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2 • MAY 2020










601.957.3753 • KOESTLERPRIME.COM


Hometown MADISON • 3

Here’s Our Plan

We’d like to find a family that’s truly in need of a new heating and cooling system. Do you

know an elderly person on a fixed income, a family with a sick child or parent in the home, or a

disabled veteran? Maybe it’s an existing system not operational or it’s very old and inefficient

and the family cannot afford to replace it. The recipient’s home must be in Hinds, Madison, or

Rankin County.

What They Get

The recipient chosen from online applications/nominations will receive the following: One (1)

new 14 SEER (efficiency rating- current standard) Rheem heating and cooling system, installed.

This is a complete system, providing new equipment both inside and outside, for a home that

has existing central heating and cooling. Pure Air Consultants will also provide a new pad

for the outdoor unit and a new digital thermostat. (Note: Replacement system must be of the

same size/tonnage as winner’s existing system, and have the same heat source (gas, electric,

or heat pump) as the existing system.)


Gives Back!

Pure Air Consultants wants to give back to the community that has so graciously supported us.

We have been blessed with continued growth and want to give back. We recognize and appreciate

the fact that we would not be who we are or where we are without the continued patronage

of our customers and the support of the metro Jackson area.


How To Enter

Log onto surveymonkey.com/r/pacgivesback or

MyPureAirConsultants.com and nominate someone in

need. People interested in submitting may enter themselves

or nominate another person or family. All entries

are completely confidential. Before and after photos

of the job will be taken, and winner will be announced

through social media. Media release required.


We will accept submissions through August 31, 2020.

The winner will be selected and announced on

October 1, 2020.


Enter today



601-939-7420 • www.MyPureAirConsultants.com

4 • JULY 2020


Seven years! It’s a milestone for Hometown

Magazines! I never imagined how amazing

the journey would be when God first placed

the desire in my heart to publish a magazine

that would highlight the amazing people of

our area and the businesses that improve

our lifestyles.

With absolutely no experience in

publishing, I knew I needed a strong staff.

I needed a consultant who would not only

be a friend, but someone who would invest

in me and teach me things I needed for this


Mary Ann Kirby was one of our first go-to

people. She not only had years of experience

in advertising and publishing, but was ready

to join our team for a fresh, new endeavor.

Our personalities meshed immediately. Her

experience and business savvy was exactly

what I needed and envisioned for the magazine.

But not only has Mary Ann been an

amazing consultant, she has become a dear

friend. We both lead busy lives outside of

Hometown Magazines, but she’s always a

text or phone call away. So I’m thankful that

this magazine allowed our paths to cross.

Proverbs 27:9 says, “A sweet friendship

refreshes the soul.” I’m blessed to call

Mary Ann my friend.

Now seven years later we marvel at our

growth and the enrichment of having met

so many that have stories that needed sharing.

Then there are our faithful advertisers who

believed in our magazine and trust us to help

promote their businesses.

After seven years, I’m more dedicated

than ever to publishing Hometown Madison,

especially due to our strange times and

the way our world’s chaos threatens every

citizen. We’ve all been met with the scarcity

of a lot of things in recent months, but

negative news isn’t one of them. Count on

Hometown Madison to lift your spirits and

introduce you to some newsworthy

neighbors in our great hometown. You’ll

learn something new in every issue.

I’m positive about that! l



Tahya A. Dobbs


Kevin W. Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby


Sustained by Faith 6

Finding the Good 12

Brinley’s Garden 14

Putting a Crown on Service 16

Mission Cinderella 22

Hometown Family 26

Healing Hands & Paws 36

Flags of Honor 44



Brenda McCall


Lindsey Dees



Alisha Floyd

...see you around town.


Daniel Thomas - 3dt



Caroline Hodges


Othel Anding

www.facebook.com/hometownmadisonmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F / Brandon, MS 39042

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Madison may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Madison is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.

Hometown Madison maintains the unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted material. All advertisements are subject to approval by the publisher. The production of Hometown Madison is funded by advertising.

Hometown MADISON • 5

6 • JULY 2020

Susan Marquez

When counting the truly perfect love stories

in the world, Warren and Sandra Strain’s

would surely be on the list.

Of course, nothing is ever perfectly perfect,

but their relationship is about as close to it as any

relationship can be.

Full disclosure, I was there when they met.

Sort of. I was working at WLBT as a copywriter/

producer and sometimes pitched in to run studio

camera for newscasts. Warren was a reporter

and anchor, but our friendship began years earlier

when we both worked at the campus radio

station at Mississippi State University. We were

also members of the Student Broadcasting Club.

I was proud that Warren had followed his

dream. He was so good at what he did, and he

was so handsome on camera!

Each semester we saw a new group of college

interns at the station, and I vividly remember when

Sandra Dabit was introduced to the newsroom

and studio crew. She was tall, gorgeous, and had

a million mega-watt smile. Warren really caught

her eye, and she caught his. “I remember going

home and turning on the news to watch Warren,”

Sandra said. “I told my mother that he was as nice

as he was good-looking.” Sandra was smitten. “I

really fell in love with him fast. My face was glued

to the TV every time he was on the air. I never in

a million years dreamed he’d be interested in me!”

Warren asked Sandra to ride along with him

on stories he was covering, and the two began to

talk, then date. “The first time he asked me to

marry him, I said no,” she laughs. “I was so afraid!

But eleven months after we met we got engaged.

Marrying Warren was the best thing I ever did

in my life! He truly is my soulmate.”

Their relationship has been one of mutual

trust, admiration and adoration. In a Facebook

post back in March 2016, Warren wrote, “As

time passes, my perspective of importance has

shifted dramatically, as has my idea of ‘what is

old.’ A lot has happened in the past 22 years, but

one of the constants in my life has been my wife.

She is my soul, my heart, my entire being. We

have been through highs and lows, good times

Hometown MADISON • 7

and bad. But regardless of how bright or dark it

gets, I know I can count on God and Sandra.” At

the time he wrote that, he had no idea how much

he would rely on both God and Sandra to help him

get through one of the darkest periods of his life.

On the morning of December 23, 2019,

Warren was in Hattiesburg, about to have surgery

on his back. “My brother, Sam, is a physician in

Hattiesburg,” explains Sandra. “He has a friend

who did the same exact surgery on my dad.

Warren was set to have the surgery and was

going to do the same rehab program as my dad.”

Sandra says that Warren was very nervous about

the procedure, as was their daughter, Tiffany. “He

kissed her goodbye when we were leaving to go to

Hattiesburg, then he went back inside and gave

Tiffany another huge hug and told her he loved

her. That was the last time she heard his voice.”

At 5:40 a.m. the morning of the surgery,

Warren had a massive brain bleed and stroke.

“We began the day at Wesley Hospital in

Hattiesburg, where he had a CT scan,” Sandra

recalls. It was determined he needed to go to

Forrest General Hospital, where he had a

procedure in the ER and was intubated. He then

took an ambulance ride to St. Dominic’s Hospital

in Jackson. “Stroke patients are rated on a number

system,” explains Sandra. “A three or below is not

very promising. Warren was a three on the scale.”

Still, Sandra credits her brother, Sam, with saving

Warren’s life. “He knew just what to do.”

The last six months have been a roller coaster

ride of emotions for Sandra as she watched

Warren progress—only to have setbacks. “No

one wants to see someone they love struggling

like that. I really understand what it means to be

overwhelmed. It’s just too hard to even try to

think ahead right now.”

No one can ever be prepared for the kind of

unforeseen event the Strains have been through.

But so many things have come into play following

Warren’s stroke. “We both have a deep faith in

God, and that faith is carrying us through this

ordeal.” But that doesn’t mean Sandra hasn’t

experienced a wave of emotions, from fear to

confusion to helpless to hopeful. “I felt guilty

when I had to leave the hospital because he

couldn’t. I had to leave to feed the kids, but then

felt guilty because I was able to feed them and he

couldn’t. I slept with his sweatshirt for months,

and I still pour over photos and watch videos,

just so I can hear his voice.”

The stroke and bleed have affected the part

of Warren’s brain that controls his speech. His

once-booming broadcaster voice has been

silenced for the time being. His right side is also

paralyzed. Asked if Warren was right-handed,

Sandra smirks and says sarcastically, “Of course,

we wouldn’t have it any other way!” That fact has

made it more difficult for Warren as he is having

to use his non-dominant hand.

Family, friends, coworkers, and the community

at large have played a big role in getting the

Strains through this trial. “They have been our

lifeline. I can’t imagine living anywhere else,

because I can’t imagine any group of people

could be any kinder. People have filled needs we

didn’t know we had or couldn’t think about, like

cutting our grass, providing meals and gift cards,

and all those prayers!”

