volume 3 number 1
storming the runway
Faith Hill Country
Best Desserts in
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Hometown Rankin • 3
4 • February/March 2016
publisher & Editor
Tahya A. Dobbs
Kevin W. Dobbs
Mary Ann Kirby
Mary Ann Kirby
Daniel Thomas - 3dt
Missy Donaldson - MAD Designs
• • •
You’ll have to agree–Valentine’s Day is the over-arching theme of February. So, with that fact
settled, we have assembled content in this issue that revolve around things we LOVE.
First are celebrities! We all are caught up in the glitz and glamour of the famous. Faith Hill and
Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts are our own stars and you’ll LOVE reading about them.
We also have a surprise celebrity for you–the mayor of Puckett. His talent is cue stick artistry–
designing and creating pool cues that are sold worldwide. In fact, he’s one of 5 artisans in the world
that makes up this elite group of professionals.
Then there are our own hometown couples who share the beginning of their LOVE stories of
how they first met. You’ll also LOVE our featured desserts by local restaurants that make every
This is a perfect opportunity to say that we LOVE our readers! You
guys give us such incredible feedback and we’re honored that you spend
your time with us. And last but certainly not least, we LOVE our
advertisers. Remember to thank them and show them some love by
sharing some hometown dollars with their businesses. Every one of us
play a vital role in their continued success.
Regardless of February’s frosty days and the brisk winds
of March, LOVE will always warm our hearts. We hope
you LOVE this new issue!
For subscription information
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.
On the cover: Faith Hill
In this issue Favorite Things about Rankin County 8
A Mississippi Girl 12
How We Met 16
A Leap of Faith 22
Loving Lazarus 30
Best Desserts in Rankin County 40
I Love Us 46
A Cord of Three Strands 56
Storming the Runway 62
Espiritu Cues 66
Remaining Faithful 76
Hometown Rankin • 5
6 • February/March 2016
is one of the fastest growing counties in
Mississippi. So it should come as no surprise
that when we asked some of the locals to tell
us what their favorite things were about
living in Rankin County, the answers
were varied and heartfelt.
And we couldn’t have
said it better ourselves...
8 • February/March 2016
The best thing about living in Rankin
County is its wonderful, small town
environment, which helps in raising
a family. Rankin County has an
outstanding school district. As a
nineteen-year Rankin County teacher
and parent of two RCSD students,
I know first-hand that our district
employs the best teachers and
administrators in the state. Rankin
County also has amazing sports
leagues and extracurricular programs
that engage our children physically
and mentally. We have incredible
coaches who volunteer and dedicate
their time to our children. I find comfort
in knowing that when my children go
outside to play, not only are they safe,
but I also have neighbors who are
concerned about their well-being.
I am proud to say that Rankin County
is my home.
My favorite thing about living in Rankin
County is that each city is still able to
give you that small-town feeling.
I love working for and being a part
of a community that gives so much
support to our community’s first
responders police, fire and EMS.
What I enjoy and love about living in
Rankin County is that it’s reminiscent
of my childhood home. I love the
“country feel” of being removed from
the busy interstate and the leisure it
provides. It’s important to me for my
children to have a similar culture
passed to me from my grandparents.
What I enjoy the most about living in
Rankin County is the hometown feel
of a small town community. The
people are friendly, always willing to
help when needed, and very giving.
We have made such great friendships
since moving to Rankin County in 2008.
We can’t imagine calling anywhere
What I love most about living in Rankin
County is the quiet, beautiful country
life with the convenience of being close
enough to the town of Pelahatchie and
Brandon for shopping! Pelahatchie is
a small town filled with so many great
businesses and people.
Hard to pick just one favorite thing
about living in Rankin County, but I
would have to say my church family,
my close knit neighborhood friends
and the wonderful teachers my
children have been blessed with in
Brandon are at the top of my list.
Just a few reasons I have loved living
in Rankin County my whole life are the
friendly folks, hometown pride and
convenience of the big city, but with
a small town feel.
Hometown Rankin • 9
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10 • February/March 2016
Do you ever get angry?
Feel your anger gets out of control?
Can anger even be controlled?
What if you were told you didn’t even
have to get angry?
In the following interview, anger is the topic of
discussion between Jim Thorn of 103.9 WYAB
Radio and Dr. Perry Sanderford, a licensed
professional counselor at Crossroads
Jim Perry, everyone has found himself or herself getting
angry. From your perspective, how is anger defined?
Perry Anger is an emotion of the body that is designed
to reach a goal. Anger has an objective, it wants to
Jim Is anger natural?
Perry I would say, yes. It is instinctive. We begin in
early infancy to use our body to get what we want.
Jim Are there any times when it’s healthy to be angry?
Perry We want to think that anger is good. For example,
the recent act of terror in Paris. Anger was our initial
reaction–one that we may think should accompany
the response to such a horrible act. But the truth is that
anger, itself, is not necessarily the most effective tool for
responding. We can and should respond decisively to
such horrific acts of violence, but most of the time the
anger, in itself, doesn’t really accomplish all that much.
What you can do with anger, though, can be just as
effective, or perhaps even more so, in solving
problems–even very large ones.
Jim How can we suppress the anger emotion that
bubbles up so quickly? For example, when we are on the
road someone unexpectedly pulls out in front of us.
Perry I don’t believe it’s possible to suppress anger
surging in the moment–simply because anger is a
trained and instinctive reaction of our body. To not
instinctively react in anger, we have to have something
in place internally before the incident occurs. Again, I
want to make it clear I am not saying that we do not act.
I am simply saying using anger is not necessarily the
most effective problem solver.
Jim Are you saying we can eliminate anger altogether
from our lives?
Perry Pretty much. But to do so, one has to have
confidence they have the ability to think and the ability
to respond purposefully to solve the problem. Without
that kind of confidence, we instinctively resort to anger.
For example, a spouse who feels disrespected or
controlled by an angry spouse often responds, in return,
with anger. The problem here is that we now have two
angry people–which, more often than not, creates an
even greater explosive situation. On the flip-side, when a
spouse is confident they can think and act appropriately
to the reality of the situation, they then are in a position
to respond with greater clarity and decisiveness.
Jim From a Christian perspective you mentioned
replacing anger with something else. Talk about anger
from a Christian perspective.
Perry Therein lies the very essence of Christianity.
Christians have a great confidence in the sufficiency of
God to provide for our every need. Christianity is not just
a label, it is “trusting in God”. If Jesus can be crucified,
placed in a grave, and then come back to life, then
Jesus can certainly be trusted to protect us in any given
situation. Confidence in Christ is what keeps us from
being angry. And by the way, we don’t have to win every
disagreement. In fact, Jesus said we can lose and still
win. Now that’s powerful.
Jim Often anger comes up because we defend our
perspective and what we think is right. But are you
saying that sometimes it’s best to kind of back away
even if we stand firmly on our position?
Perry I’m saying we can be powerful in the story. We
don’t have to be a doormat. But we can be more powerful
if we remain calm. We can think, and then if necessary,
express ourselves with confident actions. We are not
asking people to be stupid. You can distance yourself
from someone that wants to harm you. Don’t make
yourself available to somebody who attacks you. But at
the same time, you don’t necessarily have to respond
immediately with a fight. For Christians, there is a
greater force within us and we can trust Him.
Jim I would imagine that someone who gets angry
fairly regularly would take a little more time to re-program
in order to get back to the position that you are talking
Perry Getting angry regularly is a way of saying we
have programmed our body to use anger to problem-solve.
But we can ‘un-train’ ourselves, too. It requires confidence
and practice. It’s like jumping out of an airplane. You
believe the parachute is going to hold you up–but you
really don’t know until the ripcord is actually pulled.
You hope life will go better if you don’t respond in
anger, but you are not 100% sure until you try it. The
more you practice trusting God and not attempt to solve
problems with anger, the more confidence you build in
It’s a matter of learning how to do life in a way that works
better. But, you may insist you can do life better with
anger, and if so, then keep doing it. But my observance
in everyday life is that people not only accomplish very
little with anger, but they actually make the situation
Jim What would you recommend for someone that
struggles with anger?
Perry: Chronic anger means something in life is not
working. If something is not working, you don’t want to
keep doing it. A lot of people do, however. They go to
their grave using that same anger that has accomplished
very little. The definition of insanity is doing the same
thing over and over again expecting different results. If
anger is not working for you, consider doing something
However, you may not know what to do. If I know where
I want to go but am not sure how to get there, I use a
map plotting the pathway to the desired destination.
If you want to overcome anger but don’t know how,
then find someone who knows, and ask. A good Christian
counselor is actually a life-coach who can teach you
how not to be angry. Remember, lots of people say they
know the pathway to living well, but they may only be
guessing. Guessing, when in error, has its own negative
That’s why I think Christian counseling is the finest
source of information available to the world. Jesus was
the smartest human that ever lived. He knows how to
live well. This information has been proven reliable for
thousands of years or it would have died out by now.
A confident life in the pathway provided by Jesus Christ
is truly living well–even in overcoming anger.
For more information, please contact Dr. Perry Sanderford at Crossroads Christian Marriage & Family Counseling. 601-939-6634.
Hometown Rankin • 11
12 • February/March 2016
A Mississippi Girl
Hannah Camille Roberts was crowned Miss Mississippi in 2015
and went on to compete for the title of Miss America 2016 where she was named as first runner-up.
As a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Hannah majored in biochemistry with a minor in biology.
After getting to know her here, we were quick to realize that she’s as smart as she is beautiful.
We are so proud of this Mississippi girl!
At what age did you first begin dreaming
of being Miss America?
I’ve watched Miss America every year since I was
a young girl and I have always looked up to those
Were you a regular in pageant competitions
growing up? If so, were you encouraged by
I truly did not compete in a lot of pageants as a
child. Other than Miss Mississippi, I have only
competed in Jr. Miss/Distinguished Young Woman.
Describe a typical day during your time
at the Miss America competition.
The days at Miss America typically included a
rehearsal time in the morning until mid-afternoon
and then a night event such as dinner.
Who did you consider to be your biggest
competitor in the talent division?
I definitely considered Miss Georgia, Betty
Cantrell, now Miss America, to be my biggest
competition. She has one of the best voices
I have ever heard in any pageant.
What kind of food did you eat at the
competition and was it all provided
by the pageant?
Our meals were all catered or provided by the
Miss America pageant and were selected by a
dietitian. I have never been a huge fan of dieting
or restricting food so I had everything from salad
to ice cream during those two weeks!
What was your most enjoyable part of the
The most enjoyable part of any pageant is meeting
other young women. I made so many friends at Miss
America and stay in touch with them all the time.
What is something you learned at the pageant
that most people would never know?
Many people assume that “pageant girls” are mean
or snobby. But through this organization, I have
learned that these women are real girls. They all
have struggles and they aren’t perfect, but they are
supportive and loving and want to make a
difference in the world.
What was the most difficult part of the
The most difficult part was not being able to see
my family. My family arrived in Atlantic City very
early in the week, but I had very little time to
communicate with them and did not get to see
them until Tuesday night. We are a very tight-knit
group, so this was a struggle for me.
Give some pointers to other girls who aspire
to being Miss America.
Being competitive at Miss America is all about
preparation. If this is your dream, start preparing as
soon as you can. Whether it’s developing a talent,
creating a fitness plan, or learning about politics
and interview skills, starting early is a huge benefit.
Describe your interview with the judges.
My Miss America interview was the most difficult
10 minutes of my life! It’s set up like a press conference
and all types of questions are fired at random.
What was the one food on your “can’t eat
list” that you craved the most?
Although it may have been a good idea to have a
“can’t eat list,” I never made one. However, my
favorite “bad” food is Taco Bell all the way! I am
known for showing up to interview practice with
a take-out bag in one hand and my interview
notebook in the other.
Was there ever a time in the week that you
wished you were back home living your
Absolutely not. Only one girl from Mississippi gets
to go to Miss America each year, and this year it was
me! There was not a single moment that I regretted
being there and I soaked up every second of it.
What is your favorite memory from the
Sunday night (crowning night) after the top 15
were announced. I was announced 14th and one
of my best friends, Miss Arkansas Loren McDaniel,
was announced 15th. I think I screamed louder
when her name was called than I did for my own.
I was very close to all of the girls that made it into
the Top 15 and we were all so excited for one
another. That is a moment I’ll never forget.
What are your goals for the future?
I will begin medical school at UMMC in August
and plan to specialize in pediatric reconstructive
plastic surgery. I hope to live in Jackson or Oxford
once I graduate.
Hometown Rankin • 13
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Hometown Brandon • 15
Everyone has their
“How we met” story.
From meeting in the first grade,
to sharing classes in college,
to being set up by mutual friends,
everyone’s story is unique.
Here are just a few “How we met”
stories from some of our readers.
