Hometown Madison - January & February 2017

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Volume 3 Number 1<br />

Jan/feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

All About Us<br />

____________________<br />

Lessons from Lucky<br />

____________________<br />

Looking for the story

CA.CNews.FBChamps4x5_Layout 1 12/20/16 2:49 PM Page 1<br />

I FOUND<br />


As soon as we stepped beyond the gated entrance, I knew that<br />

St. Catherine’s Village was the right place for mom. That she would<br />

receive the personalized attention she needed. And would retain her<br />

dignity with person-centered care to support her emotional, social,<br />

intellectual, and spiritual…as well as physical…well being.<br />

You know what else I found?<br />

Living here is unexpectedly within reach.<br />

congratulations,<br />

Canton Academy<br />


www.CantonAcademy.org<br />

Supportive Environment<br />



• Semi-private<br />

and private rooms<br />

• 24-hour nursing care<br />

and on-duty security<br />

• Assistance with<br />

day-to-day activities<br />

• Three meals served daily<br />

• Regular housekeeping<br />


LIFE CARE <br />

Independent • Assisted<br />

Memory • Skilled<br />

(601) 856-0123<br />

www.StCatherinesVillage.com<br />

**By the Clarion-Ledger.<br />

Proudly CARF-CCAC<br />

Accredited<br />


2 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

4 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

publisher & Editor<br />

Tahya A. Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin W. Dobbs<br />

Consulting editor<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

Account Executives<br />

Rachel Lombardo<br />

Kati Gaines<br />

Dacia Durr Amis<br />

Contributing Writers<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Ben Hutton<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

Erin Williams<br />

staff Photographer<br />

Othel Anding<br />

Administrative Assistants<br />

Alisha Floyd<br />

Brenda McCall<br />

Layout Design<br />

Daniel Thomas / 3dt<br />

• • •<br />

It will take a few days to adjust my thinking to writing <strong>2017</strong>, but I’m grateful for a new year<br />

and its opportunity for a fresh beginning. This year will mark our 4th anniversary of <strong>Hometown</strong><br />

Magazines. I’m confident I’ll continue to be at home on the learning curve.<br />

However, I’m also confident that the list of new friends will grow as we meet and highlight the<br />

stories that are still waiting to be discovered in our hometown. I’m especially grateful for my new<br />

friend, Andrew Seago, who I recently met and am delighted to feature in this issue.<br />

Andrew’s attitude amid his extreme physical challenge is beyond inspiring.<br />

I’m blessed that Andrew’s’ story will serve as the perfect prescription for<br />

any who complain and whine about the trivial in day-to-day living.<br />

I extend a special thank you to our advertisers and readers who are<br />

making it possible for <strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Madison</strong> to be a part of <strong>2017</strong>.<br />

As publisher, it’s my desire to promote our hometown and its wonderful<br />

residents. I’m amazed and inspired with just how many there are!<br />

www.facebook.com<br />

/hometownmadisonmagazine<br />

For subscription information<br />

visit www.htmags.com<br />

Contact us at info@HTMags.com<br />

601.706.4059<br />

26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F<br />

Brandon MS 39042<br />

• • •<br />

All rights reserved. No portion of <strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Madison</strong><br />

may be reproduced without written permission from<br />

the publisher. The management of <strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Madison</strong><br />

is not responsible for opinions expressed by its<br />

writers or editors. <strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Madison</strong> maintains the<br />

unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted<br />

material. All advertisements are subject to approval by<br />

the publisher. The production of <strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Madison</strong><br />

is funded by advertising.<br />

In this issue Super Shakes........................ 6<br />

Addiction Lurking................... 10<br />

Hope Conference .................. 16<br />

Lessons from Lucky ...........20<br />

Oh Happy Day .........................26<br />

A Re-Defining of Disability........... 32<br />

All of Us ......................... 40<br />

Looking for the Story .............. 46<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 5

A small building with a drive-thru<br />

was available at the Reservoir area, and<br />

Stogner and his wife signed a lease and<br />

started their business. The business was<br />

originally called Super Shakes, but they<br />

had to change the name to Quick Quakes<br />

because the owner of the building served<br />

ice cream shakes next door and didn’t<br />

want any confusion. Once the ice cream<br />

store closed, the former owner gave<br />

Stogner the greenlight to change the<br />

name back to the original Super Shakes.<br />

“It was about that time we were<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

Jason Stogner had a problem. As a graduate of University of<br />

Southern Mississippi with a degree in nutrition and dietetics and being<br />

a registered dietician, he knew more than a little about good nutrition.<br />

But as a sales rep who traveled all day (making healthy meal plans for<br />

patients), Stogner was often forced to eat unhealthy fast food on the<br />

road, mostly because of the convenience and lack<br />

of other options. “I knew what I was eating wasn’t good for me.”<br />

Stogner began preparing smoothies at home to take with him on<br />

the road. “One day my wife, Jodie, tasted one and she thought they<br />

were great. She told me I should be selling those!”<br />

Stogner gave it some thought and looked into existing smoothie<br />

franchises, but the nutritional information for the drinks was not good.<br />

“They were high in sugar and low in protein. I started playing with<br />

some formulas at home, playing with different ingredients to form new<br />

drinks that would provide energy and nutrition while satisfying hunger.<br />

It wasn’t long before I decided to open my own place.”<br />

opening our second location in the<br />

Township in Ridgeland, so we used that<br />

as an opportunity to rebrand ourselves,”<br />

explains Stogner. Through a series of<br />

events, Stogner met his business partner,<br />

Taylor Lyle, who owns a label company in<br />

Richland. “He made the labels for Quick<br />

Quakes, and one day he delivered them<br />

in person and ordered a shake. Soon he<br />

was coming every day and he also started<br />

ordering shakes for his staff. We talked,<br />

and he asked if he could join me in the<br />

business, and we’ve gone full steam<br />

ahead ever since.”<br />

There are now two more Super Shakes<br />

locations, one in the Crossgates area of<br />

Brandon, and the newest inside the<br />

Healthplex in <strong>Madison</strong>. “Franchising is<br />

6 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

definitely in our plans for the future,” says Stogner.<br />

“We’ve had people contact us from all over the country,<br />

including New York, Florida and California. We definitely<br />

plan to grow.”<br />

Super Shakes are made to order at any of the locations.<br />

There are nine basic formulas that meet a variety<br />

of nutritional needs. “Everyone needs 15 to 30 grams of<br />

protein per meal,” explains Stogner. “People who skip<br />

breakfast often go up to 15 hours without a meal. What<br />

they don’t realize is the body will get its needed protein<br />

supply from the muscles or even from organ tissue, so<br />

it’s important to refuel the body each morning. When the<br />

body is deprived of essential nutrients it needs to stay<br />

healthy, the immune system is weakened and the body<br />

goes into a downward spiral. That’s why we offer Super<br />

Fit, to keep folks healthy and fit.”<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 7