The Strains moved to Madison when Sandra

was pregnant with their son, Brandon, who

recently graduated from Madison Central High

School. “We bought our house without really

knowing much at all about Madison. The realtor

we were working with took us to see a house she

thought we’d like, and we fell in love not only with

the house, but with the city! On the day we were

supposed to close, I found out I was pregnant

with Brandon. We were so nervous about

spending money on a house! But it worked out

the way it was supposed to. Two months after

we moved into our home a tornado hit our

neighborhood. That was when we really got

immersed in Madison. We learned real quick

that people here are like family.”

Warren left broadcasting to become the

communications director for the Mississippi

Department of Public Safety. He spearheaded

the development and implementation of

Mississippi’s statewide Amber Alert program

which has been successful in finding many lost

children. He has also handled crisis communications

for several events which have drawn intense

local and national media attention.

Warren also serves as alderman-at-large/

mayor pro tem for the City of Madison. Mary

Hawkins Butler, mayor of the City of Madison is

not only a colleague of Warren’s, but she is a

close family friend. “Mary is my godmother,”

says Sandra. “She has been with us through this

every step of the way.”

Butler says that the Strains have been so

important to the City of Madison. “Theirs is

8 • JULY 2020

such a special family. They love Madison.

Warren is a generous, real, wonderful person and

everyone who knows him loves him. Madison is

a big family, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt.

We want to make this go away, but we can’t.

What we do know is that God’s plan is not our

plan. His plan is perfect. He hears and answers

our prayers in His own time. We hold to that.

Sandra is holding to that. She is living her faith.”

Sandra says her brother, Sam, has been

extremely helpful in helping her understand

what’s happening with Warren’s condition.

“Since he’s a doctor who practices internal

medicine, he has the knowledge to help me

understand,” Sandra says. “And his wife, Dana,

has stayed by my side.” Sandra says that her

parents, children and other family members

and friends have sustained her throughout.

Warren is currently an in-patient at the

Shepherd Center in Atlanta

where he is participating in their

brain injury rehabilitation

program. Family support is a large

part of the therapy, but due to

COVID, Sandra is unable to be

there with him. She has found

some work-arounds that help.

“We Facetime every day,” she says.

“I always try to put on a happy

face, and I’m sure the nurses there

think I’m nuts because I am

having basically a one-sided

conversation. But I know that on

good days, Warren is responding and remembering

and reconnecting. The brain is an amazing

thing. It can create new pathways, so I have to

trust that is happening with Warren.”

“I look forward to the day when I can have

him back at home. God has allowed us the

opportunity to make it this far. I’m convinced

God has great plans for us. I had someone tell

me recently that in order to have a testimony,

you must first pass the test. We got a really hard

test, but we are working through it every day!”

Hometown MADISON • 9

10 • JULY 2020

Serving the Southeast

SINCE 1905

Hometown MADISON • 11

Findingthe Good

Erin Williams

I personally know individuals who have lost their

jobs and also many who are worried about losing

them. I’d venture to say I’m not alone on that either.

It’s been a scary time for many, and it’s incredible to

think that others will be reading about COVID-19 in

the history books one day. It’s also incredible to

think that we are, in fact, living history right now–

whether we like it or not.

Although it’s been a tumultuous time, when I

think back to COVID-19 one day or tell my two-yearold

and baby about it when they are much older or

grown, instead of just remembering the scary part

of it, I’ll remember something else. I’ll remember the

many unexpected ways that COVID-19 has brought

out the good in so many throughout our community

– the ways that have maybe taken all of us by

surprise, even more than the actual virus did.

I’ll remember how many individuals rallied

around local restaurants and only ordered take-out

for weeks, just to make sure that their favorite local

eateries could stay afloat without the in-person,

dine-in cash flow that many were accustomed to.

I’ll remember how many neighborhoods, including

my own, took that a step further and lined up food

trucks to come out to their clubhouses multiple

times a week for nearly three months. I’ll remember

people in lines so long that they stretched down our

streets to order their dinner each day from whatever

truck or restaurant that was selling that night. I’ll

even remember a specific conversation one night

with a restaurant employee when it was my turn in

line to order, and how she said that their restaurant

has never experienced so much love and generosity

than they have since COVID-19 began.

I’ll remember how schools and teachers stepped

up and showed out in each grade level. How local

elementary schools lined up the Easter Bunny to

do a drive-by throughout local neighborhoods at

designated times during the week before Easter,

and how teachers and principals showed up in

droves to do end of the year drive-by parades for

students of all ages. Let’s not forget the many

teachers who went over and beyond to teach their

students virtually – by phones, by email, by computer,

by PowerPoint, and by a lot of prayer and patience.

I’ll remember the ways that church staff and

members left their physical church buildings to be

the hands and feet of The Church out in a community

that desperately needed it. I’ll remember the many

signs I saw at numerous houses saying “this family

is loved” by local churches or the night that my

doorbell rang and I found a box of Hostess Ding

Dongs with a note that said “you’ve been ding

dong ditched! Your church family misses you!” I’ll

remember how the staff at local churches organized

drive-by times where parents could pick up handmade

activity packets – all filled to the brim with

chalk, bubbles, balloons, and crafts - for their

children each week.

Instead of the hoarding by some, I’ll remember

the giving and generosity by many and the numerous

amounts of people who began to really get to know

their neighbors and ask if anyone needed anything

before making a grocery run. I’ll remember those

who, instead of filling up their own carts, shopped

for the elderly or people of higher risk and brought

their groceries and medicine to their front doors. I’ll

12 • JULY 2020

The unforeseen and unprecedented spread of COVID-19

over the past couple months has wreaked havoc on the economy,

local businesses, and many individuals. It’s kept many at home

and changed what “normal” life looks like in the short-term.

remember the weeks and months that neighbors

became neighbors and were connected by spirit

instead of by street or neighborhood.

I’ll remember the visual ways that people

became creative to bring joy to others around them.

How many participated in “bear hunts” by placing

teddy bears in their windows so that kids in their

neighborhoods could go on walks and look for bears

when just about everything else fun to do was closed?

I’ll remember seeing so much sidewalk chalk art.

The times that friends would draw pictures in the

driveways of other friends to brighten their day or

the one time that I saw the words “You can do it”

stretched out and drawn down our main street in

our neighborhood. I’ll think back on the many

posters in windows of homes saying that a hero

lived there.

I’ll remember the hours and hours of overtime

worked by so many to keep our food supply chain

stable and our bellies full. I’ll remember medical

workers who put their own families and lives in

jeopardy to take care of our lives and our families.

Who needs a superman when you have a trucker,

a farmer, a nurse, a pharmacist, or a grocery store


I’ll remember how our governor personally

wished thousands of children across the state,

who couldn’t have birthday parties like normal, a

happy birthday, and how he later read the names

of thousands of high school graduates to honor

them in spite of a different graduation and senior

year than they hoped. Who needs politics when

you have heart?

I’ll remember the ways that individuals came

together to make events memorable, the best way

that they knew how. I’ll look back and think about

the neighbors who did virtual baby showers for

those who were expecting and the piles of gifts that

were lined up for them at their doorstep, by people

they may or may not have known. I’ll remember the

many drive-by birthday parades for children with

honking horns, vehicles decorated to the tee, and

waving hands and smiling faces hanging out the

windows. I’ll remember the letters that were handdrawn

and mailed in by the hundreds to local

nursing homes for Grandparent’s Day.

I’ll remember the way that God worked in the

hearts of others to turn the biggest COVID-19 mess

into an even bigger message–a message of love,

hope, and community.

In trying times like these, when it has felt like

there’s a lot of uncertainty and not a lot of good,

COVID-19 has proved to me that the opposite can

also be true. That within the uncertainty and

unfortunate times, we can be certain that “good”

or “goodwill” isn’t just a circumstance. It is in fact

something that lives within the hearts of a great


A great community like ours.

Hometown MADISON • 13

A place where she

can shine like the sun.

Erin Williams

It’s long been said that learning

to garden can grow more than

vegetables, flowers, herbs, and

spices. In fact, as someone who is an avid

gardener herself, I’d venture to say that the

fruits from a garden go much further than

the tangible fruits you can see, eat, and

cook with. The internal fruits that come

from cultivating your own garden - things

like patience, relaxation, hard work, and

physical labor, to name a few - become just

as apparent as the edible fruits themselves.

11-year-old Brinley Walker of Flora is a

testament to this. One day during the

quarantine this spring, Brinley and her

mother Susan were talking about how they

thought they would enjoy doing a garden

together. Though they had created a “stone

soup” garden when Brinley was six and

enjoyed it, they now had more space for a

bigger garden after their family moved to the

country in Flora and had room to spread out.

“We ended up getting all of the supplies

we needed for two raised beds, as well as

rock and lights for our pathway,” said Susan.

“We wanted the garden to feel like a tranquil

space day and night, and once we got

started, we didn’t stop until it felt as magical

as we had envisioned. We worked hard

together and felt excited when we were

done, and now we are seeing the results of

all of our efforts.”

