Lt. Governor Brings Greetings at Dr. Paul’s Southern Miss. Investiture

Hattiesburg, Miss. (Press Register) – Dr. Joseph S. Paul eschewed the spotlight during his presidential inauguration Oct. 5 at The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Hattiesburg campus, deflecting the focus instead on the institution where he’s been called to serve as its leader.

A beloved son of the University, Dr. Paul was installed as the 11th president of his alma mater during an investiture ceremony held in historic Bennett Auditorium as the school also celebrated homecoming week. The 1975 graduate of Southern Miss first served in the post on an interim basis beginning in July 2022 before being named president starting Nov. 1 of last year by the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL).

“Today’s events may appear to be about me, the person just inaugurated as the 11th president,” Dr. Paul said in his remarks to the hundreds of USM faithful in attendance. “But what today is really about is the celebration of this noble institution, The University of Southern Mississippi; a collection of people and purposes and challenges and opportunities that is both ineffable yet tangible, that passes from one generation to another, that has outlived its founders from 113 years ago and will outlive us gathered here today.

“This ceremony is about what endures in the culture and spirit of this place, and the work we do here is greater than us as individuals and more lasting than our moment in time. It is about constant change and about our steadfast calling to serve our students well.”

A Bay St. Louis, Miss., native, Dr. Paul most recently served his alma mater as Vice President for Student Affairs before retiring after a 40-year career at the school, holding various roles in student affairs administration. He earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Alabama and is a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association Alumni Hall of Fame.

He hailed his alma mater for its deeply held values of “caring, community, and grit.”

“Harvard scholar Dr. Angela Duckworth defines grit as ‘the individual capacity to set lofty goals, and then pursue them with purpose, passion and persistence,” he said. “At Southern Miss, since our founding, we have always set audacious goals that others about us may doubt we can accomplish, and then we pursue them with an uncommon passion and a relentless persistence.

“At Southern Miss, we are resilient. We never give up, and we never give in.”

Representatives of the university’s student body, faculty and staff were on hand to formally welcome Dr. Paul as their president, praising his leadership and commitment to academic freedom, student development and achievement, and commitment to fostering an environment of collegiality and cooperation among all USM employees and its stakeholders for the good of the institution.

“Dr. Paul has accomplished a lot this past year and has undoubtedly pushed Southern Miss further in the right direction,” said Student Government Association President Jonathan Jenkins. “Southern Miss has significantly benefited from his leadership, and I am confident we will continue to see Southern Miss soar to new heights during his presidency.”

Dr. Jennifer Courts, president of the USM Faculty Senate, said that in his time as president, Dr. Paul has proven he recognizes the importance of the University’s faculty “in achieving the vision of Southern Miss to be a student-centered public research university with an unparalleled student life experience.”

“In creating a community that values faculty feedback, he has confirmed that he understands that this vision can only be fully realized in collaboration with faculty,” Dr. Courts continued. “Dr. Paul knows that including his constituents in the decision-making process helps move our institution into the future, leading to a more stable and cohesive community and greater innovation. He appreciates that supporting the welfare and integrity of the faculty leads to increased benefits for our students and the University community.

“He is a strong leader who serves not for the prominence the position can offer, but for the good it allows him to accomplish.”

Speaking on behalf of the Staff Council, Mary Alexander pledged the support of the University’s staff for his presidency. “This is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the history of the University,” she said. “Let’s take it to the top, Dr. Paul, together!”

Dr. Paul received additional salutations from other dignitaries participating in the ceremony, among them including State Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann; USM alumnus Powell G. Ogletree Jr., a member of the IHL Board of Trustees; J. Troy Johnston, president of the USM Alumni Association; and Joseph Quinlan, president of the USM Foundation. USM President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas and U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), a USM alumna, were also in attendance at the ceremony.

The formal rite of investiture for Dr. Paul was then performed by Dr. Alfred Rankins, Mississippi’s Commissioner of Higher Education; Dr. Alfred McNair Jr., president of the IHL Board of Trustees; and IHL Trustee and USM alumnus Tom Duff.

