Hometown Rankin - October & November 2016


volume 3 number 5

oct/nov 2016

Planting a Family


A Season of Freshness


In God’s Hands


From Diamonds to Deer stands

Hometown Rankin • 3

Call us to schedule

your next visit.

(601) 825-3368

Sarah Langston, DMD

14 Woodgate Drive

Brandon, Mississippi 39042

4 • October/November 2016

publisher & Editor

Tahya A. Dobbs


Kevin W. Dobbs

Consulting Editor

Mary Ann Kirby

Account Executive

Rachel Lombardo

Contributing Writers

Camille Anding

Olivia Halverson

Mary Ann Kirby

Susan Marquez

Knox Ross

Shari Veazey

Jamie Walley

staff Photographer

Othel Anding



Kristy Ellingburg



Alisha Floyd

Brenda McCall

Layout Design

Daniel Thomas - 3dt

• • •



For subscription information

visit www.htmags.com

Have you ever considered the gift of communication?

We utilize it from the time we wake up to

the time we close our eyes and night, and it appears

to have no limits. Where there’s a television, radio,

or cell tower, there’s a way!

The most modern and certainly most popular

means of communication today appears to be

texting. It can be brief but with added emotion,

thanks to those cute little emojis. It seems that

preschoolers to senior adults have adopted this

unique form of staying in touch. But there’s one

catch–successful communication via texting

definitely requires a response. At least that’s what

I’ve tried to impress upon our youngest, CandyLee,

now that she’s a sophomore at Southern.

Having our “baby” leave us as empty nesters

wasn’t on my top-ten list of things in which to look

forward. The emotion was similar to her leaving

for kindergarten–but this was a whole new level,

altogether. A week of college had passed and our

communication was considerably less than I was

expecting. Our baby had adjusted wonderfully to

college–and without the close proximity of her

parents. I had mixed feelings about that. While I

was grateful that God had answered our prayer in

helping her to love her new home and roommate,

I also had a tinge of sadness that her maturity had

reached such a level of independence. And she

didn’t exactly text me back as quickly or as often as

I had hoped, either. It’s been a difficult adjustment

for ol’ mom here.

But, as anyone that’s been through it knows,

it’s all just a part of the process–and, if nothing

else, it renewed my drive to make Hometown Rankin

a quality issue of positive encouragement and open

communication. We are blessed to call Rankin

County our home and I want this publication to

be a reminder of that to you, our readers.

We are surrounded by people who have wonderfully

important and inspirational stories. Please

make us aware of any that you think need to be

told. Feel free to communicate

with us by phone, email or

Facebook. We always love

hearing from our readers

and want to hear

from you soon.

Contact us at info@HTMags.com


26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F

Brandon MS 39042

• • •

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Rankin

may be reproduced without written permission from

the publisher. The management of Hometown Rankin

is not responsible for opinions expressed by its

writers or editors. Hometown Rankin maintains the

unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted

material. All advertisements are subject to approval by

the publisher. The production of Hometown Rankin

is funded by advertising.

In this issue The Rythm of Home 8

In God’s Hands 14

A Season of Freshness 20

Shopping Local 27

Planting a Family 28

Y’all Aboard! 38

Tender Loving Hair 54

From Diamonds to Deer Stands 86

Hometown Rankin • 5


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Musical Legend

& Jackson Native,

Dorothy Moore

8 • October/November 2016

The Rhythm

of Home

Olivia Halverson

A bluesy bravado echoes

throughout Jackson, Mississippi.

The smooth sound reminisces of days when a young

girl belted out gospel hymns and blues hits to the

delight of local ears. For this little girl, learning a

melody came as easily as breathing.

Musical legend and Jackson native, Dorothy Moore,

made her humble debut singing in the choir at New

Strangers’ Home Baptist Church. She was raised by her

great-grandmother, or “Mama” as Dorothy called her.

Mama supported Dorothy’s singing from the very

beginning, encouraging her to join the church choir and

sing in talent shows at the Alamo Theatre.

Barely tall enough to reach the microphone, Dorothy

Moore was the youngest competitor in the Alamo talent

shows. Her small stature inspired the nickname “Little

Dorothy,” but there was nothing little about the song

Dorothy had in her heart. At just 11 years old, Dorothy

roused the crowds with her powerful voice and natural

talent of singing the blues.

Mama sat in the front row watching her great-granddaughter

blossom into the singer she was destined to be.

Dorothy did not know it at the time, but she was well on

her way to stardom. Soon, Dorothy would graduate from

the Alamo stage to Madison Square Garden and stages

across the globe.

Late one evening, Dorothy was nearly asleep in the

front room of Mama’s home when a man knocked on

the front door. Mama answered the door, and Dorothy

listened to the conversation. The man was a record

producer looking for the girl who could sing. “When

I heard that, I stood up and walked out of that bed.”

Dorothy knew that she wanted to be a singer, and her

opportunity was standing right in front of her that night.

Only 17-years-old at the time, Dorothy accepted an

opportunity that literally came knocking at her door.

Hometown Rankin • 9

Dorothy began to sing professionally

with a group called The Poppies while she

attended college at Jackson State University. They

recorded for Epic Records, reaching the Billboard Hot 100

chart in 1966 with “Lullaby of Love.”

Some years later, Dorothy joined with Jackson’s Malaco

Records as an independent artist. At Malaco, Dorothy

recorded “Misty Blue,” the song that would take her to the

top of her career. She recorded “Misty Blue” in 1973. The

producers at Malaco did not trust that “Misty Blue” would

become a hit song, so they put Dorothy’s record on the

shelf. Two years later, producers at Malaco found themselves

in financial turmoil. In a last attempt to avoid bankruptcy,

they released every record they had on label in hopes that

just one song might take off. “Misty Blue” climbed the

charts and became an instant hit in the R&B genre.

At the same time “Misty Blue” was taking off, Dorothy

had married. She was working at School Pictures on

Mill Street. Dorothy and her coworkers were listening

to the radio at work when “Misty Blue” began to play.

The song played all around town, and locals recognized

the unmistakable smooth voice that flowed from their

radio speakers.

“Dorothy, ‘Misty Blue’ is on! They are playing it again!”

Dorothy’s coworkers would cheer. When “Misty Blue”

made the top 50 chart, Malaco Records contacted Dorothy

about going on tour. Thanks to “Misty Blue,” Malaco was

financially stabilized. At the age of 27, Dorothy was on her

way to the big stage–a really big stage. Madison Square

Garden was Dorothy’s first stop on the “Misty Blue” journey.

Dorothy was the opener for Smokey Robinson and Hal

Melvin and the Blue Notes. “I was just singing ‘Misty

Blue,’” Dorothy said. “It was all I had.” That night on the

Madison Square Garden stage, Dorothy got encore after

encore. She came back out to the crowd waving and

bowing. When she finally came off the stage,

Dorothy’s booking agent lifted her up, twirled

her around, and said “What do you want, Dorothy? You

can have anything you want.” Dorothy smiled, and said

“I really want a hamburger deluxe.”

The world had chosen Dorothy Moore and her song.

Fame came to her in as pure a form as it could. She was

simply following her dream and doing what she loved.

After “Misty Blue” came out, people wanted more.

Dorothy’s record went gold in the United States and

Canada and platinum in the United Kingdom. In 1996,

“Misty Blue” went gold again after being featured in the

movie “Phenomenon” on compilation. Today, the song

remains in the iTunes top 10 chart for the blues genre.

Dorothy toured all over the world and sang alongside

stars she had always listened to and seen on TV like

Johnnie Taylor, Ray Charles and The Temptations. She

felt right at home on stage with a band and a microphone.

But Dorothy’s voice was never meant for just performing–

and Dorothy knew that well.

In addition to the blues, Dorothy had a passion for

singing gospel. After all, the church is where it all began

for Dorothy Moore. “I don’t perform when I’m singing

gospel,” Dorothy said. “I minister.” During her career,

Dorothy recorded a gospel album that made it to the top

10 chart. Despite the album’s success, Dorothy faced a

battle. “I was confused.” Dorothy explained. “I felt wrong

performing gospel for people.” Dorothy prayed that God

would help her. “He told me to just sing and He would do

the rest. I’m not the star when I’m singing gospel. He is.”

Over the years, fame pulled Dorothy in every direction

but never defeated her. The industry pressured her to

abandon comfort zones and sing music she did not

believe in. “I was very particular about what I sang.”

Dorothy said. She turned down songs that did not match

10 • October/November 2016

her values. Mama had raised Dorothy to stand

firm in her beliefs, and stay true to herself. “And

Lord if I didn’t,” Dorothy said, “my great-grandmother...I

knew she was going to turn over in her

grave, come out, and whoop me good!”

Dorothy always felt the strong tug of her

Mississippi roots when she toured. Jackson was

the birthplace of her career. “This is home,”

Dorothy said. “Ain’t nothing like it.” It was the

place where Dorothy fell in love with singing,

and learned about the God who gave her such

an incredible talent. “I get to leave and go

perform in Hollywood or Europe. You name it.

I like to come back home, though, for some

good ole black eyed peas and cornbread. The

plane sometimes seems like it don’t be flying

fast enough when I’ve been gone.”

Real Mississippians never forget the rhythm

of the south. The beat is slow and rich with

sounds of family, fishing, good southern cooking

and sweet tea. Dorothy always followed the

melody right back home. The sound of home

has only gotten sweeter over the years, as

Dorothy now spends her days with her children

and grandchildren. She fishes in the pond at her

Rankin County home. You can even find her

selling popcorn at the Alamo Theatre where she

serves the community that nurtured her for so

many years.

Times have changed since

the first days of “Misty Blue,”

but the classic tune plays on through the ages.

The melody continues to delight the ears of all

who listen, and the rhythm never fails to bring

listeners to Mississippi where Dorothy Moore’s

musical journey began, and her legacy will

never end. n

Hometown Rankin • 11

12 • October/November 2016


Rescue 100 is a collaborative effort between the Mississippi

Department of Child Protection Services, the Mississippi Commission

on Children’s Justice, 200 Million Flowers and churches across the

state of Mississippi to provide loving homes for children in the foster


These organizations work together to streamline the training and certification

process for resource families – most of which happens over one weekend after a

family attends a brief orientation/informational meeting. Trainings will be held in

different parts of the state throughout the year.


All begin at 6 p.m.