From the building of the garden boxes

to the organizing of the stones, watering the

garden, pulling the weeds, and harvesting

the ripe vegetables, Brinley has been at the

helm of it all.

“I thought it would be a fun project to

start a garden, and I have enjoyed watching

the plants go through different stages of

growth from planting the seed to seeing the

plant pop up through the soil,” said Brinley.

Brinley has also enjoyed turning her

garden into a hands-on learning environment.

“I learned how fast certain plants grow

compared to others and I have enjoyed

watching the process,” said Brinley. “My

mom and I made identification stakes for

each plant and we put pictures of the fruit

and vegetables on each tag. I want to harvest

the seed from this year to use next year.”

Her work in her garden has also taken

root in her kitchen where she’s created

several kid-friendly recipes that utilize fresh

produce and can be made with little-to-no

assistance from a parent. Her recipes were

even included in a kids section of Susan’s

recent cookbook. Today, Brinley is working

on her own cookbook that will be ready for

purchase in September and will feature only

her recipes, including tasty meals and treats,

that kids can prepare all by themselves.

“Brinley has always been motivated to

finish any task that she starts. She built the

garden, maintains it, and even makes sure

that bugs aren’t eating the plants,” said

Susan. “It’s been exciting to see what new

things she discovers each day and how she

is growing just like her garden is. I’ve seen

her eagerness while waiting for some of the

vegetables to ripen and how she has had to

learn patience. It’s been something where

we are all really building memories together

and we are so glad we did it.”

14 • JULY 2020

When Brinley is not

working on her garden

or preparing kid-friendly

recipes in her kitchen,

she also enjoys kayaking,

biking, and spending time

with her family.

Hometown MADISON • 15

Putting a Crown

on Service

Susan Marquez

16 • JULY 2020

here’s a movement of sorts happening in

Madison County, one run on girl power.

It’s a movement that requires a servant’s

heart, with a true desire to help others.

The Junior Auxiliary of Madison County’s

Crown Club provides high school girls with an

opportunity to serve their community while

meeting girls from other schools and being

exposed to women who are leaders in their

field. Crown Club focuses on creating service

opportunities for high school girls in grades

nine through twelve. The project encourages

the concept of teaching youth how to give back

to their community. Junior Auxiliary members

work with the girls throughout the year, August

to May, to teach them the benefits of community

service and to inspire future leaders.

Pam Ware is serving as the chair of Crown

Club for a second year. “I started as a co-chair

two years ago, then served as chair last year. This

will be my last active year to chair. It’s been a big

job, but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The

girls involved are amazing.”

There are 325 active members of Crown Club,

and there have been 3,273 service hours recorded

since its inception. “Of course, there’s the fun and

fellowship,” says Ware, “but there’s so much more.

Crown Club nurtures a passion for helping others,

and allows the girls to get to know so many

inspiring women.”

Registration for Crown Club is held each

August. “We are hoping that we’ll be able to have

our first meeting in September,” says Ware. “If

not in person, we’ll work to do it via ZOOM.”

Guest speakers share with the club members at

the meetings, fostering an interest among its

members the social, economic, educational, civic

and cultural conditions of the community with the

goal of developing leadership skills and character

while inspiring a passion for community service.

Brittany Mayfield, general manager of special

events for the City of Madison, says she can’t say

enough good things about Crown Club. “The

Crown Club always volunteers at my events,

which is what helps make them so special. They

jump in wherever they are needed.”

One of those events was the “Teacups and

Tiaras” event for mothers and daughters. “Pam

and I have worked so well together, and I told

her that in order to do an event of this magnitude,

I’d need a lot of volunteers,” says Mayfield.

Hometown MADISON • 17

18 • JULY 2020

“Crown Club girls came in and painted amazing

backdrops for photos prior to the event. On the

event day, they came and served at the tea. A lot

of little girls felt they were one step closer to

Disney!” she continued.

The event was a success, and it was decided

that proceeds would go to benefit Hope Hollow,

a Christian camp for adults and children with

special needs. Now Hope Hollow has become

an ongoing project for Crown Club.

Other projects Crown Club has helped with

are the Lake Caroline Arts and Crafts Festival,

where they played games with kids and assisted

with painting pumpkins, the Scarecrow Festival,

Chapel of the Cross’s Day in the Country, the

City of Madison’s “Movie on Main” event and

many more. During the holidays, they collected

an impressive 2,000 cans of food for the

MadCAAP food pantry, and they volunteered

to be bell ringers for The Salvation Army.

Their “Night to Shine” event was a prom night

experience for kids with special needs.

“Before I was a member of JAMC, my

daughters were a part of Crown Club,” says Amy

Cummings, who serves as this year’s president of

the Junior Auxiliary. “It was a great way for them

to obtain service hours while learning about our

community. Crown Club instills a servant’s heart

and teaches the girls the importance of giving

back. Our national motto is ‘care today, character

tomorrow.’ These girls are our future and it is

our hope that being a part of Crown Club will

have a positive influence and build character so

they never forget the importance of being a

volunteer and giving back.”

Membership in Crown Club requires

attending five of the eight regular meetings held

throughout the school year. Regular meetings are

held the last Sunday afternoon of each month

Members are required to perform a minimum

of twelve Crown Club-approved service hours

in Crown Club projects. They must attend four

education hours by the first of May, all of which

are offered via ZOOM. They must also obtain

three finance hours by the first of May, which can

be obtained by donating specific items. Dues are

$50 annually, due at the November meeting, and

may be made in monthly installments.

Keeping up with so many girls and their

activities is a monumental task. Ware relies on an

online system she uses to coordinate with all the

girls and monitor their activities. “I really love the

girls so much. They have a real heart for service.

It’s been a joy for me to have the opportunity to

work with them.” l

Hometown MADISON • 19

20 • JULY 2020

CALL NOW: 601-401-3299


Craft Camp

Join the fun

JULY 20-23


Try your hand


JULY 6-10

Outlets of Mississippi

200 Bass Pro Drive, Pearl, MS 39208


Drop off only • First Come, First Serve



Bill Waller Craft Center

950 Rice Road

Ridgeland, MS 39157


Register online at




Hometown MADISON • 21

22 • JULY 2020

Mission Cinderella

Because life is not always a fairy tale.

Melanie McMillan

Emma Suggs’ introduction to the Future

Problem Solving Program International

(FPSPI) came when she was a seventh grade

student in Deborah Morali’s Pathways class at

Germantown Middle School. The program’s

mission statement, according to their website,

is “To develop the ability of young people

globally to design and achieve positive futures

through problem solving using critical and

creative thinking.” Emma was a natural fit for

the program and has been involved ever since

that first encounter. FPSPI gives students the

opportunity to participate in global problem

solving and community solving projects, among

others, and Emma has participated in both, as

an individual and in a group. Her achievements

have taken her to multiple state, national and

international competitions, where she has won

numerous awards. Her highest honor to date

came at this year’s international competition

where she competed against students from

the U.S., New Zealand, Singapore, China,

and Turkey, and was crowned grand champion

for her project, Mission Cinderella.

Emma’s idea for Mission Cinderella came

last summer after she attended the FPSPI

national conference. She and her mom began

brainstorming ideas for a community

problem-solving project in which women

could help women. Emma had recently read

an article about the need for hygiene products

among homeless women and decided to meet

with Sandy Middleton and Kristina McCool

Hometown MADISON • 23

with the Center for Violence Prevention to

see if there was a similar need for women

coming from abusive situations.

As the director of The Tower, Mississippi’s

only shelter for adult victims of human

trafficking, Kristina is well acquainted with

the needs of the women affected by this issue.

Sandy and Kristina suggested that Emma’s

project be focused on serving these victims,

for whom there are scarce resources available.

“Most people think that human trafficking is

a problem mainly in big cities—not here in

Mississippi,” Emma says. “It’s not that people

don’t care, they just don’t know how many

women and children are actually affected in

our state.” Armed with this information and

the desire to make a difference, Emma founded

Mission Cinderella, “Because life is not always

a fairy tale.” The vision of Mission Cinderella

is simple: to provide basic hygiene items to

victims through “NextStep” bags and increase

awareness of this issue throughout the

community and state.

The first step in getting Mission Cinderella

off the ground was to educate the community

about the needs facing trafficking victims in

our state. With the support of the Center for

Violence Prevention, Emma reached out to

churches and other organizations all over

Mississippi and offered to speak about the

effects of human trafficking and what the

community can do to help. Through the

generous donations of several churches and

organizations, she was able to put together the

NextStep bags, which were then distributed

to law enforcement agencies through the

Center for Violence Prevention. Over 200

bags have been distributed so far and Emma

has had the opportunity to speak to many

organizations throughout this project. She also

attended the AWARE 2019 and Mississippi

Human Trafficking Summit events to learn

more about human trafficking in the state.

