$1 sandwiches at Jimmy John’s!

Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shops is celebrating the grand opening of the Madison location. The grand opening event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1896 Main St., includes sandwiches for $1! Grab your spare change and head on over. The limit is one per person and good for in-store purchase only.

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Traffic alerts from the city of Madison Police Department

(From the PD’s Facebook page, too much to fit in Tweets.)

Tomorrow (Saturday) at approximately 8 a.m. the newly paved area of Madison Avenue from Saint Catherine’s Village to Cotten Hill Road will be open for traffic. Proceed with caution in this area as traffic flow may be altered.

AND…

Tomorrow morning (Saturday) beginning at 1 a.m. AND until approximately 8 a.m., the left lane of the northbound side of Interstate 55 between Madison Avenue to just past the Highway 463 (Madison) exit will be closed. The right lane will be accessible during this time. Beginning at approximately 9 a.m., the right lane will be closed from Madison Avenue to just past the Highway 463 (Madison) exit. The left lane will be open at this time. ALSO AT APPROXIMATELY 9 A.M. THE NORTHBOUND EXIT AT 463 (MADISON) WILL BE CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC UNTIL APPROXIMATELY 6 P.M.

Plan your trips accordingly and be safe!

Hear from Madison County officials at upcoming Madison neighborhood association meeting

The Madison Organization of Neighborhood Associations (MONA) will meet in the Madison Municipal Courtroom at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 30. Madison County District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen will speak about the county’s road spending plan and the city of Madison. County Engineer Rudy Warnock, Board Attorney Mike Espy and interim County Administrator Shelton Vance also will be there to answer questions from residents. Each neighborhood in Madison is encouraged to have at least two reps present at the meeting.

Happy one-year anniversary!

Well, the one-year anniversary of this blog and the Suburban Digest page is actually May 24, but I’ve been swamped since then. It’s been a little while since I posted something here about the weekly Metro page, so better late than never, right?

The purpose of the Suburban Digest is to provide comprehensive coverage to cities in the Jackson metro area where majority of Clarion-Ledger subscribers reside — Brandon, Byram, Canton, Clinton, Flowood, Madison, Pearl, Ridgeland and Reservoir area. Last spring when Executive Editor Brian Tolley came on board, he talked about Passion Topics (subjects/issues important to readers) and how important it was to provide better coverage of the ‘Burbs. That’s where I came in as the reporter on the newly created suburban beat, to take charge of this effort and maintain the weekly content.

In its first year, the Suburban Digest raised awareness of several things you may not have known were happening in your area. By connecting through social media, emails, countless business cards and city government meetings, I have made so many connections with people living in my coverage areas. If a city mayor and board of aldermen voted on an ordinance that would have significant impact on you, it would appear on the page. If an area school or nonprofit is having an event to raise awareness of an issue, it appeared on the page. If local community groups are making positive changes and advancements, it appeared on the page. The main photo changes every week, alternating among the communities along with the column. We try to show people doing ordinary and extraordinary things every Thursday, and the Quotables section shows what people are saying/thinking regarding important local and national issues and public figures.

The first year was a big learning curve for me, as I went from covering two cities (Canton and Ridgeland for the Madison County Herald) to seven. I am learning a lot about these growing municipalities so the page is the best way to keep up with your city. Every Thursday it’s on the second page in the Metro section and online under the “News” tab at clarionledger.com. You can follow this blog for extra information, photos, videos, etc. and follow my Twitter account, @Terricha_CL  and follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/terricha.bradleyphillips?hc_location=stream to keep up. I appreciate all of the “likes,” views, follows and shares, and I’m ALWAYS open to comments, story/column ideas and tips. If you want to submit an idea, email tbradley@jackson.gannett.com. Please share this post with anyone living in the coverage areas.

You rock!

BBQ fundraiser for MadCAAP this Sunday

Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty is hosting a BBQ luncheon fundraiser to help provide school uniforms for 150 needy children. The luncheon will be held  11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at Parkway Pentecostal Church’s Family Life Center on Mannsdale Road in Madison. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children (ages 4-6). Lunch consists of pulled pork or chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, corn on the cob, a roll, banana pudding and tea. For carry-out orders, call (601)946-3126, (601) 506-4615, or (601) 573-4818.