16 • February 2016
Julie & Donny Parker
Melissa & Scott Crawford
Donny and Julie sat beside each other in Mrs. Simpson’s
first grade class at Iuka Elementary School. Their friendship
developed through the tenth grade when Donny asked
Julie out on a date to see the movie, “Three Men and a
Little Lady” and dine at Taco Bell. Several more dates and
a few high school dances later, the couple graduated from
Iuka High School in 1992.
The Christmas before the two of them went to
Mississippi State, Donny proposed. Their engagement
lasted all through college until Julie finished her student
teaching. She said, “I finished student teaching on a
Thursday, graduated from Mississippi State on Friday,
and got married on Saturday.” Today, Donny and Julie
live in Brandon. They have three children: Benton, Anna
Scott, and Lila. This year, Donny and Julie will celebrate
their twenty-first wedding anniversary.
Scott and Melissa met in Hawaii in the summer of
1986. Scott was serving as a minister of youth intern at
First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor. That
summer, Melissa helped Scott with ministry activities for
the youth group. After that summer, they returned to their
homes. They wrote to each other and spoke on the phone
as often as they could. Melissa eventually asked Scott to fly
out to California to meet her family. That week Scott said,
“The Lord confirmed to both of us that he was calling us
to each other.”
Scott went back to New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary and finished his master’s degree. Melissa continued
with her college education at UCSB. She flew out to see
Scott graduate from NOBTS in December of 1990. Scott
proposed marriage to her that Christmas. To his delight,
Melissa said yes. After a long engagement with multiple
relocations for both Scott and Melissa, they ended up in
Las Vegas doing ministry together. They were married on
May 22, 1993 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Three children and
eighteen years later, Scott and Melissa moved their family
back to Scott’s hometown of Pearl. Scott has been the
pastor at First Baptist Church of Pearl since 2012, and
Melissa teaches at Park Place Christian Academy.
Hometown Rankin • 17
Judy & Barry Kirkpatrick
Heather & Ben Bryan
Barry was sent to Meridian Navel Air Station in 1961.
Upon arriving, one of his roommates set up a double date
for them. The roommate was going on the date with Judy
and arranged for Barry to be with one of Judy’s friends.
From the first minute they met, Barry knew he wanted to
get to know Judy better. A couple of days later, Barry found
out Judy was going to take her niece to the Meridian County
Fair. He made sure he was there. Barry said, “We had a
great time until we rode the Ferris wheel. After coming
down I threw up–not a very good impression to make.”
Barry did not have a car at that time so they didn’t go
out much until Christmas when he went home and bought
a 1957 Pontiac. When Barry returned after the holidays, he
ran into snow south of Butler, Alabama. The weather got
pretty bad, and a neighborly couple hosted Barry for the
night. The next day, Barry drove in over 8 inches of snow
on the roads. He went to Judy’s home, then called his duty
officer and said he couldn’t make it back to the base. Barry
spent another week at Judy’s parents’ home. They got
married June 29, 1962. In June, Barry and Judy will
celebrate their fifty-fourth wedding anniversary.
Ben and Heather spent their whole lives less than a mile
from each other. It wasn’t until they were ages 20 and 21
that the two actually met. Their college roommates were old
friends, and eventually Ben and Heather found themselves
in the same circle of friends. They started dating in the
spring of 2008. Heather said, “I remember calling my mom
after our first date to tell her I had just met the man I was
going to marry.”
Today Ben and Heather jokingly talk about how from
day one they were sure that marriage was in their future.
Ben and Heather both finished their degrees at Ole Miss
and moved home to join the real world. Ben proposed
the day after Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday, in 2009.
They were married July 10, 2010. Since then, Ben and
Heather’s family has expanded and they have two
wonderful children: Caroline born March 20, 2013 and
Josh born December 8, 2015.
The couple currently resides in Flowood. Ben works
at Morgan White Group as an accounting associate, and
Heather teaches at Norwest Rankin High School. The
Bryans are excited to raise their family in the same
community they both grew up in.
18 • February/March 2016
Juniper & Delwin Wallace
Whitney & Marcus Canoy
Juniper and Delwin met in August of 2002 while both
teaching in the art department at Brandon High School.
They ended up in the same group of friends where five of
them would go out to dinner once a month. Juniper would
often ask Delwin for help with big projects like painting
sets for the theater program. Their students would always
say to Juniper, “You and Mr. Wallace should date.” Sure
enough, by February of 2003, Delwin and Juniper started
dating. They were engaged in July of the same year but
decided to keep their engagement a secret.
When they came back to school after that summer, a
coworker grabbed Delwin’s hand to see if he was wearing
a wedding band. She suspected Delwin and Juniper had
eloped over the summer. Delwin said, “What are you
looking for?” He grabbed Juniper’s hand with the engagement
ring on it and said “This?”
Delwin and Juniper got married outside at the Mississippi
Ag Museum in June of 2004. About fifty students attended
the wedding as they were closely invested in Delwin and
Juniper’s relationship. Today, the Wallaces live in Flowood.
Delwin teaches art and Juniper teaches theater at Northwest
Rankin High School. They will celebrate their twelfth
wedding anniversary this year.
Marcus and Whitney were both students at Mississippi
College, but never actually met until Marcus’ friend stepped
in. He told Marcus that his girlfriend worked with a girl at
Ulmer’s Stride Rite named Whitney. They thought Marcus
and Whitney should meet. Marcus said, “I was a bit nervous
at the prospect of participating in a blind date for lots of
reasons. Still, we both agreed to a double date and I fell in
love at first sight.”
Twenty years later, Marcus and Whitney have remained
inseparable. They live in Puckett, where Marcus is the pastor
at Puckett Baptist Church and Whitney is a part-time
physical therapist at St. Dominic’s. Whitney is also a fulltime
mom to their three children, Kayleigh, Nolan, and Jase.
The couple just celebrated their eighteenth wedding
anniversary on January 3. That date is also special because
their cancer-surviving daughter turned 13 on the same day.
Marcus said, “No marriage is perfect, but God is, and we
know that God brought us together. He has blessed our
marriage and our family.”
Hometown Rankin • 19
20 • February/March 2016
Hometown Rankin • 21
22 • February/March 2016
On December 19th, the Mississippi
Country Music Trail unveiled a trail
marker honoring Faith Hill at the
corner of Main and Mangum
Streets in Star, Mississippi.
As a young girl growing up in Star, Faith
found her passion for music and singing and
followed her heart to Nashville at the young age
of 19. She has now been a force of nature in the
entertainment industry for over two decades,
having achieved unprecedented success in the
worlds of country and pop music as one of the
top-selling and most-awarded female artists of
all time. Over the course of her career, she has
had fourteen #1 singles and multiple albums
topping both the Billboard Top 100 and
Country charts, with six multi- platinum studio
albums and selling more than 30 million albums
worldwide. She’s won five Grammy Awards,
twelve ACM Awards, four Billboard Music
Awards, four American
Music Awards, four
People’s Choice Awards
and three CMA Awards.
We had the chance
to ask Faith, and her
close-knit family, a few
questions and got a
peek of what it was
like for her growing
up in Star.
What is your favorite memory of growing up
in Star/Rankin County?
One of my fondest memories of growing up in Star was the
winter that Highway 49 froze over completely from a big
northeastern storm that fell down into the deep south in
the early ‘80s. Highway 49 and everything else was closed.
This is the day that Gaye McCann, now Gaye Knight, and
I would become best friends. We played all day on the
highway…sliding, falling, running, laughing, sliding, falling,
and laughing again and again.
What is the one thing you miss the most about
living in a small town?
Life in a small town is something everyone should have the
opportunity to experience at least once in a lifetime. Dreams
seem bigger when you come from a small town; although,
somehow they seem more obtainable because either you have
the support of friends and family, which gives you strength to
work hard and be successful or you have so much drive to get
out of the small town that it motivates you to work even harder.
I miss my family and I miss knowing every road and where
each one leads. There is power in that knowledge; the power
of knowing where you are going, as well as the power that
comes from the drive to get out of something so familiar and
discover what the world has to offer.
Is there a favorite tradition that you and your
family had growing up that has been carried
over to your family?
There are many things that I have
carried over to my family. Lots of
traditions–and most all of them are
related to food and faith. My
parents had the most incredible
vegetable garden. My brothers
and I had the chore of weeding,
shelling peas, butter beans–whatever
was required. I absolutely
hated it when I was growing up
and usually found an excuse to
not always be home when I
needed to help.
Hometown Rankin • 23
But once I moved away, I realized how valuable that garden
was to my parents and our family for so many reasons. After
my brothers and I moved into our own homes, my parents
worked the garden and would split the harvest evenly between
us siblings. There is no one that can cook green beans and butter
beans like Edna Perry. I do know the secret and I cook them for
my family but they just never seem to be as good as my moms.
When did you know that you wanted to be
a country singer?
I always knew I wanted to sing. Truthfully, there was never any
doubt whatsoever. I just never thought of doing anything else.
It was as if singing chose me. My soul was set on fire every
Sunday with music from the church. That music transformed
me to another place and still does to this very day. The soul of
those old gospel hymns just resonated in me from as far back
as I can remember. After seeing Elvis Presley in Jackson when
I was 12 years old, I knew there would be no other path I could
take but to sing. However, it wasn’t until high school that I
decided country music was the music I wanted to sing. Country
music was not as popular then as it is now, so without question,
I was in the minority when it came to this style of music.
Were your parents supportive of your decision
to move to Nashville?
My parents have always been supportive of all of their children.
They worked hard and instilled in us a strong work ethic that
my brothers and I share. We were taught that nothing comes
without hard work, to treat people with respect and dignity,
and never take one day for granted.
Education was important as well. I begged to move to Nashville
straight out of high school but my mom insisted I go to college
before making my final decision to move away. The fact that I
only attended college for one semester probably broke my mom’s
heart! And as a parent of three teenage daughters, with one in
college, one on the way to college, and another not far behind,
I can only, now, imagine the worry that I must have caused my
mom. However, my parents raised us in faith and I know that
they could not have survived what I put them through without
that faith and without lots of prayer.
24 • February/March 2016
If you could give one piece of advice or
encouragement to anyone with big dreams,
what would it be?
Do what you love. Find your passion in life and work hard
to make it happen. Nothing comes without hard work.
Be a good person and treat people with respect, always…
that is something that never goes out of style. Kindness is
a universal language and no matter how far you climb and
no matter how successful you become, always be humble
You have represented Mississippi and your hometown
well. How did it make you feel to be honored with a
marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail?
I am proud to be from the great state of Mississippi and I am
humbled to be included in a list of so many great artists that
came before me.
You have won numerous awards and accolades, but
what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment in this life has been my children.
I thank God everyday for my family. I was born to sing but
I was raised to be mom. That is my greatest joy.
Hometown Rankin • 25
What is your favorite memory of living in Rankin County?
My family moved to Plantation Shores when I graduated high
school…1978…yes, I’m old! I can remember playing in Hwy. 49
one winter because there were no cars. The road was covered
with snow and we played in the highway.
Were you and your siblings close growing up?
Yes. I was eight when she came to us and our brother, Steve,
was six. Faith was adopted from birth. My parents named her
Faith, but I gave her the name Audrey. The name came from
a beautiful woman on a TV show. I think it was Big Valley–
and maybe it was Audra. But I named her Audrey after that
pretty lady on TV. So her name is Audrey Faith Perry.
Steve works for Faith now and lives in Franklin, Tennessee.
Is there a favorite tradition that you and your family
had growing up that has been carried over to your
We don’t have specific traditions or anything like that, but
what we do have is LOVE of family. We love people. My parents
love people, I love people, and my kids love people. We also are
helpers…we love to help others. We love to serve.
What is it like being the brother to one of the most
successful country music singers of all time?
Sometimes it’s great and other times it’s just another day. Faith
has always helped us. She helped with my kid’s college and she
helped with the funding to build our home. She gives me stuff
for the kids I teach and much, much more.
What is your favorite song that Faith sings?
My favorite is off of the “Breathe” CD–“There Will Come
26 • February/March 2016
Edna & Ted Perry
Otherwise known as G-Maw and G-Paw.
Answers were relayed to us by Wesley.
How long have you lived in Rankin County?
What is your favorite thing about living in a small town?
G-Paw said his favorite thing is getting to know all of the
people and then looking to see if he sees anyone that he knows
where ever he goes.
G-Maw said making close friends that are always there when
you need them.
Do all of your children have a musical side?
Yes. My youngest son, Steve Perry, took piano lessons and
Wesley plays a little guitar and sings from time to time.
(Funny fact interjected by Wesley - In my family we have many
folks with famous singer names…. Faith Hill, my brother Steve
Perry and my daughter Katie Perry, I’m the odd man out!)
When did you realize that Faith had the talent to sing?
When she was two, standing in a pew at church singing with the
hymnal upside down.
When she told you she wanted to move to Nashville
to pursue a country music career, what was your first
(Answered by Wesley) My mom said no. Said she got lost in
Jackson and she knew she wouldn’t be able to find her way
around a place such as Nashville. My dad has always given her
his support since the very beginning.
