For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is December 18, 2018

Editorial

It’s efforts by citizens that make Mississippi better, safer, cleaner

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

Heads up, everyone: We have a statewide election coming up early this month.

Mississippi’s primary election day for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives is Tuesday, June 5. (The primary runoff is June 26.) The winning candidates will be included on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.

Only 64 percent of the nearly 1.9 million registered voters in the state cast a ballot in the 2016 general election, according to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s annual report.

I think we can do better this year. Mississippi’s political leadership is only as good as we make it, by becoming informed voters and showing up at the polls. And encouraging others to do the same.

It’s never been easier to get all the information you need to participate in the election process. The Secretary of State’s office has an online Voter Information Center full of useful information. Go to www.sos.ms.gov and look for the “Y’all Vote” box. One click takes you to an extensive menu of options from the current election calendar to sample ballots to individual county election information.

Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi offers two handy tools to help, too. Our website, ecm.coop, includes complete information on legislative, state and judicial officials. Click on “Government Relations” and “Legislative Roster.”

Our free Mississippi Legislative Roster app allows you to click on a map to find out who represents your area in the legislature. Find it wherever you download apps.
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School’s out, summer’s here and the highways are crowded with families heading to and from the Gulf Coast, and other vacation destinations. Saving time on the road, however, is not worth risking lives.

So please, heed the advice of Capt. John Poulos, the state trooper we interviewed for this issue’s feature story: Buckle up, slow down, and stay sober and attentive while driving. We can all play a role in improving Mississippi’s dismal traffic safety record.

Also, if you come upon an electric utility truck parked at a roadside work site, help us keep our workers safe by observing Mississippi’s “Move Over” law. It requires drivers to move at least one lane away when approaching emergency, road maintenance, sanitation and utility service vehicles parked on the roadside with lights flashing.

If a lane change is impossible or unsafe, the driver must slow down and be prepared to stop, if necessary, to prevent an accident.

The law is intended to protect law enforcement and medical personnel, as well as utility crews, tow truck operators, road construction workers and rural mail carriers. Violators could be fined, but far worse, they could cause the injury or death of another.
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Electric cooperatives serve an estimated 85 percent of the land mass in Mississippi, composed primarily of rural communities. Our roots run deep in the beautiful Mississippi countryside, and we want to help keep it clean and safe—for wildlife as well as ourselves and future generations.

It’s heartbreaking (and infuriating) to see trash choking a bayou or creek, and fast-food containers strewn along a scenic rural roadside.

Not only is litter ugly but it can maim or kill wildlife. Cigarette butts, styrofoam, fishing line and deflated balloons are just a few items in which birds and animals can become entangled or try to ingest. The harmful effects of litter and pollution on wildlife are well documented.

Certainly not all littering is intentional. How many times have you seen trash blow out of the bed of a pickup truck? Keeping our landscapes clean is yet another way we can all contribute to making Mississippi a better place to live and raise families.
   

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