Hometown Madison - January & February 2016


Volume 2 Number 1

Jan/Feb 2016

Gallant Hearts


Remaining Faithful


Loving Lazarus


The Desire of Our Hearts

2 • May/June 2015

publisher & Editor

Tahya A. Dobbs


Kevin W. Dobbs

Consulting editor

Mary Ann Kirby

Account Executives

Alicia Adams

LeeAnn Evans

Rachel Lombardo

Contributing Writers

Camille Anding

Kevin & Pam Cooper

Jill Dale

Mary Ann Kirby

Susan Marquez

staff Photographer

Othel Anding

Administrative Assistants

Alisha Floyd

Brenda McCall

Layout Design

Daniel Thomas / 3dt

Missy Donaldson / MAD Designs

• • •

The New Year will sweep us into change–it always does. Sometimes in tiny increments and sometimes

in cataclysmic upheavals. This issue jolts us into seeing and feeling a small glimpse of death breaking into

a family’s “perfect” lifestyle. Death is a monumental weight that eventually strikes everyone. But to see it

take a child is an experience our minds can’t seem to fathom. The Dales are one of those stricken families,

and Jill’s sharing her mother’s heart in their loss will certainly influence, if not reconstruct, your New

Year’s resolutions. Their unending faith, even in death, has served as a beautiful reminder to me of how

God’s ultimate timing is always perfect. It’s a story that must be heard and I am in awe of their courage

and strength.

Some will say life is the appropriate focus for a new year along with the hopes and dreams the

majority of us will carry into 2016. And that’s true. But tragedy, heartache,

and death will always partner with the joys and celebrations in every year.

It’s how we deal with both that makes us an inspiration to people only God

can number.

I trust you will enjoy this issue of Hometown Madison. It’s built on much

joy and many tears—and always on our sure foundation, Jesus!

Happy New Year.



For subscription information

visit www.htmags.com

Contact us at info@HTMags.com


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.

In this issue Gallant Hearts Delivers Independence..... 6

The Desire of Our Hearts ................ 12

Loving Lazarus. ...................... 20

Remaining Faithful ............. 24

Following a Calling .................... 32

Reader Spotlight..........................36

A Preserved Past. .................... 38

New Year’s Resolutions ............... 40

Carving Out a Passion ................ 42

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6 • Jan/Feb 2016

Gallant Hearts Delivers Independence

Jerry File

A guide dog is almost equal,

in many ways, to giving a blind

man sight itself.

Nestled in the bucolic countryside of

Madison County, only a stone’s throw from

Lake Caroline, rests a peaceful, yet busy,

organization called Gallant Hearts Guide

Dog Center. Gallant Hearts trains professional

guide dogs for people who are blind.

Gallant Hearts’ premium guide dogs fan

out all over Mississippi, the United States,

and Canada, delivering independence, and

a richer life.

Gallant Hearts’ co-founder is Ms. Becky

Floyd. Becky serves as executive director.

Becky has been blind since birth and has

worked with guide dogs since 1964. She

earned bachelor degrees in psychology

and sociology from The University of

Mississippi and then went on to graduate

from the Ole Miss School of Law.

Near the end of law school, she and

friends were talking one night about what

they wanted to do after law school. Becky

said, “Someday, I am going to start a guide

dog training center.”

Decades later, after a successful career,

capped by her retirement as the Executive

Director of Mississippi Protection and

Advocacy System, Becky fulfilled her

dream by starting Gallant Hearts Guide

Dog Center, in 2009. Gallant Hearts

placed its first dog in December, 2012.

The life changing potential of the

guide dog for the blind.

Guide dogs for people who are blind

deliver extraordinary value and benefits

to the person using them and to society.

Becky explains, “I have had my own guide

dog, since 1964. Guide dogs are good for

the productivity of the person, and for

the economy. For example, along the way,

my guide dogs were very important in my

having and progressing in a career. To be

honest, I don’t think I would have had as

much self-confidence without one.

For example, I don’t think I would have

had the self-confidence to navigate the

Ole Miss campus when I was there as an

undergraduate, and in law school. I don’t

think I would have had the self-confidence

to move away to Jackson and get my own

apartment and to go to work every day.

And I certainly would not have had the

social benefits that I’ve enjoyed. Because

of my guide dogs, I have met hundreds

of people I would not have otherwise met,

and many of those people have greatly

enriched my life.”

Regarding safety to the blind person,

Becky said, “Let me give you an example.

We have a great dog we trained in service.

He has saved the client’s life several times

and recently did so, again. The client told

me she asked her dog to guide her across

a street. He did, but he did so in an erratic

pattern, and though she didn’t know why,

she trusted him. When she got to the other

side, a man in a truck, who had observed

but could do nothing as it happened,

informed her there was a downed power

line in the road, and that her dog had

guided her though the gauntlet, as it were.

In other words, she asked her partner-dog

and he found a way. If her partner-guide

had been unsuccessful, she would have

likely been electrocuted and killed.”

How does it work?

Gallant Hearts places well trained,

healthy dogs throughout the United States,

and occasionally, Canada. The dogs are

provided, free of charge, to qualified

individuals who have been approved by

the center’s admissions committee.

The trained dog is normally delivered

to the applicant and the trainer remains

within the area and provides training for

the new team for a period of 1 to 2 weeks.

The applicant may also come to Jackson,

Mississippi for training if that proves to

be a more workable option. (For more on

placement, see the website.)

Ways you can participate.

Be a Puppy Raiser –Gallant Hearts is

currently placing dogs into puppy raiser

homes where an in-home atmosphere

provides the critical, early socialization and

obedience training needed for a dog to be

a guide dog. Gallant Hearts provides veterinary

care, food, and obedience training

classes for the puppy. The puppy remains

with the host family for 12 to 18 months,

and then is transitioned into Gallant

Hearts’ formal training program. Puppy

Raisers are people who love dogs, and

who also feel the importance of helping

by preparing the puppy to provide a life

of independence to someone out there

who otherwise would not have as much


Donate –Gallant Hearts is a non-profit,

tax-exempt organization, established in

Madison. The organization fulfills its mission

through the generous gifts of individuals

and organizations.

People are often interested to know

that the total costs of finishing and placing

a Gallant Hearts Guide dog with a client

is approximately $20,000. Gallant Hearts

is governed by a nine-member board of

directors selected for their expertise in

governance, fund raising, veterinarian care,

medicine, legal, finance, and media. n


For more information about Gallant Hearts Guide Dog

Center, including raising a puppy, training, placement,

and much more, please visit the organization’s website

at gallanthearts.org.

You may reach Becky Floyd at 601-853-6996,

or by email at rfloyd@gallanthearts.org.

Hometown madison • 7

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Please visit us at our new location:

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8 • Jan/Feb 2016



Jo’s Tomato Soup

• 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

• 1 14.5 oz. can water

• 1 small can V-8 juice

• 1 tbsp. ketchup

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 1/3 cup cold milk

• 4 tsp. cornstarch

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Pinch of sugar

In a saucepan bring first seven ingredients

to a boil.

Reduce heat and continue boiling for 6-7 minutes,

stirring often.

In a cup, add cornstarch and dissolve with milk,

pour into bubbling tomato mixture.

Continue on low heat until soup has thickened. If

desired add a little more milk.

Serve with grill cheese sandwich or

homemade cornbread.

Turnip Green Soup

• 1 large can of turnip greens

• 1 can chicken broth

• 1 can Rotel

• 1 can black eyed peas, drained

• 1 can navy beans, drained

• 1 can kidney beans

• 1 smoked sausage, sliced into rounds

and browned/drained

• 1 onion, diced

Combine and simmer for a couple of hours

until onion is done.

Can use any combination of beans, does not

have to be what is listed above.

Bacon, Lettuce,

& Tomato Soup

• 6 strips bacon, cooked, crumbled

• 1 tbsp. bacon drippings, strained

• 1 yellow onion, finely chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 16 oz. can plum tomatoes with liquid,


• 3 tbsp. tomato paste

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (1 tsp. dried)

• 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 4 cups chicken stock

• 1/4 tsp. sugar

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. pepper

• 1/4 head of lettuce, shredded

Sauté onion and garlic in bacon drippings for

5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and basil.

Cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Sift in flour and whisk

to blend. Add stock, sugar, salt and pepper and

simmer 15 minutes.

Just before serving, add bacon and lettuce.

Serve warm.

Submitted by Jo Ellen Swain of Lake Caroline

Hometown madison • 9


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10 • Jan/Feb 2016

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12 • Jan/Feb 2016

Pam & Kevin Cooper

Have you ever had the feeling that something was missing?

That feeling that no else could possibly understand what you are going through.

My husband Kevin and I experienced that emptiness during a season of marriage.

We served at a church and were responsible for tons of students

throughout the years. We attended every football game, show choir

contest, beauty pageant – you name it. But there was something

missing – our own child to love and support. We seem to be the

parents of many but that did not take the place of having a child to

call “Mini-Cooper.”

We went through many appointments and surgical procedures

that seemed fruitless. No one could answer our questions – even

though many others had questions. Well meaning church members

often asked about our situation and sometimes teased us not knowing

how painful it was to be asked about our empty arms. Mother’s Day

was the worst. I was asked year after year to sing the special. If only

they knew how many tears were shed during that holiday and how

hard it was to look at in the congregation at all of the mother’s

holding their special blessings close.

We went to several meetings and talked to people who had

adopted. We were not totally sold on the idea of domestic adoption.

There were so many questions we had even after all the seminars.

We decided to investigate foreign adoption. Every day after work

(I taught middle school music) I would head upstairs in our home

and search the web for adoption agencies that offered foreign

adoptions. I have always felt called to Asian children.

One day I ran across an agency that offered foreign adoptions

and they had something different – color pictures (remember, this

Hometown madison • 13

was the beginning days of the internet.) Not only did they have color

pictures but they also had pictures of children playing outside. That

was practically unheard of. This was an American agency that offered

foreign adoptions in a place called Kazakhstan. I had never heard of

that before but it sounded like it was somewhere in Russia. I soon

discovered it was one of the countries which developed after the

USSR broke apart.

While I was continuing my research, Kevin headed up the stairs

to say his usual, “Whatcha doin?” I explained about the company

and the adoption process with excitement. As he began to walk back

downstairs he had one question: “How much?” After I shared the

details he replied with, “In life, everyone has various seasons and this is

not our season.” Just like a good submissive preacher’s wife I promptly

turned around and quickly e-mailed every reference on the page.