Other formulas include Super Fuel, Super Trim,<br />

Super Power, Super Charge, Super Calm, Super Meal,<br />

Super Gain and Super Sleep. All of the formulas are<br />

available at the Super Shakes locations, and can also<br />

be purchased in large containers that make 30 servings.<br />

The formulas can be customized with different<br />

flavors and supplements which can be added.<br />

All the powdered formulas are made in Mississippi<br />

with the best raw ingredients sourced in the United<br />

States. “We try to keep things as local as possible,<br />

especially with the fruits and vegetables we use.”<br />

The powders are made using whey protein isolate,<br />

the best form of protein available. There are also<br />

vegan versions which use pea protein or egg whites.<br />

Stogner says he usually drinks two of the shakes<br />

a day, which is helpful with his active lifestyle. He is<br />

still employed as a sales rep full time, and he has a<br />

country music band, The Jason Stogner Band,<br />

which has two releases on iTunes.<br />

“I think Super Shakes has a world of potential<br />

to grow,” says Stogner. “We started out to make<br />

a difference in Mississippi, one shake at a time.<br />

If we can make it in Mississippi, the least healthy<br />

state in the Union, we can make it anywhere.”<br />

8 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 9

Addiction<br />

Lurking<br />

Ben Hutton’s Story<br />

Intro from Dad, Steve Hutton<br />

As a parent, what you are about to<br />

read will fall under the category,<br />

“This could never happen to us.”<br />

I can assure you, you’re dead wrong<br />

in that assumption. Today’s drug<br />

addict is often the private school<br />

star football player, the privileged<br />

child driving a BMW that his parents<br />

gave to him, the good-looking college<br />

sophomore, the child of the well-known<br />

public official, and your neighbor’s<br />

beautiful daughter you saw grow up<br />

next door. It’s real, it’s epidemic,<br />

and it’s all around us—right here<br />

at home.<br />

10 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

The following words<br />

are from my son ...<br />

It was 2009 and I was 18-years old.<br />

I had more friends than I could ask for.<br />

I had a beautiful girlfriend with an incredible<br />

personality. I was in great physical shape.<br />

I had a black 2009 LTZ Silverado 1500 which<br />

was way too nice for any guy my age. I was<br />

extremely successful in sports and had<br />

Division I college football in my near future.<br />

I had a family who loved me. I was raised<br />

in church and had everything I could ever<br />

ask for. From the outside looking in, my life<br />

was perfect.<br />

Fast-forward about a year: Nobody<br />

wanted to be around me. I no longer had<br />

girlfriend. I was super thin and looked like I<br />

had almost quit eating altogether. I was<br />

so pale that I don’t even think pale would<br />

any longer be the correct word to describe<br />

me. My hair was long and ungroomed.<br />

That black Silverado had been taken from<br />

me and sold. I had quit showing up for<br />

practice with that college dream team and,<br />

in fact, I had decided I could no longer handle<br />

going to school at all. My life was completely<br />

falling apart.<br />

What happened? How could I go<br />

from having such a “perfect” life to<br />

someone who was barely holding on by<br />

a thread? What could be so bad that it<br />

could cause such a destructive impact on<br />

my life? How did I all the sudden throw my<br />

goals and dreams in the trash as if they<br />

never existed?<br />

Today I’m 25 years old, soon to turn 26.<br />

I was asked to share my story about a certain<br />

subject that is seemingly becoming more<br />

and more of a problem in today’s world.<br />

Even worse, everyone knows about this<br />

growing problem, but not many know what<br />

to do about it. The issue I’m discussing is<br />

addiction—that ugly word nobody wants to<br />

talk about.<br />

If you ask 10 different people how<br />

to help someone that is struggling with<br />

addiction, you’ll most likely get 10 different<br />

answers. Some of those answers may look<br />

like this: Maybe they’re just going through<br />

a phase. Maybe they have a mental illness<br />

and need proper medication. Maybe they<br />

just need to grow up. Maybe they need some<br />

better friends. Maybe they just need a better<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 11

job or maybe they just need someone to<br />

talk to. Maybe they need to be at a different<br />

school. Maybe they just need proper support<br />

from their parents. Or maybe they just need<br />

to figure out what they like to do that makes<br />

them happy. Maybe they need to go to rehab<br />

or maybe they just need go to church more.<br />

The list of “maybes” can go on and on<br />

and on. So, what is the answer? Maybe you<br />

yourself have struggled with addiction or<br />

maybe you personally know of someone that<br />

has. If so, you know that trying to find the<br />

solution can be an endless maze of confusion<br />

that always brings you back to the beginning.<br />

Often, the one thing that may seem to<br />

work for a while one day, doesn’t. And the<br />

one struggling is back at it again as if they<br />

never stopped—and are probably getting<br />

worse. It’s as if they can’t see what they’re<br />

doing to themselves and the people around<br />

them and, if they can see, they don’t seem to<br />

care because they just keep doing it. It’s as if<br />

they’ve lost all care about life in general and<br />

no longer have any hopes or desires. All they<br />

seem to be concerned about is themselves<br />

and whatever substance it is that they are<br />

addicted to. If they actually cared about<br />

themselves and everyone else around them<br />

wouldn’t they just stop? Why do they keep<br />

doing this?<br />

I have one reason for writing this<br />

story. That one reason is to somehow grab<br />

someone’s attention that needs to hear this.<br />

Whether it’s the addicted or someone trying<br />

to help the addicted, here’s the point: I spent<br />

years “trying” to get sober. I tried so hard<br />

to get my life together and failed time after<br />

time, which only made things worse. I was<br />

furious at myself for continually failing—over<br />

and over and over again.<br />

Finally, two years ago, I found myself<br />

sitting in rehab for the fifth time. I was at<br />

a very rough place—a low-point in my life<br />

where I didn’t know what to do anymore. I<br />

was miserable and no longer cared about<br />

anything. I wasn’t sure how much longer<br />

I could even try. I was so low in life that I<br />

seriously considered becoming homeless<br />

and just doing drugs until I died. I hated<br />

myself. I was done.<br />

I made a call to my parents from rehab<br />

and they mentioned a place called Teen<br />

Challenge. They said it was different and that<br />

I should try it. I called another friend from<br />

rehab and, ironically, he mentioned this Teen<br />

Challenge place, too. He had heard about it<br />

on the radio. I had absolutely no desire to go<br />

but, for whatever reason, agreed to at least<br />

look into it.<br />

I wound up at Teen Challenge of the<br />

Dakotas in Brookings, South Dakota. It’s the<br />

best place I could’ve ever “wound up” and it<br />

was at just the right time. When I got there I<br />

was so broken and at such a bad place in my<br />

life that I was willing to listen to practically<br />

anything they had to say.<br />

This is when things changed.<br />

They told me that there was actually<br />

nothing wrong with me. They said I didn’t<br />

have any disorders like many doctors had<br />

told me. They taught me God’s word, inside<br />

and out. They showed me that all along I<br />

had been searching for God’s love and didn’t<br />

even realize it—I was just searching in the<br />

wrong places.<br />

I had fallen prey to believing the devil’s<br />

lies. I believed that drugs were the only<br />

thing I had to help me cope. I thought that<br />

without them I couldn’t make it and that<br />

nobody understood the things going on with<br />

me. Ended up that was all just a big lie.<br />

I had begun to rely on drugs in the<br />

same way I was supposed to be relying on<br />

God. The drugs may have helped me feel<br />

better for a while but they always ended up<br />

bringing disaster. God doesn’t do that. God<br />

always works for our good, but I didn’t know<br />

how to rely on Him.<br />

It didn’t make much sense to me. I<br />

literally had to be taught how to rely on<br />

God. Through scripture and through leaders<br />

teaching us by example, I learned to talk<br />

to God. I learned to read God’s word. And I<br />

12 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

learned that God has a love so deep for me<br />

that I can’t even understand it.<br />

I learned that by Jesus Christ dying on<br />

the cross for my sins, I’m forgiven of all the<br />

things that haunted me day and night, and<br />

I can be free from those chains. Not only<br />

can I be free from that life, but I can now<br />

live an awesome fulfilling life by trusting<br />

God and carrying out what He has planned<br />

for me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy—but<br />

it’s more than worth it.<br />

If I wanted to go back and start<br />

doing drugs right now, I could. But<br />

why would I? Why would I go back to<br />

something that creates a temporary<br />

feel-good and escape when God offers<br />

me a life from which I never want to<br />

escape or hide.<br />

If you are the one struggling with<br />

addiction or anything for that matter,<br />

God doesn’t care what you’ve done no<br />

matter how bad you may think it is. He just<br />

wants you to come to Him. He wants you to<br />

let Him change your life inside and out. He<br />

wants to give you a reason to live.<br />

The decision to put your trust in God,<br />

is completely up to you, but I can attest<br />

that it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.<br />

And it’s one that I’ll never regret. Praise<br />

God for grace.<br />

Closing from Dad . . .<br />

My wife Joni and I drove Ben to South Dakota. He was broken<br />

and facing multiple criminal charges. And as we pulled away,<br />

we were convinced we would never see him again this side of<br />

Heaven. He was tired, defeated, beaten, and had no desire to<br />

continue living. But God wasn’t done with Ben.<br />

Honestly, if we hadn’t actually lived our story, I wouldn’t<br />

believe it. Addiction is unbelievable. I began to journal one<br />

day simply as therapy, and 15 days later had written 67,000<br />

words. It is our prayer that our story may serve as hope to<br />

those families entangled in addiction, and as a warning to<br />

parents of young children as they navigate raising Godly<br />

children in an ungodly world.<br />

(The paperback, Pride Aside, may be purchased at www.prideaside.org and on<br />

Amazon. Ebooks are available on Kindle, iBooks, and Nook.)<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 13


