West Nile Virus now in Hinds, Leflore counties

The Department of Health added Hinds and Leflore to the list of counties reporting human cases of West Nile Virus on Thursday, bringing the state total to five for 2017. Previously, the Department of Health had reported two human cases in Forrest County and one in Rankin County. The Department of Health also has confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in eight counties, six of which have not had a confirmed human case: Clay, Hinds, Forrest, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin and Washington. Of the 73 mosquitoes that have tested positive in the state, 28 were in Forrest County and 16 were in Washington County. In a release earlier this month, the Department of Health said that an increase in cases means that Mississippians are entering “peak season” for the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes that are more prevalent in the warmer summer months.

Second West Nile Virus case confirmed in Forrest County

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported its third human case of West Nile Virus for 2017 on Monday. The most recent diagnosis was made in a Forrest County resident, the second human diagnosis in that county this year. Earlier this month, the Department of Health reported another case of West Nile Virus in a Rankin County resident. The Department of Health also has confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in eight counties, six of which have not had a confirmed human case: Clay, Hinds, Forrest, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin and Washington. Of the 73 mosquitoes that have tested positive in the state, 28 were in Forrest County and 16 were in Washington County.

Japanese company adds 100 jobs to Madison County operation

Calsonic Kansei, a Japanese company that supplies heating and cooling systems for Nissan trucks, is adding 100 jobs to its Mississippi operation, the Associated Press reports. The company announced Monday it is investing $16.3 million to move its assembly operation to a Gluckstadt warehouse owned by the Madison County Economic Development Authority. Calsonic Kansei’s total employment in the area will increase to about 600. Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Tammy Craft said the state is giving Calsonic Kansei $600,000 to improve the building’s climate control and fire suppression systems. The Madison County Economic Development Authority is giving $60,000 for other building and infrastructure improvements. Madison County is granting property tax breaks projected at $460,000 over 10 years, and on inventory projected at $256,000, AP reports.

Clinton physician elected board chairman for Department of Health

The Board of the Department of Health elected a new chairman Thursday, replacing Dr. Luke Lampton, who had his license suspended in May. Dr. Ed Dalton Barham of Clinton will chair the board, where he has served since 2012. Dr. Thad Waites, a Hattiesburg physician and board member since 2010, was also elected vice chairman. “It has been a great privilege for me to be a member of the State Board of Health,” said Barham. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in a leadership position, and look forward to working with my colleagues to help promote public health in Mississippi.” Lampton had served as chairman since 2007.

Ole Miss business program cited for ‘excellence’ by international society

The School of Business Administration at the University of Mississippi will be awarded the Global Centers of Insurance Excellence designation this summer at the International Insurance Society’s forum in London. The school’s Risk Management and Insurance program is among only 12 programs in the U.S., and 20 worldwide, to receive the designation. The aim of the designation is to encourage universities to play an integral role in advancing insurance education, to enhance industry research and intellectual development, and to build connections between the insurance industry and top-tier academic programs and faculty. “This designation requires that an RMI program is staffed by highly qualified faculty and that its graduates are hired in the insurance industry,”  said Andre Liebenberg, the Gwenette P. and Jack W. Robertson Chair of Insurance and associate professor of finance. “Our ability to meet these requirements is due to the commitment and support of our administration, advisory board, employers, donors, and sustaining sponsors.”

Jackson State, Ole Miss create plan to increase diversity among pharmacists

Beginning this fall, Jackson State University’s department of biology will partner with the University of Mississippi to give qualified JSU pre-pharmacy students preferred admission status to the UM School of Pharmacy. “It’s a win-win,” said Timothy Turner, chair of the department of biology at Jackson State University in a statement released by the university. “It is a tremendous opportunity for our students to enter directly into one of the numerous career choices within the field of pharmacy. While at the same time, this collaboration will also increase the cultural diversity within the field of pharmacy in this state and throughout the country.” 

For admission consideration, pre-pharmacy students at Jackson State will be required to complete established pre-pharmacy courses, have high academic performance and demonstrate a record of service activities. Those who meet the requirements will be admitted to the preferred admission program after the first semester of their freshman year. Once students from the program are admitted, they will be on track to graduate on time and will be held to the same academic standards as all Ole Miss pharmacy students.

Lottery announced for scholarships for students with disabilities

The Mississippi Department of Education is holding a lottery on July 14 to award 58 Education Scholarship Accounts for the upcoming school year. The Education Scholarship Accounts provide funds to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school and seek educational services elsewhere. Recipients of the scholarship are eligible to be reimbursed up to $6,494 in costs next year. The Legislature passed the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act in 2015. This school year, the law allows for up to 435 ESA accounts.

More pre-K students ready for kindergarten, test results show

Spring test results show the majority of pre-kindergarten students participating in the state’s early learning collaboratives scored at or above the target score for exiting pre-K. Nearly 78 percent of students in the state’s 10 early learning collaboratives scored at or above the target score, a 6.5 percent increase from last year’s test results. State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright, who has long pushed for expanding early childhood education across the state, said the test results are evidence of the importance of pre-K. “Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives continue to show the impact of high-quality early childhood education and the powerful effect it has on student achievement,” Wright said. “I am proud of the work of all of the teachers, administrators and pre-K students.

West Nile cases confirmed in two counties; mosquitoes carry virus in five more

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported its second human case of West Nile Virus for 2017 on Wednesday. The most recent diagnosis was made in a Rankin County resident. Last month, the Department of Health reported Mississippi’s first case of West Nile Virus in a Forrest County resident. The Department of Health said that the increase in cases means that Mississippians are entering “peak season” for the disease, which is spread by mosquito and more prevalent in the warmer summer months. “While WNV (West Nile Virus) can occur any time of the year, we are now in peak season when most cases occur.

Rep. Tyrone Ellis retiring from Mississippi House

Rep. Tyrone Ellis, a Democrat from Starkville, announced his retirement from the Mississippi House of Representatives this afternoon. “I have truly considered myself blessed and privileged to have served the citizens of District 38, as well as the citizens of Mississippi as a whole over the years. However, the time has come to close this chapter of my life and allow God to utilize me in another capacity,” Ellis said in a statement. Ellis was elected to the House in 1980. He is a pastor at Running Water Baptist Church in Noxubee County.

Mike Hurst, Chad Lamar nominated U.S. attorneys

President Donald Trump has nominated two men to fill Mississippi’s vacant U.S. attorney posts. The nominees are Mike Hurst of Madison and Chad Lamar of Oxford, whom, if confirmed, will be the federal government’s top prosecutors in the state. Hurst, the Southern District nominee, is the director of the Mississippi Justice Institute and general counsel for the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. In 2015, he ran unsuccessfully for attorney general against Democrat Jim Hood. Prior to that, Hurst was an assistant federal prosecutor focusing on public corruption cases, including that for former corrections commissioner Chris Epps.

State flag opponent asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case

Carlos Moore is taking his arguments against the Mississippi state flag to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports. Moore, a black attorney in Grenada, filed papers Wednesday that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves were wrong to reject his argument that the flag is a symbol of white supremacy which harms him and his young daughter by violating the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection to all citizens. The Confederate battle emblem from the Civil War is emblazoned in a corner of the flag. Critics say the symbol is racist. Supporters say it represents the state’s history.