FYI: Today’s Suburban Digest column is about MadCAAP receiving new technology with the help of Leadership Madison County participants. Read it here to learn more and it contains information on how to volunteer. MadCAAP has lots to do for the citizens of Madison County and can always use volunteers.

Not just any ordinary mosque…

Since last year when the Mississippi Muslim Association broke ground on five acres of land outside Madison for a new mosque, I eagerly watched the construction process. I was still reporting for The Madison County Herald and made weekly trips to Canton for meetings and assignments. Each time I traveled north on Highway 51, I would look left and see construction crews hard at work. What I love about building projects is how an architectural drawing would come to life through skilled workers. The ground broken, steel beams erected, concrete poured, bricks laid and curbs installed. When spring turned into summer, the Magnolia Islamic Center was nearly finished. I was so impressed! The asphalt parking lot was striped, the wrought iron fencing crossed the front lawn and gates were up signaling that the Muslim community of central Mississippi would soon be able to learn and worship there. And I wanted to visit the mosque and do an article, but didn’t know when. Just last month, my editor Debbie asked me a few times about when the mosque opened and I told her I didn’t have a clue. But I had a contact at Nissan North America in Canton who told me about the construction late last year (I believe).

The Clarion-Ledger and The Madison County Herald ran stories about the MMA’s plans to build a mosque and of course the board was met with opposition and questions. Then the plans were approved in spring 2010 and no follow up story was done after the construction. Last Sunday, I drove to the Magnolia Islamic Center for a tour and interviews with MMA members while Sunday School was going on. Upon walking in (and after being told to button up my sweater out of respect thinking I should’ve changed into some pants), I was impressed with the modern look of the foyer, the large prayer room and the gorgeous Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Dr. Farhan Nafis and Ahmad Choudry walked with me and showed me the kitchen and dining room, game room, offices and classrooms filled with beautiful children. The women, dressed in traditional Islamic attire smiled and greeted us. The children waved and smiled at me, making me feel welcome. The men then led me to another children’s room and we finished the interview.

( Click here to read yesterday’s main story in the Suburban Digest. The goal was to provide an update on how the community received the mosque and what it will bring to the county as far as religious tolerance and diversity.)

Once Sunday school ended we headed outside to see youths playing basketball and the little ones all over the playground set. They also have a volleyball court and a badminton court. After taking more cell phone pictures, I couldn’t help but think of how good a story this would be. I heard nothing but good things about the community’s reception of the Muslims and their new mosque, how differences gave way to accepting similarities and building relationships based on understanding that even though neighbors have different styles of worship, they are the same people under one God. I’ll close this post with some remarks by Millsaps professor James Bowley, chair of religious studies (since there wasn’t enough space in print). He takes his religion students to the mosque in south Jackson and recently visited the Madison mosque. He was pleased about the community embracing the group.

“The space is very beautiful and practical, the students were impressed as was I,” Bowley said of the tour. “The people are very friendly and open about Islam and happy to answer questions and eager to explain things … It’s all about education, knowing who our neighbors are. These are people we work with.”

And professor Bowley had this to say about MMA’s plans for interfaith events:

“Having participated in and organized many inter-religious dialogue events, it has been my experience that dialogue is invaluable for all participants and crucial for our culture and society. It’s the best way for us to get to know our neighbors. So often people make judgments about  people in other religions without even knowing them, without sitting down and acknowledging their common humanity. Too often religious institutions put up walls against, or even demonize those who are not of their same faith, but that is the road to religious conflict and hate. Once we as Mississippians realize that our state is a rainbow of different religions and reject the idea that we should return to the black and white days of one religion (mostly Protestantism), then our state can begin to thrive as we appreciate our religious plurality and embrace it as a positive characteristic, instead of fearing it.”

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Madison is starting a jazz society, enthusiasts welcomed.

Disclaimer: I am not a jazz enthusiast because most of the music is straight instrumental and no vocals. I’m a singer, so I need vocals in my life. Until I found out about Esperanza Spalding a few years back. A young woman of color (with a huge afro) that plays acoustic and electric bass (which is my favorite instrument) and I have two of her albums, Chamber Music Society and Radio Music Society. I believe the music world has taken notice, since she won the Best New Artist Grammy award in 2011. I play her music daily and it soothes my soul.