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14 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

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<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 15

HOPE<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

Some things happen because there’s a<br />

need. That’s exactly why the Hope Conference<br />

for Cancer Survivorship happened the first<br />

time. Susan Mason saw a need, and she worked<br />

to fill it. Fifteen years later, she’s still working<br />

hard to fill that need for area cancer patients,<br />

cancer survivors, and their caregivers.<br />

Mason was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s<br />

Lymphoma in 1994. Like so many people<br />

do, she went to the M.D. Anderson Medical<br />

Center in Houston for a second opinion. “I<br />

was immediately connected with their patient<br />

support system,” she recalls. “Every year, I went<br />

to Houston to their survivor’s conference where I always received<br />

a lot of knowledge, education and encouragement.”<br />

Back at home in Clinton, Mason said she realized that the<br />

metro Jackson area has a lot of medical facilities, but there was<br />

nothing offered like the conference she had been attending in<br />

Houston. “Our area is unique in that instead of one huge medical<br />

center, we have several top-notch hospitals. I thought it would be<br />

great to pull them all together to form a coalition to serve cancer<br />

patients and survivors. I wanted to do a conference in Jackson<br />

like the one they have in Houston.”<br />

What Mason didn’t know was that the hospitals are all highly<br />

competitive and nothing like what she wanted to do had ever<br />

been done. But that didn’t stop her. “It was a challenge to bring<br />

them all together, but I managed to do it!”<br />

She began by contacting the Mississippi Chapter of the<br />

American Cancer Society and the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society<br />

of Mississippi. “Those organizations started on this journey<br />

with me, and they are still involved, along<br />

with Jackson State University and Belhaven<br />

University.”<br />

That journey resulted in the first ever<br />

Hope Conference in 2002. “The church I go<br />

to, First Baptist Church Jackson, hosts the<br />

conference, which will be held for the 15 th year<br />

on March 4, <strong>2017</strong>.” The conference will have a<br />

survivors panel featuring Whitney Pickering,<br />

Stephanie Bell Flynt, Senator Hillman Frazier,<br />

Terri Hederman and Ashley Johnson. Coach Jay<br />

Hopson of University of Southern Mississippi<br />

will be the keynote speaker, sharing his own<br />

experience with cancer.<br />

Breakout sessions will include cancer exercise therapy as<br />

well as sessions that focus on education and encouragement.<br />

Mary Margaret Judy is the executive director of St.<br />

Catherine’s Village in <strong>Madison</strong>. When asked to give her thoughts<br />

on the conference and the program, in general, she said, “Put<br />

it in the hands of our Lord and his physicians. Do not give up<br />

hope. St. Catherine’s Village and all of the St. Dominic family are<br />

proud to help light the way for the Hope Conference for Cancer<br />

Survivorship.”<br />

The logo for the event, a lighthouse, was designed by<br />

Marshall Ramsey, also a cancer survivor. “Our motto is ‘Lighting<br />

the way to cancer survivorship’ because we want to shine light on<br />

people and their journey,” he said.<br />

For more information on the conference visit<br />

hopeconferencejackson.com.<br />

16 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 17

2<br />

Goals<br />

I hope<br />

to reach<br />

this year<br />

1. Lisa Beagles<br />

– Owner, Doe’s Eat Place of Ridgeland.<br />

I want <strong>2017</strong> to be a year of progress,<br />

without regrets, while maintaining my<br />

priorities. God, family, and then business.<br />

I want to better my community by<br />

encouraging local small business<br />

cooperation and providing practical<br />

help to adults with limitations.<br />

2. Trent Nelson<br />

First, I would like to volunteer more<br />

time towards community service.<br />

Starting in <strong>2017</strong>, I’m going to be on the<br />

board of directors for the <strong>Madison</strong><br />

County Chamber of Commerce. With<br />

that, I’m excited to see what opportunities<br />

to help serve others come about. Second,<br />

I want to continue with a healthy lifestyle.<br />

In 2016, I made some lifestyle changes<br />

striving to be healthier. I started eating<br />

better and exercising at Kudzu Crossfit in<br />

Gluckstadt. So far, I’m 40 pounds lighter<br />

and just feel better in all aspects of my life.<br />

3. Hunter Owen<br />

1<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, I want to continue to grow my<br />

gym, Coyote Crossfit, to positively affect<br />

as many people as possible in the <strong>Madison</strong><br />

County area. I also want to set a positive<br />

example for my family and friends in my<br />

faith and fitness!<br />

18 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

3<br />

4. Tianna Cowan<br />

2<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, I strive to be debt free and have<br />

financial freedom! I also love traveling<br />

and would like to travel more and<br />

explore all cultures.<br />

5<br />

4<br />

5. Brian Leach<br />

I plan to locate my Alfa Insurance Agency<br />

in the Town of Livingston to meet the<br />

insurance needs for the families in that<br />

area. In March, <strong>2017</strong>, my wife and I are<br />

expecting our first child and I strive<br />

to set a Godly example for my family<br />

as we grow together.<br />

6<br />

6. Nikki Grafton<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, my goal is to love myself so<br />

I can better love others and to give my<br />

children the present of my presence–<br />

and put my phone down.<br />

7. Alison Martin<br />

In <strong>2017</strong>, I hope to make better decisions<br />

about what to say “yes” to, and make<br />

more room in my schedule for downtime<br />

with my family and I would love to<br />

read the Bible all the way through this<br />

year. I’ve always wanted to do it but never<br />

have. Hopefully, <strong>2017</strong> will be the year.<br />

8. Cooper Tyner<br />

My goals for <strong>2017</strong> are to learn how to<br />

shoot a gun and to buy my wife a new<br />

car because she is the most wonderful<br />

woman in the world and she deserves it.<br />

7<br />

8<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 19

20 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

Erin<br />

Williams<br />

Loving When It Isn’t Easy<br />

olly was born On September 23, 2013. and our lives changed for<br />

the better. After being married for almost three weeks, my husband<br />

and I knew we wanted to add to our family. So when she turned sixweeks-old,<br />

Dolly, the golden retriever puppy, joined our household.<br />

Dolly is the perfect dog. She’s sweet-natured, obedient, cheerful, and was a breeze to train.<br />

She is truly one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogs, and we couldn’t love her more.<br />

