Headlines Cont. – 10/24/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – October 24, 2006


Mobile kitchen offers hot meals to troopers called away from home
By Rita Howell

The aroma of fried catfish and hushpuppies drew several dozen hungry state troopers from their dry office building into the drizzling rain in the parking area behind the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Troop E headquarters in Batesville last Thursday.

A new, fully outfitted kitchen-on-wheels rolled into town to serve the troopers and get them acquainted with the MHP’s new mobile unit that can be put into service anywhere in the state to meet the needs of first responders called out in the case of another Katrina-like disaster or circumstance which requires them to be on-site (and away from home) for lengthy stays.

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"After Katrina, we had troopers down on the coast, sleeping in their cars," said Lt. Col. Joseph Rigby of Brooklyn, one of those responsible for the project.

Working 12-hour shifts and then having no place to eat, shower or sleep left troopers demoralized at times, Rigby said.

Through private donations amounting to about $150,000, a tractor-trailer rig has been equipped to serve 800-1,000 meals a day. Tents can be set up for dining and sleeping, and mobile shower facilities can be provided.

"This would be used by our troopers and other first responders," Rigby explained. "We wouldn’t have to go to the Red Cross or Salvation Army to take care of our needs. They could concentrate on helping civilians."

Most of the state’s approximately 500 MHP troopers spent some time on the coast helping out after Katrina, he said.

"We want to show troopers we’ll take care of them if something else happens," he said.

"We’re real proud of this."

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is the first state-wide law enforcement agency in the country to provide this type of mobile response facility.

Batesville Job Corps shows improvement during evaluation
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville Job Corp Center (BJCC) moved up in its most recent evaluation by a Department of Labor Facility Survey team, from 112th of 118 Job Corps centers surveyed last year to 59th this year, BJCC Director Alexander Alston said.

Alston announced the improved evaluation results last week at a meeting of the center’s industry council. The evaluation "judges how well we train and the overall services we provide students and the placement of students in jobs or other training opportunities and how many are there six months and 12 months later," Business and Community Liaison Director Roger Givens said.

"By June 30, 2007 we want to be number 39 or higher," Alston said.

Several BJCC officials told council members of the need for more work-based learning opportunities for students in the Batesville area.

Angela Hubbard, chair of the Employer Outreach Committee, said that students were available to work for free. "They work 28 days for free; all we asked is for the employer to evaluate them: tell us what they did right and what they did wrong," she said.

"We are looking for work-based learning sites," said Rotisha Pinson, team manager for the painting, carpentry, brick masonry and welding training. The very building in which Pinson spoke those words had been just such a site during its construction by BJCC students under their instructors’ supervision.

The career transition services building had been completed last July, Business and Community Liaison Director Roger Givens said.

The industry council brings together a cross section of representatives and employers in the area who have substantial management, hiring or policy responsibilities in the area with a goal of identifying employment opportunities for BJCC students and skills and training needed to prepare them for jobs.

Industry council members heard reports from other committee chairs who represent BJCC’s training areas. Teresa Walton, Manager of Academics, described an increase in high school courses offered to BJCC students, including online courses. The center has also made preliminary contacts with North Panola High School about allowing BJCC students to attend classes there, Walton said.

Gladys Ellis, manager for a team that covers health occupations, materials handling and food service training, said that a recent evaluation of her training areas indicated the need for three pieces of equipment in materials handling, a "cherry picker," shrink-wrap packaging equipment and bar-code printer. Funds are being sought to acquire the equipment, she said.

Cordella Smith, team manager for retail sales and business office technology training, said that she was seeking new and existing opportunities for the eight BJCC students currently attending Northwest Mississippi Community College (NWCC). Ebony Bailey, a recent BJCC graduate who now attends NWCC, spoke to council members briefly, telling them she missed being a student there where she took advantage of everything that was made available to her.

The industry council will meet again in March.


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