Do you remember where you were the first time you
heard Faith on the radio? What was your reaction?
Driving down Highway 49 headed home from work.
My mom’s reaction was, “Well, there she is on the radio.”
As a parent, how did it make you feel to see Faith
honored in such a special way with the marker on
the Mississippi Country Music Trail?
My dad said he was so proud. He never thought she would get
this big! My mom said she would have told your reporter that
she is proud of all of her children.
Hometown Rankin • 27
28 • February/March 2016
Hometown Rankin • 29
30 • February/March 2016
Mary Ann Kirby
couple of years ago, I was walking
back to my then-downtown office
from lunch and noticed a man up
ahead that clearly looked as if he had fallen
on hard times. He was leaning against the
wall watching as I approached and just as
I did, asked if I had a dollar to spare. Now
I knew he was going to ask me that but
what proceeded to come out of my mouth
was astonishing, even to me. I said, “I don’t
have a dollar. I even had to charge my lunch.”
And while I’m quite certain the guy doesn’t
take American Express or care, for that
matter, that I’d been faced with the grueling
decision between cash or credit, he still
managed a gracious nod as I passed him by.
I felt guilty–and ridiculous.
It got me to thinking, though, as I
continued on, what should I have said?
Better yet, what could I have done? It was
the second incident in as many weeks that
left me with the same question.
The week before, my son and I had made
a trip to Yazoo City to see my grandmother.
On the way there, I noticed an older man
standing alongside the highway trying to
fix his bicycle. His front wheel was lying on
the ground and there was a sign on the back
of his bike that said, “Broke and hungry.”
I instantly wished I’d known how to fix a
bicycle–but kept driving, nonetheless. I
mean, you never know about people, right?
Well three hours later on our way back,
we passed that same man now riding his
repaired bike down the shoulder of that
same highway having made it a good
distance from the original sighting. It was
as if God was giving me a second chance
to redeem myself. I told my son, “I wish
there was some way we could help him,”
and he said, “OK, but how?” And in the
time it took us to wrestle with what to do,
at 70 miles per hour, we had traveled
another half-mile down the road–still
not stopping. It weighed on me.
So that day, downtown, as I carried my
purse in the crook of my arm channeling
my inner Reese Witherspoon in Legally
Blonde, I once again failed the exercise
with which I was presented. The man on
the street was seemingly broke and in need
and I did nothing to help him. You know,
Lazarus was overlooked repeatedly and
look how that story ended.
How else could I have helped? A
sandwich and a bottle of water may have
done just the trick–just like the sandwich
and bottle of water I’d bought myself a
half-hour earlier. I mean, the fact that he’s
willing to suffer an existence of poverty
and begging rather than turn to a life of
crime suggests to me that he might actually
be of high moral character. I say that sort
of jokingly, of course. The point is, who are
we to judge? And what does that sandwich
cost in the grand scheme of things? Well,
based on the story of Lazarus, it could cost
Regardless of how we act or think in
those situations, we could each do a little
more to help those who have a lot less.
And in reality, the “beggars” in our lives
are not limited to those penniless and on
street corners. We’re surrounded by people
starving emotionally, spiritually, and
socially–and how we feed them matters.
So as we embark upon a new year,
I’d like to offer a prayer for peace and
new beginnings. I pray that joy will fill
our days, peace will fill our hearts, and love
will fill our lives. I pray that we’ll be blessed
with all the good things God has to give
and that we will all live in love and truth
in 2016. n
Hometown Rankin • 31
January 14, 2016
Alan Miller, Jay Glenn, Tim Everett, Marshall Robinson
Micah & Jessica Sanford Ricky Chapman, Lawrence Taylor Mike Harrell, Leroy Wilson
Lisa Dutton, Lori McClendon Daniel Johnson, Jordan McAlpin Mayor Mark Scarborough, Mayor Butch Lee
32 • February/March 2016
Forrest Rhemann, Stanley Roberts
Bob Wedgeworth, Rob Martin, Richard Redfern, Pat Sullivan, Clay Burns
Terrance McEwen, Thomas Dudley, Collin Jones, Sandra Ray, Buddy Ham
John Gray, Chris Snow, Brandon Weems
Terri Wood, Todd Sanford, Barbara Adams
Melinda Quick, Laura Mayo, Cathey Winne
Hometown Rankin • 33
2.5 x 1.75
Attitude Ability Awareness
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11771 Highway 18 769-972-2382 Raymond, MS 39154
TWAW Shooting Chapter Clinton/Raymond MS
34 • February/March 2016
©2014 Ergon, Inc. All rights reserved.
Hometown Rankin • 35
& BoMikel Bilello
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey David Burrell of Brandon,
Mississippi announce the engagement of their
daughter, Madison LeighAnn Burrell, to Bo Mikel
Bilello, son of Mr. and Mrs. Donnie Paul Bilello of
The bride-elect is the granddaughter of Mr.
Charles Harry Smith, Jr. and the late Mrs. Peggy
Joyce Smith of Pearl and Mrs. Doris Ellen Burrell
and the late Lonnie Buford Burrell, Sr. of Pearl.
Miss Burrell is a 2011 graduate of East Rankin
Academy and a 2015 graduate of Mississippi State
University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in
business administration. At State, she was a
member of Delta Gamma sorority, MSU Fashion
Board, Sigma Alpha Lambda honors society, and
Campus Activities Board. She is employed as a
sales consultant at Miskelly Furniture in Madison.
The prospective groom is the grandson of
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wayne McLemore of
Enterprise and Ms. Mary Jane Talbot of Baton
Rouge, Louisiana and the late Mr. Donald
Salvatore Bilello of Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Mr. Bilello is a 2010 honor graduate of
Enterprise High School, where he was salutatorian.
He is a 2014 summa cum laude graduate of
Mississippi College, where he earned a bachelor’s
degree in biological sciences and was a member
of Phi Theta Kappa. He is now furthering his
education in the physical therapy program at
University of Mississippi Medical Center.
The couple will exchange vows on Saturday,
March 5, 2016 at six o’clock in the evening at
The Ice House Venue in Jackson, Mississippi
with a reception immediately following.
Upon returning from a honeymoon in St. Lucia,
the couple will reside in Brandon.
36 • February/March 2016
Stephanie Brooke Slaughter and Justin David Tullos were united in
marriage October 3, 2015 at The Ivy Venue in Flowood, Mississippi.
The ceremony was officiated by Reverend Gary Knight and Reverend
The bride is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. David Slaughter of Pelahatchie,
Mississippi. She is the granddaughter of Dr. Kenneth Slaughter and the late
Nancy Slaughter of Jackson, Mississippi and the late Mr. and Mrs. George
Welford of Waynesboro, Mississippi. The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs.
Michael Tullos of Brandon, Mississippi. He is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs.
George Tullos of Brandon, Mississippi and Mr. and Mrs. Wade Morrison of
Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a gown of ivory taffeta
by Allure bridal. The strapless ball gown featured a sweetheart neckline
with ruching detail. The fitted bodice was accented at the waist by a belt
of Swarovski crystals, and a chapel length train completed the ensemble.
A cathedral-length illusion veil, adorned with matching crystal detailing,
accented the dress. Stephanie’s bouquet was a beautiful cascade of white
roses, freesia, ranunculus, and willow eucalyptus.
Attending Stephanie as her matron of honor was Mary Kate Partrige.
Additional attendants were dear friends Ashley Cocilova, Marion Patti,
Shanna Funcke, Rebecca Parker, and Nikki Raney. Each attendant carried
a hand-tied bouquet of red, white, and peach roses with eucalyptus leaves,
which complemented their eggplant, long chiffon dresses. Serving as flower
girls were Adalyn Roberts, Miriam Raney, and Lydia Raney. Attending Justin
as best man was Wil Mann. Groomsmen were John Murphy, Brett Boling,
Will Roberts, Daniel Barnett, and Zach Farrar.
To the bride and groom’s surprised delight, they exited the ceremony to
the song “Oh Happy Day” performed by a gospel quartet from Anderson
United Methodist Church.
Following the ceremony, the bride’s parents hosted a reception on the
grounds of The Ivy. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres of traditional southern
fare provided by Wendy Putt of Fresh Cut Floral and Catering. Guests were
entertained by music and a photo-booth provided by Crowd Pleasers DJ
services. Her mother lovingly prepared the bride’s five tier almond cake.
Cakes by Iris prepared the groom’s two-tiered chocolate cake depicting his
love of hunting and Mississippi State. On the eve of the wedding, a dinner
was hosted by the parents of the groom at The Ivy.
After a honeymoon to St. Lucia, the couple is at home in Brandon,
Hometown Rankin • 37
Our physicians are highly skilled and experienced
in treating a wide array of urology conditions
Utilizing state of the art equipment and advanced treatment techniques,
each of our board certified urologists have specific areas of urological
expertise in addition to providing general urologic care to patients
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Avinash C. Gulanikar, M.D. • Mark A. Condon, M.D. • Sujith K. Reddy, M.D.
Please visit us at our new location:
294 East Layfair Drive • Flowood, MS
38 • February/March 2016
Hometown Rankin • 39
40 • February/March 2016
Life is Short.
Eat Dessert First
Whether you have a passion for pastry or an utter devotion to chocolate,
every once in a while, it becomes necessary to satisfy your needs
with a sweet and indulgent treat. And when cravings call,
these go-to desserts are sure to satisfy.
Homemade New York Cheesecake
with candied red raspberry sauce will make you
re-think cheesecake. Creamy, light, and not-too-sweet,
creating a balance between sweetness and tanginess.
It’s a chef favorite!
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Chocolate Chocolate Chip
Chocolate bliss. This incredibly moist, decadent chocolate
cake is packed with chocolate chips and rich, home-baked
flavor that’s certain to earn sighs of delight.
Hometown Rankin • 41
The Alumni House Sports Bar & Grill
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bread Pudding
drizzled with a caramel and chocolate sauce, topped
with house whipped cream and trail mix confetti.
Rich, dense and indulgent!
Made with bananas, butter, brown sugar and
cinnamon, the bananas are flambéed tableside
and served over vanilla ice cream.
42 • February/March 2016
John Bellan, MD
J. Michael Bensler, MD
Alfredo Figueroa, MD
F. Earl Fyke, III, MD
William K. Harper, MD
W. Hampton Jones, III, MD
S. Todd Lawson, MD
Keith D. Thorne, MD
James L. Warnock, Jr. MD
H. Chris Waterer, III, MD
William J. Harris, III, MD
W. Stewart Horsley, MD
Daniel Ramirez, MD
Misha Craven, ACNP-BC
Lynne C. Currie, FNP-BC
Lyndsey Dill, ACNP-AG
Mary Gordy, CFNP
Rachel Hearst, FNP-C
Adrianne Kelley, ANP-C
Susan Patterson, NP-C
Tonya Sweeney, MSN, ACNP-BC, CCDS
No hospital in Mississippi has been caring for
heart patients longer than Baptist.
Baptist brings together experienced cardiologists, cardiovascular
surgeons, nurse practitioners and clinicians to offer the most
comprehensive care in the region for patients with heart disease.
Find out more at mbhs.org/baptistheart. Trust your heart to
501 Marshall Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Hometown Rankin • 43
& memory care
call now to schedule a tour
Every day of life is a blessing.
350 Town Center Way Flowood, MS 39232 blakeliving.com
please join us in welcoming
as the new executive director
for the blake at flowood.
44 • February/March 2016
On Tuesday December 22, 2015, GEICO, The Wounded Warrior Project,
and Barnett’s Body shop of Flowood presented a car to wounded veteran
John Patterson and his wife Holley of Florence, Mississippi.
John was a member of the U.S Army and Mississippi National Guard.
He was wounded in combat and has had several surgeries to repair his hip.
John has a service dog named Tucker to help with PTSD.
GEICO partnered with Barnett’s Body Shop and several other local businesses
to provide the Patterson’s a much needed reliable mode of transportation.
Hometown Magazines thanks you for your service!
Hometown Rankin • 45
46 • February/March 2016
I Love Us...
Mary Ann Kirby
Ah, Valentine’s Day. My earliest thoughts of the beloved
celebration date back to the third grade and are of tiny die-cut cards
stating such simple messages like, “Some-bunny loves you” and,
“Will you be mine?” I can remember the importance of finding just
the right cards to give out, too. No way did I want anything too
mushy or anything. Picking out the card was serious business. They
would eventually be placed in individually decorated brown paper
sacks that were taped to the back of everyone’s little-person sized
desk. Love was so easy.
Years later, flowers and gigantic helium balloons were the
must-have order of the day, often delivered to the workplace. I was
never the recipient of such over-the-top deliveries and was even
admittedly a bit jealous of those who were. I mean, had they
somehow figured out a secret code to love that I hadn’t? And how
were you supposed to get those big ol’ things home anyway?