Dr. Shea Kidd-Brown, vice president of campus life at Wake Forrest University, presented the inauguration address. A native of Hattiesburg, Dr. Kidd-Brown earned her undergraduate degree from USM, where she leaned on Dr. Paul’s mentorship in navigating her way through her academic career at the University and inspired by his example to pursue a career in higher education.

“Dr. Paul, no one is better suited for this appointment, at this time, than you,” she said. “May you continue to leave USM better than you found it.”

Many positive developments have already occurred at the University during Dr. Paul’s presidency, including an increase in new student enrollment, as well as a surge in alumni and Eagle Club memberships and season ticket sales for the University’s athletics programs. A recent anonymous endowment of $6 million made to the school’s capital campaign has pushed it well past its goal of $150 million.

Dr. Paul called on all members of the USM family to join him in a collective effort to maintain the momentum in every aspect of the University, particularly in how it serves the needs of its students, which he referred to as the school’s “Why”.

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“Let’s set our sights on being distinctive in the content of our academic programs, course offerings and student life, and provide for our students in all we do a value added they won’t find in other places,” he urged. “Let’s help our students be future-oriented and ready for life.

“Let’s help our students, who often come from ordinary backgrounds and circumstances, go out into the world and do extraordinary things. Let’s help them be ready for life, and ready for their journey To The Top.”

State and local leaders also lauded Dr. Paul for his stellar record of service to the university, Pine Belt region, and Mississippi, including Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker; State Rep. Missy McGee; and Forrest County District 1 Supervisor-Elect Gentry Mordica, all of whom are USM alums.

“Dr. Paul’s inauguration as the 11th president comes at a moment of genuine excitement for Southern Miss and its future,” said Barker, who bestowed congratulations to the president during the ceremony. “It is critical that the entire University community now rally into action behind his vision of setting audacious goals, pursuing them relentlessly, and forging a path toward distinction.”

McGee believes no one is better prepared to lead the University than Dr. Paul.

“This is such an exciting day for Southern Miss with Dr. Paul’s inauguration as the 11th president of our beloved institution,” McGee said. “Joe has been a mentor, advisor, and most of all a friend to me since my days as a student at USM, and I know there are countless others who can say the same.

“It is most definitely a day for celebration at The University of Southern Mississippi.”

Mordica recalled when he was an undergraduate at USM in the 1980s becoming acquainted with Dr. Paul, when the latter was serving as the school’s Dean of Students.

“I can say from experience that USM could not have made a better choice for its president,” Mordica said. “He always goes above and beyond the call of duty, is a great ambassador for the University, and has always had the best interests of the University and community close to his heart.

“Few are more dedicated or bleed black and gold like Dr. Paul. I look forward to working with him to keep USM and Forrest County moving forward for many years to come.”

Dr. Heather Annulis, director of the School of Leadership at USM’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, said the events of the week recognizing Dr. Paul’s investiture “continues our excitement and momentum at Southern Miss,” further noting, “We stand behind him with our full support as he leads our institution, including Coastal USM, to the top.”

Dr. Erin Lambert Dornan, director of communications and operations for USM Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, has worked with Dr. Paul throughout her career at the University. She’s thrilled to see him take the reins as its leader and says she’s witness to a positive and contagious energy at Southern Miss since he took office.

“I’m really excited for the future of our University with Dr. Paul at the helm, and I know he will continue to leave our University better than he found it,” she said.

Dr. Paul asked those in attendance at the ceremony and all who love and support the University to join him in his journey as president toward the goal of taking USM to the top.

“Today, I accept this position with humility and all the positive energy and sense of urgency I can muster,” he said in conclusion. “It will take all of us, but as I know, together, we are mighty. God bless us all, and God bless Southern Miss.”

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McDaniel Files Financial Docs Prompting More Questions

Jackson, Miss. (Clarion Ledger) – At first glance, state Sen. Chris McDaniel appeared to lead incumbent Delbert Hosemann in January-April fundraising for the hotly contested Republican primary for Mississippi lieutenant governor.

