Guard deployed to ports

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

JACKSON &045; As the nation girded for war with Iraq, Mississippi officials on Wednesday secured ports and the state’s only nuclear plant and evaluated whether extra protection was needed at airports and other public facilities.

Maj. Gen. James Lipscomb III, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, told lawmakers that guard members will fulfill their duties at home and abroad. About 4,500 guardsmen and reservists have been activated as part of the buildup to war.

”I know you, like I, ask yourself have we done enough as we send soldiers in harm’s way,” Lipscomb told the state Senate. ”Continue to keep those families in your prayers and ask the Lord to protect them as they protect us.”

Email newsletter signup

National Guard troops were protecting Mississippi River ports in Vicksburg and Washington County and Gulf Coast ports in Pascagoula, Gulfport and Hancock County.

Troops also were deployed to the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, near the Mississippi River in rural Claiborne County.

Sgt. Mark Gillentine with the 155th Infantry in Natchez said local troops have been sent to guard ports, including the Adams County port, as well as Grand Gulf.

&uot;We will do minimum staffing as needed,&uot; he said.

Members of the state Homeland Security Council met twice Wednesday to discuss how state agencies will enact wartime safety measures.

Meanwhile, Farm Bureau president David Waide issued a call to Mississippi farmers to heighten their awareness of what is taking place on their farms.

&uot;While Mississippi, its cities and its farms don’t appear as likely targets for terrorists, one cannot be too careful, regardless of the stage of alert,&uot; Waide said.

&uot;The most important thing is for our farmers to be aware of what is going on around them on their farms. What is usual and what is unusual are fairly easy to distinguish between. Once something is noticed out of the ordinary, a call should be made to local law enforcement officials. At times like this, aggressive action should be taken in keeping authorities informed.

In Claiborne County, some residents said they were not worried about the possibility of terrorist attacks on the Grand Gulf nuclear plant. Doug Nasif, manager of M&M Super Store, said people there have gotten so used to the massive plant that they assume security is a given.

Nasif said some of his grocery store’s customers, though, have been stewing over the international give-and-take of the Iraqi crisis, especially French opposition to the United States’ use of force.

”We have had some that refused to buy the Danon water, which is a French product,” Nasif said. ”A woman came in last week and said she wouldn’t buy it because it’s French. I said, ‘Oh, you better not do any kissing.”’