Madison the City will soon have a Jazz Society. This past Sunday, I attended the first meeting held by the city’s Community Development Director Alan Hoops at Corner Bakery on Grandview. About 15 men and women from Madison and Ridgeland were there, interested in learning more about the upcoming society. I was there to learn as well, and take notes and begin following the progress. It was my first time meeting Hoops, who plays the guitar and loves Jazz music. He said no such organization exists in Madison, yet the city has a performing arts center. The goals are to develop the hidden Jazz culture in Madison and bridge the gap between youth Jazz musicians and adult Jazz musicians that already play in the metro area.

Most of the people at the meeting play instruments and are in local groups like Mississippi Swing and Bill & Temperance. Big Band and Swing enthusiasts also appreciate Jazz and want to incorporate that music in the society. The group wants to find out how many other musicians are in the city, establish a website of some kind to communicate on events, and plan a big dance or concert with all kinds of Jazz musicians. They are interested in reaching out to young people in the schools and colleges, and I mentioned social media as a main avenue. Hoops said the Society could reach nonprofit status later on, take membership dues and get sponsorships for various events.

Anyone in the metro area is welcome to attend Madison Jazz Society meetings on the first Sunday of each month, at 5 p.m. at Corner Bakery on Grandview Boulevard. Visit the new WordPress site, mjsociety.wordpress.com, or contact Hoops at madisonjazzsociety@gmail.com; (601) 941-5837.

 

Suburbs and social media

Ever since graduate school and entering the wonderful world of professional print journalism, I have seen how important social media is to my job. Back at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, I didn’t frequent Facebook that much because it was still relatively exclusive to college and high school students in 2007-08. I don’t recall cities, businesses, and people older than 30 (no offense, middle agers) being on Facebook. Not even my professors were on the site! Anyway, using the site for my stories and assignments wasn’t really needed.

Fast forward to 2009, at my first real gig at the Mansfield News Journal and Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum in central Ohio (both are owned by Gannett, which made my transfer here easy). I vividly remember being assigned a story about a violent fight at Galion High School, where a foster student and popular football player attacked a senior in a classroom, sending the kid to the hospital with serious injuries. The victim’s classmates created a Facebook page out of support for his recovery and to update the Galion community on his progress. That page allowed me to keep up with the student’s condition, connect with his family members and friends, and show how Facebook helped me get sources and information that was able to be confirmed. That’s when I started to see the importance of being connected to the community through social networks.

When I moved to Ridgeland to begin my job at the Madison County Herald, I had to start a Facebook page for the Jackson metro area. I didn’t want people to confuse my collegiate page with my professional work, so a “professional” page was meant to establish connections and build sources. At my old job, I rarely stayed on Facebook and Twitter out of fear for being scolded by editors; now I stay on both sites so I can stay updated on happenings throughout Mississippi. Since fall of 2010, I have built a good network of friends, young professionals, cities, media, businesses, residents and city officials on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. These connections have gotten stronger since assuming my new beat as suburban reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in May. Since I now cover nine areas – Brandon, Byram, Canton, Clinton, Flowood, Madison, Pearl, Reservoir area, Ridgeland – for the weekly Suburban Digest page, I made sure to look up and send requests for multiple elected officials, businesses, media outlets, residents and city/resident led Facebook pages.

The most active city and resident pages are from Byram, Canton, Cinton, Madison/Madison County and Brandon. Residents post comments daily on issues, accomplishments, events, new businesses and crime! Byram Police Department posts weekly incident reports, Clinton is all over the map with business, city, economic development and school news. Canton residents post about events and how they can support each other and help the city improve and grow. And it goes on and on. When I need help from city officials, I send Facebook messages and some answer immediately. Take for instance Byram Alderwoman Theresa Marble, who answered my question while on Facebook chat. I asked about the city’s two new traffic lights for a brief on the page and she is SO helpful!

I finally understand why it’s so important for journalists to stay connected to their communities. Instantaneous communication and information is so helpful for us, but it’s also to our detriment. The opportunities to be scooped or scoop any other media outlet are constant. I always stay conscious of this, even making sure I don’t make errors or give improper tone or context. It’s fun, challenging, helpful and enlightening for me. The suburbs, from what I’ve seen, are pretty active and more are joining Facebook every month because they see how great it is to stay connected. This makes my job a little more fun and easier.

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