October 10 - Madison County Chancery Court Annex

October 11 - Hinds County Chancery Court Building

October 12 - Warren County Courthouse

October 13 - Rankin County Justice Center


October 21-23 - Mississippi College, Clinton*

For more information or to register, visit: www.200millionflowers.org/rescue100.

*You must complete orientation in order to attend the training.

14 • October/November 2016

In God’sHands

Susan Marquez

It’s no accident that Leigh Cochran had an unscheduled

mammogram just after her 40th birthday in 2014. “I wasn’t

scheduled for a mammogram, but when I went to see my

gynecologist, Dr. Darden North, for my annual checkup, he

insisted that I have one while I was there.”

Cochran, a Brandon resident, had no history of cancer in

her family, and no real reason to suspect that there would be

any problems with the routine mammogram. Yet doctors

reviewing the results saw something wrong. “They saw

something that didn’t look right, and thought it was probably

nothing, but because it was my first ever

mammogram, they had nothing to compare

it to. I was sent to Women’s Hospital to have

a 3-D mammogram done, and they found

a spot on one of my breasts.” A biopsy was

done, followed by a lumpectomy. “I was

diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ,”

explained Cochran.

According to the Mayo Clinic website,

ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the

presence of abnormal cells inside a milk

duct in the breast. It is considered the earliest form of breast

cancer and it is noninvasive, meaning it hasn’t spread out of

the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast. DCIS is

usually found during a mammogram done as part of breast

cancer screening or when there is another concern with a

woman’s breast. While DCIS isn’t life-threatening, it does

require treatment to prevent the condition from becoming

invasive. Most women with DCIS are effectively treated

with breast-conserving surgery and radiation.

Since Cochran’s cancer was discovered early, she did not

require radiation or chemotherapy.

What she did have was a mastectomy,

and that was harder than she had

anticipated. “I had issues, and I didn’t

heal right. I had to go back and have

more work done. In all, I had five

surgeries in one year.”

During that time, Cochran leaned

heavily on her faith along with family

and friends for support. “This experience

deepened my faith, no doubt,” she laughed.

Hometown Rankin • 15

“I had to



on God


hand this


over to


16 • October/November 2016

“I am a person who, in both my professional and personal

life, had to be totally in control at all times. That’s so funny

now to me, because I realize I’m not in control at all. I had

to totally depend on God and hand this burden over to Him.”

Unable to leave her house for a month except to go to the

doctors, Cochran said she had nothing to do but pray. “I was

kind of forced to slow down, and in doing so, I became more

focused on the important things in life. I couldn’t lift my

arms at all because I had drains and my arm was in a sling, so

I depended on my mother and others to brush my hair and

other things I couldn’t do for myself. I had to learn to let

others do for me.”

Although it was a rough time for Cochran, she said there

were many blessings in her life during that time as well. “I had

gotten divorced, but when all this happened, my ex-husband

was right by my side, helping me every step of the way. We

are now back together and I am so grateful for that.” The

couple has two boys, ages 11 and 15. “I had to miss a lot with

them, such as going to their ballgames, but honestly, I don’t

think I could have gone through this without them. They

were such a big help to me.”

Through it all, her faith never wavered. “I remember

sitting in Dr. Scott Runnels’ office and his nurse, Rachel

Burnham sat down with my mom and me and prayed. She

said that we would not accept a bad diagnosis, and that we

claimed a full healing. That meant the world to me.”

Cochran has become a minister of sorts to other women

with the same diagnosis. “I found out a girl I went to high

school with in the fifth grade had the same thing, then two

other women who go to the same gym I do have it. I didn’t

know anyone who had been through this at the time I was

diagnosed, but I was introduced to someone through a

friend who had been through it and she really helped me.

It is important to pass on that support and help walk others

through it.”

Because of increased screening with mammograms, the

rate at which DCIS is diagnosed has increased dramatically

in recent years. “If I can say anything to other women,”

Cochran stressed, “it’s get a mammogram! It can save your

life like it did mine.” n

Hometown Rankin • 17







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18 • October/November 2016

Front: Robby Carr · Back (L to R): Justin Gauthier, Daniel Barham, Johnny Beck



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Hometown Rankin • 19

16ORIGIN095_ATMTeamAd_HRM-J.indd 1

9/16/16 10:21 AM

A Season of


Susan Marquez

20 • October/November 2016

Kyle Cockrell is the third generation of produce

peddlers in his family, something he’s quite

proud of. “My grandfather, Homer Cockrell,

started in this business farming and selling his produce

to others,” said Cockrell. “He actually started the Farmers

Market on Woodrow Wilson in 1948 with the help of then

Commissioner of Agriculture Si Corley.

The first thing he ever sold there was

ten pounds of peas. They were a penny

a pound, so he made a whopping ten

cents!” Cockrell said his family has been

closely tied through the years to the

State Agriculture Commission, working

with Commissioners Jim Buck Ross,

Lester Spell and now Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Cockrell’s grandfather Homer worked his stand at

the farmers market with his wife, Effie. “They brought

my dad up in this business as well,” said Cockrell. “He

farmed and sold produce at the farmers market as far

back as I can remember.” What Billy and Jane Cockrell

did differently was that they began buying

produce from other areas of the country

when it was not in season here. “Daddy

took over the stand around 1989 and moved

to Freshway Produce on Old Canton Road.

He had developed relationships with

growers from Homestead, Florida, all the

way up to Michigan. They could supply

Hometown Rankin • 21

more than Daddy could grow. I drove an 18-wheeler to

pick up the produce, so I got to know the suppliers as well.”

After doing some farming on his own, and working

with his dad for many years, Kyle Cockrell and his wife,

Sherry, took a leap of faith and purchased the Old Fannin

Farmers Market on Old Fannin Road in Flowood. “We

changed the name to Cockrell’s Farmers Market and

here we are today.”

“God works in wonderful, mysterious ways,” said

Sherry Cockrell. “He certainly has done so for us in the

past couple of years.” The Cockrells didn’t change too much

about the business, other than adding more options. They

still have suppliers far and wide to make sure they meet

the demands of their customers, but there is also a strong

emphasis on buying local whenever possible. “I have

some cousins and friends who are growers, and we buy

from them,” said Kyle Cockrell. “I try to pick farmers

who are in it for the long haul, so we can

have a consistent supply. I do, however,

buy from farmers who grow small amounts, but what

they grow really looks good.”

In addition to produce, the business continues to sell

preserves, jams and jellies as well as a full line of Amish

goods including butter and cheese. They sell local milk

and old timey peppermints. “We try to keep it as simple

as possible,” said Sherry Cockrell. Depending on the

season, the business also sells metal lawn art, birdhouses

and “anything unique and different,” most all made by

local folks.

Running a produce stand is as seasonal a business as

you can find. After a winter break, the business opens on

March 1 of each year, offering spring flowers and ferns in

addition to spring produce. As summer comes along, it’s

almost all vegetables and fruits, including local figs and

muscadines. The fall brings peanuts, which is a big seller

according to Kyle Cockrell, as well as mums and

pumpkins. And finally, the year closes with

Christmas trees, citrus and pecans.

22 • October/November 2016

“God works in wonderful,

mysterious ways. He certainly

has done so for us in the

past couple of years.”

Being the third generation family member to be in the

business is a big deal to Kyle Cockrell, and his daughter,

Rhegan, is continuing the legacy. The City of Flowood

asked if the Cockrells would have a produce stand during

the Green Market and Craft Fair held each Saturday in

the Belk parking lot at Dogwood from July to November.

They bought a trailer that Rhegan takes to the market.

The Simpson Academy senior will continue working the

produce trailer this fall and again next summer to save

money for college. “She’s going to Mississippi College

next fall to work towards getting her nursing degree,”

said Sherry Cockrell. “But she’ll always be involved with

the family business in one way or another.” n

To see what’s fresh at Cockrell’s Farmer’s Market,

visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/


Hometown Rankin • 23

24 • October/November 2016

November 2-5, 2016 | Mississippi Trademart | Jackson, MS

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“Hartfield provides flourishing academics

with Biblical influences.”

– Hartfield Academy Parent

Hartfield Academy is a Christ-centered, college preparatory school

that exists to help families prepare their young people academically,

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Contact us to schedule a tour or visit our website to apply online.

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26 • October/November 2016

Shopping Local

Shari Veazey, Executive Director, Mississippi Municipal League

As we approach this year’s holiday season,

our thoughts will naturally turn to shopping and

the quest to find the perfect gifts for family and

friends. Many people now do all or most of their

shopping on the internet, while other shoppers

will choose to shop at “big box” retailers.

But this year, I would urge you to make it a

point to shop at home and support your local

retailers and businesses. Brick and mortar

businesses are extremely important to cities,

towns and our state as a whole. When you shop

locally, you are supporting “mom and pop”

businesses that, in turn, support the cities and

towns where they are located.

In Mississippi, 18.5% of sales tax paid by local

businesses is diverted back to the municipalities

where they are located. This revenue supports

critical municipal services such as police and fire

protection; water and sewer; parks and recreation;

libraries; and street infrastructure. For many

municipalities in the state, sales tax revenue is a

significant contributor to their overall budget.

A recent survey of the Mississippi Municipal

League revealed that sales tax is often the largest

source of revenue for many of the 299 municipalities

located in the state.

There are many other reasons to shop locally,

though. Local retailers and other small businesses

are more invested in the overall success of their

communities and are more likely to play active

roles in the betterment of their city or town.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration,

in 2015, Mississippi housed more than

242,000 small businesses making significant

contributions to the state’s economy. These

locally-owned companies support community

events, local schools and sports teams, and often

create partnerships with other small businesses,

neighbors and residents.

Small locally-owned businesses are the largest

creator of jobs nationally, according to the Small

Business Administration. As a general rule, local

retailers can offer better customer service and add

a more “personal” touch to the buying experience.

Big-box retailers may have a larger physical

footprint, but small retailers often have access

to the same vendors and are more vested in

satisfying your needs as a customer. They can

order products that are not currently in stock,

and because they are locally owned, they can be

more flexible to extend a sale price, or offer a

rebate to attract your business.

Now, no one can dispute the convenience

factor of ordering products online from the

comfort of your home or office, but online

retailers have an unfair advantage over our

“Main Street” businesses that are working hard

to grow, or sometimes just sustain, their clientele.

These same businesses are contributing to the

fiscal health of cities and towns, which ultimately

benefits local citizens. Internet based businesses

do nothing to contribute to these communities

or to the state of Mississippi.