Fast forward two-and-a-half years to when we stumbled upon a fearful, skinny, black,<br />

pit-bull mix puppy. She came crawling to us out of nowhere and we found out she had<br />

been living under a shack after being dropped off and abandoned a few days earlier. In less<br />

than 10 minutes, we pulled 14 ticks off of her. We decided to keep her, and, in that moment,<br />

she became “Lucky.”<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 21

Although Lucky doesn’t have a mean bone in her little<br />

body, loving her hasn’t always been easy. When we decided<br />

to take Lucky in, we also took in her past problems, learned<br />

behaviors, and lack of training. We learned that she was<br />

deathly scared of leashes, ropes, water hoses, riding in a<br />

vehicle, and being picked up.<br />

On top of that, Lucky has turned our yard into a field<br />

of craters. She’s torn apart more than her fair share of<br />

pillows, towels, toys, mats, etc. If it’s outside, in Lucky’s<br />

eyes, it’s fair game.<br />

Between cleaning up after her, house training her,<br />

teaching her not to jump and to not be afraid of a leash,<br />

teaching her to trust humans, and showing her how to<br />

act around children, there’ve been many times that I’ve<br />

almost thrown in the towel. I mean, she’s just going to tear<br />

it to shreds anyway, right? In fact, I’ve almost done it more<br />

times than I’m willing to admit.<br />

However, in the last six months that Lucky has been<br />

a part of our family, amidst all the hair-pulling trials,<br />

she has taught me more about patience and love than I<br />

would’ve learned on my own.<br />

Lucky teaches me everyday how to love when loving<br />

isn’t easy.<br />

With Dolly, we fell in love with her instantly because<br />

she is the easiest, most cheerful and obedient dog we’d ever<br />

been around. Loving Dolly was easy. But in life, more often<br />

than not, loving isn’t easy at all. In fact, it can often be<br />

messy and difficult, at best.<br />

When we make the choice to love others, we have to<br />

love all of them—including their past problems, current<br />

issues, and future predicaments. Real love in relationships,<br />

whether with family, friends, or, in my case, a dog, is a<br />

22 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

Lucky teaches me everyday<br />

how to love when loving isn’t easy.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 23

24 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

Loving when it isn’t easy doesn’t<br />

just change the other person,<br />

it changes you, too.

journey full of detours, snags, and<br />

unlovable moments along the way.<br />

And, it’s not always easy.<br />

When we chose to bring Lucky<br />

into our family, much like how we<br />

choose to bring others into our<br />

lives, we made a commitment to<br />

love her, regardless.<br />

While Dolly draws immediate pats and smiles from<br />

others, Lucky doesn’t. I mean, who doesn’t want to love on a<br />

Golden Retriever? It’s harder to want to pet a rambunctious<br />

Pit-Bull. In many ways, Lucky has had the odds stacked<br />

against her and been discriminated against her entire life.<br />

How many of us know others like that: People that are<br />

easy to love and don’t look intimidating versus others<br />

who we stay away from based on their looks and perceived<br />

personas?<br />

In some ways, Lucky has taught me to go beyond what<br />

I’m comfortable with. Although I don’t have kids yet, I want<br />

them to grow up learning that you love others regardless of<br />

whether they’re lovable or not, especially if they’re different<br />

than you. I want them to learn that others, like Lucky, can<br />

come out above the circumstances they were born into, and<br />

that love transcends similarities or looks.<br />

I want them to love well. Whole love.<br />

How will our kids today know what we don’t exhibit?<br />

And if we’re really honest with ourselves, we’d see that<br />

there are times when we aren’t always as loveable as we<br />

think we are.<br />

At the end of the day, we’re actively training Lucky<br />

and teaching her what we expect of her. And while I hope<br />

she’ll someday stop tearing things up and start behaving<br />

better, I can’t say for certain she will. I think the same thing<br />

is true in life. While we love others and hope they will<br />

come out of certain scenarios and situations that make<br />

loving them hard, the stark reality is that sometimes they<br />

won’t. But choose to love them anyway. Loving when it<br />

isn’t easy doesn’t just change the other person, it changes<br />

you, too. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 25

Oh<br />

Happy<br />

Day<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

26 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

When<br />

Adam Panetta<br />

took his girlfriend<br />

out on their boat<br />

one sunny summer day,<br />

she didn’t<br />

suspect a thing.<br />

“It was a<br />

normal day,”<br />

Kristen Panetta<br />

recalls.<br />

“We went out about three or four<br />

in the afternoon, and after about<br />

an hour, he took me to a secluded<br />

area at the Reservoir and told<br />

me to go the front of the boat.<br />

Then he asked if he could blindfold<br />

me.” Kristen didn’t think<br />

anything of it because Adam was<br />

such a kidder by nature. “I just<br />

thought if he threw me off the<br />

boat, I’d be really mad!” While<br />

she was blindfolded, Adam<br />

quickly rolled out a red “carpet”<br />

made of paper, sprinkled it with<br />

rose petals, put on a button-down<br />

shirt and put a sign around their<br />

rescue dog’s neck. “He told me to<br />

take off the blindfold, and there<br />

was Stella, our dog, with a sign<br />

that said, ‘Will you marry my<br />

daddy?’ It was perfect.”<br />

When they returned to the<br />

dock, their families were there to<br />

greet them. “We had a party right<br />

there at our condo’s clubhouse,”<br />

says Kristen. “It was so much fun,<br />

and so special.” That was on July<br />

12, 2015. The wedding planning<br />

began right away.<br />

Kristen and Adam met in<br />

high school, but they weren’t high<br />

school sweethearts. “I was in the<br />

ninth grade at <strong>Madison</strong> Central,<br />

and he was in the tenth. We met<br />

over the Christmas break when<br />

we were both hanging out at the<br />

same friend’s house.” They did go<br />

to his junior prom together, but<br />

Kristen said he made her nervous,<br />

so she wouldn’t date him. “Yet, we<br />

would talk and talk all the time.<br />

We were just great friends.”<br />

Adam went to Ole Miss, and<br />

a year later, Kristen went to Mississippi<br />

State. Her senior year, he<br />

moved to Chicago to work. “We<br />

talked on the phone a good bit,<br />

and one night we made a bet on<br />

who would win American Idol. If<br />

he lost, he’d have to come see me.<br />

If I lost, I had to travel to Chicago<br />

to see him.” Adam’s contestant<br />

won, and Kristen announced to<br />

her sorority sisters that she was<br />

going to see Adam in Chicago.<br />

“They were shocked. They really<br />

didn’t know anything about him,<br />

and they knew I wasn’t the spontaneous<br />

type.” Once she went<br />

to see Adam in Chicago that<br />

summer, Kristen said they have<br />

been inseparable ever since.<br />

Kristen has always enjoyed<br />

doing side projects on her own,<br />

and liked the idea of being her<br />

own boss. “Adam encouraged me<br />

to find something I wanted to<br />

do and to write a business plan,”<br />

she said. “I worked with Kendall<br />

Poole, a local wedding planner,<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 27