According to a single summary page, McDaniel raised more than $677,000 in the first four months of this year, compared to the nearly $193,000 raised by Hosemann, whose filing included both a summary page and a 31-page list of contributions and disbursements. State law requires candidates to disclose any donations or expenditures over $200.

Hosemann, who did not hold fundraising events during the legislative session, which ended April 1, maintains a lead in cash on hand, with about $3.34 million compared to McDaniel’s reported total of roughly $336,000. Incumbents often come into races with leads in cash on hand compared to their challengers.

“We are grateful for the support we have received,” Hosemann said in a statement. “Mississippi voters want solutions, not just talk, and we have a significant record of running government like a business. The next three months will be devoted to spreading the message about our record and priorities over the next four years.”

The accuracy of information McDaniel claimed on the summary page has been called into question by Hosemann in a later statement.

“At this point, there appear to be multiple campaign finance violations stemming from multiple committees. Standing for election integrity includes following campaign finance laws which require basic reporting of contributions, expenditures, and cash on hand,” Hosemann said in a statement. “We are asking for enforcement of these laws. If Chris McDaniel can’t get this simple paperwork done, he won’t be able to manage a $7 billion budget.”

It is possible that, if McDaniel is factoring in contributions he has previously reported into this period’s total, the true amount raised could be about $87,000, not the roughly $667,000 claimed on the summary page. Without the full itemized list, it is impossible to know the true total.

In response to questions about the missing list of contributions, the McDaniel campaign provided 124 pages of screenshots from what appears to be its internal contribution tabulation software, which were apparently sent to the secretary of state. The contributions listed in those screenshots do not include dates and add up to a slightly different total than what was listed on the form posted by the secretary of state. The single summary page listed the contributions for this period at $677,775.77, while the screenshots list it at $677,975.77. The screenshots also list $0 in contributions and disbursements for “Pre-January 1, 2023,” lending some credence to the idea that previously reported funds may be included in that January-April period total.

According to Elizabeth Holbert Jonson, spokesperson for Secretary of State Michael Watson, the single page summary was the full filing the office received from the Committee to Elect Chris McDaniel on Wednesday. However, Holbert Jonson said the office received a call early Thursday afternoon from the McDaniel campaign claiming that they had indeed submitted the full report, with itemized contributions, and that they believed the summary was posted alone in error.

The secretary of state’s website was experiencing technical difficulties Thursday, including with its campaign finance search application, so Holbert Jonson said the office was unable to confirm or deny the claims made by the McDaniel campaign, and investigations are ongoing.

“As every failed Mississippi Democrat in recent history, it’s of no surprise that Delbert ‘the Democrat’ Hosemann’s campaign coffers are bankrolled by corrupt special interest dollars,” Tardif said. “Senator McDaniel is humbled by the overwhelming financial support his campaign has received by hundreds of everyday Mississippians. Coupling this support with the grassroots momentum the campaign is seeing, Sen. Chris McDaniel is in a strong position to win this August.”

McDaniel has chosen to raise money through a candidate committee, a change from previous races where he raised money as an individual. Doing so comes with requirements that a committee file a statement of organization with the secretary of state within 48 hours of receiving or spending more than $200.

Without an itemized list of contributions or disbursements, it is impossible to know when the committee reached that $200 threshold, but a spokesperson for Watson said their office has never received a statement of organization from McDaniel’s committee.

As Hosemann referenced in his statement, this is not the first time McDaniel’s campaign finance compliance has been called into question. Last month, after reporting by Mississippi Today and the filing of an official complaint by Hosemann, McDaniel returned $460,000 in legally questionable donations to his “Hold the Line” Political Action Committee, which itself then returned that money to a Virginia-based dark money nonprofit. “Hold the Line” then shut down its operations.

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Lt. Gov.-Elect Discusses Prep for 2020 Legislative Session

Jackson, Miss. (WLBT) – The leaders you elected to be your voice in statewide offices are preparing for the start of their four year terms.

Delbert Hosemann is putting in the work before he’s sworn in. He’s been meeting with all 52 senators and prepping for committee assignments.