The Mississippi Municipal League has been

and will continue to be a strong advocate for the

implementation of internet sales tax as a

mechanism to simply level the playing field. A

local retailer in one of our member cities has

told me of many instances of “showrooming”

where customers come into his store to try on a

coat or pair of shoes, and when questioned by

a salesperson about making a purchase, they

indicate that they are just trying on the item so

they could make the purchase online.

Determining the mechanism for collecting

internet sales tax is not easy, but with all of the

technology and software currently available, it

can be done. The MML would support a method

of taxing the product based on the destination.

For example, if someone in a Mississippi city

buys online from a company and the product is

delivered to their home, then the state of

Mississippi would collect the 7% sales tax on the

purchase and then divert 18.5% back to the city

where the online purchase was delivered–the

same method used when purchases are made

in a brick and mortar retailer.

Closing the online sales tax loophole will give

cities and towns in Mississippi more resources to

invest in improving the business environment

and the quality of life for our citizens. In the

meantime, when you choose to shop locally,

you are doing much more than helping one

small business–you are supporting your entire

community. n

Hometown Rankin • 27

28 • October/November 2016



a Family

Jamie Walley

t’s been over five years since two couples from our church approached our

staff about getting involved in orphan care. We agreed to meet, and the

conversation led to what this would look like for our faith family. As the

student and mission’s pastor at Meadow Grove Baptist Church, part of my

role was to help develop our orphan care ministry and team. Fortunately for

me, we had several amazing people who had adopted, were foster parents, or

were already praying about how they could be involved.

It wasn’t long after those initial conversations that we were actively involved

with orphan care. We began by reaching out to our local CPS (Child Protective

Services) office, and building relationships with social workers. A foster care/

adoption support group started to meet at our church. We created a resource

closet to help foster families and

social workers have quick access

to clothes, diapers, toys, and other

essentials for children who came

into custody with nothing but the

clothes on their backs. I was proud

of our church, and content with

my role.

Along the journey, I met my

friend Rick Valore who was at that

time the executive director of 200

Million Flowers, an adoption agency

based out of Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Rick was traveling the state

encouraging churches to create,

equip, and train orphan care teams.

He played a critical role in Meadow

Grove taking the next steps in orphan

care, and was a huge blessing to me

personally, and our team. I was excited to see what God was doing in the lives

of others, and felt like what I was doing was adequate. Then one day my wife

Stephanie mentioned to me that she felt like we needed to consider becoming

foster parents. My initial thought was, “We are already doing enough!” We

have three children. Evan is 19, Eli is 14, and Olivia is 12. In my mind our

family was set, and we were already making a difference. But I reluctantly

agreed, and we moved forward.

We began our journey to get licensed to be a resource family through CPS

in 2013. We received our license in April of 2014. It took almost a year for us

to get licensed. I really struggled at first with bringing children into our home.

It disrupted everything. Our schedules were off, we had additional meetings

to attend, and it limited what we would normally do as a family. In October

of 2014 I received the Heart of Adoption Award from 200 Million Flowers

for my work in orphan care, and yet I was still struggling as a resource parent.

God, in His grace and kindness, used several people in my life to help change

my heart. Stephanie was doing an amazing job, and I was trying my best to

keep up.

In early December of 2014, Stephanie received a call for a medically fragile

child that would be a long-term placement. I remember going to the hospital

and seeing this tiny baby boy lying in a hospital bed with no place to go. The

doctor explained that he would need a kidney transplant, and after hearing

that, I only caught bits and pieces of the rest. I heard “G tube”, “around ten

medications per day,” and “dialysis in your home”. We were both fearful,

but God had been preparing us for that moment for years, and we just

didn’t know.

Currently we are waiting to finalize the adoption of our foster son.

Hopefully by the end of this year he will be a Walley. None of us can

imagine life without him. He is handsome, smart, funny, busy, and very

special. He is doing really well, and because of the outstanding care from

his team and Stephanie, he can continue to grow before his transplant is

scheduled. The reality of his situation is this; had we

not taken him into our family, he would not be alive.

Everyone involved with his care has stated that. Foster

families are critical, and our state is in desperate need

of more. Many more.

In May of this year I began working with 200

Million Flowers as the director of church relations

and training in addition to my ministry at Meadow

Grove. Shortly thereafter, 200 Million Flowers got

involved with Rescue 100.

Rescue 100 is a collaborative effort between the

Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services,

the Mississippi Commission on Children’s Justice,

200 Million Flowers and churches across the state

of Mississippi to provide loving homes for children

in the foster system.

The goal is to streamline the training and

certification process for resource families–most of

which happens over one weekend after a family

attends a brief orientation/informational meeting.

What took our family almost a year to complete can

now be done in about 4 months. The Central Mississippi Rescue 100

training is scheduled for October 21-23 at Mississippi College in Clinton.

Orientations will be October 10-13 in surrounding counties. Training

weekends are limited to 100 families.

This faith-based initiative started in Gulfport under the leadership

of Pastor Tony Karnes of Michael Memorial Baptist Church and the

J127 Ministry, which hosted the first Rescue 100 event. The second

event was held in July at William Carey University in Hattiesburg.

74 families from that weekend are in the process of being licensed.

In addition to regular resource families, partnering social service

agencies such as Mississippi Children’s Home Services and Southern

Christian Services for Children and Youth are helping to place families

as therapeutic foster care homes.

There are over 7,000 churches in our state. Currently there are

approximately 5,400 children in foster care in Mississippi. If one family

from every church were a licensed resource family, there would be a

waiting list of families and not children. All of the information for

the Central Mississippi Rescue 100 event can be found at their website,


People will think, “There is no way we could be a foster family.”

I would point them to the words of Christ in Matthew 19:26 where

He is speaking on salvation, but it certainly applicable to fostering:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” n

“ With man

this is impossible,

but with God

all things

are possible."

Hometown Rankin • 31




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32 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 33

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34 • October/November 2016

Rankin's finest

Dwayne “Dlo” Thornton

Rankin County Investigator

Why did you decide to become an


As a kid I always wanted to be a law enforcement officer. I grew

up next door to and was influenced by Mr. Hulon Craft. Mr. Craft

was a Rankin County constable and deputy sheriff for as long

as I can remember. When I first started working for the sheriff’s

office, Mr. Hulon was an investigator under Sheriff Ken Dickerson.

I enjoyed being able to work with Mr. Hulon for several years

before he retired.

How long have you been an investigator

in Rankin County?

I have worked at the sheriff’s department 17 years. I started as

a reserve officer and full time jailor under sheriff Ken Dickerson.

After completing my training at the Mississippi Law Enforcement

Officers Training Academy, I served as a school resource officer

and juvenile investigator for approximately four years. I then

moved to the patrol division and served as a patrol deputy under

Sheriff Ronnie Pennington. After several years of working on

patrol, I returned to the criminal investigations division where I

currently serve under Sheriff Bryan Bailey and on October 1st

will become chief investigator.

Tell us about your family.

My wife Julie Thornton has been a nurse for 12 years and

currently serves as the head nurse for Pearl Public School

District. We have two great kids who keep us busy. Our daughter

Amy is 13-years-old. She loves riding ATV’s, and enjoys hunting

and fishing. Our son Brady is 7-years-old. He also loves riding

ATV’s, and enjoys swimming and playing baseball. We are

members of McLaurin Heights Baptist Church in Pearl. Our

family enjoys sports. In fact, when we were choosing a

wedding date, we picked the opening weekend of college

football so that we would always remember our anniversary.

Like any good husband, I let Julie choose our honeymoon

destination. I knew I had a great woman when she chose to

start the weekend off at a Mississippi State game in Starkville

and ended in Atlanta, Georgia at a Braves game. We have

spent every anniversary since watching college football.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I enjoy watching my children play softball and baseball. I also

enjoy old muscle cars. I have restored a 1970 Chevy Chevelle

and a 1987 Buick Grand National. When my son Brady was born

we brought him home from the hospital in the Chevelle. I have

also restored a 1952 Ferguson tractor. My latest project has

been building a cabin with my dad. It has been a great experience

and our family has already enjoyed many weekends there. Being

able to build it myself with the help of my dad makes it that much

better. I will always have the memories of working side by side

with him, from clearing the land to hammering the last nail.

What is the toughest thing you have

experienced in your job?

I have experienced a lot during my time in law enforcement.

The toughest thing I have experienced in my line of work is

dealing with the loss of life. Any loss of life is hard, from a

child gone too soon to a fellow officer taken in the line of duty.

Those are the cases that stick with me.

What are three things on your bucket list?

I have never really developed a “bucket list”. But if I had three

wishes they would be: That my family would live long healthy

lives. That my children grow into hard working adults who rely

on their Christian faith to guide them through life, and that I live

long enough to enjoy retirement with my family.

Who is someone you admire and why?

My parents are the people I admire the most. My father

Howard Thornton and my mother Peggy Thornton have always

been great Christian parents. They taught my sister Anna and

me how important it is to work hard, put God first, and put our

family’s needs above our own.

If you could give one piece of advice to

a young person, what would it be?

Think before you act. One bad decision can follow you for the

rest of your life. Finish school, set goals and work hard to

achieve them, and stand firm in your beliefs.

What is the biggest mistake you think

young people make today?

Giving into peer pressure and going along with “the crowd”

even when they know it is wrong. It is much harder to do the

right thing when everyone around you is doing wrong. It is very

important to surround yourself with friends/people who will

stick by you even when you stand up for what is right.

What is your favorite thing about

Rankin County?

I have been blessed to have worked for three great Sheriff’s:

Ken Dickerson, Ronnie Pennington, and our current sheriff,

Bryan Bailey. I am fortunate to work with the Rankin County

Sheriff’s Department where every day we end our morning

meeting with a prayer. I am also humbled by the support the

citizens of Rankin County have shown us. In light of the recent

tragedies suffered by our law enforcement brothers across the

nation, it is a blessing and an honor to serve in a county that

supports its law enforcement officers.

Hometown Rankin • 35


& How Do You Do's

September 1 • Table 100

36 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 37

Y’all Aboard! That’s the motto of the Southern

Rail Commission, a compact between the states

of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana formed by

the United States Congress to promote passenger rail

in our three states. I have had the honor of serving

on the Commission since 2011, including a term as

its chairman.

The Commission currently has three focus areas.

They include the resumption of Amtrak service east

of New Orleans to Orlando, the establishment of

Amtrak service on the I-20 corridor between Meridian

and Dallas/Ft. Worth, and a multi departure service

between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, including a

stop at Louis Armstrong International Airport.

