Educators, restaurant owners ‘tapped out’ on Jackson’s water issues

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Two very different groups held two separate press conferences Monday with the very same request for state and local leaders: action.

“We hope that the city leaders and state leaders can come together, put aside their partisan differences, and find a solution,” David Conn, owner of 4Top Hospitality Group, said. “Great leadership is action, not words. We want action.”

Forty-six restaurant owners with businesses in the Capital City wrote a joint letter to our elected officials, calling for change.

As restaurant owners spend upwards of $500-700 per day on ice, bottled water, and canned soft drinks, they’re also seeing a decrease in sales.

One partner said his businesses in Flowood and Ridgeland are up 20% in sales from this time last year, but his restaurants in Jackson are down more than twenty percent.

Steven O’Neill with the Manship said its numbers like those that could end up running some restaurants out of town.

“We’re not just signing another five-year lease. We’re signing another five years of water crises, and we’re signing another five years of inoperable businesses due to basic services that we should be receiving,” O’Neill said. “It’d be a shame to see any of us move, but the economics can be very appealing.”

Then there’s the Mississippi Association of Educators, which is equally as tapped out.

“When the water system fails, JPS schools are also forced to transition to online learning,” Antonio Catanon Luna, MAE’s executive director, said. “This destabilizes students’ learning environment and places economic stress on families.”

When students are in the building, MAE’s president, Erica Jones, said the crisis causes longer restroom breaks for students and longer wait times for cafeteria food. This means less time in the actual classroom.

Those are just a couple of examples of issues JPS had to deal with Monday, which was the district’s first day back to school.

“Instead of them focusing on how to keep our students safe and providing a productive day, they’ll have to procure water for all of our schools here in the district,” Jones said.

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