“I’ve got an agenda for transportation,” said Hosemann. “I’ve got an agenda for healthcare. I’ve got an agenda for education, public health, Medicaid.”
He’s also been meeting with various groups and state agencies related to those to form the agendas.

Among the issues he’s ready to tackle is healthcare. Here’s what Hosemann said regarding the controversial question of what will happen, if anything, with Medicaid expansion:

“The appetite is for healthcare,” he said. “We’ve been in consultation even as recently as the last week with Arkansas about how they expanded, Indiana, Louisiana and others on how they increased their availability of healthcare. Some of which they stepped in ditches and wished they hadn’t.”

Hosemann says he won’t rush the decision and would first look at other options to improve affordability and accessibility of healthcare.

“It’s too big a decision to be made on the fly and this won’t be solely made by me,” added Hosemann.

On the topic of teacher pay, the Southeastern average was a popular phrase used by several candidates during the campaign season. Hosmeann doesn’t have a number he’s targeting but did make this note.

“Why do we have to be average? Why can’t we be above? When we get to a point that our teachers are not making an economic decision whether to teach or not… then I’ll have gotten there,” Hosemann explained.

On the issue of a gas tax, Hosemann says he’s not in favor of a statewide gas tax, but would consider a local option tax that allows counties to vote whether they want to increase the tax that’s earmarked for specific infrastructure projects.
Hosemann will be sworn in as the next Lt. Governor on January 9th.

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SOS: Record $11.7 Million in New Waterfront Projects Headed to Coast

Gulfport, Miss. (Sun Herald) – A record $11.74 million from the Tidelands Trust Fund is coming back to the Coast for new boardwalks, boat ramps, waterfront parks and other improvements in South Mississippi.

“You’ll see it spread all over the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who presented a ceremonial check Wednesday as local officials and state Legislators applauded.

The money is collected from casinos and other businesses that sit on leases of land owned by the state, as well as from casinos that moved on-shore after Hurricane Katrina in lieu of tidelands leases. The money goes into a trust fund for use by all Mississippi residents.

Hosemann, whose administers the Tidelands Trust Fund, said $6.4 million will pay for public access projects. Another $3.5 million goes to support the operations of the Department of Marine Resources and $1 million is for bond repayment.

The state Legislature determines which projects to fund. The projects funded are:

Bay St. Louis

  • $250,000 — Rutherford Fishing Pier extension Biloxi
  • $350,000 — West Biloxi Boardwalk and boat launch, phase 2
  • $250,000 — Biloxi River Park and restoration at Eagle Point
  • $100,000 — Biloxi dredging and sediment removal
  • $50,000 — Golden Fisherman Phase 2 at Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum


  • $250,000 — Montjoy Creek & Rotten Bayou public access amenities


  • $400,000 — Tchoutacabouffa River Park Phase II


  • $250,000 — Gautier’s Mary Walker Bayou parks program
  • $250,000 — Shepard State Park upgrades


  • $200,000 — Brickyard Bayou educational trail/outdoor classroom
  • $200,000 — Institute of Marine Mammal Studies education and outreach program
  • $150,000 — Gulfport boat launch improvement
  • $150,000 — Lynn Meadows Discovery Center building restoration II

Hancock County

  • $400,000 — McLeod Park RV Campsite Expansion and pier construction
  • $75,000 — Jourdan River Shores canal dredging

Harrison County

  • $600,000 — West Biloxi Boardwalk and boat launch
  • $150,000 — Biloxi River Boat Launch

Jackson County

  • $200,000— Fort Bayou boat launch improvements Phase IV
  • $100,000 — Gulf Coast Research Laboratory public access enhancement, requested by University of Southern Mississippi

Long Beach

  • $500,000 — Long Beach Harbor improvements

Moss Point

  • $225,000 — Highway 613 Sunset Pier and sidewalk extension

Ocean Springs

  • $225,000 — East Beach accessibility
  • $150,000 — Front Beach Living Shoreline Phase II


  • $450,000 — Lighthouse Park improvements

Pass Christian

  • $150,000 — West Harbor electrical improvements
  • $60,000 — East Harbor repairs to water distribution system


  • $225,000 — Handicap accessible walkway and ramp to water

Department of Marine Resources

  • $45,000 — Gulf of Mexico Alliance coastal resilience coordinator


Coast casinos paid $8 million into the Tidelands Trust Fund through leases and in lieu of payments for on-shore casinos. Scarlet Pearl and Silver Slipper casinos, built on-shore after Hurricane Katrina, pay $508,000 annually in Tidelands assessments, along with Treasure Bay, Palace Casino and Harrah’s Gulf Coast. MGM Resorts’ Beau Rivage, which still operates partially over water, pays $1.6 million.

