Jackson Mid-Year Progress Report | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Jackson Mid-Year Progress Report

The Mississippi Children’s Museum opened its “WonderBox” exhibit on Friday, June 18. The exhibit focuses on STEAM subjects and interactive installments. Photo courtesy Mississippi Children's Museum

The Mississippi Children’s Museum opened its “WonderBox” exhibit on Friday, June 18. The exhibit focuses on STEAM subjects and interactive installments. Photo courtesy Mississippi Children's Museum

With 2021 already halfway behind us, let’s review some of the openings, expansions, nonprofit initiatives and updates that the metro area has seen since January.

Kingston Frazier Memorial Splash Pad

The City of Jackson Department of Parks and Recreation hosted a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the Kingston Frazier Memorial Splash Pad, a miniature water park for children in Jackson, on Friday, April 2.

The splash pad is named for Kingston Frazier, a 6-year-old boy whom three Jackson teenagers kidnapped and later murdered after stealing the vehicle Frazier was sleeping in from the Interstate 55 N. Kroger parking lot while his mother, Ebony Archie, ran inside for necessities.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Councilwoman Angelique Lee, elder Larry Williamson Sr. of Faith Community Outreach Church, District 2 Supervisor David Archie, Presidential Hills Homeowners Association President Wade Brown, City of Jackson Public Works Director Ison Harris, Ebony Archie and William Frazier Jr. attended the dedication ceremony.

The Kingston Frazier Memorial Splash Pad is located in Presidential Hills Park II at 3971 N. Flag Chapel Road. The City plans to later erect a memorial plaque honoring the lives of other young people lost in the Jackson community on the site.

Mississippi Coding Campus

Mississippi Coding Academies and DSC Training Academy launched a new coding campus in South Jackson at 3906 I-55 South Frontage Road, which opened on Thursday, April 8. MCA’s downtown and South Jackson sites will be linked virtually, with senior and junior instructors moving between them, a release from the academy says.

MCA offers an 11-month program that emulates a working environment with instruction and coding five days per week. Coders become full-stack coders while learning skills for the corporate workforce. Mississippi Coding Academies is nonprofit, and the program is tuition-free for


The new South Jackson campus is part of DSC Training Academy’s 4,300-square-foot complex and includes two kitchens, a lounge and meeting spaces. The facility is also WiFi-enabled and accessible for those with disabilities.

“We’re partnering with DSC Training Academy to train computer software coders onsite, the plan being to train 80 coders split between our downtown and South Jackson sites over the summer,” Richard Sun, director of the Jackson Mississippi Coding Academies facility says. “The new site is going to be a workforce training facility specialized in coding to train large numbers of people in South Jackson to have productive jobs. Willie Jones, the owner of DSC Training Academy, has done great work in getting women into driving jobs, and now we’ll be able to provide instructors and a curriculum to add onto the services she can offer in order to go beyond the usual work they do there.”

For more information, call 601-351-5858 or visit mscoding.org.

Baptist: Pearl Primary Care

Baptist Medical Group held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Baptist Medical Group-Pearl Primary Care, its sixth physician office in Rankin County, on Tuesday, April 27.

The clinic offers comprehensive care for chronic, urgent and acute-care medical conditions for patients age 6 and up, including routine checkups, preventive care, wellness exams, physicals, vaccinations and treatment for injuries and illnesses, a release from Baptist Medical Group says.

Instead of a traditional waiting room, the Pearl clinic has a self-rooming feature that allows patients to go straight to an exam room after check-in. Lab and X-ray services are available onsite with results ready before patients leave. Same-day appointments, online scheduling and virtual visits are available.

Patients at all Baptist Medical Group clinics can also receive specialist care, physical therapy and medical services through Mississippi Baptist Medical Center.

For more information, call 855-733-8863 or visit baptistmedicalclinic.org.

Jackson Zoo Reopens to the Public


After completing a large portion of repair and renovation projects, the Jackson Zoo reopened in early May. Photo by Stephen Wilson

Due to a number of its intensive repair and renovation projects nearing completion, the Jackson Zoo reopened to the public in early May.

Current zoo hours have changed to Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets will be available for reservation or purchase online the Monday before, and all daily admissions will end at 2:45 p.m.

The zoo is still following Centers for Disease Control mask and social distancing guidelines, which requires that park guest capacity be limited to 500 visitors per day.

For more information, you can visit jacksonzoo.org.

Animal Emergency & Referral Center Expansion

The Animal Emergency & Referral Center in Flowood, a satellite clinic of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, began a planned expansion with an official groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, May 19.

The $5.6 million, 14,000-square-foot addition will include increased clinical space for staff and students to render emergency and referral services, as well as space for a future residential area for students. The

facility will also contain a conference room for teaching and outreach programs for the local veterinary community.

Bradford A. Jones with Machado Patano Design Group in Biloxi is the design professional for the facility, and Madison-based ARCON Group is the general contractor.

AERC’s animal rehabilitation center, currently located in a leased space a few blocks away, will move onsite through the project, a release from MSU says. AERC will remain fully functional during the construction, with no anticipated interruption of service to referring veterinarians or clients or CVM students undergoing training.

The project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022.

For more information on AERC, visit vetmed.msstate.edu/clinics-locations/emergency-referral-center.