In February, the Commission, along with Amtrak

and host railroad CSX Transportation, hosted a

two- day inspection train from New Orleans to

Jacksonville to inspect the condition of the railroad

and to gauge the interest of the communities along

the line. We were joined on the trip by mayors,

state legislators, and business leaders. We also hosted

Governor Phil Bryant, Senator Roger Wicker, and

Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

The public response to our trip was unbelievable!

Thousands of people greeted the train at our stops.

There were high school bands, fire departments, and

the largest American flags I have ever seen, even in

the smallest towns. Most importantly, the people who

came represented every walk of life. Any and every

demographic imaginable was there, arm in arm. It

was a sight none on the train have forgotten. When

talking to the leaders of these communities, the refrain

was common; they need connectivity to the nation.

They need ways to connect their communities to

those who would like to visit.

Out of this experience, Senator Wicker and Cochran

worked to include language in the latest Transportation

Bill to assist in our work to make this train and our

other priorities possible. Currently, I am serving on

the Gulf Coast Working Group that was created by

this bill to determine exactly what has to be done to

re-establish service. Our group has been meeting

along the line since February, and will have a report

to deliver to Congress in the fall. We are confident that

38 • October/November 2016

. . .Central Mississippi will have some of the best rail connections in the country.

our report will provide Congress with a realistic plan to

re-establish service that makes sense for all involved.

Both of our long distance train initiatives directly

impact Rankin County. The I-20 corridor project

would give us one seat service to Dallas/Ft. Worth

and to Atlanta, along with Washington D.C. and

New York. The New Orleans/Orlando train would be

an extension of the City of New Orleans, currently

serving Jackson. A one seat, or sleeper, ride from

Jackson to the Magic Kingdom, or the Mississippi

Coast would be a great way to start a vacation.

This is an effort that Mississippi is leading. When I

have met with mayors from Ft. Worth to Jacksonville,

it has brought me great pleasure to be able to say that

this effort began with, and would not be possible

without, the leadership and urging of Governor

Bryant and Senators Wicker and Cochran. When we

are successful in bringing these projects to fruition,

Central Mississippi will have some of the best rail

connections in the country. We look forward to being

able to bring our inspection train to Rankin County so

you too can enjoy the fun and excitement and look

forward to the day we can all say “Y’all Aboard!”

Many photographs, news stories, and videos

are available at www.southernrailcommission.org.

These tell a much more complete story of who we

are and what we are doing to promote passenger

rail options.

Knox Ross


Town of Pelahatchie

Hometown Rankin • 39

Richland Mayor’s

Prayer Breakfast

September 23 / Richland Community Center

40 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 41

42 • October/November 2016



Hometown Rankin • 43

St. Marks Tablescapes

August 27, 2016

44 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 45

46 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 47

Flowood Chamber of Commerce

Health Fair

September 22

Flowood YMCA

48 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 49

50 • October/November 2016


Julia and Emily aren’t just playing in class.

They are experiencing a lesson Jackson

Academy has celebrated since its founding.

We’re better together. Striving for a common

purpose, students learn teamwork and

flexibility needed for lifelong success—

side by side…All For One.








Hometown Rankin • 51

52 • October/November 2016

Cast your vote now at



Tender Loving Hair

Susan Marquez

54 • October/November 2016

Brandon resident Lisa McFadden is on an unlikely mission

to make women with cancer look and feel better.

“This isn’t something I set out to do in life,”

laughs Lisa McFadden of Rankin County.

“I really kind of fought it. But obviously, it’s

a God-thing that I’m supposed to be doing.”

McFadden grew up in the hair salon

business, working with her mom and dad at

the Kirkland Hair Studio, a salon they’ve

owned in downtown Jackson for many years.

“About 15 years ago, my dad really wanted me

to work with all the ladies who came in with

thinning hair or hair loss,” she recalled. “I began

learning more about hair loss in women and

saw that what I was doing was making a

difference in how those ladies felt about


One day, a distraught mother called

McFadden about her daughter who had been

diagnosed with malignant melanoma in her

brain. The patient was a young mother who

had just given birth to her second child. “She

suffered from a headache that wouldn’t go

away, and all along she thought it was from

the anesthesia that was administered before

childbirth. But the medical staff realized it

was something more and they sent her for

tests and the cancer was discovered.”

That young mother was Whitney Luckett,

who came into the salon with her mother that

day ten years ago to consult with McFadden.

“It was about 4:00 in the afternoon, and

Whitney was really in a bad way. Her hair was

already thinning due the chemo drugs she

was getting, and she was very self-conscious.

I helped her pick out a wig in a catalog and I

ordered it next-day delivery.” Luckett and her

mother returned to the salon the next day and

tried on the wig. “It looked amazing on her,”

said McFadden. “Her mother called Whitney’s

husband, who worked just down the street, to

come see it. When he got there he said, ‘That’s

your hair!’ Whitney asked him to take her to eat

at the Mayflower, something she would have

been too embarrassed to do the day before.”

While McFadden had never worked with

cancer patients before, that experience was an

“aha” moment for the hairdresser. “I knew I

had to help other women with cancer, because

I saw the difference it made in Whitney’s life.

It also gave me a renewed appreciation for other

women who suffer from permanent hair loss.”

McFadden embraced fully the idea of

helping cancer patients and began visiting

hospitals and cancer centers in the area. In

doing so, she learned that what most women

with cancer want is to look like themselves.

“That gives them a better sense of wellness

and when they look good, they feel better and

they have more of a fight in them. Every

doctor I’ve spoken with has told me that.”

She began teaching the “Look Good, Feel

Better” class at Women’s Hospital and St.

Dominic’s, but after a while she became

frustrated with that. “The class was focused on

makeup, but what I saw was that women were

more concerned with their hair, or lack of it.

I began learning what wigs were out there, and

which wigs were better suited to certain people.

For example, some chemo drugs have hormones

in them, and that makes the patients hot. Add

that to living through a Mississippi summer,

and a lot of wigs are just too tight and too hot

for people to feel comfortable wearing. I’ve

found wigs that are lighter and breathe more.”

Budget is often an issue for some cancer

patients, so McFadden works to get the best

wig possible for the money. “If you spend $200

on something that’s hot and itchy, you simply

won’t wear it. But if you can find something

that looks great and is comfortable for $400,

that might be worth it to you. However, that

may be too much for some people, so we do

the best we can with the budget they have.”

The longer she’s involved in this work, the

more McFadden has learned. “I found a

product recently that women can use to keep

their eyelashes and eyebrows from falling out

during chemo. You can put a wig on a head

with no hair, but when there are no eyelashes

or eyebrows, the person just doesn’t look the

same.” A certain kind of chemo will often

cause patients’ nails to come off the nail beds.

“My husband found a product that helps with

that, and many have come in showing me their

nails, which are stronger than ever.”

Learning about the different chemo drugs

used in treatment and the effects they can have

on the body has been essential for McFadden

to continue the work she does. “I work closely

with the doctors and nurses, and I help counsel

my clients when they have questions. I know I

can always call one of the nurses or doctors

when there’s a question about something I’m

not sure about.”

It’s been a rewarding journey for McFadden,

and she says she is very focused now on the

often uncertain journey cancer patients are on.

“This work has been the biggest blessing to me.

I owe this all to Whitney, who lived to see her

baby’s second birthday before she passed away.

I think of her often, and how she unknowingly

led me to the work I’m doing today.” n

Hometown Rankin • 55

“If you could try

any job for one day...

Jeremy Rushing

I’ve always wanted to be a game warden

since I was little and first started hunting

and fishing. I would love to be one of the

people in my community that enforces the

laws that protect our wildlife and outdoor

sports, from deer hunting and fishing to

skiing and riding 4-wheelers.

John Robison

President of the United States. In addition

to the generous pension plan, allowance

and medical care I’d get once I retire from

my hard day’s work, it would be nice to have

the power to change some of the things

that are truly wrong with the world we

live in today. Having the job for only a day

would allow someone the focus to address

a few key issues (take your pick) without

the distraction of having to sweat the

small stuff.

Kim Little

A counselor for young girls. Preferably teens

who have low self-esteem. I would choose

this position of influence because it would

be so rewarding to see young girls realize

their true value and live life like they know

they are loved and that they are important.

Many times, during the teen years, girls lose

a bit of their self-identity trying to fit in with

the in crowd without realizing that being

who God created them to be will draw the

right crowd to them.

Fletcher Trask

Well, I always wanted to be a cowboy,

but seriously I am in the profession that

if I had the choice to pick, I would pick

over and over again. Public interaction,

public safety and community growth is all

involved in my career. Since I’m employed

with Rankin County, I’m not limited to just

one city. Hands down best decision I’ve

made to protect and live with citizens of

Rankin County!

Marie Grant

I love nails. I would love to be a celebrity

nail technician and work with the stars,

traveling with them and being their personal

nail technician.

Allen Thomas

President. I would change all the rules that

I could in one day.

56 • October/November 2016

what would it be

and why?”

Tracey McKay

Cupcake Tester for GiGi’s, because I love

cupcakes. Doesn’t get better than that

–eat sugar all day and get paid for it.

Amber Biswell

If I could be anything for a day, I think I

would like to be a pilot. It’s quite ironic too,

the older I get the more fearful of heights

I get! But just the thought of being able to

control a machine to fly through the air is

interesting to me.

LeMarcus Norman

I would still be a principal. I enjoy being a

principal because it allows me to interact

with kids on a daily basis and have an

influence on their future. Although I am

not in the classroom actually teaching,

I still have an impact on what students are

learning by observing teachers, mentoring

students, and talking to parents. Being

a principal can be challenging at times,

however it is one of the most rewarding

professions I think anyone could have.

Seeing kids grow up to become future

leaders and active participants in the

community is something special.

Emily Tisdale

I have always wanted to live out my inner

history nerd as a greeter at a presidential

library. I would have the opportunity to

meet so many different people and maybe

even my favorite president!

Madeline Sanders

I would own my own event and floral

business. I love planning events and getting

to use my creativity to make people feel

special so to be able to do that as a career

would be a dream come true.

Khrysten Glass

If I could have one job, I would most

definitely be a gourmet chef! This way,

I could provide a delicious hot meal for

those who can’t provide one for themselves.

It really breaks my heart to see people

going without their basic needs being met.

Ronnie Moore

To have a legislator’s job for one day and

provide the Rankin County Sheriff’s

Department with radar. Why? To save lives.