and realized that I loved everything<br />

about weddings. There are<br />

already some wonderful wedding<br />

planners in this area, so I didn’t<br />

want to step into that, so I kept<br />

thinking about what I could do.”<br />

Along with her mother, Kristen<br />

made several trips out of state<br />

to visit small bridal boutiques<br />

to shop for her wedding gown.<br />

“My mom said that Mississippi<br />

really needed something like<br />

that, and the idea was born!”<br />

Kristen did some research and<br />

together, she and Adam decided<br />

that she needed to go ahead and<br />

do it while she was in full-out<br />

wedding planning mode, or wait<br />

a couple of years. “I decided to<br />

go ahead and do it!” So while<br />

she was planning her wedding,<br />

Kristen opened Elle James Bridal<br />

in Ridgeland. “We are located<br />

just above Bella Bridesmaids on<br />

Jackson Street in Ridgeland. I<br />

only sell bridal gowns, and they<br />

only sell bridesmaids’ dresses,<br />

so we complement each other<br />

perfectly.”<br />

Kristen walked down the aisle<br />

in her own wedding gown on<br />

April 30, 2016. “We got married<br />

at Providence Hill.” The couple<br />

had wanted to marry by the lake,<br />

as an homage to their engagement<br />

on the water, but there was a<br />

100% chance of thundershowers<br />

forecast for their wedding day.<br />

“We decided on Wednesday to<br />

hold the ceremony indoors,”<br />

remembers Kristen. “Of course,<br />

on our wedding day, the weather<br />

was beautiful. But that was OK,<br />

because everything was simply<br />

beautiful.”<br />

Adam’s father, Eddy Panetta,<br />

passed away when Adam was in<br />

college, so as a way of having his<br />

dad close on his wedding day,<br />

Adam asked his father’s brother,<br />

Joseph Panetta, to officiate the<br />

ceremony. “We were budgetconscious<br />

throughout,” said<br />

Kristen. “We had a string quartet,<br />

but for as long as I could<br />

remember, I wanted a choir at<br />

my wedding singing ‘Oh Happy<br />

Day’ as we walked up the aisle<br />

as husband and wife. I couldn’t<br />

afford a choir, so I wanted the<br />

string quartet to play it.” Kristen’s<br />

mom told her that the leader<br />

of the quartet said the song<br />

wasn’t well-suited to be played<br />

by a quartet, but Kristen was<br />

adamant. “On our way up the<br />

aisle, I had an ear out, listening<br />

for the song, until I realized that<br />

there was a full choir at the end<br />

of the aisle, clapping and singing<br />

“Oh Happy Day.’ My mother had<br />

arranged it as a surprise for me!”<br />

Their dog, Stella, was honored<br />

at the wedding with a<br />

signature drink. “It was called<br />

‘The Stella,’ and we had her<br />

name and the recipe printed<br />

on the cocktail napkins!” It<br />

seems Adam and Kristen have<br />

found the right recipe for a<br />

happy life together. n<br />

28 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 29

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32 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 33

In 1981, Andrew Seago,<br />

at age four, survived a<br />

near-death accident and<br />

was thrust into the world<br />

of the quadriplegic.<br />

Insurmountable obstacle?<br />

Not for Andrew. Thanks<br />

to a faithful network<br />

of family, friends and<br />

caregivers, young Andrew<br />

with great fortitude<br />

and tenacity, denied his<br />

paralysis of robbing him<br />

of a productive life.<br />

After almost three months in St. Dominic Hospital,<br />

Andrew adapted to homeschool until the second<br />

grade. It was a giant decision when he joined other<br />

second graders at Spann Elementary and continued there through<br />

the sixth grade.<br />

Since Andrew’s three older brothers attended Jackson<br />

Academy, his transition into high school was a given. After<br />

graduation, he wrestled with his future but once again followed<br />

his brothers to earn a degree at Mississippi State.<br />

“It was a God thing,” he said as he explained how he was<br />

able to find caregivers in just a month before school began.<br />

After earning a degree in educational psychology, he continued<br />

his college studies and earned his Master of Rehabilitation<br />

Counseling.<br />

One of his caregivers, Quantae Walker, described Andrew’s<br />

lifestyle as, “on the move.” He speaks to church groups and<br />

teaches classes in his area of expertise.<br />

His most recent project is heading up the Magnolia Classic<br />

fundraiser for Joni and Friends. The Classic is an “intense”<br />

dodgeball tournament scheduled for <strong>January</strong> 28, <strong>2017</strong> at Jackson<br />

Academy. There are three divisions – adult, youth (8-16) and high<br />

intensity. Entry fee for a team of six is $120.<br />

This is the tournament’s fourth year. It’s grown from three<br />

teams to thirty-two last year and helps fund the summer camps<br />

for disabled families in Mississippi and Alabama. Junior high age<br />

to adult participate.<br />

Andrew’s contagious smile seems a strange counterpart to a<br />

life that’s confined to a motorized chair and breathing apparatus.<br />

He’s mastered the maneuvering of his mobile chair with the use of<br />

his chin and is accustomed to the round-the-clock caregivers that<br />

are always nearby. Preston Jackson has been with him for thirtyfour<br />

years.<br />

“Some days are really bad; some really good,” Andrew says<br />

of his condition. “You just have to roll with it.”<br />

As he faces daily challenges, he realizes, “everybody’s got<br />

problems.” He sees his faith in God as essential in coping with his<br />

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In the midst of his disability world, Andrews says, “Ablebodied<br />

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the fact that I’m here for a reason.”<br />

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36 •• Jan/Feb Nov/Dec <strong>2017</strong>2016

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Madison</strong><br />

Reader<br />


Monica<br />

Sutton<br />

Why did you decide to make <strong>Madison</strong><br />

your home?<br />

We decided to make <strong>Madison</strong> our home in<br />

2015 because we wanted a hometown feel<br />

with the amenities of city life. <strong>Madison</strong> is one<br />

of the most beautiful cities with a variety of<br />

entertainment, dining, shopping, and most<br />

important, a great school system.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Victor and I have been married for 14 years.<br />

Victor is a health administrator with the<br />

Mississippi Department of Health and I am a<br />

clinical psychologist with Batson Children’s<br />

Hospital. We have 2 children, Victor, II (Vic)<br />

and Lauren. Vic is a 6th grader at <strong>Madison</strong><br />

Middle School and Lauren is a 5th grader at<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> Avenue Upper Elementary. Our<br />

children are actively involved in the <strong>Madison</strong><br />

Ridgeland Youth Club (MRYC) and Victor<br />

has, and continues to, coach football and<br />

basketball with MRYC.<br />

What is your favorite memory of<br />

living in <strong>Madison</strong>?<br />

There are many fun memories about<br />

<strong>Madison</strong>. However, among the most fun<br />

memories are: Being warmly welcomed<br />

to our neighborhood with a cake and a<br />

smile from neighbors and enjoying the<br />

fireworks (with my family) on 4th of July<br />

in Liberty Park.<br />

What are some fun things to do in<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> on the weekends?<br />

There’s always something to do in <strong>Madison</strong><br />

including a variety of sporting events, catching<br />

a movie at The Grandview–Malco Theatre<br />

or dining at first class restaurants. When we<br />

are not busy with school activities or<br />

recreational sports, particularly on Sunday<br />

after church, we often enjoy taking a walk or<br />

bike ride on one of the beautiful trails.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing<br />

in your spare time.<br />

We enjoy cooking out and entertaining family<br />

and friends. During the summer months we<br />

love spending time at the pool or taking<br />

family vacations. Most of all we enjoy<br />

cheering for our children’s sports teams<br />

(basketball, football, softball and baseball).<br />

Where are your three favorite places<br />

to eat in <strong>Madison</strong>?<br />

Kristos Greek Restaurant, Bonefish Grill,<br />

and Georgia Blue.<br />

What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

Taking trips to Africa, Paris and Hawaii are at<br />

the top of the bucket list.<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

The person that my husband often talks of<br />

and admires the most is his grandmother. She<br />

was an educator and owned her own tax<br />

business. She taught Victor the value of hard<br />

work and getting an education. She would<br />

often remind him that mediocrity is not<br />

acceptable.<br />

Where do you see yourself in ten years?<br />

Victor and I often talk about early retirement<br />

as we both started our professional careers<br />

very early. So, we will most likely be traveling<br />

to visit our kids on their respective college<br />

campuses, traveling the world or maybe even<br />

starting our own consulting business in the<br />

area of health and wellness.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

My favorite childhood memories include<br />

listening to my mother tell the story of the<br />

birth of Jesus, the smell of homemade cakes<br />

and pies, and the laughter of family during the<br />

holidays.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

In everything, set an example by doing what is<br />

good. In your teaching, show integrity and<br />

seriousness. (Titus 2:7)<br />

What is your favorite thing about<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> Magazines?<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> Magazine provides a view into<br />

the lives of families that shows the hospitality<br />

and warmth of Mississippi’s communities. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 37

serving our community<br />

Fire Marshal Joe Davis<br />

canton Fire Department<br />

Why did you decide to be a fireman?<br />

It was a childhood dream.<br />

How long have you been with the<br />

Canton Fire Department?<br />

17 years.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My wife’s name is Linda. I have two sons,<br />