About ten minutes later I received a joyful response. The woman

who replied shared about a Christian agency out of Georgia that had

helped make her dreams come true. She gave me the name and

number and also shared that the husband and wife team had also

adopted two children from Kazakhstan themselves. I contacted

them the next day.

The company sent a package of information in January to start

working on and I worked diligently to get every “i” dotted and “t”

crossed. We sent our paperwork in hoping to meet all the requirements

for recommendation. February of 2001 was a long waiting

period, but towards the end of the month, our home-study agency

called and said that a couple had considered us for a domestic

adoption. I was filled with tons of questions and uncertainty.

We met the couple and emotions were flying like crazy. We were

so excited and I then I began to start examining the situation. I was

so confused and didn’t know which way to turn. I had already planned

a getaway with my best friend Tanya to the beach and Kevin said,

“Take off!”

14 • Jan/Feb 2016

The weatherman had forgotten to tell Gulf Shores that it was

spring break. It was freezing. I put my sweats and started my lonely

walk down the beach. Everything in my heart was so confusing to my

mind and the longer I walked, the more confused I became. “Domestic

or foreign – what was the answer Lord?” He had planted the seed in

my heart and now with this domestic option – I just did not know

anymore. “Just tell me Lord – what do you want me to do?”

About that time a blonde haired couple came walking towards

me swinging an Asian toddler’s tiny feet back and forth in the

sand. I fell to my knees and wept. All I could say was “Thank you -

thank you Lord.” Then I spent the next hour

on the phone with Kevin. Things worked

out because the couple changed their

mind about giving their child up for

adoption. God’s timing! We continued

with the foreign adoption process.

Everything had to be in and signed

on our end by April. So we got busy.

By the middle of April, we had all of our

American documents signed and sealed. We just

had to wait for the delivery and the return. We had

to receive our passports and then send the entire dossier

(fancy word for paperwork) to the Kazak embassy in New York in

August. It was now just a matter of time and waiting . . . and waiting.

We passed the time by keeping extremely busy. We worked on

the nursery, had showers and planned youth events. We could not

have completed this process without the help of our family, friends,

and church family. They showered us with gifts and sky miles. They

made donations to our cause and helped in every way they knew

how to make our dreams come true.

In July, our youth group traveled to Baltimore for a week of

mission work. I planned the youth choir performances and Kevin

worked on everything else from A to Z. While we were there, we

received an unexpected surprise. Our agency called and said they

were emailing us a picture of our little girl! I was thrilled, but

confused as to how we were going to receive it. At that time, we did

not carry computers with us. Kevin was loading up one of the VBS

sites and did not answer his phone. I ran downstairs and the young

lady working said they did have one computer that had internet access,

but I would have to stand in line. There was already a gentleman

on-line so I went back upstairs and waited for a bit and continued to

call Kevin. I went downstairs several times within the hour. The last

time I went downstairs it was after 9:00 P.M. and Kevin walked in

the front door. I told him what was happening and then I couldn’t

“Just tell me Lord

- what do you

want me to


stand it any longer. The same gentleman had been on the computer

the entire time so I said, “Excuse me sir. We are in the process of

adopting a child and they are trying to send us a picture on the

internet and this is the only access we have to a computer.” He said,

“Oh, I apologize. This can wait.”

We sat at the computer for what seemed to be an eternity. We

watched as it took about a minute per line to print out. It started at

her forehead and continued slowly down the page. Kevin said, “I think

we are adopting Richard Nixon” by the time her eyebrows appeared

on the page. There she was – all 6 pounds of her. Her name was

Meureurt. We thought you pronounced it

Meroot and knew that had to change! We

decided on Shelby McLaurin to honor

both of our mothers. Many people

still believe we named her after the

Mustang because of Kevin’s obsession.

We knocked on a few doors and spread

the word to meet downstairs. We shared

our news with about eighty of our closest

friends that night. Our excitement was


A couple of weeks after our return our passports arrived.

We sent everything we had worked so hard on for eight months

to New York for the final seals. I think this was the longest waiting

period of all. We received our date to travel September 22, 2001.

We anticipated the arrival of this date until…..

Kevin awoke very early the morning of September 11th because

he needed to make the fight arrangements. He spent the morning

on the phone with the airlines getting everything purchased and

squared away. Meanwhile, I went to school and met my first class.

After the bell rang for second block, the students left but none came

back in for the next class. I was out in the choir room which is

separate from the building. There was no one in the halls. All of the

televisions in the classes were on and the students were staring at

the screens. I saw smoke on one of the screens and asked what was

happening. The teacher said, “Terrorist attack in New York. The

World Trade Center is gone and most of the places in the surrounding

area.” I was panic stricken. I had no idea where the Kazak embassy

was located but I imagined the worst. At that point I was not thinking

about the loss of lives or the horrible situation at hand, but selfishly

thinking, “Please God do not let it be the embassy. Please do not let

us lose everything.”

I ran to the counselor’s office. It was like they were waiting for

me. I called Kevin and he couldn’t get through to our agency. Our

Hometown madison • 15

company had couples abroad and they were worried that air travel

would be shut down. They were trying to expedite their trip home.

We felt helpless.

They were right. International travel had been shut down for the

time being. This meant our trip was on hold. That night I went to

Shelby’s room and held the Kazak doll I had ordered. I rocked back

and forth holding that baby and sang the first song that came to mind:

“Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moon light, someone’s

thinking of me and loving me tonight.” There were too many things

going through my head. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. No one

knew what to say.

A week later they lifted the travel ban and our trip was on again.

However, the intensity of the trip was really hard to put into words.

We arrived at the airport with a group of students and friends who

prayed us there and back. Our flight was to Germany and then on to

Almaty, Kazakhstan. Military personnel was located everywhere with

machine guns strapped across their bodies. Kevin looked at every

person that loaded the plane. He already had practiced his plan of

attack in case he needed to take charge. As we flew into the dark –

literally there are no lights on the landing strip – all we could see were

the two little orange lights that brought us in to airport. We exited

and it was like the Shawshank redemption – you couldn’t see where

you were being led and everything was silent. We went through

security and had to point to the thousands of dollars we had taped to

our bodies. I had never felt that nervous before. There was a driver

waiting for us that took us through an alley. We jumped into an old

school BMW and flew to our apartment. It was pitch black. The

driver held a flashlight at the bottom of the stairs so that we could

see how to climb. Scary times full of faith!

The next morning we were greeted by our semi-sweet translator,

Alona. She seemed to like me but did not appreciate Kevin’s humor.

We had a five-hour flight to the city where Shelby was born. The

flight to Kokshetau was bumpy but we were both so excited we didn’t

mind. We arrived at the baby house and walked through a hallway

filled with women in bathrobes. The baby house provides postnatal

care for young moms giving their children up for adoption. If the

baby is not adopted by twelve months of age, he/she will then go to

an orphanage.

And then the big moment arrived. They had put Shelby in a

cradle by herself so that we could have that “special moment.” In the

room, a radio was playing an American pop song, “True” by Spandau

Ballet (which is now her song.) She was on her side propped up on

her arm and looked over our shoulder as if to say, “Can I help you?”

Then, I picked up our daughter. She did not smile but it did not

matter. I just thought she was not accustomed to having company.

She looked at us with questions in her eyes and we savored each


I inquired about her name to our interpreter and she shared with

me that was a very common name in their country. However, they

called her something else since there were so many little girls with that

name in the baby house. They called her “Rosa” because she was the

tiniest flower in the nursery. I got cold chills. My middle name is Rose.

We flew back to Almaty and the next two weeks were heaven

– no phone, no schedule, and no expectations. We played with

stacking cups and walked to the Tsum store for groceries. We looked

at the delicious goat heads available for dinner in the meat departments.

We even enjoyed a horse burger from the local McDonald’s.

We watched people ice skate and Kevin struck up a close relationship

with our driver, Alex. He had once been a sniper in the Soviet army.

We drove to look at the Himalaya’s and Alex explained how close we

were to Afghanistan. He and Kevin planned a day to visit the

mosques before we left.

We visited our in-country attorneys – three sisters that ran the

show. They were precious and ate Shelby up. Our court date was

approaching and the doctor and the court representative decided

that they would fly over instead of asking us to fly back to Kokshetau.

What a blessing.

The morning of court, Alex arrived and we met Alona there. She

told us not to say a word – let her do the talking. That was all fine and

good until the judge walked in the room. She had on three different

patterns that jumped out at you and blue and green eye shadow up

to her forehead. Kevin said, “Hey, doesn’t she remind you of MiMi

on the Drew Carey Show?” Alona did not find that humorous and

promptly told him to hush. All went perfectly and we went to

celebrate at an Irish Pub.

That night Shelby did not sleep. She screamed her head off and

bit my shoulder. Little did I know that a six-month old could cut

teeth. I froze an apple and cut it into chunks. She finally went to

sleep about 1:30 a.m. We were exhausted. We laid down and finally

went sound to sleep. Then about 3:00 a.m. our emergency satellite

cell phone rang. We both jumped up and started looking for it. It

was a friend from Brandon informing us that the US had begun

bombing Afghanistan.

Our agency decided to expedite our trip and we were sent into a

whirlwind. We had to go to the embassy and get everything stamped

in order to leave the country. We talked to our agency and they gave

us the details. For our safety and before they shut down international

travel again, they wanted to get us out of there. Kevin asked Alex if

they were still going to visit the mosque, but Alex said, “It would not

be wise to take an American in there right now.”

16 • Jan/Feb 2016

After a quick 24-hour stop in Moscow, we caught our flight for

New York. 13 hours in the air with a teething six month old was

taxing. With our flight times changed it was a literal miracle that we

made it through customs at JFK Airport in New York to catch our

connecting flight to Atlanta, then on to Jackson. Shelby was a

screaming mess until we got in the air leaving Atlanta. After that

she was as calm as could be, sleeping most of the way.

We changed her into jeans and a sweatshirt with a heart shaped

American flag on the front, and we were ready to introduce her to her

new world in Mississippi. Even with the tight post 9-11 security, over

200 friends and family along with a news camera crew and several

irritated airport security guards greeted us upon arrival in Jackson.

The next few weeks were filled with visitors from near and far.

