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It could be us in need when next storm hits

The EF-3 tornado that ripped through the Pine Belt area last week could have just as easily hit Southwest Mississippi. In all, more than 1,400 homes were damaged in eight counties by three different tornadoes. Four people were killed and 60 were injured during the storms.

That realization is driving local schools, businesses and individuals to donate and volunteer to help our neighbors to the east. Bogue Chitto Attendance Center is gathering Wal-Mart and Visa gift cards through Feb. 3. Principal Jay Rayborn is organizing the effort to help Petal Upper Elementary, which was severely damaged.

First United Methodist Church of Brookhaven is collecting supplies and has already made a trip to Hattiesburg. They will continue to accept donations and will deliver those to the Hattiesburg area.

Items needed are: bottled water, gallon jugs of water, non-perishable food, trash bags, work gloves, diapers, wipes, blankets, towels, first aid supplies, pet food, flash lights and batteries.

Supplies can be dropped off Monday through Friday at the church office.  For more information, call 601-757-2495.

The church’s youth group is also planning a mission trip this summer to help with construction projects.

Reed’s Metals is also collecting items and will haul the donated items to Forrest County.

“We’d love to pack it down,” Jessica Breazeale, marketing and PR director for Reed’s,. said. “We’d love to take it there every day, and we will for as long as we get donations.”

There are likely other local efforts that we are unaware of.

It’s heartwarming and encouraging to see the Lincoln County community pitch in to help those in need. It could very well be us in need when the next round of storms hit.

House bill will hurt schools

A bill making its way through the House seeks to limit the ability of local school boards to raise property taxes.

The House Education Committee voted 12-10 Wednesday to approve House Bill 203, which would take away school boards’ ability to increase property tax rates without voter approval.

Proponents say people should get to vote on even the smallest tax increases.

That sounds great but here’s the tricky part: people are not likely to vote “yes” on a local tax increase, especially for education.

The Legislature is considering a school funding proposal that would shift more financial burden onto local school districts, so where is the money supposed to come from? If this bill passes, local school boards won’t be able to raise taxes to offset a decrease in state education funding without voter approval.

The bill was opposed by Democrats and some Republicans, according to The Associated Press. They questioned whether it was a good idea to limit taxing powers as lawmakers examine changes to the state funding formula. Some districts could have to raise taxes to make up for state funding cuts under the proposals.

Of course it’s not a good idea. Hopefully, this legislation won’t make it to a floor vote. If it does, it should be defeated.