Hometown Rankin • 57

58 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 59

Anthony Clay, Eric Norwood

Caroline & Randall Vaughan

Dr. Bryan Lantrip, Sonya Summerlin

Brit Phelps, Jana Fuss

Jesse Houston, Stephanie Fowler

In its third year in Jackson,

24 prominent area men

will take a stand against breast

cancer by supporting the

American Cancer Society

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

of Jackson, MS

throught participation in the

Real Men

Wear Pink

campaign. Throughout the month

of October, Real Men Wear Pink

candidates will encourage women

in their lives and in the community

to take action in the fight

against breast cancer.

August 9, 2016

Table 100

Jay & Shirley Johnson

John MacLennan, Pamela Hancock

60 • October/November 2016

Kelli Towers, Pam Verdung

Michael Wallis, Diane Rester

Natalie Nichols, Deniece Ponder

Tracie Wade, Samuel McDonald, Christie Levy

Jason & Ruth Thomas

Terrance Black, Fredrick Hadley

Nelda & John Neal

Rickey Thigpen, Mary Allen Bennett

Sheila & Richard Friedman

Sherry Pierce Hartfield, Mike Brechtel, Lori Brechtel

Nate Delaware, Blake Butler

Gaye Broyles, Johnny Donaldson, Katy Barrett

Ora Reed, Alice Tisdale, Marie Smith

Joseph Moss, Bill Iupe

Hometown Rankin • 61




Thurs Night, oct 27th

Muse Center, Pearl

• 5K Run

• 5K Walk

• Kids Fun Run

Costume up

& come run!

Info & Register online at:




Thurs, oct 27th - 5:00-7:30 pm

Muse Center, Pearl

at socc

Enroll at soccershots.org

Enroll at soccershots.org

Ages 2+

Ages 2+

Enroll at soccershots.org

Ages 2+

Enroll at soccershots.org

Ages 2+

QUESTIONS? derek@soccershots.org

QUESTIONS? derek@soccershots.org

The Nutcracker

December 2 • 7:30pm

December 3 & 4 • 2:00pm

QUESTIONS? derek@soccershots.org

Thalia Mara Hall



This safe and fun-filled

indoor event is open to

kids 12 & under.



101 Service Drive, Brandon MS 39042


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Hometown Rankin • 63

Good News Travels Fast

Great News

Travels Faster...

Mary Ann Kirby

School had not started yet and we were constantly

looking for ways to stay entertained. I’m sure there are

plenty of parents that can relate. So when my husband

announced that his company was doing a promotion in

Dallas, the location of which just happened to be the

AT&T Stadium, and that my son and I could go if we

wanted, we jumped on it. We could just drive out to

meet him since he would already be there. He works

for one of the big national mattress companies and

travels all over the country.

We really didn’t know what all the trip would

entail, but on a Thursday afternoon, my 13-year old

and I headed from Jackson to Dallas–by ourselves.

It was six hours of non-stop talking and laughing–

and if we didn’t do anything else, the trip was worth it

for that reason, alone.

We stopped at Buc-ee’s, the Texas-owned Disney

World of “travel centers”, and bought drinks and snacks.

We had already checked to make sure it would be on

our route. It’s a 60,000 square-foot roadside-refuge

that’s as much a tourist attraction as anything else.

There are 84 gas pumps, mega-aisles of various snack

mixes and candies, Texas-themed home accessories,

Buc-ee’s clothing, and an entire wall of beverage

fountains. They’re probably best known for their

bathrooms–the cleanest in the industry, they claim.

We took the obligatory photo with the big bronze beaver

mascot out front, popped it up on Facebook with the

caption, “Because Texas….”, and headed on our way.

The next day, after killing several hours around the

Dallas area, we headed to the stadium. I’ve never been

on an NFL football field and was in awe of the massive

venue the Dallas Cowboys call home. There’s a jumbotron

hanging overhead that’s wider than most houses. It’s

actually the 24th largest hi-definition video screen in

the world and spans from one 20-yard line to the other.

Upon entering the field, we were given our

volunteer t-shirts and ushered to where 100 twin beds

were set up–complete with Dallas Cowboy bed linens,

pillows, teddy bears, footballs, and promotional swag.

We were told that 100 kids and their parents or

guardians were already in the building getting a tour.

The field would be their last stop and would soon

become home for one great big sleepover. Ranging in

ages from 5 to 12, these children, through a monthslong

application and vetting process, were found to be

in-need–and particularly in need of beds.

I started taking pictures with my phone. I got

close-ups of the teddy bears holding footballs and of

the beds, themselves, lined up like soldiers on the field.

I could hear the drumline playing outside of the locker

room and knew that it was getting close to time for the

kids to enter the arena.

I scrolled through my photos, created a quick

collage, and decided to post it to Facebook before the

kiddos got there. The caption read, “. . . 100 kids will be

coming to AT&T Stadium for a giant sleepover. Little do

they know they get to keep their beds. These kids don’t

have beds of their own . . . and now they will. I’ll be the

one standing off to the side, bawling.” I posted it and

took my position as they headed our way.

Everyone was wide-eyed and cheering as those

kids ran full-steam onto the field, led by one of the

football players, along with Rowdy, the team mascot.

Each was rushed to their own bed awaiting them with

their name on it.

I started taking more pictures; pictures of kids

hugging their new teddy bears, pictures of kids throwing

their new footballs, wearing their new hats with big

blue Cowboy stars on them, and bouncing on their new

beds–and I quickly added them to Facebook, too.

There’s no way those kids could have realized how their

lives were about to change. They had just been given

the gift of a good night’s sleep–if not that night, then

certainly for nights soon to come.

After a couple of hours of dancing with cheerleaders,

lots of running and throwing, hula-hoop wars and pizza

eating, it was time for the movie to start–to be shown

on the enormous screen above. The kids made their

way into the stands with their popcorn–some carrying

their new teddy

bears and others

dragging their

Cowboy blankets

behind them. The

lights dimmed and

Finding Nemo began

to play–one of my

all-time favorites.

64 • October/November 2016

It was already late by then. I hated to leave

knowing that I was in the midst of something so

special, especially with the movie just starting. But I

wasn’t particularly interested in sleeping on the field

in a sleeping bag either, so we loaded up and headed

back to the hotel. It was around 11 p.m., and I checked

Facebook for the first time since making my posts.

One post had been shared almost 400 times. The

other related posts were picking up steam, too. I stayed

up a couple of hours longer that night just watching all

the shares and likes grow.

Shares were at 2,500 the next

morning and over 5,000 by the

time I got out of the shower, just

thirty-minutes later. They had grown

to 15,000 by lunch and were at 30,000 by mid-day.

I had never seen anything like it–especially from such

close proximity.

By Sunday, shares were nearing 90,000 and it was

clear that it wasn’t slowing. It had gone viral–and all I

could do was watch.

One post has been shared over 150,000 times on

my Facebook page alone–and is still growing! It’s been

shared another several-hundred thousand times on other

pages and been featured on countless news sites

including The Houston Chronicle, AOL.com, Fox News

and The Huffington Post. It’s been on Love What Matters,

Good News Network, Little Things, Do Something.org,

and Reddit. The promotion was talked about on K-Love

and Fox Sports along with numerous radio and

television outlets and, by any estimation, has easily

touched millions of people.

I have to admit, I’ve had an incredible time watching

this phenomenon unfold. It’s been surreal, to say the

least. Ironically, I’ve spent my entire adult-life in the

marketing and media industry but could never have

predicted this. And truth be known, there’s no way to

predict how people will react anyway–especially in the

realm of social media. But I can tell you this; people like

good news! And beyond that, it all boils down to good

timing–and good old-fashioned luck. Lightening in a

bottle, as they say.

The Dallas Cowboys Organization, Tempur+Sealy

International and Ashley Furniture HomeStore DFW

gave those kids an ultimate sleepover and the experience

of a lifetime. One little girl said it was the best night of

her life. She also went on to say she had never had her

own bed before–or a teddy bear. God bless her.

The program is called Hope to Dream and they

have donated over 40,000 beds to children across the

nation and around the world. And now, because of the

generosity of these companies, another hundred kids in

Dallas can sleep a little better, too. Amen to that. ✭

Hometown Rankin • 65

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the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Debra Mays-Jackson, Vice President for Administrative Services, 34175 Hwy. 18, Utica, MS 39175, 601.885.7002. Dr. Tyrone Jackson, Associate Vice President for Student Services & Title IX Coordinator, Box 1100 Raymond Campus (Denton Hall 221), Raymond,

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Hometown Rankin





Why did you decide to make Rankin County

your home?

My husband and I have always lived in Rankin

County and we chose to stay because of the quality

of life the area offers and the excellent school

system. We can’t imagine living anywhere else.

How long have you lived in Rankin County?

I was born and raised in Richland and now live

in Florence. Scott and I are both graduates of

Richland High School.

Tell us about your family.

We have been married for 17 years and have two

daughters, Sydney and Karlie. Sydney is a 4th

grader at Florence Elementary and Karlie is in first

grade at Steen’s Creek Elementary where I serve

on the PTO Board. We are actively involved in

various ministries at First Baptist Richland. Scott is

a deacon, teaches an adult Sunday school class,

and sings in the choir. I volunteer in our children’s

ministry and have served on various committees.

Scott just celebrated 20 years at Hudspeth

Regional Center where he is the director of

information systems. I have worked for TempStaff

for 16 years where I am the vice president of


What is your favorite memory of living in

Rankin County?

Growing up, life always seemed to center around

church and school activities. Having been a

cheerleader and in the band, Friday night football

games were a highlight of the week. The friendships

made then are still important relationships

I have now.

Where are your three favorite places to

eat in Rankin County?

There are so many to choose from, but you will

often find us at Jerry’s Fish House in Florence,

El Ranchito in Richland, or Heart & Soul in


What are some fun things to do in Rankin

County on weekends?

We enjoy shopping at Dogwood or the outlet mall.

After a busy week of school, work, dance practice

and other school activities, we often just hang out

with family and friends with a cookout or pool party.

Sundays are always for worship and fellowship at

FBC Richland.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

We love cheering on the MSU Bulldogs, whether

it’s a football, baseball or basketball game. Spring

break you will often find us snow skiing. In the

summers, we love going to the beach or spending

time at the pool.

What are three things on your bucket list?

I love to travel and will check Ireland off the list in

October with a family trip. Australia, London and

Paris are also on the list.

Who is someone you admire and why?