Shelby became an “honorary” Brandon High School cheerleader in

the fall of 2001!

As we look back, the journey that we thought had taken forever is

such a short time in the big scheme of things. Our Kazak journey

lasted nine months. Ironic, huh? There are no coincidences in this

life. We were looking at our time instead of God’s time. His timing

is perfect. His grace is sufficient and His love is immeasurable.

We now have three children and are so blessed to share God’s

love with them. But mostly we thank our Lord that he gave us the

opportunity to “bring up a child in the way they (she) should go”–

who may have never heard the true meaning of life through His

death and resurrection. We love you Angel Princess and we praise

the Lord for His goodness and grace! n


There is more to the story! Many miracles and details we’d love to

share. Watch for the release of our book The Desire of our Hearts:

Shelby’s Story in 2016. You can keep up with the Cooper’s on Facebook,

and at our church web site www.Gracecrossingmadison.org

Hometown madison • 17

Is your student

ready to compete?

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At St. Andrew’s we are building

on a legacy of athletic success and

outstanding participation.

Next year St. Andrew’s will open a new

Athletic Healthplex that will strengthen

Saints teams as they train for State

Championships and bolster the health and

wellness of every student.

Schedule your visit at gosaints.org.

18 • Jan/Feb 2016

Hometown madison • 19

20 • Jan/Feb 2016

Mary Ann Kirby

couple of years ago, I was walking

back to my then-downtown office

from lunch and noticed a man up

ahead that clearly looked as if he had fallen

on hard times. He was leaning against the

wall watching as I approached and just as

I did, asked if I had a dollar to spare. Now

I knew he was going to ask me that but

what proceeded to come out of my mouth

was astonishing, even to me. I said, “I don’t

have a dollar. I even had to charge my lunch.”

And while I’m quite certain the guy doesn’t

take American Express or care, for that

matter, that I’d been faced with the grueling

decision between cash or credit, he still

managed a gracious nod as I passed him by.

I felt guilty–and ridiculous.

It got me to thinking, though, as I

continued on, what should I have said?

Better yet, what could I have done? It was

the second incident in as many weeks that

left me with the same question.

The week before, my son and I had made

a trip to Yazoo City to see my grandmother.

On the way there, I noticed an older man

standing alongside the highway trying to

fix his bicycle. His front wheel was lying on

the ground and there was a sign on the back

of his bike that said, “Broke and hungry.”

I instantly wished I’d known how to fix a

bicycle–but kept driving, nonetheless. I

mean, you never know about people, right?

Well three hours later on our way back,

we passed that same man now riding his

repaired bike down the shoulder of that

same highway having made it a good

distance from the original sighting. It was

as if God was giving me a second chance

to redeem myself. I told my son, “I wish

there was some way we could help him,”

and he said, “OK, but how?” And in the

time it took us to wrestle with what to do,

at 70 miles per hour, we had traveled

another half-mile down the road–still

not stopping. It weighed on me.

So that day, downtown, as I carried my

purse in the crook of my arm channeling

my inner Reese Witherspoon in Legally

Blonde, I once again failed the exercise

with which I was presented. The man on

the street was seemingly broke and in need

and I did nothing to help him. You know,

Lazarus was overlooked repeatedly and

look how that story ended.

How else could I have helped? A

sandwich and a bottle of water may have

done just the trick–just like the sandwich

and bottle of water I’d bought myself a

half-hour earlier. I mean, the fact that he’s

willing to suffer an existence of poverty

and begging rather than turn to a life of

crime suggests to me that he might actually

be of high moral character. I say that sort

of jokingly, of course. The point is, who are

we to judge? And what does that sandwich

cost in the grand scheme of things? Well,

based on the story of Lazarus, it could cost

me everything.

Regardless of how we act or think in

those situations, we could each do a little

more to help those who have a lot less.

And in reality, the “beggars” in our lives

are not limited to those penniless and on

street corners. We’re surrounded by people

starving emotionally, spiritually, and

socially–and how we feed them matters.

So as we embark upon a new year, I’d

like to offer a prayer for peace and new

beginnings. I pray that joy will fill our days,

peace will fill our hearts, and love will fill

our lives. I pray that we’ll be blessed with

all the good things God has to give and

that we will all live in love and truth in 2016.

God bless you all and Happy New Year! n

Hometown madison • 21


Inspire it.

Call the Face and

Skin Center today.

J. Randall Jordan, MD, FACS

Facial Plastic Surgeon

The Township at Colony Park

201 Northlake Avenue, Suite 211 • Ridgeland

601.815.3374 • faceandskincenter.com

22 • Jan/Feb 2016

fsc_envy_HTMAD_4x10.indd 1

12/3/15 1:34 PM

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JAN 23








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Hometown madison • 23

24 • Jan/Feb 2016


FaithfulJill Dale

As a writer, I’ve written many stories and

articles on various subjects. I wrote procedure

manuals and procedure documents on web

applications and other application processes

for a few years. I then began writing for the

agent magazine that is distributed to the

agency force of Southern Farm Bureau Life

Insurance Company. I remember reading

trade magazines and hearing the stories

about the importance of life insurance and

what it means to a family. I would listen to

agents talk about delivering the death claim

check and how hard that was, but also the

relief and comfort it brought to a husband,

wife or mother or father. Never did I think

I would become the story I read about and

wrote about.

As I sat Sunday morning, two days after

my son died, I reflected on this and how life

has a weird way of playing out. I stared at a

blank document on my computer. I’ve never

been at a loss for words when it comes to

writing, but now I was. The hardest thing I

have ever written would be the obituary of

my 5 year old son, Campbell Grady Dale.

How would I condense his life, his impact

into a brief obituary? How do I tell the world

what an amazing, phenomenal boy Campbell

was? How do I tell people about his love for

his friends at the hospital, for his family, for

his twin sister and especially for his Father in

heaven…the one he trusted to take care of

him and heal him forever of his cancer?

What would I most want people to know

about the most amazing boy who called me

mom and David dad? I think it could be

summed up with this–he fought a brave

battle against a fierce enemy and the ultimate

Victor won, the One who wins every battle

against death, every, single time. Campbell

believed that God would heal him of his

cancer, and He did. He may not have healed

him in the way we wanted, but He healed

him according to His perfect will, His perfect

plan for Campbell’s life and for ours.

From the first day Campbell was diagnosed,

we laid him at our Father’s feet. We knew it

would take a miracle to heal him. The odds

were stacked against him, but we were ready

to fight. Our prayer was always that “Thy will

be done” whatever that may be. As we went

through the original treatment protocol

beginning in February 2014 of 54 weeks of

intense chemotherapy and 24 days of

radiation, we trusted God with each step,

with each decision that we made. When

Campbell’s cancer returned in April 2015,

we continued to trust Him and His plan for

his life. When we received the heartbreaking

news on August 17, 2015 that our doctors had

done everything that they could to heal him

here on earth, we continued to trust Him.

We always knew Campbell would be

healed, but now we knew that healing would

come in heaven and not here on earth. As

the words began to flow, so did the tears as

I reflected on what most would consider a

short life. His life may appear short to the

normal person, but the impact he had and

continues to have will be felt for years to

come. He lived the exact amount of time

God had ordained as He knit him together

in my womb…not a day more or a day less.

Hometown madison • 25

The following narrative tells the

heartwarming story of the Dale family’s

journey with cancer. Jill Dale made

regular journal entries about the journey

on CaringBridge.org. This includes excerpts

of Jill’s posts as compiled by Susan Marquez.

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,

that’s what little boys are made of. Campbell

Dale was a normal little boy in every way.

Spirited. Curious. Exuberant. At least, until

he began having issues with constipation one

weekend. The series of events that followed

became a journey of heartbreak tempered

with faith and love.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,

for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

– Isaiah 41:10

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made

perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

February 12, 2014 was a day the Dale

family will never forget, for that was the day

life as they knew it forever changed. “We had

not noticed anything abnormal over the

weekend,” his mom, Jill Dale, wrote on the

overview of the family’s CaringBridge site.

“Campbell had been constipated a little, but

nothing unusual. On Monday, February 10,

he went to school like normal.” Yet the

four-year-old still complained about being

constipated. An enema, a trip to the doctor,

and a couple of rounds of Miralax later,

Campbell’s temperature was climbing and

his belly was swollen. His doctor sent them

to a Radiology group to get an X-ray done.

When that came back inconclusive, a CT

scan revealed a mass in the boy’s abdomen.

“We were immediately sent to Blair E.

Batson Hospital for Children where we were

admitted at 5:30pm. After running more

tests on Thursday, we sat down with our

doctors and were told our son had a mass in

his belly that needed to be removed. It could be

anything from lymphoma, to neuroblastoma,

to a taratoma or rhabdomyosarcoma (at this

time rhabdo was toward the bottom of the

list).” On Friday, surgeons were able to remove

a 4 1/2 to 5 inch mass from his abdomen.

The mass was sent to a pathology lab and on

February 19, the family learned that Campbell

had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma,

a rare form of cancer of the tissue. “They were

able to remove all of his tumor, but of course,

there were what they call studs left. We were

scheduled immediately for a bone scan and

PET scan for Monday, Feb. 24th. On Tuesday

the 25th, a bone marrow aspiration was done

along with the placement of a chemo port.

The preliminary results from the bone scan

and PET scan came back favorable meaning

it had not spread to the bones or other organs.

That Tuesday at 5:00, we were told that our

son has Stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma and

they had found a spot in his bone marrow.”

Campbell’s parents, David and Jill, were

told the road before them would be difficult

and hard. “We didn’t want to know the success

rate, that didn’t matter to us,” Jill wrote. “All

that mattered was ‘Can we beat this?’” The

chemo regimen would be aggressive, radiation

would be needed and 54 weeks is what it will

take. “As I laid my head on the table and cried

more than I have in two weeks, I didn’t think

I would be able to walk out of the room. So

David and I looked at each other, signed the

papers to begin treatment and told the doctor

to do whatever needed to be done to save our

son. The one thing that stood out in my mind

was David telling the doctor we know the

Great Physician (Jehovah Rapha) can heal

Campbell, not doctors or medicine…HE

provides the means to do it. So we called our

family in to tell them. The road before us

might be difficult, but we were determined

not to lie down and give up. We were in the

fight of our lives and we were confident that

Campbell would beat this.”