Others that pay tidelands funds are shipping companies like Signet Maritime Corp. ($143,000) and Omega Shipyard ($2,669), and the Jackson County Port Authority, which contributes $636,000.

Utility companies with lines in the tidelands areas pay into the trust fund along with $160 for those trying to farm oysters off Deer Island, the yacht clubs and the National Audubon Society ($400.)

Collections have grown dramatically over the past decade and Hosemann said in the 12 years since he became Secretary of State, $104 million in Tidelands Funds were turned back for public use.

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State: Funeral home in Mississippi used caskets cheaper than agreed upon

Ripley, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi funeral home has been fined $10,000 for what authorities say was an illegal practice of burying people in cheaper caskets than planned before their deaths.

News outlets report Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a statement Tuesday detailing the practice by Ripley Funeral Services LLC.

The statement says the Ripley funeral home substituted plastic burial containers for concrete ones eight times between 2017 and 2018. It says the parlor also substituted different color caskets than what preneed policy owners chose about 20 times between 2016 and 2018.

Funeral home attorney Tony Farese says many of the swaps were made to accommodate relatives of the deceased, and all state law violations were made out of compassion for grieving families. He says a disgruntled employee reported the swaps.

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Lt. Governor Candidate Delbert Hosemann Proposes Savings Plan to Raise State Employee Salaries

Clarksdale, Miss.—State employees would receive up to a 3 percent pay increase under a plan outlined by Lieutenant Governor candidate Delbert Hosemann in the Mississippi Delta today. The raise would be funded by saving 1 percent in administrative and overhead expenses in almost every State agency. Education, Mental Health, Child Protective Services, Corrections, and District Attorneys/Trial Judges would be exempt.

“We are not talking about cutting personnel or services; we are talking finding efficiencies,” said Hosemann, who is currently serving as Secretary of State. “Our State employees are underpaid, making it difficult to attract and retain workers. We need to send savings realized home in our employees’ paychecks.”

In the 2019 Legislative Session, legislators authorized their first across-the-board raise for employees in several years. The raise was intended to move positions closer to the relevant market rate, so employees received either a position realignment amount, if the amount to reach market rate was less than 3 percent, or a 3 percent increase. Hosemann’s plan would repeat this approach.

Similar proposals in other states have reaped more than anticipated savings.

“Our State employees have earned a well-deserved raise,” Hosemann said.

For more information about Hosemann’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor, visit

Congressman Guest Endorses Hosemann for Lieutenant Governor

Brandon, Miss. — Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann picked up a key endorsement in his bid for Lieutenant Governor from Congressman Michael Guest (MS-03) today. This is Hosemann’s second endorsement from a member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation in two weeks.

“Delbert Hosemann’s record is what sets him apart in this race. While serving as Secretary of State, Secretary Hoesmann set goals for the office that were clear and transparent and then worked diligently to meet those goals in order to improve the quality of our great state. He will take this same mentality of hard-work and dedication to the office of Lieutenant Governor,” Guest said. “We need a conservative leader who can effectively address some of the most important issues facing our State, such as the economy, public education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Delbert Hosemann is the right person for this job, and I urge Mississippians to vote for him in November.”

“As a District Attorney, Michael Guest was well known for his thorough work and commitment to justice. In Washington, he has hit the ground running, introducing legislation to make our country safer and tackling issues which are so important to our State, like how to shore up our rural healthcare systems,” Hosemann said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to partner with Congressman Guest from Jackson.”

The General Election in Mississippi is November 5, 2019.