I eventually married in my early thirties. Prior to that time,
while I managed a couple of fairly decent relationships, I was mostly
single–a lot. I mean, there were easier things in life than trying to
find a nice guy, you know. Like nailing jelly to a tree. But it was
worth the wait. I would eventually find my perfect match and we
will celebrate 17 years of marriage this year. Yay!
So as I look through the thousands of cards at the store and
contemplate the message I want to convey, I’m struck by a simple
yet powerful thought. I love us.
In reality, the card I’m looking for should say, “Happy Valentine’s
Day. Who, in a million years, would have ever thought that I’d be
standing here for the umteenth time looking through this sea of red
and pink hearts? But, despite the fact that I get grumpy and have
unpredictable mood swings, you keep coming home–and I thank
you for that. And even though you’ve yet to develop the ability to
read my mind, I continue to love you anyway. We’ve made a pretty
darn fabulous kid that, with any luck, will think marriage is a good
thing after watching us. So, there’s that. Happy Valentine’s Day! I
There need to be cards with those types of “real” messages.
Someone could make a fortune.
Relationships are hard. All relationships. And they take work.
Anything worth having, does. And while my husband and I have
certainly made a good run so far, we’ve definitely had our moments–
but we always manage to work through them. Eventually, we even
laugh it off. Laughter is about connection, and laughter and love go
So while I might not be one of those that gets $100 worth of
helium delivered to the front door, I will get a funny card from my
fella. It will likely still be in the store bag from which it was bought
along with one of my favorite Hollywood gossip-type magazines
and a box of little white powdered donuts. He knows they’re my
favorite and that means the world to me.
The truth is that love isn’t always perfect. It isn’t a fairytale or
a storybook and it doesn’t always come easy. Love is overcoming
obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on,
and never letting go.
It’s a short word that’s easy to spell, difficult to define, and
impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, love is
realizing that every hour, and every minute, and every second of
it was worth it–because you did it together.
Maybe more marriages would survive if people knew that
sometimes the “better” comes after the “worse.” And that’s ok.
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, over and
over, with the same person. I’m thankful for my person. I really do
love us. ♥
Hometown Rankin • 47
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO THE
JUNIOR AUXILIARY OF RANKIN COUNTY
30 th Anniversary Charity Ball
Saturday, February 27
HONORING MICHAEL & HALEY GUEST
Entertainment provided by MEET THE PRESS
Silent Auction, themed packages and door prizes
$100 per couple (tickets may be purchased at the door)
All printing donated by Dallas Printing
PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT
THE CHILDREN OF RANKIN COUNTY
Don't miss our next
issue, April 2016!
Like us on Facebook
Say it sweeter.
Give them something to smile about this Valentine’s Day.
Jackson-Flowood • 163 Ridge Way, Suite E • (769) 243-7108
48 • February/March 2016
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Hometown Rankin • 49
Mother / Son
Night of Fun
50 • February/March 2016
Hometown Rankin • 51
William J. Harris, MD
William J. Harris’s fascination with the heart began
in early elementary school when he checked out a book
about heart surgery from the library. Always a tinkerer,
he was a detail person from an early age. “I always
liked doing things with my hands,” he said. “I built
models, and I loved books on how and why things work.
I would break things down to see how they worked,
then put them back together again.”
The Jackson native was born in Dallas and moved
to Jackson when he was four years old and attended
St. Richard’s School through the eighth grade. His
family moved into the Mill Creek subdivision near the
Reservoir in 1975, and Harris graduated high school at
Northwest Rankin. He went to college at Mississippi
State University, where he majored in bio-medical
“I chose my major because I thought it would be fun.
Only about four or five people from my class went on
to medical school.” Harris went to medical school at the
University of Mississippi, then completed an internship
and residency in general surgery at the University of
Alabama at Birmingham. He then completed a
fellowship and residency in cardiothoracic surgery at
the UAB before returning to Jackson.
“I didn’t have physicians in my family,” said Harris.
“But after wanting to be a priest, I decided around
the ninth grade that I wanted to go to medical school.
I suppose I’ve always felt a calling to help people.”
Harris credits his bio-medical engineering education
with giving him the skills to take a big problem and
break it down into small, fixable, problems. “That’s what
medicine is all about. Medicine is complicated–I like to
make sense of it.” The credit to his real interest in heart
surgery goes to Anthony Petro. “When I was a first
year med student, I got in contact with him, and he
invited me to come up and watch him do surgery. He
taught me detail things; like scrubbing hands before
surgery—there’s a sort of ritual to it. It got to where he
or his nurse would call me when they were doing
different procedures, and if I had time, I’d go scrub in
Today, Harris is chief of cardiovascular surgery at
Baptist Medical Center. While he does all types of heart
surgery, he has a special interest in mitral valve repair,
robotic cardiac surgery, minimally invasive heart valve
surgery, minimally invasive atrial fibrillation ablation,
treatment of varicose veins, venous reflux and spider
veins. “The best thing is to repair mitral valves, not
replace them. That requires both technical skill and
scientific knowledge. It has an artistic sort of bent to
it, which really appeals to me.”
Harris clearly remembers the first time he looked
down on someone’s chest. “A clamp was placed on
the aorta, and the heart and lungs were not moving.
It profoundly impacted me. From then on I was certain
of what I wanted to do.”
He has been at Baptist for 14 years now. “From a
professional side, my analytic personality finds
satisfaction in doing surgery. I get immediate feedback
on what I’ve done. It’s nice to know that what I’m doing
provides someone with immediate help. It’s also
gratifying to take someone who is extremely ill and do
something technically challenging. Organizing a team
to help you do something very difficult to provide a
good quality of life is rewarding. Doing surgery on
people creates a very personal relationship. It takes a
lot of trust for people to give up control to someone
they may not know very well. I spend a lot of time
away from work thinking about my patients.”
In his spare time, Harris enjoys spending time with
his family. He is married to wife, Cindy, and together
they have three children. “I also enjoy riding my bike
when I can, and playing guitar.” Harris has been playing
guitar since he was 13, and now plays for the show choir
at Jackson Prep, a gig he’s had for about ten years. n
Hometown Rankin • 53
USE IT WHENEVER,
*For qualified borrowers. Property must be owner occupied and located in the state
of Mississippi. Restrictions and limitations apply. Call for more details.
54 • February/March 2016
Call us to schedule
your next visit.
Sarah Langston, DMD
14 Woodgate Drive
Brandon, Mississippi 39042
Hometown Rankin • 55
56 • February/March 2016
Nestled into a corner of Florence,
Mississippi, is the home of Sam and
Peggy Simmons, two of the most
genuine and loving people I have
ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I was greeted at the door with a hug, smiles,
and excitement. It was an honor to be
welcomed into their home to hear how
their love story unfolded.
In August of 1950, Sam Simmons was
asked to escort three young ladies who were
bridesmaids at his friend’s wedding. One of
those bridesmaids was Peggy.
“That was our first meeting,” said Sam.
“We knew we liked each other, so the next
day after the wedding, I brought her back to
Florence–with the permission of her mother.
We got engaged in October.”
Sam was a senior at Mississippi State
University at the time. “After we got engaged,
I couldn’t stay away from her. I went to see
her on the weekends or she came to see me
in Starkville. It was a whirlwind. That’s when
I realized I couldn’t live without her,”
Sam and Peggy married on December
17, 1950, and recently celebrated their 65th
anniversary. They have six children, fourteen
grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.
Sam and Peggy made their home in Florence
in the house that formerly belonged to
“It has been a good 65 years,” said Sam.
“Our marriage has been built, first of foremost,
on faith. We both have a strong faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ. Church and Sunday school
are very important to us. Our family and
children grew up in that environment.”
Sam offered advice to new married couples:
“The man needs to learn to say I’m sorry,
forgive me, and I love you. You’re always
going to have some friction, and it’s not bad
to have some pretty big fights because it’s so
much fun to make up.”
Peggy added her words of wisdom. “No
marriage is perfect. You are completely different
in personality from your spouse. We’re just all
different. When you realize that, you’re better
off because you learn to get along.”
“We never considered divorce, but we did
consider homicide a few times!” joked Sam.
“You have to realize that when you marry,
you’re not just marrying the one you love.
You’re marrying their family,” added Peggy.
“I realized that Sam was from a very nice family.
I was impressed with that because they were
all sweet, thoughtful, and kind. Sam has always
been sweet and thoughtful and kind to me.”
“Sam is just a good man. I think he’s a
keeper. He certainly did everything in the
world to try to make us happy and see to it
that I didn’t have to go to work. He made the
living for us. I don’t think I realized, until
later years, that I could have had no choice
but to go to work. I always appreciated that
and tried to count my blessings even though it
was very hard to stay at home and raise the
children. He always helped me in any way
that he could,” said Peggy.
Sam recalled, “I’ve heard Peggy make the
statement, ‘I didn’t do anything. I just stayed
at home.’ But she was working when I got up
in the morning—ironing and fixing lunches.
When I went to bed at night, she was still
working. So I don’t buy that she didn’t do
anything. She did a lot to raise six children, and
that was a lot harder than what I had to do.
We worked it out when we worked together.”
“We’ve enjoyed our children and
grandchildren as they’ve been born. They live
in different states. We always look forward to
seeing them,” said Peggy as Sam showed me a
family photo album.
“I think we are kindred spirits in agreement
about what’s important and what’s not
important,” said Sam. “Faith first, family
second, friends third, and then community.
I think those are some pretty good building
As Sam and Peggy said goodbye to me
with hugs and well wishes, I felt as if I was
already one of the family–after spending just
one hour with them. These two are a true
example of a marriage woven into the Lord. n
Hometown Rankin • 57
58 • February/March 2016
Why did you decide to make Rankin
County your home?
We decided to make Brandon our home to be
closer to family. It’s centrally located for work, it’s
very safe, and is growing with lots of opportunities.
The school system was important, too. At the time
we moved to Brandon, our son was entering the
6th grade at Brandon Middle School. He is now a
senior at Brandon High School.
How long have you lived in Rankin County?
We moved to Brandon in August of 2009.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to David Gibbons and we have one
son, Hayden, who is 18-years old and is a senior at
Brandon High School. In December of 2014, one
of Hayden’s best friends asked to come live with us
and came to our home the week before Christmas.
We became licensed foster parents to a 19-year old
who is also a senior at Brandon High School. It’s
been very different adding another person to our
home, especially with Hayden having always been
an only child. Hayden and this young man have
been best friends since the 8th grade and we were
honored he wanted to come live with us. He loved
Brandon so much that he too wanted to come back
here and graduate from Brandon High School.
David and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary
in February. We were both reared in Jackson and
have lived in Memphis, Tupelo, and most recently,
Magee for 14 years prior to moving to Brandon.
We both are graduates of the University of
Southern Mississippi–David with an electrical
engineering degree and I with a Master of Social
Work. I’m a licensed clinical social worker.
Hayden plans to attend Ole Miss starting the
in fall of 2016. We have been members of First
Baptist Church of Brandon since 2009. We are
all very active in our church and community and
feel it is important to give back and support the
community in which we live.
What is your favorite memory of living in
My favorite memory of living in Rankin County
was our very first Brandon Christmas parade in
December, 2009. It was very cold and about
halfway through the parade it began snowing!
We were at the parade with some friends and I
remember standing in the cold and the snow and
thinking, “I am home”. I just fell more in love
with the town. After the parade, we went to our
then-pastors Dr. Scott & Dacia Thomas’s home
and had cookies and hot cocoa and all the kids
played outside in the snow. It was just such a
special memory and we were made to feel so
welcomed like we were such a part of the
community. I will never forget it!
Where are your 3 favorite places to eat in
Heart & Soul in Brandon, Table 100 in Flowood,
and Jerry’s Fish House in Florence.
What are some fun things to do in Rankin
County on the weekends?
Shopping! Rankin County has some great places
to shop…O! How Cute Gift Market, Heart of the
South, Apple Annie’s, the Outlet Mall, and
Dogwood Market Place. We also love to go to the
Brave’s games, especially on Friday nights for the
fireworks. Hayden loves High Heaven Trampoline
Park and he and friends love to go to Shiloh Park
and play ultimate Frisbee. We go to movies at
Tinseltown, Brandon High School football on
Friday nights, and anything water related at the
Share some things you enjoy doing in your
I have a great girls group that tries to go to the
movies every Tuesday night. I love to go out to eat,
spending time with family and friends, and having
friends and family over to cook out. I also
volunteer a lot with the PTO at Brandon High
School and with the Rankin County Republican
What are three things on your bucket list?
I want to go to Australia, take an Alaskan cruise
and take a year and tour England, Italy, France and
Greece. I love to travel!
Who is someone you admire and why?
I admire our First Lady Deborah Bryant. Deborah
is so genuine, friendly, outgoing and personable.
She always has a smile on her face, makes everyone
feel welcomed and important, and she is a great
ambassador for our state and Rankin County.