The family resolved to bathe themselves

in scripture and pray continuously without


“But those who hope in the LORD will renew

their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary, they will walk

and not be patient.” – Isaiah 40: 29-31

Campbell’s first chemotherapy treatment

began on Wednesday, February 26. All went

well. He actually slept through the first

treatment (he had been given some medicine

to calm him after a rough morning so he slept

all afternoon). The treatment started with

two drugs, Irinotecan and Vincristinem. The

Irinotecan was scheduled for five days straight.

Campbell’s twin sister, Avery (aka ‘’Shu”)

visited, and the children watched movies and

ate Chick-fil-A together. At the time, Jill was

reading a book, “The Red Sea Rules,” given

to hear by a woman at church. “I have found

so much wisdom and guidance in this book,”

Jill wrote. “Meditating on the truths in it has

brought so much peace: ‘So take a deep

breath and recall this deeper secret of the

Christian life: when you are in a difficult

place, realize that the Lord either placed you

there or allowed you to be there for reasons

perhaps known for now only to Himself.

The same God who led you in, will lead you

out.’ So we trust in this and we know that

HE will make a way. We don’t understand

why we are enduring this trial and may never

know while we are here on this earth, but we

know that the same God who paved the road

before us will walk beside us down this road

every step of the way. Mine and David’s

prayer throughout this entire journey is that

God will be glorified in everything. Don’t

worry about anything; instead pray about

everything and don’t forget to thank God for

His answers.”

26 • Jan/Feb 2016

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every

situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

On March 3, after 5 days of treatment,

Campbell was released to go home. “We

were all very thankful to be going home to

our familiar territory, routine, food, etc. “

Like most children, Campbell was a creature

of habit. He thrived in his own environment.

“We will return to the clinic for our post op

appointment at 8:40 Thursday morning and

then our first outpatient treatment will be at

12:30 on Thursday. We will continue to do

outpatient for treatment weeks two through

five, barring Campbell doesn’t get fever or

sick, which would put us back in the hospital.

David and I have decided that each day we

would find at least one thing to give God

praise for...we are thankful and blessed to get

the opportunity to do that each day of

treatment. Each morning, our prayer is that

Campbell’s side effects from treatment

would be minimum or NOT AT ALL.

We boldly pray for not at all. I am constantly

reminded to experience true joy in each and

every moment of the day and cherish the

time God gives me with my family.”

“I will extol the Lord at all times; HIS praise will

always be on my lips.” –Psalm 34:1

“Our bold prayer is that at six weeks,

when Campbell has his first evaluation, that

they will find no cancer. We know this is a

bold request, but our God is bigger than cancer

and we know HE hears each and every request

we offer up to HIM. Our other request is

that the side effects from the chemo will be

minimum or none at all. Thank you again for

all of your prayers, love and support. We are

praying without ceasing that Campbell will be

completely healed…his story is not finished.”

Throughout the treatment, Jill and David

sought moments of normalcy for their children.

About a month after he was diagnosed,

Campbell was able to return to Trinity

Preschool for a brief moment to enjoy Fairy

Tale Day. He dressed as a pirate, and his

twin sister, Avery, dressed as Rapunzel. A few

days later, Jill arranged a photo session with

photographer Allison Muirhead. “Our

friendship/relationship with Allison goes

back 7 years. She took our wedding pictures,

newborn pictures, first year pictures and many

other pictures since, of the twins and our family.

I knew there was no one else I wanted to take

these very special pictures and capture our

family as only she can. Because we don’t know

what the future holds for our family, we wanted

to have memories of what we were before


Radiation…such a scary word. “It’s one I

never thought I would speak of, especially

pertaining to my child.” A meeting with

doctors revealed that Campbell was

unfortunately not a candidate for the proton

therapy the family had hoped for. “Because

of the rare location of his Rhabdo (in the

abdomen) and the studs that were left from

surgery, the proton therapy will not work.

Without getting too detailed, proton therapy

hits the tumor (or cancer cells) with radiation.

Because Campbell’s cells are probably so

small, there is no way to know what to hit

and you can’t just hit thin air and hope you

are hitting the possible cancer cells remaining.

In his case, you can’t hope, you have to

know for certain that the radiation is hitting

what it is supposed to so that it won’t come

back. So, the only way to do that is to radiate

his entire abdomen.” The good news is the

radiation could be done at UMC. The bad

news would be the toll it would take on

Campbell. The side effects from radiation

will be worse since it is targeting his abdomen…

nausea, vomiting, intestinal issues (because

the intestines do not like radiation), etc. He

will be put to sleep every day for five days a

week for five weeks (because of his age and

the need to be completely still he has to be

put to sleep). He will also be receiving chemo

throughout radiation. We are scared, we are

nervous and we worry about the many side

effects to come. Secondary cancer is a big

one. We know that God provides the wisdom

and tools to the doctors to do their jobs so

we signed the papers once again and said do

whatever you have to in order to save his life

and give him a chance at living a long, full life.”

The toll on the entire family was hard.

“I’m tired, we are tired and my heart aches

for my four-year-old who doesn’t understand

why we keep doing all of this to him. I don’t

know if there has ever really been a time in

my life where I cried out to God that I was

so scared and I wasn’t sure I could keep

going. As much as I feel we are fighting an

uphill battle, HE reminded me that HE is

right there, fighting the battle with us. Oh

gosh how HE loves Campbell more than

I do…HE loves him so much I can’t even

fathom the depths of HIS love for him. So

I release it to HIM, I release Campbell to

HIM, trusting HIM to continue to carry us

through on this journey.”

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD

is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the

earth. HE will not grow tired or weary, and HIS

understanding no one can fathom. HE gives strength

to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men

stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength. They will soar on wings

like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they

will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:28

“From the fullness of HIS grace we have all received

one blessing after another.” –John 1:16

By January, Campbell’s little body was

struggling from the effects of the radiation.

“I’m going to be honest (and David and I

have always said from day one of this journey,

we would never sugarcoat it to make it more

pleasant because honestly there aren’t a lot of

days I count as pleasant). November and

December were rough months for us.” It was

Hometown madison • 27

week 42, and the radiation had an adverse

effect on Campbell’s bladder, necessitating

the insertion of stents. During that procedure,

it was determined there were muted cancer

cells in Campbell’s bladder. “My emotions

have been all over the map lately and this fear

has taken hold of my heart and my life once

again. I would love to say that I have it all

together and all figured out and we are

managing well, but that’s a lie. I am scared

of what my son’s future looks like…what our

future as a family looks like. In the weeks

since, I have experienced a flood of emotions,

but through it all, I have felt God’s presence,

HIS Peace that surpasses all understanding

and daily gentle reminders that HE is still on

HIS throne, HE has Campbell, us, all of us, in

the palm of HIS Hand. And I’m reminded of

that great hymn, ‘It is Well With My Soul.’

I love the words and how comforting that

those words written so many years ago are

still so true, so relevant to my life, to all of

our lives today. I love Kristene DeMarco’s

(Bethel Music) worshipful rendition of it

and find myself listening to it daily.

With nine weeks left of chemo, David and

Jill began to look forward to week number 54.

That’s when a scan would be performed to

determine if the cancer was in remission.

All along, family, friends, church members,

neighbors, co-workers and others pulled

together to feed the Dale family literally and

spiritually. The family was provided with meals,

cards, ‘happies’ and more which let them

know that they were not alone on their


“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

–Psalm 90:14

The final week of chemo came on week

51, one year into the journey that began with

Campbell’s diagnosis of cancer. Jill was

reflective in her CaringBridge post: I think

about how this is definitely not how I

pictured my life, especially after having kids.

Through this year, I am learning to not take

life for granted, but to hold on to every

second and to make sure that I make every

day count for HIS Kingdom, as that is my

sole purpose here on earth: to be in so close

fellowship with HIM that HE reveals

HIMSELF to me. That I am open to what

HE is teaching me, showing me and that my

life will be a reflection of HIM and will draw

others to HIM, because that is what life is all

about, living a life that glorifies HIM so that

others will come to know HIM as their

Savior. What a huge responsibility, but what

a glorious, magnificent thing. I never would

have thought cancer would teach me so

much and bring me so far down that the only

way to rise up is reaching and grasping HIS

hand. That’s what we are doing, we grasp and

we hold on as tight as we can because I never

want HIM to let me go. To face a monster

like cancer without a Savior, well, I cannot

even imagine. People ask David and me how

we do it, but I really don’t think we do it. We

do the only thing we know, which is to pray

and trust that HE knows better than us what

is best for us and for Campbell. I don’t think

God makes people get cancer. It’s easy to

blame Him when something bad happens. I

think because of the sinful world we live in,

death, disease, immorality, etc. is a part of this

world. It makes us hope for something better,

a place where there will be no death, disease,

sin. What a magnificent thing, I mean can

you imagine living somewhere like that for all

eternity? That’s why I have hope, because

this life is not the end for me, for Campbell,

for all those who believe. A better place is

waiting and if Campbell gets there before

me, well what a glorious reunion that will be.

He can sit at Jesus’ feet and wait for me to

join him. No, I don’t want my child to die,

but no one does so I have to trust and believe

that God will heal him and he will live a long,

full, healthy life.

In May, the Dale family prepared

themselves for twelve three-week rounds of

chemo, 36 weeks with no break in between.

Campbell’s cancer had returned. “People

always ask how we do this day in and day out.

The answer is I just don’t know. There are

days that I am a blubbering mess and other

days where I forget this reality and our life

feels a little “normal” whatever that is. I

remember vividly having a bad day almost 2

weeks ago, bad enough that I was hyperventilating

and I couldn’t control the tears, the

anger or the emotions. Thinking about all

these things and being mad at God and

being mad at the world and not understanding

why my son was suffering so much. David

came home that night and reassured me that

it was going to all be okay. He said no matter

what, we were going to be okay (it’s funny

how God puts two people together – we are

so different, but yet our strengths and

weaknesses cancel each other out…God knew

that when he brought us together nine years

ago). After spending much time in prayer

that Tuesday night and basically crying and

praying on my knees at the foot of my child’s

bed (although this has become a regular scene

for the past 15 months), the next morning I

felt this peace wash over me and it has been

with me ever since. I know that was and is

God saying trust ME, love ME, look to

ME…I’ve got this. I have carried you this far

and will continue to carry you until the end

when you join ME in Heaven. HE continues

to give me, give us, a peace that surpasses all

of our understanding, strength to endure and

hope for tomorrow. Chemo starts tomorrow

(Monday). We are ready to fight and win.