My parents have taught me about the value of hard

work and perseverance. They’ve instilled in me

the importance of setting priorities: God is always

first, family second, and then work and service to

our community. Not only do I live next door to my

parents, but I also work with my mom at TempStaff.

I’ve had the amazing privilege to learn from one of

the best on how to grow a successful business.

I also admire my friend Jill Dale. We became quick

friends our freshman year at Mississippi College.

Last year, her son Campbell lost his battle with

cancer. She is an amazing woman who has had

remarkable faith through such adversity. She is now

helping others through the Campbell Bulldog Fund

and www.goinggoldformskids.com by raising

awareness and funds to find a cure to childhood


Where do you see yourself ten years

from now?

We will have both a high school and college student

in ten years. Life will be busy!

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Much of my extended family lives in the Richland

and Florence areas. Family events have always been

a fun way to keep us all connected. As a child,

Christmas Eve with my dad’s family includes about

50 people and lots of home cooking. It is much the

same when we gather with my mom’s side of the

family on Christmas day. As a child, I remember

the mounds of presents and endless laughter as we

celebrated Christmas.

If you could give us one encouraging

quote, what would it be?

Find your passion. I was with a group from the

Rankin Chamber the other day and we were

discussing our passions and what would happen if

we gave just 5% more. Rankin County, our state,

and our country would become even greater if we

all would find our passions and dedicate ourselves

to them.

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

Rankin County is a great place to live and work.

While we have so much negative in the world,

Hometown Magazines showcase the positive and

allow us to celebrate the successes of our

communities. n

Hometown Rankin • 67

Richland Fire Chief

David Stanley

Why did you decide to be a firefighter?

For the most part, it was all coincidental, perhaps

fate. I was approached by some members of a newly

built volunteer fire department in a small community

called Three Forks. I worked nights, and they needed

someone to respond in the day. The next meeting,

I was sworn-in and given personal protective

equipment and a radio. They showed me as much

as they could, like how to get my gear on correctly

and search patterns.

About a week later, we were paged out for a house

fire. When I arrived, the house was over halfway

involved. I partnered up with some senior firefighters

and went in with them. The intense heat and flames

were all around us but we fought the fire and

extinguished it, saving the rest of the house and

belongings. It was at that moment that I could not

believe people got paid to do what I just did. So for

the next two years, I tried to get on with a department.

I have thought of this numerous of times. It goes

beyond pay, for sure. It reaches deep down into your

desire to help people, work as a team towards

something greater than one’s self, and to save lives and

property while making a positive impact in society.

How long have you been with Richland Fire


I started this grand adventure on August 2, 2016

and love the department as well the city.

Tell us about your family.

Unfortunately, I have out-lived my grandparents

and parents. However, my wife April and I have

been married for 19 years and are raising 5 children.

I have two boys in college with the oldest getting his

Ph.D. The other has been accepted into medical school.

Rachel, our oldest daughter is 15 years old and

11-year-old Ashley is our middle child. She is the

girly-girl whereas Rachel is my tomboy. Dyllan is

the youngest at 10 years old. He’s my little buddy.

What is the toughest thing you have

experienced in your job?

I get this question quite a bit. Out of my 24 years

of emergency service, with 20 in EMS and 3 years as

a flight medic, I can honestly say whatever you can

think of, I have seen it or, more than likely, done it.

I have seen lives taken unexpectedly and with great

violence, innocence lost from babies and from the


What gets me through all of the carnage and

sheer devastation and tragedies is God. He gives the

strongest warriors the toughest battles. Obviously,

there were times when I was not sure; however, I know

He would not give me anything I cannot handle–that

is His promise. Sometime we need to remember that.

The toughest part is standing at the caskets and

gravesites of my fellow brothers who I have lived and

worked with for over a third of my life. We have

fought many battles, held the hands of the innocent,

and supported each other financially, mentally,

emotionally, and spiritually. These are the brothers

who supported me through the loss of all of my

family and even a son. These brothers are my family

and, throughout my career, I have lost too many of

them to accidents, heart disease, and cancer. Hearing

the last call when the bell rings is definitely hard.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

What is that, spare time? What time I do have, I

try to spend it with family and friends. I like hanging

out at the firehouse and to fish. This is my recent

sport, just picked back up. My goal here is to put the

fish on the endangered species list and I’m doing it

one fish at a time.

What are three things on your bucket list?

This is a tough question because I honestly

believe I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do.

Most people would answer with places, events, or

extravagant experiences. However, my bucket list is

being a firefighter. God blessed me beyond what I

deserve and has allowed me to fulfill a career with

amazing experiences.

Back in Corinth, I worked my way through the

ranks to company officer. This was something I

always wanted to do, lead my comrades into battle,

teaching them all that I knew. As a paramedic, I was

involved with coordinating several scene flights.

As they lifted off, I wondered if I could ever be that

good. That day came and I flew as a flight medic for

three years.

Having had most of my training at the Mississippi

State Fire Academy, I told myself that one day I’d be

training members of the fire service. Eventually I

served as a senior instructor. Knowing training is the

backbone of a department, a training officer will have

great contributions to the success of a fire department.

I went on to serve in Jackson as the chief of training.

This was a great experience and learned even more.

Now, here we are. For some unknown reason,

God blessed me way more than I deserve. I do not

see what he sees in me, but I am glad to receive his

favor. I have been given an opportunity to come to

Richland and serve the best fire department and

wonderful city as the fire chief. For me the fire service

is my bucket list. It has allowed me to see, experience,

and impact people’s lives beyond what I deserve. I

cannot think of anything else I want to do.

Who is someone you admire and why?

There are so many people I admire. These are the

ones who believed in me, helped me, and mentored

me into a better person–from my parents to my

teachers in my early years. Jack, Bobby, and

Raymond who showed me fire behavior in the fires,

as well helped me master the organized chaos of the

emergency scene. When I moved to the metro area,

I worked beside the very ones who taught me how

to fight fire at the MSFA. Perhaps the two most

influential in my life are Dr. Jeffery Brown (Doc)

who has become family in my eyes and Chief Rob

Martin. These two men allowed me to follow them,

pick their brains, and always guided my path when

I was unsure of myself. They demonstrated true

leadership and pushed me to new heights. They have

impacted my life profoundly and hope one day I can

rise to their level.

68 • October/November 2016

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

This is a hard question, too, because I never

thought I would be where I am now. I made a

promise to my guys here that I would stay 8 years.

They reminded me of this promise the other day

when I was offered a contract job at a training event

when a colleague jokingly mentioned coming to

work for them. One of the firefighters said, “You

made a promise to us and that you’d stay a minimum

of 8 years so you need to keep you word.” As far as

ten years? I see great things happening with Richland

Fire Department and the city. We are striving to be

the best, and we are headed in the right direction.

Each member is willing to pull their weight and have

gotten on board in our vision. Because I see the true

potential of our department and fully understand the

direction we all want to go, I will be here in Richland

working for the very best firefighters in the very best

fire department.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young

person, what would it be?

Life is about being well balanced. Be kind but do

not let people abuse you. Trust, but do not be deceived.

Be content but never stop improving yourself, no

matter what life throws at you.

Find passion in something you love to do. Work

is a big part of our lives; therefore, we need to find

something we truly have passion for. When this

happens, you really look forward to going to work.

I cannot believe this is my 24th year. I love serving

others and enjoy every minute of the day in the fire

service. That is why my response to someone who

asks me how I am doing; I am living the dream and

getting paid for it.

We only get one shot in life; therefore, we need

to make something great of every day of our lives.

I can’t think of doing anything greater than serving

in the fire service helping people in their greatest

time of need.

Also, I would share this. Be careful of what you put

in your mind and stay positive. I grew up on a farm

and learned a whole lot about life. We would cultivate

the land. No matter what was planted, we reaped what

we sowed. On the other hand, if we would have planted

Morning Glory there it would have grown, as well.

Morning Glory is poisonous and would take over the

garden if we did not cut it out. Our minds are like the

fertile soil. Whatever we place in our minds, we will

produce just that. Then, we become the by-product

of what we have taken in and allowed to enter our

brain. That is why I stay so motivated and positive.

We should not allow negativity get rooted in our


Negative people and circumstances are like a

cancer. Once it takes hold, it will consume you, and

you will become negative with a poor attitude. We

should not permit negative people or circumstances

to affect us. That is just too much power to give away.

If we allow these negative situations and individuals

to control us, we become a slave for something that

will not be there long term. I cannot see why anyone

relinquishes their power for any reason. We are the

cultivators of our own lives, and we should cultivate

something spectacular. God said we are created

unique, one of a kind and to never be duplicated.

Therefore, we need to harness the idiosyncrasies and

construct great works.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

I would have to say growing up in the country on a

farm. At that time, I hated it every day. We cultivated

10 acers and had chickens and cows. My dad worked

us like Hebrew slaves every day. During that era, the

communities were very close. We all knew each

other, and the community would come together to

help each other during hardships. My dad believed

in that theory. He would take us over to other folks’

houses to work the gardens, hay fields, and cattle.

Once I remember dad taking me to an elderly

lady’s house. Her husband had died and dad told

me to stay there until she figured out what to do with

the farm. I was instructed to run the farm in the

meantime. I would get up around 4:30 every morning

and she would already be up with my breakfast made

and a cup of hot coffee waiting on me. After eating,

I would go out to feed the cows, horses, and chickens.

This was all before I got on the school bus headed to

school. Later that afternoon, I would do the same

thing and work the fields or cut wood for the winter.

When all of this was completed, I would get a shower

and do my homework before bed. The next morning

was a repeat like the movie “Groundhog Day.” I did

this for about 2 months.

Looking back on this time in my life, I understand

why my dad did all of this. He was raising men, not

boys. I learned so much about life on the farm, just

like cultivating our minds. I guess this is why I enjoy

being a firefighter. I am helping others and serving

my community.

What is the biggest mistake you think young

people make today?

Most would say not going to college. However,

college does not make the person. The biggest

mistake I see with today’s generation is their attitude

thinking the world owes them something, like

self-entitlement. I have my own opinion why this is

taking place, but I can assure them the world does

not owe anyone anything, and it sure as heck does

not care what they think they deserve. With this

sense of entitlement, this generation believes they

do not have to work to get things they want/need.

To them, the entitlement attitude is just “give” it to

me, like working for $15.00/hr.

I was a paramedic and didn’t make that much,

and I was responsible for narcotics and peoples’ lives.