She’s a great role model for young girls.
Where do you see yourself ten years from
I see myself still living in Rankin County, working,
and still enjoying being with family and friends.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the future
holds for my son. I feel Rankin County has given
him such a strong sense of community that should
serve him well in the future.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I have a lot of favorite childhood memories. What
I mostly think about is how safe I felt growing up
and how much I loved being with my family. We
were always with family and cousins. We would all
pile into the family car and drive to the beach for
weekends. It was wild, loud and hectic! We
continue this tradition, even now, with Hayden
and still bring along cousins!
If you could give us one encouraging
quote, what would it be?
My favorite quote that I use all the time is,
“Live what you love, love what you do!”
What is your favorite thing about
My favorite thing about Hometown is that all the
community-based stories are even more interesting
because you get to learn about people you share the
community with. n
Hometown Rankin • 59
60 • February/March 2016
Worthy of Merit
Dr. Barry Moss
Chief Executive Officer, Merit Health Rankin
With an expansive career in health care administration, Barry Moss has a great
vision for Merit Health Rankin. We recently had a chance to ask Barry a few questions
about his life after coming to Rankin County and here's what he told us . . .
Q. What lead you to want to serve
as a hospital administrator?
A. I grew up in a health care family and saw the
significant role they were able to play to positively
impact the lives of others. I deeply value the opportunity
to work for an organization, which is an instrumental
part of the wellness of our community. In addition,
health care takes on such a team approach and I
really enjoy working in a team-based environment.
You never know when you may be able to help
someone in need.
Q. Since moving to Rankin County,
what are some things that you
A. It is a great county that pushes to reinvest for
long-term success and development. Rankin County
is an exceptional place of balance, with access to
progressive growth and innovation while maintaining
the relationships of the past. Also, we are fortunate to
have a wonderful partnership with Merit Health River
Oaks and Merit Health Woman’s Hospital that allows us
to serve our neighbors in a variety of settings and roles.
My family moved here with me from Hattiesburg and
we have been proud to call Mississippi our home for
the past several years. In Rankin County, we’ve been
especially pleased with the warm welcome we have
received from local residents. It feels as though our
family has just become part of an even bigger family.
Q. What are your hobbies, or
what do you enjoy doing when
you’re not at Merit Health?
A. One of the great things about Rankin County is
the endless high school sporting events to attend.
It is fun to see those student athletes playing out their
dreams by representing their schools and hometowns.
Q. What are your plans for Merit
A. Over the 60 years since the hospital opened,
Merit Health Rankin has provided quality access to
healthcare with physicians and support staff who live
in our neighborhoods. This community-centered
approach has worked very well for our hospital and
the other hospitals in the Merit Health network share
the same philosophy.
With that said, our goal at Merit Health Rankin is to
expand our services and medical specialties to serve
the needs of our local residents. For example, we just
opened a Merit Health Medical Group clinic onsite at
Merit Health Rankin with a nurse practitioner who
specializes in gerontology. This niche of care is crucial
for our area. Over the past year we also added an
orthopedic surgeon, gastroenterologist, neurosurgeon
and general surgeon to our staff.
Q. Where did you grow up and
what’s a favorite childhood
A. I was blessed to grow up in a small town called
Winfield, Alabama. In a small town you remember the
great friends and families, the summers on the lake,
and the relationships that last a lifetime.
Q. What impact would you like to
make on Rankin County?
A. I am honored to be part of this community and
Merit Health Rankin. We are proud to be part of the
Merit Health network and will do everything we can
to continue to provide patients with an excellent
experience during their stay. Merit Health Rankin is
blessed to be located here in Brandon and I am excited
about meeting and working with local leaders and
organizations to ensure Merit Health Rankin continues
to be a very active member of our Rankin County. n
Hometown Rankin • 61
62 • February/March 2016
Too tall…Too skinny...Too beautiful? Avery Eaton never felt like she
fit in with her classmates when she was a child. “By the time she was in
the sixth grade, she was the tallest student in her class, even taller than
the teachers,” said Avery’s mother, Shelley Eaton. “She was a good
student, and very athletic but from the sixth grade on, it was difficult
for Avery. She was teased by other students and it hurt her deeply.”
While she was anything but an ugly duckling, Avery certainly grew
into a beautiful swan, gracing the runways of New York for Fashion
Week and more. Her height, physique and beauty caught the attention
of the right people in the right places at the right time, and now the
17-year-old is destined for a successful career as a major fashion model.
“People always told Avery that with her height, she should be a
model,” Shelley said. “She’s always loved fashion and had a strong
fashion sense from the time she was a toddler. She loves hair, makeup
When she was 16, Avery got a job at W by Azwell, a women’s
clothing store in Dogwood shopping center. While there, she did all
the modeling for their Facebook and Instagram pages. “I liked it, and
thought I might want to pursue more modeling,” said Avery. “I couldn’t
find a modeling agency in Mississippi–there really wasn’t much
modeling in the state.” Instead, she went the fitness route, training for
her first fitness competition. She won the competition, and says that,
until this day, she is still obsessed with it.
“I was scouted by Jamie Ainsworth with JEA Models in Jackson,
and I went to a showcase in Oxford with agents from all over the world.
I signed with Funny Faces, a commercial agency, and was asked to come
to New York for a couple of months.” At age 17, Avery packed her bags
and moved into an apartment in New York with a couple of other girls
from the JEA agency.
Upon her arrival in New York, Avery went about setting up
appointments with modeling agencies. “I had to learn my way around,
learn how to use the subway, how to hail a cab,” she recalled. “I had never
been to a big city like New York, and it was pretty overwhelming.” But
the tenacious teen’s desire to succeed as a model superseded any fears
she may have had. She landed a contract with MSA Models. They flew
her to some auditions in Los Angeles and back to New York where she
began trying out for Fall Fashion Week. Almost immediately she
booked three shows.
At the Carmen Steffens show at Grand Central Station, Avery
shared the catwalk with two Victoria’s Secret models. “Those are the
models I look up to,” said Avery, who knew them all by name. “I walked
with Adriana Lima from Brazil and Toni Garrn from Germany.” Avery
walked in the number three spot behind the two super models.
Avery didn’t really know what to expect as she dipped her toes into
the world of high fashion modeling. “It’s a lot harder than I imagined!
I didn’t know it would be so competitive. There are girls who come
from all over the world to audition. It’s not as glamorous as it looks,
either. There were days when I had to cram five or more auditions into
one day. I was bouncing from Brooklyn to Manhattan and all over for
specific time slots. I had to arrive with my A-game, looking presentable.”
There have also been unexpected highlights to the business for
Avery as well. “My favorite thing is working with an amazing group
of creative people. From makeup to hair to the lighting and
photography, it is a collaborative effort to create a work of art.
I love being a part of it!”
While Avery wants to model as long as she is able, she does want to
go to college some day. “I’m not sure what I’ll study, but I think it will
be something to do with the fitness industry.” n
Shop Rankin County
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64 • February/March 2016
Hometown Rankin • 65
A Hometown Man’s
Rankin County is the home of Russ Espiritu, a world class
pool cue craftsman. Russ and his wife Carolyn reside in
Puckett, Mississippi, and Russ is serving his third term as
mayor of Puckett. The two built a shop adjacent to their
home where they work together to make Espiritu Cues.
The shop houses dozens of machines
and aisles of woods and animal skins
that are used to make the highly
collectible cues. Espiritu Cues are
intricately inlayed with many different
woods, colors, and materials. Russ has a
computerized system that can carve
designs into the cues with precision.
66 • February/March 2016
Hometown Rankin • 67
He uses only the finest materials to build
his pool cues including gold, sterling silver,
ivory, malachite, turquoise, opal, jade, pearl,
pau shell, snake skin, lizard skin, elephant
ear, and exotic woods such as bubinga,
macassar ebony, and redwood burl. Russ
has been featured in many publications
such as the Billiard Encyclopedia, The Blue
Book of Pool Cues, Billiard Digest, Pool &
Billiard, and various catalogues and calendars.
Russ began handcrafting pool cues as a
hobby in 1984. “I was in Texas playing pool.
I ran into a guy who was a pool hustler,
actually. We went to a cue shop in Houston.
He said, ‘These cues are really expensive.
Why don’t you make them, and I’ll sell
them,’” recalled Russ.
“When I came back to Mississippi, I told
Carolyn about it, and she thought I was
crazy. I went around to some wood working
places, and they didn’t have a clue how to
make cues. So I got a lathe–in fact it’s that
one right over there. It really wasn’t the
machine I needed though, but we still use
it for sanding. That was in late ’84. In 1991,
my wife and I decided to go full-time. We
took some pool cues to New Orleans and
showed them to a guy. He looked at them
and said they were pretty nice, but he
never ordered anything. We came back
home, and as soon as we walked in the
door, the phone was ringing. The guy
from New Orleans said he wanted to by
all the ones I had. We took the cues to
him, and when we got there, some other people
around New Orleans had already heard about
us. They came down there, too. So I’ve got him
and three or four other dealers there that carry
them. That’s where we started.”
Today, Russ has a two-year-long waiting list
of people who want his cues. “It doesn’t take
long to get the cue made, but you have to get
in line to get it made,” said Russ. “First you
make the wood round and drill a hole in it. It
takes a year to make one shaft. That’s not
working on it every day. We let it sit and then
turn it down some more. We have to let the
wood sit for a while before we turn it again or
it won’t stay straight. The wood’s fibers may try
to twist slightly. It has to be dry, and we turn it
down so many thousandths at a time so it stays
straight. That’s important. It’s a long process
that takes about five cuts over twelve months.
We have to stabilize the wood sometimes.
We’ll inject it with a dye sometimes. It’s for
hardening and appearance. We definitely
developed the process.”
“We have dealers all around the world,”
said Russ. “We don’t sell much in Mississippi,
but in Louisiana, it’s huge. The West Coast,
East Coast, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Japan,
China—everybody knows the name. Dealers
will order six or eight cues, and we’ll make up
whatever we want and send it to them. Then
they’ll re-sell it in Russia or Switzerland or
wherever they’re calling from.”
Russ and Carolyn travel the world for
pool tournaments and shows. “We only go
to big professional tournaments or national
68 • February/March 2016
tournaments,” said Russ. “We go to Las Vegas
once, Pennsylvania once, and Louisiana twice.
We just got back from Hawaii. If I go to Japan,
there may be a world championship. We have a
display and sell them at the tournaments. There
will be 10,000 pool players there. We’re at each
tournament for two weeks. People fly in to shows
from all over the world to buy these cues. They’re
collectors, so when your name gets with these
people, you can do pretty much anything.”
When Russ travels, he also buys exotic woods
and skins. “We get woods from all around the
world–South America, Australia, Hawaii. The
ebony comes out of Africa. We get wood from
a lot of Asian countries,” said Russ. “Most of the
wood is brought in from an importer. It’s usually a
musical instrument supplier. They dry it. I see them
at a show and tell them what I want and they
send it. We’re pretty picky about the types of
woods because that’s what makes a pool cue.”
Russ and Carolyn’s 17-year-old grandson
works part time in the shop running the inlay
machines, programming the computers, and
putting the designs into the cues. “I told him he
could have the shop when he’s ready,” said Russ.
Other than his grandson and one other part
time worker, Russ prefers to do the crafting
himself. “I have thought about expanding, but
everybody wants me to work on the cues. But
I’m getting my grandson into this a little. He
can do the programming on the computer for
sure. He’s smart. It’s not as easy as you think.”
“If you have a lot of people working for
you, they do more work for sure. But if you
don’t watch what they’re doing, they might not
be doing it right. It’s just a job to them. If they
don’t put it together right or don’t put enough
glue on something, it falls apart. The quality
goes down. So we just do it ourselves,” added
“We work seven days a week out here.
We never get caught up. We could work
24-hours a day, and I don’t think we’ll ever get
caught up. We’ve built this up, and we can’t
disappoint people. I have clients who would
buy all these cues right now if I had them
ready. Our clients count on us,” said Russ.
As he pulled a cue from a case, Russ said,
“This is one of the cues that the Rolling
Stones played with. I made some pool
cues when the Rolling Stones came to
Memphis. I sent them up there so they
could play with them. The deal was they
would sign my cues and send them back,
but they came back unsigned. Minnesota
Fats was a friend of mine, too. We know
Russ and Carolyn’s roots are set
deeply in Rankin County. “If we made
pool cues in Washington, D.C., for
example, we’d be selling really high
dollar stuff all the time. But Puckett is
From craftsman to mayor to high
school golf coach, Russ strives for high
quality in each of his roles. “Our pool
cues are like art; they play well and
last forever.” n
Hometown Rankin • 69
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• Business Plans • Post Cards • Promotional Items
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Steven Wallace | 601-825-5242
1301 West Government Street, Suite 105
70 • February/March 2016
Prissy Pots Landscaping
Haley Barrett, MNLA
Looking for a great event to officially kick
off spring? We have just the event that will
make you want to get your hands dirty. Mark
your calendars for the 19th Annual Garden
Extravaganza (formerly the Jackson Garden &
Patio Show) on March 18th, 19th & 20th at the
Mississippi Trade Mart on the Fairgrounds. The
Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association
(MNLA) is excited to bring so many vendors
together in one central location for all of your
garden and patio needs including flowers, trees,
landscape professionals, equipment, yard art,
ironwork, pottery, one of a kind bird houses,
garden accessories and much, much more.