The impact of Mission Cinderella has not

gone unnoticed by those Emma has worked

with on the project. Executive Director Sandy

Middleton says, “The Center for Violence

Prevention is grateful for Emma’s project, as

it’s indicative of how much one person can help.

Emma’s an impressive young woman, and her

efforts benefitted victims, as well as our law

enforcement partners, in our quest to make a

difference for victims of human trafficking.

Since Mississippi has little funding for these

victims, every contribution helps. Her project

also raised awareness as to the prevalence of

human trafficking in our state.” The Honorable

Chad Lamar, U.S. Attorney for the Northern

District of Mississippi, also recognized

Mission Cinderella as a “model project” for

those who want to make a direct impact on

their communities.

Reflecting on her work, Emma says,

“When law enforcement officers are able to

meet the physical needs of trafficking victims

through the NextStep bags, it becomes an

important first step in giving victims the

courage to leave their traffickers. I found that

although there are limited resources for victims,

Mississippi is full of people wanting to help

their community. Mission Cinderella gives

both young and old an opportunity to be a

part of an issue our state has prioritized as a

community problem.”


For more information on how you can participate in

the work of Mission Cinderella, contact Emma Suggs

at marysuggs87@gmail.com

24 • JULY 2020

Help us help


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Hometown MADISON • 25

26 • JULY 2020


Tell us about your family

and your hobbies.

Michael President of Watkins Construction

and Roofing, enjoys playing golf, hunting,

and spending time with his kids.

Sallie CPA at Watkins Construction,

enjoys tennis, spending time with her

family, taking cooking classes, and


Addie (11) 6th grader at JA in the fall.

Enjoys swimming, is gentle-hearted, and

loves to spend time with children and


Alec (7) 2nd grader at JA in the fall.

Enjoys fishing, baseball, golf, and is on

the Madison Crushers baseball team.

Tell us how you met, and how long

you’ve been married.

We met playing co-ed softball. He saw

how terrible I was, and married me anyway.

We’ve been married for almost nine years.

Do you allow time to be with your

spouse for a date night?

We try to go on a date night at least once

a month, baseball keeps up busy on the

weekends; but we take every opportunity

to spend time as a couple.

What brings you the greatest joy

as a parent?

We love watching our kids succeed.

We like the times when they make smart

decisions, are kind to people; and when

we get to encourage them to reach beyond

their goals.

Hometown MADISON • 27

Who is the financial manager in your home?

Sallie is naturally gifted at managing finances due to her training

as a CPA.

When your children were younger, what was your discipline


Just like any other parent, a lot of trial and error–we had

completely different strategies with each child because their

personalities are so different. We learned as we went what worked

best for each child.

What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit

to your family?

Michael I think that because I spend the majority of my time

managing a fast-growing company that I bring leadership,

direction, and work ethic.

Sallie I fill in all the gaps that Michael is not naturally gifted in.

I love taking care of them and giving them the best life that they

can have. I am their biggest encourager and cheerleader.

What accomplishments make you proud during your time

living in Madison?

We’ve enjoyed exploring the county; we have made some lifelong

friends here, as have our children. Our love is only going to grow

as we expand our company in the area and provide more services

for all our Madison County family.

What drives you to have the job that you have?

Roofing has been a passion of Michaels for his whole life. He grew

up around roofing because of his dad. What drives him to keep

working hard is to change the status quo of the roofing industry

through rigorous transparency.

Sallie joined Michael at Watkins a year and a half ago and has

loved getting to support the company. They have loved giving

back to the community that has given to them by joining in the

No Roof Left Behind campaign and sponsoring 5ks, sports teams,

and anything else that the community needs. They want both

their children to see this company and to know that you have to

work hard in life to achieve your goals.

What’s a quick go to meal that isn’t fast food?

And who does the cooking?

Sallie’s best friend Lindsey Bell started a meal subscription plan

called The Dinner Darling a little over a year ago that is really the

ultimate lifesaver. It never takes a lot of time or energy to throw

together the most delicious meal because that plan makes it so

simple! A favorite recipe has been Salsa Verde Chicken.

How long has Madison been your home?

We’re coming up on two years, and we will never regret that

decision, We love being in Reunion, and living in Madison County.

What are some of your favorite things about Madison County?

We love the community, we go to church at First Ridgeland,

we eat, sleep, and play here. We are even about to expand our

company and add a Madison County location!

How do you spend your summer breaks?

Summer is a busy time for us because of our business. We try to

take our opportunities to travel to the beach and soak up the sun

by the pool. We also spend a lot of time at the ball field supporting

Alec and the Madison Crushers.

Questions for the children.

What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?

Alec Play golf and baseball.

Addie Swimming at the pool.

What your favorite restaurant?

Alec Sombra

Addie Ella Jane’s at Reunion

What’s your favorite TV show?

Alec Dude Perfect

Addie Riptide

28 • JULY 2020

Hometown MADISON • 29




Chatham Kennedy

30 • JULY 2020

The sounds of the African wind

and bearded falcon are muffled

by the rumbling generator and the

music of Garth Brooks, which keeps

the seventeen Mississippi State

University Kappa Sigmas entertained

as they labor under the blistering sun.

Leading the Kappa Sigmas in their work was Brett

Barnhill of Madison, Mississippi, who serves as the

executive director of Reclaimed Project. He and his

wife Allison, who also serves on staff as director

of Lesotho, have two boys, Beau (4) and Hunter (1).

They recently moved from Lesotho to Gluckstadt to

further the Reclaimed Project’s ministry.

Hometown MADISON • 31

An annual spring break trip for the fraternity, Kappa Sigma

partners with Reclaimed Project, a community development

faith-based organization out of Fondren, for a week of manual

labor in Lesotho, a small African country known as “The Kingdom

in the Sky” due to the mountainous region where it rests. This year

six Kappa Sigmas with local roots flew 8,000 miles to spend their

break serving the people of Lesotho by building a retaining wall

and irrigation system for a new ministry site, which will serve as a

skills training center for high school students who are a part of

Reclaimed’s orphan care ministry.

Kennedy Guest, John William Ables, and John David West,

all graduates of Brandon High School, Alex Gibbs, a graduate of

Jackson Prep, Troy Stokes, a graduate of East Rankin Academy,

and Brandon Bergold, a graduate of Northwest Rankin, dedicated

their spring break to work alongside their fraternity’s philanthropic

partner. Two other Rankin County natives accompanied the Kappa

Sigmas on this trip: Marianna Myrick, who serves as Reclaimed

Project’s director of communications, and Ti Garner, who sits as

the board’s president. When asked about the relationship between

Reclaimed Project and Kappa Sigma, Kennedy Guest said,

“Looking at different fraternities and what they supported, there are

a lot of great causes out there. But I don’t think there is anything

more noble than putting a roof over someone’s head. As far as

lasting impact goes, being able to come here with Reclaimed and

seeing the work that Kappa Sigs have done four and five years prior,

seeing the playground and church that Kappa Sig built, seeing

those being used, is a huge deal. It makes me proud to be with

Reclaimed and proud to be a Kappa Sig.”

The pride of Kappa Sigma is evident in the water well that

bears the Greek letters of Kappa Sigma. However, what shines even

brighter is their work ethic, which is present in the willingness of

the young men to continue working, even through the dark of night

and rain of day. Ti Garner harps upon the work of the Kappa

Sigmas saying, “I really think that they, as much as us, benefit...

what they learn out of serving is really gonna impact and change

their lives. I’m really encouraged to see these guys, Kappa Sigs,

continue to do it, year after year.”

In-between hauling rocks and shoveling dirt, there were

moments of stomach churning laughter shared with the Kappa

Sigmas and Basotho workers. One of the most impactful things

John William Ables took away from the trip was working with the

Basotho people, the proper name for the kingdom’s locals.

Reflecting on his time with the Basotho people, Ables says,

“Working alongside the Basotho people and forming genuine

relationships with them was a priceless experience. It showed me

just how important and appreciated Reclaimed Project’s work is.”

Nevertheless, the work of Reclaimed Project and Kappa Sigma

is not done. Throughout the school year, Kappa Sigma hosts a

number of fundraising events to support Reclaimed. In February,

the fraternity hosted Charity Classic, an annual football and

cheerleading competition between members of the Greek community,

which raised $207,000 for Reclaimed Project. Without

the support of Kappa Sigma and the willing hands and feet of the

young men who serve, life would look different for the people of

Lesotho. The African wind wouldn’t be the same. l

32 • JULY 2020

Hometown MADISON • 33


Brighter Tomorrows


As we work toward a brighter tomorrow,

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financial needs – today and every day.

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34 • JULY 2020


Brit Phelps, CEO of Merit Health Madison,

recently spoke with Hometown Magazine

to give an update on COVID-19 and its

impact on our Madison county hospital.

What policies and/or procedures has

your facility adopted to keep staff and

patients safe?

