With the deepening budget crisis and a slowing of revenue streams, small towns and municipalities will be affected in some capacity. What has been observed thus far, Mississippi's municipalities have actively pursued avenues that would allow them to continue providing adequate services to their constituents without compromising the integrity of these services. Consequently, the Fall 2010 Capstone Projects are committed to providing officials with technical assistance as means to not disturb the day-to-day administration and operations.
Okolona, MS is one of the county seats of Chickasaw County, with Houston being the other. Okolona has a population of just over 3,000 people. There is a two-pronged approach to working in Okolona. Two Capstone groups have been placed in the City, with one group--Corey Brown, Chintan Desai, and Chara Singleton--performing an Efficiency and Effectiveness report. This report examines the productivity of the City's administrative and departmental operations in providing services to its citizens.
The second Okolona group--Julie Duke, Deneshia Harlson, and Lindsey Lemmons Smith--are taking the Efficiency and Effectiveness Report to measure the City's capacity to apply for grant funding for the Okolona Forward Project. The Okolona Forward Project consists of two groups, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and the Friends of the Battle of Okolona, coming together to tell an integrative history, from "civil war to civil rights, and byeond." The students are working with these groups and the necessary public agencies (local, state, and federal) to develop a project proposal that could be used as the basis for a grant proposal.
Crawford, MS, located in Lowndes County, is perhaps most notably known for being the home of NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Crawford is also known for a rich history in the arts and entertainment. A little known fact about Crawford is that a blues marker sits in the Town commemorating Big Joe Williams. The Capstone students are using this arts/entertainment focus to create a mini-documentary to showcase to the rest of the world this relatively lost pearl. Additionally, students Dexter McKinney, Robbie Ward, and Thomas Jameson are exploring the digital divide and the Town's ability to close this gap.
The following two Capstone Projects are individual projects that analyze political and administrative trends in the State of Mississippi.
Kate Jacobson is charged with examining the grassroots efforts to ban the use of synthetic marijuana in many Mississippi municipalities. At the time Kate was assigned this project, 15 municipalities had banned the sale of "spice" in their jurisdictions. And her preliminary research demonstrated that more municipalities would ban the sale of spice. On September 4, in a Special Session, Governor Barbour signed into law a ban against the sale of synthetic marijuana. Kate's research continues to examine the movement at the local level and examine the factors contributing to it reaching the State's agenda so quickly.
Trends in Personnel Management
Yolanda Cowley is updating a 1994 Stennis report examining Mississippi's state and government administration. Yolanda's project will focus on the demographic trends since 1994 and will also provide a perspective on the future of state government.