Admission is only $6 per person. Children 15
and under get in free and, as always, there is
plenty of free parking.
The early bird gets the worm, or in our case
the tomato plant. The first 100 people through
the door on Friday and Sunday, and the first
200 people on Saturday will get a free tomato
plant, courtesy of Rivers Plant Farm and
Jackson Farms Nursery.
All three days will be filled with demonstrations
and seminars. Our exciting ‘how to’
demonstrations will be located on the showroom
floor and will include topics such as: Hot plants
for 2016, how to create the perfect mixed
containers, and much more. Since the Garden
Extravaganza is a family friendly event, we have
also added ‘make and take’ demonstrations to
the children’s activity area to teach kids fun
gardening skills. Ball Seed Company and BWI
Companies team up with MNLA to sponsor
March 18-20, 2016
MS Trade Mart
For a complete list of seminars and
demonstrations, please visit www.msnla.org. All
seminars and demonstrations are free with paid
admission. And while at the show, be sure to
register for fabulous door prizes donated from
our wonderful exhibitors.
As in year’s past, attendees will get the
opportunity to view several of central Mississippi’s
finest landscaper’s work in the outdoor living
spaces competition area. These outdoor living
spaces will be in the middle of the exhibit hall,
will serve as the focal point for this year’s show
and will give you great ideas on how to make
your outdoor space the best it can be. They will
incorporate a wide range of styles, from the
outdoor kitchen area, the secluded backyard
retreat, tranquil water features, family entertainment
areas, and lounge areas to watch your
favorite show or team. All of the landscape
professionals will be on hand to discuss how to
make your landscape dreams a reality.
Is your grass looking less than green? Is there
a fungus among us? Do you have mysterious
weeds? As always, the experts from Mississippi
State University Extension Service will be there
to answer any questions, provide information
and test soil for free.
Of course the real stars of the show are
always the flowers. You’ll find this year’s Mississippi
Medallion Award Winners, tropicals, ferns, trees,
shrubs, roses, bedding plants, vegetables, herbs
and so much more. Many of the garden centers
will have dish gardens, fairy gardens, beautiful
hanging baskets and gorgeous mixed containers
that are ready to brighten your porch for the
Not sure which plants that you need? We
will have plenty of people that can help you
with that. There will be numerous garden center
employees, landscapers, and MSU experts
available to help you out. Bring pictures of the
area or container that you are buying plants for
and know the amount of sunlight and shade
that the area receives. These are very important
things to know when shopping for plants.
And don’t worry about what to do with all
your purchases. There will be a customer
holding area available where you can in the
products that you buy and continue shopping
without having to carry your purchases around.
Once you are finished shopping, you can drive
around to the back and have your purchases
loaded in your vehicle. It’s like valet for your
Visit our web page www.msnla.org, find us
on Facebook, or call 601-919-8111 for more
information on the 2016 Garden Extravaganza.
Like us on Facebook for a chance to win tickets—
Mississippi Garden & Patio Shows!
Hometown Rankin • 71
d i x i e
n a t i o n a l
Livestock Show &
72 • February/March 2016
It’s that time of year again!
Time when cowboys and cowgirls from all over the
nation descend upon Mississippi’s capital city for the
annual Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo.
During the month of February, The Dixie National brings
with it a variety of programs and activities that take
place to educate, entertain, and engage participants and
onlookers alike. The 51st annual livestock show kicks off
January 30 and runs through February 23.
The Dixie National Rodeo is the largest professional
rodeo east of the Mississippi River. It is produced by
Smith, Harper, and Morgan Rodeo Company, hosted by
the Mississippi Fair Commission in Jackson, Mississippi,
and has been nominated as one of the Top 5 Large Indoor
Rodeos of The Year for the past five years. This award is
voted on by the cowboys in the Professional Rodeo
Cowboy Association (PRCA).
The rodeo kicks off February 11 and goes through
February 17 in the Mississippi Coliseum. Special
entertainers are featured each day of the rodeo and
include Easton Corbin, Maddie & Tae, John Anderson,
Joe Diffie, Frankie Ballard, 38 Special, and Tyler Farr.
Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster at the
coliseum box office.
The Dixie National Quarter Horse Show, the Southern
Classic, is the premier event of the Mississippi Quarter
Horse Association. Also held in February on the state
fairgrounds, it is the largest quarter horse show held
during a stock show in the nation.
The national exposure the quarter horse show
receives makes it a gathering place for the top horses
in the country and a field day for spectators. With
an average audience of over 4500, the Friday night
free-style reining is the most crowd pleasing class
and demonstrates the great physical ability of the
American Quarter Horse. The Southern Classic dates
are February 16-21.
The Dixie National Equine Expo, the largest equine
related trade show in the south, runs in conjunction with
the quarter horse show. It features everything imaginable
for the equine enthusiast. With over 65,000 sq. ft. of
shopping, the Equine Expo is located inside the
Mississippi Trade Mart on the fairgrounds. With vendors
from across the nation, the latest fashions, trends and
shopping will all be under one roof. It is one of the
largest equine tradeshows in the Southeast. The Equine
Expo is February 17-21.
Hometown Rankin • 73
for International Missions
February 12-13, 2016
FBC Brandon’s College Street Gym
Preview Friday 6am-8am $5
Sale 8am-2pm Free Admission
74 • February/March 2016
• Day • Evening • Online
Programs & Options
• Academic classes guaranteed to
• Honors Program
• Career and technical programs
• Nursing Programs
• Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit
Earn college credit while in high school
• Adult Education
• Workforce Training
•Small Business Development Center
3805 Hwy. 80 East, Pearl
601.936.5552 | www.hindscc.edu
Hinds Community 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 programs
and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Debra Mays-Jackson, Vice President for the Utica and Vicksburg-Warren Campuses and
Administrative Services, 34175 Hwy. 18, Utica, MS 39175; 601.885.7002.
Hometown Rankin • 75
76 • February/March 2016
As a writer, I’ve written many stories and
articles on various subjects. I wrote procedure
manuals and procedure documents on web
applications and other application processes
for a few years. I then began writing for the
agent magazine that is distributed to the
agency force of Southern Farm Bureau Life
Insurance Company. I remember reading
trade magazines and hearing the stories
about the importance of life insurance and
what it means to a family. I would listen to
agents talk about delivering the death claim
check and how hard that was, but also the
relief and comfort it brought to a husband,
wife or mother or father. Never did I think
I would become the story I read about and
As I sat Sunday morning, two days after
my son died, I reflected on this and how life
has a weird way of playing out. I stared at a
blank document on my computer. I’ve never
been at a loss for words when it comes to
writing, but now I was. The hardest thing I
have ever written would be the obituary of
my 5 year old son, Campbell Grady Dale.
How would I condense his life, his impact
into a brief obituary? How do I tell the world
what an amazing, phenomenal boy Campbell
was? How do I tell people about his love for
his friends at the hospital, for his family, for
his twin sister and especially for his Father in
heaven…the one he trusted to take care of
him and heal him forever of his cancer?
What would I most want people to know
about the most amazing boy who called me
mom and David dad? I think it could be
summed up with this–he fought a brave
battle against a fierce enemy and the ultimate
Victor won, the One who wins every battle
against death, every, single time. Campbell
believed that God would heal him of his
cancer, and He did. He may not have healed
him in the way we wanted, but He healed
him according to His perfect will, His perfect
plan for Campbell’s life and for ours.
From the first day Campbell was diagnosed,
we laid him at our Father’s feet. We knew it
would take a miracle to heal him. The odds
were stacked against him, but we were ready
to fight. Our prayer was always that “Thy will
be done” whatever that may be. As we went
through the original treatment protocol
beginning in February 2014 of 54 weeks of
intense chemotherapy and 24 days of
radiation, we trusted God with each step,
with each decision that we made. When
Campbell’s cancer returned in April 2015,
we continued to trust Him and His plan for
his life. When we received the heartbreaking
news on August 17, 2015 that our doctors had
done everything that they could to heal him
here on earth, we continued to trust Him.
We always knew Campbell would be
healed, but now we knew that healing would
come in heaven and not here on earth. As
the words began to flow, so did the tears as
I reflected on what most would consider a
short life. His life may appear short to the
normal person, but the impact he had and
continues to have will be felt for years to
come. He lived the exact amount of time
God had ordained as He knit him together
in my womb…not a day more or a day less.
Hometown madison • 77
The following narrative tells the arduous
story of the Dale family’s journey with
cancer. Jill Dale made regular journal
entries about the journey on CaringBridge.
org. This includes excerpts of Jill’s posts as
compiled by Susan Marquez.
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,
that’s what little boys are made of. Campbell
Dale was a normal little boy in every way.
Spirited. Curious. Exuberant. At least, until
he began having issues with constipation one
weekend. The series of events that followed
became a journey of heartbreak tempered
with faith and love.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,
for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made
perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
February 12, 2014 was a day the Dale
family will never forget, for that was the day
life as they knew it forever changed. “We had
not noticed anything abnormal over the
weekend,” his mom, Jill Dale, wrote on the
overview of the family’s CaringBridge site.
“Campbell had been constipated a little, but
nothing unusual. On Monday, February 10,
he went to school like normal.” Yet the
four-year-old still complained about being
constipated. An enema, a trip to the doctor,
and a couple of rounds of Miralax later,
Campbell’s temperature was climbing and
his belly was swollen. His doctor sent them
to a Radiology group to get an X-ray done.
When that came back inconclusive, a CT
scan revealed a mass in the boy’s abdomen.
“We were immediately sent to Blair E.
Batson Hospital for Children where we were
admitted at 5:30pm. After running more
tests on Thursday, we sat down with our
doctors and were told our son had a mass in
his belly that needed to be removed. It could be
anything from lymphoma, to neuroblastoma,
to a taratoma or rhabdomyosarcoma (at this
time rhabdo was toward the bottom of the
list).” On Friday, surgeons were able to remove
a 4 1/2 to 5 inch mass from his abdomen.
The mass was sent to a pathology lab and on
February 19, the family learned that Campbell
had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma,
a rare form of cancer of the tissue. “They were
able to remove all of his tumor, but of course,
there were what they call studs left. We were
scheduled immediately for a bone scan and
PET scan for Monday, Feb. 24th. On Tuesday
the 25th, a bone marrow aspiration was done
along with the placement of a chemo port.
The preliminary results from the bone scan
and PET scan came back favorable meaning
it had not spread to the bones or other organs.
That Tuesday at 5:00, we were told that our
son has Stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma and
they had found a spot in his bone marrow.”
Campbell’s parents, David and Jill, were
told the road before them would be difficult
and hard. “We didn’t want to know the success
rate, that didn’t matter to us,” Jill wrote. “All
that mattered was ‘Can we beat this?’” The
chemo regimen would be aggressive, radiation
would be needed and 54 weeks is what it will
take. “As I laid my head on the table and cried
more than I have in two weeks, I didn’t think
I would be able to walk out of the room. So
David and I looked at each other, signed the
papers to begin treatment and told the doctor
to do whatever needed to be done to save our
son. The one thing that stood out in my mind
was David telling the doctor we know the
Great Physician (Jehovah Rapha) can heal
Campbell, not doctors or medicine…HE
provides the means to do it. So we called our
family in to tell them. The road before us
might be difficult, but we were determined
not to lie down and give up. We were in the
fight of our lives and we were confident that
Campbell would beat this.”
The family resolved to bathe themselves
in scripture and pray continuously without
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew
their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk
and not be patient.” – Isaiah 40: 29-31
Campbell’s first chemotherapy treatment
began on Wednesday, February 26. All went
well. He actually slept through the first
treatment (he had been given some medicine
to calm him after a rough morning so he slept
all afternoon). The treatment started with
two drugs, Irinotecan and Vincristinem. The
Irinotecan was scheduled for five days straight.
Campbell’s twin sister, Avery (aka ‘’Shu”)
visited, and the children watched movies and
ate Chick-fil-A together. At the time, Jill was
reading a book, “The Red Sea Rules,” given
to hear by a woman at church. “I have found
so much wisdom and guidance in this book,”
Jill wrote. “Meditating on the truths in it has
brought so much peace: ‘So take a deep
breath and recall this deeper secret of the
Christian life: when you are in a difficult
place, realize that the Lord either placed you
there or allowed you to be there for reasons
perhaps known for now only to Himself.