We are taking extraordinary measures, going above

and beyond our normal efforts to keep our hospital

clean and safe so that you will feel confident and know

you are protected. We are screening everyone who

comes into the hospital, providing facemasks and other

personal protective equipment to staff and patients,

and rearranging our environments to enable social

distancing. Also, our cleaning staff is disinfecting

frequently touched surfaces and doing a terrific job

of keeping the hospital clean.

Is your ER safe for the community to visit?

Yes, our ER is safe. If you have sudden symptoms that

may indicate an emergency health situation you can

and should seek immediate medical attention.

Tragically, people with serious emergencies, such as

a heart attack or stroke, are waiting too long for

medical care. Getting fast medical treatment could

be the difference between life and death so please

don’t ignore the signs of a health emergency. Call 911,

come to the ER, and get the help you need.

Is it ok for people to have surgery or an

elective procedure?

Yes it is safe for anyone to have surgery or any other

procedure that is recommended by their doctor. Each

surgery patient is pre-screened for COVID-19 several

days prior to their appointment and they are also

screened upon their arrival, along with the person

that accompanies them.

If, for whatever reason, a patient’s loved

one is unable to be with the patient for the

duration of the stay, how can the family be

updated on the patient’s progress?

If a family member or care team member is unavailable

to stay with the patient, we will accommodate daily

phone updates regarding the status of the patient.

We can also make arrangements to receive personal

toiletries and other belongings to make the patient’s

stay as comfortable as possible.

What about the areas in your hospital other

than the ER and the surgery department?

We have implemented the same COVID safety

precautions in our outpatient diagnostic testing areas

as well as the lab, radiology, and all other areas of

our hospitals.

What is your visitor policy?

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, so does our visitor

policy. To find the current policy, visit our website at


Does Merit Health offer COVID-19 testing?

We have the ability to test inpatients as well as patients

who visit our emergency room.

Is there a special unit at your hospital for

COVID-19 patients?

We have red, yellow and green zones within the

hospital. A red zone is a COVID zone in which only

appropriate personnel with appropriate PPE can enter.

A yellow zone indicates a COVID test result is pending

for patients in those areas. A green zone is our COVID

safe zone.

What about your clinics? Are they open

and safe?

Our clinics are taking the same safety precautions as

our hospitals. They are open, safe and ready to see

you if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness.

In addition, many of our doctors offer telehealth visits

for those who prefer not to come into the office.

What is a telehealth visit?

Telehealth is a video call or phone call appointment.

In some instances this works well for the patient but in

most situations, the provider needs to see the patient

in person. All of our providers are happy to speak with

their patients to determine which type of visit is best

for them.

Hometown MADISON • 35

36 • JULY 2020



& Pa s

Mistie Desper

Animals have a way of instantly putting us

at ease. Most of us can recall a fond memory

of a pet that brought us joy and happiness.

One local woman has turned this gift of

animals into an integral part of recovery

and rehabilitation efforts for local patients.

Katrinna Miller, executive director of

Mississippi Therapy Canines, created this

extraordinary program in 2019. The

non-profit assists local patients with healing

and recovery. They also work closely with

recipients eligible for service dogs and so

much more. Katrinna’s extensive variety of

animals aid in crisis and disaster response,

as well. She explains, “We are currently

assisting many assault victims, veterans,

military frontline workers and more

through animal assisted therapy.”

From knowing, firsthand, the strength

and comfort that an animal can bring

someone, Katrinna was led to create the

canine therapy program to help others.

Losing her mother at a young age and

growing up in a physically and emotionally

abusive situation at the hands of her adoptive

father, she overcame her traumatic past with

the help of her animals. She admitted her

animals helped her in her darkest times as

she clung to them for daily strength. Years

later, she would finally be able to get out of

her dangerous situation with the intuitive

help of her school counselor and school

nurse who sensed something was wrong.

While her love for animals continued to

grow, she credits having them and her two

human “heroes” for changing the course of

her life which, in turn, opened her heart to

a desire for helping others.

Katrinna has become an incredibly

inspiring and positive mentor in the

community as she strives to help others in

need overcome a variety of experiences with

the help of her highly trained service animals.

The program officially began in 2008

under a different name with her vision,

and her two amazing Australian Shepherds

and one rescue canine. From there, it has

grown to 23 animals that are on site, not to

mention the animals she trains for others

in the community.

Hometown MADISON • 37

38 • JULY 2020

The organization, in the process of being

renamed Mississippi Therapy Animals, has

also evolved to not only include canines but

alpacas, ducks, a goat, sheep, horses, and a

bird. There is truly an animal for everyone.

These animals are specifically trained to be

of service to those that they are intended to

help. Katrinna stated, “People open up to you

when you have an animal. We can do so

much more for people with trained animals

who love people.”

Katrinna routinely takes animals to

brighten the days of the children at Blair E.

Batson Hospital. Having to endure hospital

stays as a child can be a traumatic experience.

Seeing the smiles and emotional connection

the animals and children have is amazing.

She said, “Many moments have brought me

to tears with the patients and people I have

met.” Katrinna recalled one special moment

when her Australian Shepherd named

Chicken Nugget began gently kissing the

nose and face of child at Batson. She

expressed how he knows exactly how to

respond to certain individuals and how

these animals inherently have a connection

that people don’t.

These interactions are what make the

program so incredible and meaningful. She

explained, “When you walk into a room and

the person cries because you’re there just to

see them with an animal, it really touches

and changes your life.”

The organization also trains and helps

recipients obtain service animals for various

needs. Kalyn Smith, an avid equestrian

since the young age of five, suffered a

life-changing accident in 2019. Living on a

farm and surrounded by animals daily, she

enjoyed riding horses for most of her life.

As she was exercising one of her horses, she

decided to take him around the barrels. As

she made her way around the last barrel, she

was thrown eight feet into the air and crashed

to the ground. The accident resulted in

something she could have never imagined,

a fracture in her back leaving her wheelchair


Kalyn quickly realized that she missed

being outdoors and missed her animals. A

friend who knows Katrinna from her work

at UMMC, made a connection for the

two and soon a visit was scheduled. Kalyn

recalled, “I was so happy. It brightened my

day for sure!”

Not long after, Katrinna had a rescue

donated that needed a handler. Kalyn had

missed working with her own animals so

much so this was a perfect match for her.

This rescue was a precious Australian

Shepherd named Zane who became Kalyn’s

service animal and has been by her side since

he was five months old. Kalyn explained

that the organization is donating their own

time to the service dog for her and she

handles him similarly to what she used to

do with her horses and calves. Regaining

the freedom to be able to continue doing

what she loves has helped Kalyn’s recovery

in so many ways. She gratefully added, “I’m

glad to have him and Mississippi Therapy

Canines.” Kalyn is full steam ahead in her

recovery and is currently working to get

back in the saddle once again with her new

horse, Slick.

Katrinna and Mississippi Therapy

Animals also trains service animals that

deal with emotional needs of patients such

as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. With

the help of Katrinna and her service dog,

Bon, college student Madison (Madi) Mai

is recovering one day at a time. While in

college, Madi was the victim of an assault

leaving her physically and emotionally

traumatized. Dealing with daily suffering,

Katrinna and her therapy animals have

become such a powerful and positive

influence in Madi’s life. Madi explains,

“Katrinna understood everything that

happened to me and has been talking with

me and encouraging me to go to therapy and

work on myself, not just Bon.” Katrinna

also introduced Madi to Kalyn to further

help her and have a support system to

overcome and persevere. Madi stated that

Bon, although still young and in training,

has helped her cope so much by being able

to read her distress signals and come to her

aid in various ways. Madi admitted, “Bon

takes care of me more than I could for her.

I honestly believe that Bon saved my life.”

Katrinna Miller and Mississippi Therapy

Animals is changing the lives of so many

people in our community. The amount of

time and care that goes into the training of

service animals along with the love this

organization shows every patient is nothing

short of extraordinary.

You can help them continue their

mission and be an instrumental part of

these success stories by donating time as a

volunteer or desperately needed monetary


For more information on their services or to volunteer

or donate, visit facebook.com/mstherapyanimals/,

instagram.com/mstherapyanimals or


Hometown MADISON • 39

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40 • JULY 2020

Wish Kid


Now more than ever, hope is essential.

Make-A-Wish Mississippi and Hometown Magazines are partnering together to

launch the Women Inspiring Strength and Hope (W.I.S.H.) Society. Chaired by

Mississippi Tourism Association Executive Director Rochelle Hicks, the inaugural

W.I.S.H. Society will call attention to the incredible impact women in our community

are making this fall. Honorees will partner with Make-A-Wish Mississippi to grant

the wishes of Mississippi children battling critical illnesses by raising much needed

funds. The campaign will culminate with a W.I.S.H. Society luncheon, with

Mississippi's First Lady Elee Reeves serving as honorary W.I.S.H. chairwoman.

For more information, contact Rochelle Hicks at rhicks@mstourism.com or Allison

Tyler, President & CEO, Make-A-Wish Mississippi, at atyler@ms.wish.org.


