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Chief of neighboring AEA takes on Mississippi Bend AEA

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Chief of neighboring AEA takes on Mississippi Bend AEA


Earlier this month, the Mississippi Bend AEA’s board approved a contract with the Grant Wood AEA. The head of the latter, John Speer, will now lead both agencies until the end of June.

“We have two really good AEAs here that sit next to each other and we thought we could learn a lot from each other,” he said.

The former chief administrator of the Mississippi Bend AEA retired at the end of January.

“Both agencies saw this as a way to try a situation that could provide some efficiencies, obviously there’s a cost savings when you share a chief administrator.”

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The agreement does not include a pay raise.

It comes as Gov. Kim Reynolds’ bill to overhaul Iowa’s special education system moves through the statehouse. The bill would cut AEA funding and give the state more authority over the agencies.

Speer says legislators should work with AEAs and families.

“We just hope that whatever bill, if any, that passes the legislature really seeks to make the system stronger, rather than to degrade the system.”

Together, the Mississippi Bend and Grant Wood AEAs provide special education services to over 50 public school districts, including Davenport and Bettendorf, and nearly 40 non-public schools.

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Coliseum hosts Delta Sigma Theta’s 2024 Mississippi State Cluster

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Coliseum hosts Delta Sigma Theta’s 2024 Mississippi State Cluster


BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – Saturday is an exciting time for members of Delta Sigma Theta as they commemorate a long legacy of sisterhood and service at the Coast Coliseum.

The Mississippi State Cluster of the Southern Dynamic Region happens once a year and brings sorority sisters from across the state together.

“This state cluster meeting really focuses on building empowerment within our members so that they can understand the ways we can take activism and social activism and all of the programs and projects and services that we talked about back to their homes, chapters and their communities,” explains convention coordinator Jennifer Riley.

Through a number of workshops, the cluster serves as a vehicle for educating women on ways to make a positive imprint in their local areas.

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“We want them to leave here feeling excited and ready to go about doing Delta business with the tools and resources we need to continue to be viable resources within our communities,” says Moss Point Alumni Chapter President Angela Haynes.

One major service project the sorority is prioritizing will serve the city of Moss Point.

“We are collecting monetary donations and supplies for tornado relief in Moss Point,” notes Mississippi Gulf Coast Alumni Chapter President Searcy Taylor. “Our sisters are generous and we just want to make an impact and make a difference. We start this as we started organizing for Cluster, but it can go on.”

The conference also connects both longtime members and newly-pledged faces to the sisterhood.

“You know, when you’re among your sisters, it’s absolutely a reunion,” adds Haynes. “This is a reunion of different sorts because we’re here to reunionize and reconnect with those members who we’ve been in other chapters with, those we’ve initiated Delta Sigma Theta with, but we come here for the business of Delta.”

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The final day of the cluster will take place Sunday with an ecumenical service open to the public. The service runs Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. inside the Coast Coliseum.

Click here to subscribe to WLOX News on YouTube: Keep up with South Mississippi news, sports, and local events on our YouTube channel!



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Mississippi Overlook Park access could improve with grant application

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Mississippi Overlook Park access could improve with grant application


BAXTER — Greater access to Mississippi Overlook Park is where Baxter City Council members voted to start as they approved applying for federal grants.

The park’s 60 acres and the 820 acres next to it are city-owned property in southwest Baxter. It is open to the public but getting to the park overlooking the river and its shoreline facilities means walking a half-mile or a mile distance after parking on a dead-end residential street.

The council was presented with an opportunity to apply in a partnership with Sylvan Township for $10 million in federal grants to assist with the development of the trail, which could be part of the Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail, with statewide implications for connections to other trail systems. For the City Council, the decision came with the understanding there would be staff time needed as Baxter would serve as the fiscal agent and city costs associated with the project.

Ultimately, the council decided to go with a smaller option to start, identified as Option A with additional land acquisition, which would add greater access to Mississippi Overlook Park with a road, parking area, extending a dry pipe for future water and sewer, and a paved trail that connects to the Paris Road and Jasperwood intersection to link with the Paul Bunyan State Trail. The grant application is for the Baxter/Sylvan Township Community Trail Grant Project, which consists of the capital improvements in Baxter and capital improvements proposed by Sylvan Township.

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The council heard

presentations and talked about options through several previous meetings

and in previous long-term planning discussions for the 60-acre park and 820 acres of public land next to it.

MIssissippi Overlook Park, 6005 Oakdale Road, is on the bank of the river and with wooded acreage, has canoe access, picnic tables, portable restrooms and wood-chip trails.