Tyranny and Joe Davis, III.<br />

What is the toughest thing you have<br />

experienced in your job?<br />

Responding to a sick or hurt child.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in<br />

your spare time.<br />

Mechanic work, fishing, hunting, training<br />

dogs, and spending time with my family.<br />

Name three things on your bucket list?<br />

Buying my wife a 750 BMW, adding a room<br />

addition to my house and sending my<br />

youngest son to private school.<br />

Where do you see yourself in ten years?<br />

Retired.<br />

If you could give one piece of advice to<br />

a young person, what would it be?<br />

Stay in school. Obey your mother and father.<br />

What is a favorite childhood memory?<br />

Being baptized and joining my church.<br />

What is the biggest mistake you think<br />

young people make today?<br />

Not finishing school and not going through<br />

with the goals they had in mind.<br />

What is your favorite thing about the<br />

City of Canton?<br />

Being a part of the Canton Fire Department<br />

and a member of Mount Calvary Missionary<br />

Baptist Church. The EMS and law enforcement<br />

is the best. I am fortunate that I get to live in<br />

this great city with my family.<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

My Uncle Buck. He was the man who taught<br />

me my ABC’s and 123’s. He also encouraged<br />

me throughout my childhood. His famous<br />

words were, “Always be your own man.”<br />

38 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

madison's finest<br />

Sheriff Deputy James Hall<br />

madison county sheriff's Department<br />

Why did you decide to become a<br />

sheriff's deputy?<br />

I got into law enforcement so that I could try to<br />

keep the community I work in a safe place to live<br />

and raise a family. When I became a deputy for<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> County Sheriff’s Department, that same<br />

attitude applied but it became more personal<br />

because this is the place that I call home.<br />

How long have you been with the<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> County Sheriff’s Office?<br />

I have been here two years including the time I was<br />

in the sheriff’s deputy reserve program. Each day<br />

was an opportunity to meet new people in the<br />

community and to see and learn new things that<br />

I did not know about law enforcement in general.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I am happily married to my wife Cara Hall. We just<br />

celebrated our first anniversary this November.<br />

We have a dog and a cat that keeps us pretty busy.<br />

We both have family that live in <strong>Madison</strong> County.<br />

What is the toughest thing you have<br />

experienced in your job?<br />

I don’t think I can mention one that would be any<br />

worse than the others because to the people that<br />

fall victim to those things, it is possibly the worst day<br />

of their lives. You just have to stay professional and<br />

let them know that you care for them and are there<br />

to help –whether it’s losing a loved one in an<br />

accident, or the victim of a senseless crime.<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

I don’t necessarily have an individual that I’ve always<br />

looked up to, but rather the kind of person that gets<br />

up every day to work and support his or her family<br />

and also helps out those less fortunate than them.<br />

They do all these things and don’t expect any<br />

recognition for their work. They are the unsung<br />

heroes and I admire that.<br />

Where do you see yourself in ten<br />

years?<br />

Hopefully I’ll still be serving the citizens of <strong>Madison</strong><br />

County with the sheriff’s office. But wherever I am,<br />

I know that God has a plan for me and my family,<br />

so I am pretty excited about it.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in<br />

your spare time.<br />

I am a country boy at heart so I often enjoy hunting<br />

and fishing and just spending time with family and<br />

friends in the outdoors.<br />

Name three things on your bucket list?<br />

To spend some time in Alaska doing some hunting.<br />

I’ve always wanted to build a cabin by a lake on<br />

some land. My wife and I want to visit is Ground<br />

Zero in New York City.<br />

If you could give one piece of advice<br />

to a young person, what would it be?<br />

Try to think about how the choices that you make<br />

affect others–like your parents and friends. Be<br />

smart about those decisions and think for yourself,<br />

not letting pressure from outside sources force you<br />

to make the wrong decisions.<br />

What is a favorite childhood memory?<br />

When I was playing baseball for a select team called<br />

the <strong>Madison</strong> Royals. We were in Memphis playing<br />

a game and they brought me in to close out the<br />

game on the mound. The game was tight and the<br />

winning run was at the plate. I had two outs and<br />

was able to strike the batter out to win the game.<br />

I think that is the dream of every little boy, and I got<br />

to live it out that night.<br />

What is the biggest mistake you think<br />

young people make today?<br />

I think that young people believe that bad things<br />

cannot happen to them and that they are invincible.<br />

They need to just be more careful because God<br />

only gives you this one life on earth and it can be<br />

taken away in an instant. But by the same token,<br />

you should strive to use the life that he has given<br />

you to make the world a better place.<br />

What is your favorite thing about<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> County?<br />

The pride that the people that live and work there<br />

have for their county.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 39

40 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

ALL<br />


ABOUT<br />

US<br />









<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 41

“HE HAD BEEN<br />


FUNNY, BUT<br />



“It was September 26, 2015,”<br />

recalls Whitnie McGee. “It was<br />

game day, and most people<br />

have a hard time believing we<br />

were both wearing red.” That’s<br />

because Whitney, a Booneville<br />

native, is a die-hard Mississippi<br />

State fan. “I used to tell my family<br />

and friends that I’d never date or<br />

marry anyone from Ole Miss or<br />

Alabama.” That’s what makes the<br />

story so much fun. Richard is a big<br />

Ole Miss fan. Because she was a<br />

good girlfriend, Whitnie agreed to<br />

accompany Richard to an Ole Miss<br />

game in Oxford, and she thought<br />

he was taking her to dinner at the<br />

Ajax Diner on the Square before<br />

the game. “He had been acting<br />

a little funny, but I didn’t think<br />

anything of it.”<br />

When they got to the<br />

sidewalk in front of Square Books,<br />

Richard stopped and told Whitnie<br />

that on the very spot where they<br />

were standing, his grandfather<br />

had proposed to his grandmother<br />

65 years earlier. “Then he told<br />

me that he wanted to spend<br />

the rest of his life with me, and<br />

he got down on one knee and<br />

proposed.”<br />

Luckily, she said “yes,” because<br />

just above them on the balcony,<br />

her mother and his entire family<br />

were looking down on them.<br />

“They all clapped and cheered,”<br />

says Whitnie. “It was the sweetest<br />

thing.”<br />

The storybook romance<br />

began on Halloween in 2013.<br />

“His best friend married my best<br />

friend and that’s how we met,”<br />

Whitnie says. “We were at a<br />

Halloween party and hit it off.<br />

Somehow, we ended up singing<br />

karaoke somewhere and I sang<br />

the Ike & Tina Turner version of<br />

‘Proud Mary.’”<br />

Whitnie had a feeling she<br />

might see him again, and a couple<br />

of days later he texted, asking if<br />

she’d like to hang out. “He cooked<br />

me dinner the next week, and<br />

we just connected. We’ve been<br />

together ever since.”<br />

Richard was originally from<br />

Canton, and when the couple<br />

began planning their wedding,<br />

set for April 23, 2016, they chose<br />

to get married at Lake Caroline.<br />

42 •• Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong> <strong>2017</strong>