Your gift today will help make every wish

come true. Together, we can continue to

be a light of hope throughout this time of

crisis - and beyond.

BA171052_WSA_Full Print Ad_FINAL_041720.indd 1

4/17/20 3:17 PM



Oreo Cheesecake

• 1½ cup heavy cream, whipped

• 12 oz. cream cheese, softened

• 1 package crushed Oreos,

plus more to top

In a large bowl, combine heavy

cream with cream cheese and sugar

and stir until completely combined.

(If cream cheese clumps remain,

transfer mixture to a stand mixer or

use a hand mixer.)

Fold in crushed Oreos.

Pour mixture into

prepared piecrust,

smoothing over top

with a rubber spatula.

Top with more

crushed Oreos, cover

with plastic wrap, and

refrigerate until firm,

at least four hours.



Chocolate Mousse Pie

• 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter,

melted; more for the pan

• 8 oz. chocolate wafer sandwich

cookies such as Nabisco Famous

Chocolate Wafers

• 9 oz. semisweet chocolate,

chopped (about 1½ cups);

more for garnish

• 1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

• Pinch kosher salt

• 3¾ cups heavy cream

Butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.

Grind the cookies in a food

processor until they resemble wet

sand, 20 to 30 seconds; you will

have about 1¾ cups. Transfer to

a small bowl and mix in the butter.

Spread the crumbs in the pan, cover

with plastic wrap, and press evenly

into the bottom. Refrigerate.

Combine the chocolate, ½ tsp.

of the vanilla, and the salt in a large

bowl. In a small saucepan, bring

¾ cup of the cream to a bare

simmer. Pour the cream over the

chocolate, let sit for one minute,

then whisk until smooth. Cover

and refrigerate for about 30 minutes

to cool.

Beat 1½ cups of the cream in a

medium bowl with an electric mixer

on medium-high speed to stiff

peaks, about two minutes. Whisk

the chocolate mixture to loosen it,

and fold it into the whipped cream

with a large silicone spatula until no

streaks remain.

Carefully peel the plastic wrap off

the crust and scrape the mousse into

the pan, gently spreading it to the

edges. Cover and refrigerate for at

least six hours.

Just before serving, beat the remaining

1½ cups cream and 1 tsp. vanilla in a

medium bowl to medium-stiff

peaks. Run a knife around the pie to

loosen its edges and then remove

the side of the pan. Slide a spatula

under the crust and transfer the pie

to a serving plate. Mound the

whipped cream over the mousse

and top with chocolate curls, shards,

or shavings. To serve, dip a knife into

hot water and dry it before slicing.

42 • JULY 2020


No-Bake Birthday Cake


• 1½ c. heavy cream

• 12 oz. cream cheese, softened

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 cup birthday cake mix

• 1 graham cracker pie crust,

store-bought or homemade

• Rainbow sprinkles for decorating

In a large bowl using an electric hand

mixer, whip heavy cream until soft

peaks form. Add softened cream

cheese and sugar and stir until

completely combined and no

clumps remain.

Fold in birthday cake mix. Pour

mixture into prepared pie crust,

smoothing over top with a rubber

spatula. Top with sprinkles, cover

with plastic wrap, and refrigerate

until firm, at least six hours.



Turtle Ice Cream

• 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened

condensed milk

• 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 2 cups whole milk

• ¼ cup caramel sauce

• ½ cup semisweet chocolate


• 1 teaspoon shortening

• ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans

Whisk first five ingredients in a

two-quart pitcher or large bowl until

blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Pour milk mixture into freezer

container of a one-quart electric ice

cream maker, and freeze according

to manufacturer’s instructions.

Stir caramel sauce into prepared

ice cream. Remove container with

ice cream from ice cream maker,

and place in freezer 15 minutes.

Microwave semisweet chocolate

morsels and shortening in a

microwave-safe glass bowl at high

one minute. Stir until smooth. Place

pecans on a parchment paper-lined

baking sheet. Drizzle pecans with

melted chocolate. Freeze five minutes.

Break into bite-size pieces. Stir

chocolate-and-pecan pieces into

ice cream. Transfer to an airtight

container; freeze until firm, about

1 to 1½ hours.


No-Bake Seven-Layer

Ice Cream Cake

• 1 frozen pound cake

(10¾ ounces) in aluminum

loaf pan, unthawed

• 2 cups raspberry sorbet, softened

• 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened

• ½ cup coarsely chopped

chocolate wafer cookies

• 2 large egg whites

• Cream of tartar

• ½ cup sugar

• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Remove cake from pan and cut

horizontally into four slices. Line pan

with plastic wrap, leaving six-inch

overhang on two sides. Build layers in

this order: bottom cake slice, one cup

sorbet, cake slice, ½ cup ice cream,

cookie crumbs, ½ cup ice cream,

cake slice, 1 cup sorbet, top cake slice.

(If necessary, return ice cream to

freezer as you work.) Wrap in plastic

and freeze at least 1 hour.

In a heatproof bowl, lightly whisk egg

whites and pinch of cream of tartar.

Set over (not in) a pan of simmering

water and whisk until foamy. Slowly

whisk in sugar and cook, whisking,

until sugar is dissolved . Remove from

heat and beat on medium- high until

stiff, glossy peaks form, about six

minutes. Add vanilla and beat one

minute. Remove cake from pan, and

dollop meringue on top.



Cheesecake Bars

• 8 oz. marshmallow

• 4 oz. cream cheese

• 4 cups toasted oat cereal

• 1 cup dried strawberry

• ½ cup yogurt chip, plus more

for topping

Microwave the marshmallows and

cream cheese in a bowl, stirring every

15 seconds, until fully melted.

Add cereal into the bowl and mix

until fully coated. Cool mixture to

room temperature. Add dried

strawberries and yogurt chips.

Mix until combined.

Line a baking dish with parchment

paper and pour the cooled mixture

into the pan. Press into the edges of

the pan and top with more yogurt


Cool in the refrigerator for at least

two hours. Cut and serve.

Hometown MADISON • 43

44 • JULY 2020

Flags of Honor

Mistie Desper

All across the USA, flags fly proudly to show support and love

for country. Affectionately called Old Glory, the American flag

represents freedom, dignity, and the true essence of what it

means to be a citizen of this great nation.

Hometown MADISON • 45

“I am veryproud to have had

the opportunity to make it for

Congressman Michael Guest.”

Local firefighter, Captain Steven Dedmon

shares his own patriotism and sense of brotherhood

with a unique and beautiful dedication to

the flag. He repurposes old and out of service

firehoses into stunning works of art honoring

America and fellow firefighters and police


Currently serving as captain with the City of

Brandon Fire Department, Dedman has dedicated

the last 28 years of his life as a professional firefighter.

He and his wife of 34 years, Becky, proudly

call Pearl, Mississippi their home. There they

have raised their five children and have become

doting grandparents to seven grandchildren.

The Dedmons’ two sons have taken after their

father and chosen to serve the citizens of Brandon

as public servants themselves, one serving as a

police officer and the other a fire captain/


Dedmon said, “I was inspired by other

firefighters that had taken old firehose and made

American flags with it.” His stunning creations

have gained local attention among his fellow

public servants. Some of them can be seen

hanging in various fire departments and offices

of local law enforcement. One of his creations

hangs in the foyer of Mississippi Congressman

Michael Guest’s office. He added, “I am very

proud to have had the opportunity to make it

for him.”

Late last year, local Madison County Deputy

Brad Sullivan was injured in the line of duty.

Dedmon was inspired to make a “thin blue line”

flag to show support for Sullivan. The “thin blue

line” is a phrase that refers figuratively to the

position of police in society as the force which

hold back chaos. The blue refers to the color of

the police uniform itself. Pieces of hose were

donated by Pearl, Richland, Reservoir, Flowood,

Byram, Ridgeland, Jackson, Gluckstadt, Madison,

Clinton, and Canton fire departments along

with the Mississippi Fire Academy. Dedmon

stated, “This flag is very special to me because the

entire fire service in the surrounding area came

together to help an injured brother.”

To further show his support, he dedicated his

time and talent into creating two additional flags

which he eagerly donated to local fundraisers to

help raise money for Deputy Sullivan. Dedmon

takes such pride in his work and helping his

fellow brothers and is planning to construct

more flags for fundraisers for Sullivan for “as long

as he needs help.”

Flags take approximately 3-6 days to create.

The actual construction takes patience and

dedication, along with skill and precision. Once

a hose is found and decommissioned, or retired

from use, it must be cleaned and dried. Dedmon

explained, “Firehose comes in multiple colors so

the natural color is used when possible, but it can

be dyed or painted to get the desired color.”

Once the hose has been cut the desired length

and colored per the particular design or look to

be achieved, it is secured to a plywood backing.