The same God who led you in, will lead you
out.’ So we trust in this and we know that
HE will make a way. We don’t understand
why we are enduring this trial and may never
know while we are here on this earth, but we
know that the same God who paved the road
before us will walk beside us down this road
every step of the way. Mine and David’s
prayer throughout this entire journey is that
God will be glorified in everything. Don’t
worry about anything; instead pray about
everything and don’t forget to thank God for
78 • February/March 2016
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every
situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
On March 3, after 5 days of treatment,
Campbell was released to go home. “We
were all very thankful to be going home to
our familiar territory, routine, food, etc. “
Like most children, Campbell was a creature
of habit. He thrived in his own environment.
“We will return to the clinic for our post op
appointment at 8:40 Thursday morning and
then our first outpatient treatment will be at
12:30 on Thursday. We will continue to do
outpatient for treatment weeks two through
five, barring Campbell doesn’t get fever or
sick, which would put us back in the hospital.
David and I have decided that each day we
would find at least one thing to give God
praise for...we are thankful and blessed to get
the opportunity to do that each day of
treatment. Each morning, our prayer is that
Campbell’s side effects from treatment
would be minimum or NOT AT ALL.
We boldly pray for not at all. I am constantly
reminded to experience true joy in each and
every moment of the day and cherish the
time God gives me with my family.”
“I will extol the Lord at all times; HIS praise will
always be on my lips.” –Psalm 34:1
“Our bold prayer is that at six weeks,
when Campbell has his first evaluation, that
they will find no cancer. We know this is a
bold request, but our God is bigger than cancer
and we know HE hears each and every request
we offer up to HIM. Our other request is
that the side effects from the chemo will be
minimum or none at all. Thank you again for
all of your prayers, love and support. We are
praying without ceasing that Campbell will be
completely healed…his story is not finished.”
Throughout the treatment, Jill and David
sought moments of normalcy for their children.
About a month after he was diagnosed,
Campbell was able to return to Trinity
Preschool for a brief moment to enjoy Fairy
Tale Day. He dressed as a pirate, and his
twin sister, Avery, dressed as Rapunzel. A few
days later, Jill arranged a photo session with
photographer Allison Muirhead. “Our
friendship/relationship with Allison goes
back 7 years. She took our wedding pictures,
newborn pictures, first year pictures and many
other pictures since, of the twins and our family.
I knew there was no one else I wanted to take
these very special pictures and capture our
family as only she can. Because we don’t know
what the future holds for our family, we wanted
to have memories of what we were before
Radiation…such a scary word. “It’s one I
never thought I would speak of, especially
pertaining to my child.” A meeting with
doctors revealed that Campbell was
unfortunately not a candidate for the proton
therapy the family had hoped for. “Because
of the rare location of his Rhabdo (in the
abdomen) and the studs that were left from
surgery, the proton therapy will not work.
Without getting too detailed, proton therapy
hits the tumor (or cancer cells) with radiation.
Because Campbell’s cells are probably so
small, there is no way to know what to hit
and you can’t just hit thin air and hope you
are hitting the possible cancer cells remaining.
In his case, you can’t hope, you have to
know for certain that the radiation is hitting
what it is supposed to so that it won’t come
back. So, the only way to do that is to radiate
his entire abdomen.” The good news is the
radiation could be done at UMC. The bad
news would be the toll it would take on
Campbell. The side effects from radiation
will be worse since it is targeting his abdomen…
nausea, vomiting, intestinal issues (because
the intestines do not like radiation), etc. He
will be put to sleep every day for five days a
week for five weeks (because of his age and
the need to be completely still he has to be
put to sleep). He will also be receiving chemo
throughout radiation. We are scared, we are
nervous and we worry about the many side
effects to come. Secondary cancer is a big
one. We know that God provides the wisdom
and tools to the doctors to do their jobs so
we signed the papers once again and said do
whatever you have to in order to save his life
and give him a chance at living a long, full life.”
The toll on the entire family was hard.
“I’m tired, we are tired and my heart aches
for my four-year-old who doesn’t understand
why we keep doing all of this to him. I don’t
know if there has ever really been a time in
my life where I cried out to God that I was
so scared and I wasn’t sure I could keep
going. As much as I feel we are fighting an
uphill battle, HE reminded me that HE is
right there, fighting the battle with us. Oh
gosh how HE loves Campbell more than
I do…HE loves him so much I can’t even
fathom the depths of HIS love for him. So
I release it to HIM, I release Campbell to
HIM, trusting HIM to continue to carry us
through on this journey.”
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD
is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the
earth. HE will not grow tired or weary, and HIS
understanding no one can fathom. HE gives strength
to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men
stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength. They will soar on wings
like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they
will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:28
“From the fullness of HIS grace we have all received
one blessing after another.” –John 1:16
By January, Campbell’s little body was
struggling from the effects of the radiation.
“I’m going to be honest (and David and I
have always said from day one of this journey,
we would never sugarcoat it to make it more
pleasant because honestly there aren’t a lot of
days I count as pleasant). November and
December were rough months for us.” It was
Hometown madison • 79
week 42, and the radiation had an adverse
effect on Campbell’s bladder, necessitating
the insertion of stents. During that procedure,
it was determined there were muted cancer
cells in Campbell’s bladder. “My emotions
have been all over the map lately and this fear
has taken hold of my heart and my life once
again. I would love to say that I have it all
together and all figured out and we are
managing well, but that’s a lie. I am scared
of what my son’s future looks like…what our
future as a family looks like. In the weeks
since, I have experienced a flood of emotions,
but through it all, I have felt God’s presence,
HIS Peace that surpasses all understanding
and daily gentle reminders that HE is still on
HIS throne, HE has Campbell, us, all of us, in
the palm of HIS Hand. And I’m reminded of
that great hymn, ‘It is Well With My Soul.’
I love the words and how comforting that
those words written so many years ago are
still so true, so relevant to my life, to all of
our lives today. I love Kristene DeMarco’s
(Bethel Music) worshipful rendition of it
and find myself listening to it daily.”
With nine weeks left of chemo, David and
Jill began to look forward to week number 54.
That’s when a scan would be performed to
determine if the cancer was in remission.
All along, family, friends, church members,
neighbors, co-workers and others pulled
together to feed the Dale family literally and
spiritually. The family was provided with meals,
cards, ‘happies’ and more which let them
know that they were not alone on their
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
The final week of chemo came on week
51, one year into the journey that began with
Campbell’s diagnosis of cancer. Jill was
reflective in her CaringBridge post: “I think
about how this is definitely not how I
pictured my life, especially after having kids.
Through this year, I am learning to not take
life for granted, but to hold on to every
second and to make sure that I make every
day count for HIS Kingdom, as that is my
sole purpose here on earth: to be in so close
fellowship with HIM that HE reveals
HIMSELF to me. That I am open to what
HE is teaching me, showing me and that my
life will be a reflection of HIM and will draw
others to HIM, because that is what life is all
about, living a life that glorifies HIM so that
others will come to know HIM as their
Savior. What a huge responsibility, but what
a glorious, magnificent thing. I never would
have thought cancer would teach me so
much and bring me so far down that the only
way to rise up is reaching and grasping HIS
hand. That’s what we are doing, we grasp and
we hold on as tight as we can because I never
want HIM to let me go. To face a monster
like cancer without a Savior, well, I cannot
even imagine. People ask David and me how
we do it, but I really don’t think we do it. We
do the only thing we know, which is to pray
and trust that HE knows better than us what
is best for us and for Campbell. I don’t think
God makes people get cancer. It’s easy to
blame Him when something bad happens. I
think because of the sinful world we live in,
death, disease, immorality, etc. is a part of this
world. It makes us hope for something better,
a place where there will be no death, disease,
sin. What a magnificent thing, I mean can
you imagine living somewhere like that for all
eternity? That’s why I have hope, because
this life is not the end for me, for Campbell,
for all those who believe. A better place is
waiting and if Campbell gets there before
me, well what a glorious reunion that will be.
He can sit at Jesus’ feet and wait for me to
join him. No, I don’t want my child to die,
but no one does so I have to trust and believe
that God will heal him and he will live a long,
full, healthy life.”
In May, the Dale family prepared
themselves for twelve three-week rounds of
chemo, 36 weeks with no break in between.
Campbell’s cancer had returned. “People
always ask how we do this day in and day out.
The answer is I just don’t know. There are
days that I am a blubbering mess and other
days where I forget this reality and our life
feels a little “normal” whatever that is. I
remember vividly having a bad day almost 2
weeks ago, bad enough that I was hyperventilating
and I couldn’t control the tears, the
anger or the emotions. Thinking about all
these things and being mad at God and
being mad at the world and not understanding
why my son was suffering so much. David
came home that night and reassured me that
it was going to all be okay. He said no matter
what, we were going to be okay (it’s funny
how God puts two people together – we are
so different, but yet our strengths and
weaknesses cancel each other out…God knew
that when he brought us together nine years
ago). After spending much time in prayer
that Tuesday night and basically crying and
praying on my knees at the foot of my child’s
bed (although this has become a regular scene
for the past 15 months), the next morning
I felt this peace wash over me and it has been
with me ever since. I know that was and is
God saying trust ME, love ME, look to
ME…I’ve got this. I have carried you this far
and will continue to carry you until the end
when you join ME in Heaven. HE continues
to give me, give us, a peace that surpasses all
of our understanding, strength to endure and
hope for tomorrow. Chemo starts tomorrow
(Monday). We are ready to fight and win.
We don’t know what the next 36 weeks
80 • February/March 2016
“Yet I am always with you, you hold me by my right
hand. YOU guide me with your counsel, and
afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I
in heaven but YOU? And earth has nothing I desire
but YOU. My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD
is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Those weeks were difficult for Campbell
and for his family. Jill went through all range
of emotions, including anger and helplessness.
“I don’t understand why these kids get
cancer, fight so hard and then lose the fight.
I think it is something I may always struggle
with (another question for that day when I
get to Heaven). I want more than anything
else in this world for my child to beat this
cancer. I know the odds are stacked against
him and there is literally nothing that neither
I nor David can do to change that. I want to
control the outcome. I want to control how
he responds to chemo. I want to control
every last part of it, and I can’t. I simply have
to let it go, lay it down at my Savior’s feet and
remember that Campbell is not mine. He is
only a gift to love and nurture and point him
to the One who loves him more than I do.
What a tall order, but what a gift we’ve been
given. More than anything else in this world,
I want him to know God, to know Christ as
we do, a loving Savior that died so that we
might live. But really, isn’t that what life is all
about for all of us?”
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have
peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33
By mid September, Campbell was fading.
“I’ve cried many tears in the past few days,
knowing that Campbell is one day closer to
being HOME. He sat up in bed last night
and I was talking to him as he was drinking
his apple juice. I asked him if he was tired, he
nodded yes. I asked him if he was ready to go
home and he said yes. I then asked him if he
was ready to see Jesus. He nodded yes. I
hugged him tight and told him, not much
longer, and then told him that Jesus would
take care of him and told him to wait for us.
No one prepares you for this…there are
no classes, no book to walk you through
watching your child fight cancer and then
watching the cancer take over their body. I
don’t think there is any possible way to write
a book about it or tell someone how to do it.
You do it by experience and it’s an experience
I wish we never had. David and I look at each
other some days and feel like we are living in
this alternate universe or something. It’s just
a strange life we have these days. I think we
just go through the motions, just trying to
get through the day. There have been good
moments during the day with Campbell and
I cherish those. They are becoming few and
far between though. He’s tired and has slept
most of today. He’s on oxygen around the
clock and we have tried to keep him as
comfortable as possible with medication.
He knows he is loved so very much and we
kiss him and tell him that as much as we can.
I think what is scary to me is not having him
physically here to kiss and to touch. That’s
what scares me and it’s something I have
struggled with and have asked God many
times during the day to give me comfort and
peace in that.”
As difficult as the journey was, there were
blessings scattered all along the way for both
Campbell and his family. Several people with
the MSU alumni flew the family back and
forth to Starkville on Aug 25th so that
Campbell could be a Bulldog for a day.
“We are grateful to so many people,” wrote
Jill, “from the athletic department at MSU
(the basketball team, the baseball team, the
football team, Coach Mullen, Dak Prescott
and Scott Strickland), to Allison Muirhead
and John David Smith that captured so
many memories for us that day.” The
Make-A-Wish Foundation in Mississippi
helped with that, as well as granting
Campbell’s wish to go to Disney World.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we
are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed
day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are
achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs
them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on
what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what
is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:16-18
On September 18, 2015, just 11 days shy
of his sixth birthday, Campbell Grady Dale
passed away. “We are heartbroken and
feeling an emptiness in our hearts because
our precious Campbell is no longer here with
us. We are rejoicing that he is now with his
Savior, the one that loves him more than we
can fathom or imagine. Oh to witness that
sweet, precious reunion when he ran into his
Daddy’s arms and to look upon HIS glorious
face and hear HIM say, “Well done my good
and faithful servant. Now come and rest.”
