How to keep your package deliveries safe, and more local stories.

Some of the top MS stories we got into on "Gulf Coast Mornings" this Nov. 29:

A Mississippi woman is drawing a lot of attention for what she wore when she went to vote Tuesday. Claudia Bivins went to her Hattiesburg polling place, taking her eight-year-old grandson along to teach him about the importance of voting and the history of voter suppression. She donned herself with a Confederate flag draped over her shoulders and a red noose strung around her neck. She says those two items were to represent the burden that racism places on her shoulders and those of others.

Former Forrest Hill High School band director Demitri Jones is expected to learn before the end of the year whether he will get his job back. He was fired after the marching band parodied a scene from the movie "John Q" as students armed with toy guns held others hostage on the ground. The performance proved extremely controversial since it took place in Brookhaven about a week after two city officers were shot to death in the line of duty, though Jones says he was unaware of the incident. The Jackson Public Schools held an appeal's hearing for Jones on the matter yesterday and will render its decision on his request to be rehired within the next 30 days.

A new push is on to hike the state tax on cigarettes in Mississippi, or for that matter all smoking products. Members of the Invest in a Healthier Future Coalition told reporters Wednesday at the State Capitol they want the legislature to hike the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from 68 cents to a buck-and-a-half. It's been almost a decade since the last tax increase on smokes. Smoking is blamed for about 54-hundred deaths a year in Mississippi.

Porch pirating is rampant this time of year.  We went over some helpful tips on how to keep your packages from being stolen.  Fast forward the video to 7:51 for more:

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