Adding to the true labor of love that goes into

the flag’s construction, Dedmon carefully hand

cuts each of the 50 stars. He said, “I refer to my

stars as snowflakes, no two are the same.” Each

flag is a hand-crafted, stunning piece of artwork

that holds a special meaning for everyone lucky

enough to have one.

Dedmon’s dedication, loyalty, and honor to

the citizens of Brandon and local law enforcement

and firefighters can be seen in each of these truly

unique, one of a kind pieces. l

46 • JULY 2020

Hometown MADISON • 47

The CHALKBOARD Madison Schools


Ava Aslam

Ava is the daughter of Ike and Babs Aslam. She has

been on all A Honor Roll throughout high school, a

member of the ACT 30+ Club, a class favorite all four

years, a Citizenship Award recipient, and named Blitz

16 Scholar Athlete. Ava is also SGA senior class vice

president, Beta Club vice president, a member of

National Honor Society, part of Fellowship of

Christian Athletes, of the softball team, and named

softball All-District. Ava will attend Hinds Community

College on an academic and softball scholarship.

Grace Guillory

Grace is the daughter of Matt and Kim Guillory. She

was voted as homecoming queen and Miss

Germantown High School. In addition, she is on the

volleyball team, Beta Club, National Honor Society,

HOSA, FCA, World Culture Club, and Collide Bible

Study. She has also won many subject area awards

and has been on all A Honor Roll throughout high

school. She is part of Legacy Choir and earned the

Maverick Singers’ Director’s Scholarship. Grace will

attend The University of Southern Mississippi.

Madelyn Jarjoura

Madelyn is the daughter of Toufic and Paulette

Jarjoura. She was chosen as one of Portico

Magazine’s Top 25 Students to Change the World

and has received numerous subject area awards

including AP Psychology, AP Macroeconomics,

AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry just to name a few.

She is a member of Future Problem Solvers, Beta

Club, president of Science Olympiad, and co-president

of World Culture Club. Madelyn will attend The

University of Mississippi and earned a Stamps

Scholarship, covering cost of attendance.

William Lindsey

William is the son of Steve and Michelle Lindsey. He

is co-president of the speech and debate team where

he has won numerous awards and rankings, a fouryear

member of Legacy Choir, part of the GHS film

crew where he runs tight camera, and also a part of

Maverick Theatre. Furthermore, he enjoys announcing

GHS volleyball and basketball games and is also a

staff member and contributor of The Agathist literary

magazine. William will attend Mississippi State

University where he earned several scholarships.

Taylor Russ

Taylor is the daughter of Roy P. Russ and Yvette Russ.

She is at-large officer of Beta Club, co-president of

World Culture Club, vice president of Mu Alpha

Theta, vice president of HOSA, and a section leader

of the marching band. In addition, she has been

awarded many subject area awards including

biomedical science, botany, and AP U.S. Government.

In her free time, she enjoys knitting and baking.

Taylor will attend Yale University where she earned

a full ride scholarship.

48 • JULY 2020


Hometown MADISON • 49



than Just

Mary Ann Kirby

50 • JULY 2020

Shower Power is a mobile

shower unit used to provide

showers to the homeless

in downtown Jackson.

This is from one of their weekly

Shower Power Facebook updates–

written by Mary Ann Kirby,

board member and volunteer.

William first showed up to Shower Power back in April. He lives

behind one of the abandoned buildings right down the road from us

and had probably seen us for months before deciding to come close

enough to see what was going on. And when he did come, he didn’t

speak. He was skiddish, and rather than overwhelm him, we’d make

quick eye contact but let him be.

He continued to come–each time getting a little closer. One day

we were able to offer him a bottle of water. A couple of weeks later,

a boxed lunch. He’d grumble some type of unintelligible acknowledgement

when spoken to, which was still a long way from where

we started.

He eventually got to the point where he’d walk right up amongst

us–he still wouldn’t speak but he knew there was hot coffee, or a

sausage biscuit. I eventually said, “What’s your name?” “William,”

he replied. It’s the first time I’d heard his voice. “My name is Mary

Ann–like Gilligan’s Island!” He grumbled and walked off.

We’ve done this for weeks.

So today when he walked up, I went straight to him and said,

“Hey William! What’s going on?” thinking if I asked him a more

open-ended question I may get a different type of response. “Just

thought I’d come see what y’all doin’,” he mumbled. My heart

exploded. His gravelly voice, raw and full of grit, was music to my

ears. It’s a huge turning point–at least for me.

I immediately noticed his shoes. The sole of his left boot was

attached only on one side. “William, if we have a pair of shoes in

your size would you be willing to wear them? What size do you

wear?” He looked down at his boots, grumbled the size at me, and

I went inside to find some. But we didn’t have any. And it didn’t

matter anyway–because when I went back outside he was gone.

But I couldn’t get him off my mind. We’d come so far–and he

needed shoes.

So, this afternoon I went and bought some–along with a pair of

good thick wool socks–and I went back downtown to find William.

He was exactly where I expected him to be. He was lying on his

back, legs bent and crossed at the knees, with a completely burned

cigarette butt in his mouth and he was covered in popcorn. I almost

laughed with how childlike he appeared.

I parked the car and walked straight up to him with the new

shoes and socks I’d just purchased. “William! Look! Shoes!” It

sounded completely ridiculous even in my own ears. He sat up and

I all of a sudden found myself to be very self-conscious of the fact

that I was all up in his space. This was his home. “These should be

wide enough to make your feet feel good and they have memory

foam insoles!” (Mary Ann...stop talking!) “And these socks are wool

and can be worn for a long time before you need new ones!”

He laughed. He LAUGHED! Like I’m pretty sure I sounded

just as ridiculous to him as I sounded to myself but it made him

laugh! And then I laughed!

I watched as he struggled to get his boot off. He wasn’t even

wearing socks. It made me so glad I’d gotten some. He first put on

his right sock and then slid his foot easily into the new sneaker. And

once I could see that the shoes fit, and feeling awkward about the

whole exchange anyway, I wished him a good afternoon and started

back to my car.

As I walked off he said, “Which one was Mary Ann? The rich

one or the model?” I turned around, completely wide-eyed at the

fact that he knew my name and said, “ . . . the rich one was Mrs.

Howell, the model was Ginger. Mary Ann was the sweet one!”

He laughed his gravelly laugh. It was our first conversation–ever.

I can’t wait for our next one.

You can follow us weekly on Facebook at Shower Power MS

or learn more about Shower Power at www.showerpower.ms.

Hometown MADISON • 51



daniel thomas

graphic design / illustration


52 • JULY 2020





Why did you decide to make Madison

your home?

My beautiful twin boys were born in January 1996 in

Atlanta, Georgia. My husband’s company then

moved us to Madison in February 1996.

How long have you lived in Madison?

When we moved here in 1996, I quickly fell in love

with Madison’s charm and sense of community.

I remember telling my family ... “I love how Madison

reminds me of a Norman Rockwell town – this is

such a wonderful place to raise a family!” We’ve been

here ever since.

What are your favorite memories of living

in Madison?

In this little storybook town, we raised our two young

boys. Full of adventure and fun, there was always

something to enjoy! The Strawberry Patch Park was

always a favorite for birthday parties, a playground, a

picnic and just good clean fun to be enjoyed. Liberty

Park was the summer baseball spot. We had so many

fun nights at this ballpark while they were learning the

game of baseball. The Jackson Zoo was a wonderful

adventure – we LOVED visiting there every season

of the year. The Mississippi Science Museum was also

a wonderful place to learn and grow, and we enjoyed

going to watch the Mississippi Braves baseball team

every spring!

Christ Covenant School was our first school

experience for the boys. Pear Orchard Presbyterian

Preschool, as it was called back then, was where they

felt so loved and encouraged every day by an amazing

group of teachers. I enjoyed teaching preschool there

while my boys later attended St. Richard Catholic

Elementary School and St. Joseph Catholic High


In 2015, I opened Madison Marketplace, an

upscale gift and clothing boutique with my partner,

Traci Allen. We have enjoyed five wonderful years

here with an amazing assortment of items by

Mississippi artists throughout the shop. We are so

thankful to all the locals here for shopping with us

and keeping us busy!

Where are your three favorite places to

eat in Madison?

Kristos, Mama Hamil’s and The Strawberry Café!

Who is someone you admire and why?

My mother is the person that I admire the most in

my life. She was an only child who raised seven

amazing children. She had the most wonderful ability

to make each one of us feel like we were the most

special and that we could do anything we put our

minds to. She was a perfect example of how to treat

others with kindness, love and grace – a shining,

bright, positive light in this world!

If you could give us one encouraging

quote, what would it be?