Hosemann Begins Final Weeks of Republican Primary Campaign With More Than $3 Million Cash-On-Hand

Jackson, Miss. – With less than a month to go before the August 6 Republican Primary, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor continues to be in a strong position. In June 2019, Hosemann raised $255,910 from individuals, businesses, and organizations across the State.

According to a campaign finance report released today, $3,003,303.59 cash-on-hand remains in Hosemann’s account as of June 30, 2019. The report, detailing campaign finance activity from June 1 to June 30, showed 126 donors contributing.

“We have a bright future ahead in Mississippi for our children and grandchildren. We’re ready to get to work improving our roads, economy, healthcare, and education systems through strong conservative leadership,” Hosemann said.

As a steadfast conservative who spent most of his career as a businessman in the private sector, Hosemann’s platform touches several major areas centered on growing Mississippi’s economy. These include: refocusing on skills training and increasing the State’s educated workforce; reducing unnecessary regulations and streamlining state government; encouraging small business and start-up growth; shoring up aging infrastructure; and improving access to healthcare and improving health outcomes.

Hosemann announced his campaign for Lieutenant Governor in early January with a three-day tour to businesses in Vicksburg, Brookhaven, Columbus, DeSoto County, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Meridian, Rankin County, Tupelo, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Since then, Hosemann and his wife, Lynn—along with campaign staff and dozens of volunteers—have been on the road participating in forums, roundtables, festivals, and other events across the State.

For more information about the campaign, visit

Almost $313,000 Distributed to Coastal Counties by SOS Office

MS Gulf Coast (Gulf Coast News) – The Secretary of State’s Office is releasing $312,656.74 to 38 counties across the State, and cities and schools within those counties, representing proceeds from recent tax-forfeited property sales.

Counties receiving more than $5,000 include:

  • Bolivar—$6,568.11;
  • Claiborne—$12,866.66;
  • Forrest—$11,006.52;
  • Hancock—$5,282.35;
  • Harrison—$12,186.12;
  • Hinds—$143,952.77;
  • Humphreys—$12,511.20;
  • Jones—$7,239.43;
  • Lauderdale—$9,025.29;
  • Leflore—$5,596.47;
  • Madison—$5,914.51;
  • Pearl River—$25,513.52; and
  • Rankin—$30,347.13.

“This distribution represent 1,631 parcels which are now back in productive use in these counties. We are grateful for the partnerships we have with local government officials who help us spread the word about auctions to increase sales and decrease the State’s inventory,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said.

In recent years, successful auctions in Bay St. Louis, Bolivar County, Jackson, Leflore County, McComb, Meridian, Pearl River County, Rankin County, Washington County, Waveland, Vicksburg, and Yazoo City have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Mississippi schools, municipalities, and counties.

An online auction is currently in progress in Hinds County, with 320 parcels valued at $1.9 million for sale. Bids will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. CST on Wednesday, May 1. To place a bid, a user is required to register online. Users may view property details such as parcel location and an auction map. Other information, such as auction dates, bid notices, and market values of property are also available online. Successful bidders will be notified by e-mail as soon as possible once bids are placed, and payment of the bid amount must be paid within 5 to 7 days of notification.

Buyers are permitted to pay a “Buy It Now” price on any parcel, which allows them purchase a property immediately instead of waiting until the end of the auction.

To learn more about tax-forfeited properties, visit the Secretary of State’s website( or call the Public Lands Division at (601) 359-5156.

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Hosemann, Meridian Community College Host Workforce Development Summit

Meridian, Miss. (WTOK)

Meridian Community College hosted a community forum with business owners and educational leaders Wednesday

The group met to discuss ways to develop an educated workforce. The goal was for businesses to share the skills they are seeking and for school systems to train students to meet that need.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the guest speaker, says a stronger, more educated and dedicated workforce will help strengthen communities across the state.

“Educated workforce starts in our high schools. The workers of our future are sitting in senior class at Meridian High School,” said Hosemann. “What we are trying to do is for them to have a meaningful employment and a future economic life.”

Hosemann says a solid partnership between local high schools, businesses and community colleges will help strengthen Meridian’s workforce.


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