We don’t know what the next 36 weeks looks


28 • Jan/Feb 2016

“Yet I am always with you, you hold me by my right

hand. YOU guide me with your counsel, and

afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I

in heaven but YOU? And earth has nothing I desire

but YOU. My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD

is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

–Psalm 73:23-26

Those weeks were difficult for Campbell

and for his family. Jill went through all range

of emotions, including anger and helplessness.

“I don’t understand why these kids get

cancer, fight so hard and then lose the fight.

I think it is something I may always struggle

with (another question for that day when I

get to Heaven). I want more than anything

else in this world for my child to beat this

cancer. I know the odds are stacked against

him and there is literally nothing that neither

I nor David can do to change that. I want to

control the outcome. I want to control how

he responds to chemo. I want to control

every last part of it, and I can’t. I simply have

to let it go, lay it down at my Savior’s feet and

remember that Campbell is not mine. He is

only a gift to love and nurture and point him

to the One who loves him more than I do.

What a tall order, but what a gift we’ve been

given. More than anything else in this world,

I want him to know God, to know Christ as

we do, a loving Savior that died so that we

might live. But really, isn’t that what life is all

about for all of us?”

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have

peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take

heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33

By mid September, Campbell was fading.

“I’ve cried many tears in the past few days,

knowing that Campbell is one day closer to

being HOME. He sat up in bed last night

and I was talking to him as he was drinking

his apple juice. I asked him if he was tired, he

nodded yes. I asked him if he was ready to go

home and he said yes. I then asked him if he

was ready to see Jesus. He nodded yes. I

hugged him tight and told him, not much

longer, and then told him that Jesus would

take care of him and told him to wait for us.

No one prepares you for this…there are

no classes, no book to walk you through

watching your child fight cancer and then

watching the cancer take over their body. I

don’t think there is any possible way to write

a book about it or tell someone how to do it.

You do it by experience and it’s an experience

I wish we never had. David and I look at each

other some days and feel like we are living in

this alternate universe or something. It’s just

a strange life we have these days. I think we

just go through the motions, just trying to

get through the day. There have been good

moments during the day with Campbell and

I cherish those. They are becoming few and

far between though. He’s tired and has slept

most of today. He’s on oxygen around the

clock and we have tried to keep him as

comfortable as possible with medication.

He knows he is loved so very much and we

kiss him and tell him that as much as we can.

I think what is scary to me is not having him

physically here to kiss and to touch. That’s

what scares me and it’s something I have

struggled with and have asked God many

times during the day to give me comfort and

peace in that.”

As difficult as the journey was, there were

blessings scattered all along the way for both

Campbell and his family. Several people with

the MSU alumni flew the family back and

forth to Starkville on Aug 25th so that

Campbell could be a Bulldog for a day.

“We are grateful to so many people,” wrote

Jill, “from the athletic department at MSU

(the basketball team, the baseball team, the

football team, Coach Mullen, Dak Prescott

and Scott Strickland), to Allison Muirhead

and John David Smith that captured so

many memories for us that day.” The

Make-A-Wish Foundation in Mississippi

helped with that, as well as granting

Campbell’s wish to go to Disney World.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we

are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed

day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are

achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs

them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on

what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what

is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:16-18

On September 18, 2015, just 11 days shy

of his sixth birthday, Campbell Grady Dale

passed away. “We are heartbroken and

feeling an emptiness in our hearts because

our precious Campbell is no longer here with

us. We are rejoicing that he is now with his

Savior, the one that loves him more than we

can fathom or imagine. Oh to witness that

sweet, precious reunion when he ran into his

Daddy’s arms and to look upon HIS glorious

face and hear HIM say, “Well done my good

and faithful servant. Now come and rest.”

We look forward to the day when we will be

reunited and we can worship our Father

together at HIS feet.”

“I am the Lord who comforts HIS people and will

have compassion on HIS afflicted ones. You can

transcend your troubles because I am both powerful

and compassionate.” –Jesus Today by Sarah Young

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and

the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who

is to come, the Almighty.” –Revelations 1:8 n

Hometown madison • 29

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30 • Jan/Feb 2016

19th Annual

Garden Extravaganza

Paula Pettis,

Prissy Pots Landscaping

Haley Barrett, MNLA

Looking for a great event to officially kick

off spring? We have just the event that will

make you want to get your hands dirty. Mark

your calendars for the 19th Annual Garden

Extravaganza (formerly the Jackson Garden &

Patio Show) on March 18th, 19th & 20th at the

Mississippi Trade Mart on the Fairgrounds. The

Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association

(MNLA) is excited to bring so many vendors

together in one central location for all of your

garden and patio needs including flowers, trees,

landscape professionals, equipment, yard art,

ironwork, pottery, one of a kind bird houses,

garden accessories and much, much more.

Admission is only $6 per person. Children 15

and under get in free and, as always, there is

plenty of free parking.

The early bird gets the worm, or in our case

the tomato plant. The first 100 people through

the door on Friday and Sunday, and the first

200 people on Saturday will get a free tomato

plant, courtesy of Rivers Plant Farm and

Jackson Farms Nursery.

All three days will be filled with demonstrations

and seminars. Our exciting ‘how to’

demonstrations will be located on the showroom

floor and will include topics such as: Hot plants

for 2016, how to create the perfect mixed

containers, and much more. Since the Garden

Extravaganza is a family friendly event, we have

also added ‘make and take’ demonstrations to

the children’s activity area to teach kids fun

gardening skills. Ball Seed Company and BWI

Companies team up with MNLA to sponsor

this area.

March 18-20, 2016

MS Trade Mart

Jackson, MS

For a complete list of seminars and demonstrations,

please visit www.msnla.org. All seminars

and demonstrations are free with paid admission.

And while at the show, be sure to register for

fabulous door prizes donated from our

wonderful exhibitors.

As in year’s past, attendees will get the

opportunity to view several of central Mississippi’s

finest landscaper’s work in the outdoor living

spaces competition area. These outdoor living

spaces will be in the middle of the exhibit hall,

will serve as the focal point for this year’s show

and will give you great ideas on how to make

your outdoor space the best it can be. They will

incorporate a wide range of styles, from the

outdoor kitchen area, the secluded backyard

retreat, tranquil water features, family entertainment

areas, and lounge areas to watch your

favorite show or team. All of the landscape

professionals will be on hand to discuss how to

make your landscape dreams a reality.

Is your grass looking less than green? Is there

a fungus among us? Do you have mysterious

weeds? As always, the experts from Mississippi

State University Extension Service will be there

to answer any questions, provide information

and test soil for free.

Of course the real stars of the show are

always the flowers. You’ll find this year’s Mississippi

Medallion Award Winners, tropicals, ferns, trees,

shrubs, roses, bedding plants, vegetables, herbs

and so much more. Many of the garden centers

will have dish gardens, fairy gardens, beautiful

hanging baskets and gorgeous mixed containers

that are ready to brighten your porch for the


Not sure which plants that you need? We

will have plenty of people that can help you

with that. There will be numerous garden center

employees, landscapers, and MSU experts

available to help you out. Bring pictures of the

area or container that you are buying plants for

and know the amount of sunlight and shade

that the area receives. These are very important

things to know when shopping for plants.

And don’t worry about what to do with all

your purchases. There will be a customer

holding area available where you can in the

products that you buy and continue shopping

without having to carry your purchases around.

Once you are finished shopping, you can drive

around to the back and have your purchases

loaded in your vehicle. It’s like valet for your



Visit our web page www.msnla.org, find us

on Facebook, or call 601-919-8111 for more

information on the 2016 Garden Extravaganza.

Like us on Facebook for a chance to win tickets—

Mississippi Garden & Patio Shows!


a Calling

Susan Marquez

Dr. Bard Johnston

Dr. Bard Johnston

is a family physician

at Main Street Family

Medicine, associated

with the Baptist

Medical Center.

He practices with

Bruce Black, MD and

Ashley Pullen, MD.

32 • Jan/Feb 2016

Tell us where you grew up and about your childhood.

I’m from Jackson, but actually grew up in Ridgeland. My father

was a contractor, and my parents purchased a large antebellum

home that sat where Fitness Lady is today. My two brothers and

I thought they had moved us to the middle of nowhere! I went

to Jackson Academy, where I played just about every sport, and

was All State in basketball. I went to the University of Alabama

and then four years at University Medical Center followed by

another two years to study family practice.

Why did you decide to become a physician?

When I was in high school, my advisor encouraged me to take

advance placement subjects. By my senior year, I only had one

requirement left, so like many of the jocks at the school, I opted

for classes that required the least homework. Instead, I focused

on sports and took classes like choir and typing. I guess the

joke was on me, because we had a wonderful choir teacher

who really instilled a love of music in us, and since the advent

of electronic health records, my typing class is proving to be


I didn’t really think about being a doctor until college. I felt

God-led into the field, particularly to family medicine. I think it

began through my experience with Campus Crusade for Christ

and a bible study where I felt a call to go into medicine. While

I was a resident at UMC, I moonlighted like crazy at a little

hospital in Union, Mississippi. Being a resident, I was on my

own, which was really an awesome growing experience. I think

I knew then I was doing the right thing.

Tell us about your practice.

Baptist Main Street is more of a traditional, old fashioned small

town family practice. We handle a lot of physicals and internal

medicine. We are also trained in pediatrics, although we mostly

see adolescents and up. We see about 35 patients a day, and I’d

say at least eight of those will have sinus infections.

The practice is all about relationships. When we say “family

practice,” we want to treat your whole family, but we also want

to be like family to you. We want our patients to feel like they

really know their doctor and nurse. We treat a hodgepodge of

illnesses from diabetes and high blood pressure to high

cholesterol and anxiety and depression.

What would you tell a new physician about his

career choice?

Medicine has changed. There are difficulties now in regard

to record-keeping. We spend more and more time now doing

paperwork, which means we can’t see as many patients. I like

to spend time with each of my patients, especially those with

chronic long-term needs, but it’s become so labor-intensive.

I have not let that take the fun out of medicine, though. I would

tell anyone that if they are truly called into medicine, follow that

calling. It is going to continue to be a field that pays well due to

the demand.

