May 2, 2020 10:04:53 PM
A rose to Columbus Light and Water general manager Todd Gale and the CLW board of directors for its decision to further delay utility shutoffs for residential customers who have been unable to pay their bills during the COVID-19 crisis. CLW had originally suspended cutoffs until May 14, but during Friday's meeting, the board, on Gale's recommendation, extended that grace period until 30 days after the Governor's "Safer at Home" order expires on May 11. This is not an easy decision for the board, which anticipates revenue declines in the range of $500,000 before the grace period ends. Once the shut-off period ends, customers can spread their outstanding utility over future bills - the higher the debt the more time they'll have to pay. We applaud CLW for putting its customers first during this crisis.
A rose to area school districts, who are making their best efforts to make graduation special, even as COVID-19 restrictions prohibit traditional graduation ceremonies. School Districts in both Columbus and Starkville are planning virtual graduation ceremonies, with students filmed as they accept their diplomas and broadcast on May 22 (Starkville-Oktibbeha) and May 23 (Columbus). Lowndes County School District is also working on a similar plan, although it still hopes to have a traditional ceremony in June or July. High school graduation is a rite of passage for young people and we applaud our school districts for employing innovative methods to make these events special, even under difficult circumstances.
A rose to Mississippi State University, which has again turned to the talent of its faculty and staff to aid health care facilities in obtaining critical supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. Most recently, a team from the university's Bagley College of Engineering and researchers at the university's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, produced face shields by combining 3D-printed head bands with transparent plastic sheets and elastic bands generally found at office supply stores. Using 10 different 3D printers, the team is producing approximately 250 shields per week. The first batch was donated this week with over 100 going to both Rush Foundation Hospital and Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, where they are being used by medical professionals caring for patients with COVID-19. Previously, MSU faculty helped convert battery-powered ventilators to AC for use at UMMC in Jackson and donated hundreds of N95 face makes to the county hospital. We applaud MSU for using its expertise in helping fight this crisis.