Shower Power MS Make More Happen Award

Insurance Protection Specialists, a Mississippi-based independent insurance agency, recently earned a 2021 Make More Happen Award from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance for its volunteer work with Shower Power MS, a Jackson-based nonprofit that offers mobile showering services to people experiencing homelessness.

Members of Insurance Protection Services have curated and delivered hygiene packs to Shower Power, hosted clothing drives and supported the nonprofit with monetary donations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented IPS agents from physically visiting Shower Power, the organization instead sponsored a clothing drive and contributed funds to help clients stay in hotels during extreme weather.

The Make More Happen Award includes a $5,000 donation with a chance to double the amount to $10,000, which will directly benefit Shower Power MS.

On May 26, the story of IPS and Shower Power went up on the official Make More Happen microsite agentgiving.com/Insurance-Protection-Specialists, allowing the nonprofit a chance to earn the additional $5,000 if the featured story receives at least 500 shares to social media and comments on their story.

The $10,000 donation will go toward expanding Shower Power’s ministry and improving its warehouse, and will go toward Project Hope, a housing initiative to provide shelter for clients.

Throughout 2021, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance will select 34 independent agents nationwide for a Make More Happen Award, donating up to $340,000 to the nonprofits they support. Agencies became eligible for the award by submitting an application demonstrating their commitment to a specific nonprofit, along with photos of a project they worked on. For more information, visit https://www.ips-ms.com/ or https://showerpower.ms/.

MPB Fertile Ground Documentary


Photo courtesy Drew Dempsey

“Fertile Ground,” a documentary on the City of Jackson’s ongoing struggles as a “food desert,” premiered on Mississippi Public Broadcasting TV in June.

The documentary covers challenges Jackson residents face in finding healthy food options and policy failures that limit access to grocery stores and fresh food, as well as interviews with farmers, food activists and city leaders.

The documentary is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, which former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched in partnership with Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba in 2018.

As part of the project, Bloomberg donated $1 million to Jackson to fund public art installations throughout the city, as well as performance art, a podcast series and a roadmap to improve the city’s food policies.

The Fertile Ground documentary is also part of a larger initiative called “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access”, which uses public art as a medium to inspire dialogue about food access in Jackson, a release from Visit Mississippi says.

For more information about the Fertile Ground project, visit fertilegroundjxn.com. To view a trailer for the Fertile Ground documentary, visit fertilegroundjxn.com/the-film.

Howard D. Catchings Golf Driving Range and Putting Green

Jackson State University Development Foundation board member Howard D. Catchings recently announced that he is opening a new golf driving range and putting green that will cater specifically to youth in the Mississippi Delta town of Lambert, in partnership with its twin city Marks.

Catchings, an insurance magnate and JSU alum, is sponsoring a launch event for the course on Saturday, June 19, at 11 a.m., in honor of Juneteenth, which is also his birthday. The town of Lambert will be the proprietor of the Howard D. Catchings Golf Driving Range and Putting Green, and Catchings is the benefactor.

Residents of Lambert and Marks are currently working on developing the driving range and putting green for the facility and plan to develop a full 18-hole golf course, a release from JSU says. Schoolchildren will have free, controlled access to the golf facilities, while others will have to pay.

City Begins Construction on New Fire Station

The City of Jackson held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, June 14, for a new fire station—Fire Station #20—which is under construction to replace an older building that is falling into disrepair along Medgar Evers Boulevard.

The new building, which is scheduled for completion by 2022, will feature a safe room to protect people during inclement weather and a full building generator to ensure that the facility will not lose power during an emergency.

Wonderbox at Mississippi Children’s Museum


The Mississippi Children’s Museum opened its “WonderBox” exhibit on Friday, June 18. The exhibit focuses on STEAM subjects and interactive installments. Photo courtesy Mississippi Children's Museum

The Mississippi Children’s Museum opened a new exhibit titled “WonderBox” on Friday, June 18. WonderBox is a 1,500-square-foot makerspace exhibit that focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

WonderBox features technological elements such as a 3D printer and pens, robotics and circuitry, as well as activities using simple, strategically incorporated objects. Key features include Illumination Station, which is a giant Lite Brite, as well as a station to build a custom flying machine called The Craft and launch it across the museum’s ceiling.

The exhibit also contains interactive components to allow visitors to test out the creations they make.

MCM is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MCM in Jackson and the MCM satellite location in Meridian will also be open for Magic Mondays from July 5 through Aug. 2. General admission tickets are $10 and are available online or at the door. For more information, visit mschildrensmusuem.org.

Northtown Pharmacy Opening

Dr. Andrew Clark, a Jackson native who has practiced as a pharmacist for 15 years, opened his own pharmacy called Northtown Pharmacy (6220 Old Canton Road) in northeast Jackson on June 1.

Northtown Pharmacy offers prescription filling, immunizations, CBD oil products, medication synchronization services, diabetes management services, long-term care, nutritional services, over the counter products and more.

Clark received his bachelor degree in biology from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Mississippi. He received his doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Tennessee.

Prior to opening his own business, he worked as a pharmacist at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson as well as at the Jackson Walmart and Walgreens.

“Pharmacies are a unique part of healthcare services,” Clark says about his industry. “What I enjoy about it is that you get to see patients more often and see the direct benefits you are providing while working with the public.”

The pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 601-665-4694 or visit northtownpharmacy.com.

Send city, business and nonprofit news tips to [email protected].

Support our reporting -- Follow the MFP.