional Medical Center in Clarksdale has a net loss of $3 million; Highland Hills Medical Center in Senatobia has a net loss of $2.2 million; and DHS’ medical groups consisting of Washington County, Clarksdale and Senatobia have a combined net loss of $7.6 million in the year to date.
The BOS’ decision to authorize an audit and analysis of DHS financials, as owners of the community hospital, was researched by board attorney Willie Griffin along with an inquiry regarding the authority to remove a hospital board trustee.
Construction begins on Highway 82 Bypass
As the groundbreaking ceremony for the U.S. 82 Greenville Bypass progressed Monday in the parking lot of the Greenville Higher Education Center, Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons shared a distinct memory.
“I recall 15 years ago driving down this highway and seeing that bridge and wondering, ‘Where was that bridge going to and when will we get it completed?’” Simmons said. “I saw where the casino had opened up and the bridge going across U.S. 82 had opened up and we had all of these chemicals going through Greenville and Mayor Simmons was on my case about getting something done with Highway 82.”
Fast forward more than a decade later and the Central District commissioner has the answer to both questions as he played a central role in effectuating what will be one of the most substantial projects in the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s history.
Simmons held direct $15 million to Greenville
During the just-completed 2022 Mississippi Legislative session, state legislators had not only to deal with the business of determining the expenditure of the regular state budget, they also had to determine how to use $1.9 trillion in federal money from the American Rescue Plan.
Senator Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, said the influx of federal dollars is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
“I was glad to be instrumental in the process to help fix systemic problems that have faced our citizens for decades,” Simmons said. “The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) caused Mississippi to receive $1.8 billion of that to help with infrastructure repair and construction, especially when it comes to water, sewage and broadband.”
Of the $1.8 billion, legislators appropriated more than $1.5 billion to various agencies such as $60 million to Accelerate MS to assist with nurse training and health science infrastructure at community colleges and universities; $30 million for tourism at designated marketing organizations; $25 million to the Department of Health to assist with Telehealth, IT, and computer-related infrastructure; $450 million to the Department of Environmental Quality to assist cities and counties well-water and sewer projects; and $300 million to the Department of Health to assist rural water and sewer projects. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Mississippi Department of Health-related projects will be administered through an application process with those respective agencies.
Greater Greenville buys downtown properties
The Greater Greenville Development Foundation has purchased more than 100,000 square feet of property on Washington Avenue formerly owned by the Hafter family of Greenville.
In December of 2014, the City of Greenville approved a 20-year comprehensive strategic plan, which was developed to help community leaders navigate future growth and investments within the area. Through a broad community input and engagement process, this plan outlined nine strategic directions for Greenville moving forward. Revitalizing the Central Business District into a beautiful and vibrant downtown was the primary goal of this plan, and Main Street Greenville was the lead partner. As part of the plan, Main Street Greenville, a division of the Greater Greenville Development Foundation, started to identify properties within the district that could be purchased and redeveloped to help accommodate the growing needs of the Greenville community.
Largest private Catholic church donation comes from Greenville
St. Joseph Catholic Church and School officials dedicated the memorial to longtime parishioner Salvador Sarullo on Nov. 29, on the Benny Strazi football field at the large statue of Jesus in honor of what is believed to be the largest gift ever received by any one parish in the United States.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz presided over the dedication ceremony to mark the incredible generosity of long-time Parishioner Salvador Sarullo, who bequeathed a large portion, more than $20 million, of his estate to St. Joseph Catholic Parish.
Azar’s “One Mississippi,” now state song
A life of writing music about his home state of Mississippi culminated for Steve Azar on Thursday when Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed the legislation making one of his original songs the state’s official song.
“What an amazing adventure this has been, and when his name hit the paper it certainly was a moment I won’t soon forgot,” Azar said. “I’ve loved writing songs about our home since a very young age celebrating the place that gave me the pin.”
Family members joined Azar at the capitol to witness the signing ceremony.
“I was obviously moved beyond description having my bride Gwen and one of our three children Adrian, other family and friends and supporters in legislature for my ‘One Mississippi’ becoming a new state song all joined at the capital with Governor Reeves as he signed the bill into law,” Azar said.