Hard work makes you appreciate the things you

purchase and own. It also builds your self-esteem,

and you have gratitude.

What is your favorite thing about the

City of Richland?

The very first thing I noticed about this great city

is it’s a very tight-knit community with the same

closeness I grew up on. Everyone has welcomed me

with open arms and treats me as if I have always

lived here. This is comforting, coming from the

outside. It is like there are no strangers. People speak

to you and are friendly.

What is your favorite thing about

Rankin County?

Rankin County has everything you need to raise

a family. It has the conveniences of metropolitan

lifestyle, yet small-town feel. Other than going on

vacation, there is pretty much everything you want

or need right here, all within driving distance.

Hometown Rankin • 69


Prayer Breakfast

Pelahatchie Baptist Church

Saturday, August 20, 2016

70 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 71

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74 • October/November 2016

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce presents

Holiday Happening

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce invites you to

join us for a BIG holiday shopping event in our

quaint town of Clinton, Mississippi!

Visit www.clintonms.org/holidayhappening

to view all of the participating businesses and print

your shopping site map.

*Present this ad to receive special discounts at each of the participating businesses!

Hometown Rankin • 75


rankin county Schools

Brandon Middle

Leading in Learning and Life is more than a motto at Brandon

Middle School…it’s a lifestyle. Students do not have to look far to

become engaged learners. With various clubs to choose from,

Brandon Middle School takes pride in getting students actively

involved. A newly organized Art Club is designed for students

who have a love for the arts. Working with different mediums,

students expand their knowledge while expressing their designs.

A Science Club offers learners opportunities to take part in

experiments, observations, and educational field trips. For students

who maintain a GPA of a 4.0, Beta Club is an organization that

provides students the opportunity to attend competitions and

conventions showcasing their talents, skills, and academic prowess.

For students interested in business, Future Business Leaders of

America (FBLA) provides students with opportunities to foster

leadership roles in the community. Fellowship of Christian

Athletes (FCA) is a student led faith based club that encourages

student fellowship and positive relationships. Students apply and

are selected based on certain criteria for the Student Technology

Team. Student’s who are on the Technology Team assist with 1:1

rollout, work directly with ITD, and help students and faculty

with computer and Internet issues. Eighth grade students have

the opportunity to join part in the JROTC, a program that

focuses on character education, physical wellness, and personal


Brandon Middle School is pleased to announce recent student

accomplishments. This summer cheerleaders received the First

Place Champion award, First Place Chant Performance and a

National Competition bid along with fourteen All-American

nominations. Dance team members received the team “Full Out”

Award, first place in Home Routine, two National Competition

bids, along with five All-American nominations. Bringing home

four national titles, Beta Club represented Brandon Middle

School proudly at convention.

Brandon Middle School is looking forward to the 2016-2017

school year as the students continue Leading in Learning and Life.

McLaurin Kayleigh Keys

How do you take a school from GREAT to BEST? This is

the overarching theme for the district, and it has certainly been

a central goal for McLaurin Elementary. Already, the school year

is off to its BEST year yet.

To begin the year, we were informed that McLaurin Elementary

was selected as the Spring 2016 Scholastic National Elementary

School first place winner for our “Groovy” book fair. Being the

BEST in the nation is such an honor, and it has served as great

motivation for this school year! Already we are enthusiastically

planning and awaiting this year’s book fair, “Bookaneer: Where

Books are the Treasure!”

In sixth grade, students have been challenged by Gandhi’s

famous words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Students thought about their future goals in life and how, even

now, they can begin thinking about their impact on the world

around them. They displayed these goals in the hallway as daily

reminders. One student said, “I think some kids’ perspectives

of what they wanted to be might have changed the goals that

they had set for themselves. I think it made me and others want

to be more helpful within our community and later in life.”

What better way for Gandhi’s famous words to be applied

than when tragedy struck our neighboring state of Louisiana?

As communities in Louisiana were devastated by the floodwaters,

McLaurin Elementary students were encouraged to donate

school supplies for schools in the affected areas. They rose to

the task at hand and donated a tremendous amount of supplies.

There were so many donations that they had to make two trips

to pick up the supplies.

76 • October/November 2016


It’s 7:28am, and the blare of a bell sets into motion the sounds

of shuffling feet and eager chatter as students bustle through the

hallways. These are the welcomed sounds of the beginning of a

new year at Pisgah High School as the faculty, staff, and students

prepare for our best year yet: The Year of the Dragon.

Our academic and athletic triumphs foreshadow the accomplishments

ahead of us. This year we welcome five new faculty and

staff members. In addition, Pisgah High School was awarded the

title of National Bronze Level School by U.S. News and World

Report in its 2016 edition of Best High Schools. Pisgah has

received this award every year since its inception in 2009.

Athletically, Pisgah continues to be met with success on the

court and field. In volleyball, the Lady Dragons remain undefeated

in their division games. Their regular season concludes October 11,

hopefully to be followed by an appearance in the playoffs. Our

softball team has endured, in spite of several washout games,

collecting a win against Morton. The Dragons football team has

tallied back-to-back victories over Mize and St. Aloysius. Cross

country is set to begin its season September 10.

Amidst celebrating our high school teams, the community of

Pisgah has rallied to support our own hometown Olympian, Tori

Bowie. Tori, a 2008 Pisgah graduate, competed in her first Olympic

games this summer by running in the Women’s 4X100 meter

relay, 100 meter, and 200 meter races and earning gold, silver,

and bronze medals respectively. On Saturday, August 27th, Tori

returned home to her alma mater for a meet-and-greet with fans

who were excited to celebrate her victories as a first-time Olympian.

Follow Pisgah High School on Facebook and Twitter as we

continue to triumph this year, #TheYearoftheDragon.


We are a place where students lead fiercely, encourage constantly,

and endure strongly. We’re a place where teachers motivate and

mentor students to break the status quo, and a place where

administrators have a vision for success and work tirelessly to

make it happen.

As the year ushers in great changes from faculty to schedules,

to a new senior class, OUR TRIBE stands strong and united to

make 2016-2017 the biggest and best year ever.

What is so special about OUR TRIBE??

OUR TRIBE is growing. People are moving here because

they want to be a part of the great things we are achieving, and we

embrace them to become Chieftains and thrive with us.

OUR TRIBE is enduring. We are working through late

afternoon softball practices and exhausting football exercises. We

are persevering through difficult cheer routines and marching to

the beat of a brand new band. We are conditioning in basketball

and warming up in baseball. We are building up for soccer, tennis,

and archery.

OUR TRIBE is succeeding. We are adding Beta members,

electing student council and FFA officers, and training yearbook

photographers. We are building towers in math, traveling to other

parts of the country in social studies, and visiting characters through

a good book in English. We are staining glass in art and learning the

alphabet in Spanish. We are writing hypotheses in science and

learning what’s beneficial to us in health.

We are designing webpages and creating spreadsheets in

business and running laps in P.E. We are yielding great innovators

in shop and producing respectful citizens in JROTC. We are

creating Chieftains!

We are achieving; we are excelling; WE ARE PELAHATCHIE!

What are you waiting for? Come join OUR TRIBE.

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

Hometown Rankin • 77


rankin county Schools

Florence #eaglepride

At Florence Elementary School, we strive to always put our

BEST foot forward. Our school motto is “Focus, Educate, Soar.”

The word that best describes our school is “family.” From the

staff members to the students, to our fabulous community, we

are family.

As a group, all staff is currently reading the book Focus, by

Mike Schmoker. This month, our focus, as instructional leaders,

has been on the importance of simplicity, clarity, and priority.

We take pride in making students our top priority at Florence

Elementary. Having a clear vision helps set the tone, focus on the

tasks at hand, and soar to that next level…from great to BEST!

At FES, we are looking forward to the BEST school year ever!!


Welcome back! Puckett High School has started off with a

bang. There have been a lot of improvements this summer at the

school. The Art Garden continues to grow in size. All of the

hallways plus the auditorium have been painted, the senior

composite pictures from the 1950s-2016 are hanging in the old

hallway. There is new carpet in the office and a new greenhouse

for the Ag. classes to use.

Patrick Lemoine, the Ag. teacher at Puckett High School has

done it again! Mr. Lemoine’s Ag. classes won state in open and

closing, horse judging, forestry and tree judging. Since arriving

in Puckett eight years ago, our Ag. classes have won over 30 state

championships. The

forestry team competed

in West Virginia this

summer and placed 12th

in the nation. The open

and closing team will

compete in Indianapolis,

Indiana, later in October.

A greenhouse was

built in front of the new

Ag. building. Puckett

students will now be able

to grow plants and

vegetables to sell as

fundraisers. In the past,

our students sold ferns

that we bought from

another state. Now, with

the help of the greenhouse,

we can grow and

sell our own ferns. This

will be a valuable tool in

the education of our Ag. students.

With the help of Vallery Temple, the junior high has started

an Ag. program as well. Mr. Lemoine and Mrs. Temple had two

groups that won state last year. The junior high students won

state in nursery/landscaping and horse judging. This group will

be moving up to help the high school out in the near future.

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


Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t know

anyone? This year, my students and I found ourselves in that very

position. Usually when someone is new, it takes a while to

acclimate and meet new friends. That’s’ what makes Richland

Upper Elementary School a place like no other. From the moment

someone walks into our school, whether student or teacher, they

are a member of a special family.

In a time where schools are composed of predominantly

testing and data, Richland Upper Elementary is a breath of fresh

air. Each morning, when our precious students walk in, we greet

them as one would greet a friend. Why? It’s because they are our

friends. Every child who comes into a classroom is automatically a

part of a small, tight-knit family.


As a K-6 feeder school to Northwest Rankin Middle School

and home to over 600 students in the Brandon/Reservoir area,

Oakdale has a proven track record and rich tradition of excellence

in instruction and student achievement. As part of a progressive

district moving Rankin County from great to best, Oakdale offers

a variety of academic programs and extracurricular opportunities

to engage students in deeper learning and social/physical growth,

such as Jr. Beta Club, Cougar Choir, Archery Team, Band,

Principal’s Book Club, Critical Thinking Through Chess Initiative,

and numerous others.

A sense of belonging is an essential component in making up

the essence of Richland Upper. Teachers at RUES not only focus

on the academic portion of teaching a child, they also focus on the

character and talents of our students. In order to instill a sense of

character and citizenship, our fearless leader, Principal Toby Price,

suggests that we begin the year by enforcing the Essential 55 by

Ron Clark. Teachers strive to integrate this amazing program into

our daily instruction. Through this program, our students are

showing the necessary skills to becoming successful adults.