Tell us about your family.

Growing up, we were all good church-going Baptists, and

I continued that in college, going to First Baptist Church in

Tuscaloosa. While I grew up at First Baptist Church in Madison,

I started attending Colonial Heights when I was in med school,

and I met my wife, Jennifer, there. She was a student at Mississippi

College. Now we attend Broadmoor Baptist. We have two

children, a son who loves sports and a daughter who loves

drama. They are the loves of our lives.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

My entire family loves to travel. We took a two week cruise

to Europe this summer. We love traveling with our children

and introducing them to new places. And we also love being

in Tuscaloosa on game weekends! Another thing I enjoy is my

church. Our family is really plugged into Broadmoor Baptist

Church. n

Hometown madison • 33

serving our community

Captain Willie Brown

canton Fire Department

Why did you decide to be a fireman?

At the young age of 12 I had high hopes and dreams

of becoming a firefighter.

How long have you been with the Canton

Fire Department?

On February 22, 2016 it will be 20 years—along with

U.S. Navy experience of seven years aboard the USS

America CV-66 & Naval Air Station Meridian,


Tell us about your family.

Well, I’m the oldest of Willie & Essie Brown’s three

children with two sisters, Pamela and Trudonna. I’m

married to Stephanie McGue Brown of Norfolk, Va.

and we have three adorable kids, Joyce (29) Kenneth

(25), and Jaliyn (20).

What is the toughest thing you have

experienced in your job?

The toughest thing I encountered was having to

perform CPR on my father who I lost to a fight with

cancer in 1998.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I enjoy fishing, hunting, and have a passion for

exercising and physical fitness. Mostly anything


What are three things on your bucket list?

1. Vacation to Brazil 2. An Alaskan cruise 3. Snorkeling

in the Bahamas’ blue waters

Who is someone you admire and why?

President Barack Obama, for his major milestone as

becoming the nation’s first black U.S. President.

Where do you see yourself ten years from


I see myself being a retired fire chief and traveling

the world once again—but this time not serving in

the military.

If you could give one piece of advice to

a young person, what would it be?

Confession to Christ—and education.

What is a favorite childhood memory?

Playing all variety of sports in grandma’s front yard

with cousins—now reflecting back to where we

come from.

What is the biggest mistake you think

young people make today?

Not furthering education.

What is your favorite thing about Canton?

The Canton Flea Market and Victorian Christmas

of Lights.

What is your favorite thing about

Madison County?

Community involvement and cultures.

34 • Jan/Feb 2016

flora's finest

Assistant Chief Clifton Nelson

Flora police Department

Why did you decide to be a police officer?

I was influenced by my older sister who was a

Jackson police officer and later became chief of

police of that department.

How long have you been with the Flora

Police Department?

I’ve been with Flora Police Department four years,

after serving 28 years with Ridgeland Police


Tell us about your family?

I’m married and have two children and two children

by a previous marriage.

What is the toughest thing you have

experienced in your job?

Having to cope or deal with crimes against children

and senior citizens.

Share some things you enjoy doing in

your spare time?

Restoring old muscles cars.

What are three things on your bucket list?

Job wise, assist in organizing and structuring this

department before retirement and then travel before

settling down in my hometown.

Who is someone you admire and why?

My older sister and Carol Phelps (a retired Jackson

and Madison County deputy) both have inspired

and guided me throughout my career.

Where do you see yourself ten years

from now?

Retired and waiting on the mailman.

If you could give a piece of advice to

a young person, what would it be?

Obtain as much education as possible. Also, what

you do in your younger years will reflect how people

perceive you later in life.

What is a favorite childhood memory?

My father coming home from the military.

What is the biggest mistake you think

young people make today?

Being impatient and quick to follow fads.

What is your favorite thing about Flora?

Its citizens and potential.

What is your favorite thing about

Madison County?

Its schools, legal system and availability of housing.

Hometown madison • 35

Hometown Madison



Ona Irby

Why did you decide to make Madison

your home?

We moved to the Madison-area after a transition

with our jobs. We wanted a place we could raise a

family with superior public schools and excellent

economic opportunities.

How long have you lived in Madison?

We have lived in Madison for 16 years.

Tell us about your family.

My husband, Deacon, and I have been married

17 years. We have three daughters: Shelbi (24),

Olivia (14) and Avery (11). Our oldest, Shelbi, lives

with her husband, Donald, in Howell, Michigan.

Olivia is in 8th grade at Germantown Middle School

and keeps us busy with cheerleading at school and

Premier Tumble and Cheer where she is on their

senior competition squad. Avery is in 6th grade at

Germantown Middle School. She enjoys equestrian

ridding at Blue Ribbon Riding Academy. We attend

Pinelake Church-Madison where we enjoy serving

in different capacities. My husband is employed at

Johnson Controls and I am an occupational therapist

at Select Specialty Hospital. For fun, our family

enjoys being outdoors on the weekends whether

it’s boating, biking, hiking, or gathered by camp fire

at our family cabin in Holmes County.

What are your favorite memories of living

in Madison?

Our family has always loved “Swing into May” at

the Caboose. When our children were toddlers,

we loved the fun activities at Strawberry Patch

Park-Easter Egg Hunt and Christmas with Santa.

We always look forward to the fireworks for 4th

of July. But, overall, we really have enjoyed watching

all the growth that our area has seen. The area has

grown exponentially.

Where are your 3 favorite places to eat

in Madison?

Georgia Blue, El Ranchito, and Mermaid Café

What are some fun things to do in

Madison on the weekends?

We like to take advantage of the beautiful parks,

visit retail shops, go to movies, and explore the

community of Livingston.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I love gardening, traveling, volunteering in the

community and attending MSU games.

What are three things on your bucket list?

Travel to Italy, get my scuba diving certification,

and go on a mission trip, both internationally

and locally.

Who is someone you admire and why?

My uncle, George Hester. He is a successful man

that has always followed these principals: God first,

family second and career third.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

We will be empty-nesters, so I’m anticipating the

arrival of grandchildren, and traveling all over the

U.S. and internationally with my loved ones.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Christmastime at our home was so much fun. Our

home was filled with lots of amazing food, family

and traditions.

If you could give us one encouraging

quote, what would it be?

Life is like a camera. You focus on what’s important,

capture the good times, and develop from the

negatives. And if things just don’t work out, take

another shot. –Unknown

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Madison Magazine?

I enjoy reading all the different articles about the

people, places and events of Madison. n

36 • Jan/Feb 2016

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38 • Jan/Feb 2016

Located in the hills of Madison County with ravines

hollowed out by nature during the past century, the size

of the now millions-year old petrified logs that lie there

in repose indicates that as living trees, they were

one hundred feet tall.

If the state flower is the magnolia, and the state bird is the mockingbird, what

might the state stone be? Surprisingly, the official stone for the state of Mississippi

is petrified wood, which is found in abundance at the Mississippi Petrified Forest

in Flora. With fewer than twenty of these geological occurrences in the world, the

Petrified Forest is a real treasure.

You may have seen the signs along the highway with a woodpecker sporting

a crushed beak because he can’t drill holes into the petrified wood. I’ve seen them

for years, and actually had my first experience in the Petrified Forest during an

elementary school field trip in 1964, the year after the attraction first opened to the

public. I visited each spring on subsequent field trips for the next five years. After

that, I took a 25-year or so break before rediscovering the Petrified Forest in 1996

when I visited the attraction with my Leadership Madison County class. It was

our “quality of life” day, and we visited unique places around the county. At the

Petrified Forest, we walked the trails and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grounds

before heading on to our next destination. Ever since, any out of town visitors to

our home get a side trip to the Mississippi Petrified Forest.

A National Natural Landmark, the Mississippi Petrified Forest is a privately

owned family business. Two diehard rockhounds, R.J. “Bob” and Shirl Schabilion

acquired the Petrified Forest in August 1962. They were concerned that the area

might be lost to development, and they also recognized that the 36-million year old

trees needed to be preserved into the future. Today the venue features a ½ mile long

nature trail that showcases the petrified trees, as well as a visitor’s center with a

world-class earth science museum displaying spectacular and rare mineral, fossil

and petrified wood specimens from around the world.

The gift shop is a rock lover’s paradise, with unique souvenirs, and a vast array

of minerals, fossils, seashells and natural gemstone jewelry for sale. On the rock

patio, kids of every age can enjoy the adventure of “fluming” for colorful stones.

Bob Dellar has been working at the Petrified Forest for nine years. “It’s an

interesting place,” he says. “It’s an ideal place for me because I’ve always been

interested in rocks and nature. It’s a great place to come and experience peace

and quiet, not that far from the city.”

Dellar says that the attraction draws about 12,000

visitors each year, and most years there are visitors

from all 50 states and from 30 to 45 different countries.

“It’s been designated a Southern Travel Treasure by

AAA’s Southern Traveler magazine,” Dellar says,

“and it has been featured in Reader’s Digest’s ‘Off the Beaten

Path,’ as well as ‘Roadside America’ and ‘101 American

Geo-Sites You Gotta See.’”

Adjacent to the grounds is a beautiful wooded campground with full RV hookups

and primitive tent sites with electricity and water. The large covered pavilion is ideal

for family reunions and church picnics. The pavilion is available at no charge to

school groups on field trips. “We’ve even hosted a few weddings out here,” says Dellar.

Open daily except Christmas and Thanksgiving, the Mississippi Petrified Forest

is pet friendly and handicap accessible. Dellar says it’s still a favorite destination for

school field trips. n

For more information, visit the Mississippi Petrified Forest website or call 601-879-8189.

Hometown madison • 39

What is your

New Year’s Resolution?

Renee Laird

“In 2016 I would like to

spend more time reading

God’s word and praying. I am

praying that God will lead me

to be sensitive to His divine

appointments for me each

and every day. I would like to

be more of an encourager by

speaking words of kindness to

others. I would like to

continue to be a Godly wife,

mother, relative, and friend. I

hope and pray that God will

guide me to be more of the

person he created me to be in

2016. I pray each of you will

have a blessed year.”



“My New Year’s resolution

is to increase my savings

and prepare for the future

instead of carelessly living

in the present.”

Christi Varner

“My New Year’s Resolution is

to downsize in life. I plan to

get rid of the clutter I have,

whether it is social activities

or material things, so that

I have more time to spend

with my family.”