Contributed / City of Baxter

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Baxter’s land use plan identifies south Baxter as a potential corridor for a future east/west trail, and new federal money is available to build trails and recreational facilities that gain from Camp Ripley’s Sentinel Landscape designation. A trail system, with Sylvan Township and Baxter each taking parts to connect it, is expected to have a price tag of about $10 million. That trail system could also take on a larger role as the Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail gains traction.

Baxter City Council

The Baxter City Council and staff meet Tuesday, Feb. 20, as residents and property owners near the Mississippi Overlook Park expressed concerns for the plan, hopes it could address existing safety concerns and displeasure at not being notified earlier.

Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

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What was different at the Tuesday, Feb. 20, City Council meeting was public feedback as property owners who live by the parkland said they only recently heard about the grant application option, money for the access road and trail, along with the potential need to buy property for it. The engineer’s estimate for total funding of eligible costs for the project was listed at $3,383,384 in 2024 with total city costs estimated to be $507,507. Those costs were similar if slightly higher for the funding year 2025.

Property owners said they should have been notified and found out about the meeting through a neighbor. Trevor Walter, public works director and city engineer, said if the council voted for the application, which may or may not be awarded to the city, the plan was to notify property owners. Walter also said the plan for southwest Baxter land was the subject of previous public meetings.

A sign and some trees.

The Mississippi River Overlook Park in Baxter on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

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Dain Barrett said the whole area was once all Barrett land and now they have the last piece on the other side of where the access to Mississippi Overlook Park is proposed. Barrett told the council they have people on their property who don’t know where the public land ends and private begins, even though the land is posted as private. He said something needs to be done with more law enforcement in the area, noting people are trespassing routinely and using the land the wrong way. He pointed to potential conflicts with people on the trail and firearms hunting in the same area.

John Ring said his interest was Red River Drive, which continues to have safety concerns and should be a priority in funding. That area was part of the overall project but not included in the first phase of funding.

Dean Renneke proposed alternate routes, such as using Oakwood, for the access he said the city had not considered following the power line and using an existing easement and using Oakdale. The city noted a study that determined the best way to bring the public to the park was to use Jasperwood instead of using a residential neighborhood.

What they all agreed upon was their description of the public property as a phenomenal and beautiful area.

The city noted the grant application is a concept with a cost estimate and an application deadline of April 1. Mayor Darrel Olson said they looked at the grant opportunity and may not receive it but there is still time to talk about fine-tuning. He thanked the residents for being there. Council member Jeff Phillips said the residents brought up good points and he suggested they sit down with the police department and talk about the issues specific to this area.

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071121.N.BD.MississippiOverlook1.jpg

Mississippi Overlook Park Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

About the park, land and project

The 880-acre area includes 50-foot-high rolling hills of high quality natural land that features high biodiversity forests and wetlands, 1 mile of frontage along Pike Creek, and ownership entirely surrounding Island Lake. The city of Baxter received the land through a combination of a land donation and various acquisitions through grant funding from the U.S. Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program and the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, among others.

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The city has

studied the park and used consultants to develop a master plan

for the land with the idea of silent sports, educational opportunities, camping, greater park accessibility and potential soccer fields. Another part of the master plans was a future Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail, which is a legislatively authorized state trail.

The Veterans Trail’s master plan envisions a multi-use trail system, which can mean motorized and non-motorized in different areas, that would link the Soo Line Trail south of Little Falls to Crow Wing State Park and the Paul Bunyan State Trail. The Veterans trail would link the Central Lakes, Lake Wobegon, Soo Line, Paul Bunyan, Heartland and Mi-Gi-Zi trails into one continuous recreational route, as stated in the

executive summary of the trail alignment and development

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Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at @DispatchBizBuzz.





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Mississippi State Men's Golf: Bulldogs place ninth at Watersound Invitational

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Mississippi State Men's Golf: Bulldogs place ninth at Watersound Invitational


PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — No. 20 Mississippi State completed the final round of the Watersound Invitational on Wednesday, hosted at Shark’s Tooth Golf Course in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Overall, the Bulldogs placed ninth among 16 teams, finishing three strokes behind sixth-place Clemson and 26 strokes behind first place Virginia.

As a team, MSU shot 3-under, completing the third and final round with a 2-under score.

Josep Serra had the low score of the tournament for the Bulldogs, shooting 4-under, one of three MSU golfers to shoot under-par in the tournament.

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Mississippi State next plays in the Seminole Intercollegiate on March 11-12.

MSU

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