“His parents live there, and most of<br />

our friends are in the Jackson area,<br />

so it seemed like a natural thing to<br />

do.” They got married on the pier,<br />

overlooking the water, and had<br />

the reception in the clubhouse.<br />

“It was beautiful.”<br />

Hers wasn’t a traditional<br />

wedding – “we wanted something<br />

that was more about us.” Whitnie<br />

walked down the aisle to Elvis’s<br />

“I Can’t Help Falling in Love with<br />

You.” Dan Confait played the song<br />

on an acoustic guitar and sang as<br />

Whitnie approached her groom.<br />

Her 12-year-old Pomeranian<br />

was her “dog of honor,” wearing<br />

a pink dress that matched the<br />

bridesmaids’, accented by a crystal<br />

necklace. After being pronounced<br />

husband and wife, the couple<br />

went back up the aisle to the Dolly<br />

Parton/Kenny Rogers song “Islands<br />

in the Stream.” It fit us. We love<br />

country music, and we love to<br />

have fun.”<br />

The wedding had a vintage<br />

shabby chic theme, with Mason<br />

jars filled with baby’s breath and<br />

pink roses lining the aisles. Her<br />

cake, created by Amy Davis of<br />

Turquoise Chandelier in Brandon,<br />

featured a cascade of pink roses.<br />

“I know it was my wedding,<br />

but I think it was the best ever,”<br />

said Whitnie. “We had the best<br />

time.” As the band (Smiley and the<br />

Young Guns from the Delta) played,<br />

the couple and their guests danced<br />

the night away. Before the night<br />

was over, she made a song request<br />

and got up on the stage. “This is<br />

the song I sang the night we met,”<br />

Whitnie said to her guests. “It’s the<br />

song I was singing when he fell in<br />

love with me!”<br />

As Richard and Whitnie made<br />

their exit, the band played the Ole<br />

Miss and Mississippi State fight<br />

songs while guests held sparklers.<br />

A New Orleans-style parade,<br />

complete with band playing<br />

“When the Saints Go Marching In”<br />

followed as the guests all shared<br />

their good wishes for couple<br />

to have a long and happy life<br />

together.<br />

The couple now resides in<br />

<strong>Madison</strong>. Richard is in logistics,<br />

working as a manager with JB<br />

Hunt, and Whitnie is the marketing<br />

director of Northpark Mall in<br />

Ridgeland.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 43


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44 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 45

46 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

Mary Ann Kirby<br />


THE<br />

STORY<br />

Everyone has a story, don’t they? I often<br />

make up peoples’ stories in my mind so that I<br />

can fill in the gaps created from not knowing<br />

details—and I’m not entirely sure why I do<br />

it. I guess I’m just an observer of life. And<br />

because I like to write stories, I’m always on<br />

the hunt for one.<br />

My husband and I have even made a<br />

game of it. We’ll see a couple that we don’t<br />

know at a restaurant and spend the next<br />

thirty minutes creating their fictitious story.<br />

It has made for some hilarious conversations<br />

between the two of us as there are no limits<br />

to the depth of detail that make this couple<br />

extraordinary.<br />

On Sundays, when people are asked<br />

to come to the front of our church during<br />

invitational, I often cry at their “stories”—<br />

even though I don’t know what those are.<br />

I sometimes wonder if they’re broken and<br />

hurting and I all of a sudden ache for them<br />

and the burdens that they may carry.<br />

I imagine the single mom, raising a<br />

family alone and trying to make ends meet.<br />

Or the one that dreamed of children but<br />

struggled with infertility. I imagine the man<br />

that has recently lost his job and his insurance<br />

benefits only to have just gotten a bad report<br />

from the doctor. And all this is completely in<br />

my imagination, mind you. I can’t hear them<br />

when they speak to the pastors at the front of<br />

the church—but I can see them—and for some<br />

reason I’m compelled to give them a story.<br />

Maybe I’m crazy. Or maybe it’s how I make<br />

strangers more relatable. I have an intuitive<br />

desire to connect.<br />

Several years ago we had just moved<br />

into a new neighborhood with super-strict<br />

covenants. Our first Christmas season in our<br />

new home had come and gone and Mardi<br />

Gras and Valentine’s Day decorations had<br />

begun to pop-up everywhere. Every day I<br />

would ride by this one house that still had<br />

Christmas lights hanging from their eaves.<br />

And every day I would think, “Surely they’ll<br />

take those down soon.”<br />

I’m certain there were guidelines<br />

somewhere that addressed the timely<br />

removal of neighborhood Christmas<br />

decorations. If not, there needed to be.<br />

Another week would pass and the lights<br />

still remained. I had become indignant<br />

that they weren’t following the rules (what<br />

rules?). I mentally drafted the letter that<br />

would be sent to the homeowners association<br />

demanding that their lights be removed.<br />

When had I become Nosey-Nellie, the<br />

judgmental neighbor that made everyone else’s<br />

business her business? Why did I even care?<br />

Aren’t we all guilty of doing this in some<br />

form or fashion—making other people’s<br />

issues our business? Don’t we often judge<br />

people’s choices without fully understating<br />

their reasons for making them?<br />

The adored actress and comedian Betty<br />

White was once quoted as saying, “I don’t<br />

know how people get so anti-something.<br />

Mind your own business, take care of your<br />

own affairs, and don’t worry about other<br />

people so much.” She’s 94-years old. I wonder<br />

how long it took her to figure that out.<br />

So on the 21 st of <strong>February</strong> of the very<br />

first year in our new covenant-protected<br />

neighborhood, 58 days after Christmas and<br />

7 days after Valentine’s Day, the offending<br />

home was lit up like I had never seen. I’m<br />

certain it could be seen from space. Their<br />

Christmas tree stood defiantly in the living<br />

room window and the icicle lights that<br />

hung from the eaves blinked as if to signal<br />

their rebelliousness to the entire world. I<br />

absolutely could not believe my eyes. Their<br />

blatant disregard of holiday decorating code<br />

was mind-boggling.<br />

As I slowed my car and rounded the<br />

corner to get a better view, a banner that<br />

read, “Welcome Home Ryan” hung across the<br />

garage doors right next to a flag bearing the<br />

United States Marine Corps emblem. And then<br />

it made sense. Their son was returning home<br />

and they had “saved” Christmas just for him.<br />

I burst into tears. First of all, I felt<br />

grateful. My sense of patriotism immediately<br />

outweighed my sense of incredulousness.<br />

How thankful they must have been to have<br />

him home and in the safety of their loving<br />

arms. But then I felt embarrassed. They<br />

don’t make enough lights to express the joy<br />

my husband and I would feel had our own<br />

son been returning home. To this day I am<br />

changed as a result of that experience.<br />

When you look at a person, any person,<br />

remember that they have a story. Everyone<br />

has gone through something that’s changed<br />

them. Life is hard and everyone has ups and<br />

downs—and fears and pain. Give grace, love<br />

and support to those around you who may<br />

have struggles you don’t see. Our opinions<br />

don’t matter. But how we treat people, does.<br />

I “imagine” Ryan and his family to have<br />

had the most extraordinary Christmas-in-<br />

<strong>February</strong> that ever was. And now, when<br />

I see something that doesn’t necessarily<br />

make sense to me, I try not to criticize it but<br />

rather look for the story. After all, when you<br />

actually realize there’s something you don’t<br />

understand, then you’re generally on the<br />

right path to understanding all kinds<br />

of things.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 47

Thanks to our advertisers and readers.We appreciate you!<br />

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48 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 49


madison county Schools<br />

Germantown<br />

National Merit<br />

L-R: Brantley Hudnall (Commended Scholar), Owen Ivan (National<br />

Merit Semi-Finalist), Tommy Brunson (National Merit Semi-Finalist),<br />

Alex Usher (National Merit Semi-Finalist)<br />

Economic Summit Winners<br />

Seniors Breana Pigott, Trey Buckley, and Mac Lashley, were the overall<br />

champions at the International Economics Summit, beating out around<br />

70 teams. This competition is conducted through the Mississippi<br />

Council on Economic Education.<br />

Youth Legislature 2016<br />

Front L-R: Kylie Cockerel, Riley Angell, Baylie Baudier, Katelyn Adams,<br />

Molly Hutto (Teacher) Back L-R: Jake Kealhofer (Teacher) Harrison<br />

Grimes, Caleb Collins, Will Clark, Kathryn Mccullouch<br />

The Mississippi Youth Legislature is a model legislative and judicial<br />

program for high school students. Students from Mississippi public and<br />

private schools come together at our State Capitol and participate in a<br />

mock legislative session. Student participate as a legislator, attorney,<br />

supreme court justice, lobbyist, press delegate, or legislative page. Each<br />

legislator writes a piece of legislation that they debate through the<br />

legislature in hopes of having it signed into “law”. Each piece of proposed<br />

legislation, or bill, goes through the full legislative process. During each<br />

session, a full cabinet of officers (students) is elected to serve over the<br />

next year’s Youth Legislature.<br />

Highland<br />

Lazaire B. Martin is a stay-at-home mom that volunteers her time to<br />

making the lives of her children and our community a great place to live.<br />

She’s the 2016 Highland Elementary Parent of the Year.<br />

Elementary students participated in the Toys for Tots drive for two<br />

weeks. Children were excited to bring and donate a toy. Toys for Tots has<br />

been touching children’s lives all over the world for over 20 years. The<br />

students, teachers, and staff here at Highland were extremely glad to add<br />

more smiles in the world.<br />

50 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.

