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No mask mandate for county schools

Alcorn County students will return to school in two weeks with few restrictions.

Face masks will not be required to be worn by students or staff regardless of vaccination status at Alcorn Central, Biggersville and Kossuth even as local cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant increase. School begins on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Superintendent Brandon Quinn presented the Board of Education with his recommendations for a safe return during Monday night’s meeting.

Moreover, Quinn said that rumors of the district requiring all students and staff to be vaccinated before returning to school were untrue.

“To me, that is a family decision ... a personal decision – not a school district decision,” he said.

While face masks aren’t required, Quinn said the district would encourage those who have not been fully vaccinated to wear one. Face masks could also become a requirement for all students or unvaccinated students at any time.

An informal survey conducted with the community helped determine Quinn’s recommendations.

Of 1,091 responses received, over 90 percent said no to requiring all students and staff to wear a mask. More than 65 percent said the school district should not offer vaccination shots, while 81 percent said they would not be in favor of the school district solely offering virtual school.

The district’s Safe Return policy states potential school closures could result in a hybrid model that involves alternating days of physical attendance and distance learning and a full distance learning model with students not attending school.

Staff or students that test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and may return after being symptom-free for 24 hours. Any unvaccinated person in “close contact” with an individual that has tested positive for the virus must also quarantine for 10 days.

Elevated cases within a group or classroom may require extensive quarantine including the dismissal of classes, buildings or the entire school.

City school officials met Monday night to determine Corinth’s return to school policy.

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Tourism moves forward on rebranding

The tourism council continues to work on the city’s new image.

Corinth Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau board members heard updates on the rebranding project Tuesday morning.

Visit Corinth Brand Manager Emily Steen shared two contrasting mood boards with members. Each board, prepared by New Orleans-based marketing agency Bandwagon, included an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text and colors intended to evoke a particular concept.

While one board showed Corinth’s “southern Americana vibe” and highlighted murals and signs that Corinthians would recognize, the other board brought something new to the table.

“We really like this one ... and spoiler, it’s the one we went with,” said Steen, as she held up the board full of font styles and colors resembling the new state flag.

Board member Russell Smith said, “It reminds me of the rebranding of Tupelo – just more bright and colorful.”

Tourism Director Christy Burns said the company will next deliver a choice of new logos.

The rebranding is part of a full slate of exciting projects in the works.

The local tourism board hopes to receive around $5 million of the $52 million the Tourism Division of the Mississippi Development Authority is requesting from the American Rescue Plan. The money won’t be dispersed until state legislators decide how to split the second round of federal COVID-19 relief funds during the January session.

Burns said she recently met with members of the city, The Alliance and Cook Coggin Engineers to discuss one possible way for how the money can be spent that would benefit locals and tourists.

“Outdoor recreation is big right now, and our bike trails are less than to be desired. While we talked about some ways to maintain what we have now, we also talked about an expansion,” said the director.

Early plans include creating a new series of hiking and biking trails to run beside several of the creeks that twist and turn through the heart of the city.

Upkeep is a concern according to board member Laura Albright. She said the current trails “stay overgrown,” and mentioned “roadkill” being an issue.

Burns said the city recently purchased a sweeper to help with cleaning.

Maintenance “has got to be part of the new deal,” said Albright.

In addition to new trails, Burns said plans are to replace the welcome to Corinth signs.

The current signs on highways 72 and 45 at the city limits feature a pair of white Corinthian columns and are more than 20 years old.

Crash claims life of Rienzi man

A crash just north of Booneville has claimed the life of a Rienzi man.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Staff Sgt. Bryan McGee said 67-year-old Michael Keller of Rienzi was killed in the collision at the intersection of US Highway 45 and County Road 8050 north of the Booneville city limits just before 6:20 a.m. Tuesday.

A vehicle driven by Keller was eastbound on the county road and collided with a semi-truck going north on the highway, said McGee.

No information was available on the condition of the semi-truck driver.

County awards access road project

With construction in progress at the Mission Forest Products site, work can soon began on a new road to the facility.

The Alcorn County Board of Supervisors on Monday awarded a contract for construction of the Mission Forest Products access road to Xcavators Inc. of Falkner at a cost of $1,776,646.36.

Some 250 trucks a day are expected to either enter or exit the site, where the goal is for the first log to go into the mill in March. It is located off the Kimberly-Clark Parkway east of Corinth.

The winning bid was the lowest among five that went as high as $2.17 million. The Mississippi Development Authority must also give approval on the awarding of the contract.

In other business on Monday:

n The board gave approval for the hiring of Fred Washington as a school resource officer. Currently employed with the Corinth Police Department, Washington will be working on the Biggersville campus.

n The board gave approval for both the Corinth Coliseum and the former Tad’s Pizza building on North Cass Street to serve as a temporary location for trials, jury selection and other court business for circuit court during the current term.

n The architect for the courtroom and courthouse renovation project submitted a revised estimate of $2.48 million for completing the entire project based on some changing costs for materials. The previous estimate was $2.16 million.

The board has not yet decided which portions of the project to do. The architect is also looking for grant opportunities for the renovation.

The current roof replacement project is nearing completion with a few more weeks to go.