Katie Ishee

“My New Year’s resolutions

for 2016 are focusing on

my faith and family! After a

couple of years of immeasurable

loss and trials and

tribulations, God has laid

it on my heart to keep

Him in the center of my

life and family.”

40 • Jan/Feb 2016

Beth Biedenharn

“Be still, allow for quiet time

outside without distractions

so that I can observe the

amazing gifts God gives.

Warming sun, gentle breeze,

rustle of leaves and birds

singing are simple joys I wish

to make time to notice, and

appreciate. Devote more time

to creating memories with

those I love. Less texting

more talking face to face with

friends and family.”

Wilkegen Holley

“I, Wilkegen Holley, will

continue to exceedingly an

boastfully be amazed with

JESUS and life!”

Madi Nichols

“To grow closer to God

and give more respect to

my parents.”

Susan Gussio

Most of my resolutions are

focused inward (lose weight,

get healthier, etc.) but I really

want to make more of an

effort to do for others. I take

care of a family in Canton

and do my best to donate

and help out whenever I can,

but next year I want to focus

outside and help others more.

I plan to do at least one

substantial nice thing a day

for someone else–something

that has meaning to them.

And also by doing that, it will

indirectly boost my happiness

–a win win!!

Hometown madison • 41


Out a



Sitting on the front porch, pocket

knife in one hand, block of wood

in the other, a pile of shavings at

your feet...it all seems very, well,

Mayberry RFD. So yeah, Sheriff Andy would whittle to relax after

keeping the peace in Mayberry all day. But whittling and wood carving are still just as

popular today right here in Madison County.

Wade Bouie, a City of Madison resident, enjoys carving because it’s relaxing. “It’s my

quiet time, and it takes all my stress away. I love the joy of seeing characters emerge out of

a piece of wood.” He mostly carves caricatures, snowmen and Santas.

Buie is a member of the The Pearl River Woodcarving Guild, a non-profit organization

that exists solely to promote woodcarving through regular meetings and an annual show.

It started in October 1983 as the Mississippi Pearl River Woodcarvers. The meetings are

held on the third Monday night of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Brandon City

Hall/Senior Center on West Government Street. The annual show was held in October,

with entrants in a number of categories.

42 • Jan/Feb 2016

To go to a Pearl River Woodcarving Guild show is a treat. The first

thing you may notice is the person working the registration table is

doing double duty, pocketknife in hand and actively carving Christmas

stars for ornaments. Dale Anderson, clad in his green vest and Pearl

River Woodcarving Guild hat, carves for the fun of it. “It’s relaxing and

it’s fun,” the 88-year-old Reservoir resident says. “I enjoy taking a

simple block of wood and creating something out of it. It’s ideal for me,

because I do it just about anywhere.”

Inside the Brandon municipal complex, an array of birds, fish, bears,

ducks, dolphins, deer, and other wildlife are caught in poses, frozen in

time. Hands have carefully carved the figures out of a variety of different

woods, then painted or stained them to look as real as they do in nature,

or artfully stylized. There are Santa heads carved in cypress stumps, a

fire-breathing dragon, humorous caricatures and more. The pieces are

entered in the appropriate categories then a panel of judges evaluates

the relief carvings, miniatures, embellished turnings and other wooden

works of art.

Buie coordinated the show for the second year. He’s been a member

of the Guild for about six years. “My cousin, James Buie, was one of the

founders of the club. He and another cousin, Kendall Winstead, tried to

get me to visit one of the meetings. I finally did, and then decided to

attempt to carve something. That was it. I fell in love with it.” Buie had

four pieces in the show for competition, with another three on display.

Hometown madison • 43

This years’ show had more in the open class than ever before, but

the entries in the interim and novice classes were down. “That

shows that we need to recruit more folks,” Buie said.

Horace McNeal serves as the Guild’s president. A resident

of Pelahatchie, McNeal only joined the group in 2013. “I

started carving in 2012,” he said. “I attempted carving in prior

years, but it didn’t really go anywhere. Then I met a

gentleman in Rankin County who helped me get

started. I ordered some tools and he helped me

until I felt confident on my own.”

The attendance for this year’s show was

good, according to McNeal. “We had demos

throughout the day, and those were well attended.

Everybody seems to like to learn something new.”

The woodcarvers in the Guild are from all different

walks of life, and all ages. The scope of their work is broad,

and there’s a strong emphasis on encouraging one another.

The monthly meetings feature various speakers and artisans who

provide informative seminars and workshops, and the public is

always welcomed. A typical meeting consists of a word of welcome

by the president, introduction of guests, presenting of a carving

project consisting of a cut-out and a pattern, a “show and tell” time,

special program and a give-away of donated items related to

woodcarving. The club maintains a free lending library of books

about woodcarving and related subjects that can be checked out by


From the inception of the Pearl River Woodcarvers organization,

the experienced wood carvers sit with beginner carvers and help

them carve a heart, mostly out of donated basswood or water tupelo.

The patterns are taken from books and magazines, or sometimes

original patterns by club members. “We want to expose as many

people to woodcarving as we can,” said McNeal. n


For more information, visit www.pearlriverwoodcarvers.org.

44 • Jan/Feb 2016

Hometown madison • 45

46 • Jan/Feb 2016



of Today

Camille Anding

It was the perfect day to drop by Sunnybrook Estates for a visit with

my new friend, Dot Smith. In a previous interview, she had shared about

her family and a special granddaughter, Amanda Byrd. I was delighted to

find Amanda visiting with her grandmother, and I had the opportunity

not only to meet Amanda but see some of her art work.

The bond between grandmother, Dot, and Amanda was pronounced.

Amanda stayed close to her grandmother and fixed her eyes on Dot’s

hands and lips. Even though Amanda is deaf, she reads lips and sign

language and is blessed with a smile that radiates her contentment and

zest for life.

At noon, I accompanied the couple to lunch in the sun-filled, spacious

dining room of Sunnybrook. Dot’s “regulars” were already seated and

waiting for her.

Margie Hubbard explained that she had been a resident the

shortest length of time, moving from Clarksdale, but had been

welcomed and made to feel close to her new friends. Katherine

Kennedy was from Vicksburg but grew up in Redbone, Mississippi.

She laughed as she shared about the remoteness of her childhood

home. Anne McKee was another light-hearted dining companion

and talked of days working with her husband during his years as

minister of education at Broadmoor Baptist Church.

All four of the dining friends were widows, but were adapting

well to the new chapter in their lives and grateful for the security

and care given them at Sunnybrook.

The noon sun gave the entire room a warm, welcoming glow

and palpable friendships were as sweet as the blueberry cobbler.

As we discussed life and its challenges, Anne shared her

formula for living: “Yesterday’s gone; tomorrow isn’t here yet,

so I’ll take advantage of today.”

It was a really special visit with Dot. She introduced me

to new friends and gave me my own opportunity to “take

advantage of the day.” n

Hometown madison • 47

The Overby Company welcomes

Alicen Blanchard.

Alicen joins us as a licensed real

estate professional after a decade in

non-profit and project management,

where she built strong connections

in the residential and commercial

construction industry. A resident of the

Jackson area since 1992, Alicen owns

and manages a portfolio of real estate,

and believes that her success presents

an opportunity to help others invest.

She lives in Madison with her husband

and two daughters. You can reach

Alicen at 601.260.0699, or by email:


Located in Jackson since opening in 1983, The Overby Company has grown

from a small residential real estate firm into a full-service brokerage serving

the entire state of Mississippi. Alicen’s depth of knowledge for this market is a

welcome addition to The Overby Company.







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*One-month refers to a recommended replacement schedule of up to 4 weeks as determined by the eye care practitioner. **Eye exam may be required. Professional fees may apply. At participating offices.

Important information for AIR OPTIX ® AQUA Multifocal (Iotrafilcon B) contact lenses: For daily wear or extended wear up to 6 nights for near/far-sightedness and/or presbyopia. Risk of serious eye

problems (i.e., corneal ulcer) is greater for extended wear. In rare cases, loss of vision may result. Side effects like discomfort, mild burning, or stinging may occur.

Brandon (601) 825-8300

Madison (601) 605-2259

Ask your eye care professional for complete wear, care, and safety information.

Yazoo City (662) 746-4312

*One-month refers to a recommended replacement schedule of up to 4 weeks as determined by the eye care practitioner. **Eye exam Canton may be (601) required. 859-3464 Professional fees Ridgeland may apply. (601) At 957-9292 participating offices.

© 2012 Novartis 8/12 AOM12154JAD

Important information *One-month for refers AIR to OPTIX a recommended ® AQUA Multifocal replacement (Iotrafilcon schedule B) of contact up to 4 lenses: weeks as For determined daily wear by or the extended eye care wear practitioner. up to 6 nights **Eye for exam near/far-sightedness may be required. Professional and/or presbyopia. fees may Risk apply. of serious At participating eye offices.

problems (i.e., Important corneal ulcer) information is greater for for AIR extended OPTIX wear. In rare cases, loss of vision may result. Side effects like discomfort, mild burning, or stinging may occur.

® AQUA Multifocal (Iotrafilcon B) contact lenses: For daily wear or extended wear up to 6 nights for near/far-sightedness and/or presbyopia. Risk of serious eye

Ask your eye problems care professional (i.e., corneal for ulcer) complete is greater wear, for care, extended and safety wear. information.

In rare cases, loss of vision may result. Side effects like discomfort, mild burning, or stinging may occur.

© 2012 Novartis Ask 8/12 your AOM12154JAD

eye care professional for complete wear, care, and safety information.

C=100, M=75, Y=0, K=60

© 2012 Novartis 8/12 AOM12154JAD

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C=100, M=75, Y=0, K=60

C=100, M=75, Y=0, K=40

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Font = Trajan Bold, Regular

Hometown madison • 49


madison county Schools

Ann Scott


Welcomes New

Staff Members

(L-R standing) Shemika Carter, Patricia Harris, Calvin Bogan, Kate Morris,

Stephanie Clark.

