A rose to Jennifer McGillan and Mona Vance-Ali, for their collaboration on a project that will assist those researching the genealogy of Black families. Prior to the end of the Civil War and slavery, record-keeping of Black Americans was irregular. Thanks to McGillan, coordinator of manuscripts for Mississippi State University, and Vance-Ali, archivist at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, the “Lantern Project” is digitizing pre-Civil War documents to create a searchable database. McGillan and Vance-Ali are joined in the effort by the University of Mississippi, Delta State, the Historic Natchez Foundation and the Montgomery County Archives in Alabama. McGillan founded the project, which is funded by a $340,000 grant from the National Historical Publications Records Commission. A workshop to explain what sort of documents are being collected and how to access the information will be held at the Columbus library on Thursday at noon. The website for the project is lanternproject.msstate.edu. We applaud this effort in aiding the discovery and exploration of the ancestry of Black individuals and families.
A rose to Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School in Starkville, for its efforts to bring attention to childhood cancer, which affects more than 10,000 American children each year. It’s personal for the school, where two staff members — second-grade teacher Londie Smith and school nurse Mary Esther Elam — had their own encounters with cancer. Smith’s son, Bennett, passed away in 2019 after suffering from neuroblastoma while Elam’s son Cole, was diagnosed at age 2 with hepatoblastoma and is now in remission at age 12. Both Smith and Elam say the support they received from their school and school district along with family, friends and church members, helped them through the dark, fearful time. Each September, which is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, HWS students, staff and faculty recognize “Go Gold“ week where they learn the importance of helping others and supporting those who may be going through a tough time. We applaud the HWS family for participating in this worthy effort.
A rose to the city of Columbus, whose search for a new police chief is off to a promising start. The application period ended on Sept. 19. Of the 70 applications, 35 met the qualifications for the position, including four current CPD employees and one applicant from Caledonia. The remaining 30 were from outside the state. We are encouraged by the response for two reasons. First, it shows there is broad interest in the position. Second, it gives the 10-member search committee a deep pool of candidates from which to choose. Committee members are now going through the resumes of qualified applicants and each committee member will submit a list of his/her top 10 candidates by next week. Interviews for the top candidates will follow with Mayor Keith Gaskin saying a final decision can be made by the end of November.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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