We are in this world but a short time, and it is up

to us to show kindness, love, grace and forgiveness

to those around us. I am so thankful and grateful

for this wonderful place we call home – Madison,


Tell us more about Madison


Madison Marketplace is home to over 40

of the most talented local and regional artists in

Mississippi! We are also happy to have an amazing

selection of original art, jewelry, pottery, candles,

home decor, handbags, latest fashions, and baby

gifts! We are here to help you find the perfect gift

or something special for yourself. And we also offer

beautiful complimentary gift wrapping for all our


In our gourmet kitchen, you will find everything

from fresh baked breads (delivered twice a week)

Mama Hamil’s BBQ Sauce, Delta Blues Rice,

Cheese Straws, Captain Rodney’s, Sherin Sauce,

B3 Marinade, Vito’s Marinade, Savvy Gourmand

mixes and much more. You can also find delicious

Sugaree Cakes here in our freezer.

Madison Marketplace hosts special events for

our customers throughout the year: Christmas

Open House, Valentine Open House, Easter Open

House, Our June Anniversary, Fall Tailgate Open

House, and we offer giveaways, door prizes, special

discounts throughout the shop during these events!

This is our way of showing our customers how much

we appreciate them shopping local with us.

We are so blessed to have an amazing team here

at Madison Marketplace, and we want everyone to

feel happiness and joy as soon as you walk in our

shop! Come visit and enjoy shopping with us

Mondays and Saturdays 10am-4pm and

Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm.

Hometown MADISON • 53


I never realized

I was making memories.

I was just having fun...

Climate-change theorists claim that the increase in extreme

meteorological events like hurricanes, epic flooding and torrential

downpours of the past decade can be directly attributed to warmer

global temperatures. It makes complete sense to me because, as

my husband can attest, when I get hot I act stupid, too. And the

older I get, the hotter I get—not in a good way, either.

When I was a kid, however, I didn’t seem to notice how hot it

was. I could run and play outside from sun-up to sundown in the

sweltering 98-degree Delta temperatures and never miss a beat.

Every year I’d spend the summer in Yazoo City with my

grandparents. As the product of a single-parent household, it

was important that I be engaged in activities during the summer

months while my mother worked–so going to Yazoo City

while school was out was really the simplest, and certainly most

entertaining, option for me.

It is because of those summers that my grandmother and I

forged a very special bond. She taught me to play Double Solitaire

and work crossword puzzles. We’d make Coke-floats in those

aluminum tumblers that got so cold you could barely hold them

in your hands. She taught me to identify certain birds and let me

fill the feeder that hung right outside the kitchen window. I even

learned the combination to the post office box.

One day, she suggested the idea of making a fort. I’m pretty

sure she was just trying to figure out a way to get me outside of

the house and out from under her coattail. There was an empty

refrigerator box behind the appliance store around the corner

from home, so we loaded up in my grandfather’s little yellow

pick-up and retrieved what would soon become my make-shift

playhouse. We put it in the garage and I quickly gathered a few

things from inside the house and promptly moved into my new

box. That playhouse literally provided me with countless hours

worth of fun and entertainment, along with a couple of other

neighborhood kids that would wander in-and-out. I imagine it

now to be like playing in a 450-degree oven.

54 • JULY 2020


Mary Ann Kirby

My grandmother worked hard to keep me entertained, though.

She would drop me off at the swimming pool every day around 10am

with a pocket full of quarters for the vending machines and a dime

for the pay-phone. Unless I called, she would just plan to be back at

2:00–or sooner if it rained. If there was lightening, the lifeguard

would clear the pool. In those instances it might take a little longer

before she could make it back, but I was happy to wait. The cute

blond-headed teenage lifeguard smelled like a mix of Sea & Ski suntan

lotion, chlorine, and Flex shampoo. He was fifteen.

Once back home, I’d play the piano in my wet bathing suit until

I eventually ruined the finish on that old piano bench. She never said

a word about it, though—and never fixed it, either. And by 3:00, all

her afternoon coffee buddies would show up. They came every day–

for nearly thirty years.

Each day, seven or eight women (and whoever else felt like stopping

by) would show up for coffee and whatever sweet treats were on hand.

My personal favorite was an apricot nectar cake with a lemon glaze

icing that was kept on a plate under a heavy glass dome. They would

sit around the kitchen table and hoot and holler and talk about

everything you can imagine. And they’d eat that entire cake–but not

before saving a slice for me.

Sometimes I’d leave them to their business and walk

downtown to spend my loot on “allowance day”–

barefooted, no less. That scalding-hot pavement

and concrete didn’t deter me for one second

(another thing that’s changed with age). I’d get

$2 per week–unless the neighbors left their

soda bottles out for me to pick up and

return to the Jitney for a nickel apiece.

That sometimes meant I’d have an

extra forty-five cents or so to blow at my


But most times I’d hang around and sit within eavesdropping

distance of the gaggle of women on in that kitchen. For two-hours

straight they would talk about books and recipes and their families.

They would talk about the new preacher, or peat moss and different

rose varieties. They invested in one another and knew everything

there was to know about each other. They were a sisterhood that,

frankly, our generation seems to know little about.

In the era of social media where friends are cultivated through

requests, invites, clicks, likes, and re-tweets, it seems we’re missing out

on the benefits of true face-to-face interaction and communication.

While visiting day-in and day-out for almost thirty years, that

group of women fed each other with their sheer love for one another

and their camaraderie. They shared life in real time–not with emojis

and hashtags but with real laughter and, in some cases, real tears.

At the age of 96, my grandmother passed away. There was a line in

her obituary that read, “Mary loved to visit with her friends. For decades

they met at her kitchen table for coffee–and their long-awaited

reunion will be extraordinary.” My grandmother had outlived them

all–and was the last of them to go.

Every day, these women would meet for coffee and talk about life.

They showed each other grace and gave each other

courage. They’d giggle and cackle until sometimes

erupting so uncontrollably that no words were

spoken for what seemed like an hour. All I could

hear was wheezing and gasps as they tried to regain

their composure. I’d be giggling, too. They were all great

characters in an equally great story. They were part of a tribe.

And at the end of the day, when their coffee cups were empty,

their hearts were full to the rim.

And, God willing, they’d be back tomorrow. What an

extraordinary lesson and legacy. l

Hometown MADISON • 55

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

The Lord continues to add branches

to our family tree, and I’m so grateful.

Baby Shepherd Anding Dobbs arrived on April 30,

2020 – all 6 pounds, 3 ounces of his tiny frame. He

seemed very relieved to extend his arms and legs from

his cramped, fetal position.

Someday when he’s older, family will tell him about

the strange state of the world he was birthed into. I

would have chosen a more normal time when family

could have kept sentinel in the waiting room and gotten

first glimpses through the nursery windows. Instead,

we jumped at every phone ping to view pictures and

discuss family resemblances. The sinister COVID-19

even cut short his hospital stay from three days to two.

Under normal times, we would have been grouped

around his driveway, waiting to welcome him and take

turns holding him. Shepherd’s doctor nixed all of those

ideas and insisted he didn’t have any visitors for several

days. Our phones were our only means of viewing our

new addition, but God is good in all circumstances in

dealing with His children.

Someday I hope to share with Shepherd

how God can turn bad times into good

times. I will explain that love is always

stronger than anything the enemy can

send against us, including threatening

hearts for Shepherd, didn’t decline or diminish just

because we couldn’t touch him physically. Love had

already securely planted him in our hearts and minds.

We could deal with the temporary separation, too,

because we knew it was temporary. It just amplified

our anticipation of seeing him face to face.

Families are irreplaceable, but there are times when

a herd of inquisitive relatives can add some anxiety

and discomfort to delicate situations. Newborns are

definitely swamped in delicate moments and experiences

as well as their rookie parents. The quarantine

took care of those concerns which allowed the

threesome bonding time they will never forget.

This entire Corona deal has given us loads of details

that Shepherd will find hard to believe when he’s old

enough to understand. That’s assuming and trusting

that the days of masks and social distancing are things

of the past by then.

However, we will always be able to rejoice in

knowing God is sovereign over all, and there is never

separation and social distancing with Him. We

also will assure Shepherd that he arrived in God’s

perfect timing, bringing us just the kind of joy

we needed in strange and difficult times. ●

viruses. Our love, already growing in our

58 • JULY 2020

memories are made at

drive thru safari park

safari rides - birthday parties - weddings

class field trips - hundreds of animals

special events - catering - observation deck

steakhouse - tavern - buffet

retail shopping - mississippi artisans

meat market - bakery

-and so much more-

Visit our website today!



every day!


WWW.MCCLAIN.MS | 601-829-1101

Hometown MADISON • 59

Best Kept Secret in

Madison County

There’s Merit in


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Madison is close by when you have a healthcare need.

The hospital’s services include: 24/7 Emergency Department; Imaging

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Surgery; Orthopedics; Intensive Care Unit and a wide array of

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Our dedicated medical professionals take pride in offering care in a

soothing, comfortable setting. Make your first choice for healthcare

Merit Health Madison—the best kept secret in Madison County.

To learn more about all of our services, call

601-855-4000 or visit


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