(L-R sitting): Kenya Rafferty, Erin Coker, Christel Tate, Alicia Brumfield,

Lauren Keen, Julie Benson, Devin Cook


Interact Club is a national organization, sponsored by Rotary

Club, whose sole purpose is to perform service projects at the

founding school and in the local community. This is Germantown

Middle School’s first year to have Interact Club. With 50 members

and 4 sponsors our club is one of the largest on campus. One of

our first service projects was sponsoring an Operation Christmas

Child drive. Members of Interact Club not only brought in filled

shoeboxes, but they also encouraged classmates to participate,

helped raise money to ship the boxes, and prepared the boxes for

shipment. Overall we filled 455 shoeboxes and raised almost

$2,300 to help ship the boxes.

Upcoming service projects for Interact Club include adopting

children for Angel Tree, hosting a Christmas party at Brookdale

Retirement Center, leading a coat drive for MadCAAP, and

reading to students at local elementary schools. Interact Club

members not only participate in these projects but they also help

come up with the project ideas and help with the implementation

process. Watching students give to others is the highlight of all

service projects. It is our goal to cultivate the spirit of generosity

and service in all students. Interact Club gives us a great

opportunity to do this.

50 • Jan/Feb 2016

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

Ridgeland High

Home-Ec. has gone high tech at Ridgeland High School this

year. Adding to its already cutting-edge educational opportunities,

the Titans have added the Culinary Arts Academy to their curriculum


Freshman and sophomore students who opt for this academic

track still take the basic course work, with a twist. Culinary English

is lightly salted with literature having a decided epicureal flavor, and

vocabulary is peppered with cooking jargon. Chef Levi Williams

teaches the students food handling safety procedures and kitchen

skills in the elective component of the academy. Judging from the

wafting smells of fresh-baked desserts in the halls of Ridgeland

High School, the Culinary Arts Academy is a smashing success.

Ridgeland High School seniors have also had more than their

fair share of successes this year. Before the year even began, seniors

Juliet Richert and Ahmed Hassan were both named as two of

Portico Magazine’s 25 teens who will change the world.

Already in the first half of the year, Ridgeland has signed Natalie

Erwin, Katie Grace Abbott, Britain Welzein, and Coutney Turner

to athletic scholarships at institutions of higher learning around

the state.

Andre’ Vincent , Lauren Slay, and Natalene Vonchalee all

garnered positions on the prestigious Lion’s Club Band.

Most recently, Torrye Evans and Juliet Richert were named

Wendy’s High School Heisman recipients.

A second successful academy has also been launched at

Ridgeland High this year. Ridgeland High School has embarked

on a great new quest to afford unique opportunities for their future

graduates. RHS has initiated an engineering academy that take

students and provides them a head start to become mechanical

engineering and robotics majors in college. Students focus on

mechanical design, CAD, robotics, physics and much more. The

Academy is a four-year program at RHS, and already has its first

class, Introduction to Engineering, underway. Its associated organization,

TSA (Technology Student Association) is the reigning

Mississippi Robotics Team Champion!

TSA members hard at work.

Seniors Torrey Evans and Juliet Richert

- Recipients of Wendy’s High School Heisman Award

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

Hometown madison • 51


madison county Schools

Rosa Scott

This fall, Rosa Scott has participated in the Mississippi Food

Network Can Food Drive and Operation Christmas Child. The

student body has also begun raising funds for Make-A-Wish and

Relay for Life.

Student Government President Bonnie Hill stresses participation

in charitable work. “It is really important for us to take part in

these things because there are so many people who need help. Not

even miles from our homes, as well as around the world, there are

people who just need some love.”

Hill believes that, as a student body, it’s our responsibility to help.

In October, Rosa Scott participated in the Food for Families Can

Food Drive through Mississippi Food Network. We set a goal to

collect 14,000 cans. As the week went on, the stack of cans in the

school’s foyer got larger and larger. By Wednesday, we had already

surpassed our goal. Our students ended up bringing in a total of

20,865 cans. That averages out to be around 47 cans per student.

Our student body, led by the student government association,

formed an assembly line and filled the Mississippi Food Network

truck all the way to the brim.

In November, we began collecting Operation Christmas Child

Boxes. Rosa Scott brought in 176 Christmas Shoe Boxes. We also

kicked off Make-A-Wish, and have already raised over 60% of the

total funds needed to grant our child’s wish.

East Flora


The East Flora Elementary School family has continued to

provide high quality instructional experiences to it learners for

many years. For the 2015-2016 school year, there are two additional

initiatives that have been implemented to further enhance the

educational offerings: The Leadership Council and The Blue Cross

& Blue Shield Fitness Grant.

East Flora Elementary School was awarded a $26,000 grant from

the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for the Project

Fit America program. This program provides state-of-the-art outdoor

and indoor fitness equipment, a thorough curriculum, and teacher

training. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held earlier this school year.

East Flora Elementary School is proud to introduce its first

leadership council. This team is comprised of seventeen fourth and

fifth grade students who were carefully selected to participate in this

elite group. The students gather throughout the year to learn more

about being positive and effective leaders. They lead their classroom

discussions about important character traits and also will visit lower

grade classrooms to mentor. Team members participate and organize

a variety of school-wide activities and programs. Together they are

learning and experiencing what it means to be a leader and serve


52 • Jan/Feb 2016

52 • Jan/Feb 2016

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

St. Joe

Faculty dressed as Hogwart’s faculty for Halloween

Girls Swim Team won Class I Swimming State Championship

Boys Swim Team Runner-Ups for Class I Swimming State Championship

Art students used packing tapes to make figures, now on display in our library.

Engineering class built trebuchet, a machine used in medieval siege warfare

for hurling large stones or other missiles.

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

Hometown madison • 53


madison county Schools


Avenue Upper


The Madison Avenue Upper Elementary recently presented

their fourth grade play. Mississippi My Home, with words and

music by Gail Jabour, was performed on November 19th.

Ms. Melinda Calvert served as music director.

54 • Jan/Feb 2016

54 • Jan/Feb 2016

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




Madison Avenue Elementary held a Donuts with Dads event at

school that included grandfathers, uncles, brothers and community

helpers for the students whose dad may have been absent.

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

Hometown madison • 55


madison county Schools



Band-Aids for Batson

This holiday season as a community service project, both

Mannsdale Upper Elementary and Mannsdale Lower Elementary

are collecting band-aids with characters on them for the children at

Blair Batson. Their patients love band-aids with their favorite

superhero or princess on them and these young Mavericks thought

this gesture might brighten a sick child’s day. As part of the schools’

partnership with Livingston, the Livingston Sweet Shoppe is

providing a sundae party for the home room that collects the most

band-aids. Mannsdale Elementary principal Dr. Emily Mulhollen

and Mannsdale Upper’s principal, Debra Houghton both believe

community service projects like this help build better citizens.

(L to R) Kaleigh Ward, Kaden Saffle, Mannsdale Upper Elementary principal,

Debra Houghton, Emily Hodges and Breely Hill.

(L to R) Mallory Mulhollen, Brianna Coate, Eugene Williams and Bella Haley

with their band-aids.

(L to R) John Riley North with his fourth grade teacher, Jenny Holloway

and some band-aids for Batson.

(L to R) Alisse Lack, Chase Boutwell and

Taryn Kimbrough on their band-aid

drive for Batson.

56 • Jan/Feb 2016


No matter where our location – from above a Chinese Laundry, to East Pearl Street,

to 500 Steed Road, our door is always open.

Offering full-color printing to specialty finishes, to addressing postcards and providing

complete variable one-to-one marketing campaigns, Hederman Brothers is your one door shop.

If you are looking for a marketing partner and not just a print vendor, call Hederman

Brothers at 601-853-7300 and let us open the door to creative and innovative solutions.





500 Steed Road • Post Office Box 6100 • Ridgeland, MS 39158

601. 853. 7300 • f 601.853.7335 • www.hederman.com

Hometown madison • 57

Camille Anding

The Time Coin

Almost every chair had been taken

in the sprawling waiting room

when I arrived for my 10:00

appointment. I checked my watch. Yes, I

was early, and so were about twenty other

patients ahead of me.

This was just a check-up, and since I

didn’t have a virus or fever, I was content

to wait my turn. The other patients had

settled into their waiting modes with

magazines and whispered conversations.

Traffic continued one way as patients kept signing the register.

One elderly gentleman, accompanied by an adult son, eased through

the entrance and to chairs near me. The son signed the father in and

was handed the customary clipboard and pen.

He sat next to his father and began asking questions from the

clipboard. “What’s your social security number?” No response.

“What’s your social security number?” Again, no response. Then in

an amplified voice, the son learned toward his dad and shouted,

“What’s your social security number?”

The father reached in his coat pocket, pulled out some forms and

in the same amplified voice answered, “It’s right here.”

I tried not to look, but it was impossible to miss out on any of

their questions and answers. The father was 82 years young, still

enjoying life, but was to see a doctor about hernia surgery. The

receptionist and everyone in the waiting

room can verify my story.

However, as the two men continued

filling in the spaces, the waiting room was

transformed into a classroom. I saw an

exemplary demonstration of respect for a

parent, and I was given a review in “health


When the questionnaire was completed,

the hernia sufferer continued to talk to his

son in a voice any politician would envy. He was to the point, and he

was loud! As he surveyed the large waiting room, filled mainly with

senior citizens, he turned to his son and said, “What’s going to

happen to all of these old folks?”

He was probably thinking about his own health struggles and

the maze of paperwork and records associated with health care and

hospitalization. All the controversy over health reform hadn’t helped

his frustrations either. His mind must have reverted to younger and

more hopeful years because he blurted, “Thank God for Roosevelt.”

As most of the waiting room audience turned to the senior citizen

and smiled, I pondered the needs of the large collections of seniors,

the years they had invested in their families and communities and

wondered who they were banking on for security and hope.

Roosevelt is helplessly etched in history. From my own years of

experience, I was grateful to say, “Thank God for Jesus.”

58 • Jan/Feb 2016

Charles Black, D.O.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Because there’s Merit

in staying active.

Merit Health Medical Group is proud to welcome orthopedic surgeon Charles Black, D.O., to the staff. Dr. Black

focuses on innovative care that can help you quickly get back to living a happy, healthy and active lifestyle.

Dr. Black provides treatment for many orthopedic issues, including:

• Fractures • Hip and/or knee pain • Carpal tunnel • Breaks, sprains and strains

Dr. Black is now accepting new patients, and same-day appointments are often available. No physician

referral required. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 601-855-4840.

Member of the Medical Staff at Merit Health Madison

160 River Oaks Drive, Suite C

Canton, MS 39046



Hometown madison • 59



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