Every morning a child wakes up either excited to go to school

or dreading school. At Richland Upper, it’s our mission to create a

place where kids want to be and where teachers want to teach. At

our school, we are taking Rankin County School District from Great

to Best one student at a time. It’s a great day to be a Ranger!

A point of school pride is how Oakdale is constantly tapping

into the pulse of the digital age by using technology to enhance

teachers’ instruction and students’ learning. This year Oakdale

was the only elementary school in the district selected to participate

in the state’s CS4MS pilot, a computer science initiative for

our 6th grade students. Students will also be engaged in extended

learning through virtual field trips this year via Google Expeditions.

The school also offers 6th grade and 4th/5th Venture students

Spanish language learning through Rosetta Stone and guided

teacher instruction. According to Principal Dr. Lynnette McNeil,

three things make Oakdale such a wonderful school. First, the

high expectations teachers have for all students as they work to

foster their academic and social/emotional growth. Second, the

outstanding work going on in classrooms everyday with teachers

and students–as teachers are consistently engaged in collaborative

growth and learning to provide the best education for

students. Third, the strong relationships with students, parents,

community, and each other.



Jackson Prep

Newly Elected Student Council:

President - Hayden Van Norman, Vice President - Megan Smith

Secretary - Laney Armstrong

Class Representatives: Freshman-Sally Hatten, Eli Gooden,

Daniel Walters; Sophomore-Eli Holaday, Kaylynn Steen, Katie

Long, Julie Thompson; Junior-Alexia Nicks, Kennedy Montgomery,

John David Beall, Kaylee Van Norman, Cameron Withers,

McKenzie Ragan; Senior-Shelby Killough, Rachel Long, Maddie

Dyess, Harper Germany

4th Annual Hart & Soul Auction is October 20th,

6-9pm at the Ivy Venue in Flowood. Special Guest will be

Patrick House, Season 10 Winner of the Biggest Loser.

Coffee + Chapel Preview Day

October 25th and November 16th

Hartfield Academy congratulates one of our seniors, Grace

Thaggard, for being selected a National Merit Scholarship

Semifinalist. Grace is Hartfield’s first National Merit Semifinalist.

She is also one of the 16,000 semifinalists in the National Merit

Scholarship Program to be chosen

out of the 1.6 million entrants

nationwide. To be selected, a

student must score well on the

PSAT exam given in October of

the student’s junior year of high

school. The next step is to be

selected as a finalist. The finalists

will be announced in February of

2017. We are really proud of Grace

and hope you join us in congratulating

her on this big honor!

Congratulations to Jackson Prep’s National Merit Semifinalists:

(back row, left to right) Robert Wasson, Will Massey, Paul Andress,

Wesley Roberson, Lawson Marchetti, (front row) Kennedy

ZumMallen, Rose Iacono, Kacie Van Pelt and Jack Davis.

Jackson Prep boasts 570 National Merit Semifinalists: more

than any independent or public school in the state of Mississippi.



First graders enjoyed apple

painting while learning all

about apples.

Pre-K students had a fun time

learning about apples. They were

fascinated by the dehydrator and

enjoyed tasting the apples.


pearl public Schools


Pearl High School recently hosted over 35 colleges and military

recruiters at its annual college fair. Over 400 students and parents

participated in this year’s fair. After the fair, a Class of 2017 parent

and student college planning luncheon was held. Over 190 participants

learned about the college and financial aid planning process

from a representative of Education services Foundation. ESF is a

nonprofit college planning service. Both events were sponsored by

the Pearl High School Counseling Services Department.

The mission of Pearl Public School District

is to prepare each student to become a

lifelong learner, achieve individual goals,

and positively impact a global society.

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

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Thanks to our readers

and advertisers.

We appreciate you!

82 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 83

Rankin County Bar Association’s


M-Braves Social

August 5, 2016 / Trustmark Park

84 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 85

86 • October/November 2016

? ?

Hometown Rankin • 87

From Diamonds

to Deer Stands

Camille Anding

88 • October/November 2016

“I’m just a deer hunter,” Brian Owens says

about himself as he tries to keep in perspective the

potential of his new venture and company, Owens

Outdoors. It’s definitely far removed from life just a

few years ago.

Owens played high school baseball at Northwest

Rankin and went on to play for Mississippi

State for two years. He stayed on another year after

graduation as an assistant to Coach Ron Polk, an

opportunity that he will always prize.

Marriage to Anna Werne came next–along

with a coaching job at Tennessee Tech University

in Cookeville. The following year, he was offered

an assistant baseball position at Mississippi

College. After one year on the job,

the head baseball coach resigned,

leaving Owens interim baseball

coach at age twenty-five. One

year later, he was offered the

head coaching job, and baseball

life at Mississippi College was

his family’s life for the next

nine years.

During that ninth year, Owens used his

backyard as an experimental station for designing

a hunting blind that would accommodate bow

hunting. In the midst of that, he sensed God’s

direction to do something else. “Go be with your

kids (Ella, 8 and Parker, 5) more,” were the directions

that Owens recalls.

It was easy for Brian and Anna to understand

due to the long hours away from home that all

coaches invest.

It was definitely a step of faith and obedience

when Owens resigned his head coaching position,

especially since Mississippi College had become a

special part of their lives. “I loved my players and

the college,” Owens says.

Then the idea that came by

accident soon launched Brian

and Anna, along with the help

of his brother, Daniel and

sister-in-law, Laura, into

production of the Double Dare

Blind, manufactured by Owens

Outdoors early this year.

Hometown Rankin • 89

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap,

they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God

feeds them. Of how much more value are you than

the birds!” Luke 12:24

90 • October/November 2016

Life as CEO of his new company is a far

stretch from the baseball diamond. God has given

him time with his children, something he never

had when coaching. “It’s such a priceless thing

for me to be able to carry our kids to school or

schedule a lunch date with them,” he says.

After family time, Owens travels to outdoor/

hunting expos to show and promote his one-of-akind

blind. “It’s actually a portable shooting house,”

Owens says in describing the ground and tree

stand blind. “It’s 53”x53”x76” with a shooting

width of 68” – ample room for bow and gun

hunting.” The blind travels in a backpack, sturdy

enough to work as a permanent stand or easily

breaks down to transport.

Owens recalls fond memories of growing up

hunting with his dad and brother. “Dad taught us

how to move slowly and quietly through the

woods and to appreciate the beauty of nature and

its wildlife.”

This new venture gives Owens more pleasure

than he could have imagined. “You find something

you love and you won’t work a day in your life,” he

says in describing the result of his obedience and

faith. Owens smiles with great contentment as he

reflects on God’s faithfulness. “Anna and I have

claimed Luke 12:24 for years, and we have figured

it out – God always meets our daily needs.”

With hopes of endorsements from large retailers

like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, Owens dreams of

an expanding company and orders for thousands

of Double Dare Blinds. He may have learned to

move slowly in the woods, but in the production

and marketing world, he’s in race mode. n


Hometown Rankin • 91

92 • October/November 2016


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Hometown Rankin • 93

94 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 95

Rankin County has

always been supportive

of its first responders

and recently three

local groups had special

gatherings to honor the

commitments of these

brave men and women.

Country Place Subdivision

in Pearl hosted a thank

you celebration where

every police officer and

dispatcher received a

gift card to Frisco Deli

and all four fire stations

and Pafford EMS received

gift baskets. Bailey

Walter, daughter of slain

police officer Mike Walter,

received an educational

endowment of $1000.

Brandon Baptist Church

hosted a breakfast for

first responders

on August 27th.

The Brandon Police

Department and Rankin

County Sheriff’s Office

were both represented.

Crossgates Baptist

Church fed fire and

police departments

recently as well.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

96 • October/November 2016

Hometown Rankin • 97

Camille Anding

The Time Coin

The sweltering, bone-dry days of

September were tolling a death

knell for Virginia’s backyard

garden. The surviving caladiums drooped

their once lovely heads, and the hardiest

petunias dangled from their baskets in a

farewell surrender. The roses had responded

well to the drop in humidity, but their roots cried for a soaking rain.

Virginia hurriedly cleared away the dinner dishes so she could

assuage her garden’s suffering. Smaller jobs seemed to jump in the way

so by the time Virginia opened the back door, the evening light had

retired. Not to be deterred from her task, Virginia reached for the

flashlight and headed for the watering hose.

The earth was parched, and the plants seemed lifeless, but the sounds

said there was life. It was too dark to know what kind of life, but all

unidentified creatures seemed to be making noise. Was it crickets,

cicadas, locusts or grasshoppers – or a combination of all? Virginia

wasn’t sure, but their amplifiers were on full throttle. The noise would

qualify as a roar.

“Amazing,” Virginia thought to herself that tiny insects could create

such a symphony.

Symphony? Virginia was confident that not everyone would define

those noises in musical terms, but growing up listening to the night

sounds makes one appreciate the unique

summer nights in the country.

Another familiar noise broke Virginia’s

concentration on God’s little creatures. She

tossed the hose to pull her cell phone from

her pocket. “Hi, Mama,” the welcomed voice

greeted. It was Marie, her firstborn who

was married with her own family.

Before Virginia could finish asking Marie about how things were

going, Marie interrupted. “Where are you, Mama?” she asked. “Outside,

watering my roses.” “I knew it,” Marie responded, “I hear home!”

After their conversation ended, Virginia continued watering her

roses. She thought how anyone could hear the roar of the summer night

creatures, but not everyone has spiritual ears to hear the still, small voice

of God.

For the next few moments, amid the fanfare of the summer night,

Virginia’s mind drifted from the night sounds and thirsty plants to a

well of contemplation. She thought about how easily the clamor of

sounds and pleasures can muffle the eternal voice of God.

With garden hose in hand, Virginia dedicated herself to more

disciplined focus on spending time alone with God. She spoke audibly

into the heavens, “Lord, when You speak, I want to say without

hesitation, ‘I hear home.’” n

98 • October/November 2016

Because there’s Merit

in faster care.

In a medical emergency, every minute matters. So, at Merit Health, you’ll

find faster care in the emergency room. We work diligently

to have you initially seen by a medical professional* in 30 minutes –

or less. And, with a team of dedicated medical specialists, we can provide a

lot more care, if you need it.

The 30-Minutes-Or-Less E.R. Service Pledge – at Merit Health.




River Oaks

River Region

100 • June 2015

*Medical professionals may include physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.


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