<strong>Madison</strong> Avenue<br />

On Thursday, October 27th, the <strong>Madison</strong> Police Department,<br />

Homeland Security agents, FBI agents, Mississippi Highway<br />

Patrol, and the Bureau of Narcotics assisted MAUE students in<br />

solving the crime of the missing chandelier.<br />

A week before the event occurred, the chandelier, made of<br />

recycled plastic bottles, was stolen from the library. The thief left<br />

behind a footprint, fingerprint, hair sample, drink in a cup at the<br />

top of the ladder and a note that said, “Sorry.” The students used<br />

these clues to figure out who the thief was.<br />

Students made statements to law enforcement officials about<br />

what they heard and saw. Six suspects were identified before<br />

Mystery Night. Students arrived Thursday evening and reported<br />

to their homeroom teacher. The students and parents watched a<br />

video outlining the evidence and the motives of each suspect.<br />

Three labs were set up to analyze the thief’s footprint, fingerprint,<br />

writing sample, drink sample, hair sample, and time card. The<br />

students used this information to eliminate suspects and identify<br />

the final two suspects.<br />

After completing the three labs, students moved outside to the<br />

stage to hear the FBI reveal the gender of the thief. Once the<br />

gender was revealed, Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler spoke to<br />

the thief and let her know that stealing is not tolerated in <strong>Madison</strong>.<br />

The thief apologized and then Judge Dale Danks sentenced her to<br />

fifty hours of community service at the Webster Animal Clinic.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 51


madison county Schools<br />

Mannsdale<br />

Look what Santa brought to Mannsdale! The Mannsdale library<br />

has a new Makerspace. A Makerspace is an area where students<br />

can create, invent, explore and build. Students are using a variety of<br />

materials from Legos to robots. They are learning the beginning<br />

stages of coding and using their imaginations in the process. The<br />

makerspace challenges tie in with the literature being read during<br />

Mrs. North’s storytime. These Mavericks love the new addition!<br />

52 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.

<strong>Madison</strong> Station<br />

Elementary<br />

In October, the MSE kindergarteners visited the Jackson Zoo<br />

for lots of fun and smiles.<br />

On December 9th, <strong>Madison</strong> Station 2nd graders got to go on a<br />

trip with their passports to many different areas of the world<br />

that included Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Canada, and<br />

France. The students learned about the different Christmas<br />

traditions in those countries as well as music, food and games<br />

they have.<br />

The students in 3rd grade had Egypt Day on November 17th.<br />

Egypt Day is a fun filled day where the kids dress in Egyptian attire,<br />

perform a play, play games and have food from the Egyptian<br />

culture.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 53


madison county Schools<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> Crossing<br />

<strong>Madison</strong> Crossing Elementary School students were visited by<br />

Germantown cheerleaders, dance team and football players who<br />

welcomed students to school and visited some of the classrooms.<br />

Amber Young, a senior at Germantown High School, is one of 65<br />

mentors at GHS. She comes to visit and works with her mentee<br />

at <strong>Madison</strong> Crossing Elementary. Amber attended <strong>Madison</strong><br />

Crossing in elementary school and says it’s so much fun coming<br />

back to her old school. Raina Cross is a third grader and enjoys<br />

spending time with Amber twice a week. Amber was recently<br />

crowned Homecoming Queen at Germantown High School and<br />

plans to attend MSU and major in Elementary Education.<br />

54 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.

MRA<br />

Our K5 classes had their Annual Christmas Program, “Happy<br />

Birthday Jesus”, in honor of Grandparent’s Day. All our parents<br />

and grandparents were invited to join us for this special day in<br />

celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.<br />

The K3 classes at MRA had their Annual Gingerbread Decorating<br />

Day on Tuesday, December 6th. The parents and/or grandparents<br />

were invited to come and help on this festive occasion.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 55


madison county Schools<br />

Christ Covenant<br />

The program for Christ Covenant School’s Grandparents Day this<br />

year was A Salute to America. Students in kindergarten through<br />

fifth grade performed patriotic songs and our middle school<br />

students served as hosts and hostesses. After the program, grandparents<br />

were invited to tour the classrooms. What a sweet time it is<br />

at CCS where we are privileged to honor each grandparent with a<br />

musical program and special time spent with grandchildren.<br />

56 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong><br />

Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.

Calendars<br />

Church Bulletins<br />

MoreThan<br />

Manuals Brochures<br />

Design<br />

Meets the Eye<br />

Embossing<br />

Letterhead<br />

Overprinting<br />

Folding<br />

Collating<br />

Storefront<br />

Banners<br />

Invitations<br />

Postcards<br />

Customized<br />

Mailing<br />

NCR Multi Part<br />

Menus<br />

Perfect Binding<br />

Information Booklet<br />

Personalization<br />

Sorting<br />

Scratch Off Envelopes<br />

Stationery<br />

Labels<br />

Die-Cuts<br />

Annual Reports<br />

Database Management<br />

Business Cards<br />

Foil Stamping<br />

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<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 57

Camille Anding<br />

The Time Coin<br />

Alonely Grace stared out the frosted<br />

window, watching the blustery north<br />

winds make havoc of the carpet of<br />

brown leaves. The New Year’s <strong>January</strong> seemed<br />

to taunt the warm memories of Christmas.<br />

The frigid temps and relentless winds<br />

combined to add misery to her loneliness.<br />

The noise and warmth of her Christmas company were sorely<br />

missed. Grace turned her back to the drab winter scene and sat down<br />

near the fireplace. The corner where her Christmas tree had blinked and<br />

twinkled was just another lonely corner in her home. The fire glowed<br />

brightly, but it was the only bright thing in the room. Loneliness with its<br />

dreary gray cloak wrapped around Grace with a smothering grip.<br />

She retreated to her closet to find a sweater but instead, pulled a<br />

cherished quilt from the top shelf. Sitting with the cover made by her<br />

mother added a love layer of warmth over her entire body. Grace<br />

touched the stitches and traced their long-ago artistry. The stitches<br />

were tiny and uniform – the work of a veteran seamstress.<br />

Grace remembered many of the fabrics<br />

– remnants from handmade dresses her<br />

mother had sown. The pink and white checked<br />

gingham was a favorite Easter dress that Grace<br />

wore with her Easter “bonnet” and white<br />

gloves. The red, white, and blue stars were a<br />

Fourth of July memory.<br />

As Grace studied the quilt, her thoughts turned from her loneliness<br />

to the treasure on her lap. Her mother had taken remnants and tiny<br />

scraps to create a covering stitched in love. She could vividly picture her<br />

mother leaning over the stretched cotton canvas that her dad helped<br />

erect in the den.<br />

Grace had walked around her mother’s “quilt factory” many times<br />

but never associated the creation with a treasure. Time and inevitable<br />

change had reversed that.<br />

The quilt would warm Grace on this lonely day and transport her<br />

to long ago memories and the blessings of a happy childhood. God<br />

would use the quilt to teach her that remnants – even scraps can be<br />

transformed into works of beauty by His touch – no matter our age.<br />

And loneliness? For today, it would ride off on the winter winds. n<br />

58 • Jan/Feb <strong>2017</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 59

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www.RunnelsCenter.com • Clinic 601.939.9778 • Spa 601.939.2457 • River Oaks OF PLASTIC SOCIETY<br />

Drive SURGEONS • Metro Jackson

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