We look forward to the day when we will be
reunited and we can worship our Father
together at HIS feet.”
“I am the Lord who comforts HIS people and will
have compassion on HIS afflicted ones. You can
transcend your troubles because I am both powerful
and compassionate.” –Jesus Today by Sarah Young
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and
the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who
is to come, the Almighty.” –Revelations 1:8 n
Hometown madison • 81
Best Hotel 2011-2015
Legendary Hospitality and
120 Alumni Drive • Oxford, Miss.
82 • February/March 2016
Serving our county
Sheriff Deputy Wade Spencer
rankin county sheriff's Department
How long have you been with the
Rankin County Sheriff’s Department?
Two and a half years.
What do you enjoy most about your
Getting to work with the guys on my shift.
What is the toughest thing you have
experienced as a deputy?
Anytime someone loses a family member
What did it mean to you to be named
Deputy of the Year?
Rankin County probably has the best
group of deputies in the state, so to win
this award is definitely something that I will
Tell us about your family.
I am married to Linsey Spencer. We have
three children, Stella (2 yrs. old) Brendan
(11 yrs. old) and Easton (2 months).
Share some things that you enjoy
in your spare time.
Watching football and playing with my kids.
What are three things on your
Hunting trip to Kansas, go to a baseball
game at Fenway Park, and take my
children to Disney World.
What do you consider your greatest
The day I convinced my wife to marry me.
Being the wife of a law enforcement
officer is as hard as actually being one.
Who is someone you admire
My dad. He has been in law enforcement
for over 30 years and still loves every day
of it. He would give the shirt off of his back
for anyone that needs it.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving. You get to see all of your
family, but you don’t have to buy anyone
What is your favorite childhood
What is the biggest mistake you
think young people make today?
Trying to grow up too early and too quickly.
If you could give one piece of advice
to a young person, what would it be?
Go to college. Life will be much easier if
What is most rewarding about
Whenever I’m able to make a positive
difference in someone’s life.
Where do you see yourself ten years
Working right here.
What’s your favorite thing about
I’ve lived in other places around the state,
and I’ve never seen a place that respects
law enforcement quite like the citizens
here. I can’t tell you how many times,
since I’ve been here, that someone has
gone out of their way to thank law
enforcement for the job that they do.
Hometown Rankin • 83
Kick Off The Season
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Phone ahead: 601-939-5238 • www.alumnihousepearl.com
84 • February/March 2016
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Hometown Rankin • 85
rankin county Schools
Northwest Rankin Middle School, in partnership with parents
and community, is committed to providing all students with a
challenging, quality education. Recognizing the uniqueness of
each student, we will strive to produce lifelong learners who will
be successful citizens in a rapidly changing society.
With more than 850 students, each one is provided an
opportunity to learn and participate in educational classes and
extracurricular activities. NWRMS is an A-rated school with
some of the highest state test grades in RCSD.
“Student involvement is very important,” said Shea Taylor,
principal. “We want every student to be involved in something.”
Extracurricular activities include Cougar Choir, Jr. Beta Club,
Theater, Future Business Leaders of America, Fellowship of
Christian Athletes, Academic Team, Math Counts, Green Club,
Science Bowl, Yearbook, Writing Club, cheerleading, and dance
team and athletics.
This year NWRMS received a $3,000 grant from Mississippi
Department of Education for a community garden. Students will
be constructing and planting four raised beds. The project was
inspired by our summer reading book, “Counting by 7s,” written
by Holly Goldberg Sloan. “We are hoping the garden will be an
annual project that will teach students about healthy choices,” said
Alice Rainwater, vice principal.
As part of the RCSD initiative of 1:1 technology, NWRMS
started an eighth-grade tech team to assist students and teachers
with laptop technology. This 17-member team works ‘quick fixes’
that are needed and downloading software. By the 2017-2018
school year all students, grades 7-12, will have a their own laptop.
In December, students participated in an Hour of Code, a
global initiative to introduce students to basic computer coding
and introduce them to computer science.
Pisgah Elementary School is a rural kindergarten through sixth
grade school located off of Hwy. 43 in north Rankin County. The
school provides multiple opportunities for students to achieve
skills to thrive in the twenty-first century, to attend college, be
ready for the workplace, and be successful in the community.
Pisgah Elementary School has an open-door policy to
students, parents, and teachers, which creates a community spirit
of cooperation. Students and faculty are honored at different
events, as well as, parents and grandparents. These events are
highly attended and foster community participation.
Mrs. Michelle Land, a special education teacher, was recently
named PES Teacher of the Year. She works diligently to accelerate
learning for her students.
Mrs. Susan Williford, PES music teacher, received a grant
from Mississippi Professional Educators to begin a recorder club
for her fifth grade students.
Mrs. Misty Oster, Venture teacher, started the Jr. Beta Club
last year. We are excited to have 54 members inducted this year, and
these students participate in several community service projects.
The goal of PES is to provide a safe and secure climate for all
students who come to school to learn and succeed. A qualified,
experienced staff works together to assure that the students are
prepared to continue on their pathway to success through high
We are ready, we are respectful, we are responsible, and we are
the pride of Pisgah!
Follow us on Facebook or at www.rcsd.ms/pisgahes.
86 • February/March 2016
Hometown Hero Gives Hope
Puckett Elementary School fifth and sixth grade students
recently received words of wisdom from Dr. Tom Burnham when
he spoke to them about having goals for being college and career
ready. The idea of getting him to visit the students came from
reading about his recent recognition by Hinds Community
College as Alumni of the Year. It was in the interview that Dr.
Burnham shared about his own initial challenge in college; how
homesick he was when he first went to Hinds because he was
from Puckett, a small, close knit community.
In hearing his story, we knew our students at Puckett needed to
hear from one of their own about his journey through college and
the foundation it gave him for a successful career in education;
one he only had a glint in his eye about when he was their age.
Being a Puckett graduate, Dr. Burnham had an inspiring heart
to heart conversation with the fifth and sixth grade students
about how they can show the rest of the state and nation the
quality of students that are from Puckett and Rankin County
by setting goals and committing to them. He spoke about how
important having goals is and how committing to those goals
is what truly makes someone successful. During his visit, our
students heard about his personal journey, like what made him
stick to it during those years in college when he pumped gas at
nights and attended classes during the day. Our hometown hero
also shared with students that the best preparation for his success
was doing his best each day at everything he did. Dr. Burnham
challenged the students to re-read the Dr. Seuss book titled
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and relate it to the importance of completing
college and believing in themselves to have the courage to go after
their life goals.
Our hometown hero gave much more than a speech. He gave
At Richland High School, we make it a priority to reward
deserving students. Our school has offered two major incentives
for students who have met the PBIS school standards thus far.
After the completion of the first nine weeks, RHS held a Perfect
Attendance Celebration for students who hadn’t missed a day of
school, nor had any sort of tardy or checkout.
El Ranchito, a local Mexican Restaurant and school sponsor,
joined efforts with the school and provided a lunch buffet for 147
students who qualified for the recognition. In addition to a
celebratory meal provided, numerous drawings for gift cards were
awarded to students. The student response was overwhelming,
and there was an outpouring of appreciation from students who
partook in the event. It goes without saying, there are several
students striving to keep their perfect attendance.
The largest reward for our students is Field Day, which is held
once a semester. The first one was held in early November on the
RHS football field and over 600 students were awarded. In
order for students to be eligible to attend, they must meet the
following expectations: Five or less absences, three or less tardies,
no F’s on their report card, and zero major discipline infractions.
While at Field Day, students were able to use their accumulated
PBIS tickets to purchase an array of food items or enter multiple
drawings. At the close of Field Day, the school held numerous
prize drawings for gifts such as, Dr. Dre’ Beats, two mini iPads,
t-shirts, and gift cards.
Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.
Hometown Rankin • 87
rankin county Schools
The McLaurin High School Beta Club joined with McLaurin’s
JROTC and the Star Woman’s Club on November 11, 2015 to
host a Veteran’s Day Breakfast for the community.
The breakfast for local veterans and their families was a
student-initiated idea. This event was planned and coordinated by
a student committee that won a service project idea contest at the
Mississippi Fall Beta Leadership Summit in Biloxi. The students
were selected from all of the schools at the summit to present their
idea at the National Beta Club Convention in New Orleans in
June 2016. They were the only school from RCSD selected.
Over twenty local veterans attended the event and were honored
at the Veteran’s Day program hosted by the JROTC. The guest
speaker was LTC Danny Knight. Knight is a McLaurin graduate
who is a lead instructor in the McLaurin JROTC program. During
Knight’s address he stated that, “Most veterans do not expect great
rewards or accolades for their service. All they really expect is a
word of thanks or gratitude. Thank You, two words, eight simple
letters. We take these words for granted. We say it when someone
opens a door for us or helps us at a store. We say it so often it loses
its value. However, today, this Veteran’s Day I ask you to say it with
great meaning to a veteran that you know or come into contact
with. It means a great deal to know that the American people we
all chose to defend appreciate our service!”
Following the program, the veterans greeted every McLaurin
student as they left. Hugs and tears were accompanied by grateful
hearts and the students expressed their appreciation for their
JROTC Awards this year: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place finish at the
Alcorn State University Magnolia Challenge Raider Competition
in DEC 2015; Superior Cadet Awards for 2015:
Keeley Wilkinson (12th grade) -Jonah Burroughs (11th grade)
-Victoria Sprayberry (10th grade) -Justin Coke (9th grade);
JROTC Program Accreditation Inspection-Honor Unit with
Distinction (November 2015)
Beta Awards this year: Junior and senior high Beta traveled to
Biloxi in the fall for the Fall Leadership Conference. During the
conference, both Beta clubs got to learn leadership skills and get
to know Betas from all over the state. Both groups received
distinguished leadership service awards at the conference. The
junior Betas presented a Backpack Buddy program in service
project completion and was selected to present at national
conference in New Orleans this summer.
The senior Betas presented a Veteran’s Day project and it, too,
was chosen to be presented this summer. Both groups qualified
McLaurin for Beta School of Distinction due to the tremendous
growth of our club membership.
JROTC Instructors – LTC Knight, SGM Fitts
Beta Sponsors – Kris Morris, D.C. Knight
88 • February/March 2016
Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.
• 4-person Scramble
• Shotgun start - 1:00 pm
EACH PLAYER RECEIVES
• 18 holes of golf with
cart and range balls
• Goodie Bag
Rankin County Chamber
Thursday, March 17, 2016
The Refuge, Flowood
• Top 3 Teams
• Hole-In-One Chances
• Longest Drive
• Door Prizes
To register your team or for more
call Rankin Chamber
office at 601-825-2268
Hometown Rankin • 89
The Time Coin
Sally pulled out her sharpest red
crayon and rolled it between her
fingers as she contemplated her
teacher’s instructions to make a valentine.
The studious third grader couldn’t decide
where or how to begin. It wasn’t that Sally
didn’t understand the meaning of valentines,
but they certainly meant more than pink
construction paper and red glitter.
Some valentines were extravagant – like the ruby ring her dad had
given to her mother. It was the perfect color for Valentine’s Day and
surely pleased her mother. “We can’t afford this,” her mother kept saying,
but it was a perfect fit and dazzled in the light, like her mom’s smile.
Sally knew it must be a treasured and costly valentine. It was a special
lesson for Sally to learn. Love is extravagant.
When valentines can’t be extravagant, they can be creative. Sally loved
the story her mother told her about the time Sally’s parents were dating.
“We were in college and didn’t have any extra money. Your dad appeared
at my dorm with a large piece of cardboard – but he had attached all sorts
of candy to it in the shape of a giant heart. All my friends were envious
of his thoughtfulness and creativity.”
The classroom had grown quiet as all the
students were busy creating the perfect
valentine – all except Sally. She was still
pondering the “what kind” and “how” of her
valentine. She would always remember the
Valentine’s dinner her mom had served. There
was candlelight with their fine china, chicken
strips with valentine-red catsup, pink creamed
potatoes and homemade pink rolls with pink
lemonade. She even brought out strawberry cake for dessert. You could
never put a special valentine like that in an envelope or box. Sally so
wanted her valentine to be creative like her mom’s.
The years passed and time translated Sally into a mother with a
family of her own. Change hadn’t always been good. She was sorting
through her parents’ belongings with only their memories present.
She opened a box brimming with cards and letters. There in the midst
of her mother’s keepsakes was the valentine Sally had made as a third
grader. The pink heart was still edged in red glitter with Sally’s message:
I will love you forever and for always. Love, Sally.
Extravagant? No. Creative? Not really. A treasure? Most definitely.
Sally had given her most precious and inestimable wealth – her
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest
of these is love.” n
90 • February/March 2016
February 27th 7pm 11pm
The Lake House
135 Madison Landing Circle
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
To purchase tickets: www.umc.edu/affluentaffair
Hometown Rankin • 91
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.
*Medical professionals may include physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
92 • June 2015