volume 3 number 5
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.
Sarah Langston, DMD
14 Woodgate Drive
Brandon, Mississippi 39042
4 • October/November 2016
publisher & Editor
Tahya A. Dobbs
Kevin W. Dobbs
Mary Ann Kirby
Mary Ann Kirby
Daniel Thomas - 3dt
• • •
For subscription information
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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8 • October/November 2016
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
“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
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
URGENT NEED: LOVING HOMES FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
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
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,”
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
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
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
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Hometown Rankin • 19
9/16/16 10:21 AM
A Season of
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
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
Presented by the Junior League of Jackson
Wednesday, November 2
PREVIEW GALA & AUCTION: A YULETIDE TREASURE
Presented by the Junior League of Jackson
HAIL THE NEW YEAR | 7 P.M.
WALK THE RED CARPET | 7 - 10 P.M.
Presented by C Spire
SILENT AUCTION | 7 - 10 P.M.
LIVE AUCTION | 9 P.M.
Presented by Rogers Dabbs Chevrolet
PRESENT PICK | 7 - 10 P.M.
Presented by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry
Thursday, November 3
MISTLETOE MORNING: A MORNING OF MERRIMINT
8 - 11 A.M.
Presented by Trustmark
GIRLS NIGHT OUT: ALL DECKED OUT
6:30 - 8:30 P.M.
Presented by Belk
General Shopping Hours
ATM presented by BankPlus
Thursday, November 3 | 11 A.M. - 9 P.M.
Friday, November 4 | 11 A.M. - 9 P.M.
Saturday, November 5 | 9 A.M. - 5 P.M.
Friday, November 4
MARKETPLACE BRUNCH: MARKETPLACE JAZZ BRUNCH
8 - 11 A.M.
Presented by Regions
FASHION SHOW LUNCHEON:
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Featuring Joan Lunden
11:30 A.M. - 1:30 P.M.
Presented by Baptist Health Systems
Fashions presented by Belk
2:30 - 6:30 P.M.
TWEEN & TEEN EVENT: THE SWEET LIFE
4 - 5:30 P.M.
Presented by University of Mississippi Medical Center
FRIDAY NIGHT EVENT: MISTLETOE ON TAP
7:30 - 11 P.M.
Presented by Southern Beverage Co, Inc.
Saturday, November 5
CHILDREN’S EVENT: SANTA’S WORKSHOP OF WONDER
9:30 - 11:30 A.M.
Presented by Ergon
9 A.M. - 3 P.M.
10 A.M. - 3 P.M.
MISTLETOE RAFFLE CAR
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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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putting others ahead of self, and for the living and active Jesus Christ.
Contact us to schedule a tour or visit our website to apply online.
26 • October/November 2016
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
Hometown Rankin • 27
28 • October/November 2016
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
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
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
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
Hometown Rankin • 31
Clyde Muse Center • Pearl , MS
32 • October/November 2016
Hometown Rankin • 33
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34 • October/November 2016
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
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
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
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
Town of Pelahatchie
Hometown Rankin • 39
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
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
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...
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.
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
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.
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
I love nails. I would love to be a celebrity
nail technician and work with the stars,
traveling with them and being their personal
President. I would change all the rules that
I could in one day.
56 • October/November 2016
what would it be
Cupcake Tester for GiGi’s, because I love
cupcakes. Doesn’t get better than that
–eat sugar all day and get paid for it.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
LOOKING FOR SOME
Thurs Night, oct 27th
Muse Center, Pearl
• 5K Run
• 5K Walk
• Kids Fun Run
& come run!
Info & Register online at:
Thurs, oct 27th - 5:00-7:30 pm
Muse Center, Pearl
Enroll at soccershots.org
Enroll at soccershots.org
Enroll at soccershots.org
Enroll at soccershots.org
December 2 • 7:30pm
December 3 & 4 • 2:00pm
Thalia Mara Hall
This safe and fun-filled
indoor event is open to
kids 12 & under.
ARM BANDS $5 EACH
RANKIN COUNTY CHAMBER
101 Service Drive, Brandon MS 39042
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62 • October/November 2016
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Hometown Rankin • 63
Good News Travels Fast
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
behind them. The
lights dimmed and
Finding Nemo began
to play–one of my
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
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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hub.hindscc.edu/rankin | 601.936.5537
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College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its educational programs and activities. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding
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,
MS 39154, 601.857.3232, titleIX@hindscc.edu
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Utilizing state of the art equipment and advanced treatment techniques,
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66 • October/November 2016
Why did you decide to make Rankin County
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
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
Share some things you enjoy doing in your
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
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
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
What is your favorite thing about
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
Hometown Rankin • 67
Richland Fire Chief
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
Pelahatchie Baptist Church
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70 • October/November 2016
Hometown Rankin • 71
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Hometown Rankin • 75
rankin county Schools
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Best Hotel 2011-2015
Legendary Hospitality and
120 Alumni Drive • Oxford, Miss.
Thanks to our readers
We appreciate you!
82 • October/November 2016
Hometown Rankin • 83
Rankin County Bar Association’s
August 5, 2016 / Trustmark Park
84 • October/November 2016
Hometown Rankin • 85
86 • October/November 2016
Hometown Rankin • 87
to Deer Stands
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
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
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
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
Meets the Eye
NCR Multi Part
Scratch Off Envelopes
500 Steed Road • Ridgeland, MS 39158
601.853.7300 • 1.800.844.7301
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
on August 27th.
The Brandon Police
Department and Rankin
County Sheriff’s Office
were both represented.
Church fed fire and
recently as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
96 • October/November 2016
Hometown Rankin • 97
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
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.
100 • June 2015
*Medical professionals may include physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.